Category Archives: Films

Searching for Debra Winger

I randomly saw this DVD somewhere and it peaked my interest immediately. It’s a documentary by Rosanna Arquette, with many A-List actresses on the cover. She created it herself while raising her child and being an actress. She filmed it herself mostly with digital video cameras of the era. She really got a
who’s who of famous actresses to appear and speak candidly about the sexist state of the
film industry. Featuring candid interviews with:
Patricia Arquette, Emmanuel Beart, Laura Dern, Teri Garr, Whoopi Goldberg,
Melanie Griffith, Darly Hannah, Salma Hayek, Holly Hunter, Diane Lane, Kelly Lynch,
Frances McDormand, Vanessa Regrave and more!

It’s pretty amazing, she made it while she was raising her child and struggled with
continuing to act and being a mother at the same time. She referenced the Red Shoes, which I need to watch, but in that film a woman has to choose her destiny to be a dancer or a wife. Rosanna shot this herself mostly,
on digital video of the era, it looks good though. The film starts with the difficulties
faced by women in that regard and then explores the bias in Hollywood towards woman actors
as they age. Hence the title, Debra Winger took a break from acting in the 90s despite being
a top Hollywood actress at the time. Spoiler alert, Rosanna finds her in the end and she explains why, kind of. Kids and being an active mother definitely helped her decide.

I believe it’s mentioned that films like Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore aren’t made anymore.
I recently saw A Woman Under The Influence and wow was Gena amazing, but that was an independent film.
Hollywood still doesn’t make many films starring an older woman, This has changed a bit in 20 years,
but only for Oscar winners essentially.
When a actress reaches a certain age she is dead to the industry. The term used in the film
and today still is “fuckable”. If a female actor is not fuckable,
she will not get the role. Not fuckable = not gonna get the part, even as the “nerd friend” or further supporting role. It’s a pretty good look at how
awful and sexist the entire industry is. Also it is run entirely by men who lacked control early in their
lives. For instance studio heads were likely quite nerdy losers in High School and will never escape this. Now they have power and take advantage. This also plugs deep into the male sex driven ego. This documentary is especially important in the current “MeToo” era we live in, things are changing for the better, but slowly.

This film was released in 2002, some things have happened since but it is all still 100% going on.
There is still hardly any films starring a 40 something year old single woman. Once an actress has “peaked” physically she no longer gets sent scripts. I highly recommend this film, it’s worth seeking out. Rosanna did a very important thing and got actresses to speak out about these things. It must have been hard for all involved, she should make a modern sequel! But regardless I highly recommend this!


1993 Directed by Ivan Nagy

I recently came across a new Blu-Ray of a film I had never heard of before called Skinner. I read the back and my interest grew. Ted Raimi plays a serial killer who skins his victims, also starring Traci Lords???? I am in. I quickly sat down and watched this film and it grabbed me right away. Traci appeared to be a vampire at first swearing revenge of this weird guy. Ted Raimi, whom I mostly know from Evil Dead 2 and other Sam Raimi related stuff. He has a fascination with water and it’s a recurring theme throughout the film. He visits the ocean and watches the water. Also stars into a glass of water from the faucet. Perhaps he is intrigued with the light refractions and how water symbolizes life. Ironic because his raison d’etre is to take life. Or maybe he moves like water from town to town, ultimately it is for someone smarter than me to decipher or analyze. But it’s a very cool concept in the film. Water is calming, vast, mysterious, and incredibly powerful.

It is revealed Raimi is a serial killer who “skins” his victims. Donning their skin and messing with prostitutes’ before he kills them. He preys mostly on prostitutes’ and occasionally a co-worker. Ricki Lake also appears, despite this not being a John Waters’ film. Slight Cry-Baby reunion here. Ted’s character “Dennis”, moves in with Ricki Lake’s character and her trucker husband. The film locations are all very bland and appear to be “anywhere” USA. But it was in fact shot in LA, this film did not have a huge budget but it doesn’t look cheap. Film locations are incredibly bland however but it is supposed to a city. Dennis can easily find prey and get away with murder.

