Rectuma, monsturd, and deadbeat at dawn

This was a STRONG week on Tubi. Right when I was about to give up (not just on Tubi, but on life in general) I got slapped across the face with three BANGERS.

Rectuma (2003)

This is why I say it takes a couple of decades after a film’s release before it can be properly critiqued. Audiences were probably pissed when they saw this in 2003. They probably discarded it as just another lame attempt at South Park-style humor, which many attempted, unsuccessfully, to emulate. But now, nearly 20 years later, Rectuma’s stupidity can be fully appreciated.

Just in case you forgot, I’ve taken a LOT of drugs. And as a result, my memory is nearly shot. So if you want an accurate plot summary, you’ll have to look elsewhere. But best I can recall, the story is about some schlubby dude who gets raped by a frog in Mexico and then he gets nuclear rods shoved up his rectum thus causing his ass to grow massive in size before it starts attacking LA. Plus his wife is trying to kill him.

In 2003, I was fully steeped in this low-brow, offensive, toilet humor (still kinda am, tbh). That was practically internet culture in those days. So watching this movie was like a walk down memory lane.

People forget, there was a time when “politically incorrect” humor (before it got relabeled as “anti-woke” humor 🤢) oddly lacked any political dimension whatsoever. Everyone laughed at it because it was after 9/11 and we all thought we would die soon anyway. Stuff like Rectuma was supposed to distract us from that horrible fact.

So to appreciate this movie, one must see it as an artifact of very early 21st Century life. It should be shown in colleges and history classes across the globe.

Monsturd (2003)

Both Monsturd and Rectuma were released in 2003 and were both seemingly filmed in Butte County, California. So I’m assuming there was some overlap in the productions of these two movies.

I don’t think Monsturd is quite of the same caliber as Rectuma, but I appreciate the effort nonetheless. The plot is simple: a gigantic, living turd -created by a mad scientist- terrorizes the citizens of a small community, and it’s up to the sheriff’s department to stop it.

Despite being the lesser of the two films, like peanut butter and chocolate, this goes well with Rectuma.

Deadbeat At Dawn (1988)

I saved the best for last. Outside of one Ouija Board scene, this really isn’t a “horror” film. But I’m glad, that in Tubi’s infinite wisdom, they recommended it.

Filmed on the mean streets of Dayton, Ohio, Deadbeat At Dawn is about one man’s revenge against rival gang members for killing his girlfriend. The final confrontation at a train station is simultaneously amateurish and utterly fucking brutal…and it concludes in the most satisfying way: the bad guy gets his throat ripped out (this was released a year before Road House, btw).

The violence in Deadbeat At Dawn is delightfully absurd, but the highlight of the movie is when, in his darkest hour, our hero goes from getting drunk to snorting coke to shooting up heroin before finally dropping acid. Self-destruction never looked more hilarious.

This is definitely one of the great underrated action films of the 80s.

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Jack hardcock:Christian detective (part iii)

I unlocked the door to 12th story apartment overlooking downtown Cleveland. I threw down my keys and coat then turned on the light.

The local gangster, Gregg Poppovich, was pointing a gun at me. “What do you want with Art McGarth, Jack?” he asked as he lifted a stogie to his mouth.

“I’m investigating his death, Gregg,” I said. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”

“Of course not,” he replied, “I just didn’t want you pointing the finger at me.”

“Now why would I want to do something like that?” I asked while I studied him over.

Gregg laughed and put the pistol away in his holster. “I didn’t suppose you did,” he said, “you’re too smart for that.”

“But you must know something. Or else you wouldn’t have broken into my apartment.”

He laughed some more. “Of course,” he said, “that’s why I’m paying you a visit. It’s neither organized crime nor police corruption. There’s a madman loose out there, Jack. I don’t know much more than you, but watch your back.”

“Thanks for your concern, Gregg. But I have the Lord’s protection. Besides, why kill McGarth? He must have had some connections.”

“Not McGarth,” Gregg said, “but the two prostitutes. They’re disappearing all over the city. I’m telling you, Jack, it’s a Jack the Ripper kind of situation.”

“A serial killer?” I laughed, “in a city like Cleveland? Never heard of such a thing.”

“I’m not crazy, Jack. I don’t believe in that silly God of yours, but I do believe in the Devil. And he’s here in this city. So you better watch yourself.”

“I’ll pray on it,” I said, “and I’ll pray for you and your Salvation. May the Lord guide you towards the Light.”

Gregg left and I took a shit. All that scotch and nicotine was running through me. I absolutely destroyed that toilet.

When I walked out of the bathroom, Sally was lying on the bed. “Jesus Christ, Jack!” she said while puffing on a cigarette, “someone light a match!”

I closed the door and loosened my tie. “You shouldn’t use the Lord’s name in vain,” I said. “What are you doing here? I should really change the locks to this place.”

“Just paying you a visit,” she replied while hiking up her skirt to expose her gorgeous legs. “Have you found out anything about Art McGarth? Seeing as we’re both investigating his death.”

