Archive for May, 2014

Western Watchins #80

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God’s Gun is a B-grade Spaghetti Western filmed in Israel so it should come as no surprise that it stars Lee Van Cleef and a lot of Jews. It’s not so bad much as it’s not anything remotely related to good. Like a twenty dollar bill stuck in your ass, any moments of greatness here are lost deep within the stink of this film and not particularly worth digging for. I laughed and even shared a few “hell yeah” moments with the missus but we also both fell asleep at one point too. A movie like God’s Gun is the perfect reminder that what the casual movie going public thinks of as entirety is but the tip of the iceberg cinematically. Only after diving head first into a specific genre (in my case Western) will you realize the heights, the depths and, more often than either of those, the vast and populous wastelands that lie between the two. Ponder a movie like ALIENS and all the conscious decisions along with uncontrollable kismet that converged in one exacting and precise moment to produce one of the greatest Sci-Fi actioners of all time. The odds that were beaten to birth most movies revered as masterpieces are astronomical. Conversely, making a truly wretched motion picture results from multiple bad rolls of the dice during every stage of development and production. Highs and lows are rare, average then is to be expected and sadly, in my case as your resident movie marshal, viewed more often than I’d prefer.

God’s Gun was originally called Diamante Lobo in a surprising move as neither diamonds nor wolves appear at anytime. Someone realized this and the film was renamed Dear God This Movie is Just so…Fuck…Wish I Had a Gun. You Know, To Shoot Myself before it was shortened to simply God’s Gun just before release. But an ill conceived title only unstrings you for a few seconds and then can be easily forgotten. Not so a soundtrack so pervasive and discordant as to make a duet by Roseanne Barr and Gilbert Gottfried sound melodious by comparison. Composer Sante Maria Romitelli is the culprit. You’re probably not familiar with his work on Blood Brides, Dangerous When Aroused or this film but if you can recall the worst nighmare you ever had and the screams you were making upon waking up from it you’re still not quite there. A cat shoved up another cat’s ass wrapped in all twenty five “Kidz Bop” albums then shoved up Fran Drescher’s ass wouldn’t offend your ears as grievously as God’s Gun godawful auditory assault. Morricone was an obvious influence but if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery this album probably qualifies as aggravated homicide.

Between the jarring jump-scares of the film’s central musical theme and director Gianfranco Parolini’s hard-on for quick zooms I am convinced that subtlety had once pissed in somebody’s cornflakes and was thenceforth banned from appearing on set. And I haven’t even gotten to Jack Palance yet.

 

 

Oh, he’s in God’s Gun alright and he’s not going to let you forget it. If Alex Trebek ever answered “Popeye’s drunken, anthropomorphic scrotum” the question would be “What the fuck Jack Palance acts like in God’s Gun?” Call my bluff, watch this film, and tell me I’m wrong. You will not be able to do so. Every field in goddamn Iowa combined has less corn that this old dirty bastard, circus clowns have more restrained performances and people with Down syndrome think “what the fuck is wrong with this guy?” He plays the chief villain of the film but chewing that much scenery would tire anyone out so all the robbing and raping that needed to get done was left to his gang. A gang compromised of at least half of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

 

 

Well once Bob Ross and pals started putting a hurt on all the locals it wasn’t too long before Biblical justice made itself known by way of Priest Van Cleef and his terribly blurry pistol.

 

 

But the Cleef didn’t have to go it alone, oh no, if extra killin’ needs doin’ you won’t need to look any further than the admirably resilient town whores who know how to handle that weapon between your legs and a goddamn shotgun too.

 

 

And when a whore shoots you point blank in the back of the head with a goddamn shotgun it, surprisingly, looks like this.

 

 

Either gunpowder was less powerful back then or people’s skulls were much, much tougher. Of course if even this level of violence bothers you just imagine that instead of taking two barrels in the brainpan the baddie above was simply enjoying a load on the chin from this guy:

Hey! He just got home from a year’s deployment in Afghanistan so show some respect and if he needs to blast one out on your face you let him do it! You hear me? You let him do it for America! Plus lycopene is good for you. Remember, if you don’t swallow the terrorists win! And speaking of dirty girls, Sybil Danning’s in God’s Gun too. If the name is striking a bell but her face isn’t coming to mind I’ll help you out here. Sybil was pretty popular back in the day. She was all Sci-Fi 80s:

 

 

And also action/revenge/obviously Miami Vice 80s:

 

 

And just regular 80s I guess:

 

 

Gold lame armband with matching shoes, a pink flowy bedazzled dress clinging to her more than ample bosom as she stands with legs akimbo, hands defiantly on her hips, that blond coif blowing suggestively in the desert wind…I’d stop typing to masturbate but I’m so aroused my dick just grew a pair of arms and jerked itself the fuck off! Not a lot of women could compete with that but you know what? I’m one lucky son-of-a-bitch. Here’s my wife!

