Posted on October 15th, 2013 No comments
There are some vintage horror movies that are so obviously a “must see” that it seems silly to write about them on a retro blounge, but I will make an exception for The Exorcist. Why? Because it’s THAT GOOD, and if you haven’t seen it, you…well, you must see it.
(Don’t worry…No spoilers, just some references to the things you’ve already seen in pop culture even if you’ve never seen the movie.)
What: The Exorcist is a psychological horror movie centered around a young girl who becomes possessed by a demon. A priest – one who has recently questioned his faith, is asked to help the girl. At first he believes her outbursts and episodes are psychotic. Then he sees her head twist all the way around and it’s full steam ahead from their.
That’s the story in a nutshell, but not the reason to watch this flick. Reasons to watch it include the fact that it was the first mainstream horror movie to realistically show a child possessed by a demon, cursing, convulsing, spewing green vomit in the face of a priest. Where most horror movies of the time (or before) relied on monsters, ghosts, or murderers for effect, this movie took an entirely realistic approach to horror, capitalizing on an evil you never really even see (as it is manifested in the girl). Remember, movie-goers in 1973 weren’t used to much cursing, blood or psychological horror. They were used to Hammer films with Christopher Lee as Dracula (although great, not on the same level as this) and had just recently been exposed to Night of the Living Dead, which was shot in black and white. Now audiences were seeing a child turn into a demon, in full color, cursing like the devil himself, acting out in horrific ways (I don’t want to give them away) with brutality and absolute…well, horror. To this day, this movie remains one of the most difficult to watch because of its realism.
Why: Where as movies like The Woman in Black are creepy, Paranormal Activity is jump-out-of-your-skin scary, and House of 1000 Corpses is grossly bloody and nerve-shredding, The Exorcist is all of those combined. The cinematography is impeccable, creating an atmosphere of mental anguish and unease that sucks you in and keeps you there. The acting is, of course, incredible, and some of the reactions were real – including the reaction by Father Karras when he gets pelted in the face with vomit (it was supposed to hit his chest!). The movie is a masterpiece of suspense and horror, period.
Beyond that, it’s hailed as one of (and often the) best movies of all time. Adjusted for inflation, it is Warner Bros’ highest grossing movie of all time.
My Take: I’ve seen this move at least two dozen times. I first saw it when I was around 12, edited for TV, and even with the cursing and the more explicit scenes cut it still left a last impression. When I saw it uncut as a teenager, I found myself twinging during the scene with the girl and the cross (won’t spoil it here) and still do today. The “version you’ve never seen” that was re-released a few years ago adds a few scenes that make the movie even sicker.
Food and Booze: I usually give recommendations for dinner with your movie, but for this one, forget it. You won’t be able to keep anything down. If anything, have some pea soup.
Warning: Clip is R rated.
-Tiki Chris P. reporting from the screaming room – I mean the screening room – at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar
Posted on October 8th, 2013 2 comments
Ok, that’s a bold statement and of course, a matter of this cat’s opinion. But if you want some truly spooky, scary, screw-with-your-head for weeks horror movies, here are 10 of the best from the pre-Slasher flick era.
Let’s start off by not including some of the obvious: The original Dracula, Frankenstein, The Werewolf, The Blob, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. These (and many others like them) are in a class by themselves, and would fill up the top 10 list easily. This list is for some of the not-so-obvious selections that are sure to please.
10. Mad House, Vincent Price, 1975 – Filmed in the 60′s Hammer style, this film is great on two levels: It’s a maniac killer horror flick, and it’s making fun of the genre without you even knowing it. It’s not a comedy…but the in jokes are a’plenty. For instance: Using elaborate, Victorian candelabras in a house that obviously has electricity; Peter Cushing showing up at a costume party as Dracula; and Price basically playing “himself” in the role of the actor who plays Dr. Death. A real treat.
9. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (The original, 1974) – Low-budget horror at its best. Truly scary, because the low budget made it look so real. From the over-exposed film to the dark shots inside the house, this film cinematically gets under your skin and into your head. There is very little blood, yet you feel as though you are the one being chased and ripped to shreds with a chainsaw. The creepiness of the characters is realistic and absurd at the same time…qualities that are lost on higher-budget, slickly made films that rely on special effects and lots of blood. By the way…some of the stuff looks so real, because it is real…the low budget didn’t allow for the producers to rent plastic bones, so they used real ones. Yep. Look it up.
8. The Haunting (the original, 1963) Shot in black and white for that old, Noir style to show through, this film is possibly one of the greatest ghost stories ever put on film. Simple tactics like unintelligible voices in the night and mysterious visions of face in the wall will seep into your nightmares and make your skin crawl. Line that delivers the biggest chill: “If you’re over there…who’s hand was I holding??”
