Tag Archives: 1975

10 classic movies that I will never fully understand the appeal of:

Because I can’t sleep, and you’ve been dying to know.  Here they are, in no particular order:

1) “Memento” (2000)
2) “Fight Club” (1999)
3) “American Psycho” (2000)
4) “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)
5) “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)
6) “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975)
7) “Natural Born Killers” (1994)
8) Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi” (alternately titled “Zombi 2,” 1979)
9) “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)
10) “The Big Chill” (1983)

And … worst of all … I’m kinda on the fence about the first two “The Evil Dead” films (1981, 1987), Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” (1971) and John Carpenter’s original “Halloween” (1978).   I am hanging my head in shame here over those last two.  I know Kubrick’s film is considered a masterpiece.  I saw it twice when I was a college student (once in a psychology class!), soooo … maybe I just wasn’t mature enough to grasp it?  Mea culpa, people.

I left “Citizen Kane” (1941) and “Ben Hur” (1959) off the list, because I haven’t seen them in their entirety.  I was nonplussed enough to turn those off after 40 minutes or so, but I’m weird about never saying I dislike a movie unless I watch the whole thing.  You can add 1979’s “Phantasm” to this category too.

I know, I know … there’s nothing wrong with any of these films (except “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” of course, which is terrible).  There are just basic ingredients in them that I somehow fail to appreciate.

Now one of you needs to e-mail me a cure for insomnia.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Movie Monsters,” by Alan Ormsby (1975)

Alan Ormsby’s “Movie Monsters” was a 1970’s children’s book that wound up in my young hands by the start of the 1980’s.  I suspect that my older brother must have ordered it at school from Scholastic Books (remember them and their in-school sales bulletins?)  So by the time it filtered down to me, it already had the “big kid” book mystique in addition to featuring monsters — I was pretty enamored with it even before I sat down and read it through.

And it was a gem.  God, I loved this book.  (And I wish I’d happened across this on the Internet before Halloween, which was less than a month ago.)

There was a nice rundown of each the major Universal Studios monsters, in language that was easily comprehensible to a young kid.  And that was the first time I’d gotten a complete and detailed picture of the movies.  (They were well before my parents’ time.  And even today, I’m surprised to realize I can’t remember seeing any of Universal’s Gothic monster classics on television.  I’m really only getting started on them now, in my 40’s.)

There was a section of the book devoted to how a kid could create monster makeup out of common household substances, like … vegetable oil?  Baking soda?  Flour?  I forget.  [Update: it was corn starch!  No wonder my costumer friend laughed at me when I told her about this book and told her it suggested corn syrup.]  There might have been food coloring involved too; I really can’t remember.

And there was another section devoted to monster-themed magic tricks, as well as the script for a play that you could put on in the backyard.  Damn, this book stimulated my imagination.  I remember reading about Lon Chaney and Lon Chaney, Jr. and wanting to be them.

Other 70’s and 80’s kids remember this book too.  “Mr. Karswell” at the “and everything else too” blog has uploaded a bunch of pages from it; you can find them right here.  And there’s another neat rundown by George McGowan over here at “Collecting Classic Monsters.”

There’s actually another book like this that I’d love to run down and post about — “Movie Monsters From Outer Space.”  That one, I think, was published in the early 80’s, but that generic title makes it a bit hard to hunt down via Google.  If anybody out there has any links or more info about it, I’d be grateful if you sent it my way.

 

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The End

Throwback Thursday: “Mystery Science Theater 3000” at Mary Washington College!

As I’ve shared here at the blog before, “Mystery Science Theater 3000” was a pretty big part of my college experience.  MST3K parties were indescribably fun.  I honestly believe that I have literally never laughed so hard in my life.

I’ve previously linked to the priceless episode where Joel and the ‘Bots skewer Joe Don Baker and 1975’s “Mitchell.”  Below are three more that were the unofficial required viewing for the second floor of Mary Washington College’s New Hall during the 1993-1994 school year.

What was maddening about MST3K was how difficult it was to explain to the uninitiated.  (Bear in mind, this was before the days of Youtube, with which you could just send your friends a clip.)  It was an amazing TV show, but my efforts to explain it to friends made it sound preposterously stupid: There are these three comedians that make fun of old movies — really bad ones — as the movies are playing.  Two of the comedians are portrayed by robot puppets …  There’s an ongoing skit in which they’re stuck in space.  The special effects are really terrible — but that’s okay, because it’s kinda part of the joke …

The first episode below is 1966’s “Manos: the Hands of Fate,” which I understand to be the most popular among fans.  (Even aside from MST3K’s satirical riffing, I’ve read that this is widely regarded as the worst movie of all time — a distinction I’m not sure it truly deserves.)

