PCR past banners
Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #400 (Vol. 8, No. 47) This edition is for the week of November 19--25, 2007.

Holiday Film Preview  by Mike Smith
"No Country For Old Men"  by Mike Smith
Happy #400 & Thanksgrave-ing, VHS Grindhouse  by Andy Lalino
Show Review: Renningers Antique & Collector Extravaganza  by ED Tucker
Happy Thanksgiving....The Big 400....Famous Monsters of Filmland Coming to an End  by Matt Drinnenberg
Age Is Only Relative .... Passing On .... Strike! Strike! Strike! .... How Come I've Known This Since I Was A Kid? .... Happy 400! .... .... .... .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 34: Robby Benson by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Happy #400 & Thanksgrave-ing, VHS Grindhouse

Congratulations Nolan - PCR/Crazed Fanboy #400
Hi, Nole! Big congrats to you and all the PCR/CF staffers (both past and present) for this milestone in Tampa Bay history: PCR/Crazed Fanboy #400! Now, this is not just me kissing your ass (yuk!), but I have to write that I'm incredibly thankful for this online fanzine you've established that has become so much a part of people's lives. It is without doubt my favorite website (well, to me it's more than that - it's a lifestyle) and additionally, it has to be one of the best websites on theinternet, especially for the hardcore cult movie fan . Plus, as a reference for all of us who grew up in the Tampa Bay area, its relevance as a historical resource can not be underestimated - especially when it comes to the ultimate legend of local TV broadcasting: Dr. Paul Bearer and Creature Feature.

A job well done, Nole, and may there be 400 more!

Happy Thanksgrave-ing
To all PCR/CF staff and readers: Happy Thanksgiving from the Oddservations Oddservatory!
Suggested Turkey Day viewing: Blood Freak (1972): The made-in-Florida Brad Grinter movie about a killer turkey monster! Faces of Death (1978 - I didn't realize it was a '70s film!): Chicken decapitation (presumably for food). Grindhouse (2007): Eli Roth's phony, hilarious trailer for the non-horror movie Thanksgiving. Eraserhead (1977): Some wild things going on with a cooked chicken carcass at the dinner table. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975): A little turkey carving before the surprise Meatloaf.

Just for the record, I find Thanksgiving to be a pretty stupid an incredibly dull holiday (though nothing beats Easter). How about giving us two days off for Halloween?

VHS Grindhouse - Session 9 and Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation
Session 9 (2001): Now, I realize I'm breaking my own rule about condoning post-1986 horror films, but I've heard nothing but good things about this selection and have to admit that it's proponents were on target. Session 9's about a group of all-male asbestos removal workers who are contracted to detoxify a decrepit lunatic asylum that has been closed since the great year of 1985. The asylum resembles a bricked-up remote castle and is a very apt and creepy locale for all the supernatural action. One of the workers discovers a hidden "evidence" box containing nine audio reels documenting psychological interviews with a patient suffering from multiple personality disorder.

These sessions, when played back, manifest themselves in the personalities of the workers and the asylum environment, especially in their leader Gordon (Peter Mullan), a new father. Gordon's second-in-command, Phil (David Caruso), mainly exists as a red herring, but Caruso surprisingly does much with the role, which otherwise could have been nondescript and throwaway. Another surprise is the tremendous performance by Josh Lucas as Hank, a worker who stole away Phil's longtime girlfriend.

Ultimately, Session 9 is a study in dreamlike, metaphysical filmmaking. Like the works of Dario Argento, key plot elements are never clear-cut and wholly understandable, rather they relate to each other in a nightmarish fashion that may take multiple viewings to fully comprehend. This makes Session 9 a strong and smart film compared to many of its low-budget contemporaries, but holds it back in a sense by taking much too long to reach even a remedial satisfying conclusion, which I instinctively knew wasn't going to happen 70 minutes into the film. For hardcore horror fans, Session 9 does contain a good amount of unnerving supernatural and slasher-esque scenes, without ever becoming a splatterfest.

I found it interesting that screenwriter Stephan Gevedon and director Brad Anderson (who would later go on to direct Christian Bale in The Machinist) chose to level scares against a masculine tapestry, rather than the familiar "let's scare the girls" approach, and it worked. The absence of a visible spirit/monster is reminiscent of the hugely successful Blair Witch Project, which was very influential at the time. There are also shades of Evil Dead and The Changeling within. Worth watching just for the genuine asylum location (int./ext.) alone!

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004): What?!? Another post'-'86 horror/sci-fi movie?!? Andy, have you cracked?!? I'd say no! This sequel to Paul Verhoeven's original is quite a departure from the scope of the first, and in many ways superior. There were many things I liked about this one from the start. Number one, behind the helm was special effects favorite Phil Tippett , who most Crazed Fanboys know as the stop motion animator who worked with George Lucas on The Empire Strikes Back, among many other projects. Firmly rooted in the '70s and early '80s,Tippett proved to be a talented director who can construct a direct-to-DVD release that is actually praiseworthy. More kudos have to go to screenwriter Edward Neumeier, who crafted a "sequel" that took the circumstances in a wholly different direction (it's more a horror film than a sci-fi actioner) while crafting characters and plot points that were more interesting than the soap opera-esque actors in the original, all with a good dose of originality, philosophy, and character self-explorations.

While on patrol ridding a planet of the fearsome "bugs", a platoon of troopers is forced to find structural defense after being overrun by theirstilletto -footed enemy. As they retreat, they miraculously find a desolate outpost in the midst of the planet's wastes where they can secure and remain holed up in. As the bugs surround them like a massive army around a fortress, the survivors (two of whom are psychics) they must contend with a new, unexpected threat from the bugs (can't give away too much here...). Let's just say it can be likened to The Hidden and other similar shockers.

On-hand to aid the troopers is an antihero character named Dax (Richard Burgi), who was imprisoned there for the murder of a superior officer. I found the character to be somewhat of an homage to Snake Plissken, and totally alien in this metrosensual world we live in today, where the idea of a heroic matinee idol is Shia LaBeouf!

Detractors of the film supposedly have issues with its production values (despite a $7 million budget) and departure from the flavor of the original. To be honest, I thought the production value was just fine; it kind of reminded me of an early '80s VHS home video production (a' la' Galaxy of Terror, etc.) even though it had its share of (decent) CGI effects. Now these nutty comments probably came from 'movie fans' who put a lot more value in how much a movie earns than the meat-and-potatoes of the work. And honestly, if you're a big fan of the original, you obviously suffer from severe psychological problems to begin with. I mean, anyone who dearly loves a movie with a perpetually-smiling Denise Richards ably piloting a Galactica-sized spacecraft, IMO has more than one screw loose. If you're a Casper Van Dien kind of guy or gal, than I suggest to turn in your Crazed Fanboy fan card and go sip a tasty lye cocktail, which I'll be glad to mix for you.

ST2 also has a great sense of exploitation, and contains a good sampling of bloody gore and topless femmes. If you're a sadist and are looking for a brain-dead continuation of the first film, than this one's not for you, and in this respect I can somewhat state with confidence that you're not a true cult movie fan with any grindhouse/drive-in/VHS sensibilities, therefore your opinion's worth a squirt of toad piss.

"Oddservations" is ©2007 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.