Craig J. Clark Watches a Lot of Movies
May 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009
People say that Nemuri Kyoshiro has gone insane for blood and women.

IFC's Samurai Saturdays are a great way to catch up with the classics, but as this week's (The 47 Ronin) was the first half of a two-part epic I decided to tape it and watch something else instead. That something else was 1969's Castle Menagerie, the twelfth entry in the Nemuri Kyoshiro series, with Raizo Ichikawa making his final appearance as the pitiless ronin who's already a notorious character before a masked impostor starts framing him for a series of brutal murders (and the occasional rape to spice things up). Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro, who was no stranger to the genre having helmed two previous entries plus a number of Zatoichi films, this film finds Kyoshiro embroiled in a conflict over royal succession between two women in the royal harem who are pregnant by the Shogun. The one who's further along is an innocent flower, but the other is ruthless enough that she'll stop at nothing to make sure her baby is the next heir.

In addition to being fingered for murders he hasn't committed (by an assassin who helpfully leaves a note at the scene of each of his crimes), Kyoshiro is targeted by spies and ninja and also gets caught up in some intrigue involving 58 secret Christians. Like the previous film in the series, Castle Menagerie does not want for exciting action scenes and it has plenty of style to burn. It even has time for a bizarre sequence featuring black and white bird people who lure the sleeping ronin to a temple where he is ambushed by fighters in demonic masks. At first I thought this was just a dream, but I guess I should know better than to doubt anything that happens in a Nemuri Kyoshiro film, no matter how impossible it seems.

People are curious. You'd think they'd never seen a baby before.

Seven years after giving surrealist Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer's Little Otik a miss when it played at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia, I have now caught up with it thanks to my local library. Made in 2000, the film is based on a fairy tale about a poor man and wife who, unable to have children of their own, fashion a wooden baby out of a tree root with unexpected results. The young couple in Svankmajer's film isn't poor (after all, they can afford to buy a weekend place in the country), but they are desperate to have a child, so at first the husband (Jan Hartl) is relieved when his inconsolable wife (Veronika Zilková) takes to the "baby." In her derangement, though, she insists that it's real and he becomes alarmed when she begins faking a pregnancy using different-sized pillows so the neighbors won't be suspicious when she brings the baby home. "It's madness. It can't end well," Hartl says, and he couldn't be more right.

In addition to telling the story of the parents and their "child" -- which actually comes to stop-motion animated life once it's been "born" and turns out to have a ravenous appetite -- Svankmajer also tells a parallel story of a curious little girl (Kristina Adamcová) who lives in their building and wishes she had someone to play with. In between disgusting-looking meals served up by her mother (Jaroslava Kretschmerová) and the reprimands of her vulgar father (Pavel Nový, later the tongueless servant in Lunacy), Adamcová takes to spying on the neighbors and, with the aid of a book of fairy tales, pieces together what's going on. What she ends up doing with this knowledge is most unexpected, though.

Topping out at two-plus hours, it's entirely possible that Little Otik wears out its welcome by a good reel or so, but Svankmajer has a lot of ground to cover and characters to put into play. While you're watching, you might be able to predict what some of their fates will be, but it's hard to argue with the notion that some of them deserve them.

Are you having the dreams?

The first Masters of Horror episode I ever saw was Stuart Gordon's Dreams in the Witch-House, which I got in a two-pack with John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns. From the moment I heard about the series I was excited about it, and when I found out Gordon was directing an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story, well, that automatically kicked my expectations up a notch. The fact that it also featured music by Richard Band (whose association with Gordon goes all the way back to Re-Animator) was just the icing on the cake.

Adapted by Gordon and his frequent collaborator Dennis Paoli, Dreams in the Witch-House stars Ezra Godden (from Gordon's Dagon) as a Miskatonic University grad student working on his thesis (on string theory, which dovetails nicely with Lovecraft's tale of interdimensional travel) who takes a room in the titular house because it's the only place he can afford. Soon after moving in he becomes acquainted with financially strapped single mother Chelah Horsdal, whose baby boy becomes the focal point of a dark conspiracy, and old religious freak Campbell Lane, who tries to convince Godden that he is in mortal danger. As in a lot of Lovecraft's stories, it's always the skeptical, scientific-minded character who is the slowest to accept that something supernatural is going on, and by the time they do it's far too late for them to do anything about it.

Monday, May 4, 2009
I've been to hell, young man. You've only read about it.

One decade after bringing scandalous author Henry Miller to the screen in 1990's Henry & June, director Philip Kaufman endeavored to do the same for the Marquis de Sade with 2000's Quills. Adapted for the screen by Doug Wright, based on his own stage play, the film is set in the lunatic asylum where the Marquis (Geoffrey Rush) has been residing in the years since the French Revolution. There he enjoys a rather comfortable and privileged existence thanks to idealistic administrator the Abbe du Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), who even allows him to continue his writing "for curative purposes." What the Abbe doesn't know is the Marquis is using chambermaid Kate Winslet to smuggle his works to his publisher, causing a scandal that brings hard-nosed alienist Michael Caine to the asylum to "oversee" things, changing all of their lives in the process.

Handsomely mounted (there's a reason why it received Oscar nominations for its art direction/set decoration and costumes) and well-acted (there's a reason why it earned Rush his third acting nomination), Quills is a film with a timely message about the value of freedom of expression. Or it's a story about a wanton libertine who wrote salacious pornography and relished the notion of corrupting all those he came into contact with. Either way, anybody going into it should know what to expect -- although some might be surprised by how much we get to see of the Marquis. Never one to shy away from nudity in his films, Kaufman makes sure we get an eyeful of him.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I accept suffering with resignation so that the many paths of human wickedness can reach me.

Decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by having some Mexican for dinner and following it up with one of Luis Buñuel's most highly regarded Mexican films. After I finished my Hungry-Man Mexican Style Fiesta, though, my plan hit a snag when I discovered that my DVD of 1959's Nazarin, which I bought from Amazon last summer, had no subtitles whatsoever. Silly me thinking that because it was put out by a US company (in this case, Lionsgate) they would have subtitled it. Of course, if I hadn't rushed to buy it (I'm in the habit of picking up Buñuel films as a matter of course, so I pre-ordered it two weeks before it came out), I might have read the negative customer reviews that were posted after its release warning of its unsubtitled state. Ah, well. That'll teach me.