The second is the episode devoted to 1944’s befuddling and blithely moralizing “I Accuse My Parents.”  (I and the other guys on my floor might have actually liked this one even more than “Manos.”)

The third is my personal favorite — the entry for 1951’s saccharine, preachy “The Painted Hills.”  In a strange coincidence, I think it’s actually the first one I ever saw.  And it’s also one that I’ve never heard named as a favorite by another MST3K fan.  Seeing the Joel and the ‘Bots make fun of a poor defenseless dog (played by the same dog who played Lassie, no less!) was just too irreverently brilliant.  SNAUSAGES!  (And does anyone else think that this was a morbidly strange film when it was first conceived?  It was marketed as a family-oriented “Lassie” movie, but it contains just a bit more murder and bizarre horror than you’d expect from that.)

*****

“Manos: the Hands of Fate.”

 

“I Accuse My Parents.”

 

“The Painted Hills.”

A few quick words on “47 Meters Down” (2017)

Yes, “47 Meters Down” is silly in places, and I don’t think it will ever be held up as an example to students of good screenwriting.  But I can’t slam any horror-thriller that scared and entertained me.  And the sharks here (which were surprisingly well rendered by CGI) made me jump a few times.  Furthermore, there are a couple of surprises late in the story, and I thought that one of them was wonderfully well executed.

This movie actually reminds me a little of last year’s “The Shallows.”  Neither movie is 1975’s “Jaws,” but neither pretends to be.  They’re both perfectly serviceable monster movies that present horror movie fans with a great way to kick off the summer.

I’d rate this film an 8 out of 10 for being a fun, if forgettable, shark flick.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Ideal’s “Jaws” game! (1975)

This one’s taking us waaaaay back — does anyone here remember playing with this nifty “Jaws” game when they were a kid?  This was released by Ideal in 1975, the same year as the movie.

The title shark’s jaw was spring-loaded to close upward, but it was held down by plastic pieces of ocean debris.  Players would take turns removing the pieces from the mouth until it sprang upward.

I think I played the game with my older sisters in their room, maybe … two years after it was released, in 1977?  The game had probably been a Christmas present for them.  (Its plastic pieces were red, if I recall — not blue.)  I was very a small child, and I was fascinated by it.

 

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“Fantasia” double-feature today!

I just finished watching Disney’s “Fantasia” (1940) this snowy afternoon with my girlfriend — she gave me the boxed set with “Fantasia 2000” (1999) this Christmas.  This is the first time I’ve seen the entire film in … 26 years?  If memory serves, I last saw it at Mary Washington College’s Dodd Auditorium when I was a freshman in 1990.

I loved it just now even more than I loved it then.  My favorite segment will always be the final one — Modest Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” with a coda of Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria.”  (The accompanying animation is Gothic horror; I’ve posted about it here at the blog before.)

I felt for sure that my second favorite would be Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.”  Pictures of those animated dinosaurs startled and thrilled me as a tot after Christopher Finch’s “The Art of Walt Disney” (1975) somehow appeared magically among my baby books in Queens, New York.  As an adult, however, I liked the segment mostly because of its cool depiction of lower life-forms.  The dinosaurs were stylized and interesting to see, but I don’t think the quality of the animation has held up very well — especially considering what we know about the dinosaurs has changed so much in 80 years or so.

Instead, my second favorite was Ludwig von Beethoven’s “The Pastoral Symphony,” and its whimsical, beautiful depiction of centaurs, gods, and other figures from Greek mythology.

My girlfriend’s favorite segment was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” with its dancing fairies.  “Fantasia” was actually a favorite movie of hers growing up; she’s seen it several dozen times in her childhood.

There is some bizarre trivia about “Fantasia” from Wikipedia, which has a lengthy entry for the movie: “In the late 1960s, four shots from The Pastoral Symphony were removed that depicted two characters in a racially stereotyped manner. A black centaurette called Sunflower was depicted polishing the hooves of a white centaurette, and a second named Otika appeared briefly during the procession scenes with Bacchus and his followers.”  That’s so nuts.

 

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