12:01, and a few more movies



At the start, it says, "A film by Jack Sholder", and I literally yelled at the screen, "Oh yeah, baby." Sholder made The Hidden, one of my favorite low-budget big action sci-fi movies.

This starts as a slight comedy, with Barry (Jonathan Silverman) in Personnel infatuated with Dr Lisa (Helen Slater) in R&D, at some super high-tech corporation.

Then Lisa's killed in a random drive-by shooting (all the rage in the mid-90s), but when Barry wakes up the next morning it's the day before again. Everything's happening the same as yesterday, and Slater's alive and well.

Yes, that's the same setup as Groundhog Day, which came out five months before 12:01. That's too quick to be a rip-off, so I'll chalk it up as a Hollywood coincidence, like the summer of Real Genius and Weird Science and My Science Project.

Barry starts as a nebbish but improves himself day-by-the-same-day, plus there's a mystery for him to solve using clues from yesterday again, and if he sets things right there's a life to be saved.

Like Barry, the movie also needs some time to set things right — it's only mildly interesting until about halfway through, when all the elements are in place and the plot starts simmering. A little adventure, a little romance, a little sci-fi in your pants.

This is no Groundhog Day, but if that movie didn't exist you'd think this one's pretty good.

Verdict: YES.

♦ ♦ ♦    

Human Highway (1982)

Neil Young made a movie, and this is it.

It's written by Young (under the non de plume Bernard Shakey) and half the cast, and directed by Young with help from Dean Stockwell.

Stockwell plays the new owner of a gas station and diner in Glowtown, near the leaky nuclear power plant. Devo works at the nuclear facility, and glows in the daylight. Dennis Hopper plays the fry cook who has a pet raccoon. Sally Kirkland and Russ Tamblyn are also present.

Mr Young gives himself the movie's most difficult role, as the comic relief in a comedy, wearing buck teeth and enormous glasses and a smirk that makes him unrecognizable.

There's some music but not enough, and the movie is 80% over before Young sings, which (no surprise) makes everything excellent for a few minutes. With Devo, he performs "Hey Hey, My My," and it's beautiful. The movie ends with an all-out song-and-dance rendition of "Worried Man Blues," nicely choreographed by Tamblyn.

The rest of the movie might be moderately enjoyable, if your standards are low. The story goes in three different directions, all dropped along the way. The backdrops are intentionally fake-looking (some of which are cool). The dialogue and jokes are extremely lowbrow and dumb, but I laughed a few times. You gotta suspect that most of the movie's budget went for drugs. 

Verdict: MAYBE.

♦ ♦ ♦   

Journey to the Center of Time (1967)

A benevolent billionaire has been funding experiments in time travel, but alas, Mr Moneybags has croaked before the movie starts. Now his son, Junior Moneybags, is in charge, and plans to shut the project down.

When Junior visits the lab to deliver the bad news, one of the scientists cranks a knob up to eleven, proving that time travel works by sending everyone 5,000 years into the future. They don't like it there, so they hurry home, but overshoot by a few million years and touch down among dinosaurs.

The story has potential, but almost everything is done poorly. The dinosaurs are lizards, with hardly even an attempt at forced perspective to make them look bigger. The actors only occasionally act, and the script works against them, with oodles of dialogue having the characters explain what we've already seen and understand. 

The worst acting, so bad it eventually got me laughing, is by the biggest name in the cast, one-time Hollywood hunk Scott Brady. He's playing the Junior Moneybags role, the rich man who doesn't want to spend a dime, doesn't believe in time travel, knows better than the scientists, etc. To show his impatience, he holds his hands on his hips in the classic 'harrumph' pose for about half the time he's on camera, and the rest of the time his arms are folded over his chest for an alternate 'harrumph'.

This is extremely not a good movie, but the music is lively enough to keep you awake, and what's on screen is kinda cool to look at. Most of the sets seem plywood basic, as if this was a summer-stock play instead of a movie, but everything's painted in brilliant orange. Sometimes they forego sets entirely, and simply have the actors stand against a black backdrop. The aliens in the future are a lovely shade of blue and have nifty costumes. When the scientists are stuck in a prehistoric cave, it's only foam rubber or something, but it's gorgeously lit and colored. I am serious about all this — the movie is awful, but watching the movie is borderline fun.

