Guilty Pleasure No. 9: The Principal (dir by Christopher Cain)

A confession:

I have a weakness for films about idealistic educators who try to teach and change lives in the inner city.  You know which films I’m talking about.  These are the films that always take place in a decaying high school and there’s usually at least one scene where the teacher is warned not to care too much about their hopeless students and then the teacher goes, “Someone has to care!”

Why do these films fascinate me so?

To a large extent, it’s because they take place in a world that is so extremely outside of my high school experience.  I was recently doing a search on my school and I came across a video on YouTube that was made by some students from my alma mater:

As I watched this video, I realized that neither the students, the campus, nor the neighborhood had really changed in the 9 years since I graduated.

I also realized that, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I went to one of the most suburban, white bread high schools in the DFW metroplex.  At the time, of course, a lot of my classmates thought they were tough.  They would make a big deal about blasting Jay-Z and 50 Cent while they were driving down to Starbucks during lunch.  For the most part, though, we put the suburb in suburban.

That, I think, is why I’m fascinated by inner city high school films.  It’s even better when those films are totally over-the-top and feature a hero who not only teaches but who kicks some ass as well.

Perhaps that’s why I recently enjoyed watching The Principal.

Originally released way back in 1987, The Principal is one of those films that seems to regularly show up on the lesser known television networks.  A few weeks ago, I saw that it was going to be broadcast on Ion Television so I set the DVR to record it and I finally ended up watching it this weekend.

In The Principal, James Belushi plays Rick Lattimore.  (You can tell that this movie was released quite some time ago because Belushi has a lot more hair and lot less chins than he does now.)  Rick’s a teacher with an anger problem.  When he sees his ex-wife out on a date with his divorce lawyer, Rick loses it and physically assaults the lawyer.  The next morning, Rick is called into a meeting with the school board.  He’s expecting to get fired.  Instead, he’s promoted.  Rick is now principal of Brandel High.

Brandel High, it turns out, is the most troubled high school ever!  Drugs are sold and used openly in the hallways.  Few students bother to attend class (but yet they still come to the school).  The teachers spend most of their time hiding in either their classroom or the teacher’s lounge.  The school’s head of security, Jake (Lou Gossett, Jr.), spends most of his time making sarcastic comments.  When Rick pulls up on his motorcycle, the first thing he sees is a fight between rival drug dealers.

Rick responds to all of this by holding a school assembly.  As every student at Brandel jeers him, Rick announces that he has only one policy: “NO MORE!”  It’s at this point that the school drug lord Victor Duncan (played by Michael Wright) stands up and announces, “You talk too much!”

Things continue to build up from there as Rick divides his time between educating and getting beaten up by resentful students, Jake starts to actually care about his job again, and Victor wanders through the school hallways, dressed like he’s in one of the Underworld films and saying stuff like, “Try to reach me and I’ll just cut off your hand…”

The Principal is such an over-the-top, silly, yet heart-felt film that it’s impossible not to enjoy it in much the same way that you might enjoy eating junk food.  As I watched this film, I found myself wondering what had happened to James Belushi in the years since it was originally released because, in The Principal, he’s actually likable.  However, the film really belongs to Michael Wright.  Seriously, as played by Wright, Victor Duncan is the most evil student in the history of high school cinema.  When he tells Rick that he’s willing to cut off his outstretched hand, you believe him.

The Principal is a thoroughly predictable film that promotes a dubious educational policy of zero tolerance.  However, it’s also a lot of fun.

In other words, it’s the epitome of a guilty pleasure.


Trailer: Ghost Shark


So, I was recently talking to someone on twitter and he essentially said, “Nice blog but enough with Sharknado.”  I have to say that I agreed with him.  We do have a pretty nice blog here and Sharknado has been the overhyped, overrated film of 2013.

What’s distressing is that a lot of people think that Sharknado is the epitome of a good, silly SyFy film.  By SyFy standards, Sharknado was nothing special.  Certainly, it could in no way compare to previous SyFy films like 2-headed Shark AttackEnd of the World and Flying Monkeys.  The only thing that set Sharknado apart was the fact that it was watched by a bunch of celebs who proceeded to tweet some the lamest film commentary ever seen on twitter.

Myself, I’m much more looking forward to August 22nd of this year.  That’s the day that Ghost Shark will premiere on SyFy.  Not only was Ghost Shark directed by the great Griff Furst (director of such classic SyFy films as Arachnoquake and Swamp Shark) but, judging from the trailer below, Ghost Shark appears to deliver exactly what it promises: a shark that’s also ghost which eats a lot of fat people.