Despite this setback, I retrieved my Modern Film Scripts book with Nazarin (as well as The Exterminating Angel and Los Olvidados) so I could follow along. After a half hour of this, though, I remembered that I had taped the film off TV several years back, so I stopped the DVD and retrieved the tape, which turned out to have iffy sound. If I could have somehow combined the TV print's subtitling with the DVD's clearer picture and soundtrack and the book's superior translation, then that would have been something. As it is, I made do with what I had, much like the hero of the film does -- only he has to put up with a great many more hardships that I.

Speaking of the hero of the film, his name is Father Nazario and he is played by Francisco Rabal (appearing in his first film for Buñuel) as a priest trying to live according to Christian principles, but these leave him ill-equipped to deal a society that is modernizing itself around him while its dregs remain susceptible to superstition. This is seen most acutely in the mentally unstable Marga López, who idolizes Rabal and harbors an unacknowledged crush on him, and impulsive prostitute Rita Macedo, who imposes on his hospitality and manages to get him defrocked in the process. That's just the beginning of Rabal's woes, but no matter what happens he never seems all that perturbed since he believes that God will provide. I guess he never learned the precept that "God helps those who help themselves." That might have saved him a great deal of grief.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Who could be further apart than an old recluse and a young woman consecreated to God?

It's impossible to know what Franco's government thought they were getting when they invited Luis Buñuel to return to Spain after his long, self-imposed exile to make a film, but 1961's Viridiana turned out to be an unqualified masterpiece -- and a great embarrassment to the conservative regime that footed the bill for it. No matter how Buñuel's script (written in collaboration with Julio Alejandro, who co-wrote a number of his Mexican films, including Nazarin) read on the page, they must have known the results were going to be far from innocent and -- considering the subject matter -- potentially blasphemous. Maybe they were under the mistaken impression that he had mellowed in his old age. Who knows? What's important is that the film -- which caused a scandal when it was screened at Cannes Film Festival, where it took the Golden Palm -- was unable to be suppressed and paved the way for the higher-profile projects that comprised the great director's late-period renaissance.

As for Viridiana itself, it stars Silvia Pinal as a young novice who is called away from the convent just as she's about to take her final vows when her lonely, old uncle (Fernando Rey in his first of many iconic roles for Buñuel) invites her to come visit him at his place in the country. Pinal is reluctant to go, but her mother superior insists that she make the trip -- after all, he's her only living relative and he paid for her religious training to boot. Little does she realize that Rey has certain designs on the pious young woman, which only come into focus when he starts telling her how much she resembles his late wife. It isn't long, though, before Rey exits the picture and his illegitimate son (Francisco Rabal) enters it, taking charge of his property and looking to modernize the place. For her part, Pinal decides to stay on and begins playing den mother to a group of beggars, who have a funny way of repaying her kindness.

Virdiana has quite a few things in common with Nazarin since both films are about religious individuals who are ill-equipped to deal with the secular world. Both films are also presented in a steadfastly realistic manner, which gives real weight to them when a more surrealistic treatment may have been a distraction. Still, who needs outlandish visuals when you've got a group of filthy beggars reenacting Da Vinci's Last Supper? When Mel Brooks pulled a similar stunt in History of the World: Part I 20 years later, I hope he didn't labor under the belief that he had gotten there first.

Thursday, May 7, 2009
This situation can't go on indefinitely. We're not under some spell.

The first Buñuel film I ever saw in a theater was 1972's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, which played the art house circuit in the summer of 2000. At the screening I remember seeing David Goodman, who ran the repertory group Film Forum, and I couldn't help but overhear him as he left the screening muttering that he thought it was going to be the one about the group of guests who are unable to leave a dinner party. Sure enough, the following winter he located a print of that film -- 1962's The Exterminating Angel -- and showed it. And eight years later the Criterion finally brought it to DVD, which I cheered since the version I taped off Turner Classic Movies a few years back had the most abysmal sound. (What is it with Buñuel's Mexican films and bad sound?) Anyway...

Made the year after Viridiana, The Exterminating Angel marked the only time during his Mexican period that Buñuel had complete creative control over one of his films and it definitely showed in the way he was able to take an absurd premise and develop it organically until everything that happens, no matter how bizarre, has an air of inevitability about it. With 20 guests to keep track of, Buñuel definitely had his hands full, but he uses them to present a fascinating cross-section of upper-class society -- particularly when it starts breaking down -- from the dinner party's hosts (Enrique Rambal and Lucy Gallardo) on down to the lone steward (Claudio Brook) who remains to serve them after all the other servants of the house have fled. The most intriguing character, though, has to be the virginal Leticia (nicknamed "The Valkyrie"), played by top-billed Silvia Pinal (returning from Viridiana). The other women may gossip about her, but in the end she's the only one capable of coming up with a way out of their predicament. Buñuel being Buñuel, though, the reprieve is decidedly short-lived.

You're the kind I need, a woman of order.

Things were definitely looking up for Luis Buñuel when he made Diary of a Chambermaid in 1964. Not only was the film his first for French producer Serge Silberman, but it was also the first he co-wrote with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (who was compelled by Buñuel to take a minor role as a priest). It wasn't his first with a big French star (that would be 1956's Death in the Garden with Simone Signoret), but it did mark the only time he worked with the great Jeanne Moreau, who plays a Parisian chambermaid who comes to the country to work for a very strange household.

How strange is it? Well, for one thing, the wife (Francoise Lugagne) is an overbearing taskmaster. For another, her husband (Buñuel regular Michel Piccoli) is a skirt-chaser who's in the habit of knocking up the help when he isn't feuding with their neighbor (Daniel Ivernel), who's in the habit of throwing his garbage into their yard. And then there's her aged father (Jean Ozenne), who doesn't take long to reveal that he has a foot fetish and he expects Moreau to play along. Little surprise, then, that she doesn't think she'll last three days, but she does stick around long enough to suspect the groundskeeper (Georges Géret) of murdering a local girl. The film also introduced the singular Muni, who would become a fixture of Buñuel's films from here on out, as a fellow domestic who finds herself on the receiving end of Piccoli's advances after Moreau spurns him once and for all. Even in the upper classes, beggars can't be choosers.

Friday, May 8, 2009
The man doesn't die, nor does he get mad. He suffers.