 

 

It’s okay if you’re thinking bad thoughts, I know I am. And they’re not bad at all, they’re your thoughts. Own them, and your actions, and you’ll live more fully than you’d ever believe. Whoah, fucking deep! On top of all this, and not to brag, but Angie is inexplicably beautiful with or without cosmetics. Sybil…not so much.

 

 

My fucking sweet Christ of all that is comeliness, what hair and make-up person sat back, took a look at this and said “you’re good to go Miss Danning”? This one maybe? 

 

 

No, you know what? Helen Keller would’ve done a better job because as soon as she touched that face she’d have been slapping into Anne Sullivan’s hands “who brought the fuckin’ Phantom of the Opera to the studios today am I right? Heyoooo!” 

Well we can’t all be pretty all the time. And every Western can’t be the best movie ever made or at least not God’s Gun. Regretfully God’s Gun is God’s Gun and goddamn, it’s rough. 2 rounds in the cylinder with too much going against it for any more than that. I didn’t think rape, revenge and not one but two Lee Van Cleefs could ever leave me feeling this let down. Touché God’s Gun, touché. I’ll ride true till the day I die but I doubt I’ll ever feel the need to return to these parts ever again. Though this would make a great film to watch with a bunch of friends and to clarify I mean friends that you hate or friends who will soon hate you for showing them God’s Gun. It’s a bizarro mixture of gunslingers and gals topped with gefilte fish and it’s unpalatable as it sounds. I can guarantee you that Mahmoud Amidinijad wants to wipe Israel off the map because he saw this very movie and thought “never again!” In fact I’ll bet most modern antisemitism likely stems from this film. That and the fact the Jews run everything, I mean that would upset anyone. But you can’t ever get too upset, even when you’re joking.

Which of course I am.

Just in case those Jews are listening!    

 

Haikuesday

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Mildew and handsoap

A stocked fridge and fleeting sleep

One fine con hotel

 

Western Watchins #79

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Tale as old as time right here. Somebody gets rape-murdered followed by Lee Van Cleef mounting up, saddle bags filled with piss, vinegar and huge amounts of pipe tobacco, to ride off in search of vengeance. If I ever get rape-murdered I sure hope it’s Lee Van Cleef who settles my score. His squint alone could drop a man dead to the ground without even trying. If he was trying, it’d drop that man and his fucking horse too. Lee Van Cleef was so bad-ass that to this day asses all over the world study his life’s work in a mostly vain attempt to be just as impressive as he was. He stares, he smokes, he gunslings and he comes up with movie titles too.

Da Uomo a Uomo (From Man to Man) was the original header for our film this week on Lee’s suggestion. Death Rides a Horse was used for the U.S. release for no good reason. To audiences in 1969 it probably sounded western-y but it strikes me as lazy or even borderline imbecilic. Everyone rode horses back in the 1800s so the title is tantamount to saying “Death drives a car” in this day and age. “Death drives a car” sounds like a goddamn Woody Allen production and I’d rather have a bobcat eat my balls than see any thing fucking Woody Allen has ever made.

Also, another bobcat is eating my dick. Bobcat jacked junk still better than Woody Allen though. Thankfully he didn’t direct Da Uomo. That was left to some Italian director dude who was friends with composer Ennio Morricone as all Italian director dudes are required to be by law. Fun score but this is a Spaghetti Western churned out like so many others with as much overall production value as a CiCi’s Pizzeria has clean and/or healthy food. But a few superb shots, a couple perfect one-liners and some Morricone music make this one watchable even when the copy you’re watching might qualify as the worst VHS to DVD transfer in any history of the digital age. Nothing like tracking lines to set the stage. And of course a perfect family dinner.

Those always go well in Westerns.

 

 

Fine folks and their fine kids enjoying some fine food. I won’t ruin exactly what happens to them but rest assured that lots of dicks and bullets end up where they’re not wanted. Oh man, I’m going to write a Western called Dicks and Bullets! Tagline: Both Are Comin’ For You This Christmas! Why Christmas? Because the Only Present This Year…is Vengeance! That’s another tagline. I have at least five more ready to go but space is limited for this post. Just like life is limited for the bad guys once the Cleef sets his sights!