What more could you possibly need?

Artist Profile: Ed Valigursky (1926 — 2009)

The son of Czech immigrants, Ed Valigursky was born in Pennsylvania and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.  He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago on the G.I. Bill and started doing freelance pulp work while he was still a student.  Until his retirement in 1990, Valigursky painted hundreds of science fiction-themed images.  He also produced several paintings that celebrated the history of aviation.

A small sampling of his work can be found below.


Review: True Blood 6.7 “In The Evening”


Poor Eric!

Going into tonight’s episode of True Blood, I knew that another major character was expected to die but I was really hoping that it wouldn’t be Nora.  Not only did I feel that the character (and Lucy Griffiths) has never quite been used to her potential (not an uncommon occurrence on a show that has a huge ensemble, like True Blood) but it also seems like Eric is always losing the vampires who are most important to him.

However, I also knew that, story-wise, Nora had to die if just so we could understand how dangerous Hep-V truly is.

And so, after bringing Nora to Bill’s mansion and even going so far as to pray for her recovery, Eric ended up holding Nora while she literally melted in his arms.  Adding to the pathos of the situation, we were treated to a flashback to 1666 where we saw how Eric originally turned Nora into a vampire in order to save her from falling victim to the Great Plague.

It was a highly effective moment in an otherwise average episode of True Blood.  If the show often struggled to figure out what exactly to do with Nora, it at least allowed her to make a powerful exit.

Tonight’s episode was all about death.  While Eric watched Nora die, the rest of Bon Temps struggled to deal with the demise of Terry.  Sookie abandoned the post-coital bliss of Warlow so that she could comfort the grief-stricken (and quite drunk) Arlene.

Sookie’s return allowed Bill to track her down and, in a wonderfully tense scene that was very well-acted by real-life husband and wife Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, Bill told Sookie that if she doesn’t lead Bill to Warlow than all the other vampires will die.  I imagine that Bill’s plan is for all the other vampires to drink Warlow’s blood.  Once they, like Bill, are immune to the sunlight, the LAVDF will no longer be able to burn all the vampires to death.

Back at Vamp Camp, Jessica, Pam, and WIlla are aware that the new tru blood is tainted with Hep-V but, as Pam explained, they can’t say anything because, if all the vampires refuse to drink the tru blood, then the authorities will know that the secret is out.  That said, Jessica still asked Jason to arrange a meeting between her and the surprisingly sensitive vampire James (Jake Grimes).   Jessica informed James about the tainted tru blood and then proceeded to lose her vampire virginity to him.  And good for her because James is seriously superhot!

Meanwhile, Sarah Newlin discovered the massacre at the Governor’s mansion and, after kissing the Governor’s severed head, she took command of his plan to destroy all of the vampires.  She returned to the Vamp Camp where she tracked down Jason, cut his wrist, and then tossed him into a cell full of female vampires.  Tara jumped up to defend him but then, a vampire named Violet announced that Jason was hers.

FInally, Sam found out about Terry’s death and is now planning on returning to Bon Temps, despite the fact that he promised Alcide that he wouldn’t.  Alcide, it turns out, lied to the rest of the pack and told them that he had killed both Sam and Nicole.  As tonight’s episode ended, Alcide discovered that Nicole and her mother had been captured by the pack and his lie had been exposed…

(Seriously, I can understand why Alcide didn’t want to be packmaster.  The werewolves are way too much drama!)

As I said, this was an average episode of True Blood.  It featured a few memorable moments (Nora’s death, Arlene getting drunk, and the James/Jessica sex scene) but, for the most part, it felt like the main purpose of this episode was to set things up for the season finale.  There’s only 3 more episodes left before the end of season 6 and there are rumors that at least one more major character might be leaving before the end of the season.

Here’s hoping it’s not Eric!

Random Thoughts and Observations:

  • Tonight’s unofficial scene count: 49
  • I noticed that Todd Lowe is still listed in the opening credits.  Was Arliss Howard listed as well?
  • Willa really does look a lot like Nora.   It’s a bit distracting.
  • In my notes, I wrote: “Ewwwwwww!” when Sarah Newlin kissed the Governor’s head.
  • The attempts to provide therapy for the vampires are a pretty obvious comment on the whole “ex-gay” movement.
  • Alexander Skarsgard made me cry tonight.
  • During tonight’s show, I tweeted the following: “When Sheriff Andy is the voice of reason, you know bad things are going to happen in Bon Temps. #TrueBlood”  As of this writing, it’s been retweeted 77 times and favorited by 52 people.  That’s a personal best for me so yay!
  • “How deep do you want to go?”