Traci’s character is bent on revenge and suffering from a drug addiction. She is tracking him down while he is new in town and beginning his killings. She escaped him before and suffers permanent scarring on half her body. The film is really a gem with pretty good affects and a very interesting production story. The special features contains interviews with many involved in production. There is a scene I won’t spoil but basically everyone disowned and would probably not be shot today. I was surprised how much I liked this film.

A very weird connection is this film was directed by Ivan Nagy, whom is from Hungary and shot many famous album cover photos. Including a Michael Parks album! Later he would appear in Nick Broomfield’s Heidi Fleiss documentary in a less than glamourous light. I rented Kurt and Courtney several times as a kid. Show Business really is a small world and it’s crazy to imagine connections like this, as I already own all the Michael Parks LPs, one day I should write a post about him but I will fall short. But Nagy had an interesting life and career also. How this movie even got made is one for the books.

I would highly recommend the film as an above average slasher with some pretty unique elements and a excellent cast. Luckily it got a recent Blu-Ray release otherwise I probably would have never found out about it. It never faired well but was released on VHS and likely had some cult following amongst those who rented it.

Pray for the Wildcats, 1974

The cover of this Blu-Ray caught my eye. Four guys on motorcycles on the top. Cast includes Andy Griffith!, William Shatner!, and Angie Dickinson! I just recently watched Dressed to Kill for the first time and she was great in it, as always. Needless to say I was intrigued, The plot summary explained a rich tycoon sends these advertising executives on a journey in Mexico. This movie had a slight deliverance vibe about it. Pretty much any 70s movie with motorcycles I will glady watch, even just for the bikes sometimes.

This movie starts out by showing how everyone’s life is failing. The three main characters are all suffering. Shatner was fired but has to continue to work his old job to please an advertising client. The young guy’s relationship is falling apart as he becomes a workaholic, and ignores his pregnant girlfriend. And the third guy’s wife is sleeping with Shatner! All of them are in the gutter in their personal lives. So much so Shatner’s character plans to kill himself on this impending Mexico trip. To get his wife his insurance policy.

Now Andy Griffith plays the bad guy and does it well. He plays a “rich good ole boy son of a bitch”. Even from the first scene you see his predatory behavior on women, as he makes what I would call, no longer acceptable behavior with someone’s wife. It’s amazing seeing Griffith play the devil essentially, he is incredibly good at being a huge asshole you want to kill. His character further exposes himself as fucking horrid later in the film. Now I’ve not scene much of the Andy Griffith Show but I know he played a good guy. He is ruthless in this film, it really displays his talents as an actor here.

When all these “men” begin this journey they set out into Baja California. Griffith even has custom jackets made dubbing the four the “Wildcats”. This clear Rites of Passage, or act of proving themselves to shitty Andy Griffith’s character is almost a coming of age to midlife existence. All 3 of the executives almost have nothing to lose it seems, hell one of them even WANTS to die on this trip. They all get caught up with the law due to Griffith’s thirst for women. And let’s just say when they return, after the horrific trip, they are all grateful for what they had. Or whatever can be salvaged….

It’s amazing this was a made for TV movie from then. I believe almost all the top billing were very successful actors and actresses at the time. Granted I guess they were all “TV actors”…….maybe I just answered my own question. That in itself is interesting how the industry was much more divided. I’d say within the past 15 years or so plenty of A-list film stars have done solid cable tv shows with solid writing and direction. With just a tad more gusto or plot I don’t see why this wasn’t a theatrical release.

Dickinson herself utters the cheesy titular line, “Pray for the Wildcats” after they cross the border. It’s quite fitting. Pray for the Wildcats indeed.

It’s on Youtube where it is ripped to shreds by the comments, but it’s worth watching.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Here comes a personal favorite of mine. I think I first learned of the existence of this film after watching the Mallrats commentary, where Jason Mewes mentions it. I used to be a big Kevin Smith fan when I was a kid, luckily I outgrew it. Michael Rooker also stars in Mallrats as the villain. Eventually I probably rented it from Blockbuster and was blown away. For one it was an independent movie shot in Chicago in the gritty 80s. I sometimes ask older people what that decade was like in Chicago and don’t get much response. But what I can gather street crime was much more abundant and many neighborhoods with dogs and strollers today were actually affordable to live in. Henry gives a glimpse of that and then some.

