Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 7/31/22 — 8/6/22

Yes, I watched a lot of old TV shows this week.  I was doing some work around the office and the retro channels always seem to keep me focused.

Here are this week’s thoughts on what I saw!

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

Fortunately, the attempted execution of Rene and Edith failed and they were safely returned to Nouvion.  Unfortunately, before they got back to their café, the Resistance attempted to run the business and thoroughly screwed things up.  Meanwhile, realizing that the war not going particularly well for them, the German occupiers made plans to leave France and perhaps relocate some place with a warmer climate.  While all of this went on, Officer Crabtree continued to wish everyone a “Good Moaning,” because Officer Crabtree was a professional.

The Bachelorette (Monday Night, ABC)

This week’s episode was extremely awkward to watch, with Rachel feeling insecure when compared to Gabby and the bachelors themselves not being particularly sensitive about the situation, but at least Meatball was given a second chance.  Seriously, this entire franchise will be redeemed if Rachel ends up getting engaged, even if it’s just temporarily, to Meatball.

Better Call Saul (Monday Night, AMC)

I am so worried about what’s going to happen to Jimmy/Saul/Gene!  During this week’s episode, we flashed back to Saul first meeting Walt and Jesse and then we flash forwarded to Gene treating Buddy and Jeff in much the same way that Walt used to treat Jesse.  Especially after Gene’s phone call to Kim, I’m starting to worry that Gene is becoming just as self-destructive as Walt was at the end of Breaking Bad.  Considering that there’s only a few episodes left before this show ends, that’s not a good development for those of us who are hoping that Jimmy/Saul/Gene gets some sort of a happy ending.

Big Brother 24 (Everyday, CBS and Paramount+)

I’m writing about the latest, surprisingly entertaining season of Big Brother at the Big Brother Blog!  This week, Nicole was voted out and proved to be as delusional on her way out and she was on her way in.  Even after Julie Chen explained to her why she had been targeted and voted out, Nicole still didn’t get it.

The Challenge (Wednesday Night, CBS)

This week, yet another former member of Big Brother 23‘s Cookout was eliminated.  Azah is out of the game, leaving Kyland as the last member of the Cookout standing.  Considering what happened when Kyland was voted out of the Big Brother House, it somehow seems cosmically appropriate that he’s managed to survive the Challenge while the other members of his former alliance have been eliminated.  That said, I hope Derek X. wins the show.

CHiPs (Weekday Afternoons, Charge TV)

I watched two episodes of this 70s motorcycle cop show on Monday.  Both episodes were pretty much the same.  There was a big accident on the freeway.  There was a lot of motorcycle cop action.  There was some pretty California scenery.  The bass-driven theme song is the main thing that I remember about the two episodes.  The show was bland but the music was great.

Diff’Rent Strokes (Weekday Afternoons, Rewind TV)

Diff’Rent Strokes is one of those old sitcoms that I’ve heard a lot about but I’ve never really watched, just because everything I’ve ever heard about it just made it sound like a pretty stupid viewing experience.  That said, I did need some background noise on Monday so, when I saw that the show was now on Rewind TV, I decided to catch two episodes.

In the first episode, old Mr. Drummond attempted to go camping with his new stepson but things got complicated when his stepson’s biological father also decided to tag along.  In the second episode, Mr. Drummond decided to do the Undercover Boss thing by working in one of his factories.  He discovered that he wasn’t popular with his workers and that he needed to pay them more.  Surprisingly, no one saw through his disguise, despite the fact that it only consisted of a fake mustache that didn’t even match his hair color.  It was all pretty dumb.  For a rich man, Mr. Drummond lived in a really boring penthouse.  Like seriously, if you’re that rich, update your décor.

Family Ties (Weekday Afternoons, Rewind TV)

I used two episodes of this very 80s sitcom for background noise on Monday.  On the first episode, Elyse (the mother of the family at the center of the show) was struggling with her conscience about whether or not she should fire a recently divorced but extremely annoying employee.  It was kind of obvious that Elyse needed to fire her but Elysa was a former hippie and, as a result, had no idea how to wield authority.  On the second episode, an impossibly young Michael J. Fox had to babysit his bratty younger sister.  He took her to a poker game.  She got annoyed with being treated like an afterthought and wandered off.  Luckily, everything worked out in the end and lessons were learned all around.

Fantasy Island (Monday Morning, GetTV)

I watched two episodes of the original Fantasy Island on Monday morning but I have to admit that I was half-asleep during both of them.

The first episode featured two fantasies.  In the serious fantasy, a jazz trumpeter went back in time to New Orleans so that he could play with his idols.  In the comedic fantasy, a woman and the two men who were in love with her got stranded on an island in the Bermuda Triangle.  The goofier of the two men was played by football player Joe Namath.  His performance here was better than his performance in C.C. and Company but not by much.

