Netflix Summer Streaming Theatre Vol. Xlll

Given the recent past couple year’s Netflix decision to raise prices, decrease their DVD output and hopefully increase streaming options, I’m still down with the Instant Watch portion just from my film obscura POV given the sheer volume of hitherto unavailable releases, which is a good deal at eight bucks a month. I’d pay that for one showing of REVOLUTION!

FROM DUSK TO DAWN (1996) – Thanks to Miramax’s deal with Netflix, we now have a few Tarantino and Rodriguez films, including this fun, exploitation criminal/vampire hybrid. George Clooney passed his movie star screen test as Seth Gecko, a violent, questionably moral criminal headed to Mexico for a new life. As Ritchie, his psychotic brother, Quentin Tarantino gives his best screen performance using quiet, intense mannerisms, the perfect way to downplay such a repellent character. Harvey Keitel might seem miscast (Robert Blake was to assay the role — sigh) as a faithless Southern preacher, but he’s very good and it’s nice to see him as a decent Man Of God blowing apart vampires with a shotgun cross. Juliette Lewis is spunky game in the bloody chaos and there’s an amazing cast of cult favorites, from John Saxon to Michael Parks to Cheech Marin (in three roles). Tom Savini steals all his scenes as “Sex Machine” and Danny Trejo is in there PLUS Selma Hayek doing a sexy, hypnotic dance of doom. The joy of FDTD is the genre flip in the middle from criminal getaway film to drive-in monster movie. Rodriguez shoots with his usual kinetic flair and it’s nice to see a sustained choreographed duel between the living and the undead using a variety of clever weapons. There’s also great Tarantino dialogue, as when Seth convinces the fallen Reverend that if fanged demons can exist, then ergo God must exist. And I can’t tell you why I get chills at the 1.85:1 wide shot of Harvey Keitel, Fred Williamson, George Clooney and Tom Savini lining up to do battle with the bloodsuckers…

CAR WASH (1976) – If any film captures the desperate psychic energy of Los Angeles, this is one and as such, remains an important cultural document. A less ambitious  MASH/AMERICAN GRAFFITI for the “urban” crowds, CAR WASH is the day in a life of a So Cal business and the myriad souls floating around the edges. Directed by Michael Schultz and written by Joel Schumacher (yes, that one), buttressed by the hugely popular theme song, the film veers from sloppy gross humor like Professor Irwin Corey’s unhilarious attempt to rescue his bottled urine, to serious, well-acted scenes dealing with race and class, particularly Bill Pope’s angry revolutionary. Richard Pryor turns in an energetic cameo as a money hungry preacher and George Carlin continues his string of never being funny in any film. Lauren Jone’s prostitute character is the most poignant in the film, and there’s no attempt at a happy ending, life just goes on like the stream of cars…

AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY (2010) – Bill Hick was the Bruce Lee of modern stand-up comedy. Or is that Jimi Hendrix? It’s one of those Sagittarians, well repped by the outspoken, iconoclast Texas satirist whose untimely death in 1994 left a gaping cultural void. Most of us know his story yet depending on who’s telling it, I still find Hicks a fascinating cultural figure. AMERICAN has some fantastic unseen footage, including moving segments on his final days at home with his family. The most interesting portion for me was his Hollywood period, which contained info I didn’t know, such as his brief stint as a struggling screenwriter. Directed by Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas at a brisk pace, the feature also contains a charming animated section that works well. I never fail to be moved to briny tears by any document of this radical comedian’s story.

GALAXY OF TEROR (1981) – Like a few of you, I first encountered this strange Roger Corman New World ALIEN-esque sci-fi psychological space horror film during its HBO run (it was also advertised as the more apt MINDWARP: AN INFINITY OF TERROR); I literally haven’t seen the film since but I didn’t need to for fear I’d have to re-viddy the giant worm assault that adds to GALAXY OF TERROR’s cult reputation. The sets and effects are still impressive for such a standard New World exploitation budget thanks to James Cameron, who helped design the spfx and allegedly directed some scenes — his signature cool blue style is quite dominant. Featuring an eclectic cast of Ray Walston, Edward Albert, Grace Zabriskie, Zalman King, Erin Moran and the great Sid Haig, the film’s most infamous scene is the aforementioned worm assault that undoubtedly helped birth the revolting Japanese “shokushu gouka” genre. GAT is a typical Corman entry in that there’s no sop to hopeful audience endings and the unique dispassionate tone along with the neat effects makes this one of New World’s most above-average 80’s releases. I’m sure Ray Walston was wondering how he came from Billy Wilder to Bruce D. Clark, but That’s Hollywood!