Loosely based on real serial killer Henry Lee Lucas and his buddy Otis, the film is look at the lifestyles of killers in Chicago. It uses these very graphic depictions of crime scenes and lays the audio on top, makes for a very chilling effect as you don’t see the violence just the dead bodies. Very harsh audio indeed. The film deliberately features no police whatsoever and shows the daily life of a career criminal like Henry. How he seemingly gets away scot free from all his murders and understands “modus operandi” is quite interesting. There is a very graphic home invasion scene that the characters film themselves. The Director actually let Michael Rooker direct that scene in character.

Henry and Otis met in prison and live together at 1801 W. North Ave. At first Henry kills all by himself but then lets Otis in on it and then they work together. There is a rather interesting scene when Henry and Otis are watching the home invasion tape they made. After it ends, Otis rewinds it and Henry says “What are you doing?”. Otis responds “I wanna watch it again.” This exchange almost cements Otis as the true psycho and normalizes Henry for a second. As if Henry, a sick serial killer, somehow has lines and rules he won’t cross.

Filmed in 1985, it was eventually widely released years later, this was Michael Rooker’s first film feature, he, along with the Director John McNaughton were both Chicago residents. Supposedly Rooker was even a lifeguard at Pulaski Park swimming pool, quite ironic when compared to his role in Henry. I think with limited budget and resources everyone in production was able to make a very effective and brutal look into Henry.

McNaughton later went on to direct Wild Things in 1998. My brother rented that when I was a kid and let me watch most of it. That movie certainly has it’s moments and I think still holds up, plus Neve Campbell is in it and I think she is reading Death on the Installment plan by Celine,a favorite book of mine. I’m curious to see more of his filmography but with Henry he really left his mark on cinema early on. The film was heavily censored and even “banned” in parts of the world. Not too bad for a mere low budget film shot for peanuts in Chicago. Check it out if you can and turn the volume up, it’ll scare the shit out of you.

The Confusing Case of The Counsel(l)or

Today I will talk about the 2013 film The Counselor.

So picture this, it’s early 2013(I imagine), and I am now at a better college, but still going through the motions in life with no gusto or direction. Ridley Scott is Ridley Scott. In terms of his more modern films I had seen Body of Lies and Prometheus in theaters and enjoyed many of his other works both back then and more so recently. Honestly though I didn’t like Prometheus too much, but it did have some great visuals. So I keep tabs on what he is doing and along comes the trailer for The Counselor:

Now this trailer is really something. I find myself watching it again and again in the months leading up to the film. Interestingly the trailer details the entire fucking plot start to finish, along with some of the best bits of dialogue. Quotes I still enjoy to this day; “Money problems are serious problems” and “this world you have created, will also cease to exist.” I am not a fan of that AWOLNATION song but in this trailer it fits shockingly well. The trailer shows you a high budgeted drama from legendary director Ridley Scott, based on a script written by Cormac fucking Mcarthy. I once read somewhere he wrote it in the 80’s, but it’s irrelvelent. Then look at the cast, Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, and Javier Bardem. (In the film more famous actors are revealed in smaller roles. ) So on paper and in this trailer you have a home run but the movie was panned to hell by critics and when I saw it I didn’t know how I felt. I felt something kind of duped maybe, by the aforementioned trailer. Maybe I watched it too many times?

The film was a long and slow watch. The film could have been a stage play, the true art is found in all the dialogue and to a lesser extent the actors and sets. The story is merely a cover or cheap plot device to keep things moving. The plot follows a wealthy lawyer with the world in his hands, he ventures down a dead end path for unknown reasons. It doesn’t speak to reason that a lawyer who drives a Bentley, is engaged to Penelope Cruz would require anymore. It’s either the excitement of doing the crime or the never ending pursuit of wealth. It is however mentioned even in the trailer that a law degree is a “license to steal.” Perhaps white collar crime was not enough for him. So spoiler alert, his life falls apart when his fiancee is kidnapped, murdered and he sees it on a snuff film in Mexico. He survives, everyone else does not except Cameron Diaz’ character. I also read her dialogue was all redone because her Jamaican? accent just didn’t work.

