If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then Italian cartoonist Sergio Ponchione is the most flattering guy around, as his late-2018 Fantagraphics book Memorabilia — extrapolated from, and featuring the entire contents of, his 2014 stand-alone (or so we thought at the time) “floppy” DKW – Ditko Kirby Wood — is pure homage, not just to the aforementioned “holy trinity” of Steve, Jack, and Wally, but also to Will Eisner and Richard Corben, all of whom Ponchione is capable of mimicking to the proverbial “T.” Consequently, this not-quite-a-graphic-novel is certainly fun to look at, at times even breathtaking.
And that, as they say, is the good news.
As for the not-so-good-news — ah, shit, where to even begin? Ponchione’s set-up here is simple enough that it could work — starry-eyed young cartoonist visits his hero (Ponchione himself, in case you were wondering), hoping to glean pearls of…
My friends at The Film Detective are hosting a Drive-In Monster Movie Party all this month, and asked me to join in on the fun! When I received the list of movies they’re showing, I jumped at the chance to watch and review ROBOT MONSTER, that infamous no-budget classic directed by Phil Tucker, featuring an alien called Ro-Man who looks like a gorilla wearing a diving helmet. And honestly, how can you not love that!!
ROBOT MONSTER consistently makes critics’ all-time worst movie lists, derided for its technical ineptitude, overwrought acting, absurd dialog, and flat-out senselessness. It’s all that, to be certain, but I look at things through a different (some would say “shattered”) lens. First, did I enjoy it? The answer: a resounding yes! The movie may not be on a par with CASABLANCA or THE SEARCHERS , but it didn’t bore me or make me want to shut…
The time is the 1890s. The place is California. Sicilian immigrant Sebastian Collogero (Giancarlo Giannini) has just been sworn in as an American citizen and owns his own vineyard. When Irish immigrant William Bradford Berrigan (Dennis Hopper) demands that Sebastian give up his land so Berrigan run a railroad through it, Sebastian refuses. Berrigan hires a group of thugs led by Andrews (Burt Young) to make Sebastian see the error of his ways. When Sebastian ends up dead, his wayward son, Marco (Eric Roberts), takes up arms and seeks revenge.
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if the famously self-indulgent directors Michael Cimino and Francis Ford Coppola teamed up to make a movie about the American Dream? The end result would probably be something like Blood Red. Like Cimino’s The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate, Blood Red begins with a lengthy celebration (in this case, in honor of Sebastian’s naturalization ceremony) that doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the film but which is included just to make sure we know that what we’re about to see is more than just a mere genre piece. Like many of Coppola’s films, Blood Red features a tight-knit family, flowing wine, and a score composed by Carmine Coppola. The only difference between our hypothetical Cimino/Coppola collaboration and Blood Red is that the Cimino/Coppola film would probably be longer and more interesting than Blood Red.Blood Red is only 80 minutes long and directed by Peter Masterson, who seems lost. There’s a potentially interesting story here about two different immigrants fighting to determine the future of America but it gets lost in all of the shots of Eric Roberts flexing his muscles.
For an actor known for his demented energy, Eric Roberts is surprisingly dull as the lead but Blood Red is a film that even manages to make veteran scenery chewers like Dennis Hopper and Burt Young seem boring. (Hopper’s bizarre attempt at an Irish brogue does occasionally liven things up.) The cast is full of familiar faces like Michael Madsen, Aldo Ray, Marc Lawrence, and Elias Koteas but none of them get to do much. Of course, the most familiar face of all belongs to Eric’s sister, Julia. Julia Roberts made her film debut playing Marco’s sister, Maria. (Because the film sat on the shelf for three years after production was completed, Blood Red wasn’t released until after Julia has subsequently appeared in Mystic Pizza and Satisfaction.) She gets three lines and less than five minutes of screen time but she does get to briefly show off the smile that would later make her famous. Today, of course, that smile is the only reason anyone remembers Blood Red.
“I’ll be honest with you, I love his music, I do, I’m a Michael Bolton fan. For my money, I don’t know if it gets any better than when he sings “When a Man Loves a Woman”.
— Bob (John C. McGinley) in Office Space (1999)
I guess we can put this one in the “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” file. In 1985, your aunt’s favorite adult contemporary singer, Michael Bolton, tried to change his image by recording a hard rock album. The end result was Everybody’s Crazy and a title track that attempted to mix easy listening with hard rock.
It also led to this video, which starts with Michael Bolton telling his manager that “normal” is only something that people are until you get to know them. “Everybody’s crazy,” and I guess Michael Bolton is including himself in that. It’s not that Bolton doesn’t have an adequate voice as that there’s nothing dangerous about him and hard rock has to be dangerous. In this video, Bolton comes across as such a goof that he makes Kip Winger look like James Hetfield.
Bolton did at least bring in some talent for the video. For instance, he got Bruce Kulick, who was then with KISS, to play guitar on the song and he brought in Wayne Isham to direct the video. Wayne Isham’s one of the busiest music video directors around. If your favorite singer or band was around in the 80s or 90s, chances are that Wayne Isham directed one of their videos.