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Thursday, Aug 14, 2014
This week in our ongoing field guide to '50s horror and sci-fi movies and the creatures that inhabit them: those crazy kids save the world from marauding grape jelly in The Blob.

Alternative titles: Steve McQueen’s Blaze of Glory; The Young and the Boneless


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Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014
Before film audiences got A Fistful of Dollars, they got their first taste of the Spaghetti Western in 1961 with the release of The Savage Guns.

A Spaghetti Western is a title that generally refers to any Italian produced and directed western from the ‘60s and ‘70s that has post-synched audio due to a multilingual cast of Spaniards, Germans, and up-and-coming or has-been American actors, in addition to Italians. Because they were often low-budget productions, directors shot them at locations in Europe—usually southern Spain or Italy—that resemble the American Southwest. At first, like all Euro Westerns, they sought to reproduce the characters and places from the traditional westerns that Hollywood had long used as vehicles for box-office juggernauts like John Wayne. But because of the artistic and political sensibilities of their Italian filmmakers, even the earliest Spaghetti Westerns oozed with a style and substance that was far removed from any Hollywood western.  


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Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014
From a career filled with amazing highs and several cinematic lows, the late Robin Williams will always be the benchmark between stand-up skill and dramatic depth.

Born in Chicago, he splashed onto the scene, suddenly, like a successfully launched Apollo space capsule, his rat-a-tat reflexes and verbal gymnastics taking more than one mid-‘70s TV viewer aback. No one had ever seen someone like Robin Williams before, a Julliard-trained shaggy haired hippie holdover in a cherry red alien outfit who acted like he was indeed from another planet.


He was part Chaplin, part Pryor, an ad-libbing maniac who tossed every imaginable idea, accent, social taboo, and current event talking point into a blender, mixing them up in his mind to then blather on non-stop, weaving his own Rumpelstiltskin like web of mischievous comedic gold. After being introduced on the popular sitcom Happy Days, Williams received his own spin-off shot at stardom, the surreal laugher about an extraterrestrial and his platonic bond with an Earth girl entitled Mork and Mindy. A huge hit, it wasn’t long afterwards that film came calling for the then 29-year-old “overnight sensation.”


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Monday, Aug 11, 2014
On a regular basis, yours truly will discuss many of the movie "firsts" that have occurred in his life over the last half century. Let's start with Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise.

I was 13, and a budding cinephile. The Marquette Mall Theater in Michigan City, Indiana had become a second home, a relatively short bike ride away from the Gibron “estate” and a holder of hundreds of motion picture mysteries. None of them were more potent than the weekend Midnight Movie.


Even as a introductory teenager, the notion of staying up that late was still a tad ‘foreign’. On those rare occasions when we were traveling out of, or into, town at said hour, I would always crane my neck to see the crowds lining up at the box office. I wanted to know who was still awake enough to watch a movie, what manner of human had it in them to, at that late hour, keep alert enough to enjoy any entertainment whatsoever.


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Friday, Aug 8, 2014
Not only is Into the Storm mindless and mediocre, it's disrespectful, as well.

There’s always something unsettling about a disaster film. It’s not the notion of nature (or man) creating chaos, and thus calamity, for all the members of our unsuspecting society. It’s not the death, though that’s a horrific given. It’s not even the idea that what we are seeing could be the extinction of the entire human race.


No, the really nasty bit is the concept of survival, the “what if?” after the planet freezes, the tidal wave hits, or the nuclear holocaust ends. As they often say, those who are killed will be the lucky ones. Those left behind face the nightmare of rebuilding and reconsideration, recognizing that, while they made it, many, many more did not.


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