Butt-Numb-A-Thon VII 12/10-11/05
“You best not be messin’ with my poontang.”
Welcome, welcome to You Bet Your Butt. This is the 7th year for Harry Knowles Butt-Numb-A-Thon (my 3rd year to go) and it just keeps getting better every year. (Although, it’s hard to get much better than Return Of The King. Not Harry’s fault. That was just super-mega-awesome.) So, what did Harry have in store for us this year? Lots o’ stuff. In fact, he had more films this year than any other year. So many that he had to cut out most of our breaks so that we could fit them all into a 24 hour period!
That’s right. We only took five breaks in 24 hours. We’re insane. But there you have it.
So let’s start right there at the beginning.
Mel Gibson, who so nicely brought us The Passion Of The Christ two years ago in a slightly unfinished form, decided to send us the trailer for his new dead language film. This time it’s about a tribe of Indians in Mexico before the invasion by the Spaniards. Should be fun.
But, even before the trailer, Mel had a pretty funny little intro welcoming all of us to BNAT and telling how absolutely insane we all were for doing this again and again and again. He also proved that he was in Mexico filming by having someone off camera speak Spanish to us.
You know, no matter how I feel about The Jewish Jesus Massacre, I still love Mel. I’ll see Apocalypto in the theatre and I’ll probably like it. It’s an interesting story and it looks like it’s going to be pretty good. I guess we’ll have to wait and see, though.
Directed by: Irving Pichel/Ernest B Schoedsack
Written by: James Ashmore Creelman
Based on short story by: Richard Connell
Produced by Merian C Cooper just before he started on King Kong, this is based on the classic story by Richard Connell. Most people know the story by now, but, just in case, here it is:
Bob (Joel McCrea) is a big game hunter. But he’s not a crazy big game hunter. He’s on a ship with some of his best friends (and, let me tell you, friendship was shown in weird ways in the 30s…lots of stiff conversation and polite drinking) when it goes down and everybody dies. He’s washed to an island where Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks) has a couple of other shipwreck survivors from a wreck a couple of weeks before. Eve (Fay Wray just before her most famous role) and Martin (Robert Armstrong—the director in King Kong) are a brother and sister who are, strangely, the only survivors left from that wreck. All of the others have mysteriously disappeared.
What is Zaroff hiding? What has he done with the other folks? And why is he so weird?
All of these questions (except the last one…that one is unanswerable) will be answered by this great film. Yeah, it’s a bit over the top by today’s standards, but that kind of comes with the 30s film territory. It’s a great film that sheds some light on the whole “how far from animals are humans, anyway?” question. Check it out. It’s available in a Criterion version these days.
THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM TEASER
Ray Harryhausen is coming out of retirement!!! That’s right. The master of stop-motion has decided that now is the time to put the smack down on all of the newbies out there like Tim Burton and Aardman. He is producing a series of shorts based on Edgar Allen Poe stories, starting with this one.
Now, there have been plenty of movies based on Poe, but these will be BASED ON POE! Every bit of the stories will be in there. And they’ll make as many as they can in the time they are given. I can’t wait to see the finished product. For the sneak peek that we got, check this site out. Looks pretty brilliant.
WAR EAGLES CLIPS
And speaking of brilliant, this is the film that Cooper was going to do just after King Kong. He told Fay Wray that it was going to be better than Kong.
Unfortunately for all of us, he was carted away to WWII before he could really make a dent in production and it was never finished.
Harryhausen’s co-horts on the Poe shorts (Arnold Kunert and Marc Lougee) were there to show us a sort of teaser of what is going on with this film right now. It looks like Kunert and Lougee’s crew are putting together everything that Cooper had (which was only drawings, a few models and one short test film of a battle) and trying to make the full-length film. More power to ‘em, I say! I can’t wait to see what this looks like, but it will probably be a few years before anything comes of it.
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Peter Jackson/Fran Walsh/Philippa Boyens
Based on 1933 screenplay by: Merian C Cooper/Edgar Wallace
Speaking of dream projects, this was Peter Jackson’s even before he went to a little place called Middle Earth. It’s the passion that drove him all through the making of Bad Taste and Meet The Feebles and, well, everything he’s ever made. And every bit of that shows on the screen. And, because Fay Wray was making The Most Dangerous Game, she wasn’t available for this one.
