Forgotten Films: Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
This is the 109th in my series of Forgotten Obscure or Neglected Films
After last week’s rant, I thought it might be good to find a film I have enjoyed over the years and talk nicely about it. This last Thanksgiving I found a big DVD sale at Amazon where there were a large number of films available at low prices. The musical version of Little Shop of Horrors was on the list for about $5 if I recall correctly so it went onto the order stack. It’s only been 6 ½ months since it arrived so I guess it was time to view.
I am a fan of the original LSoH which I first saw on TV one afternoon in the 60’s in glorious black and white. I enjoyed it and was surprised when it made the transfer to Broadway musical in the early 1980’s. I was pleased when it was filmed and I saw it opening weekend at the theater in Dallas. Has it really been 27 years since this came out?
The long suffering Sandi does not share my love of musical theater but she went with me to see the show. Afterwards, she indicated that seeing it once may have been too many. But, I still like it.
The story is one I am sure many of you know. Schlub Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) works at Mushnik’s Flower Shop in Skid Row in the early 1960’s. He finds an unusual plant which he takes to the shop and shows to his boss Mr. Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia) and his secret love Audrey (the wonderful Ellen Greene). The plant, Audrey II, is not thriving but due to a fortuitous accident involving rose thorns, Seymour discovers that the plant does quite well with a diet of human blood. Suddenly people are thronging to the flower shop and Seymour is someone important.
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FORGOTTEN BOOK: RICK BRANT: THE LOST CITY by John Blaine, 1947
This is the 138th in my series of Forgotten Books.
When I moved to Texas in 1962 at the tender age of 10, I was already a reading fiend. I read almost anything people put in front of me. I particularly loved the series adventure stories like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins. Among my favorites were the Rick Brant Electronic Adventures. The Brants were a lot less popular than the other series and were harder to find but I did love them.
The other day while in Half Price Books, one of my homes away from home, I ran across a hardback copy of the second Rick Brant book, The Lost City, in a dust jacket. Not a great dust jacket but substantially complete and it was less than $5. So it came home with me. Looking for a Forgotten Book to read and review and remembering that this is one of James Reasoner’s favorite titles, it leapt into my waiting hands.
Rick Brant lives with his family on Spindrift Island. His father, Hartson Brant, leads a group of scientists who are trying to create things to better mankind. In this episode, they are trying to bounce Radio signals off the moon. To do this, they want to establish a radio transmitter received on a plateau in Tibet. This is pre-communication satellite days and Tibet had not yet been run over by the Chinese. So a group of scientists along with Rick and his best friend Scotty are off across the world with their delicate equipment.
Of course there is sabotage and kidnapping and other hijinks even before they arrive in Bombay. Then we get to throw in eastern behaviors and a street urchin named Chahde who seems to want to help them and knows much knowledge of the US through the World Almanac of 1923 which he has seemingly memorized and can call up useful or useless information from at any point.
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Forgotten Films: The Final (2010)
This is the 108th in my series of Forgotten Obscure or Neglected Films.
I will apologize in advance for the rant that is to follow. I love a good horror film and have watched many over the years. None has pissed me off nearly as much as this one did. I can generally gauge in advance whether I might like a film and am generally correct. When I saw the previews for the “8 Films to Die For” my initial reaction was “Not for me”.
But the other day I was at my regular trivia contest and one of the guys said he thought I might like this one and then he loaned me the DVD. The basic story line is bullied teens get back at their tormentors. OK, maybe.
Nope! I watched 99 minutes of torture porn, similar to Saw and other films of that type. Yes, there were bullied teens. We see several get slapped, beaten, and abused by stereotyped rich kid/jocks/pricks. I get it. Life is not fair and high school is worse. So, abused kids plan a party for their tormentors with the idea of some sort of revenge.
This revenge makes Columbine look nice. Kids are shot with a nail gun, smeared with acidic creams, poisoned, and mutilated. For close to an hour on screen. There are no redeeming qualities or cleverness to the plan for revenge. It is simple, we are becoming the tormentors and we are eventually going to kill you as well as ourselves. If the film had some cleverness such as Teaching Mrs. Tingle, it might have been OK. But as it was, this was a waste of my time and I hope to save you that horror.
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Forgotten Films: Orlando (1992)
This is the 107th in my series of Forgotten Obscure or Neglected Films.
Time to move into older films again since the last two films were obscure but they came from last year. Let’s go back an additional 20 years or so and take on a very odd but beautiful fantasy film based on a novel. I recall Roger Ebert praising the film on his TV show so, on one of many travels; I saw the film in suburban Chicago. I went alone which was something I rarely did but I wanted to see the film.
ORLANDO (the film) begins in Elizabethan times when young Orlando (Tilda Swinton) is 16, a somewhat pretty, effeminate looking boy, which we are told in an aside, was the style of the day. He is entranced with poetry and life. A visit by Queen Elizabeth I (played by Quentin Crisp) results in him being sent to court as the Queen’s favorite. As the aged queen dies, she elicits a promise from the boy to never fade, to never wither, and to never grow old. Orlando is given a castle, land and an income for this. Orlando makes the promise and finds himself to be unique.