Lyle Waggoner, later of The Carol Burnett Show and TV's Wonder Woman, has a tiny role and gets his name misspelled in the credits.

Verdict: MAYBE. It's almost, almost so bad it's good.

♦ ♦ ♦   

• Coming attractions •

American Revolution 2 (1969)

Freaked (1993)

Following (1998)  

High-Rise (2016)

The Invisible Man (1933) 

Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)

Naked (1993)

The Thing (1982) 

Turkish Star Wars (1982)

The Unknown Marx Brothers (1993)

(plus occasional schlock as needed)

    • And then •

The Cook (1918)

The Corporation (2003)

The Dark Crystal (1982)

Delicatessen (1991)

The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)

District 9 (2009)

Good Night, Nurse (1918)

Hit! (1973)

Inherent Vice (2014)

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

My Life in Monsters (2015) 

The Scarecrow (1920) 

They Live (1988)

Upstream Color (2013) 

We Steal Secrets (2013)

Who Killed Captain Alex (2010)    

Within Our Gates (1920)


There are so many good movies out there — old movies, odd or artsy, foreign or forgotten movies, or do-it-yourself movies made just for the joy of making them — that if you only watch whatever's on Netflix or playing at the twenty-plex, you're missing out.

To get beyond the ordinary, I recommend:

CultCinema Classics
Films for Action
Internet Archive
Kino Lorber
Korean Classic Film
Christopher R Mihm
National Film Board of Canada
New Yorker Screening Room
Damon Packard
Mark Pirro
Public Domain Movies
Scarecrow Video
Timeless Classic Movies
or your local library.

Some people even access films through shady methods, though of course, that would be wrong.

— — —
Illustration by Jeff Meyer. Reviews are spoiler-free, or at least spoiler-warned. Click any image to enlarge. Arguments & recommendations are welcome, but no talking once the lights dim, and only real butter on the popcorn, not that fake yellow stuff.

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  1. Hey Doug

    Sorry this email is a bit long. I got excited.

    I found you through that interview you never made with Mark Maynard and via his site I made it to your site, curious for more.

    At first I saw '1993' on top and was thinking oh man he didn't write anything since 1993? But then I realized it was just the date of the movie you reviewed and it was a very recent post.

    So thanks for being here.

    I started making zines in the 80's and 90's as a kid without knowing what it was. I then did a side gig as a cartoonist for a local magazine when I was a teenager, also in the 90's, but it's not until now, when I'm 40+ that I figured I should do my own Zine.

    I do try to survive as an illustrator and artist, sick of working with the corporate world and I'm not doing great flying solo since the pandemic but I haven't stopped trying.

    Do you have any advice for this newbie Zine artist?

    I've never done a "proper" one, and I don't mean it as in how to become rich, not trying to make a living on this zine (I mean it would be a bonus, but I don't expect my issues to sell like hot cakes). I just have to make it. It's a complement to the chaos in my head, a creative expression that kinda needs to be set free because the art alone and pretty posters doesn't feel enough. And proper comics or art books are expensive to make, takes more time (again, costly!) and take forever.

    I mean advice as in: what could be good to remember when doing a Zine? You used to review them, so maybe you have a top 3 good things to do and top 3 bad things to do, or something?

    Also; Would you like a copy when I'm done?

    I call the Zine City Of Girls, as my art project, but there are beards and male creatures in there as well, I wanted the name to be shortened to C.O.G as in the cog wheel. It's a diary of my life, my family's, and my grandmothers, and basically the working class Finnish immigrant people I stem from, but spoken in symbolism and surrealism because I'm a coward, or I was, and then I got kinda good at it so I'm sticking to it. And they get to travel, because I can't. Sometimes by dragon. There's a lot of dragons and dirty dishes in my comics.

    C.O.G was released on the Ethereum blockchain because I'm trying to see if there's a way to find autonomy by going in the decentralized direction ...so I had to learn crypto and blockchain and blah. But I see that, maybe, it could be a good direction... I'll keep exploring it. I've sold out two humble collections of my art, cities and characters and poetry in a mix, but so far it's not enough to pay my bills.

    Anyway. Zines. There will be some comic frames in there, also trying to gently poke Eric Nakamura from Giant Robot to participate in an interview (made by an egg, a fake reporter, and the questions will be both weird and serious. A poet in Australia is helping this Swede out.)

