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  • Seven Old Movies Based on a Premise That Couldn’t Happen Today

    Posted on July 28th, 2018 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney in Laura

    Before cell phones, wi-fi and unlimited internet, people relied on wired telephones, fax machines and radio to communicate. Cutting someone off from help was as easy as cutting a phone line or knocking out their electricity. Many books, and of course movies, had plots based on the idea of “no way out”, or no way to get help in a bad situation. Or, had a plot that depended on not being able to be found, or communicate with, other people.

    Here’s my collection of movies that could never take place in our present, tech-heavy world.

    The Shining, 1980

    Premise: Cut off from the world in a secluded hotel, a family deals with loneliness and solitude…and malevolent spirits. Winter storms knock out the phone lines and block the only road with snow. Their only communication with authorities is a 2-way radio, and once that is disabled, there’s no conventional way to reach anyone for help.

    Today: “The Overlook Hotel”, being a very popular resort, would absolutely have excellent cell phone reception and wi-fi. By 2018, they would probably have buried the phone lines to keep the phones working in storms.  Even if they didn’t, the snow wouldn’t affect the cell phone towers, so they would be able to use their mobile devices for Social Media, phone calls, watching TV, etc. The seclusion factor would be minimized…and the ghosts wouldn’t be nearly as scary, as a hotel that haunted would no doubt be the star in multiple ghost-hunter TV shows and overnight events.

    Laura, 1944

    Premise: A woman is murdered by a shotgun blast to the face in her apartment. She is assumed to be Laura, the resident of the apartment, but it is later discovered that the real Laura was at a secluded cabin with a broken radio, no phone, no newspaper and no connection to the outside world. The murderer’s alibi is that he was doing a live radio performance at the time of the murder, but it turns out to be a recording.

    Today: Where shall we begin??? Laura, even in a secluded cabin, would have had her cell phone. Even if we assume she didn’t have any reception, the cabin would probably at least have wi-fi, and a land line. So she would have been reachable…once the police realized it wasn’t Laura who was murdered (again…even without an autopsy, her friend would have undoubtedly had her own cell phone with her, and her ID. ID wasn’t a big deal in 1944…many people didn’t have any. Today it’s a necessity). And the murderer’s alibi would have been easily checked today, and very few radio, podcasts, or TV programs are done live.

    Red Dawn, 1984

    Premise: Soviet/Communist paratroopers invade America undetected. Scattered, a group of teenagers with no way of calling for help wages guerilla warfare against the invading army.

    Today: There are so many satellites monitoring every inch of America…both government and civilian (Google), it’s hard to imagine any kind of “sneak attack” from the sky. Planes are monitored by computer, and even if an invading army managed to get some troops to drop out of a half a dozen planes, our militarized police and the fact that is an estimated three million AR-15 rifles in the hands of civilians, makes the scenario kind of impossible. Add to that, that the minute paratroopers started falling out of the sky thousands of people would start videoing them and calling the cops on their cell phones that it isn’t likely an air invasion would be very effective.

    Blackboard Jungle, 1955:

    Premise: Juvies and greasers causing mayhem at school.

    Today: Forget it. Those kids would have been arrested on day one.

    The Exorcist, 1973:

    Premise: A young girl is possessed by a demon. Doctors and psychiatrists can’t help, and two priests are called in to do an exorcism.

    Today: Because this takes place in Washington DC, to a girl with a non-religious parent who is a well-known actress, it’s very likely the family wouldn’t keep this quiet. The girl and the mother would post about it on social media. As it worsens, doctors, psychiatrists, holistic healers, the CDC, you name it…would be offering their help online. Doctor Phil or whatever daytime TV doctor is on at the time would have them on the show. The demon would probably get so freaked out by all the attention that it would just leave. If not, the exorcism would be done on-air, in front of a live audience of several million. The world’s first live-televised exorcism would not be condoned by the Catholic church, but they’d find some willing participants nonetheless. After the successful exorcism, people would argue on social media for years to come whether it was a Hollywood stunt like the Fox alien autopsy film, eventually coming down to party-lines with the religions right saying it was real and atheist liberals calling it a hoax.

    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974

    Premise: A van-load of kids go looking for their family’s abandoned house in Texas, only to be terrorized and murdered by cannibals.

    Today: The whole plot hinges on them needing gas, separating and not being able to communicate with each other. Unless there are vast areas with no cell reception in Texas, they could have called AAA for the gas and each other at the first sign of trouble.

    Jaws, 1975

    Premise: A giant, hungry shark terrorized a small town’s beachgoers and boaters.