The first time I saw Chris Marker's 1963 short La Jetée, it was on a double bill with Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, the film it inspired. Tonight I watched it alongside Luis Buñuel's Simon of the Desert for no other reason than they're both short and were made a couple years apart. Marker's only fiction film, La Jetée is made up almost entirely of still photographs, which he uses to great effect to tell the story of a dark future (World War III has come and gone) where a soldier (Davos Hanich) is drafted into a time-travel experiment that has rendered most previous subjects either catatonic or insane. Hanich manages to keep his wits about him, though, and even makes contact with a woman (Helene Chatelain) he remembers vividly from his youth before the war. With such a bleak future ahead of him, it's no wonder he attempts to escape into the past permanently.

The main character in Simon of the Desert is also trying to escape, but in his case he's a 4th century religious ascetic trying to be closer to God by spending years on top of a column. Made in 1965, it was Buñuel's third and final film for producer Gustavo Alatriste (who ran out of money in the middle of shooting, forcing Buñuel to improvise a hasty ending) and it was the last film he shot in Mexico. It was also his last to star Silvia Pinal, who dons various alluring disguises for her role as the Devil out to tempt the steadfast Simon (Claudio Brook) down off his high pedestal. Co-written by his frequent collaborator Julio Alejandro, the film also features Luis Aceves Castañeda (a mainstay of Buñuel's Mexican period) as a priest who casts doubt on Simon's purity and Jesús Fernández (a dwarf who had previously appeared in Nazarin and would return five years later for Tristana) as a goatherd who's more down to earth than Simon in a number of ways. Of course, when you think about it, that's not very hard at all.

Saturday, May 9, 2009
I tell you there's something horrible out there. Unless we destroy it, it'll destroy us.

In the wake of Universal's success with The Wolf Man in 1941, two other studios rushed their own werewolf films into production, but only one of them had significant resources to throw behind it. The one that didn't was Poverty Row studio Producers Releasing Corporation, which turned out The Mad Monster in record time, releasing it just five months after Larry Talbot first sprouted fur and ravaged the countryside.

Directed by Sam Newfield, whose Nabonga I watched back in January, The Mad Monster stars George Zucco as a mad scientist whose theories on blood transfusions between species (which he believes will produce feral, unstoppable soldiers) got him laughed out of academia, forcing him to retreat to the swamp to conduct his unethical experiments in secret. There he injects the blood of a wolf into his slow-witted handyman Petro (Glenn Strange), who becomes a wolf man in a series of lap dissolves, and sets the savage beast on his critics. Well, that's what Zucco says he's going to do. Mostly he just lets Strange wander around the foggy swamp aimlessly -- all the better to pad out the running time. There's also a budding romance of sorts between cub reporter Johnny Downs and Zucco's daughter (Anne Nagel), who believes he's a great scientist without having any idea what he's working on. Naturally she has to find out in the most dramatic way possible.

Incidentally, The Mad Monster is the earliest episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 to be released on DVD (as part of the most recent box set from Shout! Factory). As it's the third episode of season one, the show is still a little rough around the edges and the riffs are scarce at times, but Joel and the Bots manage to land some good ones. (Crow: "Hey, what's wolf man doing down in the wine cellar?" Joel: "Trying to figure what kind of wine goes with people, I think.") And they would have another go at Sam Newfield when they tackled his 1950 film Radar Secret Service four years later. By all accounts, that one really stung.

In comparison, 1942's The Undying Monster is quite a bit easier to take. Produced by Twentieth Century-Fox on a substantially larger budget, the film was given a professional sheen by director John Brahm (who also did the 1944 version of The Lodger and 1945's Hangover Square) and cinematographer Lucien Ballard, who withhold for as long as possible the revelation that there's something supernatural afoot at Hammond House.

Set at the turn of the century, The Undying Monster is in fact the dreaded Hammond Monster, which visits its curse upon siblings Heather Angel and John Howard, although they're a bit blasé about it until it strikes them directly. That's when Scotland Yard forensics specialist James Ellison and his eccentric assistant Heather Thatcher are brought in. The curious thing is they're introduced in such a way that it seems like this is but one entry in a series of films featuring the duo, but that is not the case. The other major character is doctor Bramwell Fletcher, who clearly knows what's going on from the start but is tight-lipped about it until the last minute. For a film that barely tops an hour, that doesn't leave much time for the monster to do its thing.

Monday, May 11, 2009
This isn't your usual killer. He's doomed and he knows it.

Like Luis Buñuel, Jean-Pierre Melville is the kind of director whose films I pick up when they come to DVD as a matter of course -- and oftentimes sight unseen. Such was the case with 1966's Le Deuxieme Souffle, which was put out by Criterion last fall alongside Le Doulos. Based on a novel by José Giovanni, who collaborated on the script with Melville, it starred Lino Ventura as a notorious gangster (the former public enemy #1) who escapes from prison after ten years, settles some old scores (as well as some new ones), and agrees to take part in a daring platinum heist before he slips out of the country with girlfriend Christine Fabrega. Paul Meurisse is the clever commissioner on his trail, who is given to ironic comments when questioning witnesses and suspects, and Paul Frankeur is the less clever inspector whose interrogation methods are decidedly blunter.

This was Melville's last film in black and white and he really pushed the film noir look to the hilt, emphasizing the shadowy corridors and dingy back rooms where the fates of the characters are decided. It was also his first film with Ventura and Meurisse, both of whom would return three years later to star in Army of Shadows. Before he made that, though, he set out to strip the gangster film to its bare essentials in Le Samourai -- and largely succeeded. There are some who charge that Melville's films are all style and no substance, but when the style is this alluring, substance can go hang for all I care.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Where is he, the vagabond? Always drifting, always solo.

When I started watched Seijun Suzuki's films 13 months ago, I deliberately held off on his two most popular titles -- Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill -- until I got the others under my belt first. Well, it's been eight months since I watched the last one, so I'd say it's about time I stopped holding off, wouldn't you? For tonight I went with Tokyo Drifter, the second of three films Suzuki made in 1966. It starred Tetsuya Watari as a reformed yakuza who has gone straight along with his boss (Ryuji Kita), to whom he is still fiercely loyal, but when Kita finds his legitimate business empire threatened by upstart Hideaki Esumi, Watari can't help but get drawn into the conflict.

