4 Shots From 4 Films: The Crow: City Of Angels (1996), The Crow: Salvation (2000), The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005), Barb Wire (1996)

A few weeks back I was disappointed to find out that I had not seen The Crow: City Of Angels like I thought I had way back in the 90s. Even worse, I discovered they made two more sequels. And for the final cherry on top, they were available to watch. So let me share a little bit from each film, and Barb Wire because I watched it at the same time.

The Crow: City Of Angels (1996, dir. Tim Pope)

Unsurprisingly, the film isn’t very good. It’s a pale rehash of the first film. I hear there’s a print that included a bunch of material that wound up the cutting room floor. I didn’t see it, so I can’t speak to it.

Getting to the screenshot, while I know the villain is impaled before getting Tony Goldwyn’s death from Ghost (1990), I want to know why Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960) is playing in The Crow universe. It made sense for Michael Myers to reference it in Resurrection. I don’t know what it’s doing here. The Weinsteins produced both films, so maybe they just really liked it.

The Crow: Salvation (2000, dir. Bharat Nalluri)

Of the the three sequels to The Crow, this is the one I’ll remember the most. This one has a guy who is falsely accused of murdering his girlfriend. He is executed in the electric chair, and the crow brings him back. This movie would probably be memorable simply on the grounds that it has Kirsten Dunst, William Atherton, and Fred Ward. Not to me. They’re icing on the cake. The accused killer is played by Eric Mabius. Yes, the actor who plays Hallmark’s wound-tighter-than-a-drum postal worker from the Signed, Sealed, Delivered movies plays the person brought back to seek vengeance. I find that to be amazing.

The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005, dir. Lance Mungia)

Edward Furlong as The Crow. Why not? This movie also brings us Tara Reid as a person who steals someone’s ability to see the future. We have a satanic cult run by David Boreanaz. We have Danny Trejo and Dennis Hopper for good measure. The film sets up like it’s going to be like a spaghetti western, which I guess these movie were to begin with seeing as the plots aren’t too dissimilar to something like Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot! (1967). It’s also the only sequel that includes a bunch of scenes during the day. However, all of it comes together as a mess that never really goes anywhere.

Here’s a bonus shot to show you how much they were trying to go with the spaghetti western look.

And yes, the other members of his gang are called War, Pestilence, and Famine.

Barb Wire (1996, dir. David Hogan)

I remember when Barb Wire came out. Baywatch was everywhere expect on my TV. Pamela was unavoidable, at least if you were a kid at the time. It only stuck with me because of the “Don’t call me babe” line that they played in the trailers. I didn’t actually see it till over 20 years later…sort of.

Have you seen Casablanca (1942)? It’s the same movie with a fictional world rather than the real one. It doesn’t even pretend that it isn’t. I know that at heart Star Wars did same kind of thing. The letters of transit are the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo is Rick, and so on and so forth. But Star Wars threw in some Kurosawa and made it all feel exciting and new. It made it its own. The only thing Barb Wire adds is post-apocalypse…and boobs. It’s Pamela Anderson. They come with the package.

You can go through almost every key element or character from Casablanca and find it here. The one upside is that WWII is replaced by a civil war that starts in 2017 and Pamela gives us an eerily accurate description of the real world in the couple of years that followed 2017.

Two From Josh Simmons : “Ghouls”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Horror and humor are often a potent mix — as any fan of films like Frankenhooker or Street Trash can tell you (and, for the record, I’m “guilty” as charged on both counts) —but, more often than not, humor is the “senior partner,” if you will, in the pairing, largely because it’s easier to make someone laugh at atrocious shit than to show them how frightening the stuff we laugh at can actually be. A pure half-and-half serving of each is perhaps an even more rare thing to come by — and the challenge to create precisely that when you’re dealing with subject matter that delves into the existential ? Well, that’s a fairly stiff one indeed.