    Today: At the first sign of trouble the town would shut down the beach due to insurance costs and not wanting to get sued. To make up for the lost tourist revenue, the town would invite everyone from the Sharknado guys to the Shark Hunters to National Geographic to film and exploit the mega-shark.

    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986

    Premise: A high school kid ditches school with his best friend and girlfriend for a day of adventures. Hijinks include joyriding in the friend’s dad’s $100,000 dollar vintage Ferrari, going to a ball game, singing in a parade and posing as Chicago’s Sausage King to get into a fancy restaurant. All while Ferris pretends to be sick.

    Today: Since the Principal suspected Ferris of foul play, he would call Ferris and his friends on their cells through the day, and would get the cops to use GPS to track their whereabouts. That $100k Ferrari is now a $15M museum piece that would have had a hell of a lot more security on it than a glass garage. With social media, everyone would be wondering why sick/dying Ferris and his family wasn’t posting constant updates on his condition…or, everyone would realize he either just didn’t feel good or was, in fact, ditching. No flowers, no fundraiser. And, it’s probably that Ferris would have been arrested for jumping on the parade float…hell, in today’s Chicago, he might have been shot for it.

    So there it is, folks. Thank God for the old days!

    -Tiki Chris, reporting from the screening room at Tiki Lounge Talk

     

     

  • Watching Old Movies on the Big Screen: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

    Posted on June 15th, 2018 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    Most of us were born too late to watch flicks like The Maltese Falcon and Gone With The Wind in the theater. In my case, I was born too late to even see things like Jaws on the big screen.

    Luckily for us, over the years some local art house theaters showed some of the best…lucky, if you were lucky enough to live near one. For most of my life the best I could hope for was a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, although in the 90’s I did get to see Casablanca at the local 4-screen cinema, and Dracula vs. Frankenstein at an Art House.

    Now, between Fathom Events doing special viewings at out local multi-plex, and multiple art houses doing special engagements, I’ve been lucky enough to catch some great ones…and some not so great but really fun ones.

    In the past two years I FINALLY got to see The Shining on the big screen…Raiders of the Lost Ark again…The Maltese Falcon…and more recently Killer Clowns from Outer Space. Not all from the mid-century era, I know, but still cool.

    Tonight we are going to see one of my top favorite movies of all time…The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the original from 1974. It’s part of the Popcorn Fright Nights Film Festival being held at Savor Cinema, aka/previously Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale, FL. In a wonderful tribute to the theme of the movie, they are including a BBQ dinner. I’m not asking what kind of meat it is.

    It may seem odd to consider “Chainsaw” to be an old movie. But when you think about it…Maltese Falcon is from 1941…which means Falcon was only 33 years old when Chainsaw came out…and Chainsaw, at the time of this writing, came out 44 years ago! Mind blown yet?

    What’s the big deal about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

    When I was a kid, the movie was already a legend. This was before VHS or cable, so the only way to see old movies was on TV. And this movie, as far as I know, NEVER made it to TV. It was talked about as being so violent, so gory, that it had been banned in several countries (this turned out to be true). So kids like us never got to see it, at all.

    Then HBO came along in the 1980s, along with video tape rentals. I got to see The Shining for the first time on HBO (and it screwed with my head for years). Then I finally got to rent Chainsaw as a teenager. I was not disappointed. Not only was it a good horror movie, it was just insane. The way it was filmed, the art direction, everything about this movie was so different from Freddie and Jason and Micheal, so gritty and a REAL. Disturbingly real. The low-budget only affected the quality in so much as it made it more realistic, more insane.

    Some of the things that stood out to me, that made the film really stand out and enjoyable:

    (Spoilers ahead):

    • That claustrophobic van. It reminded me of the stifling heat riding in my Dad’s van, no AC, middle of the summer. Horrifying.
    • The creepy guy washing the bugs off the van at the gas station.
    • Realizing later in the movie what the “barbecue” they ate at the gas station actually was.
    • Creepy abandoned looking house with dozens of cars parked close together, under camo. Who’s cars are they?
    • That sliding steel door.
    • The body jumping around as his nervous system reacted and died out.
    • Are those real chickens? Are those real bones?
    • Nice sofa.
    • Girl on a hook.
    • Finally killed that annoying guy in the wheel chair.
    • Poking the girl with the broom handle and laughing.
    • Whack on the head with the hammer.
    • Are those dead bodies mummified in those chairs?
    • Holy cow that guy isn’t a mummy, he’s still alive!
    • Who’s your interior decorator? Oh, right.
    • Guy getting run over with all the wheels of the truck.
    • Chainsaw on the leg!

