Bored “Stiff” (A.K.A. “Necro Lover”)

Trash Film Guru

Maybe I got overloaded on micro-budget horror back in October when I plumbed the depths of Amazon Prime’s offerings in the sub-genre for my customary “Halloween Month” reviews, maybe I’m just too damn busy at work to follow all of my interests (cinematic or otherwise) lately, or maybe trying to build up a solid backlog of content on my new(-ish) comics blog is eating up every spare moment I have for writing so I’m just not watching as many movies since I don’t have as much time to write about them — I dunno, but whatever the case may be, it had been a good few months since I’d watched a cheap-ass indie fright flick, and their absence from my existence was starting to be felt on, like, a goddamn cellular level. Something needed to be done.

So, yeah, last night I ended my impromptu fast and returned to combing…

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A Blast From The Past: I Just Don’t Dig Him (produced by The Department Of Mental Health, State of Connecticut)

The haunting opening scene of I Just Don’t Dig Him…

Ah, parents and their children!

It doesn’t matter what year it is or where they live or who they are.  Parents never understand their children and children never understand their parents and, ultimately, there’s always that one friend who ends up nearly chopping his finger off.

At least, that’s the message that I got from watching the 1970 educational film, I Just Don’t Dig Him.

This film was produced by the state of Connecticut’s Department of Mental Health and apparently, it was designed to show that adults and teenagers actually had more in common than they realized.  For instance, in this film, both groups share an intense loathing for each other.

The film is about a father and his son.  The father spends all of his time complaining about his son.  The son spends all of his time complaining about his father.  For some reason, we’re treated to a really gross close-up of the son’s bare feet.  Meanwhile, the father applies aftershave as if the fate of the world depended upon it.  The son’s best friend assures him that his father isn’t so bad.  The father’s best friend assures him that his son isn’t so bad.  And then the son’s friend accidentally chops off his finger while fooling around with a car engine.  The father helps to stop the bleeding while his son stares at him resentfully.  The message appears to be that adults and children need to communicate better but, ultimately, you want an adult around if anyone starts bleeding.

I like films like this, largely because I’m an unapologetic history nerd and I Just Don’t Dig Him is such a product of its time that it might as well be wearing bell bottoms and dropping brown acid.  Watching the film today, it’s hard not to be amused by how intense both the father and the son are about … well, everything.  When the father shaves, you’re first thought is, “That man should not be allowed to handle anything sharp.”  When the son talks on the phone, you feel bad for whoever’s having to listen to him whine.  Generations are at war, this film seems to say, and there’s no hope until the younger generation realizes that they have no business working on cars.

With this being 4/20 and the world currently being caught up in its own increasingly tedious generational war, today seems like the perfect time to share I Just Don’t Dig Him!

AMV Of The Day: Hey Brother (One Piece)

It’s been a while since we last shared an AMV of the Day here on the Shattered Lens.  I’m sharing this one in memory of Avicii.

Anime: One Piece

Song: Avicii — Hey Brother

CreatorTrafalgar Lili

Past AMVs of the Day

Insomnia File #34: The Minus Man (dir by Hampton Fancher)

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!

Last night, if you were unable to sleep at one in the morning, you could have turned over to Starz and watched the 1999 film, The Minus Man!

The Minus Man is a strange little film about a rather odd man.  Vann (Owen Wilson) is a drifter.  He avoids questions about his past with the skill of someone who specializes in being whatever he needs to be at the moment.  When he rents a room from Doug and Jane Durwin (Brian Cox and Mercedes Ruehl), he tells them that he’s only drunk one beer over the course of his entire life, he always works, he always pays his rent on time, and that he’s never smoked “the dope.”  He says it so earnestly that it’s difficult to know whether you should take him seriously or not.  And yet, Vann is so likable and so charmingly spacey that you can’t help but understand why people automatically trust him.  Vann succeeds not because people believe him but because they want to believe him.

Vann’s new in town.  As he explains to a cop who pulls him over, he’s just interested in seeing the countryside.  From the minute that Vann shows up, he’s accepted by the community.  He goes to a high school football game and befriends the local star athlete (Eric Mabius).  He tries to help repair Doug and Jane’s marriage, which has been strained ever since the disappearance of their daughter.  With Doug’s aid, Vann gets a job at the post office and proves that he wasn’t lying when he said he was a hard worker.  Vann even pursues a tentative romance with the poignantly shy and insecure Ferrin (Janeane Garofalo).

In fact, it’s easy to imagine this film as being a sweet-natured dramedy where a drifter comes into town for the holidays and helps all of the townspeople deal with their problems.  However, from the first time we see him, we know that Vann has some issues.  As Detective Graves (Dennis Haysbert) puts it, Vann is a “cipher, a zero.”  There’s nothing underneath the pleasant surface.  Of course, Graves doesn’t really exist.  Neither does his partner, Detective Blair (Dwight Yoakam).  They’re two figments of Vann’s imagination.  They appear whenever Vann is doing something that he doesn’t want the world to find out about.