“His murder appears to have been collateral damage,” I said. “Other than that, I know nothing.”

“Are you sure?” Sally asked as she unbuttoned her blouse.

“Sally, I don’t know what you’re expecting to happen here. You know I don’t know what to do with a woman. I’ve never had sex!”

“I could show you,” she said as she lowered her shirt to expose her shoulders.

“No thanks,” I replied, “I don’t believe in sex before marriage. Now please leave.”

After she left, I straightened out the bed, loaded one round into the revolver of my .38, spun it, pointed it at my head, and pulled the trigger.

Nothing.

“Thank you, Lord, for always watching out for me,” I prayed. Then I went to bed.

I always sleep better after a game of Russian Roulette.

paris tx

There are few scenes in the history of film that hit me harder than the Super 8 sequence in Paris, Texas.

Rarely do films like this get made. Especially now. Not without a dose of heavy handed social commentary and violence.

That’s not the case with Paris, Texas. It’s subject is simple: one man’s inability to face his problems. All of this juxtaposed against the vast American landscape that’s both empty and crowded…dead and alive. Wim Wenders’ vision of America is embodied by the character Travis, played by the enigmatic Harry Dean Stanton.

The first time I watched this, it was almost like a religious experience. I was 10 or 11 years old and stayed up late while watching cable to see some tities. Fortunately, nothing was on Cinemax so I switched over to HBO. Paris, Texas was playing.

I don’t know why I kept watching it (probably because you see some Aurore Clement side boob), but next thing I know, I was fully engrossed in the story. It was the first movie where, when it ended, I didn’t know what hit me.

It was probably at that moment when it occurred to me: THIS is why people love movies.

Some people hate Paris, Texas. Some say it’s too slow. Some don’t like Travis because he abandoned his family.

I personally like movies that take their time. And if you don’t like Travis’ decisions, it’s not like the movie presents him as mensch.

In fact, Travis…along with his wife Jane…are presented as two VERY troubled people. From the perspective of Travis, he had to leave at the end because he was utterly broken. I would go as far as to say that Travis’ entire existence consists of (unintentionally) ruining people’s lives.

This film is not only about Travis trying to reunite his wife and child (Hunter), but it’s also about ruining the lives of his brother Walt and his wife Anne who took custody of Hunter during his disappearance.

Another heartbreaking scene is when Anne fails to convince Travis and Hunter to return home, and she goes to lie down in Hunter’s bed. Even though Hunter wasn’t her actual son, she was still attached to him. And that’s the last scene Anne is in, never to be mentioned again.

But Wenders’ direction mixes realism with a childlike perspective (which resembles Travis’ emotional state) quite well. So, I think, that permits me to have a pessimistic interpretation of the ending: there was no way that Jane would maintain custody of Hunter, and Hunter would return to Walt and Anne with a better sense of his “real” family, which would likely cause further damage to everyone involved. Meanwhile, Travis, once again, ran away from it all.

Is my interpretation correct? I dunno. But that’s how art works.

So do yourself a favor: stay up late one night and watch Paris, Texas.

mr. bright side

As we settle into the Cold War II and the ever present threat of nuclear war, it’s time to look at the silver lining: we might get better movies.

One thing I miss from the first Cold War is character study films of the 1970s. They should make more movies that look into the depraved lives of ordinary people in an uncritical manner. I’m sure they still make em but they’re probably shit.

Jack Nicholson was the king of these movies back in the day. Perhaps the best example being Five Easy Pieces.

I’ve decided to get back to my roots and start building up my Criterion Collection. So I recently purchased Five Easy Pieces along with Paris, Texas (The only time I saw Paris, Texas when I stayed up late and watched HBO when I was 10 years old. It blew me the fuck away. I had a weird childhood).

When you have a toddler running around that gets PISSED if you watch anything other than Blippi, it’s hard to find time to watch these movies. But I got far enough into Five Easy Pieces to watch one of my favorite scenes in film history: Sally Strothers’ random heartbreaking monologue on being forsaken by God.

The essay pamphlet that accompanies the Five Easy Pieces blu ray is pretty good. Apparently this early 70s state of being, where everyone’s fucked-upness was a given…and people talked while others listened…is an existence that’s no longer.

So it’s refreshing to look back at a time that was no less deranged, but far less judgmental.

meh

My news feed has been buzzing the last 24 hours. More so than usual. No, it has nothing to do with the Russians possibly invading Ukraine. It’s the announcement of a fourth “Kelvin Timeline” Star Trek film.

Unlike most Star Trek fans, I am content with saying that Star Trek died with the last episode of Enterprise. And we all owe Rick Berman an apology (even though he sounds like a legit asshole).

So I don’t give a shit about this new film (written by a bunch of writers whose work I also don’t give a shit about). 🚨 Spoiler Alert 🚨: it’s gonna suck.

How do I know?