    I can go on and on, but I think you get the idea. If you’re a fan of the movie, you’re saying, “Oh yeah!”, if you haven’t seen it, you’re saying, “Whut?” That’s ok. You need to see it. Here’s the trailer:

     

    -Tiki Chris, reporting from the Screening Room at Tiki Lounge Talk

  • Taco Tuesday…is it really from 1989? Or 1949?

    Posted on March 20th, 2018 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    biggest taco ADOn a random thought, and today being Tuesday, I decided to Google the origin of “Taco Tuesday”. I assumed I’d find a few dozen guesses on social media and question/answer sites, with things like “Taco Tuesday was invented by my friend Phil one Tuesday night when we were drunk and went to Taco Bell”.

    Surprisingly, I found out that “Taco Tuesday” is actually a registered trademark, owned by the chain Taco John’s. They came up with it in the 80s, supposedly, and trademarked it in 1989.

    But this doesn’t ring true to me. I remember “Taco Tuesday” being “a thing” when I was a kid…in the 70s and 80s, in South Jersey. So I did a little more digging. What did I find? That in 1979, 10 years earlier, a restaurant in bar in Somers Point, NJ (near Atlantic City, and a place I’d been to more than a few times) trademarked “Taco Tuesday”. Yep. Taco John’s didn’t make it up after all.

    But let’s think about this for a minute…if Gregory’s actually trademarked the term in 1979, wouldn’t that probably mean they’d been using it for a while? I mean, they opened in 1946. And you don’t just come up with a promo like that and say, “Hey! This is going to catch on…I’m spending the dough to trademark it right now” the minute you come up with it…especially when I know for a fact they didn’t enforce that trademark too hard in the 80s, as Taco Tuesday was everywhere.Gregory's Bar in Somers Point, NJ

    My thinking is that in the history of Tacos and Tuesdays and bars, it seems unlikely that those two, wonderfully alliterate words would not have been put together until 1979. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that some form of Taco Tuesday was being enjoyed as far back as the 1950s…maybe even earlier.

    Why not? They had tacos in the 30s. They had Tuesdays in the 30s. And they had tequila in the 30s. Pretty much all you need, right?

    Tiki Chris’ Sorta South West Drunken Chicken Taco Recipe

    So here’s what we do at the Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar on Taco Tuesdays. I’m not even going to pretend this is in any way Mexican. Call it more of a South West kind of thing. With Tequila.

    Start with fresh, boneless chicken breast and a very sharp knife. It’s easier to slice if the chicken is partially frozen…just enough to stiffen the meat but not destroy it. On an angle, slice/shave pieces off the breast about ¼” thick. Slice into strips and small chunks.

    Heat oil on high in a big pan. Add garlic powder, cumin, ground pepper and salt to the oil and stir lightly. When the oil is real hot, carefully add the chicken, more of the spices, and stir. Then add about ¼ cup tequila. Turn it down a little. You’re going to have to stand there and keep watching and stirring as necessary, as the tequila cooks down. Don’t let it burn.

    As the chicken is cooking in the tequila, add more garlic powder and cumin. Keep stirring. When it’s cooked down, turn down the heat and add the taco seasoning.

    Note: It’s easiest to use pre-made taco seasoning, or you can make your own. Because I’m too lazy to go into all the detail of what’s in mine, just use your own or get a packet of Old El Paso. Oh, ok fine…I use garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano, chili powder, chipotle powder, salt and ground pepper.

    Add a little water with it, a few teaspoons at first, and stir. Then add some more tequila until it looks like taco meat should look. Let that cook on low for a while…at least 15 minutes…stir it a lot and add more tequila as necessary. You have to let it cook long enough for the tequila to infuse.

    Your final result should be chicken in an almost paste-like base. You don’t want this to be too watery.

    Heat your soft or hard tacos and pile them up with the chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, chives, pico de gallo, sour cream, or whatever floats your boat. Serve with refried beans, cheesy Mexican rice and fried Mexi-Corn. Yum!

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the kitchen at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Lounge, Fort Lauderdale, FL

  • Tiki-ish Margarita for Cinco De Mayo

    Posted on May 5th, 2017 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    Who says Mexican can’t be Tiki? Well, most people actually. But that doesn’t mean we can’t borrow from Mexico’s most famous cocktail to enjoy this drinking holiday at the Tiki bar.

    As they say, any excuse to have a cocktail is a good excuse to have a cocktail.

    So let’s make this one easy:

    If you’re a Tiki purist, decorate the bar with a few bright cactus plants and roses and don’t read the next sentence.

    If you just want to have fun, hit the party store and decorate with a few Mexican items from sombreros to maracas, donkey cut-outs, just go crazy!

    Then get out the blender.

