February 7th, 2009

THE CRAMPS: LIVE AT NAPA STATE MENTAL HOSPITAL (1984) ****

The Cramps are one of my all time favorite bands so with the untimely passing of frontman Lux Interior (nee Erick Lee Purkhiser) I thought it be fitting to throw this on in tribute of the man.  I saw The Cramps perform three times and each show was a blast.  Lux would often come out in skintight latex and high heels fellating the microphone and acting like a goddamn madman.  Usually by the end of the concert, Lux would have stripped down to nothing but a latex G-string and have broken the mic stand over his head.  He was one of the great ones.

 

If you never saw The Cramps live, you can check out this concert and see them in their rawest punkiest form, before they morphed into their psycho surf rock phase.  The concert was filmed in 1978 before the band released the seminal Songs the Lord Taught Us and features such classics as “The Way I Walk”, “Domino”, and “TV Set”.  Oh yeah, did I mention it was filmed in a mental hospital?  Yes, while Johnny Cash may have played prisons, The Cramps played mental institutions.  How fucking cool is that?

 

Filmed with a cheapie black and white video camera amidst the dozens of slightly deranged mental patients, the flick has an eerie feel that will get under your skin.  Think Gimme Shelter meets Night of the Living Dead and that should give you some idea of what to expect.  Patients bumrush the stage and grab the microphone and scream unintelligibly, dance around in a stupor and generally give you the creeps.  Ever the consummate frontman, Lux just rolls with it and with his freaky demeanor fits right in with the crowd. 

 

Its way too short (only 20 minutes) but it should make for a great introduction to the band if you’ve never heard of them before.  Lux buddy, you will be missed.  If you don’t believe me of how great this flick is, here’s the entire concert, courtesy of YouTube:

 


 

 

MAMMA MIA! (2008) ½ *

Oh boy.  Too bad I’ve already passed out the nominations for The Worst Film of the Year.  This shit heap would be number one with a fucking bullet.  The sad thing is that I actually LIKE ABBA.  That was the one thing that prevented me from dropkicking my wife when she told me that this flick was coming from Netflix.  Before I started going into my patented Ralph Macchio Crane Kick, I relented and said to myself, “Well, I like ABBA so I guess the movie can’t be THAT bad, could it?” 

 

It’s worse.  Much worse.  This flick is so bad that it makes Across the Universe look like Tommy in comparison.

 

The plot is contrived as all get out.  Meryl Streep is this slut dog whose daughter is getting married to some bland dude in Greece.  The daughter doesn’t know who her real dad is but thanks to a diary kept by her whorish mamma the year before she was born, she is able to find three of her mother’s various dalliances (Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, and Colin Firth) and invites them to the wedding in hopes of finding who’s her actual biological father.  Of course, they are all idiots and can’t figure out WHY they are there and perpetually make asses of themselves.  Then you got to sit through a lot of claustrophobically choreographed musical numbers and some stupid wedding shit.  Anyhoo, it gets worse because in the end we STILL never learn who the Sperminator that knocked up Meryl is.  To add to the eye-rolling factor, Brosnan proposes to Meryl, Stellan shacks up with her ugly-as-a-foot friend and Colin turns gay.  Ugh.

 

Seriously, why did this stupid cunt need to haul three dudes out onto an island in the middle of nowhere (to a wedding no less) only to never even find out who her real father was?  Honestly, all she had to do was go on the Maury Povich Show and get him to do a paternity test.  Maury’s got a fleet of doctors with mad DNA testing skills, he could’ve figured out that shit in one half-hour segment and there wouldn’t have been all that damn singing.

 

Speaking of singing, the movie doesn’t even use ABBA’s best songs.  There’s a shitload of ABBA songs I never even heard before and some of the songs (like “Gimme!  Gimme!  Gimme!  A Man After Midnight”) are either truncated and/or have their lyrics changed up.  And I hate to break it to you folks, but we don’t even get to hear “Fernando”!!!  Fuck dude, why would you put in all these lame ass songs instead of putting in fucking “Fernando”?  How hard would it have been to work that song into the plot?  All you had to do was make the fiancé a Spanish revolutionary and BOOM; you got an excuse to play “Fernando”.  Do I have to think of EVERYTHING, movie?