Whenever the urge hits him, Vann kills people.  When we first meet him, he’s picking up and subsequently murdering a heroin addict named Casper (Sheryl Crow).  Vann makes it a point to use poison because he says that it’s a painless death.  Vann also says that he’s doing his victims a favor, as he feels that the majority of them no longer want to live.  Vann is the type of killer who, after having committed his latest murder, sees nothing strange about volunteering to help search for the missing victim.

Like a lot of serial killer films, The Minus Man cheats by giving all of the best lines to the killer.  In real life, most serial killers are impotent, uneducated losers who usually end up getting caught as a result of their own stupidity.  In the movies, they’re always surprisingly loquacious and clever.  While Vann may not be a well-spoken as Hannibal Lecter, he’s still a lot more articulate than the majority of real-life serial killers.  As I watched the film, it bothered me that we didn’t really learn more about Vann’s victims.  (It would have been a far different film if someone had mentioned that Vann’s third, unnamed victim was “Randy, who was just having a bite to eat while shopping for a present for his little girl’s birthday.”)  Too often, The Minus Man seemed to be letting Vann off the hook in a way that a film like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or even American Psycho never would.

That said, The Minus Man may be occasionally uneven but it’s still an intriguing and sometimes genuinely creepy film.  The Minus Man makes good use of Owen Wilson’s eccentric screen persona and Wilson gives a very good performance as a man who has become very skilled at hiding just how empty he actually is.  Much like everyone else in the film, you want to believe that there’s more to Vann than meets the eye because, as played by Wilson, he’s just so damn likable.  Over the course of the film, Vann and Doug develop this weird little bromance and, as good as Wilson is, Brian Cox’s performance is even more unsettling because we’re never quite sure what Doug may or may not be capable of doing.  Even Janeane Garofalo gives a touching and believable performance as a character who you find yourself sincerely hoping will not end up getting poisoned.

With all that in mind, I wouldn’t suggest watching this film if you’re trying to get over insomnia.  This is the type of unsettling film that will keep you awake and watching the shadows long after the final credits roll.

Previous Insomnia Files:

  1. Story of Mankind
  2. Stag
  3. Love Is A Gun
  4. Nina Takes A Lover
  5. Black Ice
  6. Frogs For Snakes
  7. Fair Game
  8. From The Hip
  9. Born Killers
  10. Eye For An Eye
  11. Summer Catch
  12. Beyond the Law
  13. Spring Broke
  14. Promise
  15. George Wallace
  16. Kill The Messenger
  17. The Suburbans
  18. Only The Strong
  19. Great Expectations
  20. Casual Sex?
  21. Truth
  22. Insomina
  23. Death Do Us Part
  24. A Star is Born
  25. The Winning Season
  26. Rabbit Run
  27. Remember My Name
  28. The Arrangement
  29. Day of the Animals
  30. Still of The Night
  31. Arsenal
  32. Smooth Talk
  33. The Comedian

One Hit Wonders #12: “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by The Blues Magoos (Mercury Records 1966)

cracked rear viewer

The very first concert I saw was… er, a very long time ago! Teenybop pop rockers Herman’s Hermits headlined the show, and the opening act was The Blues Magoos, performing their #5 Billboard hit, “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet”:

The Blues Magoos, from The Bronx, were early practitioners of psychedelic rock’n’roll, going so far as to name their debut album “Psychedelic Lollipop”. They were loud, heavy, and wore these electric suits that blinked on and off during their rendition of the classic “Tobacco Road”:

Even without the suits, they were pretty far out, man! The lineup consisted of Emil “Peppy Castro” Theilheim (vocals, rhythm guitar), Mike Esposito (lead guitar), Ralph Scala (organ), Ron Gilbert (bass), and Geoff Daking (drums). They made the rounds of all the TV shows, like AMERICAN BANDSTAND, THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR , and the above clip from a Jack Benny-hosted episode of THE KRAFT MUSIC…

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4 Shots From 4 Films: Beauty #2, Poor Little Rich Girl, Outer and Inner Space, Lupe

4 Shots from 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots from 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

75 years ago today, Edie Sedgwick was born in Santa Barbara, California.

While at a party in 1970, Edie ran into a palm reader who grabbed her hand and then stepped away, shocked at just how short her lifeline was.  “It’s okay,” Edie sweetly told him, “I know.”  One year later Edie Sedgwick would pass away, with the cause of death officially being an overdose of barbiturates.  She only lived 27 years but, for a brief few years, she was one of the most famous women in America.  She was a model and an actress and, in her way, a revolutionary.  She died before she had a chance to play the roles that she truly deserved.  Instead, we have only a few films that she made with Andy Warhol and a lot of speculation about what could have been.

This post is dedicated to Edie on her birthday.

These are…

4 Shots From 4 Films

Beauty #2 (1965, dir by Andy Warhol)

Poor Little Rich Girl (1965, dir by Andy Warhol)

Outer and Inner Space (1966, dir by Andy Warhol)

Lupe (1966, dir by Andy Warhol)

Music Video of the Day: Because I Got High (Positive Remix) by Afroman (2014, dir by Morgan Freed and Brian Schopfel)

This was kind of an obvious pick for today’s music video of the day.  It was either this or share the “faster!  faster!” clip from Reefer Madness again…