Still, it seems that’s the task Josh Simmons set for himself with his just-released mini Ghouls, a self-published series of single-panel cartoons that begins with an “abandon hope, all ye who enter…

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Two From Josh Simmons : “Micky”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

We’ve all been there — you’re sitting on a plane, or a train, or a bus, and some nosy asshole plunks down next to you and starts asking all sorts of invasive questions, most likely because they’re both bored and boring. After all, when you haven’t got much of a life yourself, then you become unnaturally interested in the lives of others. But what if the person who started nosing around in your business had motivations beyond merely alleviating the tedium of their existence?

That’s the premise behind Josh Simmons’ latest self-published mini (well, okay, it’s only a “mini” in terms of length — as far as its physical format goes, it’s magazine-sized and offset-printed) Micky, an intense short story that plays to its artist’s strengths as the small press scene’s most accomplished purveyor of visceral horror. But the visceral only hits home as anything beyond…

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Cotter (1973, directed by Paul D. Stanley)

Cotter (Don Murray) is an alcoholic Native American who works as a rodeo clown.  One day, when he’s too drunk to do his job, a bull rider is killed as a result.  All of the other bull riders track Cotter down in his trailer and tell him that his days of being a clown are over.  They tell him that if they ever see him anywhere near another rodeo, they’ll kill him.  It’s a dramatic scene that would probably be more powerful if Cotter wasn’t wearing a clown make-up while rolling around on the floor in a drunken stupor.

With nowhere else to go, Cotter returns to his hometown and tries to surprise his old friend Roy (Rip Torn) by jumping through Roy’s front door while wearing his clown make-up.  However, when Cotter jumps into the living room, the only person he meets is Roy’s half-naked wife, Leah (Carol Lynley) and she promptly fire two barrels worth of buckshot at him.  Showing the reflexes that would have saved that bull rider’s life if only Cotter had been sober, he manages to duck out of the way.

When Roy comes home, he’s at first excited to see his old friend.  He even invites Cotter to stay with them.  Leah slowly warms up to Cotter.  However, the other townsfolk are suspicious of Cotter because of his heritage and his reputation for being a hard drinker.  When a local rancher turns up dead, almost everyone immediately assumes that Cotter must be responsible.  Not even Roy is willing to stand up for his friend.

Made for a low-budget, Cotter is a well-intentioned film that doesn’t work.  A large part of the problem is that, while Don Murray and Rip Torn were both good actors, they both overact in Cotter.  For some reason, both of them yell the majority of their lines.  Torn was a good bellower but Don Murray, who was usually a far more low-key actor, seems uncomfortable in his role.  While it is true that Don Murray first found stardom playing a headstrong cowboy in Bus Stop, it’s also that, from the 60s onward, Murray was always best cast as men of authority and it’s hard to buy him as an irresponsible character like Cotter.  Maybe the film would have worked better if Torn and Murray had switched roles.  Carol Lynley seems more comfortable with her role than either one of the two male leads, though she doesn’t get to do much beyond suffer at the hands of Roy and eventually fall in love with Cotter.  Also giving a good performance is Sherry Jackson, cast as a sympathetic barmaid, though she’s also not given much to do beyond reacting to Cotter and Roy.

Cotter doesn’t have a bad message and it at least acknowledges that Cotter’s alcoholism is largely his way of dealing with the prejudice that he’s suffered his entire life, though Cotter’s monologue on the subject would have probably been more effective if it had been delivered by an actual Native American actor instead of the very white Don Murray.  Unfortunately, good intentions aside, Cotter just never really comes together as a movie.

Song of the Day: Gui La Testa by Ennio Morricone

Today’s song of the day comes from Ennio Morricone’s score for Sergio Leone’s 1971 film, Duck, You Sucker!  Also known as A Fistful of Dynamite, this is probably Leone’s most underrated film and Morricone’s excellent score seems to be a bit underrated as well.

Though it may have been dismissed when originally released, many critics have recently discovered that the film actually holds up surprisingly well.  So does Morricone’s score.

