That’s Blaxploitation 2: BLACULA (AIP, 1972)


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The distinguished actor William Marshall starred on Broadway, played Shakespeare’s Othello on the London stage, sang operas, and later became beloved by 80s kids as “The King of Cartoons” on PEE WEE’S PLAYHOUSE. But he’s best remembered today as Prince Mamuwalde in the first Blaxploitation/horror film, 1973’s BLACULA. It’s the late 1700s, and the Prince and his wife have traveled to Transylvania on a diplomatic mission protesting the European slave trade. When their host, Count Dracula (Charles Macauley) insults them, they get up to leave. But Dracula has other ideas, putting the bite on Mamuwalde and damning him to a fate “torn by an unquenchable thirst. I curse you and give you my name. You shall be called….BLACULA!!” With that, Dracula locks the Prince in his coffin, and leaves his wife Luva to rot to death in their cell.

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After a cool animated title sequence (by designer Sandy Dvore), we’re in 1973. Two (flamboyantly…

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Val’s Coming Attractions and Taking Requests


As you may have noticed lately I have been writing about Hallmark movies, four at a time, as fast as I can. I’m planning to keep going until I run out of them. Probably had a good reason to begin with, but now it’s kind of a grudge. I need to tame the Hallmark movie making beast. However, in the meantime, I just wanted to let you know of a few of the things I have planned for review. It will not always be Hallmark films.

I swear on my copy of Bible Adventures that I will review non-Hallmark films.

I swear on my copy of Bible Adventures that I will review non-Hallmark films.

Trancers! I already own the first one, but I have 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, City of Lost Angels, and Pulse Pounders on the way so I can do the whole thing.

Sneakers! This is one of my all time favorite movies that has to do with computers. However, I’m not so sure how well known it is outside of the Computer Science community. Kevin Mitnick even mentions it in his autobiography Ghost In The Wires. A book I highly recommend.

Deception Of A Generation! I already did Law Enforcement Guide To Satanic Cults and plan to take up Lisa’s offer to do Rock: It’s Your Decision so this needs to be done as well.

Spicy City! This was a very short-lived cable TV show back in the 1990’s from Ralph Bakshi of Fritz The Cat and American Pop. Here’s a short clip of the second episode of the show.

Here’s a few DVDs I’m going to review.

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The other reason I am posting this is to put it out there that you are welcome to give me suggestions. Lisa suggested Rock: It’s Your Decision. Leonard mentioned Moving Violations to me, which means I will also review Moving Violation. So, if any of you, editor here or not, have any suggestions, then I’m all ears. Unless of course you want me to review Rock’s Winning Workout Without Weights cause I already know about that one.

Might as well finish with one of my all time favorite scenes. It’s from The Parallax View. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Scenes I Love: Shame


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Sometimes a scene in a film doesn’t need any dialogue to be able to convey emotion and character development the story requires. One such film that does a great job of using wordless sequences to let the audience in on the characters motivations and agendas is Steve McQueen’s Shame.

I could’ve picked from so many different scenes this film had to offer. Yet, it was the wordless scene of flirting, attraction and seduction between Michael Fassbender’s Brandon and an unnamed woman sitting across from him in the subway car. With Harry Escott’s score setting up the scene, McQueen allows the two players (Brandon and the unnamed woman) to use furtive glances and flirtatious looks to convey the attraction between these two beautiful individuals.

Even how the woman’s seemingly brief acceptance of what Brandon’s unspoken invitation suddenly turned into something of regret spoke volume in the scene. While Brandon’s sexual addiction has made him a sort of junkie looking to find his next fix wherever he can find it, the woman realizes in the end that maybe, maybe Brandon’s invitation is something she shouldn’t accept on a whim.

It’s later in the film that we find out the woman is now engage (or has been) and the tables has been turned with her now more confident in what she wants and Brandon now the one hesitating.

I know that many people probably have other scenes from Shame they would consider their favorite, but this one definitely is mine.

Insomnia File No. 4: Nina Takes A Lover (dir by Alan Jacobs)


What’s an Insomnia File? You know how some times you just can’t get any sleep and, at about three in the morning, you’ll find yourself watching whatever you can find on cable? This feature is all about those insomnia-inspired discoveries!

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Last night, if you were having trouble getting to sleep at 2 in the morning, you could have turned over to Starz and watched Nina Takes A Lover, a movie from 1994.

Nina Takes A Lover is such a typical 90s Sundance film that it could have just as easily been called Independent Movie From 1994.  Everything that we tend to associate with American independent cinema is present in this film.  It’s a relationship drama with moments of quirky comedy.  It’s set in the city and no, it doesn’t matter which city.  It could be New York or it could be Seattle or it could be Los Angeles or San Francisco.  The important thing is that it’s a city on one of the coasts, the type of city where people engage in witty banter while sharing an apple in the park or over cups of coffee at a cozy cafe that was probably replaced by a Starbucks after this film was released.  This is the type of film where the characters tell their stories in flashback while being interviewed by a bespectacled journalist.  Characters alternate between artificial small talk and sudden statements of portentous wisdom.  Of course, all of quirky drama leads up to a sudden twist.  I figured out the twist after watching about 10 minutes of the film.  Maybe audiences in 1994 were a bit more surprised.

About the only thing that keeps Nina Takes A Lover from being the most stereotypical indie film ever made is the fact that there’s no quirky criminals and nobody spends any time talking about their favorite childhood TV shows.  If Nina had only shot someone while taking a lover, this would have been the most indie film ever.

I imagine that I’ve probably made the film sound totally unbearable but I actually enjoyed Nina Takes A Lover.  Once I realized and accepted that Nina Takes A Lover wasn’t exactly going to reinvent cinema, I discovered that it was actually a very likable film.

Nina is played by Laura San Giacomo, who owns a shoe store.  Nina meets a man in the park.  The man (Paul Rhys) has no name and is merely identified as being “Photographer.” (And, of course, he’s British because this is an independent film and, in the world of indie cinema, all ideal lovers are British.)  Soon, Nina and Photographer are having a passionate and very physical affair.  However, Nina explains that she’s married and her husband will be home in three weeks.  Photographer says that he has a wife as well.  As Nina and the Photographer talk about love, marriage, and sex, they also try to figure out what they should do when the three weeks are up.

And, of course, it all leads to a twist that you’ve probably already figured out but you know what?  It doesn’t matter if the film is predictable because it’s just so likable.  Laura San Giacomo and Paul Rhys both give likable performances, they have a lot of chemistry, and the sex scenes are well-done and genuinely erotic.  The film may tell a familiar story but it tells it well.

Nina Takes A Lover is a good film to watch when you’ve got insomnia.  It won’t put you to sleep but it will definitely make the hours of darkness a little more pleasant.

Previous Insomnia Files:

  1. Story of Mankind
  2. Stag
  3. Love Is A Gun