Let me tell you about two men named JJ Abrams and Alex Kurtzman.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too harsh. They did revive Trek. Because of them, there are four…about to be five…Star Trek shows airing. Audiences change. As ridiculous as it sounds now, TOS fans were reluctant to accept TNG.

Now I’m a TNG fan that’s reluctant to accept Kurtzman Trek.

The thing that TOS and TNG had in common though is one VERY important thing: Gene Roddenberry. And Roddenberry was succeeded by Rick Berman, who was hellbent on carrying out his predecessor’s vision.

No such chain of succession with this new Trek.

JJ Abrams did do one thing right though: the first 10 minutes of Star Trek 09. And that kinda highlights my biggest gripe with this current set of producers: they are Kliff Kingsbury of Star Trek.

All three movies, plus Picard, plus Discovery, start off fairly strong in their opening acts (or first few episodes) and then inexplicably derail into a total train wreck.

Moreover, this new “cinematic” feel to Star Trek just doesn’t…feel right. Trek works best on a shoestring budget, phenomenal writing, and the perfect casting. Case in point: Wrath of Khan. It is probably the Trek film with the smallest budget, but it’s also considered the best.

There’s a Shakespearean, theater-like quality to the Roddenberry/Berman-era Trek that, I think, many fans find appealing (even if we didn’t appreciate it at the time).

Of course, those days of television and movies are over (in part, due to JJ Abrams’ impact on the industry) and that’s okay. Things change.

Which is why we must let Star Trek go.

enema at the gates (and why I go to bat for Dances With Wolves)

Most nights I can’t sleep. Most nights I can’t sleep because I can’t stop thinking about a film. Usually, it’s not a great film that’s keeping me up. It’s a film that could have been great, but everyone fucked up.

One such movie is Enemy at the Gates (2001).

It’s a shame. This movie could have been dope. So what happened?

Now forgive me, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve watched it so I won’t go into plot details. But the screenwriters shouldn’t have committed to telling a love story AND a game of cat and mouse.

Individually these stories could have been interesting on their own. The Battle of Stalingrad was such a test of the human spirit that it provides an interesting backdrop to any story.

But Enemy at the Gates falls victim to a very serious problem…a problem that plagued so, so many movies of the era: it tries to have it both ways. It wants to be a gritty war film AND appeal to 90s sentimentality.

“But it’s based on a real historical account,” you might say.

And lo and behold, this is largely true. Of course, it takes a few creative liberties. I doubt Joseph Fiennes’ character was real. Same with Ron Perlman’s…a character that I hated so much because it seems to have been included for expositional purposes only. Because the film takes such liberties…it is a movie after all, and not a documentary…then pick a lane.

If I were making this movie, I would have focused exclusively on the chase between Ed Harris and Jude Law. But there’s no sense in crying over spilled milk.

Enemy at the Gates appears to have been one of the last of the so-called “90s, mediocre, sentimental historical dramas.” I don’t hate all of these movies. In fact, I go to bat for perhaps the greatest example of this genre: Dances With Wolves.

“Can you believe that Kevin Costner beat Martin Scorsese at the Oscars?” everyone says to me.

No. That’s not surprising at all. Have you seen the movie? I will pound the table every chance I get: Kevin Costner DESERVED his Oscar.

Quote me on that.

Honestly, as much as it pains me to say this, if there’s a flaw with the movie, it’s the screenplay. That’s a big one. This might not have been obvious to audiences then, but it’s clear 32 years later. BUT, it appears to me that Costner was involved in the project from the moment of its inception, so the script was suited to his strengths.

Could anyone else have made Dances With Wolves?

No.

And here’s where Costner excels: every character…EVERY last character…has their moment, however brief, to shine. When Stone Calf is killed, you feel it. Even when LT. Elgin is killed, one of the “villains”, there’s a shred of sympathy for him. This helps you become immersed in this lovely, bloody world.

Costner approaches the subject matter, much like his character, in a child-like, gentle manner. Not a detail is missed. It felt genuine, and not at all like it was trying “to have it both ways”.

It worked. It worked so well that nobody was able to emulate that style. They tried. But where every mediocre 90s historical drama failed, only Kevin Costner succeeded.

(Yes, I’m including Braveheart)

(Not sure about Saving Private Ryan)

This is bullshit

I can’t believe that in the middle of my obsession with Phil Spector, it completely missed me that Ronnie Spector died!

Why didn’t anybody tell me?

I guess between Bob Saget and Meat Loaf passing that the news somehow fell between the cracks. But that’s no excuse!

Pop music wouldn’t be what it is without the Ronettes.

Why are all the GOATs dying?

Somebody keep an eye out for Tom Brady. 😕

u look like a fool!

No matter how educated you are, no matter how smart you believe yourself to be, you CAN be deceived.

You WILL be deceived.

Ever heard of SANTA CLAUS? He’s real. He died in 2020. His real name was James Randi and he was one of the greatest scientific skeptics and magicians of all time:

You know who else isn’t real?

Kool Moe Dee

Those freestyle skills were unreal.