Netflix Streaming Theatre Vol. lll


Due to popular demand and apathy, here’s the latest round-up of Netflix Streaming Reviews. The nice thing about streaming is to sample a film or series that you may not have the gusto to order. As stated, the flip side is poor compression, limited choices and unpredictable formats. But when you’re watching THE CAPTURE OF BIGFOOT, who gives a shit? It should look like a faded drive-in screen or an analog Zenith at one in the morning. Happily, I’ve found a few gems that I’m happy to have added to my cinematic education. You’re never too old to finally see LE CERCLE ROUGE. Stream On:

vlcsnap-114922HOPSCOTCH (1980) – Never heard of HOPSCOTCH, old chap? Don’t have the Criterion release? Fortunately, Netflix does with a great widescreen transfer of this delightful late 70’s comedy crossed with an English 50’s caper film and released in 1980. Walter Matthau plays a low-key, brilliant CIA agent who gets burned by his superior and decides to get revenge by publishing a deadly tell-all biography. He enlists his spy lover, Glenda Jackson, to assist him as he leads the world’s secret agencies on an intricate, chess game that left me guessing all the way up to the satisfying conclusion. Directed with classy panache by Ronald Neame, who helmed classic British comedies like THE HORSES MOUTH along with big budget spectacles like THE POSEIDEN ADVENTURE (1972) and sadly, METEOR (1979). The screenplay by Bryan Forbes based on a best-selling novel is witty, literate, and presents a super-spy who eschews gunpower or violence. It’s great to watch the sly Matthau at his peak outwit a cadre of global agents. The whole cast is game, especially Jackson, along with Herbert Lom as a Russian spy and Sam Waterston as Matthau’s protege. An urbane caper film with the spirit of the 70’s.

frankensteinsbloodyterror5FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR (1968) – From the sublime to the outre, I like to cover the waterfront. And this is an influential Spanish genre film whose silly title always popped up in the pages of Famous Monsters Of Filmland, Cinefantastique, The Monster Times, and the late, lamented Psychotronic. Paul Naschy became an international horror superstar with his lead role in LA MARCA DEL HOMBRE LOBO (THE MARK OF THE WOLFMAN) re-titled for American release as FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR only because Sam Sherman, famed exploitation distributor, needed a Frankenstein movie — hence the outrageous animated opening that explains the history of “Wolfstein.” Whatever the title, you can see why this film became a global hit. Shot in gorgeous Super 70 mm “Chill-O-Scope” (and 3-D!), stylishly directed by Enrique López Eguiluz, each frame is perfectly composed with lush depth of field and positively Bava-esque colored lighting. Naschy wrote the script, did the make-up and brings a great physicality to his role, leaping, snarling and biting, and he’s undoubtedly one of the screens great werewolves. Even better, halfway through the film the coolest vampire couple in cinema history arrive to try and use the poor werewolf for their satanic ends. This is an absolute 60’s Euro-horror classic and I’m dying to see this in 3-D.

YOU’RE GONNA MISS ME (2005) – I am a 13th Floor Elevators fan. The Austin band coined the term “psychedelic music” in 1966 while igniting the ire of Texas Law Officials, who felt the band’s success reflected badly on their police state. After being busted with a joint, lead singer/songwriter Roky Erickson settled for being labeled “insane” rather than the face the harsher realities of Huntsville Prison. He was given shock treatment and he spiraled into schizophrenia. Kept from treatment by his over-protective mother, Keven McAlester’s fascinating documentary traces the rough history of the band along with Roky’s brothers attempt to get him under a doctor’s care. The line between reality show and documentary is blurred these days, and I honestly don’t like camera intimate looks at people’s personal tragedies — unless it’s illuminating a greater truth. And the documentary has a more hopeful ending than one could imagine. After 20 years of inability to write or perform music, Roky Erickson is back on tour.

hitchhikers_7_396x222THE HITCH-HIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (1981) – No, not the recent big budget mess, but the shoestring six-episode adaptation of Douglas Adam’s popular radio play for the BBC. He later expanded it into a “five-part book trilogy” and he was on his way. Fortunately, the series remains one of the best translations from page to screen, capturing Adam’s veddy British wry, sci-fi surrealist humor. The casting is note-perfect, with Simon Jones as Arthur Dent and David Dixon as Ford Prefect the exact way I envision them from the page. Don’t take my word, even Adams thought they couldn’t have been more apropos. I particularly like Mark Wing-Davey as the hip, double-headed, Zaphod Beeblebrox. The witty, animated graphics taken from the portable HHGTTG are the coolest section of the series and though some of Douglas Adam’s British sci-firony (copyright) might be a little dried out after being emulated through the years, it’s still smart, funny and involving (but what’s the English obssession with fish?). I just wish there was a soundtrack of Paddy Kingsland’s lovely electronic score.