What Lisa and the Snarkalecs Watched Last Night #86: The Nightmare Nanny (dir by Michael Fiefer)

Last night, I persuaded my friends, the Snarkalecs. to watch a movie on Lifetime with me.  That movie was The Nightmare Nanny.

Why Were We Watching It?

I have to take the blame on this one.  Usually, the Snarkalecs and I watch and live tweet a SyFy film on Saturday but last night, SyFy was showing Sharknado for the 100th time.  So, some of us were meeting up on twitter and trying to decide what we were going to watch.  Since I’m always trying to get more people addicted to watching Lifetime movies, I suggested that we all watch The Nightmare Nanny.  To my surprise and delight, everyone agreed.

What Was It About?

Creepy Anne (Ashley Scott) and her girly husband Ben (Kip Pardue) need to find a nanny to look after Jenny, their ennui-stricken 3 year-old daughter.  After an extensive search, they hire Julie (Makenna Melvin).  Julie is great with Jenny and, as Anne starts to realize, Jenny would actually much rather be Julie’s daughter.  However, little do they suspect that Julie is actually Amber and she and her white trash boyfriend are planning to kidnap Jenny so that they can raise her as their own.

What Worked?

The Snarkalecs were on fire last night!  Seriously, we may not have been watching a SyFy film but we snarked it like we were.  Hopefully, this will lead to the Snarkalecs watching even more Lifetime films.  I’m praying that I can get them to all watch Confessions of a Go Go Girl sometime soon.  Seriously, that’s the greatest Lifetime film ever!

As for The Nightmare Nanny itself… well…

What Did Not Work?

To be honest, The Nightmare Nanny was probably one of the worst Lifetime films that I’ve ever seen.

As played by Makenna Melvin, the nanny was so obviously unstable that you had a hard time believing that anyone would actually be stupid enough to hire her in the first place.

Meanwhile, the nightmare nanny’s victims (played by Kip Pardue and Ashley Scott) were both so unlikable that you found yourself hoping that they somehow wouldn’t be able to rescue their daughter because you simply couldn’t accept that these two would ever be able to conceive and take care of a child.  You found yourself suspecting that maybe they themselves had previously kidnapped Jenny from her natural parents.  Pardue was incredibly wimpy and Ashley Scott had perhaps the scariest eyebrows ever seen on television.  Is it any surprise that Jenny didn’t seem to be all that upset over being kidnapped, perhaps for the second time?

Speaking of the daughter, there was something very odd about her.  Not only did she never talk, walk, smile, or do anything else but she also slept in a crib despite appearing to be way too old.  Between the nightmare nanny and the odd parents, somebody seriously needed to call social services because there was just something odd going on in that household.

Finally, Nightmare Nanny failed to provide us with what we expect from a good Lifetime movie.  At no point did the nightmare nanny attempts to seduce the husband by wandering around in lingerie.  The wife’s sassy best friend survived the entire film.  Nobody wore anything that looked like it could have been designed by the designers on Project Runway.  The film’s climax was almost defiantly bereft of melodrama.

I’ve seen a lot of psycho nanny films on Lifetime and let’s just say that The Nightmare Nanny was no Perfect Nanny.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Usually, I can find a whole lot of “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moments whenever I watch a Lifetime film.  However, that wasn’t the case with Nightmare Nanny.  Seriously, the characters in this film were just too odd.

However, I did relate to a few of the commercials that were shown during the film.  For instance, I recently had a shrieking orgasm while washing my hair with Herbal Essences.

Lessons Learned

Never hire a nanny without checking Angie’s List first.


6 Trailers That Are Better Than Sharknado

Hi, everyone!  The Trailer Kitties decided to take this week off but luckily, they found a replacement to go out and put together another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film trailers.  

This week, we present you with 6 trailers for 6 films that are better than Sharknado.

1) 2-Headed Shark Attack (2012)

2) Swamp Shark (2011)

3) Sharktopus (2010)

4) Dinocroc Vs. Supergator (2010)

5) Dinocroc (2004)

6) Crocodile 2 (2002)

What do you think, Trailer Amphibian?