A Popko/West Double Feature, Part Two : “Retardead”


Trash Film Guru

Between 2003 and 2008, Rick Popko and Dan West of Bay Area “comedy-horror” production house 4321 films got busy : not only did they make sure that they’d have a lot more money to work with (a cool $500,000 if IMDB is to be believed) when they got behind (and in front of) the cameras for Retardead, the sequel/follow-up to their earlier Monsturd,  but they also honed their craft and conspicuously updated their equipment. The end result? Something that looks a whole hell of a lot more professional than their debut effort, yet somehow manages to hang onto all the low-grade “charm” of its predecessor despite the obvious quantum(-ish) leap in production values. In my book, that’s a fairly impressive achievement in and of itself right there even if this film were to somehow manage not to get anything else right.

I’m happy to report that such is…

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A Popko/West Double Feature, Part One : “Monsturd”


Trash Film Guru

When you’re a low- (or no-) budget film production outfit, you’ve gotta live by three simple words : never say die.

Seriously, even if you mange to hustle up enough funding to get your flick “in the can” (not the greatest choice of words given the movie we’re about to discuss, but —), often times the real work is only just beginning — you’ve gotta promote your work both relentlessly and endlessly. Case in point : 4321 films, the brainchild of northern California-based writers/director/producers/actors Rick Popko and Dan West, is still hard at work getting the word out about their two feature-length films, Monsturd and Retarded, even though the former came out way back in 2003 and the latter in 2008. I know this because, in modern parlance, they “reached out” to me via twitter only a couple of weeks ago offering a couple of “screeners” of their…

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A Movie A Day #177: Murphy’s Law (1986, directed by J. Lee Thompson)


What is Murphy’s Law?

Let’s ask LAPD Detective Jack Murphy.

“Don’t fuck with Jack Murphy.”

Normally, having a law named after you would be pretty cool but it appears that this is just a law that Jack came up with himself.  Having to come up with your own law is kind of like having to come up with your own nickname.  Dude, it’s just lame.  Since Jack Murphy is played Charles Bronson, we can cut him some slack.

Murphy’s Law was one of the many film that, towards the end of his career, Bronson made for Cannon Films.  He played a detective in almost all of them.  Jack Murphy is Dirty Harry without the fashion sense.  He is also an alcoholic who cannot get over his ex-wife (Angel Tompkins) and her decision to become a stripper.  Not only has Murphy managed to piss off his superiors with his bad attitude but the mob is out to get him.  Everyone has forgotten Murphy’s Law.  Everyone is fucking with Jack Murphy.

Jack’s main problem, though, is Joan Freeman (Carrie Snodgress).  Years ago, Murphy sent Joan to prison for murder but, because it’s California and Jerry Brown appointed all of the judges, Joan gets out after just a few years.  Joan starts to systematically murder everyone that Murphy knows, framing Murphy for the murders.  Murphy’s arrested by his fellow cops, all of whom need a refresher on Murphy’s Law.  Though handcuffed to a young thief (Kathleen Wilhoite), Murphy escapes from jail and set off to remind everyone why you don’t fuck with Jack Murphy.

Murphy’s Law is a typical Cannon Bronson film: low-budget, ludicrously violent, borderline incoherent, so reactionary than it makes the Dirty Harry films look liberal, and, if you’re a fan of Charles Bronson, wildly entertaining.  Bronson was 65 years old when he played Jack Murphy so he cannot be blamed for letting his stunt double do most of the work in this movie.  What’s interesting is that, for once, Bronson is not the one doing most of the killing.  Instead, it is Carrie Snodgress, in the role of Joan Freeman, who gets to murder nearly the entire cast.  There is nothing subtle about Snodgress’s demonic performance, which makes it perfect for a Cannon-era Bronson film.  In fact, Carrie Snodgress gives one of the best villainous performances in the entire Bronson filmography.  There is never any doubt that Snodgress is capable of killing even the mighty Charles Bronson, which makes Murphy’s Law a little more suspenseful than most of the movies that Bronson made in the 80s.

Whatever else can be said about Murphy’s Law, it does feature one of Bronson’s best one liners.  When Joan threatens to send him to Hell, Murphy replies, without missing a beat, “Ladies first.”  Only Bronson could make a line like that sound cool.  That’s Bronson’s Law.

11 Paintings For the 4th of July


America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.

— Harry S Truman

by Angela Wakefield

by Dan D’Amico

by Derek McCrea

by Diane Knott

by Jeffrey Nuemann

By John Baeder

by Linda Nelson Stocks

By Paul Berenson

by Robert Watts

by Tom Antonishak

By Tom Brown

By Tom Cannady

My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.

— Abraham Lincoln

 

Have A Classic 4th of July from Cracked Rear Viewer!


cracked rear viewer

Today we celebrate America’s 241st birthday, and in honor I’ve gathered up some patriotic-themed movie posters for your Cracked Rear Viewing pleasure. Before you watch a parade, have a cookout, or enjoy your local fireworks, feast your eyes on these All-American posters:

Have a happy and safe holiday, one and all!

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Music Video of the Day: I Can’t Drive 55 by Sammy Hagar (1984, dir by Gil Bettman)


Happy 4th of July!

When I was searching for the perfect music video for Independence Day, I did a google search for “Best Libertarian songs.”  After all, as anyone who knows me can tell you, the only thing more firm than my love of cinema is my resentment of authority.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, my search led to me sitting through a lot of dreary progressive rock songs, the type that featured 20 minute drum solos and lyrics lifted from Ayn Rand.  However, it also led me to a song called I Can’t Drive 55.  

Though this song is just a little before my time, it still feels like it was specifically recorded just for me.  I have always considered traffic laws, not just the laws themselves but the way they are enforced, to be the epitome of everything that can go wrong when people blindly respect authority.

Last year, I was mailed a ticket for running a red light.  I’ll be the first to admit that I ran the red light but the time to ticket me was when I did it.  Furthermore,  if I’m going to be ticketed, I demand to be ticketed by a human being and not some machine that is impervious to being manipulated by tears.  Sending me a ticket a month later and expecting me to pay it just because some camera recorded me bending the law is the first step to dictatorship.  The second step is people passively paying the fine because “that’s the law.”  Laws, after all, are man made and obeying them without question is giving mankind more respect than it’s earned through it actions.

As for the video, it also feels like it was specifically filmed for me.  It’s actually a fun little video with a sense of humor and who hasn’t wanted to tell a traffic judge what he can do with his gavel?

Anyway, enjoy!