The film opens with a brutal sequence shot in high-contract black and white (the first of many extreme stylistic choices made by Suzuki) in which Watari submits to a savage beating from Esumi's underlings in order to prove that he's no longer a fighter. Then we're introduced to the major players, including Watari's singer girlfriend Chieko Matsubara, who performs at a nightclub where the interior is decorated exclusively in yellow (one of the more blatant examples of color-coding Suzuki employs). The plot starts out straightforward enough, but Suzuki slowly allows the absurdity to pile up to the point where it seems natural for Watari to wind up at a western-style saloon where it's pretty much preordained that an insane brawl has to break out. In terms of stylistic excess, though, you can't beat the final showdown where Watari's blind loyalty to Kita is put to the test. It's the kind of deliriously over-the-top sequence that one expects from Suzuki -- and which he is good enough to deliver.

Wedesday, May 13, 2009
What exactly did you do with that film?

In the mid-'60s, eager to break into films, Woody Allen took part in a few projects over which he had little personal control, like 1965's What's New, Pussycat? (for which he wrote the screenplay and played a supporting role) and 1967's Casino Royale (which was such a mess that he only took an acting credit despite having contributed to the script). In between he performed the task of re-dubbing a Japanese spy film called Kagi no Kagi with the result being his directorial "debut" of sorts, What's Up, Tiger Lily? Of course, that also got taken away from him and was re-edited by the distributor when the cut he delivered was too short (some of the additions include incongruous performance footage of the Lovin' Spoonful, who provided the musical score), but the final version still has his authorial stamp all over it.

Released in 1966 by AIP, Tiger Lily may be a minor entry in Allen's filmography, but it's no less funny because of that. With the aid of a half dozen writer/performers (including his then-wife Louise Lasser, who co-starred with him in Bananas and one segment of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex*, and Mickey Rose, who co-wrote Take the Money and Run and Bananas), Allen reconfigures the convoluted plot of the original film into a struggle between villainous rivals Shepherd Wong and Wing Fat over a secret recipe for egg salad "so delicious you could plotz." That leaves Phil Moscowitz, secret agent and lovable rogue, and his beautiful assistants Suki Yaki and her sister Teri to foil them. There are running gags aplenty ("Saracen pig! Spartan dog!") and enough absurd lines ("Don't tell me what I can do, or I'll have my mustache eat your beard.") to keep you entertained, plus periodically Allen pops in to explain what it's all about -- or not as the case may be. Now if only somebody would get the brilliant idea of releasing the original Kagi no Kagi over here. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to see it.

* But Were Afraid to Ask

Thursday, May 14, 2009
Whoever heard of girls like me making it?

When Steven Soderbergh was looking to include flashback footage of Terence Stamp's character in his 1999 film The Limey, he turned to Ken Loach's 1967 drama Poor Cow, in which Stamp played a petty thief who makes some bad choices and winds up in prison. Ever since I saw The Limey I've been wanting to catch up with Poor Cow, but as it's never been released here on video I never had the chance to see it until now -- thanks to Plan 9 as usual.

Based on a novel by Nell Dunn, who wrote the screenplay with Loach, Poor Cow is about young mother Carol White, who had the misfortune to be knocked up by "right bastard" John Bindon, the sort of lout who's not above knocking her about when she talks back to him. Lucky for her he winds up going to jail after a botched robbery, after which Bindon's mate Stamp moves in and she forgets all about him. Of course, it isn't long before Stamp is sent to prison as well, but White still holds out hope that they can build a life together. In the meantime, she takes a job as a barmaid and even does some nude modeling on the side, but nothing she does ever seems to get her ahead. And while she professes her faithfulness to Stamp when she visits him in prison, that doesn't stop her from sleeping with other men on the outside. Somehow it never occurs to her than maybe if she stopped thinking in terms of immediate gratification, some of her plans for the future might actually come to pass.

Friday, May 15, 2009
You've got to make a choice: when to do something and when to let it go.

Ten years ago today, Steven Soderbergh's The Limey premiered at Cannes. I didn't see it until it came to the States some months later, of course, but this is the best I can do to acknowledge the world's preeminent film festival, which is going on even as I write this. The Limey was Soderbergh's second crack at a Lem Dobbs script (after 1991's Kafka, which seriously needs to come to DVD one of these decades), but this time he played much faster and looser with the source material, employing an impressionistic cutting style (inspired by such '60s landmarks as Point Blank and Petulia) that emphasizes character over action and elevates the material above the straightforward revenge story that it otherwise might have been.

Terence Stamp stars as the title character, an ex-con who flies to Los Angeles to investigate his daughter's death, which he blames on the rock 'n' roll promoter (Peter Fonda, deftly playing off his '60s persona) she was living with at the time. With the aid of her best friend, acting coach Lesley Ann Warren, and the always-welcome Luis Guzmán, Stamp tracks Fonda down and waits for the right moment to exact his revenge. The film also stars Barry Newman (of Vanishing Point fame) as Fonda's security consultant and Nicky Katt (who is utterly hilarious) and erstwhile Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro as a couple of hit men Newman hires to take care of Stamp. The prize for the best supporting role, though, has to go to Bill Duke's deadpan DEA agent, who gets one of the biggest laughs in the whole film.

At the time he made The Limey, Soderbergh was coming off Out of Sight, which raised his stock critically if not financially, and he had both Erin Brockovich and Traffic waiting on deck, so he was clearly in a good place professionally. Even if the film was his second box-office disappointment in a row, it proved he could work wonders on a modest budget and that "experimental" and "entertaining" are not mutually exclusive concepts. It's just too bad he couldn't add "commercial" to the list.

Saturday, May 16, 2009
I'll be creating a whole new species -- a plant as human as the human element itself.

It's been about a month since my last "Chilling Classic," so I had high hopes that the next one in the set -- 1970's The Revenge of Dr. X -- would not disappoint, particularly since it was based on a script by Edward D. Wood Jr. and was brought to the screen by Kenneth G. Crane, whose previous directorial effort was 1959's unforgettable two-headed monster epic The Manster. That film was about an American reporter who is sent to Japan to interview an eccentric scientist at his remote mountain laboratory when the scientist decides to make the reporter his next test subject. This one, on the other hand, is about an irritable NASA scientist named Dr. Bragan (James Craig) who decides to reawaken his dormant interest in botanical research while on sabbatical in Japan (where he chooses to work in a remote mountain greenhouse, naturally). His subject of study: the Venus Flytrap, which he hopes to use to prove his pet theory that man evolved from plant life. Riiiiiiight.

