A Movie A Day #345: A Band Called Death (2012, directed by Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett)

A band called Death was one of the best bands that most people have never heard of.  Formed in the early 70s by three brothers in Detroit, Death produced some of the most incendiary music ever recorded.  They played fast and they played loud.  They were punk before punk even existed.  At a time when most black musicians were defined by the smooth Motown style, Death created their own unique sound.  Led by a visionary named David Hackney, Death were trailblazers and, as so often happens with trailblazers, they would not receive the recognition that they deserved until several years after Death performed for the last time.

A Band Called Death tells not only their story but also the story of how this band was eventually rediscovered.  Through extensive and insightful interviews with the surviving members of Death, A Band Called Death works as not just a history of the band but also as a tribute to three brothers who always had each other’s back.  Though he passed away in 2000 and never received his due while alive, the film is dominated by David Hackney.  It was David’s idea to name the band Death, not for shock value but instead to express his own deeply spiritual outlook.  To an extent, it was David’s refusal to compromise on the name that kept Death from receiving the attention that it deserved.  (He even turned down a record deal with Clive Davis when Davis requested a name change.)  Today, of course, no one would be shocked by a band with a name like “Death.”  Instead, they would just be shocked by the band’s ferocious power of the band’s music and lyrics.

A Band Called Death is a powerful and touching documentary about the power of music and family.


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If you grew up in the “Monster Kid” generation like me… well, you’re old! That is, old enough to remember THE MUNSTERS, the silly 60’s sitcom about a family of monsters adjusting to life in suburbia. The show ran two seasons and inspired a feature film, 1966’s MUNSTER, GO HOME!, with Fred Gwynne (Herman, the Frankenstein’s Monster surrogate), Yvonne DeCarlo (Lily, a vampire resembling Carroll Borland in MARK OF THE VAMPIRE), Al Lewis (Grandpa, aka Count Dracula himself!), and Butch Patrick (Eddie, a wolf-boy) reprising their roles. The Munsters returned in a 1981 TV Movie THE MUNSTERS’ REVENGE with Gwynne, DeCarlo, and Lewis, then as a 1988-91 syndicated sitcom THE MUNSTERS TODAY, this time starring John Schuck (Herman), Lee Meriweather (Lily) and Howard Morton (Grandpa).

The fright family have proved durable, and were trotted out yet again for a 1996 holiday TV Movie, THE MUNSTERS SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS. I’m usually…

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Cleaning Out The DVR: Snowed-Inn Christmas (dir by Gary Yates)

(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 193 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on January 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded Snowed-Inn Christmas off of Lifetime on December 16th!)

Oh, Christmas movies on Lifetime!

Seriously, Lifetime totally changes during the Christmas season.  For one month, everything that we normally associate with Lifetime disappears.  Gone are all of the films about being stalked by my doctor or betrayed by my lover or deceived by my house guest.  Suddenly, Eric Roberts is no longer plotting to kill Haylie Duff.  No one’s daughter is getting abducted and sold into slavery.  The houses remain grand and the clothes are still often to die for but, otherwise, Lifetime changes during Christmas.  Suddenly, it’s safe to fall in love with that handsome stranger.  The internet is no longer the root of all evil.  Instead, it’s now become a place where a harried single mother can find a handsome single father and hire him to play Santa Claus at a department store.  Lifetime changes for Christmas and we all love it.

Of course, there’s never anything surprising about Lifetime Christmas movies.  They pretty much all follow the same plot and that’s one reason why we love them.  The holidays can be stressful, especially when you can’t go on twitter without being implored to “take it to the streets.”  Lifetime films (and Hallmark films) provide an escape from all that.  They’re a trip into a much more innocent past.

Take Snowed-Inn Christmas for, example.  That’s not a typo.  While this film does deal with people being snowed in, it also largely takes place in an inn.  The inn is located in Santa Claus, Indiana.  It’s owned by Carol (Belinda Montgomery) and Chris (John B. Lowe).  Yes, they both wear red.  Yes, Chris has a white beard and an infectious laugh.  Did you expect any less?