Oh….my……GOD!!!!!! King Kong was so freaking awesome. I don’t even have words for it. Even now, two days later, I’m still gushing over how awesome this movie was. Everything about it is great. The Great Ape looks fucking amazing. (There wasn’t a dry nerd-eye in the house for the last 1/3 of the movie. It was amazing how emotionally attached we all were to a giant CGI ape.) The acting was as good as it could get. (Yes, Jack Black was perfectly cast as the over the top, asshole director who would do anything to get his film finished.) Just….just….everything. Awesome. Fucking awesome.
Are there any problems? Eh. I didn’t think so, but some people thought it ran a bit long. Yeah, three hours is a long time to spend in the company of a giant ape (and he only appears for the last, maybe, hour and a half.), but it was a giant ape that we all fell in love with pretty quickly. He’s just an awesome creation that looks so realistic that it’s almost hard to believe that he’s just a computer program.
I fucking loved this movie. I’ll be in line to see it again soon. I have a lot of friends who didn’t get to go to BNAT with me and I’ll see it with every single one of them. Was it as good as the original? Um…I haven’t seen the original in years. It’s hard for me to say. Probably at least as good. Was it as good as Lord Of The Rings? Probably not. The source material there was so much denser that it had to make for a better movie. But that doesn’t make Kong, um…undense? It just makes it slightly less so. So it’s not really fair to compare LOTR and Kong. But I know it will be done, so there it is.
And to think, we almost had to sit through a documentary about the bird flu to get to this. (Ok, it was just another prank that Peter tried to pull on us. But we know him too well by now. We knew Kong would be here and we were waiting for it with geeky crotches in hand.) Go see this movie NOW!!!! It’s worth every penny and every minute. Go one. I’ll wait.
Directed by: Lloyd Bacon
Written by: Manuel Seff/James Seymour/Robert Lord (uncredited)/Peter Milne (uncredited)
This is Harry’s favorite musical of all time and, honestly, I’m not really sure why. It was good, alright, but it wasn’t spectacular. But, then, I don’t go in for the musicals set on stages. I like it better when it’s totally stupid for the characters to burst into song. My favorite is still Guys And Dolls. Gangsters singing. Nothin’ better than that.
But I’m not here to review GAD. I’m here to tell you about another gangster who sang and danced: James Cagney!
Yes, Jimmy was a pretty amazing dancer. We’re all just used to seeing him pushing grapefruit into women’s faces and shooting people from the top of a giant, flaming tank. But here he plays Chester Kent, the director of…well, I have to explain this first: Back in the day, they used to have live shows before movies. There would be dancers, singers, chorus lines…all that on stage. Then they would start the movie. According to Harry (who just knows these things…plus it’s mentioned in the new King Kong DVD set), there were seven such shows before the premiere of King Kong. And not one of them was filmed or even photographed. Sad.
So Chester is the director of those little pre-movie shows. The problem is that his company is being infiltrated by a spy who is giving all of his ideas away. So, not only does he have to come up with new ideas, he has to come up with new ideas on how to KEEP his new ideas.
Plus, he’s got three women tugging at him. His on again, off again wife (Renee Whitney), his fiancée (Claire Dodd) and his secretary (Joan Blondell) are all pulling him in three different directions for three different reasons. (Well, actually, his wife and his fiancée both want money. His secretary actually loves him.)
The dialogue is fast and funny (and pretty risqué for it’s time—“As long as there are sidewalks, you’ve got a job.”) and the Busby Berkeley dance sequences are as funny and amazing as always. That boy did like the crotches. And how the HELL did they get that pool on the stage in front of the movie screen and what made them think that the audience could see synchronized swimming routines?!
As far as this kind of musical goes, this one was really good and Jimmy is always fun to watch. I’ll probably be trying to check out more of his movies. I’ve seen a few, but I’m sorely lacking in my Cagney knowledge.
(Preceding Footlight Parade was a 1933 Betty Boop short called Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers. It sort of bridged the gap between Kong and Footlight by including a giant toy gorilla in a musical setting. Heh heh. Clever, Harry. Betty’s always fun and watching her get crowned “Queen Of The Toys” was pretty cool.)
Directed by: Lucky McKee
Written by: Sean Hood/Lucky McKee
Next up was a Masters Of Horror installment directed by Lucky McKee and starring his muse (and Austin girl) Angela Bettis. The two of them were there to introduce the film and talk a little bit about it.
I was a little apprehensive about seeing one of these shows at BNAT. I was really excited about the series until I started seeing the actual films. They just kind of sucked. And most of the ones I haven’t seen I’ve heard were even worse than the ones I have seen.
Luckily, Sick Girl bucks the trend.