Because this is an Ed Wood script, there is no shortage of ludicrous dialogue and situations, and even though he didn't direct, there is stock footage aplenty during the NASA sequence that opens the film. I won't go into the circumstances surrounding Bragan's acquisition of a Venus Flytrap plant, but I did find it amusing that he was able to bring it onto the plane in a cardboard box, prompting a passing stewardess to remark, "It's a good thing that's so small. A big one would take an arm off." Once he arrives in Japan, Bragan hooks up with Noriko, the beautiful botanist cousin of one of his colleagues at Cape Canaveral, who sets him up at an abandoned hotel next to an active volcano with a hunchbacked caretaker who likes to play the organ (and whose every subsequent appearance is heralded by the opening blast of Bach's Toccata in D minor). There's also a neglected greenhouse, which is just perfect for Bragan's purposes, and soon enough he is involving Noriko in his work, telling her all about the workings of the Venus Flytrap. "An interesting plant, our little cannibal," he says, which makes no sense unless they're in the habit of consuming each other.

Anyway, Bragan eventually hits upon the idea of splicing the Flytrap with an underwater plant called the Venus Vesiculosa, which he locates with the help of four topless female divers that Noriko knows about. Even they don't perk the film up, though, which doesn't really come to life until about an hour in when Bragan unveils his creation and starts raving, "Your mother was the earth, the rain your blood, the lightning your power!" Unfortunately for Bragan, his creation begins wilting almost immediately and seems on the verge of dying when it's fed a puppy by the helpful hunchback. Then Bragan breaks into a nearby sanatorium to collect blood to inject into it, after which it becomes ambulatory and Bragan declares, "Unless I miss my guess, my creation is so powerful now it could devour anything." Well, not quite anything, Doc. Even after going on a killing spree in the local village, it's still very much man-sized when the two of them take a tumble into a convenient lava flow (again thanks to the miracle of stock footage).

In the end, I'm not sure what any of this has to do with taking revenge on anybody, but Bragan is cantankerous enough that I'm sure he's made a few enemies over the years, and what good is having enemies if you can't create a giant sentient carnivorous plant to send after them? Also known as The Double Garden, The Devil Garden and What I Gene-Spliced on My Summer Vacation.

As a sinner, he's a winner. Honey, he's no beginner.

At what point is technical ineptitude countermanded by conviction and sincerity? That's the question that flashed through my mind at several points during Timothy Carey's 1962 film The World's Greatest Sinner, which I taped off TCM Underground last month. Until now I've only known Carey from his early work with Stanley Kubrick (in The Killing and Paths of Glory) and his role in the Monkees' Head, but here he is writing, directing, producing and starring in his own religious/political/rock 'n' roll satire, which he also self-released because it's doubtful any distributor would have wanted to touch it. In it, he plays an insurance salesman who quits his job one day and decides to write a book about his plan for eternal life. ("Why can't I be a god?" he asks his wife, who doesn't have a good answer for him.) When it's rejected by publishers, he founds his own political party (the Eternal Man's Party), forms a rock 'n' roll band and starts attracting followers to his cause by calling them "super human beings." Then he announces that he's running for president, which would seems to be a step down from godhood, but everybody has to start somewhere.

The film is fairly bonkers from the first frame to the last, but it's impossible to shake the impression that Carey is being completely sincere about all of it. He certainly commits to his performance and is aided in no small part by Gil Barreto as his gardener turned right-hand man, Betty Rowland as his deeply religious wife, and James Farley as his campaign manager, who just happens to be the Devil. He even got Paul Frees to play the narrator -- yet another manifestation of the Great Deceiver himself -- and a 21-year-old Frank Zappa to compose the music. There are also four credited cinematographers, including Ray Dennis Steckler, who was just starting out in the business, which goes to show what a ramshackle production it was. Still, something has to be said for a film where the lead character spends the first hour railing against religion and then the other 17 minutes struggling with his lack of faith. I'm not entirely sure what that something would be, but thanks to Turner Classic Movies, more people will be thinking about it.

Monday, May 18, 2009
The killer is described as tall, young, wearing a raincoat and a hat.

If there is such a thing as the Cinema of Cool, then Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai is its Rosetta Stone. Made in 1967, the film features a career-defining performance by Alain Delon as dapper hit man Jef Costello, who does everything in a methodical fashion. He dresses methodically, he steals cars methodically, he establishes alibis methodically, he carried out hits methodically and he disposes of murder weapons methodically. Even when he's picked up by the police (in a routine round-up) he's unflappable, never once losing his cool as the superintendent (Francois Périer) doggedly attempts to place him at the scene of the crime. In the end, Costello can't be held when his alibi -- provided by girlfriend Nathalie Delon -- proves to be airtight and the closest thing the police have to an eyewitness -- pianist Cathy Rosier -- declines to identify him. It's only when he makes it to his rendezvous and, instead of getting paid for the job, is shot by his contact that Costello's charmed life goes off-script.

As genre exercises go, it's impossible to find fault with Le Samourai. Melville's control of the narrative is such that the first dialogue scene doesn't come until ten minutes into the film and by that time we've already learned just about everything we need to know about Delon's character. Watching him at work, it's easy to develop a respect for his sense of professionalism, especially when contrasted with the police, whose methods are less than laudatory. And compared to the crooks he's working for, Jef Costello's rigid adherence to his personal code of conduct practically qualifies him for sainthood. The only thing holding him back, really, is the fact that he kills people for a living, but hey, nobody's perfect.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
A killer must not be human. He must be tough and cold.

Having finally seen 1967's Branded to Kill, I can understand why it was the last straw for Seijun Suzuki with Nikkatsu Studios, where he had worked steadily since 1956. After what they considered the excessive stylization of Tokyo Drifter, the studio cut Suzuki's budgets, forcing him to shoot his next two films in black and white, but while his Fighting Elegy was much more restrained, Branded to Kill was about as outlandish as you could get while still telling a borderline coherent story. The film featured Jo Shishido (reuniting with Suzuki for the first time since 1964's Gate of Flesh) as a newly married yakuza hit man whose life is plunged into danger (well, more danger) when he botches a job and finds himself targeted for elimination by his own organization.

