PCR past banners
Now in our seventh calendar year!
PCR #348  (Vol. 7, No. 47) This edition is for the week of November 20--26, 2006.

Return of the Godfather: Herschell Gordon Lewis  by ED Tucker
"Bobby"  by Mike Smith
Horrorfest Report....Jack Palance Remembered....Robert Altman is Gone....Happy Thanksgiving  by Andy Lalino
A True Master....Now I Guess We'll Never Know....Kosmo, Kosmo....PS....'Tis The Season To Give....Happy Turkey Day.... My Favorite Films, Part 47: "The Wizard of Oz"  by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR
Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Horrorfest Report
Probably like most horror movie fans who regularly read CF, I was somewhat excited at the prospect of attending last weekend's After Dark Horrorfest: 8 Films to Die For at local theaters. The plan was to cram in as many horror films as I could, however the total amount I was able experience was only two (after hearing the fest was actually showcasing more films than 8, which was originally billed). I can't say I was disappointed.

Escorted by my wife, we opted to avoid the long lines of Friday/Saturday and went on a Sunday afternoon. That day, AMC Woodlands was showing "Wicked Little Things" at a 4pm. Lucky for us, for after the fact we learned popular opinion was that "Wicked..." was probably the best film in the lot. I really enjoyed it. Though plagued by a weak story, chronic lapses in logic, and dunderheaded protagonists, "Wicked..." possessed all the fun of a really good campfire tale, decent performances, excellent cinematography, and impressive locations. Briefly, it begins as a period piece at the turn of the century, where little children are forced to work in the sooty mines of a remote Pennsylvania region. Of course, tragedy strikes (I'll avoid a spoiler), then fast forward to present day, where a down-on-her luck mom and two daughters (one a teen, the other about eight) head to a remote house in the Penn state mountains to rebuild their lives after the death of her husband. I'm sure you can guess where this is going. Before long, the family is haunted by the apparitions of admittedly scary, pitchfork-wielding little kids out for blood (actually, the wicked little things look like chimney sweeps).

It was a little unsettling watching real kids gather around a corpse and proceed to eat its entrails - I was a little surprised the filmmakers shot an establishing shot such as that. But if you can get past that tidbit of tastelessness, you're sure to enjoy this little excursion into a ghostly land populated by pint-sized cannibals. Another big plus is Ben Cross as a salty old mountain man who helps out the family. "Wicked Little Things" was shot in Romania, and I thought the location scout did a pretty amazing job substituting that foreign country for the state of Pennsylvania. Sure some of the props, like American license plates and homey lodge signs helped, but they sold it very well, I thought. A great little horror film, and a welcome addition to Horrorfest.

Next up was a more modern,angst-ridden film - "The Hamiltons", which concerns a strange familial clan of serial killers. The story is told through the youngest son, Francis, who has a digital camcorder seemingly affixed to his wrist. Their parents recently died, and the siblings are forced to take care of each other as best they can, meaning they must kill. Why? See the movie for the whole explanation. "The Hamiltons " mixes hues of the "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" and undead lore to a mildly entertaining effect. Overall, I'd say the film disappoints; there are several letdowns in terms of payoff at the end of the film, and it was overlong. On the plus side, the performances were decent, even among the several pretty boys in key demented roles. They're no Bill Mosley, but hey; they're young.

I'm crossing my fingers that the promoters behind Horrorfest extend it for another weekend. For a Sunday afternoon/evening, I thought the movies were incredibly well-attended. I confirmed the success of the fest by a horror fan who saw "Dark Ride", one of the other selections, on Friday night who said the theater was packed. Not bad for a glut of decent horror films that would otherwise never see the light of a 35mm projector. Let's hope this becomes an annual event.

Jack Palance remembered
I apologize for not mentioning the passing of Jack Palance in last week's Oddservations. Palance was truly one of my all-time favorite actors. If there was one tough guy who could take on death and knock him down for the count it was him. Sadly, most remember him as "Curly" from "City Slickers", but true fans recall his wondrous career in cult films, including:
"Craze" (1973)
"Gor" (1988)
"Alone in the Dark" (1982)
"Without Warning" (1980)
"Welcome to Blood City" (1977)
"Dracula" (1973)
Jess Franco's "Justine" (1969)

I'll perhaps remember him most as host of one of my favorite TV shows: Ripley's Believe it or Not. Back in the early '80s, I wanted to marry his daughter Holly (who co-hosted Ripley's and also starred in "Best of Times" with Kurt Russell) just so I could say Jack Palance was my father-in-law. My other incredible memory of Mr. Palance was an amazing horror TV show from 1981 called "Evil Stalks this House", in which he played a road-worn traveler who, with his two young daughters, ends up as guests of two little old ladies. He later begins to steal things from the ladies' home, but they soon get their revenge with the help of his daughters. "Evil Stalks this House" was such a great memory from my childhood. It was on late at night (well, 11:30pm was late to a kid), and I used to watch it with my mom with my hands securely covering my eyes. If anyone out there knows if this is available on DVD, please let me know.

Robert Altman is gone
This has been a tough couple of weeks for real cinema fans, with the loss of Jack Palance and now legend Robert Altman. Altman's unwavering commitment to great filmmaking cannot be overestimated. Even in the sunset years of his careers he never shirked his loyalty to excellence, experimentation, and discomfort with the mainstream. Unlike other filmmakers of his age, he actually made a valiant attempt to become more prolific. He'll likely be most remembered as director of the perennial hit "M*A*S*H" and the equally enriching "Nashville", and was there at the time when the film students of the late '60s were entering the industry and directing some of the greatest films of their career. The 1970's provided them with a welcome blend of experimentation and mainstream acceptance, which as a result rewarded Altman with financial success as well as critical. On a personal note, I'll remember him most fondly as director of 1980's "Popeye", a film I consider one of the best comic strip adaptations ever made. Far from being a simplistic fractured fairy tale made to cash in on the spinach swallowing sailor's name, Altman infused the project with a truly zany comic book feel, memorable minor characters, incredible production design, great musical numbers by Harry Nilsson (at a time when musicals were scorned), and genuine emotion.

Happy Thanksgiving
Too all PCR staff and readers - Happy Thanksgiving from the Oddservations Oddservatory! For turkey day cult movie viewing, I always recommend the made-in-Florida epic "Blood Freak" - which features an actual turkey monster! For those more into Cornish hens, I suggest "Eraserhead" - look for the bizarre (well, all scenes in "Eraserhead" are bizarre...) scene of a masturbating cooked hen, followed by an climactic cranberry ooze. For those pilgrims not as adventurous, there's always "Eyes of Fire" and "The Village".

The Pretenders concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall - Nov. 21st Anyone go? Please write to Nolan with a brief review.

"Oddservations" is ©2006 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 ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.