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  • Tucker: The Man and His Dream for Retro/Mod Movie Monday

    Posted on August 12th, 2013 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    tucker_the_man_and_his_dreamIt 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.

    Tucker: The Man and His Dream, 1988

    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.

    tucker-sedan-1948

    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.

    Several original cars were used in the movie…and some fiberglass molds, for the “crash” scenes. No actual cars were harmed in the filming of this movie.1948-tucker-torpedo

    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

  • Huge Tiki Party in Fort Lauderdale – Benefit for Preston Weber – Jr. World FireKnife Champion

    Posted on April 27th, 2013 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    Preston Weber performing his FireKnife routine.

    Preston Weber performing his FireKnife routine.

    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, 1983

    Posted on March 13th, 2013 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    murder-me-murder-youIt’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.

    “Murder Me, Murder You,”

    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.

    Stacy Keach as Mike Hammer

    Stacy Keach as Mike Hammer

    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.

    Velda

    Velda

    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.

    Dark stuff.

    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.

    Hammer's old Mustang, What would expect him to drive, a Yugo?

    Hammer's old Mustang, What would expect him to drive, a Yugo?

    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).

    mike-hammerFood & 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”.

  • Sci-Fi Movie Monday: It Came From Outer Space, 1953

    Posted on January 7th, 2013 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 4 comments

    it_came_from_outer_space-poster

    We have Mod Movie Monday and Noir Movie Monday…it’s time to add in Sci-Fi Movie Monday at the Tiki Lounge!

    Some the best Sci-fi movies of the 1950s and ’60s were based on books or short stories by the masters: Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, etc. This movie was based on Bradbury’s story “The Meteor”. To make it more commercially successful, the name was changed to much more sinister

    It Came from Outer Space

    from 1953, starring Richard Carlson, Barbara Rush, Charles Drake, and co-starring the soon-to-be Professor from Gilligan’s Island, Russell Johnson.

    (Note: no spoilers here!)it-came-from-outer-space-car

    The story is set in present day 1953, in the Arizona desert. Carlson, an “amateur stargazer” as he is called, spots a large meteor crashing into the desert floor. But when he goes to inspect it, he finds that it’s actually some kind of space ship.

    it-came-from-outer-space-bubbleHis colleagues of course don’t believe him, until the aliens make their presence known…

    This is science fiction literature adapted to screen in the true, mid-century vein, where humanity is examined under the stress of dealing with the unknown. This flick has some fantastic writing, and the special effects are well done for the era, or for any era. Black and white film only adds to the feel. There is mystery, emotion, even some gun-play to keep the kiddies interested, and a kick-ass Theramin score by a very young Henry Mancini.

    itcamefromouterspace-ship

    It Came from Outer Space was also Universal Studio’s first 3-D movie, and if you can find a copy of it in 3-D, it’s worth it. But it stands great as 2-D just as well.

    Food & Booze:alien-brain-hemerroage

    For the drinks, how about an Alien Brain Hemorrhage?
    Fill a shot glass half way with peach schnapps. Gently pour Bailey’s Irish Cream on top. After the shot is almost full, carefully add a small amount of blue curacao. After it settles, add a small splash (or a few drops) of grenadine syrup, and watch it turn into something pretty icky looking.

    As for dinner, how about a little Arizona Tex Mex Meatloaf, Betty Crocker style?

    1 1/2 lb extra-lean ground beef
    1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
    2 medium eggs
    1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
    1 teaspoon garlic-and-herb seasoning
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    Shredded Cheddar, Monterey Jack or similar cheese (mixing is great too!)
    Salsa
    Tortilla Chips

    Kathleen Hughs got into the main credits, even though she only had like one line in the movie. Gee, I wonder why? I can think of two points that might have done it...

    Kathleen Hughs got into the main credits, even though she only had like one line in the movie. Gee, I wonder why? I can think of two points that might have done it...

    •    1 Heat oven to 375ºF. In large bowl, mix all ingredients except salsa. Spoon mixture into 11×7-inch (2-quart) glass baking dish; pat into 9×5-inch loaf.
    •    2 Bake uncovered about 1 hour or until meat thermometer inserted in center reads just below 160ºF. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top (as much as you want) and continue backing until cheese is melted and internal temp is 160° Drain any liquid before slicing. Serve with ships and salsa. Olé!

    Below is the original trailer:

    Happy Watching, and don’t forget your tinfoil hat.

    – Tiki Chris, reporting from the screening room at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Lounge

  • Your Mod Movie Monday Movie Suggestion: Tough Guys, 1986

    Posted on December 4th, 2012 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    tough-guys-posterI’ve always been a fan of gangster films, from The Public Enemy to Johnny Dangerously. There are dozens of great gangster/crime comedies, but one that’s often overlooked is a gem from 1986,

    Tough Guys

    Starring Kirk Douglass, Burt Lancaster, Eli Wallach, Charles Durning, Alexis Smith, and Dana Carvey.

    It’s a great concept: Two big-time bank robbers (Douglass and Lancaster) get busted robbing a train in 1956, and serve a 30 year stretch for their trouble. They get out in 1986…at the ages of 68 and 72, but it tip-top shape. (This is attributed to years of being…you guessed it, tough guys in prison). They’ve been totally disconnected from modern life, and once paroled the have to try to adjust to a 1980’s world of wimpy street gangs, rap music, strange fashions, and the “old neighborhood” not being what it used to be.

    If life on the outside ain’t bad enough, they’re hounded by the cop who busted them in ’56 (Durning) and are followed relentlessly by a hit-man bent on fulfilling a 30-year old contract (Wallach). In between crappy jobs and bad rest home grub, they manage to score a couple of broads…and with the help of their P.O. (Carvey), even try their hand at a few jobs they’re good at…

    TOUGH GUYS, Eli Wallach, Dana Carvey, Alexis Smith, 1986

    TOUGH GUYS, Eli Wallach, Dana Carvey, Alexis Smith, 1986

    It’s not the most well produced film (it’s filmed in that kind of “flat” style that was too common in the 1980s, with no real “style”) but the acting is top notch, and watching these two old time tough guys act like they’re 30 years old again is great. There’s even a small part by Billy Barty (no pun intended).

    Irony: One of Eli Wallach’s lines, is that if he gets locked up while trying to kill Lancaster and Douglass’ characters, that he’ll wait another 30 years and come after them again. It’s funny, because at their ages there’s no way they’d last that long.

    Kirk Douglas & Burt Lancaster

    Kirk Douglas & Burt Lancaster

    Well…as it turns out, it’s been 26 years since the movie came out, and although we said goodbye to Burt Lancaster in 1994, Kirk Douglass is still kickin’…at the age of 96, Durning is still going at 79, and Eli Wallach…according to IMDB…is still ready to pull that hit at the rip old age of 95.

    Maybe it’s time for a Tough Guys 2?

    BTW: For our “younger” readers, dig this: Dana Carvey is 57. Yeah.

    Here’s the trailer…

    -Tiki Chris P. reporting from Cell Block 8