Along the way Shishido has to deal with his insatiable wife (the frequently nude Mariko Ogawa), an inscrutable assassin (Anne Mari) with an not-at-all-symbolic butterfly collection, and finally the organization's No. 1 hit man (Koji Nambara), who can't help but gloat a little when he finally reveals himself. (Like Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, which came out the same year, Shishido spends much of the film wondering who No. 1 is.) Out of all the incongruous moments in the film, though, the one that stands out for me the most is the shot of Shishido walking arm-in-arm down the street with his would-be killer after Nambara suggests that they go out for a bite to eat. I know there are crazier shots in the film, but that one actually made me laugh out loud, which is saying something. One thing is certain: I'll bet the suits at Nikkatsu weren't laughing when they screened this for the first time.

Thursday, May 21, 2009
You can be very cruel when you wish.

The first Luis Buñuel film I ever saw was 1967's Belle de Jour, which was as good an introduction as any, I would say. Adapted by Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carrière from the novel by Joseph Kessel (who also wrote the novels that Melville's Army of Shadows and Frankenheimer's The Horseman were based on), the film stars Catherine Deneuve as a rich young housewife who still can't bring herself to sleep with her extremely understanding husband (Jean Sorel) after a year of marriage (one look at the separate beds they sleep in tells you all you need to know about their relationship). For a time she channels her desires into degrading sexual fantasies and we also get periodic flashbacks to her childhood which help explain her hangup, but it isn't until she starts spending her afternoons at the discreet brothel of madame Genevieve Page that she finds a proper outlet for them. And who knows? She may even want to sleep with her husband eventually, too.

One of Buñuel's sly tricks with this film is the way he eventually starts slipping into Deneuve's fantasies without giving the audience any indication that he has done so. In fact, there's one whole sequence (where she is asked to take part in a "religious" ceremony by a duke who may or may not be into necrophilia) that has no connection to anything else in the film and could go either way. Things take a turn for the serious when thief Francisco Rabal shows up one day with his young associate Pierre Clémenti in tow, especially when Clémenti takes a shine to Deneuve and decides that it's not enough for him to have her in the afternoons. The final straw doesn't come, though, until her secret is discovered by her husband's friend Michel Piccoli, who spent most of the film coming on to her but finds that he was only interested in her when she was unattainable. Once her virtue has a price tag on it, it doesn't have the same appeal.

I like to remember things my own way.

It's been a dozen years since I last saw David Lynch's Lost Highway and that was when it was in theaters. Now, before you get the wrong idea, I didn't avoid it because I thought the movie was bad (far from it, I considered it my favorite Lynch film up to that point), but rather because the only available Region 1 DVD was a full-frame import, which wouldn't have done Lynch's widescreen compositions any favors. It wasn't until Universal stepped up last year and put it out in its correct aspect ratio that I knew it would be safe to look it up again. All I had to do was wait for the mood to strike me, and that it what happened tonight.

Written by Lynch & Barry Gifford (whose novel Wild at Heart Lynch had brought to the screen in 1990), Lost Highway is an exceedingly strange film even by Lynch's standards, but it's not as impenetrable as it may seem on first glance. Briefly, jazz saxophonist Bill Pullman and his comely wife Patricia Arquette start receiving videotapes showing the exterior and later the interior of their house. Pullman has a strange encounter at a party with an eyebrowless Robert Blake, after which another tape arrives implicating Pullman in Arquette's murder, which he is found guilty of and sent to death row. While in lockup Pullman turns into auto mechanic Balthazar Getty, who is released for not being Pullman and gets mixed up with underworld boss Robert Loggia (who cannot abide tailgating) and his mistress, played by Arquette again, this time in femme fatale mode. Then... well, I don't want to give away the whole movie, but there's a scene with a guy and a coffee table that has to be seen to be believed, and an ending that ties everything up without explaining anything, which can be a problem for audiences accustomed to films raising questions and then answering them as opposed to ones that raise questions and answer them with even more baffling questions.

In addition to the actors I've already mentioned, Lost Highway has a pretty varied supporting cast, including Henry Rollins as a prison guard, Gary Busey as Getty's father, Giovanni Ribisi as one of his ne'er-do-well friends, Natasha Gregson Wagner as his girlfriend (who naturally gets jealous when she intuits that he's been sleeping around), a wheelchair-bound Richard Pryor as his boss at the garage, and Jack Nance as one of his co-workers. (Incidentally, this was to be the last film appearance for both Pryor and Nance.) And as is usually the case with Lynch's films, he pays particular attention to the soundtrack, augmenting Angelo Badalamenti's atmospheric score with well-chosen contributions by Barry Adamson, David Bowie, Marilyn Manson (who also has a small role), Rammstein, Lou Reed and Trent Reznor. Lynch even went so far as to design the house where Pullman and Arquette live, as well as most of the furniture in it. Never let it be said that he's not a hands-on director.

Friday, May 22, 2009
You must be one of those hardened criminals that corrupts the younger offender.

For their second happy collaboration -- after 1965's The Hill -- director Sidney Lumet and star Sean Connery teamed up to make the 1971 crime drama The Anderson Tapes, in which Connery plays an unrepentant safecracker who is released from prison after ten years and doesn't waste any time planning a daring robbery at a Manhattan apartment building. His only problem is all of his planning and recruiting for the job takes place under the watchful eyes and ears of the various government agencies that have his associates under constant surveillance. That includes his girlfriend, high-priced call girl Dyan Cannon, flamboyant antiques dealer Martin Balsam, mob boss Alan King and Christopher Walken as a young ex-con who met Connery on the inside and is eager to sign on with whatever he's got going.

By the time the day of the heist arrives Lumet has made it abundantly clear that the gang isn't going to get away with it, and he reinforces that during the break-in with a series of flash-forwards to its aftermath as the police question the victims (who include Conrad Bain in an early film role -- the same year he was in Woody Allen's Bananas -- and Margaret Hamilton in her final one). The film also features Ralph Meeker as a police captain with the nickname "iron balls" (who makes you believe he earned it) and Garrett Morris as the officer he handpicks to lead the team that infiltrates the building while the burglary is still going on. And the funky score is by Quincy Jones, who had previously composed the soundtracks for Lumet's The Pawnbroker and The Deadly Affair and was music supervisor and arranger on The Wiz (a film that will always stick out like a sore thumb in Lumet's filmography).

