Regular readers know that we here at Missile Test love us some schlock. Especially the ’50s kind, with its cheap sets, hammy actors, ridiculous monsters, and short ties. At first glance, 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers would fit right in. But, this flick ain’t schlock. Oh, no.
This may have been the wrong film for me to watch while there’s a lunatic in the White House. Seven Days in May, the classic political thriller from 1964, tells the story of a Marine Colonel who stumbles upon a military plot to overthrow the president. It’s a gripping story, full of the opposing ideologies of the Atomic Age, and of deterministic governance. Its ideas are grand, and yet simple. The nuance of true politics is lacking, as are the skeletons in every president’s closet that make declarations about fairness and the will of the people awkward to hear, but that doesn’t matter. The story is amazing. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Seven Days in May”
Never judge a book by its cover. Or, in this case, never judge a movie by its production company, unless it’s a movie by The Asylum. Barricade, written by Michaelbrent Collings, and directed by Andrew Currie, is a case in point. Right there in the opening credits, there it is: the logo for the WWE, Vince McMahon’s wrestling entertainment behemoth. Barricade is one of the growing stable of films released by WWE Studios, the Hollywood offshoot of the parent company. This company is responsible for such films as The Marine and See No Evil, both featuring WWE wrestlers in starring roles. Looking at their IMDb page, one of their upcoming, straight to video releases, will be Jingle All the Way 2. Oh, horror. On paper, Barricade doesn’t look all that promising. But, as any sports fan can tell a viewer, how a team looks on paper can differ substantially from what happens when the games are played. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Barricade”
I can get the heart of this review out of the way quickly. Wake in Fright is the best movie I have seen in at least the last couple of years. Directed by Ted Kotcheff and written by Evan Jones, Wake in Fright has an interesting history. From 1971, it was close to being a lost film for a long time, with the only known copy in existence of such poor quality that it was unfit for transfer to home media. Twenty years ago, Anthony Buckley, who edited the original film, began to search for an intact copy. After much effort, he succeeded. A restoration was finally undertaken in 2009, and the film was released to the general public once again. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Wake in Fright”
Once upon a time, there was a decade called the ’90s. In that decade, Hollywood fell in love with CGI. Not because it looked good, or that it served to immerse a viewer further into a film. It certainly did not matter that CGI was still in its infancy — that there were better methods for applying visual effects to film. Nor was there a sense of charity on the part of the studios — a nurturing instinct meant to develop a process that was clearly important to the future of film. Goodness, no. CGI was cheaper than traditional F/X, that’s all. And boy, did it look cheap. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: The Arrival”
Last week saw a unique event in film. Four John Carpenter films landed in Brooklyn as part of a mini-retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The featured films were Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, They Live, and Escape from New York. All unique films from a unique filmmaker. B-movie schlock artist or perennially misunderstood genius, depending upon who’s doing the watching, Carpenter is a knowledgeable director who draws on his education, talents, and the best aspects of low-grade cinema to craft films that are unmistakably his. As soon as the opening credits roll, one enters Carpenter’s world. Viewer hears music (usually) from Carpenter’s own synthesizer, and the credits themselves are all the same white serif font on a black background, no matter which of his films is playing. Anamorphic lens effects and dark lighting cross among his works. Finally there is the thematic distrust of authority as a conceptual continuity throughout. All of this makes Carpenter’s films easily recognizable to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of his oeuvre. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Retroactive: The Thing”