Mardi Gras Film Review: Gothic Harvest (dir by Ashley Hamilton)


Are you currently heading to New Orleans for Mardi Gras?  Or are you already in New Orleans, getting drunk and dreaming about how many beads you’ll end up with by the end of Tuesday night?  If that’s the case, have fun but be careful.  New Orleans is a town that’s full of ghosts and voodoo.

At least, that’s what the movies would have you believe.  Whenever you see a horror film that’s set in New Orleans, you know that voodoo is going to somehow play into it.  The other thing that you can usually count on is that there will be at least one scene set during Mardi Gras.  Really, that’s not surprising.  Mardi Gras in New Orleans is not only a great party but it’s also uniquely cinematic in a way that Mardi Gras in Dallas never is.

(Yes, we celebrate Mardi Gras in Dallas.  It’s nothing to get too excited about.)

The 2018 film, Gothic Harvest, is all about Mardi Gras and voodoo.  When four college students head down to New Orleans for the party of the year, they have no idea that they’re about to get sucked into a centuries old curse.  When Hope (Abbie Gayle) meets the handsome and enigmatic Gar (Ashley Hamilton, who also directed the film), she goes off with him without bothering to tell her friends where she’s going.  That turns out to be a mistake because it turns out that Gar is a member of a cursed family.  The family is immortal but that immortality comes with a price.  Every year, they have to find and sacrifice a young woman in order to stay alive.  It’s all because the family, centuries ago, ran afoul the queen of New Orleans voodoo, Marie Laveau (Janee Michelle).

Hope’s friends are concerned about her disappearance but they can’t get anyone to help them out.  After all, it’s Mardi Gras and the entire city is full of people who are probably going to wake up in a strange bed with a hangover on Wednesday morning.  However, Hope’s friends do eventually run into an undercover cop named Detective Hollis (Bill Moseley).  Hollis has an impressive beard and brags about how his favorite band is Pantera.  He seems to be a bit strange but he agrees to help the girls look for Hope.

 

Hope, meanwhile, has now met the cursed and immortal Boudine family and, not surprisingly, they’re an interesting group of characters.  What distinguished them from other cursed immortals is that they all seem to be hate being stuck with each other but they hate the idea of dying even more.  So, they keep doing what they have to do even though it makes them all miserable.  The family matriarch is Griselda (Lin Shayne) while her daughter, Amelia (Sofia Mattson), is a self-styled dominatrix.  And then there’s Dolly (Ciara Rizzo), who is obsessed with dolls.

Gothic Harvest is a bit of a strange viewing experience.  This was Ashley Hamilton’s directorial debut and the film itself can be confusing upon first viewing.  The timeline jumps back and forth, from the past to the present, and it can often be hard to keep track of just who is doing what or why.  It’s hard not to feel that the film might have worked better if it had dropped the modern storyline and instead just concentrated on telling the story of how the family came to be cursed.  That said, Gothic Harvest does occasionally achieve a dream-like intensity and Hamilton makes good use of New Orleans’s spooky atmosphere.  This is a flawed film that doesn’t really work but I would still be interested in seeing what Hamilton directs next.

The cast is a bit of a mixed bag.  Hope and her friends are not particularly memorable but Bill Moseley and Lin Shaye are both ideally cast.  Moseley, in particular, appears to be having fun and there’s a great scene where he sits in a truck and recites some of the worst pick-up lines ever.  Finally, Janee Michelle goes totally over the top as Marie Laveau but that’s exactly the right approach to take to the character.  The Queen of New Orleans Voodoo isn’t going to be a quiet or a reserved character.

For those of you celebrating, have fun but use your common sense.  If someone says that he needs to sacrifice you so that his family can continue to live forever, don’t go off with him regardless of how many beads he offers.

 

Knockout (2011, directed by Anne Wheeler)


15 year-old Matthew Miller (Daniel Magder) is the grandson of a great boxer and would love to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps but his mother (Janet Kidder) would rather that Matthew become a doctor or a lawyer.  Looking at Matthew, who is out-of-shape and wears glasses, it is hard not to think that his mother might have the right idea.