 

But nothing and I mean NOTHING can prepare you for the horror that is Pierce Brosnan singing.  People, I’ve sat through countless horror films this year and I haven’t experienced a sight as horrifying as watching Pierce try to sing.  Thank God he’s no longer James Bond because his atrocious warbling would make M revoke his License to Kill status PDQ.  Really folks, I think George Lazenby would’ve had a better singing voice that poor Pierce.

 

SOS indeed…

THE YOUNG GRADUATES (1971) *

18 year-old Mindy (Patricia Wymer from The Babysitter) spurns her dune buggy driving boyfriend to have a fling with her middle-aged teacher.  When she finds out she might be pregnant she borrows the dune buggy, heads for Big Sur, runs out of gas and gets picked up hitchhiking by a couple of rowdy bikers who almost rape her.  Mindy escapes their greasy clutches and falls asleep on the beach only to wake up in the middle of a hippie rally that gets busted in a drug raid.  Somehow, Mind miraculously still finds time to graduate.

 

The Young Graduates certainly has all the key ingredients you’d expect from a Crown International Picture from the 70’s.  There are carefree teenagers looking for kicks, students having sex with teachers, gratuitous hippie slang, bikers, and rapists.  Unfortunately it isn’t a crowning achievement for Crown.  The flick is too slow moving, too long, and too disjointed to be much good.  We do get a tiny bit of nudity in the girls’ shower room and when a couple of hippies go skinny-dipping, but not enough of it to get an R rating.  Not to mention the fact that the whole graduation thing takes about 45 seconds of the movie!

 

It is kinda cool to see Bruno Kirby and Dennis Christopher in early roles, but anyone accustomed to such Crown fare like Trip with the Teacher will be severely disappointed.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 IN 3-D (1982) ****

The first issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland (RIP Forry) I ever bought featured a big spread on Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D and my astonished youngling’s eyes were scared shitless at the sight of Jason Vorhees (Richard Brooker) dispatching stupid teenagers with various weapons.  A few years later, I got to see the flick during Fox’s Afternoon Movie.  (God remember how great THAT used to be?)  I couldn’t have been more than seven or so and the movie lived up to the pictures in the Famous Monsters.  I was riveted to my seat.  Even though it was like two in the afternoon I had every light on in the damn house.  The harrowing last half hour of the flick when our heroine Chris (Dana Kimmell) is relentlessly pursued by Jason, I tell you I nearly shit my pants.  That night I even think I wound up sleeping in my parents’ room I was so traumatized. 

 

And by traumatized, I mean I loved every second of it.

 

Now although I saw just about every 3-D movie that came out in the theater during the 80’s (yes, even Spacehunter), I never got to see Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D like God intended.  While most 3-D movies are entirely dependent on the 3-D to tell their story; what makes Part 3 so awesome is that it totally works either in 2-D OR 3-D.  Can you say that about Jaws 3-D or Amityville 3-D?  Didn’t think so.

 

Basically Jason wakes up after getting a machete to the shoulder in Part 2 (didn’t faze him one bit) and immediately starts killing more people (although I guess this makes the film take place on Saturday the 14th, but never mind).  More horny teens arrive at Camp Crystal Lake (although they never call it that, but never mind) and get slaughtered by Jason.  We get a cleaver to the chest, a knitting needle to the skull, pitchforking, a spear gun to the eye, a guy that gets split in half, (from the groin up), a knife through the throat, a fire poker through the stomach, and in the film’s standout moment; Jason crushes a guy’s head until his eyeball pops out.

