Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Thursday Thirteen: Film Stuff


Man cannot live by zombie movies alone. Or Hammer films. Or horror movies in general. At least, THIS man can't. I love good film, and a lot of my favorite films aren't zombie/Hammer/horror films at all.

While there were some times in my life during which I eschewed certain types of films (I remember telling my mom I thought the movies she watched on American Movie Classics weren't any good because there were in black and white - I was a dumb little kid), I'm trying to make up for that now. I'm known as a monster guy these days (for better or worse), but the following are Thirteen Film Things I Wish I Knew More About (that's a mouthful):

- Kaiju films. In April 2012, I saw King Kong vs. Godzilla at a local theater, and, as I posted back then, I felt an obsession take hold. I went back to the beginning, and watched the original Godzilla (two different versions on the excellent Criterion Blu-ray release as well as a DVD release with a different commentary track). This movie was GOOD. I've since been working my way through Toho's kaiju films with the occasional diversion into Gamera territory every since, and have been having a BLAST. I do regret that I didn't watch these movies growing up as I think I would have been best served watching Godzilla, King Ghidorah, and the rest as a younger movie fan; as I watch them now, I find myself picking apart the details, noticing the technical accomplishments/flaws, etc. I've actually watched more documentaries and YouTube videos about the making of the kaiju films than the films themselves, and I'd like to get back to "just" watching the movies. (And listening to the Kaijucast is just so much fun!)

- On the Beach. I had an opportunity to watch the Stanley Kramer-directed 1959 film for Mail Order Zombie back in 2011, and it quickly became one of my favorite new-to-me films of the year. I vowed back then to learn more about the movie itself, and have Philip R. Davey's book When Hollywood Came to Melbourne on my Kindle . . . but haven't read it yet. I'll get to it . . . at some point . . .

- Spaghetti Westerns. I'm learning, and enjoying it. I've been a fan of movies like Django for a while now, but I've never really delved too deeply into this (sub-)genre over the years. I'm making up for lost time now, have been working through books like Any Gun Can Play (which took its title from a 1967 film of the same name . . . which is all kinds of fun!), and have been working with a local film company that's showing some classic Spaghetti Western films here in town - like this upcoming showing!

- Non-Universal classic horror and sci-fi films. Recently, I had an opportunity to talk at length with someone about 1958's The Fly, and I realized I haven't watched enough of these classic genre films from studios other than Universal. Maybe it's because when I first started getting into these films, the Universal films were the easiest to find (they were well-branded and well-placed at the video rental shops), and it didn't help that most documentaries I had access to at the time were Universal-produced so I only learned about the Universal monsters and company. I've filled in a lot of the cinematic gaps in my library and memory, but there's so many more out there I still need to see!

- Superhero films. Okay, you ready? You have your pair of scissors out? I've got my geek card right here. Let me hold it out in front of me . . . so you can cut it up when I tell you I've not watched ANY of the current cycle of Marvel superhero films . . . or any of the Nolan-directed Batman films . . . they just don't call to me. I mean, it's cool if they're not "for me," and I'm not a big Joss Whedon fan anyway, so it's not like I feel like I'm missing out by not seeing The Avengers, but . . . I don't know. Occasionally, I wonder if I'm missing out, but at this point, it feels like there's a LOT of superhero-movie-minutes out there I'd need to consume if I'm going to catch up. You know what really got me to thinking about this? Marvel's/Disney's announcement that a Doctor Strange movie is in the works. Doctor Strange? By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth!

- Lucha films. You can't be a listener of the B-Movie Cast and not know a little something about El Santo. And, truth be told, I've known a little bit about this (sub-)genre for a little while . . . in that I knew it existed. But I just didn't "get it." I hadn't watched any of the films - not even the El Santo films - so I was completely in the dark when it came to masked Mexican wrestlers fighting the forces of evil. I finally got around to watching one of them - Mil Mascares vs. The Aztec Mummy - and LOVED it. It's goofy and ridiculous and over-the-top-(rope?), but, man, it was a blast. And last year, I read Keith J. Rainville's Zombi Mexicano, and started making a list of titles I need to track down. I understand it might be a bit more difficult to track these films down - in English or at least with English subtitles - but I'm looking forward to whatever I can find!

- Mummy films. Speaking of mummy films . . . or not . . . I'm a sucker for a good mummy movie. Of course, there's the Universal and Hammer films, but I've stumbled across a few other classic mummy films over the years, and maybe it's the proto-slasher-ness of them, but I love 'em. Even something as goofy as Dawn of the Mummy is fun (for me) to watch. During the black-and-white days, Universal was the home of THE Mummy Movie, but other studios took a chance with a mummy film here and there as well (like 1957's Pharoah's Curse - which I liked - and 1958's Curse of the Faceless Man - which I haven't seen yet, but it's on my Amazon wishlist), so there's plenty out there for me to unearth.

- The Planet of the Apes franchise. If there's anything left of my geek card after getting it hacked up over not watching any of the current wave of superhero films, you might as well just take it away now and set whatever reamains on fire. I was talking with my friend Scott the other day, and revealed upon him a great and terrible secret: I've never watched these films in their entirety. I've seen parts of the first film, and I guess I saw the Tim Burton film (ugh), but that's it.

- Amicus. And speaking of talking with a friend and realizing I missed out on something, my friend Larry is a huge fan of the Amicus films, and you'd think someone who is so into Hammer and falls before the altar of Peter Cushing would have most of the Amicus films in his movie collection, but that's not the case. I've seen a handful - Dr. Terror's House of Horrors is a particular favorite - but Larry's got me beat in the Amicus department.

- The kinds of movies that keep turning up on TCM. Like I said at the beginning of this, I gave my mom grief over the kinds of movies she'd watch on her movie channels. While she wouldn't be caught dead watching what plays on the channel-previously-known-as-American Movies Classics today, I don't know what she'd think if she watched me as I spend about half-an-hour every weekend with the DVR's remote control, scanning the upcoming week's schedule for movies that catch my eye. Unfortunately, I end up scheduling a number of movies - both feature-length and shorts - that I never have time/DVR-space to watch!

- Euorspy films. Working with Dorado Films, I've discovered this (sub-)genre, and it's a blast! I knew James Bond had a worldwide impact, and I suppose it makes sense that European filmmakers would take some inspiration from the Bond franchise and make their own films (they did it with Westerns and zombie films). Agent 077 as portrayed by Ken Clark has become a particular favorite of mine, and if there are other Eurospy films out there like Agent Bloody Mary, From the Orient With Fury, and Special Mission Lady Chaplin, I'm in for a treat!

- The movies I have on my shelves that I haven't watched yet. Does this really need any further explanation?

- Beach movies, especially those produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff. Don't judge me. I don't have to explain myself to you.

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