Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I know my monthly 'Every Movie I Have Watched' posts don't exactly fill people with joy so here is the Readers' Digest version of just about every film I have watched over the last couple of years. Instead of, once a month, wading through my arse-numbingly tedious rants about thirty or so films I destroyed my brain with - just come here and read this instead. It'll save you hours.

Every Film I Have Watched in the Last Month:
The Short Form

A one-eyed cyborg bounty hunter, driven by the memory of his dead wife, stalks the post-apocalyptic wastelands known, as usual, as the 'Forbidden Zone'. He hunts down 'renegades' who are jailed, then forcibly recruited into taking part in Man's first (and therefore doomed) manned mission to Mars. Tricked into accompanying them by the Evil Corporation that runs everything, the cyborg meets a comely young female crew member with a penchant for wearing thin T-shirts and getting wet. On the way to Mars they encounter a derelict spaceship of unknown origin, board it and unwittingly bring back on-board a biologically unlikely (all teeth and penises), shape-changing, ravening creature which eats the crew one by one in order of ethnicity. The one-eyed cyborg and the girl with big knockers survive after outrageously breaking the fundamental laws of physics*. The end.

This film was almost certainly watched on a VHS tape that came in a big box with a picture on the front of a vaguely symmetrical (but unshaven) hero wearing a bandanna wrapped round his mullet, and holding some form of giant futuristic pump-action machine gun. The cover will also sport a woman almost not wearing a bikini while holding a very big sword with both hands. There will also be three cars, stripped of their roofs and gussied up with the sort of pointy, overly showy armour Renaissance knights used to pimp their horses with.

Above all this wish-fulfilling art work, that usually bears very little relation to what actually appears on the screen, the film's title is in block capitals and filled with a metallic gradient.

The film will almost certainly be preceded by trailers for films no one has ever heard of - many of them starring Emily Lloyd.

I love it.

*The Evil Corporation has really good lawyers and will get them off on appeal.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I've been avoiding the news for months now.  I used to be an avid consumer of news.  (BBC news mostly - I trust the BBC. Deep down most Brits do.  We pay for it.  It's our news.)  But somewhere over the last couple of years, finally pissed off with getting depressing crap shoved in my ear on an hourly basis, I stopped listening to the radio.  No more infofacts about this week's killer 'flu, aircraft disaster, signs of global ecological collapse, penny-pinching, cost-cutting measures imposed on the poorest by sanctimonious millionaire bean-counters, and all the rest of the gloom, doom, and painful to listen to bilge. I just stopped.  I don't even look at the headlines of the newspapers in the shops any more.  I'm a reformed infojunkmonkey.

I'm not totally out of touch.  I do get one of the Scottish Sundays - once a week (dur!) but it usually lies around the house unread (apart from the arts section) for a couple of months before I'll finally get round to looking at the news bits. The Business, and Sports bits are in the recycling before they've been in the house five minutes.   Three month old news is fascinating when you're using it to line a bin or lay it under the cat litter tray.  (Or at least more fascinating than lining a bin or shoving stuff under a cat litter tray.) After a couple of months it's amazing how very irrelevant (or wrong) it all is.  We obviously didn't all die from pandemic Goose flu, the world wasn't hit by any giant asteroids (that I remember - mind you maybe it has been and I just haven't read that paper yet), and who the hell really cares who Ryan Giggs was shagging? (Who IS Ryan Giggs by the way?)  I have got to like not knowing or caring what's going on.  It's very liberating.  I no longer spend time worrying about things that become irrelevant a few days later.  Now I spend my time worrying about really important things that I actually have some control over like: 'What are we having for tea?', and 'Do those windows need cleaning or can I leave them for another year?', and 'Can I sneak another custard cream out of the tin without the kids noticing me at it and demanding their share?'  You know, important stuff.

The other day I was in a local charity shop, raking through the books when the too loud radio playing in the corner - why is it  always near the books? - broke off from playing crap hits from the 80s and announced the news.  As this was Nevis Radio - a service that makes The Outer Hebrides Broadcasting Corporation look like CNN, I didn't run screaming from the building but I tried to ignore it.  I actually managed it for a few seconds and if the news had been of the usual 'Politicians call each other stinky poo names,' or British Holiday makers upset by mass genocide in random third world country.'  I might have succeeded.   But I was blindsided.  The big, breaking news,  headline story in the Radio Nevis news for that day was....