 

 

So Bill Meceita finds that on his lawn one morning. What’s the Cleef doing there? And who’s Bill Meceita? Why he’s the only one to survive that suppertime slaughter all those years and one paragraph ago (Dicks and Bullets kids! Get your tickets today!) Cleef’s got beef with the baddies as well and when Bill’s beef meets the Cleef’s beef, boy, there’s more meat wagging around than during a Pride Parade in San Francisco. Hey, Lee Van Cleef’s an attractive man in that “I’m fairly drunk” kind of way and don’t get me started on Bill Meceita. He’s the youthful and alluring flip-side on the coin to Lee’s grizzled and chiseled veteran. But who is he?  He looks so damn familiar. Credits say he’s John Phillip Law but that’s still not ringing any bells so it’s off to IMDB I go and ah-ha!

 

 

This guy was Sinbad once! And also whatever the fuck this is:

 

 

“Pygar” from Barbarella it says so that explains it. Never have seen that one and never will. Maybe I’d give it a chance if they re-released it with an accurate and honest title like Communist Space Cunt. Besides my subtle socio-political hesitations, Pygar is just waxing a bit too fem and goofy for me. He looks like he smells of craft glue, baby oil, and self-loathing. Just a whole lot of wing-ed and slippery shame right there, but before you go making any assumptions about me or my tolerance levels for homo-erotic hawkmen realize that I have a deep, unadulterated and unapologetic love for this man:

 

 

Vultan, thanks for being awesome, for making all that glitter and gold look good and for reminding us all that cheesy sci-fi can still be epic sci-fi. Ha, that’s probably what the makers of Space Mutiny were thinking too and OHMYDEARGODTHAT’SWHOITIS! Bill Meceita is John Phillip Law who also played:

 

 

Flight Commander Elijah Kalgan in Space Mutiny!

 

This Space Mutiny!

 

 

This goddamn Space Mutiny!!!

 

 

 

 

One of the greatest MST3K episodes ever produced and so right there under my nose in Death Rides a Horse was hidden a gem. And that gem’s name was John Phillip Law. It’s now obvious that when Kalgan was butchering scenes in a galaxy far, far (yet, not far enough!) away that his skill had been honed from a lifetime of taking even the most innocuous bits of dialogue and twisting them with deliveries that would have even Samuel Jackson begging for mercy. John Phillip Law loses himself in one single line harder than Daniel Day Lewis can in an entire role. He commits and I can admire that. I’ve taken some fucked up steps in my life but truth or consequences be damned I took the fuckers and any man, as ridiculous as he may sound, that does the same is a man that gets my respect. Lot of people pussy-footin’ these days but not me and not John Phillip fucking Law! It might get ya’ into trouble now and then but boring is worse than troubled any day. Knew a guy once that never wanted to drink alcohol for fear he might “get out of control”. You know what’s out of control?

God.

Damn.

Life.

Have a drink and put your ass, dick or words somewhere they don’t belong. Scars make for good stories, and stories are all we’ll leave behind one day. Drink up and write a good one amigos. Plus, how bad could it get?

 

 

Oh damn, what did you do John? Seems on that journey towards revenge you took some interesting turns getting all beat to hell and buried up to your chin in some who-knows-where Italian desert but take heart! You’re young and I’m sure your career will take off in no time! Right?

 

 

Fuuuuuuuuuck. I can’t really say too much because how many movies have I been in? Exactly. Needless to say John/Bill gets out of that hole and then hatches a plan a la Magnificent Seven (a la Seven Samurai) in which frightened, untrained locals will soon rise up and defend themselves as both Law and Van Cleef use said civilian assistance to conclude their transaction of long sought after justice. Now, the fact that the movie seems to show every single one of the townsfolk becoming bullet sponges for the evil hombre onslaught while our two heroes hide out in a totally smart but surprisingly selfish penultimate move should not be ignored.

But you should ignore it.

And then the ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny happens as it always does in these types of movies. By “these types” I mean “mostly fucking phenomenal” movies. And so it comes to this:

 

 

Just who is the Cleef facing down with bare-chested braggadocio? I won’t spoil anything but Death Rides a Horse/Da Uomo a Uomo was a certainly solid 1 rounder until the last ten minutes. Then that final gun battle, that final showdown and that final half naked Van Cleef sold me. Thus, this one gets 3 rounds in the cylinder. It’s not a good movie but you should still watch it and the more horrible the transfer you can find the better. The picture and sound quality of my disc made me feel like I was watching a live feed from 1875. That’s some thoughtful and quality immersion right there. It wasn’t wretched but with so many pacing and editorial mis-steps this one might spook the film fan faint of heart. If you can stomach it though, along with some whiskey perhaps, you’ll be in for a treat. Goes to show that even with a rough start (and middle and almost end) if you can finish strong, then that’s all that matters. Ride strong then amigos, and ride true.