    Of course I wouldn't mind interviewing you as well (as the egg).

    I wonder if Mark is busy, I should ask him as well. Imagine having the Godfathers of Zine answering questions from an egg? Wouldn't that be something?

    .... so here I am, asking you for a lot of things. But no pressure. See this email mostly as me showing my appreciation. Reading that interview and about Pathetic Life really boosted me. Actually I related a lot too. And most importantly, it felt like it was okay to try this.

    And no pressure replying, or accepting my zine, or anything aight? I'm happy you made it through my long email. Thank you.

    Love from Sweden

    Anneli Olander Berglund

  2. Hello hello and *HELL YES* please send a copy of your zine! :) You had me at "zine," but then you REALLY had me at the part where people are traveling by dragon. That HAS to be cool.

    You said, "I started making zines in the 80's and 90's as a kid without knowing what it was." Me too. I was making (very bad) zines before seeing anyone else's, when I was a little kid, and many years before hearing the word 'zine'.

    Advice? Uh, well, I don't know anything about art (though a very good artist reads this li'l blog of mine), and it's been more than 25 years since I've created a zine, so most of my technical advice would be outdated. Like, use a gluestick, not Elmer's, and steal access to the copier at work, if you can. Boring stuff like that.

    More philosophically and straight from the heart, I'll tell you this: The zines I wrote were simply the zines I wanted to read. In every issue, I was writing to please myself, never to please an audience, real or imagined. If you create the art you want to see, and the zine you want to read, it doesn't matter whether it gets a good review or whether everyone or anyone else likes it. You're a success, as soon as you've created a zine that pleases YOU.

    An interview? I'm flattered, but no. I hate interviews and I'm hoping that long one with Mark is the very last interview before I toodle off to the cosmos. You really should ask Mark for an interview — he's interviewing all the old time zinesters, and asking him about that would lead to some interesting stories.

    I hate Twitter and rarely go there but I had to see what you're up to so I clicked. I know nothing about art, but I like what I see there, or what I saw — I have no account, so Elmo Musk kicks me out pretty quickly.

    Over and out, and thanks for taking the time to write. :)

    Me :)

    and PS — I usually print incoming emails on the blog, especially when they're interesting and yours is. If you'd rather I didn't print it, or you'd like to use a fake name or something, just say so. I'd also include a link to your Twitter, unless you say not to.

  3. Oh, I'm an idiot — you sent the URL and everything, but it whizzed right past me and I went to Twitter instead like an idiot.

    And presto, your link is now in my sidebar.

    I don't know anything about making a living (currently unemployed) but I'm doing OK with privacy. Nobody knows who I am or where I am and I haven't figured out why I am.

    Enjoy the mom-duty and keep in touch, please. :)

  4. Will most certainly do!

    Also bah! You're not an idiot. My website ends with io which is weird, really is, but it was a crypto thing.

    People wanted to feel 'future tech' and so it got really popular using io (because in computer science they use io as input/output)

    ...I guess I can need something very square like that to frame the madness I'm cooking up over here.

    To be honest I'm not making a living either, I didn't do any freelancing for two years... now I hope I can start making some sales with the work I've put together in this time.

    Stakes are high when you need money and put all the eggs in one basket, or so I've been told, but honestly I only have one egg.

    It has a lot to do with time for me. I'm basically a housewife (not the glamorous type) working almost full time as an artist in the hours between house chores haha but hopefully it will pay off. My husband is a social worker and makes sure bills are paid and we get food on the table. You learn to get by with a little.

    I'm plopping a strange city of mine into this email. It's full with dreams I had to give up (the ghosts), the past and the present, chaos and warmth, all tangled together ...I also did a thing where everyone who came by while I was livedrawing could get drawn into the city.

    The red devil to the left sitting with his wolf is this Italian guy who actually had a pet wolf growing up, it was his grandfather's. The lady on the boat I drew as a baby phoenix bird because she had been through hell.

    ...I was just supposed to send you a short email again but apparently I'm not great at keeping it short. I apologize.

    Have a good week!

  5. I like the artwork lots. It's aimed right at me — I love cities, and it's a complicated town; and I love the style where you can zoom in anywhere and everything's deeply detailed. Woman rides dragon in front of upside-down peace symbol, haha.

    Art isn't my thing but I appreciate it when it's this good.

    [If anyone's wondering, it's this image.]


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