Evil developers want to tear down the inn.  If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from watching Christmas Lifetime films, it’s that land developers never have the holiday spirit.  They always want to kick people out of their homes right before Christmas.  They always want to build a ski resort or a luxury condo or something.

The only thing that can save the inn is if proof is found that the inn is a historical landmark.  Fortunately, two online journalists, Jenna (Bethany Joy Lenz) and Kevin (Andrew Walker), are staying at the inn.  Kevin is the type of guy who eats a slice of pizza for breakfast.  Jenna uses an electric toothbrush.  That’s really all of the character development that they get but that’s okay.  Walker is handsome.  Lenz is pretty.  Both of them can deliver potentially silly lines with sincerity.  They’re likable and that’s all a film like this really requires.

Anyway, at the start of the film, neither Jenna nor Kevin have the Christmas spirit.  They’re not in love with each other, either.  How much you want to bet that will change as they work to save the inn from being bulldozed?  How much do you want to bet that their burgeoning relationship will be encourages by Carol and Chris, both of whom always have a twinkle in their eye regardless of how close their inn is to being destroyed.

Online, some critics have pointed out that Snowed-Inn Christmas is basically a remake of The Flight Before Christmas.  That may be true but who cares?  All of these Lifetime Christmas films are essentially remakes of each other.  That’s why we love them.  Snowed-Inn Christmas delivers exactly what it needs to deliver.  It’s a silly but sweet little movie.

Art Profile: Even More Ads Of Christmas Past

I had so much fun sharing those vintage Christmas cigarette ads on Monday that I decided to share some more holiday advertisements from long ago.  None of the ads below are for cigarettes.  Instead, they’re for everything from lingerie to guns to cameras.  Some of them have more Christmas spirit than others and a few of them would probably lead to a boycott if they were used today.

The earliest ad below is the one for the “Big Dick” machine gun.  It was published in 1917.  The oldest, for Polaroid cameras, came out in 1978.  Check them all out below:

Teaser Trailer – Sicario 2: Soldado

2015’s Sicario snuck up on audiences with a quiet October release and a big impact. Strong performances and great visuals (by way of director Denis Villeneuve and legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins) lead the way on the film. I loved that movie. Personally, I didn’t expect a sequel to this one, but am a little curious about where Sicario 2: Soldado may go. Neither Emily Blunt (Girl on the Train) nor Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) appear for this one, but it’s okay. Academy Award Winner Benecio Del Toro reprises his role as Alejandro, an agent who is more than what he seems, as he and Josh Brolin’s Matt Graver are on the hunt against drug cartels.

Something surprising I found out about this. Both films were written by Taylor Sheridan, who also had a stint on FX’s Motorcycle crime drama Sons of Anarchy (one of my favorite shows), where he played Deputy Chief David Hale. Sheridan was also earned a Best Original Screenplay Nomination for 2016’s Hell or High Water. With most of the acting team and the writer on board, Soldado could work out.

Stefano Sollima, best known for Italy’s crime series Gommorah, takes over the directing duties here. Dariusz Wolski will be handling the cinematography, fresh off of Ridley Scott’s last four films (All the Money in the World, Alien Covenant, The Martian and Exodus: Gods and Kings).

Sicario 2: Soldado opens in June 2018.

12 Days of Random Christmas Songs: “Santa Claus and His Old Lady” by Cheech & Chong (Ode Records 1971)

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Like yesterday’s “Green Chri$tma$”, “Santa Claus and His Old Lady” isn’t technically a ‘Christmas song’. Instead, it’s a far-out piece of comedy as Cheech Marin explains to Tommy Chong all about Santa Claus… and his “magic dust”.  From 1971, enjoy America’s favorite stoner duo doing “Santa Claus and His Old Lady”, man!:

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Music Video of the Day: D & M — Christmas Ain’t Christmas Without You (2011, dir by Miles Mueller)

Since yesterday’s music video of the day brought visions of a holiday-themed zombie apocalypse, I decided to go a little bit more traditional for today’s music video of the day.

Please… enjoy the romance of the holidays.