7. The Exorcist (the first one, 1973) – I had considered leaving this off the list and grouping it with Dracula, et al; but knowing that younger generations have not been exposed to this 2-hour torture session made me change my mind. The Exorcist has been hailed as one of, if not the best horror movie of time, a ground-breaking movie in both its raw horror and special effects. And for good reason: Imagine yourself in 1973, in a time when curse words weren’t allowed on ANY TV, and most horror films were still being made in the same 1950′s and 60′s classic format. Here comes a movie that shows a little girl possessed by the devil, cursing, screaming sexually-explicit comments to a priest, spewing green vomit and stabbing herself with a crucifix in…well, just see the movie. It’s shocking even today, and what’s more, it’s well written and very well acted. The movie has a great rhythm too, where the horror scenes ebb and flow perfectly to keep you surprised and in suspense.
6. The Others, 2001 (Nichole Kidman) – A newer movie, yes, but certainly made in the classic style of ghost movies. Perfect lighting and creepy characters add to the atmosphere of this flick. Kidman’s acting is perfect for the role, and the movie keeps you guessing until the last few minutes. It is obvious that the director was inspired by the number one movie on this list, as he has borrowed some elements and ambiance from that flick, down to a very near…but somewhat reversed seance (you’ll have to watch both movies to know what I’m talking about).
5. Night of the Living Dead (the original, 1968) Another that may have made the “In its own category” list, but I decided to add it here because there have been so many remakes and sequels. The newer versions may be bloodier and have better effects, but for pure creepy factor (from both the dead and the living), the original is the one. Shot in black and white, it somehow seems more real than the color versions. Add to that, this movie was shot during the height of the civil rights struggle, and has a black man as the lead character, interacting with a young white girl, and older white man, and of course, zombies. The interactions and the courage of the man are classic.
4. The House on Haunted Hill, 1959 (Vincent Price) – I should probably list all Vincent Price movies as “must see”, but I’m sticking to 10 here. This is one of the creepiest horror movies ever, and just when you think it’s turned into something corny and poorly made, it comes back at you with a fantastic twist. Black and white and cool all over.
3. The Uninvited, 1944 – The scariest and saddest classic haunted house/ghost story, on par with number one on this list. To have a truly scary movie, you need a truly spooky haunted house (how about a gothic mansion on the English coast?) and a sad, depressing story for the ghost (I won’t give that away). Add to it great acting, cool effects and a tall cliff, and you’ve got a winner.
2. The Shining, Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, 1980 – Stanley Kubrick’s mind-screwing masterpiece. When you watch this movie for the first time, you think, “wow, that was scary, and a little confusing. I wonder what … meant,” and you go about your business. Days, months, even years later your nightmares are filled with bloody twins and REDRUM and you go back and watch the movie over and over to find out just what it is that makes it so incredibly haunting, mystifying, and downright terrifying. Well, I won’t give it away here. You’ll have to learn for yourself. Suffice to say, Kubrick knew exactly what he was doing, spent over a year editing the movie himself, and snuck in zillions of little bits in the sets, dialog and soundtrack that are made to totally screw with your head. For me, it meant 25 years of watching the movie over and over again, slow mo, fast forward, until I started catching some of the things that make it so surreal. Googling the movie reveals that hundreds of others have done the same thing, and have gone as far as publishing books on it. Crazy stuff. Watch the movie first, if you’ve never seen it, then look it up online. Your mind will by fully blown.
1. The Changeling, George C. Scott, 1980 – The other nine movies in this list can go in any order, but for me and millions of other, The Changeling is the quintessential ghost story. Like The Exorcist, the plot centers around a young child – one who has been dead for over 70 years, and haunts his old home in Seattle, WA. A Gothic style house with many secrets, strange banging every morning at exactly six a.m., visions in the tub and the absolutely creepiest, scariest, rip your heart out and your mind to shreds spirit voice ever recorded on tape set up a ghost story like no other. The iconic scene where the red ball bounces down the stairs has been copied or hailed to in a dozen other films. The seance scene is so freaky, so real, that it inspired two generations of film makers and ghost hunters. In fact, it is this seance scene that is nearly duplicated (although not quite) in The Others. The film also features Scott’s wife, Trish Van Devere, conjuring chemistry which adds to the realism. This was also one of Melvin Douglass’ last films.
Well kids, that’s the list. Plenty of time to watch them all before Halloween. As a bonus, I’ll rattle off a list of must sees in addition to the ten.
Mark of the DevilChristine
House of Wax
Plan 9 from Outer Space
Friday The 13th
The Haunting of Hill House
House of 1000 Corpses
My Bloody Valentine
Bucket of Blood
Any Dracula movie with Christopher Lee
The Vampire Lovers
The Woman in Black
-Boo, from Tiki Chris!