Saturday, May 23, 2009
It's not only his physical appearance that worries me. It's his head.

God bless TCM Underground, may it forever bring the weird and the inexplicable to TV screens across the nation. Last week the main attraction was 1972's Blood Freak, which Robert Osborne somewhat sheepishly described as being about "a motorcycle enthusiast who's turned into a blood-crazed turkey man." I was no stranger to the film having learned about it back in my Tower days, but this was my first opportunity to actually sit down and watch it and I'm happy to report it did not disappoint. Written, produced and directed by the dream team of Brad F. Grinter (who did the same jobs on 1970's Flesh Feast and Devil Rider!) and Steve Hawkes (a Croatian-born actor who made this in between stints in a couple Tarzan knock-offs), Blood Freak presents itself as a morality play about the dangers of taking illegal drugs and eating non-FDA-approved foodstuffs.

Hawkes plays a ramrod-straight Vietnam vet who finds himself torn between a Bible-quoting drug counselor who gets him work doing odd jobs at a poultry ranch and her hedonist sister who gets him hooked on weed that has been laced with something to make it addictive. That would be bad enough, but since one of his odd jobs at the turkey farm involves eating what the guys in the laboratory cook up, the end result after one of the tests is Hawkes's transformation into a man wearing a rubber turkey mask and a ruff of feathers around his neck. Oh, yes. And he craves blood, which he gets by waylaying drug addicts and pushers and killing and mutilating them. These scenes are accompanied by a repetitive musical sting and one scream that is looped over and over. (Actually, there are two: one female and one male. Neither is particularly convincing.) Meanwhile, the sister who got him hooked feels guilty about what she's done and worries needlessly about what their children would look like (as if she's actually contemplating taking Mr. Turkey to bed).

Finally Hawkes is put out of his misery by being beheaded (which the filmmakers depict by cutting to footage of an actual turkey with its head cut off), but it all turns out to be a dream ("My God," Hawkes moans, "I've been hallucinating. After eating that turkey, I went through hell."), which is even more of a cop-out ending than it sounds. As if to further illustrate their contempt for the audience, the filmmakers periodically cut away to a narrator (Grinter, obviously reading from a script) who recites deathless lines like "You ever think about this fantastic order of things? And how far does it go?" between drags on his cigarette, and actually goes into a coughing fit right before the final fadeout. Because why would you bother with a second take on something like that? It would only be a waste of film.

You play games with me and you'll be a dead Pasha.

While I've got poultry on my mind, I figured I'd jump back into the "Drive-In Movie Classics" box set with 1974's Jive Turkey, a low-budget blaxploitation period piece that originally went out under the title Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes -- and that's not all baby could have used. Director Bill Brame didn't have a whole lot of bread to work with, so a few vintage cars aside, this is the kind of film that tries to establish its time period by having its characters repeatedly say things like, "Remember, this is 1956," which may be cheaper but it's far less convincing. Another thing that needs to be taken with a grain of salt is the pre-title card that declares, "THIS IS A TRUE STORY." Now, I'm not saying the Italian mafia didn't try to muscle in on a black numbers kingpin's action in 1956, but there's probably a good reason why the next card says, "Only the Names, Places, and Events have been changed to Protect the Innocent."

At any rate, the film stars Paul Harris as the Big Man in the Hood who knows how to take care of his own and who to hire to take care of the competition, with "special guest star" Frank DeKova (who logged a fair bit of time playing Chief Wild Eagle on F Troop) as the mafioso putting the squeeze on him, Frances Williams as the madam of the local opium den/whorehouse, Reginald Farmer as Sweetman, one of Harris's top numbers runners (because you can't have a blaxploitation picture without a character named something like Sweetman), and Larry Greene (who went on to play Hood #2 in three separate episodes of Good Times) as his right-hand man. The film also tries to be coy about Harris's secret weapon, a sassy assassin named Serene, but anybody with a pair of eyes can figure out what's up long before the closing credits reveal that "Tawny Tan" is actually Don Edmondson (who didn't work again under either name, so I guess the filmmakers didn't need to go to that much trouble "introducing" him/her).

There's a smattering of gun play through the film (including a scene where DeKova goads Harris into playing a game of Russian roulette), but most of the bloodletting is achieved through people slicing and beating each other to a pulp. And there's also copious nudity (mostly female, of course), but the language is mostly confined to variations on the n-word (one of the songs is even called "Nigger Rich"). My favorite extraneous detail, though, has to be the kid who's crazy about potato chips, mostly because people can't stop talking about them when he's around. It's like the filmmakers were in thrall to the Potato Chip Lobby or something.

Monday, May 25, 2009
This is ruining our lives. This is not what we bargained for.

For his first feature after cutting his teeth on a series of short films for the debut season of Saturday Night Live, comedian Albert Brooks set his sights on satirizing the 1973 PBS series An American Family, one of the forerunners of the modern strain of reality television. The result was 1979's Real Life, which Brooks starred in (as himself) and co-wrote with Monica Johnson and Harry Shearer. Eager to make a big splash (early in the process he talks about the possibility of winning both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize for his film), Brooks gets a major studio and the prestigious National Institute of Human Behavior behind him, and once he's chosen the ideal family (headed by mild-manner veterinarian Charles Grodin and his wife Frances Lee McCain), he sets about filming their lives for an entire year, ostensibly as unobtrusively as possible, but reality proves to be harder to capture than he initially anticipated.

For starters, Brooks's psychological consultants (Matthew Tobin and J.A. Preston) tell him that Grodin is coming off unsympathetically (which Brooks flat out refuses to believe) and that McCain is developing an unhealthy attachment to him (which would be easier to manage if Brooks didn't live across the street from the family). The situation deteriorates further when Grodin loses a patient on camera and McCain's grandmother dies, sending them both into a funk, but things temporarily pick up when Preston -- the main voice of dissent -- leaves the project and Brooks is given freer reign with them. (His solution is to give them a big-screen TV and film them on stimulating family outings.) In the end, though, the plug is pulled by the Institute (which comes to the conclusion that Brooks is having a negative impact on the family), the movie studio (which can't fathom why they're sinking so much money into a project without any stars) and the family itself, with Brooks left to commiserate with one of his cameramen (played by Shearer) and devise a dramatic conclusion to his movie. Little did he know that he was providing an example that many reality show producers would unwittingly follow in the decades to come.