When Matthew transfers to a new school, he’s picked on by a group of bullies led by Hector (Jaren Brandt Bartlett).  Matthew is lucky enough to find a group of fellow outcasts to hang out with but he still feels like something is missing from his high school experience.  He decides to break his mother’s heart and join the school’s boxing club.  The only problem is that Matthew doesn’t know how to throw a punch and Hector is the school’s boxing champion.

It’s a good thing that Dan, the school’s janitor, is both an ex-boxer and that he happens to be played by Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Dan could have been a champion but he retired from professional boxing because he grew tired of the sport’s violent nature.  Now, he’s just a high school janitor who looks out for the bullied and the oppressed.  Dan takes Matthew under his wing and teaches Matthew not only how to throw a punch but how to take one as well.

One of the things that I loved about this movie is that whenever Dan would see Matthew being picked on and he would tell the bullies to stop, the bullies would laugh and say something like, “You’re just the janitor!” or “Shouldn’t you be mopping something up?”  Yes, Dan is just the janitor but he still looks like Steve Austin.  I don’t think even the worst teenage bully is going to look at someone who could obviously crush him without breaking a sweat and say, “Why don’t you take out the trash!?”  When Dan steps up and tosses one of the bullies away from Matthew, everyone is shocked but again, haven’t they looked at him?  He’s Steve Austin.  He’s huge!

If you can suspend your skepticism about anyone outside of professional wrestling talking smack to Steve Austin, Knockout is a predictable but likable movie with a big heart.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, about this movie will take you by surprise.  But the actors are all good and the film wins points from me for having Matthew fall for one of his fellow outcasts instead of having him trying to win over a cheerleader-type.  Plus, you got Steve Austin doing what he does best.  That’s pretty cool.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 2/17/20 — 2/23/20


As of this weekend, Jeff & I are on vacation and really, it couldn’t have happened a minute too soon.  We’re currently in London and I’m looking forward to two weeks of getting away from …. well, everything but this site.  Like I do before every vacation, I’ve written up some reviews that will drop while I’m gone.  So, I’ll be here even when I’m not here.

Last week, cancel culture came for Much Ado About Cinema’s Dilara Elbir, attacking her on twitter over a 4 year-old private message in which she used the n-word.  The twitter mob came for her and it continued to come for her, even after she apologized and every writer who worked for Much Ado publicly quit on her.  It kept coming for her until she attempted to commit suicide.  Dilara posted three videos to twitter, sobbing and cutting herself.  (The videos have since been taken down.  Amazingly, some of the same people who drove Dilara to very publicly hurting herself than had the nerve to complain that she hadn’t included trigger warnings with the videos.)  Fortunately, some of the people who saw the videos called the police and they were able to get Dilara to the hospital in time to save her life.

Needless to say, there have been a lot of recriminations in the days since.  There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not cancel culture went too far, hounding Dilara even after she had apologized and lost all of her writers.  Do we now live in a world where forgiveness is no longer possible and where no one is allowed a second chance to make up for their past mistakes?  A lot of people have been talking about mental illness and how we never know how someone might be hurting on the inside.  There’s been a lot of talk and some of it’s sincere and, quite frankly, some of it has definitely been performative.  It’s easy to talk about doing the right thing after the damage has already been done.  There’s a lot to be said about all of this but I’m not going to say it right now because I’m still processing it all.  I hope lessons will be learned though I doubt that they have.  (When last I checked, people were attempting to cancel the people who “cancelled” Dilara by using many of the same techniques that they used on her, which would seem to indicate that most people haven’t learned anything.)  I hope that Dilara will recover and I hope that the world will become a better place.

Stay supple fear not, play nice, and love those around you!

Here’s what I did last week:

Films I Watched:

  1. An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
  2. Brief Encounter (1945)
  3. Coffy (1973)
  4. Cooley High (1975)
  5. Dixiana (1930)
  6. Gothic Harvest (2019)
  7. It (1927)
  8. Lady Behave (1937)
  9. The Last Thing He Wanted (2020)
  10. The Notebook (2004)
  11. On Hostile Ground (2000)
  12. Roman Holiday (1953)
  13. Scenes From A Marriage (1973)
  14. Sons and Lovers (1960)
  15. Xanadu (1980)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. 9-1-1: Lone Star
  2. 60 Days In
  3. The Bachelor 24
  4. Brooklyn Nine Nine
  5. Call the Midwife
  6. Dancing on Ice
  7. Democratic Presidential Debate
  8. Doctor Phil
  9. Doctor Who
  10. Friends
  11. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
  12. King of the Hill
  13. Love Island
  14. The Office
  15. Project Runway
  16. Survivor 40