 

I cannot give director Steve Miner enough credit here.  He did a fine job on Part 2, but he really kicked ass on this one.  The man really knows how to ratchet up the suspense and pay off each kill in a satisfying manner.  Miner also gives us one of the most grueling Final Girl segments in slasher film history as Dana Kimmell goes one on one with Jason for nearly 20 nerve-wracking minutes.

 

Another great thing about 3 is Jason himself.  Of course, this is the installment where Jason gets his trademark hockey mask.  You got to wait a good hour until he puts it on, but once he does brother, watch out!  I liked how Miner always had Jason lurking on the corners of the screen (Miner really took advantage of the widescreen format) and never once resorted to first-person Jason-Cam like most directors in the series.  Also Jason RUNS like a son of a bitch in this movie, which makes the terror more immediate and threatening.  The way he doggedly pursues Kimmell will have you on the edge of your seat so long you’re liable to get hemorrhoids. 

 

The only complaint I really have about 3 is that the breasts are pretty sparse.  Tracy Savage has an amazing rack, but Miner always keeps them just below the bottom of the frame.  Occasionally they’ll pop up and for those brief seconds, they look quite lovely.  C’mon Steve, you’re making a 3-D movie here and you got a girl with two enormous talents, why don’t you showcase them in glorious 3-D!?!

 

That’s OK though.  To me, Part 3 is by far the most suspenseful one in the series.  Most of the Friday films solely exist to show teenagers getting butchered, but precious few of them actually bother with suspense.  The characters are also likeable for the most part and you aren’t just rooting for them to die as you’d later do in the series.  3 also has a funky Disco remix of the patented Harry Manfredini theme song that totally rocks.  Put that shit on your Ipod!

 

Now I’ve seen this flick over and over since I was seven and always in 2-D.  I never ever thought of it any other way really and always figured that I’d never get to see it in three dimensions.  Now Paramount has finally gotten off their asses and put out a 3-D version on DVD.  All I got to say is:  ABOUT FUCKING TIME!

 

I know what you’re asking me, is the 3-D DVD worth it?  Okay, I watched the flick TWICE. Once on my 27 inch 4X3 TV and once on my 32 inch LCD 16X9 TV with an up-converting DVD player. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give the 3-D effects on a regular TV about a 4. While the depth-of-field effects look great, the stuff that is supposed to leap out through the screen doesn’t work all that well. On a bigger 16X9 with a couple adjustments (the brighter and sharper the picture, the better), I'd give the effects an 8. The 3-D is very effective during the scenes where stuff SLOWLY moves through the screen (like the TV antennae scene) but there is still a little bit of a doubling effect on the scenes where something abruptly comes out of the screen (like the spear gun).  Since my DVD player up-converts DVDs to near Hi-Def quality, the picture was a lot sharper than on a regular player, so that may have helped the effects work better as well. For optimal picture quality, turn off all the lights too.

 

Look folks, I'm a HUGE Friday 3 fan.  It's my personal favorite of the series and since I never had the chance to see it in the theater in 3-D, this is a perfectly acceptable substitute and is totally worthy of a purchase.  Besides, how else do you intend to see:

 

  • 3-D Pole.
  • 3-D TV antennae.
  • 3-D Snake.
  • 3-D Baseball bat.
  • 3-D Joint.
  • 3-D Roadkill.
  • 3-D Eyeball.
  • 3-D Wallet.
  • 3-D Fist.
  • 3-D Yo-yo.
  • 3-D Jehri Curls.
  • 3-D Pitchfork (Handle).
  • 3-D Pitchfork (Sharp end).
  • 3-D Juggling.
  • 3-D Spear gun.
  • 3-D Popcorn.
  • 3-D Rat.
  • 3-D Fire poker.
  • 3-D Popping eyeball.
  • 3-D Axe.
  • 3-D Hands.
  • 3-D Canoe.
Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D has enough eye-popping (LITERALLY!) 3-D effects to put it at the Number 9 Spot on the Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 1982 List; right below Tron and just above Doctor Butcher, M.D.