Thursday, May 28, 2009
When you've been made an outsider, you are always angry.

My apologies for the interruption of service, but I was without my computer for the better part of the week and I'm only just now getting back into the groove. My first order of business was to watch Dreams with Sharp Teeth, the 2008 documentary about Harlan Ellison that I first heard about last spring at South by Southwest, where it played at the film festival that overlaps with the music festival. I didn't have the ability to see it at the time, but I filed it away for future reference and was sure to alert my VCR when the Sundance Channel showed it Monday night. As a longtime fan of Ellison's work, I felt it would be more than worth my time.

Produced and directed by Erik Nelson, Dreams digs into Ellison's life and work, placing interviews with the man himself (who is as cantankerous, irascible and uncompromising as you would expect him to be) alongside excerpts from his stories, which is essential because, as one interview subject puts it, "You can't separate the work and the man." After all, it is Ellison's unwillingness to censor himself both in print and for the camera (here's a guy who has no qualms about calling a spade a spade) that makes him a compelling storyteller, as well as a vociferous critic of junk culture. (One of the highlights of the film is his takedown of a mindbogglingly idiotic contestant on The Weakest Link, a show he and his wife happened to catch a few minutes of while channel-surfing.)

The film also features interviews with the likes of Neil Gaiman, Robin Williams and Dan Simmons (whose work was championed by Ellison when he was just starting out), and vintage footage of Ellison on The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder and other programs (but not, sadly enough, Politically Incorrect, which he quite memorably appeared on a few times in the '90s). And the original music was by Richard Thompson, who previously scored Werner Herzog's 2005 documentary Grizzly Man. In a lot of ways, that would have been an equally apt title for this one.

Friday, May 29, 2009
All young people need somebody bad to look up to and I hope I can be that for you tonight.

I'm visiting Joe Blevins this weekend because we're going to see the Spinal Tap Unwigged & Unplugged show at the Chicago Theatre tomorrow, so tonight I decided to unwind by watching the John Waters concert film This Filthy World, which I knew he would have in his collection. (It also seemed like a good follow-up to last night's Harlan Ellison documentary.) Directed by Jeff Garlin (who's best known for his work on Curb Your Enthusiasm), it's a fairly straightforward presentation of his one-man show, in which he discusses his life, his movies, his influences and his strange hobbies. Anybody who's read his books Shock Value and Crackpot or listened to his DVD commentaries will be familiar with many of the stories he tells, but there's nothing like getting them straight from the horse's mouth. Early on he states, "This is not a lecture, this is vaudeville." Actually, what the show most resembles is a stand-up act, which is all right as long as the jokes are funny -- and if there's one thing John Waters has never had a problem being, it's funny. A must-see for his fans.

Saturday, May 30, 2009
If they wanted you to be yourself, they wouldn't be paying you.

When it was released in 2005, Bubble was trumpeted as "another Steven Soderbergh experience." Now, in 2009 -- and once again in concert with HDNet Films -- he has seen fit to give us The Girlfriend Experience, which has received a fair bit of notoriety for being the feature debut of rising adult video star Sasha Grey (who was only 20 when it was shot last year). Of course, the role wasn't exactly a stretch for her since Grey plays a highly paid escort who balances her chosen vocation with her relationship with her live-in boyfriend, freelance trainer Chris Santos. And while she might not be the most engaging actress in the world, that's okay because her character is meant to a blank slate, ready to fulfill whatever role her clients want to play. (More often than not, they want her to be a good listener because they spend much of their time unloading their fears about the economic situation.)

Money isn't far from anybody's mind at any time, what with all the talk about the Wall Street bailout and economic stimulus packages (and yes, they do make a crack or two abot the stimulation of another sort of package). If any future cultural historians want to get a feel for what New York was like during the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election, The Girlfriend Experience would be a great place to start. They'll have a challenge on their hands piecing together the story, though, since Soderbergh's elliptical editing style frequently provides the answers to questions before they're even raised. I'm not sure how much of that structure was present in the script by David Levien & Brian Koppelman (whose previous collaboration was the screenplay for Ocean's Thirteen), but Soderbergh is no stranger to this kind of narrative juggling act, effortlessly jumping back and forth in time and papering over the joins with cutaways to an interview with a writer doing a story on Gray and her own journal entries (which, a la Patrick Bateman, reveal her to be fairly shallow since they mostly describe the clothing she's wearing and what she and her clients do before they get down to business). He even finds a way to end on a money shot of sorts (which can't be too graphic because this is an R-rated film, but it's unmistakable when it arrives).

Sunday, May 31, 2009
This could be one of those rare instances where our government is in error.

Following 1985's Crime Wave, Winnepeg auteur John Paizs did some directing for Canadian television (including episodes of Maniac Mansion and film segments for The Kids in Hall) before embarking on his second feature, Top of the Food Chain (which was retitled Invasion! when it came to DVD) in 1999. It's a super-quirky story about a super-quirky small Canadian town called Exceptional Vista that has fallen on hard times since the nut factory closed down. The remaining townspeople think they have problems when the local TV broadcasting tower gets knocked out one night, but that's only because they don't know about the cadre of slimy, man-eating aliens that has landed in their midst. Good thing for them they're also being visited by world-famous atomic scientist Campbell Scott (who's working on the secret of cool fusion since the cold variety appears to be out of science's grasp), as well as some undercover government agents (Nigel Bennett and Elisa Moolecherry) posing as traveling vacuum and banjo salesmen, respectively.

For the most part, the alien invasion plot takes a back seat to Scott's interactions with the bizarre locals, including amorous motel owner Fiona Loewi, her uncomfortably close brother Tom Everett Scott and jealous police officer Hardee T. Lineham, who also doubles as the town coroner. Before long, though, he's rattling off lines like "A genetically engineered band of devil worshiping serial killers... or a Sasquatch type thing? I don't like the sound of that!" and rallying the troops (such as they are) to repel the ravenous aliens. If you enjoyed The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra but didn't think it was silly enough, this might be the movie for you. Just don't expect it to change your life.

Back to April 2009 -- Onward to June 2009

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