Someone had found their lost dog.

Seriously that was it.  Someone had found their lost dog.  This dog.  I don't know how long I stood there listening to the presenter (who I had probably passed in the street earlier in the day) shambolically stuttering on, about a dog, lost by its owners on the West Highland way a couple of weeks before, and then finally lured into a garage by a trail of dog food in Kinlochleven, but it felt like hours.  It was probably only two or three minutes but it felt like an agonizingly long time.  It was the sort of  heart-warming, upbeat "... and finally..." story that anchormen squeeze into the last moments of a show to stop you slashing your wrists in despair after all the death, destruction, and celebrity shagging that they have just pummelled you with for the past half hour.  (Oh! Christ! We're all going to die from leftie council sponsored suicide bombers letting off cancer bombs in Tescos pass the Stanley knife -  Aaaahhh! Look at the ikkle doggie....) But stretched out to fill a whole news slot because, in the last 24 hours, bugger-all had happened in the whole of Lochaber (population 20,000 or thereabouts) worth mentioning.  Or at least nothing anyone had bothered to bring to the attention of the stations crack team of news-hounds - aka Kirsty the switchboard operator.

Except it had. 

The second item on the local news was that Fort William had been confirmed as the venue for the  UCI Mountain Bike World Cup  for at least the next two years.  A decision that will pump tens of thousands of pounds into the local economy and help keep many local businesses afloat.  But as the story combined both business and sport - I stopped listening.  Maybe that's why it wasn't the lead.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I have finally become invisible. This is an ambition I have had since I was about 16 when, in the school changing rooms one afternoon after PE, I realised that all the girls I secretly lusted after were, at that very moment, all probably naked in a shower the other side of the wall against which I was leaning (trying manfully to hide and not expose my own naked flesh to all the other bigger, louder, hairier boys in the room).

Today (35 years too late) I finally achieved it.

For weeks Merriol and the kids have been nagging me to shave: "Please shave, Daddy; you're prickly.","Any chance that..." "Go have a shave and I'll think about it...", etc.

I don't shave often. About three of four times a year. I hate it. But there comes a point when I get so fed up with the scratchiness of it, the constant nagging from the kids, and the lack of nookie that I give in and off it comes.

Last night I shaved. After everyone else was asleep and I had succumbed to another couple of episode of Battlestar Galactica I shaved. Took me three disposable razors, but it's off.

This morning no one noticed. It's now about half past ten in the morning I have been up for a couple of hours (give or take an hour) cooked breakfast, loaded the washing machine, etc., etc. etc.. and no one has noticed that I am now clean-shaven.

I have become invisible. All my family see of me is this disembodied beard floating around.

I'm off to the High School.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Brief Snippet From the Screenplay of Somebody Else's Life

Today Daisy, Eben and I are having a picnic in the quarry. Nearby a young lad and his parents are feeding the ducks and any other opportunistic birds that pass by.




(Giving in.)



That seagull did a poo.

Nice to know it's not just my kids.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Another Brief Snippet From the Screenplay of my Life



(To vendor) How much are the DVDs?

Give me a quid. I don't want to take them
back with me. Give me a quid for the box.

The whole box?

Yeah. I just want to get rid of them.

Do I get the box as well?

No I need that. Hang on,
I'll get you a bag...

I won't bore you with all the contents but some are on their way to the nearest charity shop; the first one I watched had a chainsaw decapitation, Caroline Munro in the shower, and was as funny as hell; and a couple are on eBay. I'm a happy camper.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

May. In which I almost watched a few decent films:
  1. Shock (1977 aka Beyond the Door II) - Mario Bava's last film which I bought for a quid at a charity shop (I sometimes wonder if all those nice old ladies know what they are selling). I was sold on this DVD by the tag line, 'Beyond the door the ever continuing cycle of evil is about to occur... again!'. I loved that 'again!'. The other thing that sold me on it was the fact that on the back of the sleeve they seemed to think the film was called 'The Grim Reaper'.

    What we get on screen is the usual Italian OTT Grand Guignol full of nightmares that might be real, possibly possessed creepy children, pick-ax murder, walking wardrobes, and people slashing their own throats with Stanley knives. All good clean family fun. It would have been a lot more fun if we had actually been made to care about why any of this bloody nonsense was going on. As it was the film was just a series of set pieces of 'horror' with brief interludes of people explaining plot points to each other. Beyond the Door II has, as far as I can tell, nothing at all to do with any other film called Beyond the Door. It's a non-sequel.