captureofbigfoot_headlinerTHE CAPTURE OF BIGFOOT (1978) – As a Sasquatch enthusiast, it’s been my goal to see every terrible Bigfoot film until they make mine. I was curious about this one since the credits listed one “William D. Cannon” as a producer. Otherwise known as my dear late friend Bill Cannon, he of SKIDOO and BREWSTER McCLOUD fame. Of course, Bill never mentioned THE CAPTURE OF BIGFOOT, and I can’t place it in his myriad movie history. The film itself is a not terrible lo-fi local effort whose biggest star is Otis Young (THE LAST DETAIL) and character actor Buck Flowers (ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK). There’s a sheriff who imitates movie stars while investigating a series of “animal” attacks, a ski-lodge lounge with a bad disco band who sing the truly scary title song, and best of all, two ginormous white yeti-style bigfoot monsters who of course you feel sorry for. With a six-pack, a bong and a pizza, this might hit the spot on a desperate Friday night.

00023226MEN IN BLACK (1997) – My lone favorite Barry Sonnenfeld film is this smart, stylish and sardonic Spielberg-produced blockbuster that doesn’t skimp on the satire. Based on the popular comic book series by Lowell Cunningham, the clever story about an uber-secret ET border patrol organization is helped enormously by Sonnenfeld’s brilliant idea to give the film a 1960’s vibe. He even hired title maestro Pablo Ferro to do the DR. STRANGELOVE-esque credits. Bo Welch’s production design is pop-art eye-candy and Danny Elfman’s score is one of his best. Honors must go to Industrial Light and Magic at the top of their spfx game, co-mingling with Rick Baker’s stunning, beautiful alien designs (he received another deserved Oscar). Although Will Smith’s jocular, smart-ass personality doesn’t jibe with me, the dude is clearly a movie star and he works well with Tommy Lee Jones, whose stoic demeanor acts as the perfect buffer. Jones is fantastic in the film and who woulda thunk the guy from JACKSON COUNTY JAIL (1976) would end up a Hollywood playa? The moment where he interrogates the alien pug is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Vincent D’Onfrio steals his scenes as the ET out to destroy the pestilence of Earth, carrying the film’s  satiric tone. It’s hard to imagine a big studio blockbuster having the cajones to end the film with a great cosmic shaggy dog joke, but hey, MIB made 80 million dollars in its opening weekend way back in 1997.

8 1/2 (1963) – Federico Fellin’s classic auto-biographical fantasia comes to Netflix Streaming with the spirit of the 1960’s college film club age: the transfer looks like a blown-up 16mm print projected on a classroom wall. I made it through the opening, then realized I wasn’t in a 1960’s college film club. Caveat emptor, baby. Ciao.



13 Responses to “Netflix Streaming Theatre Vol. lll”

  1. These are always a pleasure Christian. And Hopskotch is about to get queued.

  2. christian Says:

    I’m dying to hear your take on that and FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR….

  3. aron ranen Says:

    Please take a moment to watch my LSD Documentary film I have posted in four parts at youtube.

    It features a new interveiw with Ram Dass. Paul Krassner of the YIPPIES, and features one of the preachers involved in Tim Leary’s Miricle of Good friday Experiment. Plus the CIA’s LSD Brothel is located in San Francisco…please share with other open minded folks

    here is link

  4. that ‘REMCO Movieland DRIVE-IN THEATER’ in a box is possibly the coolest thing i have ever seen (have gun will travel!)

  5. christian Says:

    Behold The Glory, Leahnz:

  6. NO WAY!!!!!!!!

    thanks, christian, that really IS the COOLEST THING EVER

  7. christian Says:

    I’m trying to track one down…Get into the exhibition business myself.

  8. Wonderful pleasure to read these Netflix Streaming reviews. As with Chuck, I must now pursue Hopscatch.

    I’ve never taken the Netflix plunge, however. Perhaps this must soon change.

    Loved the Remco Theatre Drive In clip. Beautiful!

  9. christian Says:

    Thanks Alexander. I don’t want to oversell HOPSCOTCH, but it’s such a different kind of spy film and I love the poster’s tag line under a frumpy photo of Matthau: “The Most Dangerous Man In The World.”

  10. Thanks !! for the content

  11. […] BLOODY TERROR by dear old Sam Sherman for American consumption. Here’s my Netflix Streaming […]

  12. What you have to understand is that everybody has abs. The difference is that some people’s abs are covered by more fat than other people’s abs.

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