After I saw it once or twice I had to dig deeper, however I could. A direct reference is made to another film I had not seen. Brad Pitt’s character Westray warns the Counselor before they commit to this crime:

“Maybe I should tell you what Mickey Rourke told what’s-his-face? That’s my recommendation anyway, Counselor. Don’t do it. “

Counselor responds quoting the film, “this arson is a serious crime”.

I google that line and find out about Body Heat. I watched it and it’s a pretty good thriller. This movie owes a lot to Body Heat and a direct quote I think is a pretty good way to provide credit. I did start to understand a bit more at this point, the stories are largely the same. Two successful square middle age men both suffer due to a Temptress.

The film also features a Brough Superior SS 100 in the background of one scene which is nuts. It’s a $200,000 motorcycle, and we all know what happens to the Ferrari California, I wonder who owns that vehicle at this moment in time?

Later a unrated extended cut was released. I quickly saw it as I thought ” ah ha!” This will explain it, and also I was more baffled than before, even more brazen and bizarre dialogue. Some of these exchanges are a bit “uneasy and nervewracking”.

Also before the film was released there was a lot of promo and marketing. One piece was some very bizarre one minute dream like scenes/exchanges seemingly shot on set. I found it:

After viewing that clip again, I realize it is entirely possible that it takes place within the “film universe.” The mind reading part is quite interesting, as is the police radio noises at the end. Foreshadowing……..

Even after writing all this my thoughts are far from complete and definitive on this matter. I will insist however that the trailer and marketing of this film are just as baffling as it’s true themes. It really is a great film, but watch it with no expectations or understandings of what the fuck it is and you might get it, or not who knows. Also while “researching” this I noticed in the UK it was released as The Counsellor with two lls, neat.

Gary Rules.

Over The Edge

This post has been spurred by my recent awesome chance to watch a screening of 1979’s Over The Edge, directed by Jonathan Kaplan and written by Tim Hunter! It was screened at the Music Box by the Chicago Film Society

I am very grateful I got to see it! But let’s start at the beginning. I’m almost positive I heard about this movie in my tween years when I was obsessed with Nirvana and what not. I know I rented it off Netflix and copied it. I loved it when I saw it, soundtrack was killer, and I quickly showed it to a couple of my friends at the time. I think I was probably 15/16, definitely in High School. The film takes a look at some young kids growing up in a “planned community” with not much to do but drugs and alcohol and whatnot. I’m pretty sure I had seen Kids already or at a similar time and this was like holy shit, I almost feel normal. High School was mostly talking about music and drugs, and how to get them. The majority of it was talking about how we knew nothing at all but were looking for something. Planning the weekends and after school potential escapades that were usually just doing anything we could think of or going to movies and concerts when possible. I feel like an old man now, but many of those problems never left.

It was very cool to see Tim Hunter speak about the film. Apparently the film screened was his own personal 35mm print. Whoever owns the master have refused to make a modern digital transfer. I was also geeking out because this is the man that directed River’s Edge and the Saint of Fort Washington. I got a chance to meet him after the screening, and while I should have brought my copies of the Over The Edge Soundtrack for him to sign, I brought River’s Edge on Blu-ray. I asked him how a Wipers’ song(Let Me Know) ended up on the soundtrack. Loving the Wipers, I knew they were not a very commercial band in that sense(i.e. wouldn’t want a tv show or movie using their song). But he told me Enigma / Metal Blade Records gave him carte blanche to everything on their label. He listened to it all and settled on some great choices including Slayer,Agent Orange, and Burning Spear. I may have wrote this before but my mind wanted to believe it was Dennis Hopper’s insistence that led to the Wipers song. I also told him I liked The Saint of Fort Washington ever since I saw it as a kid. He asked if it still held up and I said yes it does! He then mentioned that film essentially ended his Hollywood career. Interesting how that also reunited him with Matt Dillon. I am very thankful for this opportunity.

