Weekly reading Round-Up : 03/25/2018 – 03/31/2018


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I dunno why I don’t do this more often with these Weekly Reading Round-Ups — well, actually, now that I think about it, I do: there have just been way too goddamn many first issues to talk about lately — but I figured this week I’d check in on the relative creative health of a handful of series that I’ve talked up previously and see if I feel as generously pre-disposed toward them today as I did when they came charging out of the gate —

Ales Kot and Danijel Zezelj just released the third issue of their 12-part Image series Days Of Hate, and while I desperately want to still like where this thing is going given its timeliness, topicality, and superb art, I find the book hitting the same stumbling block that too many Kot-scripted titles tend to, namely : his story is becoming subsumed under the…

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Jaws Meets Mad Max: Razorback (1984, directed by Russell Mulcahy)


Deep in the Australian outback, a young child named Scotty goes missing.  His grandfather, Jake (Bill Kerr), swears that a giant boar (“a razorback”) broke into his house and ran off with his grandson.  The locals don’t think it was a boar.  They don’t even think it was a dingo.  Instead, they charge Jake with killing his grandson but, because there’s not evidence to convict him, Jake goes free.

Two years later, a nosy American reporter named Beth Winters (Judy Morris) mysteriously vanishes shortly after arriving in the Outback to do a story on how kangaroos are being hunted to the point of extinction.  Women and children are vanishing in the Outback?  This sounds like a job for Lee Majors but the best this movie can do is Gregory Harrison.  Harrison plays Beth’s husband, Carl, who comes to Australia to search for her.  At first, he thinks that she may have been kidnapped by the moronic Baker brothers (Chris Haywood and David Argue) but then he meets Jake and a comely pig expert named Sarah (Arkie Whiteley).  Jake tells Carl about the razorback and later comes across Beth’s wedding ring in a pile of boar shit.

Razorback was probably pitched as being “Jaws meets Mad Max.”  Just as in Jaws, the authorities refuse to accept that people are being eaten by a giant boar and it is up to an inexperienced American, an old timer, and a scientist to try to stop it.  Also, like in Jaws, the boar is that star of the show even though it does not get much screen time.  When the boar does appear, it bears a distinct resemblance to Motorhead’s War-Pig.  Just as in Mad Max, every Australian in Razorback drives like a maniac.  Whenever the Baker brothers tear across the screen in their truck, it’s easy to imagine Max Rockatansky and Goose in hot pursuit.

Along with the boar, the other star of the film is the Australian outback itself, which the film treats as almost being an alien landscape:

If Razorback makes the Australian outback look like an 80s new wave music video, that might be because it was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who started his career directing videos for Duran Duran.  Before one boar attack, Duran Duran’s New Moon On Monday is even heard playing on a radio.  (Ironically, New Moon On Monday was one of the few early Duran Duran videos that Mulcahy did not direct.)  Both the boar and the film look great but all of the humans get overshadowed by the visuals.   Not that it matters, since they’re only there to serve as razorback food.

Despite the strong visuals and the amazingly cool monster, Razorback got only lukewarm reviews when it was first released.  Critics aside, it was a hit in Australia, where it won Australian Film awards for both editing and cinematography.  (Cinematographer Dean Semler later won an Oscar for his work on Dances with Wolves.)  It only found cult success in the United States.  One admirer was Steven Spielberg, who reportedly called Mulcahy to ask how he achieved some the film’s visual effects.  Two years after the release of Razorback, Mulcahy directed his best-known film, Highlander.

Flaws and all, Razorback is the best movie ever made about a wild boar eating people in Australia.

 

Repent, Ye Sinners!: STRANGE CARGO (MGM 1940)


cracked rear viewer

Any film condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency can’t be all bad!  STRANGE CARGO depicts a bunch of hardened, unrepentant criminals escaping a brutal French Guiana prison, with a prostitute in tow to boot, and is laced with plenty of lascivious sex and brutal violence. But that wasn’t all the self-appointed guardians of morality objected to… there was the character of Cambreau who, though the film doesn’t come right out and say it, supposedly represents none other than Jesus Christ himself!

One more time: Clark & Joan

Clark Gable and Joan Crawford , in their eighth and final film together, lead this pack of sinners through a sweltering jungle of lust, murder, and ultimately redemption. He’s a con named Verne, “a thief by profession”, whose several attempts at escape have proved unsuccessful. She’s Julie, a two-bit hooker plying her trade on the island. The pair, as always, crackle like…

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Music Video of the Day: And You’re Not by Etan Salomon (2013, dir by Glendon and Isabella)


I have to say thank you to Evelyn Spurlock for recommending this video to me!

This song is performed by Etan Salomon, who is also the lead vocalist of Tetish.

The animation (and, I’m going to guess, the direction) is credited to Glendon and Isabella, who are credited with directing over 11 other music videos as well.

Enjoy!

Late To The Party : “I, Tonya”


Trash Film Guru

A fair number of the films nominated for one or more of the just-awarded Oscars for this past year have begun to pop up on our local cable system for the pretty-damn-reasonable rental rate of $5.99, so now is a good time for folks like me, who didn’t make it out to the theater nearly as much as we’d have liked over the past 12 months (or thereabouts), to catch up on the stuff everyone’s been talking about — and in the category of celebrated acting specifically, they don’t come much more-talked-about than director Craig Gillespie’s biopic of notorious-but-perhaps-misunderstood figure skater Tonya Harding, I, Tonya. Allison Janney went home with the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her turn as the one-time-phenom’s mother, LaVona, and Margot Robbie received rave notices for her take on the film’s troubled protagonist, so what the hell? On a low-key weeknight, have you got…

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One Hit Wonders #10: “Summertime Blues” by Blue Cheer (Philips Records 1968)


cracked rear viewer

Direct from Haight-Ashbury, psychedelic hard rockers Blue Cheer ushered in the Age of Heavy Metal with “Summertime Blues”, reaching #14 on the Billboard charts in 1968 (Crank It Up LOUD!):

Singer/bassist Dickie Peterson, who lived on San Francisco’s Haight Street during the “Summer of Love” days, originally formed the band as a five-piece group, but stripped down to the power trio model popularized by Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with Leigh Stephens on guitar and Paul Whaley on drums. Blue Cheer’s hair was longer, and their sound more ear-splitting, than anyone around, and the band’s thundering heavy metal noise made both the single and their debut album “Vincebus Eruptum” into classics of early metal then and collector’s items today.

Blue Cheer’s classic lineup: Dickie Peterson, Leigh Stephens, and Paul Whaley

The band went through numerous personnel changes before breaking up in 1970. Peterson reformed the group in the 80’s…

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