  2. Sleepwalker/s (1997) - that slash is there in the title because what I watched was called one thing on the disc, and another on the sleeve - and I wrote 'what I watched' because 'what I watched' turns out to have been nailed together from two episodes of a short-lived TV series (called Sleepwalkers). The show, which starred Naomi Watts in a vest (hubba hubba!), dealt with a team of investigators able to dive into other people's dreams. The show looks like it wasn't bad but was cancelled by the powers that be after 9 episodes.

  3. The Last Producer (2000 aka Final Hit) - Burt Reynolds plays an over the hill movie producer desperate to raise $50,000 to option a hot script before a deadline. Almost a remake of The Independent but incredibly unfunny. I think it was supposed to be a comedy - and possibly a satire too. Desperately over-wordy, dull, confused, and self-indulgent. Turd of the year so far.

  4. Witchboard III: The Possession (1995) - another one of my recent haul of four movies on two discs sets - featuring people you've never heard of (but vaguely recognise) in films no one wants to pay more than 50p to watch. This one was another of them directed by Peter Svatek ( - who? He also directed last month's Hemoglobin.) Possibly the only film ever made in which a character is attacked and killed by a butterfly collection. The evil fat banker collapsing behind his desk screaming in pain with dead butterflies stuck all over him has to be one of the most ludicrous things I have seen on screen for a while. Curiously enough it was my second film in a row where the central character has to raise 50,000 dollars and gets charged 25% interest by an overweight money lender.

    IMDb's Plot keywords for the film are:
    Ouija, Stockbroker, Landlord, Freak Accident, Ouija Board, Roman Numeral In Title, Numbered Sequel, Third In Trilogy, Spirit, Demon, Suicide, Sex, Sequel, Part Of Trilogy, Supernatural, Third Part, Djinn, Evil Spirit, Independent Film, Number In Title.
    Which just about says it all.

  5. Blade Runner (1982) - Thought it was about time I watched something worth watching. And what better to watch on Star Wars Day (May the 4th) but Blade Runner. Makes sense. (113)

  6. Back to the Future: Part II - Pizza night with the kids. Part III next week.

  7. Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979) - low budget, better than average independent SF. Not great but not bad, intriguing ideas let down by obvious cash limitations and uninspired direction. The director later sued the makers of The Island for plagiarism.

  8. One Eyed Jacks (1961) - A western that was originally slated to be directed by Kubrick but ended up being directed by the film's star, Marlon Brando. It's been on my list for a while since I read somewhere (I wish I could remember where) that Brando was totally out of control during production and would sit around for days with a full crew just waiting for the right kind of wave to appear on the beach before he would shoot. The implication of the article was that the film was a self-indulgent product of a towering ego gone mad with power. The director's cut came in at 300 minutes - that's 5 hours! The released version ran to 141 minutes and, although over-long and sedate in some places still manages to look hurried in others, often the film jumps into scenes far too late for comfort and leaves the viewer too far behind. There is some good stuff here though; some cracking acting in minor parts and Karl Malden in particular was great as the villain. These days, for whatever reason, the film is in the public domain and the quality of the commercial DVD I watched was not good, the aspect ratio was cropped to 4:3 and god knows how many generations old the transferred tape was. It was not good at all, very faded. Even the version available here, at looks better than my disc (and isn't badly cropped either). Which is a pity, because some of the cinematography was obviously very good even in the debased form I got to see it. The French, unsurprisingly, have restored it:

    The above cap comes from the French restored version.

    The commercial bare bones copy I watched last night looked like this:

    And the copy on looks like this:

  9. The Day The Sky Exploded ( 1958 ) - I'm going to have to stop buying DVDs. The version of The Day The Sky Exploded available for free on YouTube ( is far better quality than the disc I paid money for (albeit very little money). My home copy, which came as part of a boxset of crap, is very jumpy and transferred from a very battered print. I'm tempted to watch the whole movie again, on-line, just to find the moment where one of the female characters walks through a door and approaches two scientists hunched over a console. They are staring at a radar scope image of the impending, rapidly approaching, doom from space. They look up as she walks over to them and as she opens her mouth to speak, the film jumps and she vanishes - leaving the two scientists pondering deeply and concernedly about what she just said. We have no idea what they are thinking about because many feet of film are missing. I wonder if it's in the YouTube version? because I do wonder what she said; it was obviously very important to the two characters who heard her. I hope it was more interesting than the rest of the dialogue. A very dull film.

