Friday Night Flix: Invaders from Mars

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Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

Invaders from Mars (Netflix)! What!? How did I not know of this movie’s existence?

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This thing came out in 1986 when I was seven and deeply in love with fantastical childhood adventure movies. I was disturbingly invested in The Goonies, The Monster Squad, Flight of the Navigator, The Neverending Story, all that crap. Invaders from Mars, with its a nerdy little kid who gets caught up in the middle of an alien takeover, teams up with the pretty school nurse to stop it, gets to boss around the military, and ultimately saves the day…this would have been my jam.

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Directed by Tobe Hooper, Invaders is a remake of a 1953 sci-fi movie of the same name based on a short story that, like 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, was itself a shameless ripoff of Robert A. Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters. You ever read that book? It’s awesome but it’s also batshit crazy. Flying cars, legal drugs, mandated public nudity, limited duration marriages…it’s out there. Made for a pretty kick ass movie though.

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Despite it’s dubious pedigree, despite a truly dreadful child star, and despite  Karen Black’s bizarre cross-eyed histrionics, there’s a lot of fun to be had here. Practical Stan Winston effects and clever puppets coupled with extensive optical effects and a variety of large-scale sets give it the feel of a big studio picture, even though it probably wasn’t. The plot has some loose threads but mostly hangs together as it barrels toward an obvious but satisfying conclusion. OR DOES IT?

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Added bonus: You probably won’t adore this movie if you never saw it as a child. It hasn’t aged well. But if you convince yourself you’re watching a modern day spoof of 80s sci-fi adventures flicks, you will no doubt find it a work of pure, soul-skewering genius.

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Friday Night Flix: The Poughkeepsie Tapes

pt3Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

I realize I’m hard on found footage movies. It’s not because I dislike the convention as a rule. I just hate how some movies use it without feeling the need to explain how a prop in the movie (the footage) also exists in the real world such that we’re able to view its contents. It’s a pet peeve, I know. It’s also a big part of why I adored The Poughkeepsie Tapes (YouTube).

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Here is a movie that meets all my demands for found footage. Not only do we understand how and why the footage came to exist, we actually see it being discovered in the context of a mockumentary. Filmed in 2007, TPT even takes it a step further, reaching into the future to poke fun at all the found footage movies that would come after it with their wildly improbably camera angles and immaculate framing.

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In one scene we see the killer hitchhike his way into the back seat of a car occupied by two doomed good Samaritans. He of course kills both of them, recording the whole thing with a handheld camcorder. The thing is, the second one is recorded from in front of the victim, even though the killer is slitting her throat or whatever from behind. Cynical me immediately called bullshit on that. But – Ah ha! –  writer-director team the Dowdle Brothers (who would go on to write, direct and/or produce Quarantine, Devil and this year’s As Above, So Below) were way ahead of me.

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After the hitchhiking scene, the movie cuts to an interview with the forensics guy who had to review all 2400 hours of the murderer’s home movies. He explains how difficult it would be to kill someone from behind with your right hand while filming from in front of them with your left. How says the killer would have had to practice this maneuver over and over to get it right. That’s exactly what found footage camera operators have to do to film some scenes, but they gloss over it, hoping no one will notice the contortions they would have had to go through to get a particular shot. It’s a brilliant and elegant critique of the format, turning a found footage weakness into an asset.

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Added bonus: Did I mention this thing is on YouTube?! How cool is that? Granted, your only viewing options are low-res widescreen or a 720p version that’s tragically squished into 4:3, but still. You can’t findThe Poughkeepsie Tapes anywhere else because when it was made MGM decided to pull its theatrical release at the last minute. It never had a DVD release and only briefly appeared on VOD earlier this year. YouTube should really devote a channel to movies you can only find on YouTube. That might be good for business.

Modern Borecast Vol.5 – Baby Storm Inbound

AH AH AH AH PODCAST 5 PODCAST 5 AH AH AH AH PODCAST FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVVVVVVVVVE

*Ahem* Modern Borecast vol.5 – Baby Storm Inbound is upon you. This time, Impervious Rex & Testicles run you through what they are reading (The Godfather, Rook) and what they are playing (Heartstone, ZAMN). We talk Spider-Woman’s butt and The Rock’s Black Adam. Impervious Rex gets the clock called on him numerous time but busts through into blather regardless! Testicles is over his Ancient Fear! All this and another listener email in vol. 5 of the Borecast. SHAZAM!!

On Previous Borecasts:

Vol.1      Vol.2      Vol.3     Vol.4

Don’t like going to other sites? Good, because they’re all embedded after the jump. Enjoy. Continue reading

Friday Night Flix: Blue Ruin

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Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

Most of my recommendations range from fair to solid. It’s nice every now and then to find one that stands out as truly excellent. Blue Ruin (Netflix) is just such a movie.

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The story begins as a pretty straightforward revenge fantasy: traumatized vagrant sets off on an uncertain journey to avenge the murder of his family. Things nearly go according to plan, but our tragic hero fails to account for the repercussions of his vendetta.