His promise is kept. He does not age, wither or grow old. He remains youthful and passes through various ages. Inspired by his love of poetry he makes the acquaintance of poet Nick Green (Heathcote Williams) who is, to be kind, a starving poet. Finding himself with a patron, Green agrees to see Orlando’s own fledgling compositions, which are awful. Green composes a poem making fun of the works and Orlando finds himself finished with poetry for a while.
Orlando enters into a political betrothal and finds himself at a reception for a Russian ambassador where he meets and, in the way only the young seem to be able to do, is immediately taken with Princess Sasha (Charlotte Valandrey) with whom he makes plans to escape England and go away. This escape does not happen and the young man is overtaken with grief.
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FORGOTTEN BOOK: EARTHMAN’S BURDEN by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson, 1957
This is the 137th in my series of Forgotten Books.
Hoka! If you recognize that word you know what fun is. If not, I envy you. Great humorous science fiction is hard to come by. Particularly since humor is very subjective. I do not like the films of a number of the new comedians, but most particularly, I do not like Adam Sandler. I know this is a personal fault, but I have no desire to fix it. Others I can tolerate to some degree like Will Ferrell, but Sandler, NO! Not gonna happen. Perhaps one day that will change. But then pigs may fly also.
Back to the Hoka. “The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch” (the first Hoka story) takes place on the planet Toka where two species of sentient being exist, the reptilian Slissii and the Hoka who appear to be small golden furred rotund teddy bears. Mankind generally found itself attracted to the Hoka and a plan was made to help bring them up to galactic standards to attain full membership in the Interbeing League. Young spaceman Alexander Jones finds himself stranded on the planet in the middle of a B movie western thriller. The Hoka, it seems, have trouble separating fact and fiction and someone has inadvertently left a pile of pulp fiction on the planet. Every other young Hoka is named Tex or the Kid and they have gunfights in the street at high noon each day. Of course, no one is killed because that is not in the Hoka’s makeup. They embrace every possible idea fully and believe it has always been that way, even if it changed only yesterday. Not so the Slissii! They can and will kill. And they would love to be rid of the teddy bears that share their planet. Jones, in a drunken mood from highly potent Hoka liquor, helps the cowboy Hokas defeat the Indians and finds himself as Plenipotentiary to Toka for the Interbeing League.
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Forgotten Films: Iron Sky (2012)
This is the 106th in my series of Forgotten Obscure or Neglected Films
As I mentioned with SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, some local SF fans had a potential Hugo nominees viewing party so they could decide how to nominate, this was one of the films screened. It did not get the same type of reaction as SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED. In fact, they stopped the film about 30 minutes into the screening and decided to cleanse their brains on another film.
Since I missed that showing but had seen the initial teaser preview on the web some years ago which I had thought was pretty durn good, I decided to check the film out and see how bad it really was. The answer is “mostly bad” but not unwatchable. You can either stop here or continue on.
The premise is wonderfully ludicrous. At the end of 1945, the Nazis made a secret moon launching, sending a colony of people to the dark side of the moon where they established a base to work on secret projects. For more than 60 years, this colony has been self sustaining and thriving, building their doomsday projects and awaiting a chance to return to the Earth and establish the Fourth Reich.
The film opens with a US moon landing featuring two astronauts, one of whom is an African American male model, James Washington (Christopher Kirby), sent for PR purposes. The other astronaut is killed immediately and Washington is taken by the Nazis into their fortress where he is Aryanized (turned white!). Here he meets the Nazis. Wolfgang Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier) is the new Fuhrer. Doktor Richter (Tilo Prückner) is the chief scientist and his daughter Renate (Julia Dietz) teaches the young Aryans their history and heritage, though this may differ in many ways from the way we remember it. Of course, history is written by the survivors and this may have influenced their versions of events. Fuhrer in waiting Klaus Adler (Götz Otto) has been chosen as Renate’s fiancé based on genetic capability.
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LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE by Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty, 2012
This is the 136th in my series of Forgotten Books.
It has been a while since I did a review of San Antonio’s Stoker winning novelist Joe McKinney. I believe I reviewed QUARANTINED about two years ago. Joe is a writer many of you may not know, but you should. He is very good and every book and story shows him improving. His co-author Michael McCarty was someone I had not read before but the combination is a winner.
It is 1961 and Mark Gaitlin lives in Houston with his family. His dad is a successful lawyer. Each year they have to go to east Texas for a big get together. This is on Lake Livingston and the town of Gaitlinville which was established by his great-grandparents and which is now a ghost town. Mark is 15, awkward and unsure and out of place at the gathering. No one he wants to meet is his age. The older girls (friends of his 17 year old sister) just roll their eyes if he comes near and he is bored and wishing he was anywhere else.