  10. Smash and Grab (1937 aka Larceny Street) - Mildly diverting, very thin, British Thin Man knock off, with the leading man (scenarist, and producer) Jack Buchanan getting more Vaseline on the lens for his close-ups than the heroine. The heroine meanwhile spent most of her time trying to avoid turning her profile to the camera - it might just have been a coincidence but she did appear to have the sort of nose that would fill the screen. You can tell I was gripped can't you?

  11. Flushed Away (2006) - a rewatch with the kids and funnier than I remember.

  12. Wedlock (1991) - Just how many Rutger Hauer movies have I seen this year? (Enough for me to know how to spell his name at least. Hang on. I'll look... Armageddon, Flesh+Blood, Hemoglobin, Blade Runner... and this one. Five? Is that all? it feels like a lot more.) Wedlock almost sank my 'All films set in a future prison are automatically shite' rule. The future prison here has an almost good SF idea at its heart. All the prisoners are fitted with collars. Under certain circumstances the collars will explode taking the prisoner's head off with a spectacular and messy bang. The collars are electronically paired with another inmate's collar. Nobody knows who they are paired with. If paired collars get more than a fixed distance apart, or are tampered with, BOTH collars explode. The outer prison wall is just a line painted on the ground. Step over the line and there is no guarantee that your unknown partner is near enough to stop your head being blown off. This has the effect of turning the inmates into their own warders as it's in all of their individual interests to make sure that no one escapes in case they are linked with the escapee. It's a pretty nice idea to play SF games with. Our hero goes on the lam with a female prisoner who has found out that he is her partner and the script soon descends into a long chase as the ill matched pair (who have to stay within a hundred yards of each other) have to elude the law, the hero's former partners in crime, and it all gets very tedious. So (hurrah!) rule is intact though slightly modified: 'All films set in a future prison are automatically shite; no matter how well thought out the prison is.'

    On the plus side it did have a brief appearance by the yummy O-Lan Jones who I last saw painted green and being the best thing in the otherwise fucking awful Martians Go Home

    She looks good flesh coloured too.

  13. Koyaanisqatsi (1982) - Number three child wouldn't go to sleep; I needed my nightly film fix. Solution? Turn off the lights and watch a 96 minute abstract documentary montage with a hypnotic score by Philip Glass and no dialogue*. 5 minutes later he was asleep in my arms. 90 minutes after that I managed to tear my eyes away from the screen... I love Koyaanisqatsi.

    * Though my DVD copy does have subtitles. (I'm afraid to look.)

  14. Gamer (2009) - Another piece of evidence to support my thesis that ''All films set in a future prison are automatically shite; no matter how well thought out the prison is.'' I have no idea how I manage to end up watching so many bad SF films set in futuristic penal systems; I certainly don't go looking for the things. They just turn up. My normal selection procedure for buying crappy second hand DVDs runs like this: Does it have Rutger Hauer in it? Yes. Have I ever heard of it? No. Does it have any combination of scantily clad women / explosions / men with rayguns and / or supposedly horrifying monsters on the front of the box? Is it less than a quid? If it scores more than three of the above it's an automatic purchase. This one failed most of those tests (all save the less than a quid one) but I bought it anyway - and it still turned out to be a totally shite SF movie.

    Gameris a frenetic yet boring (an extremely difficult trick to pull off) mess that makes the Deathrace 2000 remake look sedate and interesting. (And, it turns out, a fucking bootleg too so I won't get my less than a quid back by selling it on eBay. Grrrrr.)

  15. Back to the Future: Part III (1990) - My least favourite of the three (part 2 is the best) completing the Pizza Night run of the trilogy. Number one daughter was gripped by all of them.

  16. Hell Comes to Frogtown ( 1988 ) - I was very disappointed. Mind you I don't suppose anything could live up to that title. Pretty meh Post-Apoc tale of a Keith Chegwin lookalike sent on a dangerous mission into a mutant reservation to rescue then impregnate six women being held captive by giant mutant frogs. The best joke comes in the first 10 seconds and after that it goes downhill rapidly but never makes it to the 'so bad it's good' depths - and was never going to be as funny as it thought it was.