Posted on August 12th, 2013 2 comments
It was 25 years ago to the day (August 12) that “Tucker” debuted on the silver screen. I remember seeing that movie with my father, in the theater…we were both huge antique car fans and the mystique of the Tucker wasn’t lost on us. Two hours later we were driving home in his vintage Buick Electra 225, discussing what American cars would have been like if Tucker had succeeded with his dream. Our conclusion: Detroit iron would be 10 to 20 years ahead of its time from 1948 on.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Executive Producer George Lucas
Starring Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, Martin Landua, Christian Slater, and the 1948 Tucker Torpedo
The Movie: This flick was based on the true-life engineer Preston Tucker, who had a dream to start a new, technologically advanced auto company. Using designs he had been perfecting since before WW2, he managed to secure funding to start the Tucker Automobile Company. 50 Tucker Torpedos were built (plus the prototype), but the company was doomed to failure (you’ll have to watch the movie to learn why).
The Car: As much a character in the film as any of the actors, the 1948 Tucker Torpedo was stylistically and technologically way ahead of its time. The low-slung vehicle utilized a flat airplane, rear-mounted six cylinder engine, giving it a sleeker look than most late ’40s cars, and came standard with safety features like a padded dashboard and seat belts (stuff that wouldn’t be found on most conventional cars until a decade later). It even sported a “Cyclops eye” center headlight that turned with the front wheels. Kookie.
Before this flick hit the screen, Tuckers were rare but still could be bought for around $40k if you could find an owner who wanted to part with it. After the movie, the price shot up to beyond $400k. Today, millionaires use them as toys to trade back and forth with their millionaire friends, usually in the $1.5 Mil range. Jerks.
My Take: The movie itself is very cool, with a great 40s vibe throughout. Unfortunately 1980′s audiences weren’t “hip” to anything vintage, and unless it had a DX-7 doing the soundtrack, got panned. The movie originally grossed a few mil less than it cost, labeling it a flop. But don’t let that deter you from digging this thoroughly enjoyable flick.
Dinner & Drinks: I’m thinking Iron City Beer and burgers for this one. Real workin’ man’s food.
-Tiki Chris P. reporting from the screening room at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar, Fort Liquordale, FL
Posted on April 27th, 2013 No comments
If you’re in the Fort Lauderdale area on Sunday, April 28, swing by the 5-Points Lounge for a very special Tiki fundraiser.
Dubbed the “Sunday Aloha Fun-Raiser”, proceeds from this show put on by Polynesian Proud Productions will benefit Preston Weber, 14 year-old Jr. World FireKnife Champion and Fort Lauderdale local. Preston will be flying out to Hawaii in May to defend his title, and this fundraiser is to help him get there.
The event will feature Polynesian music, live Tahitian drumming of Uhi Api, PolyProud performance, beautiful Hula, RONIN TAIKO (Featuring Marina The Fire Eating Mermaid drumming), special guest performers, $5 Hawaiian Plate Lunch sponsored by the NEW Florida Hawaiian Civic Association, island treats by way of Kauai, from DelaCruz Delights and Onolicious Cakes by Kathleen.
This event is open to the public, and any donations at the door are greatly appreciated. There will also be raffles and prizes, so throw on your best Aloha shirt and swing down to the 5-Points Lounge, 2608 South Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, Fl. There is Free parking in back of building.
5-Points is located at the KREEPY TIKI PLAZA, “Home of South Florida’s only 20ft. Hula Girl landmark”. Kreepy Tiki Tattoo is a very kool place for vintage & Tiki lovers. They are not only kool kats and kittens who ink some very impressive tattoos, they also carry some vintage clothing and goodies, and have Tiki-esque art by local artists including one of my favorites, De Tiki.
PRESTON WEBER has been performing since he was 10 years old at the Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. He won his first Jr. World FireKnife Championship at 11 (2010), then skipped a year to audition for America’s Got Talent where he placed 49th out of 100,000 auditioned acts. Preston won his 2nd Jr World Championship title at 13 (2012). He is now 14 and looking for his third win! Congratulations and best of luck to Preston…break a leg!
-Tiki Chris P, Tiki Lounge Talk
Noir Movie of the Week: “Murder Me, Murder You”, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer starring Stacy Keach, 1983Posted on March 13th, 2013 No comments
It’s in color, made for TV, and from the ’80s…in spite of all that, this flick is a surprisingly well done, gripping movie with Keach playing Hammer truly like his namesake from the book. He pulls no punches, and has no qualms about killing the bad guys.
from 1983 staring Stacy Keach, Tanya Roberts, Don Stroud and Tom Atkins.