Books I Read:

  1. House of Cards (1989) by Michael Dobbs
  2. Wicked Bite (2020) by Jeaniene Frost

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Abigail Breslin
  2. Billie Eilish
  3. Blanck Mass
  4. Blondie
  5. Britney Spears
  6. The Chemical Brothers
  7. Chromatics
  8. Coldplay
  9. Dead Can’t Dance
  10. Dead or Alive
  11. Dua Lipa
  12. The Emotions
  13. Lenny Kravitz
  14. Meg Myers
  15. Melanie
  16. New Order
  17. The Sex Pistols
  18. Sports Team
  19. Talking Heads
  20. Yumi Zouma
  21. Yvonne Elliman

News From Last Week:

  1. How to Murder Harry Potter
  2. Jeffrey Dean Morgan reaches out to bullied 9 year old
  3. Pompeii’s House of Lovers Reopens to the Public After 40 Years
  4. Friends cast finally confirm reunion for unscripted special
  5. John Krasinski Responds to Critic Who Slammed ‘A Quiet Place’ As Socially Regressive
  6. Daredevil and Flat Earth theorist “Mad” Mike Hughes dies in rocket crash

Links From Last Week:

  1. THE STRANGE WORLD OF COFFIN JOE – JOSÉ MOJICA MARINS 1936 – 2020
  2. 08: The Startling Range of Jim True-Frost
  3. Like and Retweets Are Not Worth Putting Someone In The Ground

Links From The Site:

  1. Erin took a look at the Pan Book covers of Hans Helweg and shared: Happy Presidents Day, Secrets of a Co-Ed, The Naked Hunter, The Celebrity, The Deadly Reasons, You Belong To Me, and Weep For Me!
  2. Jeff shared music videos from Iron Maiden and Lita Ford.  He paid tribute to Alejandro Jodorowsky, Lee Marvin and Sam Peckinpah.  He reviewed I Escaped From Devil’s Island, Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, Narc, Jeremiah Johnson, Killing Streets, and Comedy’s Dirtiest Dozen!
  3. Ryan reviewed Kids With Guns, My Geometric Family, The Truth Behind Blood and Drugs, and Multo!  He also shared his weekly reading round-up!
  4. I shared music videos from Yvonne Elliman, Blondie, Sports Team, Yumi Zouma, and Abigail Breslin!  I wished a happy birthday to John Travolta, Kyle MacLachlan, Luis Bunuel, Paul Morrissey, and Terence Fisher!  I reviewed Rapture, Blue Crush, The Path of the Wind, Coffy, Dixiana, Xanadu, On Hostile Ground, The Last Thing He Wanted, No Lost Cause, Lady Behave!, and An Officer and a Gentleman!

More From Us:

  1. Ryan has a patreon!  Please consider subscribing!
  2. For Reality TV Chat Blog, I reviewed the latest episode of Survivor!
  3. On my music site, I shared songs from The Emotions, Blondie, Dua Lipa, Melanie, Dead or Alive, Lenny Kravitz, and Meg Myers!
  4. On Pop Politics, Jeff shared: Bloomberg Was Not Ready For Prime Time and some thoughts on the Nevada caucus!
  5. On her photography site, Erin shared a lot of snow pics!  Snow 16, Snow 17, Snow 18, Snow 19, Snow 20, Snow 21, and Snow 22!  (I’m sensing a theme.)

Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!

Love On The Shattered Lens: An Officer and a Gentleman (dir by Taylor Hackford)


Almost everyone knows that one scene from the 1982 film, An Officer and a Gentleman.  You can probably guess which scene it is that I’m talking about.  It’s been parodied and imitated in so many other shows and movies that it’s one of those pop cultural moments that everyone has “seen” even they haven’t actually watched it.  It’s the scene where….

I AIN’T GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!

What?

I AIN’T GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!

I know, Mayo, I’m getting to that!  Let me tell everyone about the iconic factory scene first, okay?

I AIN’T GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!

