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Showing posts from June, 2019

Capsule Reviews: Dead Presidents

Quick-hit movie reviews for the masses.

I watched the Hughes Brothers' Dead Presidents again recently, for the first time in a very long time, and I have so many feelings now. It made me sad, for several reasons. Sad, because it's one of the more important '90s movies that for almost twenty-five years now no one seems to talk about. How many movies have explored the African American experience in Vietnam quite like this one? Its Deer Hunter style three-act structure works well, with the early, innocent youth scenes in the Bronx segueing into the absolute horrors of war, culminating in coming home to find there's no real place in their old lives for these young men anymore. Then, poor decisions lead to even worse decisions, and it's all pretty devastating.

Reviews were middling at best, and reading some of them today it's clear just how much some critics missed the mark. It's also sad that, in all these years, I don't think I've ever had one meaningful…

Misspent Youth: Barbara Crampton

Looking back at the pop culture mainstays of this Gen-Xer's gloriously misspent youth.

The most notorious scene in Stuart Gordon's 1985 Lovecraftian science fiction horror comedy Re-Animator involves a talking severed head (!) going down on the young—and stark naked—ingenue, Barbara Crampton. It's as horrifying as it sounds. Ms. Crampton had already proven comfortable with onscreen nudity, baring all in her first film, Brian De Palma's erotic thriller Body Double. In this scene from Re-Animator, though—just her third feature film—Crampton's fearlessness with her body is downright remarkable.

The scene offers a quick, shocking few moments, but is also played partly for some extremely uncomfortable laughs. The film's black humor is unparalleled precisely because it's unafraid to be wildly inappropriate. And it doesn't get more inappropriate than that scene.

Crampton would go on to star in a slew of low-budget cult classics, from Chopping Mall to Puppet Ma…

The Nikita Watch: Bringing a Katana to a Gun Fight

Random thoughts while working my way through the entirety of the CW's 2010–2013 show starring Maggie Q.

This latest installment will be brief but enthusiastic and exists solely to rave about a single scene in one of the best episodes of season one (so far, and I'm just a few episodes from finishing the season). You see, sometimes while binging Nikita, there are moments so cool, so for-lack-of-a-better-word "badass," that they provide such spiritual nourishment to the nerd soul that one begins to understand the power of transcendence. The episode "Coup de Grace" provides one such moment. Let me explain.

Nikita (the marvelous Maggie Q) is undercover once again at a swanky gala. If this one thing this show loves more than swanky galas, it's swanky galas where Nikita or Alex (Lindsy Fonseca) wear the most inappropriate clothing imaginable for intense hand-to-hand combat. Long story short, Nikita is providing aid to Alex, who's on a mission for Division …

Party Girl: Sylvia Miles, 1924–2019

“It would be immodest to say I’m terrific fun, but I am — I have a good time.”
Sylvia Miles passed away recently at 94, after a good, long life full of movies and parties. She was the epitome of New York cool, the #1 Partygoer in Manhattan. She was synonymous with the sort of decadent mid to late century New York City social scene that only lives on today in photos, and of course the memories and stories of those who lived it.

Her Oscar-nominated supporting performance in the only X-rated film to ever win an Academy Award, Midnight Cowboy (1969), is so extraordinarily memorable, especially when you consider she only had somewhere around ten minutes of screen time to make such a lasting impression. Seeing that film when I did, as a young college student becoming more obsessed with cinema by the day, was a seminal moment, and Miles's aristocratic man-eater was unlike anything I'd ever seen onscreen before. Or since, really.

She was an absolute force of nature, in her film…

Writing Roundup: Retro Trash Edition

In the rabid movie-loving corner of Twitter known as #filmtwitter, June has become synonymous with "Junesploitation," a month-long celebration of all things exploitation cinema—trashy slashers, blaxploitation, Andy Sideris's bullets and babes flicks, silly space opera, teensploitation, and so many more, including nunsploitation of all things.

For a lot of us, every month is a celebration of exploitation cinema, of course. Between falling down the rabbit hole that is Tubi's enormous selection of trash cinema, and Joe Bob Briggs's recent season of The Last Drive-In on Shudder, my viewing habits of late are all about trash. Which is just how I like it.

Fittingly then, my first "Writing Roundup" of the year consists entirely of reviews of cult films plus a heartfelt appreciation for a woman who played a big role in igniting my love for B-movies in the first place. It's been a long time since I've done one of these roundups, so here are several mont…