From Duck, You Sucker!:

Previous Entries In Our Tribute To Morricone:

  1. Deborah’s Theme (Once Upon A Time In America)
  2. Violaznioe Violenza (Hitch-Hike)
  3. Come Un Madrigale (Four Flies on Grey Velvet)
  4. Il Grande Silenzio (The Great Silence)
  5. The Strength of the Righteous (The Untouchables)
  6. So Alone (What Have You Done To Solange?)
  7. The Main Theme From The Mission (The Mission)
  8. The Return (Days of Heaven)
  9. Man With A Harmonic (Once Upon A Time In The West)
  10. The Ecstasy of Gold (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  11. The Main Theme From The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  12. Regan’s Theme (The Exorcist II: The Heretic)
  13. Desolation (The Thing)
  14. The Legend of the Pianist (The Legend of 1900)
  15. Theme From Frantic (Frantic)
  16. La Lucertola (Lizard In A Woman’s Skin)
  17. Spasmodicamente (Spasmo)
  18. The Theme From The Stendhal Syndrome (The Stendhal Syndrome)
  19. My Name Is Nobody (My Name Is Nobody)
  20. Piume di Cristallo (The Bird With The Crystal Plumage)
  21. For Love One Can Die (D’amore si muore)
  22. Chi Mai (various)
  23. La Resa (The Big Gundown)
  24. Main Title Theme (Red Sonja)
  25. The Main Theme From The Cat O’Nine Tails (The Cat O’Nine Tails)
  26. Deep Down (Danger Diabolik!)
  27. Main Theme From Autopsy (Autopsy)
  28. Main Theme From Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion) 
  29. Main Theme From A Fistful of Dollars (A Fistful of Dollars)
  30. Main Theme From For A Few Dollars More (For A Few Dollars More)

The Adventurous Covers of Action Stories

Artist Unknown

Action Stories was published from 1921 to 1950.  It specialized in action-packed stories about men doing manly things and women who knew how to handle a rifle.  Despite the dinosaur featured in the cover above, Action Stories was known for usually turning down horror and fantasy-themed stories and instead specializing in westerns, war stories, and sports fiction.  Among the writers that were published by Action Stories: Robert E. Howard, Walt Coburn, Morgan Robertson, Horace McCoy, Theodore Roscoe, Greye La Spina, Anthony M. Rud, Thomas Thursday and Les Savage, Jr.

Below are a sampling of adventurous covers from Action Stories!

by Allen Gustav Anderson

by Allen Gustav Anderson

by Allen Gustav Anderson

by Allen Gustav Anderson

by Emery Clarke

by H.C. Murphy

by Harry Lemon Parkhurst

by Norman Saunders

Unknown Artist

Unknown Artist

Music Video of the Day: Hell In A Bucket by Grateful Dead (1987, directed by Len Dell’Amico)

I may be going to Hell in a bucket but at least I’m enjoying the ride

The members of the Grateful Dead didn’t do many music videos.  I think Hell In A Bucket was their second video, following the surprise hit that they had with A Touch of Grey.  From what I’ve read, it was the band’s record label that insisted that the band make some videos to help promote their 12th studio album, In the Dark.  Some members of the band were concerned that agreeing to do music videos would mean that they were “selling out.”

The video for Hell In A Bucket feels like it could be a parody of the type of videos that were popular on MTV.  With his Miami Vice-Style outfit and the way he mugs for the camera, Bob Weir almost seems like he could be Huey Lewis’s coked-out older brother.  The video opens in a biker bar, populated with the type of rough characters who most bands would never dream of featuring in a video.  While Jerry Garcia keeps his distance, Bob Weir sings a song of rock and roll decadence that seems to be saying, “This is what it’s all really about.”

No, I don’t know why there’s a duck at the bar.  It’s just there.  Jerry daughter’s Trixie is also in the video.  She plays one of the dancing devils.