Uhmmm …. right.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, it’s the scene where Debra Winger is working in a factory and a youngish Richard Gere suddenly shows up and he’s wearing a white uniform and he picks her up and carries her out of the factory while all of her coworkers cheer.  Meanwhile, that Up Where We Belong song starts to play on the soundtrack.  Even though, up until recently, I had never actually sat down and watched An Officer and a Gentleman, I certainly knew that scene.

Last Friday, I noticed that I had An Officer and a Gentleman saved on the DVR and I thought to myself, “Well, I might as well go ahead and watch it and find out what else happens in the movie.”  Add to that, I only had three hours of recording space left on the DVR so I figured I could watch the movie and then delete it and free up some space….

I AIN’T GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!

Goddammit, Mayo, be quiet!  I’m getting to it!

Anyway, I watched the film and I discovered that it’s actually about a lot more than just Richard Gere getting Debra Winger fired from her job at the factory.  It’s also about how Zack Mayo (the character played by Richard Gere) hopes to make something of himself by graduating from Aviation Officer Candidate School so that he can become not only a Navy pilot but also an officer and a gentleman.  His father (Robert Loggia) is an alcoholic, his mother committed suicide when Mayo was a child and Mayo …. well, I’ll let him tell you himself.

I AIN’T GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!

That’s right.  Mayo has not got anywhere else to go.

I AIN’T GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!

Ain’t is not a word, Mayo.

As you may have already guessed, we know that Mayo doesn’t have anywhere else to go because there’s a scene where he continually yells, “I ain’t got nowhere else to go!” over and over again.  He yells it after being forced to do a thousand push-ups and sit-ups by his drill sergeant, Foley (Louis Gossett, Jr.)  Foley thinks that Mayo doesn’t have the right attitude to be either an officer or a gentleman.  Mayo is determined to prove him wrong.

I AIN’T GOT–

Oh give it a rest, Mayo!

Debra Winger plays Paula.  Paula is a townie.  She lives in a dilapidated house with her parents.  Her friend, Lynette (Lisa Blount), dreams of marrying a Naval officer and getting to travel the world.  Lynette gets involved with Mayo’s friend, Sid Worley (David Keith).  Foley warns both Sid and Mayo to stay away from the townie girls because they’re not to be trusted.  That turns out to be true in Lynette’s case but Paula’s love provides Mayo with the strength that he needs to believe in something more than just himself.

I AIN’T–

Yes, you do have some place to go, Mayo!  That’s the point of the whole goddamn movie!

Anyway, watching An Officer and a Gentleman, I was kind of surprised to discover that it’s actually two movies in one.  It’s a traditional army training film, one in which Richard Gere is whipped into shape by a tough drill sergeant.  It’s also a film about life in an economically depressed small town, where the only hope of escape comes from marrying the right aviation officer candidate.  As a military film it’s predictable if occasionally effective.  As a film about small town life, it’s surprisingly poignant.  An Officer And A Gentleman doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to depicting just how little life in the town has to offer to people like Paula and Lynette.  They have spent their entire lives being told they can either work in a factory for minimum wage and get drunk on the weekend or they can land a man who will hopefully take them away from all that and give them something more to look forward to than cirrhosis of the liver.  Lynette has accepted that as being her only option.  While Paula dreams of escape, she dreams of escaping on her terms.  She may fall in love with Mayo but she’s not going to pretend to be someone that she’s not just to keep him around.

Though he’s evolved into a good character actor, Richard Gere was remarkably blank-faced when he was younger and his performance as Mayo alternates between being bland and shrill.  However, Debra Winger brings a welcome edge to her role.  She plays Paula as someone who knows she’s stuck in a dead end existence.  She’s not happy about it but, at the same time, she’s not going to surrender her principles in order to escape.  She holds onto her ideals, even though she appears to be stuck in a crappy situation and that’s something that Mayo learns from her.  In the end, Paula saves Mayo just as surely as the Navy does.  And, just as Paula saves Mayo, Winger saves the movie.

I AIN’T GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!

Oh, shut the Hell up, Mayo.  Go pick up Paula and carry her off to a better life….

Scenes That I Love: Vampire Lucy Makes Her Presence Known In Horror of Dracula


Today is the 116th anniversary of the birth of the British director, Terence Fisher.