Ida Teeter (Angela) is a lonely entomologist whose only wish is to find a nice girl who loves bugs as much as she does. She finds a shy young lady (soft-core legend Misty Mundae billing herself as Erin Brown) outside of her office and the two embark on a torrid and passionate love affair that gets a little bit, um, interrupted by a bug that Ida got from a mysterious fan in South America.
Not a bad little horror flick in the tradition of The Fly. It’s gross, funny, and a little bit scary at times.
And it doesn’t hurt that the two leads are pretty hot.
Someone asked Angela where she got her character from. She said that it was just something that she and Lucky came up with, but I saw a lot of Jodie Foster in it. Pretty interesting. And the whole movie is a damn site better than Argento’s entry in the series.
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Written by: Chan-wook Park/Seo-Gyeong Jeong
When we saw Chan-wook Park’s film Oldboy at BNAT last year, we couldn’t wait to see what he would do next. And with good reason. That film is pretty fuckin’ awesome.
His next work, though, would be 1/3 of Three…Extremes. In fact, it would be the weirdest part that no one could really figure out.
Now comes this film, a head scratcher that for the entire first half makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. One of my buddies leaned over to me just to ask me if he was the only one who didn’t know what the fuck was going on. Apparently not.
Then, at some point in the middle, it all kind of came together.
Guam-ja (Yeong-ae Lee who was in one of Park’s earlier films, JSA) was imprisoned when she was 19 for killing a five year old boy. Years later she is let out and exacts a poetic revenge on the man who actually killed the boy.
I hated half of this movie because it was so fucking impenetrable. I had absolutely no clue who anyone was or why we should care about any of them. We are introduced to every prisoner in Guam-ja’s block, but none of them really matter. Hell, she didn’t even really seem to matter.
Then it starts to make sense. It gets a bit more linear and we start to feel for some of the characters. (No, not any of the other prisoners. They’re just window dressing still.) Guam-ja becomes sympathetic and we understand what she is really doing and how evil the actual killer is.
But it’s too bad that it takes about four hours to get here. And, even after the movie gets good, it seems to take four more hours to get to the conclusion.
If you’re a fan of Korean cinema or Park, check this out. If not, avoid it. You won’t be turned on to any other Korean films. And that’s a real shame.
Directed by: Richard Brooks
Written by: Richard Brooks
Based on book by: Frank O’Rourke
Lee Marvin. Burt Lancaster. Robert Ryan. Woody Strode. Jack Palance. Claudia Cardinale’s sweaty titties. (Thanks, Harry, for putting that phrase in my vocab.)
What the fuck more could you want in a Western?!
How ‘bout beautiful scenery?
Check. (Filmed partly in the Valley Of Fire State Park and Death Valley.)
A great director?
Gotcha. (Richard Brooks)
Basically, all of the elements of a great Western are right here in a movie that no one has ever fucking seen. Dammit. Why not?!
I actually avoided seeing it for a while. NOT because I thought it would be bad, but because a friend of mine told me that it was best seen on the big screen. And he was right. Sure, the Alamo doesn’t have the biggest screen, but it’s bigger than my tv and that’s all that counts. It’s a pretty beautiful movie shot by master shooter Conrad Hall.
It’s the story of four outlaws who are paid for one last job. They are supposed to go into Mexico and rescue the wife of a rich politician from a Mexican revolutionary played, of course, by Jack Palance. ‘Cause when you think Mexican, you think Jack Palance. Believe it…..or not!
It’s very Wild Bunch about three years before The Wild Bunch. It just doesn’t have the gut-slinging violence of Peckinpah’s classic. In fact, I still like The Wild Bunch better, but this is a pretty great movie.
All of the acting is great because they’re playing shades of themselves. (At least, they’re playing versions of characters they always play.) Lee Marvin was a badass. Always was. Burt Lancaster is the epitome of cool. (In fact, I always forget how cool he was until I see another one of his movies. Then I want to see them all.) Woody Strode is the quintessential Western hero. And it’s twice as cool because he was a black man in a white man’s world. Woody is a hero for the ages. And Robert Ryan. Well, I don’t know much about him except that he was in The Wild Bunch and he looks a bit too much like a certain Dumbass in Chief. I was a little disturbed by that, but he played an really nice horse man in this one, so I liked him.
Directed by: Pierre Morel
Written by: Luc Besson/Bibi Naceri
(If you want to look this up on IMDb, click here. It doesn’t have the English title yet.)
Luc Besson has done more for French martial arts than Napoleon Dynamite did for Idaho Mormons. His films with Jet Li have been the only American Li movies that are really worth a shit. And the first Transporter movie was a lot of fun.