See you next week.

 

Haikuesday

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Uncertainty looms

A moment will change your world

Be brave in the dark

 

Western Watchins #78

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If you know me at all you know I love Westerns. But it may come as a surprise, despite having the love in me, that I’m not a huge fan of John Wayne. I know, it seems like sacrilege. The Duke and Clint Eastwood are pretty much Father and Son filling out the trinity next to the Holy Spirit of the West but I’m a revisionist Western guy so, irregardless of the fact that the movies I have seen Mr. Wayne in weren’t as goody-two-shoes as I’d expected, I still prefer my High Plains Drifter rape ’em to set things right over anything even moderately wholesome. But The Searchers was supposed to come across as a challenging piece of cinema rife with racism and a morally grayed-out main character in Wayne’s Ethan Edwards. I started out the viewing with hope but by the end I was glad to just have consciousness. Okay, it wasn’t that uninteresting. I did somewhat enjoy it. But seeing as I hadn’t recoiled at anything Ethan did made me think I might be watching too many Clint Eastwood movies. Then I thought, you stupid fucking fuck of a fuck…you can never watch too many Clint Eastwood movies! Unless it’s Ambush at Cimarron Pass or The Beguiled. Those were fucking horrible, yet it’s not like those movies ever suggested shipping all black people back to Africa en masse nor did they use the dreaded “N” word with alacrity. That was all Abraham Lincoln. A supremely racist mother and ghastly liberal fucker despite what Spielberg says (read a book kids!) So next to him Ethan seems altogether temperate and his obvious hatred of the Comanches is not unwarranted. A fact you learn through clues subtle (a certain headstone at the homestead) and not so subtle (he defiles a fallen Native stopping short of rape because, you know, that’s Eastwood territory). And c’mon are you really going to tell me, no matter how you feel about this portrayal, that Ethan Edwards is Wayne’s most racist role?

 

Really?

 

 

It’s okay if you laughed just now. I asked the nice man upstairs if he was offended and he gave me a most emphatic “no!”

 

 

See. We can all get along even if you did bomb the fuck outta Pearl Harbor. I think we did you one (or two) better anyway. But what’s past is past even if the Duke can’t let it rest. And if he had The Searchers wouldn’t have really been much of a movie now would it? And so we begin as John Ford often does: in Monument Valley.

 

 

Breathtaking. Nobody saw Monument Valley quite the same way as John Ford did and that’s even before he tore his eye out of his head due to that notorious control-freak burdened impatience of his. I understand his obsession though, the desert is one hell of a backdrop for a gritty Western. Especially gritty Westerns with fresh home-made spaghetti:

 

 

The Duke spent most of the first act carb-loading so he’d have more than enough energy to propel his baneful boots past as many sphincters as possible later in the film. Because he’s pissed. Everything he loves has been raped, murdered, set on fire and/or kidnapped. No amount of pasta can assuage this man’s hunger for revenge!

It’s a really cool moment when you realize, with so much big shit up in the air, that what goes up must soon reverse course. And big shit is indeed about to go down. With one flick of the wrist Ethan casts away his rifle’s case along with any semblance of self-control (and all that spaghetti too!) It’s a scene that makes your balls swell with excitement for the retribution soon to come. If I could sum it up for you in say two frames that you could stare back and forth at quickly as to either get my point or have a seizure, this is what it would look like!

 

 

 

Fucking grand if not a wee bit ridiculously presented. Grand and ridiculous. Story of my life. The Searchers is fairly grand and ridiculous too as Ethan searches and searches and searches. And then searches. I’m not sure exactly how long his search lasted but what started a few years after the Civil War ending with a chase down a paved highway. His ape-shit intensity is understandable though as I’ve said. He is a man at war and is willing to kill any Comanche who crosses his path and even his long captive niece once he finds her if she’s acting to Indian-y. He makes several Indians dead and even enjoys desecrating any already dead ones he finds. He’s so ruthless in his actions and relentless in his quest to wipe out the Natives that tribesmen begin calling him “Worse than Blankets.” Ethan Edwards was a hard man made even harder by a group of other hard men. Maybe you think that last joke was absurd, but that’s nothing compared to how absurd it’s about to get up in here.