Overall it was amazing to see Over The Edge on film, and I can’t believe I got to meet Tim Hunter himself. It was a good day.

P.S. I was watching the show Mrs.Fletcher currently on HBO and the other night the Wipers’ song Is This Real? played over the credits! It was super random and I can’t believe it. But now I know of two instances of Wipers’ music on TV and film.

Liquid Sky

Where to begin about Liquid Sky……

Years ago I found some list of lesser known cult/underground horror/whatever films and Liquid Sky was somewhere on the list. I read the brief description and saw the poster and was very intrigued. I mean look at this fucking poster:

This is the only film on that list I set out to watch and couldn’t find a real copy quickly.  Some kind soul uploaded a VHS rip to youtube. I watched it with a friend one night and FUCK! What a goddamn amazing  movie. How did anyone pull this off and get it made?????

It’s shot in Manhattan in the early 80’s starring Anne Carlisle in a dual role. I won’t waste much time attempting to explain the plot but it involves models, drug addicts, rapists, aliens, a German guy, and much more. The aesthetic/ makeup/ music/ and sets are all truly incredible and a visual feast. I urge anyone to find and watch this film. After I watched it I became quite obsessed. Like HOW did anyone get a small amount of money, come up with this idea and script, and finally film and release it! It seemed like something that shouldn’t exist which is what interested me. It was too fucking cool to have actually been made basically.

Limited information existed on the internet but I found out a bit about the director and some actors. I was still left with more questions concerning the conception and execution of this film. I mean where was it filmed precisely? How many people did the costumes and makeup!? Who wrote “Me and My Rhythm Box”??? The list went on…. it was just too cool. I bought the novelization, written by Anne Carlisle as well. It’s a good read and gives you more background about the main characters including the “rich cunt from Connecticut”. I also find an interview with the director Slava Tsukerman in an old issue of Heavy Metal, I posted scans HERE. I’m still looking for more background and interviews with ANYONE involved in the production.

Still the film intrigues me so, I urge you to find it and watch it.

Last year I ventured to Seattle, as a quick Nirvana and First Blood pilgrimage. The first record store I went to I found absolutely nothing but then just sitting in some sort of “special new arrivals” section I found the fucking soundtrack! I could have ordered this at some point but when you run across things you are not even thinking about it is a real rush. I was a bit boggled but then remembered more people have seen this movie than I thought. It was just long before my time.

I recently was able to see the film in theaters are it was quite the treat. I wish I could live in a Liquid Sky like world, for better or worse.

Me and my rhythm box out~

Liquid Sky: Interview With Director Slava Tsukerman In Heavy Metal Magazine

So I will write a longer “piece” on the amazing film Liquid Sky in the future. Let’s just saw I came across on some list of weird movies and I didn’t need to see any more after I watched this one. I became and still am pretty obsessed with this movie. I bought the July 1984 issue of Heavy Metal magazine because it featured an interview the director Slava Tsukerman. I was desperate( and still am) to learn anything and everything about this film and it’s production. So I finally scanned the interview in case anyone else wants a small bit of insight.



Turkish Delight: Rutger Hauer and Paul Verhoeven’s Lovely Exposition

Turkish Delight is the second film directed by the accomplished Paul Verhoeven. Released in 1973 it stars a young Rutger Hauer, a personal favorite, and the gorgeous Monique van de Ven. The couple’s entire relationship unfolds before the viewer,set in the Netherlands. Rutger plays a real sex fiend whom finally finds his raison d^etre. Much like The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and maybe even The Notebook?(never seen it), It’s about that young romance you live for despite life’s inhibitions, warnings, and short nature. I once saw a Sydney Pollock interview where he claimed the “happy couple” moments were the hardest to film vs. before and after the relationship(referring to The Way We Were). This film walks a fine line of the before, after, and during.