Now he goes back to his native land to produce and co-write a movie that is almost a martial arts film. It’s actually a “parkour” film. Parkour is the art of getting from point A to point B in the most direct way possible paying no heed to obstacles. It was developed by the star of District 13, David Belle. His father (I’m guessing) was a French soldier in Vietnam and used the technique on the battlefield.
Of course, the movie puts some fighting into this particular art. Parkour is not about fighting. It’s just about using the body to get where you need, getting around whatever obstacle might be in your way. You can’t make a movie about that, though, so there’s a story here about the near future of France.
You see, in 2010, the French government has put the slums behind a wall. They call this section District B13. The police have just closed their only unit there and it’s up to one man, Leito (Belle), to clean up his home town. Unfortunately, he’s in jail while his sister (the beautiful and spunky Dany Verissimo) is being held and drugged by the main gangster (co-writer Bibi Naceri).
Enter the police force with a missile that they lost. They send Damien (Cyril Raffaelli—one of the twins in Kiss Of The Dragon) in to a) get Leito out of jail and b) retrieve the missile. Not so easy, of course,
There is so much awesome action going on in this movie that you almost forget that the story is a thinly veiled indictment of the current government. (Whose, I’m not sure. Probably everyone’s. I don’t know enough about French politics (or, anything about it, actually) to know what’s going on there.) It’s actually an interesting story that reminded me a little bit of Escape From New York. (Not so much Assault On Precinct 13 as everyone else has said.)
I loved this movie. It made me believe even harder in the straight-line theory of walking. I can’t wait for it to really hit the states and see kids trying to jump from the roof of their house without killing themselves. Wait…they do that anyway.
I’m not really sure what this is. It’s a teaser for a movie that Harry is producing, but it was put together on the fly and has no footage from the movie because I don’t think any footage has been shot. So it’s just a faceless, hot teenybopper going to her locker, pricking her finger and drawing a heart on a locker with her blood. She walks away and monster eyes show up in the locker.
All this to the sweet strains of “Take On Me.”
Cool in a really weird sort of way. We’ll see what Harry can do.
Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by: Drew McWeeny/Scott Swan
This is John Carpenter’s entry into the Masters Of Horror series. And I think it’s the best one I’ve seen.
It involves a young theatre owner (Norman Reedus from Blade 2) who searches for rare films on the side for his real money. He is offered $200,000 by Udo Keir (from Blade 1) to search for the supposedly destroyed film Le Fin Absolue Du Monde, a film so powerful that it caused a lot more than a riot the one time it played. The entire audience pretty much ripped themselves apart.
Why does Keir want this film? And what’s with the freaky looking white dude with the wounds on his back that look like ripped out appendages?
This was an incredibly weird little film that is probably some of Carpenter’s best work in years. It revisits his themes from In The Mouth Of Madness where fiction mars reality and the two become one. If the films from the series that I’ve seen are any indication, this is the best of the series. Check it out when it airs.
Yeah, I’ve seen this one, so I didn’t really think that seeing a clip was anything too special. But I still love the movie, so it was cool to have a clip. The only reason the whole film wasn’t playing (according to director Eli Roth) was because of its inclusion this October in the Fantastic Fest. And I understand that. And, since Eli was there we knew that we would see something from the movie.
And, boy, did he pick a doozie. It involves an eyeball, a scalpel, a screaming Japanese girl and an optic nerve.
Directed by: Neil Marshall
Written by: Neil Marshall
Six women go into a cave to do a little exploratory spelunking. But how many will come out when the screaming starts?
I should write taglines.
And, no, there is no lesbianism in this movie. (Not on screen, anyway.)
This is a weird little British horror movie that doesn’t seem like a horror movie until the last half hour. And, for what it is, it’s pretty cool. There’s really nothing special about it except that it’s like a chick horror flick.
In other words, The Descent is decent.
Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Written by: Brian Trenchard-Smith/Paul-Michel Mielche Jr
This movie has been carefully placed in the annals of Alamo goers for the last, oh, five years. (And I said “annals,” jackass.) They play the hell out of this trailer. Especially if it’s a Harry event. And everyone has loved it ever since it’s first viewing.
Well, they finally got a print of the actual movie so that we could all watch it and revel in its glory.
The story of Stunt Rock is exactly what it sounds like. It’s got something to do with the band Sorcery (never heard of ‘em, either) and the Aussie stunt man, Grant Page. These two entities get together and are interviewed by a woman who really has no interest in ever seeing what they do. She’s too scared.
It’s all really just an excuse to play loud music and do show-off stunts. There’s nothing more to it.