And we’ll start (and pretty much end) with you Chief Scar, totally indigenous looking leader of the proud Comanches!

 

 

Wait, who’s this Anglo dude? Where’s Scar? What? That is Scar? But that’s Henry Brandon, a Berlin born not-at-all-Indian actor. Maybe some dramatic lighting and war paint will help.

 

 

Shit, somehow he looks even more white now. How many dicks did this FSU logo looking mother fucker have to suck to land the role? Next you’ll tell me that all the Comanches are Navajos or something!

 

“The actors playing Comanche Indians are all Navajo.”

                                                          -courtesy IMDB Trivia 

 

What the feathered fuck!? Is this entire fictional movie some sort of fictional movie? Calm yourself, you can’t go and get bent out of shape every time a casting decision is made that throws race and/or national origin out the window but when it’s this farcically arresting the narrative will suffer and the viewer along with it. We keep heading down this road and before you know it Johnny Storm will be a black guy! Start bitching if you want, but when Blade is re-made with a white guy let’s see how much you bitch then, bitch! No matter where you’re from nor the color of your skin, when the source material is ignored we should all feel slighted. And The Searchers was drawing from a very rich source commonly referred to as “history” in which every Indian was usually an Indian.

And boy does Ethan hate Indians. Have I mentioned that yet? He rides far and wide through rain and sleet and snow tracking his niece and when he locates her at long last she’s all grown up and turned into Natalie Wood. In case you’re not familiar with who she is let me see if I can find a picture of her for you. Ah, here we go…one from an old family vacation:

 

 

Weird. She was just there a minute ago. Oh well, if she’s gone missing (again) I’m sure John Wayne will start looking (again) and she’ll be fine. Call me crazy but yes she was murdered. Not by this guy though.

 

 

Even though he’s four wheels, two axles, some baseboards, steel framing, canvas coverings and every other part of the wagon short of a wagon. He’s Mad Mose Harper and he’s weird as fuck supposedly based on some real dude who was also weird as fuck. It’s a shrewd case of weird as fuck imitating weird as fuck. He was trustworthy and capable but gave off an unmistakable vibe that although he wouldn’t kill you in your sleep he might jerk off on you. Or jerk you off. Or both. I told you he was fucking weird.

The whole of The Searchers felt odd to me though. It never picked up as much steam as I was expecting but maybe that’s what Ford wanted. Maybe it’s an allusion for life and the search we’re all on through it with those requisite ups and downs and slow parts and shit-this-is-out-of-control parts and German-Indian guys. I can’t argue that there weren’t explosive moments nor expected and satisfying resolutions yet instead of sitting on the edge of my seat I mostly sat not on the edge of my seat. I did however find another pic of Natalie Wood!

 

 

She’s right there behind Christopher Pike I swear! She’s pulling a Jareth from Labyrinth juggling trick sticking her arms past his. Remember that? David Bowie didn’t do all that crystal ball work, it was another performer behind him with his arm’s reaching out past Bowie’s to make it look like the Goblin King was all that but you and I both know that you and I were really just staring at the Goblin King’s mighty codpiece the entire time thinking “you remind me of the babe?” “what babe?” “the babe with the power to make sure you can’t walk without wincing tomorrow mother fucker!” Ah, good childhood memories. For years, because of that movie and confused adolescence, I thought the word “muppet” was code for “pronounced gentalia!” And even though balls aren’t my cup of tea I can still appreciate ol’ Ziggy Stardust’s impressive talent. And speaking of tea…

 

 

Or coffee I reckon, the Duke handed these out on the set of The Searchers emblazoned with his trademark phrase from the film. I did enjoy every time he said “that’ll be the day” as a soberly sarcastic response to any number of cunt-versations he was having with folks he didn’t particularly agree with. Buddy Holly even wrote a song about it impressed by Wayne’s I’m-a-dick-and-yet-so-cool aesthetic. Ethan was obsessed and fairly unwavering. I can respect that. He was also not completely rigid. I can respect that too. The movie wasn’t one of my most memorable but Ethan Edwards? Pretty goddamn cool.

3 redman hating rounds in the cylinder this week. The Searchers didn’t resonate with my soul or touch some deep, uncharted depths in my heart. It wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t intoxicating either and I love to get drunk on my Westerns. You realize though that Ethan rode true to himself his entire life. No matter any other gripes I might have with this film, that’s definitely something I can always find comfort in amigos.

See you on down the road.

 

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