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Seven more movies

There are so many good movies out there — a hundred years of old movies, plus thousands of odd or artsy, foreign or forgotten or DIY movies made just for the joy of making 'em — that if you only watch whatever's on Netflix or playing at the twentyplex, you're missing out.  

All these films are streaming for free and without commercials, if you have a good adblocker. Sites like Putlocker are torrent indexes, and thus legally questionable, so experts recommend using a VPN.

Attack from Space (1965) — BIG NO — Japanese sci-fi from that country's silly era. The Sapphire galaxy is launching war on Earth, but luckily the Emerald planet is benevolently sending help to protect our puny Earth — a superhero called StarMan. The space-alien costumes are preposterous and the story is nonsense, but the space-music is cute.

Creation of the Humanoids (1962) — YES — I had never heard of this movie, and wasn’t expecting squat based on its ridiculous title, but to my surprise it’s smart and interesting. 

World War III has killed billions of us, and of the few survivors, fewer still are able to have children. What’s left of humanity relies more and more on robots so advanced that they design their own improved models. The robots are unable to harm humans (it’s in their Asimov programming), but many people feel threatened. Craigus, the main character here, is a leader of an anti-robot group, and let’s end the description there.

It’s unclear until the end whether the robots are victims or threats, and the cast is all-white but there are moments that clearly echo racism, including Craigus’s response when his sister falls in love with a robot. The issues and answers here are deeper than you’d expect in a cheap sci-fi flick, especially one from the early '60s. Some of the dialogue clunks, but a lot of it clicks. Bring your brains.

Memorable moments:
• “The only crime that can be committed against a robot is vandalism.”
• The argument between Craigus and his sister.
• The laughing robot.
• The ending: Holy crap — really?

The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950) — BIG YES — A San Francisco detective has a conflict of interest in a murder investigation, and here’s the twist: His partner is his brother, and it's kinda hard to fool your brother.

Lee J Cobb is perfect. The movie's femme fatale, Jane Wyatt, is best known (to me) as Spock’s mother in Star Trek IV. John Dall as Cobb’s kid brother is irritating, but he's irritating in everything and for this movie I think he’s supposed to be. Classic noir, filmed in San Francisco.

Trivia: Here’s an interesting (but spoiler-filled!) look at Fort Point, where the movie's climax takes place.

Memorable moments:
• The murder moment — it’s plausibly self-defense, but any veteran cop knows better than to trust the justice system.
• Phone call for John Dall.
• Fort Point, the tower, and the scarf.

Midget Zombie Takeover (2013) — YES — This zero-budget zombie flick was made by amateurs, I sure hope. Some of the acting is embarrassing, and despite “midgets” in the title the zombies appear to be of ordinary height. Under the ground rules here, zombie attack victims can’t fight back, they can only scream and lie there as they're eaten, presumably because fighting back might mess up the zombies’ makeup. There’s one brief scene toward the middle that's mildly scary for five seconds.

On the plus side, all the women wear bikinis all through the movie, but it passes the Bechtel test with flying colors. What makes it rock, though, is that every five or ten minutes there’s a line of dialogue that’s (intentionally!) funny. I laughed out loud 6-8 times, including once for about 15 seconds uninterrupted. It's wildly stupid, though.

And who says I don't watch 21st-century movies?

Mondo Trasho (1969) — MAYBE — This was John Waters’ first feature film, so the legend begins here, and it is disgusting. I usually had a smile on my face, but between the stalking, toe-licking, amputation, insane dancing nudity, mockery of religion, vomit, pigfucking, and general perversion, this is not appropriate for your Aunt Matilda.

It opens with a masked man chopping the heads off chickens, and the birds flopping around in the mud — not a pretty sight. There are no pretty sights here, but that’s the movie’s low point.

Waters filmed this without microphones, so you'll hear only pirated pop music with a few words and screams looped in later. Every moment is intentionally uncomfortable, and you’ll need a sicko sense of humor to make it to the end. To be honest, I probably would've bailed (and missed the hilarious final scene) if I saw this in a theater, without the ability to pause and watch it just five or ten minutes at a time.

The Red House (1947) — MAYBE — Edward G Robinson plays a farmer with a wooden leg, who hires a high school boy to help with the chores. The farmer’s daughter is a little too happy about having the boy around, and when the kid walks home at the end of his first shift, Edward G seems awfully concerned that he’s taking a shortcut through the woods. It's an enjoyable mystery with a wackadoodle resolution.

 
Spider Baby (1967) — YES — Are you in the mood for something quite strange? Jack Hill specialized in making bizarre movies, and this one is about three neurologically-damaged children being raised by their dead father's chauffeur. The lovely and talented Sid Haig plays young Ralph, and Lon Chaney Jr is Bruno, the chauffeur. This is probably the cheapest movie Chaney ever made, and it’s more of a spectacle than a scare. Quite a spectacle, though.

Memorable moments:
• “You’re not supposed to play Spider any more.”
• Ralph riding in the dumb waiter.
• “Ralph is allowed to eat anything that he catches.”
• “Are you a horror film fan, Miss Morris?”

8/4/2021

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2 comments:

  1. John Waters is two directors, the early Waters is like a 10yearold making poop jokes, and the later Waters is that kid grown up and making almost Disney movies.

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    Replies
    1. Truth, and I like them both, but early Waters was a revelation to me. I saw those movies when I needed them, needed the confirmation that unusual is AOK.

      I don't believe in heroes, but if I did, Waters would be one.

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