Though Fisher had a long career as both an editor and a director and he worked in almost every genre, he achieved immortality with the horror films that he directed for Hammer Films.  Fisher’s horror films took the monsters that had previously been made famous by Universal Studios and resurrected them with a pop art spin.  Regardless of whether the subject matter was Frankenstein, the Mummy, Dracula, or some other fearsome creature, Fisher brought a vibrant splash of color to their stories.  (Often that color was blood red.)  At a time when American horror films were still hobbled by the production code and tended to hide their themes under several heavy layers of subtext, Terence Fisher brought Hammer’s stories to life with explicit violence and unapologetic sexuality.  When Christopher Lee’s Dracula stared at a victim with lustful eyes, there was little doubt about what was actually happening.  Once Fisher started working for Hammer, he never left the horror genre.  Personally, I would have liked to have seen what he could have done with a Bond film.

Today’s scene that I love comes from one of the first of the Fisher-directed Hammer horror films, 1958’s Horror of Dracula.  (In the UK, it was simply know as Dracula.)  Christopher Lee may not appear in this scene but it’s still one of the creepiest moments in the film.  In this scene, Lucy (Carol Marsh) returns from the dead and, sporting a new set of fangs, attempts to get her former maid’s daughter, Tania, to come for a walk with her.  Thanks to both Fisher’s direction and Marsh’s unforgettable performance, this is a scene that sticks with you even after the film ends.   Whenever I see Lucy peeking out from behind that tree and calling out to little Tania, my mind flashes back to when I was in the 1st grade and a police officer stopped by the classroom to ask if we all knew what to do if an adult who we didn’t know tried to get us to go off with them.  This scene definitely gives off stranger danger vibes and it’s all the more creepy as a result.

 

4 Shots From 4 Paul Morrissey Films: Chelsea Girls, Trash, Blood For Dracula, Mixed Blood


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!

Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy 82nd birthday to the one and only Paul Morrissey!

Though he may not be as well known as some of his contemporaries, Paul Morrissey is one of the godfathers of independent film.  He first came to notice as a collaborator of Andy Warhol’s.  Morrisey’s first films were shot at the Factory and starred the members of Warhol’s entourage.  At a time when the indie film scene barely even existed, Morrissey was making boldly transgressive films and distributing them largely on his own.  In fact, it could probably be argued that, if not for Paul Morrissey, the American independent film scene would never have grown into the impressive artistic and financial force that it is today.

There’s always been some debate over how much influence Warhol had over Morrissey’s films.  Morrissey has always said that Warhol had next to nothing to do with the films, beyond occasionally taking a producer’s or a co-director’s credit.  Others have disagreed.  What can be said for sure is that, even after Warhol retreated from directly involving himself in the cinematic arts, Morrissey continued to make fiercely independent films.

Paul Morrissey made films about outsiders.  While other directors were telling stories about the middle and upper classes, Morrissey was making movies about junkies, prostitutes, and people simply trying to make it from one day to another.  His films also frequently satirized classic Hollywood genres.  In fact, his two best-known films, Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula, not only satirized the old Universal horror films but also the Marxist-themed films being made in Europe.  A devout Catholic and a political conservative, Morrissey took a particular delight in tweaking the left-wing assumptions of the counterculture.  Who can forget Joe Dallesandro’s gloriously shallow revolutionary in Blood for Dracula?

Here are….

4 Shots From 4 Paul Morrissey Films

Chelsea Girls (1966, dir by Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol)

Trash (1970, dir by Paul Morrissey)

Blood For Dracula (1974, dir by Paul Morrissey)

Mixed Blood (1984, dir by Paul Morrissey)

Weekly Reading Round-Up : 02/16/2020 – 02/22/2020


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Once in awhile, you have one of those weeks that reminds you why you love going to the comic shop on Wednesday — assuming, that is, that you actually do go to the comic shop on Wednesday. If you do, here are some things that you may have picked up. If you don’t, here are some things that you may (or may not, your call) want to pick up next time you’re there —

Going back to the Marvel Zombies rip-off well, writer Tom Taylor revisits his breakout hit concept of last year (one of the few to come from DC in recent memory) with DCeased : Unkillables #1, the debut intstallment of a three-part series that shows what the villains got up to while the heroes were all (okay, mostly) getting either wiped out or fucked by Darkseid’s infamous Anti-Life Equation being unleashed on Earth and turning everyone affected…

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