Really, the only good thing about this movie is Sorcery themselves. They are a Spinal Tap-like band that you know takes themselves way too seriously. They actually think that they are a good rock band. They have a wizard onstage who lights his staff on fire while fighting a dark magician who shoots fire out of his sleeves. And they have long, “Stonehenge” like dirges that end up sounding a lot like “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You (Tonight).” Just awful stuff. But they’re serious.
It just goes to show that Spinal Tap was not a comedy. It was reality.
Director Brian Trenchard-Smith has gone on to do Leprechaun 3 and 4, BMX Bandits and episodes of “Silk Stalkings.” I think he got what he deserved. Page went from Mad Max to No Escape and Son Of The Mask. I think he got what he deserved.
I fell asleep a lot during this one, so I don’t know that my review holds a lot of water, but the movie was bad and, strangely, pretty boring. The preview holds no mystique anymore.
DAMN YOU, TIM LEAGUE!!!!
Directed by: Steve Carver/Burt Kennedy (uncredited)
Written by: Norman Wexler
Based on book by: Kyle Onstott
How ‘bout another one with a Wild Buncher? You want Warren Oates? You got ‘im.
Lars, King of Weird Wednesday, has chosen another one for us that we’ll never forget…if we had managed to actually stay awake through it. Drum is kind of a Son Of Mandingo, and apparently it’s more offensive than Mandingo, too. (I haven’t seen Mandingo, so I don’t know.)
And, yes I fell asleep quite a few times during this one, too. I’m not too good at staying awake for all 24 hours of this thing. But I come by it naturally. I didn’t have any caffeine at all and I didn’t sleep well the night before.
But I digress.
Drum (non-acting boxer Ken Norton who also played the lead in Mandingo) is the son of a plantation owner’s wife and a slave. Warren Oates is a slave owner with a sharp tongue and lots of “wenches” (including Pam Grier). What else happens, I don’t really know. I just know that there are a lot of boobies going on. Other than that, I just saw black people being beaten and the back of my eyelids. Inter-racial sex and the back of my eyelids. Racist violence and the back of my eyelids. The top of my table and the back of my eyelids.
Directed by: James McTeigue
Written by: Andy Wachowski/Lana Wachowski
Based on graphic novel by: Alan Moore (uncredited)/David Lloyd (art)
Now that I was in some pain (stomach and, for some reason, shoulders) it was time for the “big movie.” We had already seen Kong, but that wasn’t a surprise, so Harry couldn’t make that the last movie of the night.
No, he managed to steal V For Vendetta right out from under the Berlin Film Festival. He had to call Berlin in order to ask permission to show the movie before they did. Weird, huh?
This movie has gone through a lot of changes and double talk lately because of the bombings in London. Luckily, they didn’t change it very much. They just postponed the release a bit.
V (Hugo Weaving…I think. He could have been anybody, really.) is a vigilante of sorts. He wants the English government to change. Of course, who wouldn’t? It’s the government of the future and they’ve become a Orwellian society. People trust Dear Leader, er, Sutler (John Hurt) and put all of their faith in him. But V, a man in a Guy Faulks costume and mask, wants to put an end to them by bombing them into submission. Or at least scaring them a lot with bombs.
(Guy Faulks, by the way, was a man who, 400 years ago, tried to blow up Parliament. He is now considered some kind of weird-ass national hero or something. They still celebrate Guy Faulks Day on November 5th. Yeah. The English are weird.)
Evey (Natalie Portman) is a young girl who gets caught up in V’s plans by being in the wrong place at the right time. Or is she?
The cast is great (Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry and Sinead Cusack are also along for the ride) and all of them seem to be having a lot of fun lampooning their own (and our) government.
This is actually a really good movie. It’s weird how you can feel so much fear, respect and, yes, even compassion for a guy in a silly mask. Even through the pain I was feeling, I managed to like the movie a lot. Check it out when it finally comes out in March. (JESUS, that’s a long time away!!)
(This was preceded by Donald Duck’s “Der Fuhrer’s Face,” a classic bit of pro-American propaganda doled out by Walt Disney in 1942. And you have no idea how strange it is to hear an entire audience making quacking noises with little duck bills every time someone on screen says, “Heil!”)
So, that was it for Harry’s Numb Butt. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next year. There are no sure things anymore since Peter Jackson won’t have anything out. And I doubt that any of the movies Harry is producing will be out by then. Who knows, though? Maybe we’ll get Spider-Man 3!
Heh heh. Yeah. Let’s go for it, Harry.