Why Does It Exist?

Dish Flicks – June 2011

In Dish Flicks on July 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Before we get into Dish Flicks, I’d like to take a moment to address the Search Keywords function that comes with this fine blogging software. Search Keywords shows you what people type into various search engines to eventually be led to your website. Because I deal with movies that often feature some pretty wacky shit, I get some pretty wacky results. Here are some observations.

–          To the dude who is looking (every couple of days, it seems) for a German porn movie where Frankenstein fucks a girl in a red dress: I’m sorry, I can’t help you. If you are several dudes with the same query and one of you happens to possess said piece of erotica, I’d be glad to put you in touch with the other classic-movie-monster fetishists. Why Does It Exist? isn’t just about weird movies; it’s about networking.

–          Searches seem to indicate that Harvey Keitel gets naked because people really, really enjoy it. I owe a significant percentage of hits to the picture of Keitel in leopard-print briefs that toplines Somebody to Love.

–          The shirts that the wild-and-crazy-guy dildo from Bachelor Party 2 wears are almost definitely from TShirtHell.com. I don’t even get a kickback from that. I just love dispensing information that much.

–          In that same vein, the 50 Cent song I quote in the Gun reviews is called I’ll Be The Shooter. This is by far the most popular query, and I had nothing to do with finding the answer, so thank you guy in comments who did.

–          Street Kings 2: Motor City is definitely a low budget movie.

–          I actually don’t know of a movie of the top of my head where Mickey Rourke shoves a gun up someone’s ass but that does seem like something he would do. Keep me posted!

PS: I’ve decided to nix the pictures for this month until I figure out a way to have ‘em up there without throwing everything out of whack.

Survival of the Dead (2008)

Zombie movies have been very good to George A. Romero; you’d think he’d extend the common courtesy of reciprocating. It’s normal to get a little smug with the genre you fucking invented, but Romero’s ‘Grandpa discovers YouTube’ approach is pretty grating. Where he once made cutting satires that were also damn good horror movies, here he co-opts a style that he’s not super familiar with but that’s popular with the damned kids (Cloverfield-style found-footage) to belabour a very obvious point about the democratization of media. While it’s certainly as good (or better) than any similar low-budget handheld features not directed by George A. Romero would be, it’s extremely disappointing to see the master slog through a banal zombie set-up with the sole purpose of shoehorning in obvious soapboxing. There are some good moments here and there (deaf Amish guy blowing up zombies with dynamite is a keeper) and it’s generally watchable but a terrible disappointment nonetheless.

Lost Command (1966)

Dubious casting choices rule this men-on-a-mission war film set during the Algeria/France conflict. Anthony Quinn stars as the leader of a French paratrooper squad tasked with bringing down an Algerian former colleague turned terrorist (improbably personified by George Segal). Quinn isn’t trying very hard to sound French considering his second-in-command is played by Alain Delon but he makes a fine lead for this leaden-paced but not entirely uninteresting war flick. As directed by Mark Robson, it lacks the vital immediacy and sense of excitement of the best men-on-a-mission movies (The Dirty Dozen and The Great Escape come to mind); there’s a lot more focus on Peyton Place-like melodrama between Quinn and his lady love (Michèle Morgan) than on the anemic action scenes. Nonetheless, it’s one of the rare American films to focus on the conflict and has enough drive to be watchable if not exactly engrossing. Plus, I have it under pretty strict authority that this is the only movie featuring George Segal in brownface, struggling with a dubious Arabic-inflected accent and Claudia Cardinale as a two-timing Algerian Mata Hari. Still, that doesn’t make up for the sheer amount of scenes of Quinn yes-siring French  character actors in sets left over from The Longest Day.

Breakheart Pass (1975)

In a spellbinding bit of stunt casting, Charles Bronson plays a criminal with a heart of gold in this entertaining western written by Alistair Maclean. He’s a suspected embezzler on his way to being tried in Fort Humboldt; trouble is, there’s an outbreak of diphtheria there, the men who are nominally escorting him are actually sent there to be replacements AND someone is sneaking around and killing them! Bronson is the defacto investigator in what basically boils down to Murder on the Orient Express meets Every Single Bronson Western. It’s fast-paced and entertaining thanks to the work of the perennially underrated Tom Gries behind the camera and some wicked stunts (people fall off elevated train tracks onto rocks a lot, it’s pretty hardcore) courtesy of legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt (this was his last film). A pretty good supporting cast of grizzled character actors support the consistently stoic Bronson and it features a snarling performance from the great Robert Tessier and his stunning beard-to-baldness ratio. As far as 70’s train movies go (a pretty fecund subgenre, now that I think about it) it has less badass fighting-on-top-of-a-train scenes than Emperor of the North and a less delightful murder mystery than Murder on the Orient Express but it’s a pretty good Bronson vehicle in all respects.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1990)

I fucking hate the phrase ‘they don’t make ‘em like that anymore’ but it certainly applies to this dopey comedy starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor as a deaf guy and a blind guy (respectively) who are framed for a murder they kinda witnessed. That having been said, I’m sort of glad the world got over this kind of comedic vehicle with a paper-thin plot (in this case they have to find a gold coin or something, not unlike Cop Out, which evidently yearned for those halcyon days) and anemic car chases, foot chases, mustache-twirling baddies (quite literally, in this case, in the form of British fop Kevin Spacey), etc. If I’m going to watch a dumb comedy, though, I could do a hell of a lot worse than one starring Wilder and Pryor. The jokes are repetitive, centering mostly on slapstick setpieces where one or the other gets into a sticky situation but the other’s handicap prevents him from fully grasping the situation . Wilder and Pryor are old pros at this kind of stuff; I shudder to think at the Burt Reynolds / Tom Berenger (or whatever else the 90’s would’ve had in store) shitfest this could have been.

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