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For a movie populated with literally no one you’ve ever heard of (unless you’re a really big fan of Home Alone) the cast is shockingly strong. It’s anchored by Macon Blair, the introspective, googly-eyed lead who carries big chunks of the movie in wordless silence. When we meet him he’s living out of his car, doing his best Castaway impression. The reality of his somber, numbed existence is riveting.

It only gets better once he shaves the beard and starts talking. His terror and pain coupled with an unfailing, logical resolve make for some amazing contrasts.

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Blue Ruin is the sophomore directing effort of a cinematographer named Jeremy Saulnier. His first film was Murder Party, which I have vague recollections of but never actually watched. Now that I’ve seen the follow-up, I will have to make time for it.

Blue Ruin is a fully formed piece of art, perfect in its simplicity and polished to a mirror shine. Saulnier has a great eye and gets the most out of his cast. He also wrote the smartly paced script, which is generally light on dialogue but never shies away from sincere exchanges. He even manages to plug in some genuine humor without clashing with the severity of the proceedings. This movie is gonna get its director noticed in a big way.

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Added bonus: No bonus for you. Just watch the damn movie and thank me later.

Wrestling. Comic books. Game of Thrones. Get it.

Ramon Villalobos can be checked out at Society6 and RedBubble (where you can buy some sweet swag) as well as deviantART.

…while With Spandex provides detail on the more esoteric moves.

Thor stretches out Loki with a Lightning Lock Delta.

Thor applies the Lightning Lock Delta to Loki

Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion applies a Scorpion Armlock.

Scorpion & the Scorpion Armlock.

Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of the Dragon Sleeper

Daenerys Targaryen with my go-to submission move, the Dragon Sleeper

Inverted scorpion  death lock (?)

Outside scorpion death lock (?)

More after the jump including Wonder Woman, Freddy Kreuger, Bane & more

Continue reading

Friday Night Flix: Pumping Iron

pi3Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

Do you want to feel like a complete weakling and waste of human skin? Then I demand you watch Pumping Iron (Netflix) immediately!

I had the 2014 movie Sabotage coming in the mail so I must have been in an Arnie mood as I was browsing through titles to commend unto thine eyeholes. While mentally debating for far too long whether I could in good conscience recommend Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (Vol. 1 definitely not, Vol. 2 almost) I chanced across Pumping Iron, a 1977 documentary that followed The Austrian Oak as he trained for his then record-setting sixth Mr. Olympia title.

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Like bodybuilding in general whole thing is a little goofy, especially viewed through the prism of where Arnold ended up. But back then he was just a hulking 28-year-old immigrant at the top of his field and having the time of his life. He was literally larger than life and at the very beginning of a tremendous upswing that would see him crowned the biggest box office draw of the next two decades. And here you get to see him before he was Conan, hell before he was even Hercules. He was just a happy as hell manchild who spent all his time lifting weights, smoking weed in public and casually committing sexual assaults.

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It’s honestly a pretty well done documentary and it chronicles what was then and still is a strange subculture: the bodybuilders. I’m super impressed by all these huge specimens. I mean even the ones that have no chance at winning are incredibly massive, so much so that you become numb to if after a while. It’s only when you see them wearing a t-shirt that can barely contain their biceps and standing next to a normal person that you realize how insanely monstrous these men are. But, like 95% of all humans, I have no earthly clue how or why they do what they do.

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The crux of the movie is the battle between Schwarzenegger and up-and-coming challenger Lou Ferrigno a/k/a the future Incredible Hulk. What’s striking is that at 6’5″ and 265 pounds, Ferrigno was significantly taller and heavier than Arnold. In fact, he was the biggest bodybuilder ever at that point. Contrast that now with big Ronnie Coleman, Mr. Olympia from 1998 to 2007. During competition Coleman weighed in at around 297 pounds and he was only 5’11”. He was 30 pounds heavier than Ferrigno despite being six inches shorter. Check out this composite I shamelessly stole from someone’s Facebook page in which Schwarzenegger looks like he’s been fasting for a month. Steroids have come a long fucking way.

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Added Bonus: And now for your reading enjoyment is a direct quote from the man who would go on to be elected governor of the most populous state in America:

The greatest feeling you can get in a gym, or the most satisfying feeling you can get in the gym is… The Pump. Let’s say you train your biceps. Blood is rushing into your muscles and that’s what we call The Pump. You muscles get a really tight feeling, like your skin is going to explode any minute, and it’s really tight – it’s like somebody blowing air into it, into your muscle. It just blows up, and it feels really different. It feels fantastic. It’s as satisfying to me as, uh, coming is, you know? As, ah, having sex with a woman and coming. And so can you believe how much I am in heaven? I am like, uh, getting the feeling of coming in a gym, I’m getting the feeling of coming at home, I’m getting the feeling of coming backstage when I pump up, when I pose in front of 5,000 people, I get the same feeling, so I am coming day and night. I mean, it’s terrific. Right? So you know, I am in heaven.

Me too, Arnold. Me. Too.