The 1980s were not known for the decade’s great Noir movies, and TV murder mysteries of the era were often some of the worst ever made. Consider this flick an exception. With a limited TV budget and Reagan-era censorship, Director Gary Nelson (a seasoned TV & Film director) managed to capture the true essence of Spillane’s style: dark and deadly serious, kept human by a few rays of sarcasm, a few laughs, and some hard liquor.
What makes this movie interesting to people like you and me is that it’s timeless. Mike Hammer is a 1950′s detective, living in the ’80s, driving a ’66 Mustang and listening to music from the ’40s. He talks, dresses and acts like a Noir gumshoe (including Porkpie hat) while fighting off Punk rockers and spandex-wearing muscle-heads. He carries his army issue .45 (named Betsy, just like in the books) and hangs out in a basement bar that only plays Swing on the Wurlitzer. Yet he’s got modern smarts, and although he runs into trouble with a whiny DA, he doesn’t think twice about beating the pulp out of some scumbags – and always gets away with it.
The Scene: The Art Director and locations manager did a bang-up job picking out “old” looking streets in New York. If it weren’t for the modern cars, this filrm would look like the outdoors were shot in the middle of the century. Don Stroud makes a grew Pat Chambers, Hammer’s friend and connection on the police force. And Tanya Roberts plays a fantastic Velda, sexy and sweet but tough underneath. Her ‘look’ is a lot more ’80s than you might expect, but it works – because Hammer is the only one really pulled from the past.
Ah yes, Hammer. Mike Hammer. Stacy Keach. Big, muscular, and already in his 40s when he shot these movies, Keach plays Hammer closer to the book than any other actor I’ve ever seen, including Spillane himself (No offense, Mickey). He perfectly combines the sarcastic, know-it-all detective with the dark, lonely and murderous killer that lurks beneath. That’s right, killer: In the books, Hammer admits to enjoying killing bad guys. He likes it. He looks forward to it. He admits (to himself) that he’s basically a serial killer who gets off on the thrill of watching someone (who deserves it) die, and found a way to do it legally. He does this very well, without the corniness or silliness that other actors just couldn’t leave alone.
Keach pulls it off like a champ. And the writing, although a little hokey at times (to be expected from an 80s TV movie, I think) really nails the character when it comes down to how Hammer would react to the given situations.
What the movie is about:
Any movie that starts off with two hot chicks getting knocked off the road and crushed and burned to death in their car is going to keep you enthralled. Two female couriers, transporting an important briefcase (contents unknown) are murdered. Mike Hammer is subpoenaed when it turns out his ex-fiance (Chris) is connected to the courier agency (in fact, she is a partner). The big bomb is dropped when it’s revealed that this chick had Hammer’s daughter 19 years earlier. She of course never told him.
Chris dies in the courtroom in Hammer’s arms, and although it looks like a heart attack he knows it’s murder. That’s when the Hammer character from the book kicks in full swing, vowing to avenge her death by killing her killer. He also needs to track down his daughter, and embarks on a journey that takes him through his own past, the pornography business, corrupt businesses and a 1-2 punch ending that will have your head spinning.
Fun stuff: Look for Michelle Phillips (yes, THE Michelle Phillips) and a very young, very sexy Delta Burke with more hair than should be legal on a chick’s head. Also look for Lee Meredith (Ulla from “The Producers”) and Jonathan Banks (that guy who was in a million things and always looked like he was about to fall asleep).
Food & Booze:
This is an easy one. Hammer orders a “Police Special” which, apparently, is a bottle of Jack Daniels in a paper sack. So, yeah. As for food, this a New York movie. Throw together a couple of fat, corned beef sandwiches with slaw and Russian Dressing and a pickle.
Note: The Mike Hammer series and TV movies from the ’80s were great. In the 1990s, Keach revived the series which, I believe, went straight to video. Although still decent, the production value of the later series isn’t as good as the original. Watch the originals first. If you dig them, move on to the 90s episodes.
My Take: Although I was a young teenager when these movies came out, I was already a fan of Spillane, the Hammer novels, and wearing fedoras. Spillane’s writing and Keach’s portrayal of Mike Hammer would highly influence my first works of writing, including my scripts for Stardust Theater in the 90s. Hammer’s character would also influence the main character in my best-selling murder mysteries, “Murder on Tiki Island” and “Murder Behind the Closet Door”: Detective Bill Riggins.
I found a TV trailer from ’83. This movie is second (around the 1:00 mark). Prepare to go back in time 30 years…
-Tiki Chris reporting from a basement bar with a 1939 Wurlitzer playing “Harlem Nocturn”.