  17. The Time Travelers (1964) - a rewatch. It has its clunky moments - the 'comedic' moments were particularly heavy handed - but it still stands up head and shoulders above most of the SF dross of the period. And I was reminded of a thought I had the first time I saw it. I may have mentioned it somewhere before but I can't find it. This film was made in 1964, and in it various stage magic tricks are used to simulate incomprehensible future technology.

    Clarke's oft-quoted third law, 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.' dates from 1973.

    Beating Arthur C Clarke to the draw by 10 years? I'd be proud of that.

  18. The Horror of Party Beach (1964) - even with the help of the MST3K crew this is a pretty unwatchable flick that promised WEIRD ATOMIC BEASTS THAT LIVE OFF HUMAN BLOOD!!! but then most cheapo SF/horror films of the day did the same.

  19. Antropophagus (1980 aka The Grim Reaper) - So I find out why Shock (1977 aka Beyond the Door II) was mistakenly labelled The Grim Reaper on the back of the box. Just how many Italian horror movies are there that end with the villain being killed with a pick-axe? Not that many I would guess. Gods! this was a boring piece of crap. It's reckoned by many to be a seminal Italian horror masterpiece - though reading the forums those that do so all seem to have first seen it when they were about 12 - coming to it as an aged 50 year old it had me yawning from the start, checking the elapsed time after about 30 minutes and the rest of the show wondering why Italians seemed to think long silent shots of people walking around slowly is in any way scary. Maybe it's an Italian thing.

    "Mama mia! I can't look! She's wandering aimlessly again!"

    The version I saw was shorn of the two notorious shots that got it labelled as a 'Video Nasty' back in the days. I don't think I missed anything. Now to turn the disc over and watch...

  20. The Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek, Part II (1985) - a Charles B. Pierce pictures inc. production written by Charles B. Pierce, produced by Charles B. Pierce, directed by Charles B. Pierce and starring Charles B. Pierce - and his son Chuck. Filmed in Fouke, Arkansas (which is the way I felt when I had finished watching it) The Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek, Part II (aka Boggy Creek ll: and the Legend Continues) treads a fine line between boredom and tedium. Nothing happens. And then it happens again. Sometimes nothing happens in flashback with a stocking tied over the lens to make it all misty and, you know, flashbacky. In short we spend 90 minutes watching Charles B. Pierce being a pompous prick telling people to 'be quiet' and 'get back' a lot - as nothing happens. And then it ends. Highlights include his co-star son (who plays one of his students) calling him 'Pop' on screen. And Charles B. Pierce running around in too short shorts and a tight moob-hugging shirt holding a handgun - jumping over a small bush! Charles B. Pierce also provided the endless soporific voice-over. Fans of Charles B. Pierce may like it.

  21. Katalin Varga (2009) - slow, beautifully shot (and even more beautifully soundscaped) tale of revenge. Completed for £28,000 by a first time director with a stunning central performance by Hilda Peter.

  22. Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010) - which I enjoyed a lot more than I was expecting to and, I suspect, a lot more than the first one (which I can hardly remember).

  23. Amateur (1994) - to my shame I only know one Hal Harltley film. This is it.

  24. Alien Trespass (2009) - Hoooo boy! Another incredibly long 90 minutes in which trashy SF B-pictures from the 1950s are mercilessly and relentlessly homaged to death before your very eyes. The film climaxes with the alien monster attacking our heroes in a cinema showing The Blob (the climax of which has the alien blob of the title attacking the local cinema). Oh the recursive fun. This 'aliens attacking people in a cinema watching The Blob attack a cinema' is turning into the stock cliché ending for 'affectionate spoof' films relentlessly homaging trashy SF B-pictures of the period. Given the rich pickings in the cliché-ridden field which it's spoofing, Alien Trespass manages to miss or fumble every one of them it picked up. The pace is leaden. The story is an unfocused mess and the script is just a tedious bore. I wanted to like it. I really did. I love the originals but I sat there for the whole show waiting for a joke to arrive. Any joke. Didn't even have to be a good one.I was still waiting as the end credits rolled. The originals were funnier.

  25. Mulholland Drive (2001) - second veiwing and I'm still bewildered. It took me four viewing before I 'got' Eraserhead. I think Mulholland Drive is about lesbians - but I'm not sure.

Missing CD? Contact vendor

Free CD
Please take care
in removing from cover.

Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

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