    Pineapple Coconut Frozen Margarita

    (there are easier way to do this, but what’s the fun in that?)

    • 1 Fresh Pineapple, cut into chunks and set in freezer for at least an hour)
      2 oz Coco Lopez
      5 oz good quality Silver Tequila (I prefer Patron)
      3 oz Grand Marnier
      ½ oz Coconut Rum
      2 ½ Cups Crushed Ice
      Simple Syrup
      151 Rum
      Limes

    Rim glasses in simple syrup, then roll in shredded coconut and set aside.Drop about a cup and a half of pineapple in the blender, add ice, Coco Lopez, Tequila, Grand Marnier, and rum. Blend until smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy.

    Pour into glasses, and top with shredded coconut. Very carefully sprinkle about a tablespoon of 151 over the coconut. Set that baby on fire! Garnish with a lime wheel and go to town.

    Happy Cinco De Mayo! And try not to burn your Tiki bar down!

    -Tiki Chris, reporting from behind the Tiki Bar at Tiki Lounge Talk, Florida

  • La La Land – a 1940s Musical in Modern Los Angeles

    Posted on January 24th, 2017 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    la-la-land-poster“La La Land”, Written and Directed by Damien Chazelle. Released Summer, 2016

    It was announced today that “La La Land” has been nominated for an astounding 14 Oscar awards, including best directing, best picture and best original screenplay. Stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling both received best acting nominations. Oh, and don’t forget the seven Gold Globes the movie won.

    If you haven’t seen it, you’re probably thinking, “So what’s all the fuss about?”

    Answer: Beautiful cinematography, great story, fantastic acting and direction, incredible music; From the moody jazz clubs to the brightly-costumed dance numbers, everything about this movie screams the things we love. Fred and Ginger would have been right at home making this picture.la-la-land-dancing

    As my title says, this is a story set in modern-day LA, but is really a 1940s-1950s style musical, complete with traditional-sounding show tunes, dancing, and vintage décor. The music is incredible, featuring big band sounds, traditional jazz and modern influences blended together like a perfect musical cocktail.

    La La Land-piano

    Then there is the cinematography. Oh, how beautifully and carefully this atmospheric movie is filmed, each shot creating a specific mood while maintaining the vintage-esque feel throughout. Dreamy and cool, there’s a touch of magic…just as a 1940s musical should have. (For example, they say every jazz piece tells a story; in this movie, the jazz piano piece literally tells a story. Very cool.)

    Beyond the music, the acting and the story are fantastic. Stone and Gosling effortlessly take characters who should be un-relatable to most people (an aspiring young actress and a bohemian jazz musician) and make them warm and inviting, even with their faults. The blossoming romance is real, corny, and magical all at the same time.la-la-land-gosling-stone=stars

    For people who dig vintage and mid-century fun, this a movie that is right up your alley.

    The film has an overall Art Deco, Vintage & Mid-Century look and feel. Sets and locations are all about the past, including the Angels Flight Funicular Railway, The Colorado Street Bridge, and the very famous Griffith Observatory (the Planetarium in “Rebel Without A Cause”).

    Griffith Observatory (Planetarium)

    Griffith Observatory (Planetarium)

     

    The tap dancing and jazz numbers (Gosling learned jazz piano for this role) take you back to the decades of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, perfectly choreographed and played for this vintage musical style. The music was scored for a 90-piece orchestra on the same stage as “Singin’ in the Rain”.

     

     

    ryan-gosling-Riviera-in-la-la-land

    Gosling in an early 1980s Buick Riviera, a classic-styled throwback to the 1930s.

    Gosling’s character, Sebastian, is a jazz transplant from the late 1950s, right down to his thin ties and choice of classic style cars (an early 1980s Rivera convertible at first, a 1980 Cadillac Eldorado convertible near the end). He is the symbol of tradition, of the past, to a fault – his career as a jazz musician is hampered by his unwillingness to change with the times. Once he begrudgingly evolves musically, opportunities begin to open for him.

    CAdillac eldorado convertible

    When successful, Sebastian moves up to a Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

    Stone’s character, Mia, is a modern woman who seems at odds in the modern world (even though she doesn’t realize it). She has problems with modern electronics and doesn’t do well in scenes that involve her Prius. Yet she seems most at home in the vintage settings she discovers (the jazz clubs, period piece performances) and with the vintage-style man she keeps running into. It’s only when she embraces the past that she becomes successful.

    Together, these marvelous characters both sing and dance though life in the style that made Fred and Ginger famous.La La Land-piano

    Personally, I think Fred and Ginger would love it.
    And I think you will too.

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the screening room at Tiki Lounge Talk