The interesting symbols I noticed, whenever Rutger rides his bike anywhere he literally hops off it and lets it crash into something, every time! Similar to my gab about The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Both characters are in constant rushes to depart their vehicles early. Here Rutger’s character is young and very “fast” and “over the top”. With women and his interactions, he seems to throw caution to the wind and act rather than dwell in the consequences. To this extent he finds the love of his life, however nothing holds forever. The other symbol I noticed was maggots. He is criticized at work for sculpting maggots into a biblical scene, to be more accurate. Second he grabs his wife flowers  and it is shown they were holding maggots. They fall on her chest. Finally maggots can be scene at his disgusting apartment. Maybe the maggots that exist on real life and in his mind in his own sense of lingering death. Death is all around no need to fake it. Maggots mostly eat dead things. Draw your own conclusions.

In short it was a really great film, two young attractive people in love is a beautiful thing. But life is short, and things fall apart. It’s what they do, it’s the second law of thermodynamics. Watch if while you can, and know it while you have it. I really liked films like this when I was aged somewhere from 12 to 19. I never really had a close relationship with a girl prior to my early 20s, I was totally a lonely “late-bloomer”. I don’t know if the relationship aspects of films gave me hope or showed me the beauty of life, but let’s just say some set the bar high. It was probably escapism on my part. But I digress. Check out this film.


1982 Yamaha XT 250

So a guy I knew was selling a 1982 Yamaha XT 250 in a sorry state. He got in because it came with another bike, an RM minibike or something. Being such a fan of the film First Blood(as you can see from my other post), I bought it despite the sorry state it came in. The problems he noted were broken clutch perch and incorrect rear wheel. I gave him $150. Well several years later and I FINALLY got the damn thing running. Over this time I slowly and slowly fixed and ordered the parts I could. I even picked up a spare parts bike for about 120$ a few years ago.

I bought a new rear wheel, which made me sorry for my mailman because the shipper literally saran wrapped the hell outta the damn thing and slapped a sticker on it. I bought a new sprocket, chain, clutch perch,clutch lever, countless bolts, and more over time. The carburetor was a nightmare I will condense here.

The bike had compression but with a new battery and plug I had spark but not gas. I pulled the carb off and noticed a piece near the bottom accelerator pump was broken. This carb is overly complex. The 1980 First Generation XT 250 used a simpler carb. The carb I have has this “accelerator pump” type device add on. It was a feature from 1981-1983 on the XT 250. The 1984 250 Carb and bike were very different. So make note of this unique carb it is tricky to find at all, let alone a working one will still bring a few hundred dollars.

Luckily I first found a junk carb for parts on ebay for 40$. I was able to replace the broken part and try it again. No luck the bike never fired and I got tired of kicking the bike over dozens of times to no avail. In the meantime I fixed other stuff, repainted the exhaust, and little things like made sure the brakes work and fixing the clutch cable. A few years later I finally bite the bullet and spent 80$ for a complete carb rehaul kit, this included almost all the gaskets and jets needed to rebuild the carb. So I took apart both carbs and cleaned the shit out of them. I used the best parts and the kid to make one good carb. After all this work still fucking nothing, no “pop” it didn’t even want to start. After spraying some carb cleaner in the cylinder the bike ran for a few seconds, so the problem was still the carb.

I’m no expert mechanic but through trial and error and my old man’s wisdom I have a basic understanding of how a bike works. After this I just kept watching ebay for a spare carb. They would sometimes pop up for about 200$ and sell. Eventually one was up for 250$, they included a video of the bike running before they took it apart, so this should be “plug and play”. I bit the bullet and paid more than the price of the bike for it. Upon further inspection of it, it was missing a choke lever and had an extra hole in one side which puzzled me.

I finally put it on my bike with some fresh gas. I gave it some more kicks and I felt maybe a little more kickback but no signs of life whatsoever. So after a deep sigh I was about to give up and maybe try again a few days later. With some carb cleaner in the cylinder we tried again. Nothing at first at all, which was weird. Then somewhere around the sixth kick it was brought to life, I assumed it would die in a few seconds but this “priming” actually worked and it kept going! Big relief this was, since if this didn’t work I was ready to pay someone to take this shit from me on Craigslist. Now my only hope is the clutch works and it goes through all the gears. Once this bike is settled, I’ll finally have a dirt bike, or rather THE bike from First Blood. Did I mention how much I like that film?