One night near the lake he encounters a young woman, near his age, swimming nude on the lake. She invites him in and he, being 15, decides to accept. The encounter is electric and he is intrigued about the possibilities of sex. But there are snakes about, copperheads which flourish in the region.
He discovers the woman’s name is Ermelinda and he likes what he sees and wants more. But when he touches her breast, she pushes him away and vanishes. The woman becomes his obsession. He wants to see her again. She shows him a bolus of snakes, a round ball of snakes copulating, and he is fascinated. There is something earthy and forbidden here. And teenage angst and lust are powerful forces.
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Forgotten Films: Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
This is the 105th in my series of Forgotten Obscure or Neglected Films.
It starts simply enough with an ad in a magazine:
WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED
I saw the previews for this several times in the artsy theater in town (as opposed to the googleplex). The ad was catchy, much like 2012’s other odd SF film FRANK AND ROBOT which I also saw. However, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED came and went in about 48 hours and I missed it totally,
When some local SF fans were having a potential Hugo nominees viewing party so they could decide how to nominate, this was one of the films screened. It got a good reaction. Again, I missed seeing it. But the buzz was good enough that I put it on my ballot for Best Dramatic Presentation. However, my vote did not have enough siblings to get the film onto the ballot. Nonetheless, I decided to watch it from Netflix and my lovely wife decided it was probably enough of a chick flick that she would watch too,
The film starts with an editorial meeting at SEATTLE MAGAZINE as editors and writers try to come up with stories for the upcoming issues. Writer Jeff pulls out this ad which has been placed in the magazine and wants to follow up on it for laughs. The address given is a PO Box in Ocean View, Washington and Jeff wants to track down the person who placed it and get the story. To do the heavy lifting he brings along two interns and Arnau (Karan Soni) and Darius (Aubrey Plaza) or, as he put it the Indian and the lesbian. Continue reading FORGOTTEN FILM: SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (2012) »
FORGOTTEN BOOK: DOC SAVAGE: SKULL ISLAND by Will Murray, 2013
This is the 135th in my series of Forgotten Books.
OK, this is not really a forgotten book. It’s a new book and several of my friends have reviewed this book recently so many of you may have read their takes already. If so, bear with me. But then again I think I reach a different audience so maybe you have not read the reviews yet.
hen I first heard the title and saw the cover, I was in Book Lust. Doc Savage meets King Kong. I fell in love with the 8th Wonder of the World when I was a pre-teen and I saw the world’s greatest motion picture on a fizzy black and white TV. I have seen it many times since then. The film is better than Casablanca or The Maltese Falcon even though they are great films. It had everything – romance, action, adventure, dinosaurs, and the boat leaves at dawn.
The love of Doc Savage and then The Shadow came a few years later. I loved Doc and his crew until I met the Shadow. I still love them both and read their adventures when I need a break. I have copies of all the Doc Savages from the pulps and most since then. The Shadow novels I have are all from the pulps as well as some of Denis Lynds’ Shadow spy novels from Belmont in the 1960’s. This is my wheelhouse here.
So when a copy of Doc Savage: Skull Island found its way into my hands I knew that nothing else would be read while I inhaled its essence. So let’s get to it. Continue reading FORGOTTEN BOOK: DOC SAVAGE: SKULL ISLAND by Will Murray 2013 »
FORGOTTEN BOOK: HAVE SPACESUIT, WILL TRAVEL by Robert A. Heinlein, 1958
This is the 134th in my series of Forgotten Books.
Last time, I commented on a Conan novel I read more than 40 years earlier. As I was looking for a book to do for this week, I came across a British paperback of an early Heinlein novel that I read at about the same time. It was probably about 1972 when I read it and it might as well have been a hundred years earlier for all I remembered. The old brain is sharp in some ways as my trivia team can vouch for, but other things, well, not so much. There have been thousands of books in the interim and sometimes I have trouble remembering what I read last week.
But I thought “It has been a while so why not?” which made me smile as I remembered the joke from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress when our hero meets his girl whose name is Wyoming Knott. But she said to call her “Wy. Or, Wy Knott.”
This is one of the so called “juveniles” of Heinlein, though it could only be called that since the main characters are children.
Clifford “Kip“ Russell is a very bright kid in a small town. His school is a joke, more a socializing spot than a learning institution. But his father will have none of it. He pushes Kip to learn and teach himself the things he needs to achieve his goals in life. His main goal is to go to the Moon. His father says “Fine” but Kip soon realizes that to do it he has to get into a good school and work hard. So, in addition to his extra schooling, he works at the local drug store/soda fountain.
One day a small soap company has a contest for a jingle. First prize is a trip to the Moon. The entry has to be accompanied by a soap wrapper. He acquires a couple of thousand wrappers and jingles. When the winning jingle is read, he is ecstatic, because it is one of his submissions. Unfortunately, several other people had the same jingle and based on the tiebreakers he is not the winner. He does, however, win a used space suit. He can sell it back to the company or keep it.
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