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Now in our sixth calendar year
PCR #279  (Vol. 6, No. 30)  This edition is for the week of July 25--31, 2005.

 by Mike Smith
"The Devil's Rejects" by Nolan B. Canova
Beam Him Up: The Passing of James "Scotty" Doohan....Summer of Horror - The Best Since the '80s?
 by Andy Lalino
Lightning...."The Devil's Rejects"
 by John Lewis
Feeling Better?....Movie Notes....Passing On....Jaws: The Story, Part 27
 by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Beam Him Up: The Passing of James "Scotty" Doohan
Please add me to the list of heartfelt condolences expressed in the last edition of N'sPCR on the death of James Doohan, who as we all know played "Scotty" the reliable engineer/miracle worker on TV's original "Star Trek". There's not much to be said after Mike Smith's wonderful remembrance (also last issue), so I would simply like to express how much he'll be missed by myself and sci-fi fans, from different generations, all over the world.

Unlike Mike, I never had the opportunity to meet James Doohan; the only ST cast member I had the pleasure of shaking hands with was George Takei at a sci-fi convention back in the early 1980's.

Scotty was my favorite ST character. I recall growing up in the 1970's in St. Petersburg, Florida, where we had a rowboat (on concrete blocks!) on the side of our house (I don't think that boat ever saw water...). We used to play in it when we were kids, and our favorite game was pretend "Star Trek". I was always Scotty - had the accent going and everything! Try to imagine an 8-yr.-old kid mimicking a Scotsman!

As I grew to be a teenager, we were still doing parodies of "Star Trek". I recall one incident in 1979 or 1980, my two friends Kevin Bailey, Dennis Pittsley and myself were doing an improvisational ST scene on audio (cassette) tape. Believe it or not, back then I was really good at impersonations (for me, it's a lost talent!). And again; I was, of course, Scotty! In this rendition I played him for laughs, and we had a blast recording the dialogue, which we hijacked from the various ST "Fotonovels" published back then (which I still have).

The cassette tape eventually ended up strung up on 4th Street North electrical wire. Thanks a lot, Dennis!

Sorry to divert from the memory of Mr. Doohan, however I just wanted to communicate how much his character meant to me personally. I'm infinitely grateful that he was able to carry on the beloved role in the series of ST movies. Goodbye James Doohan - another great one we have lost.

Summer of Horror - The Best Since the '80s? ("The Devil's Rejects", "Land of the Dead")
Despite the dismal summer box office (this time, horror was not immune), the season has seen the release of two horror films that are quite possibly the best offerings since horror's Platinum Era (1978-1986): George A. Romero's "Land of the Dead" and Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects". Sometimes, films that are to become future classics under perform when released; take for example John Carpenter's "The Thing" in 1982. It just couldn't compete against the big-budget Spielberg juggernauts "Poltergeist" and "E.T.". History, however, will eventually open the door to these films, eventually recognizing them as among the genre's best.

I had the good fortune of catching "The Devil's Rejects" last weekend, and was blown away by it's raw, brutal, unflinching style; a zillion percent improvement on Zombie's less-than-thrilling debut, "House of 1,000 Corpses". Not only has Zombie learned his lessons by cutting his chops on that mediocre effort, but he has emerged as a filmmaker to reckon with. "The Devil's Rejects" is a tight, realistic horror tour-de-force, with an look and attitude so genuine that you'll swear it was 1977 and not 2005 (wouldn't that be nice?).

The acting in DR is top-notch. Sid Haig, William Forsythe (he plays the psalm spewing sheriff on the hunt for the Firefly family), Ken Foree, and Michael Berryman are astoundingly good. Even Bill Moseley who plays "Otis", who was a bit of a letdown in the original, has more characterization but is still relatively a weak presence. For those who were disappointed last time, in this one Sheri Moon Zombie actually shows her ass. Not only that, but there is unexpected, full-frontal female nudity included in "Rejects"!

I'm a stickler about when a movie is set in a certain time period, especially the revered 1970's, it had better make the viewer feel like they are there. "1,000 Corpses" came close, but didn't quite convince me. "Rejects", however, is much improved in that department. The dialogue, hair styling, make-up, and production design really made me feel like I could walk up to a theater marquee and see it read "Corvette Summer" instead of "Madagascar".

And can you say "cameos"? Cameos abound in DR. Right off the bat, I can mention several: Mary Woronov (the film's first cameo), E.G. Daily ("Pee-Wee's Big Adventure", back-up singer on Phil Oakey (The Human League)/Giorgio Moroder's '85 solo album), Deborah Van Valkenburgh ("The Warriors"), Ginger Lynn ("New Wave Hookers"), Steve Railsback ("Lifeforce", "Ed Gein"), P.J. Soles ("Halloween"), and Tom Towles ("1,000 Corpses", "Henry - Portrait of a Serial Killer").

If you love the "crazy family" sub-genre of horror, run - don't walk - to your local megaplex and enjoy TDR. Then, sit there and stay for another showing.

For a film that's not for everyone, TDR did fairly good box office, especially when one considers it played at less than half the number of theaters "War of the Worlds" opened with, and with tens of millions less of a marketing budget. Same with Romero's "Land of the Dead". Not sure what Universal or Lion's Gate was thinking when they made the decisions to open these smaller films against the summer behemoths. I've heard that they're banking on impressive DVD sales for Halloween, which is a sensible conclusion. These days, a successful theatrical release is frosting on the cake, while DVD sales are what is really driving the industry right now - especially for horror and sci-fi films of low-to-moderate budgets.

I also question the title of the film. Sure "The Devil's Rejects" is an interesting, neat-sounding moniker, however Zombie would possibly have been wiser calling it "House of 1,000 Corpses 2: The Devil's Rejects" or the once-rumored "House of 1001 Corpses". It would have given the mainstreamers a clue that DR was a sequel and not a stand alone film. You have to treat mainstreamers like the dumb-buns they are.

"Oddservations" is ©2005 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.