REVOLUTION! (1968)
– Watch this NOW, man. You can track down it down on the webs, but you can watch a beautiful version NOW, man. Or should I say, WOW, man? Either way it’s irritating. Yet this rare document from the heart of the Summer Of Love 1967 © is all kinds of groovy, if only as a more objective panopoly of hippie life in San Francisco. That’s the nice thing about the film, there’s no, “But this wild new acid generation is looking for more than kicks…” narration, just a random series of city snapshots, from Golden Gate Park nuns to young doctors warning freaks about the dangers of disease to a naked girl dosed on what must have been dynamite LSD. And the music! Country Joe and The Fish and some lesser known bands jammin’ over the scenes of love child abandon. Easily one of the best documentaries about that fabled time and place I’ve ever seen. Director Jack O’Donnell indulges in some freewheelin’ nude hippie chick dancing but it only adds to the psychedelic tapestry. Watch it NOW.


MESSAGE FROM SPACE (1978)
– If that poster doesn’t make you tingle, you’re at the wrong site. And any poster that has a credit reading, “With a SPECIAL EFFECTS and SPACE FLYING OBJECTS TECHNICAL UNIT” is one that must be obeyed. As if that were not enough, Toei Studio’s MESSAGE FROM SPACE was also directed by Kinji Fukasaku and even stars Sonny Chiba and Vic Morrow. You might think the film is an unblatant rip-off of STAR WARS and you would be correct, albeit this is one of the most entertaining of the numerous copies. The story deals with a set of infamous glowing space walnuts that the bad and good guys are after for universal domination and so forth. Vic Morrow probably wasn’t too thrilled with his role as was the usual case with American stars in Japanese genre films, but he’s a space trooper and does his best in a ridiculous outfit. The ship designs are pretty cool and the space effects are a step above the usual 70’s fare. Overall, MESSAGE FROM SPACE is fast-paced sci-fi pop eye candy and looks terrific in Netflix’s 2.00 widescreen version. Help Us!

SWITCHBLADE SISTERS (1975) – One of my first classes at UC Berkeley was “B-Movie Of The 1970’s” and I was thrilled to discover this exploitation classic as part of the survey, long before Herr Tarantino resurrected the film for theatrical re-release through his “Rolling Thunder” outlet. An oh so loose adaptation of OTHELLO about a warring gang of female brutes called the “Dagger Debs” in an urban fantasia devoid of authority figures, SWITCHBLADE SISTERS (or THE JEZEBELS, the film’s original title) contains a number of classic outre scenes such as a machine-gun battle in a roller rink and a group of black revolutionaires aligning with the gang, highlighted by unforgettable quotes: “I lost an eye for this gang!” and my favorite, “If you leave now it’s gonna GET BAD!” The best performance in the film belongs to Chase Newhart as “Crabs,” the smarmy gang leader who ends up on the wrong side of the Dagger Debs. Jack Hill was one of the most unusual of 70’s exploitation filmmakers, a smart man who embraced the drive-in esthetic and made it his own. If you haven’t seen this, I envy you — order a pizza, grab a six-pack and a doobie, invite some understanding friends over and revel in the wanton brazen fury of these hell-cats on the rampaging road to…

SOLDIER BLUE (1970)“SOLDIER BLUE is just another Hollywood whore, trying to redeem itself by faking a socially-conscious heart of gold.” so states the review from the Harvard Crimson, one of many scathing retorts to this controversial hit basking in the era’s western revisionism. The dark side to the superior LITTLE BIG MAN from the same year, director Ralph Nelson (LILIES IN THE FIELD; CHARLY; SOUNDER) wanted to make an angry anti-Vietnam and pro-Indian statement using the full-power of the New Cinema at his disposal. He certainly did, mashing up a wacky rom-com with ineffectual leads Candice Bergen and Peter Strauss as they journey through the west from a Cheyenne attack, encountering trials and tribulations, topped off with the most graphic Native American massacre ever filmed. Even though I first saw SOLDIER BLUE on late-nite TV in a truncated form, the unrelenting tone was manifest, redolent of the year’s bleak, cinematic cynicism. I finally viewed the uncut version currently on Netflix and for 1970, this might be  “the most savage film in history.” While Nelson can’t be accused of holding back the facts, the exploitive nature of the violence dulls the senses and comes across as manufactured outrage. Still, this is a powerhouse film and 1970’s essential viewing.


BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS (1982)
 Few recall that this was the biggest hit musical of the 1980’s, the Reagan “Just Do It” decade that killed off the musical, transmuting the genre to MTV. This somewhat controversial film version of Larry McMurty”s Broadway success was also Burt Reynold’s last box office hurrah as far as cultural status, wisely teamed with Dolly Parton, a song dynamo and screen natural, who’s every bit his match and some since she can actually sing. They do make a great pair (sorry). And this might be the last film where Reynolds was every bit the charismatic star who dominated the 1970’s. People might not know that he parlayed his funny, easy-going cynicism talk show appearances on Johnny Carson — at a time he was only a failed star in films like 100 RIFLES, SKULLDUGGERY and FADE-IN — into his breakout role in DELIVERANCE because John Boorman thought Reynolds dominated the Carson desk. Spryly directed by Colin Higgins (HAROLD AND MAUDE; FOUL PLAY) in a famously messy production, the show’s sexy, risque nature sells the cornpone musical stylings and gives it edge, tho McMurty’s larger cynicism was traded in for a happy ending. Still, there’s sadness and longing in BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, and an attempt to expose some Judeo-Christian hypocrisy and the piety of politicians, expertly represented by Charles Durning’s show-stopping seven minute number, “Side-Step” which deservedly lassoed him a Best Supporting Actor nod; I could watch this scene over and over. With Jim Neighbors and Dom Deluise and some hummable toe-tapping numbers, including the first incarnation of “I Will Always Love You.” Regardless, y’all check this one out, ya hear?

FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN (2001) – This unfairly maligned computer animated feature loosely based on the popular Japanese video games is a real science fiction gem with a thought-provoking eco-dystopic narrative. Although costing over 100 million dollars, the technology has been out-accelerated and the human characters, which caused a brief fear that human actors were on their way to CG replacement (not quite yet), now appear on the level of today’s gaming cut scenes. But the mech design and direction by Hironobu Sakaguchi and Motonori Sakakibara are quite effective, with some sterling voice work by Alec Baldwin, Donald Sutherland and James Woods, excellent as the black-clad military official who’s allowed moments of empathy that transcend Cameron’s similar villain in AVATAR. The story isn’t the usual alien-shoot-em-up which probably hurt its success, though it was by no means a failure. Elliot Goldenthal provides one of my favorite scores of the aughts with epic melodic, propulsive themes. Overall, a lovely visual and metaphysical treat.

BIKINI BEACH (1964) – There’s no better way to honor the late William Asher, who created the Beach Party genre with…BEACH PARTY (1963). These immensely stupid yet popular staples of drive-ins and teen pit-stops reflected only the surface of the transformative 1960’s with sexual innuendo being its biggest taboo. As anybody knows who has ever seen a Beach picture, each have their own charms, with this being my personal favorite. Primarily for the sheer idiocy of a monkey on a surfboard; Harvey Lembeck as Erich Von Zipper, the sole best thing about every Beach film; Frankie Avalon in a dual role as “Potato Bug” a not too veiled references to The Beatles; and best of all, Timothy Carey as South Dakota Slim in a poolhall scene with Von Zipper’s gang and a werewolf — you have to see this moment to fully appreciate its greatness. Savor BIKINI BEACH for its willful abandon; no summer is complete without American International Picture’s cinematic pop ambiance.

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4 Responses to “Netflix Summer Streaming Theatre Vol. Xlll”

  1. Nice round up, kid!

  2. ah well…. GALAXY OF TERROR (may i suggest he collector’s dv with a superb documentary and commentary ?) is still one of my fav post alien sci-fi romp. i m still amazes by the production values and its abstract ending. and it did tried to gat away from being a true alien rip off. there was another movie around the same time, with the same ambitions, forbidden world, which was way more alienesque, despite its qualities. these bleak views of space is something we need – event horizon tried, failed.

    • Yeah, the DVD is oput of control with extras. I’ll have to grab that. And it still does look great with perfect Cameron atmospherics. Very other worldly.

  3. おはようございます!お伺いしますが、あなたはあなたの実印をどのようにして手に入れていらっしゃいますか?安ければいいやという考えで24時間営業の格安はんこ店に頼んで作成してもらったりしていませんか?それはすぐやめて下さい!!なぜなら、日本の社会では実印というのはとても大切なモノだと考えられていて、実印は貴女の存在や身分を証明するものにもなりますし、あなたの存在の証明、ひいてはあなた自身の身代わりにもなると考えられているからです。そんな重要な意味を持つ実印を安直に考えていいわけがありません。もっときちんとした実印を持つようにしてください。今進んだ人たちが選んでいるのは、オンラインで実印を作成すること。インターネットで?と思われるかもしれませんが、今は数多くの人がインターネットで実印を作ってもらっている時代ですよ!その理由としては、インターネットで実印を作成してもらうと、印鑑の文字に関しても自分の納得するまで作ってもらうこともできますし、印材についても、近所のはんこ屋では扱っていないような贅を凝らした印材を格安で使うことができるのです。これから実印を作るのであれば、断然ネットで作成がおすすめですよ!

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