In the second episode, the main fantasy dealt with a private detective who wanted to solve a case with Humphrey Bogart.  The guy playing Bogart did a passable imitation.  The other fantasy featured Michelle Phillips as a woman who wanted to be “the most famous equestrian in history.”  She thought this would mean that she would be famous but instead, the Island took her words literally and she was transformed into Lady Godiva.  First off, why did the island take her words literally when it didn’t do that for anyone else?  And secondly, is Lady Godiva really the most famous equestrian in history?  Oh well, the important thing is that everyone learned a lesson.

Full House (Sunday Evening, MeTV)

I watched two episodes of this show on Sunday and I’m sure I lost at least two brain cells as a result.  The first episode featured Uncle Joey auditioning to be the voice of a cartoon chipmunk or something like that.  Frankie Avalon was the episode’s special guest star.  Remember Frankie’s cameo in Casino?  “I have 8 children.  It was my pleasure.”  This was followed by an episode in which Aunt Becky told Danny that DJ was sneaking out of the house to hook up with her boyfriend.  DJ got mad and said, “I thought you were my friend!”  Poor DJ.  I don’t blame her for wanting to escape the Full House.

Ghost Whisperer (Weekday Mornings, Start TV)

I watched an episode on Monday.  Melinda was (understandably) concerned that Aiden was now seeing and talking to ghosts.  When the ghost of a girl who had recently died of Leukemia insisted on taking Aiden on a journey through town, Melinda had to track them down and find out what the girl wanted.  Fortunately, since this was Ghost Whisperer and not Medium, things worked themselves out.

Hart to Hart (Monday Morning, GetTV)

In this very 80s detective show, a fabulously rich married couple (played by Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers) traveled the world, spent a lot of money, and occasionally solved mysteries.  Their loyal chauffer was Max, played by the gravelly voiced Lionel Stander.

I watched two episodes of Monday morning.  In the first episode, the Harts were taking part in a car race in Greece.  A Greek tycoon wanted to kill off Jonathan Hart so that he could take over Jonathan Hart Industries.  Fortunately, he didn’t succeed.  If he had, I imagine they would have had to change the title of the show.  The second episode featured a mysterious woman who claimed to Jennifer Hart’s half-sister.  Needless to say, Jonathan did some investigating and it turned out that there was more to the story.

Anyway, the two episodes that I saw were kind of dull plotwise but I did enjoy the show’s shameless celebration of money and glamour.  It was all very 80s.

Inspector Lewis (YouTube)

I watched an episode with my TV Mysteries friends on Tuesday night.  A buried body was discovered.  Hathaway and Lewis investigated.  Lewis was in a notably cranky mood in this episode and even dismissively referred to one woman as being “Miss Marple.”  My theory is that Lewis had a drinking problem.  Usually, Hathaway was able to cover for him but this week, Lewis just lost control.

King of the Hill (Hubi)

Early Friday morning, I watched the episode in which Hank and his undefeated softball team took an exhibition game against the Ace of Diamonds and His Jewels just a bit too seriously.  “Believe to achieve.”

Kojak (Monday Morning, GetTV)

Kojak is a show from the 70s, about a bald homicide detective who calls people baby and who sucks on lollipops.  Kojak was played by Telly Savalas, who was also Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the Devil in Lisa and the Devil.

The episode that I watched on Monday morning was the first episode that I had ever actually seen of this show, though I had read about it in the past.  In this episode, Ruth Gordon played a psychic who had been having dreams in which she saw women being murdered.  Luckily, Kojak was there to eventually capture the killer.  Neither Gordon nor Savalas were particularly subtle performers and, in this episode, they both seemed to enjoy competing to see who could best steal every scene that they shared.  Add to that, the killer was played by Andy Robinson, who also played Scorpio in Dirty Harry.  It was kind of entertaining to watch.

Magnum P.I. (Weekday Mornings, Charge TV)

On Monday, I watched an episode of the original 80s Magnum, P.I.  Magnum’s friend T.C. was in a coma.  Magnum had to figure out why T.C.’s helicopter crashed.  Luckily, the mystery was solved and everyone survived.  The Hawaiian scenery was lovely.

Medium (Weekday Morning, Start TV)

On Monday’s episode, Allison had a dream about a courtroom shooting and also discovered that she wasn’t the only psychic offering up her abilities to the legal system.

Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head (Paramount+)

I watched the first two episodes of this show on Thursday night, immediately after the Nicole eviction on Big Brother.  I laughed and I cringed.  Beavis and Butt-Head don’t look like they use deodorant so that worries me.  You can read Jeff’s review of the show here!

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

It’s been a few months since I last watched Open All Hours.  I checked it out this week.  Arkwright was cheating his customers and Granville was consumed with resentment.

Traffik (DVD)

I watched Traffik on Wednesday and Thursday and I wrote about it here.

A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case Of The Wicked Wives (1993, directed by Christian Nyby II)

Famed fashion photographer David Morrison (Eric Braeden) has fallen on hard times but things are looking up.  The American Museum of Art wants to do a retrospective of his work.  He just has to get the permission of his current wife, Dee (Kathy Ireland), and his four ex-wives (Shelley Hack, Kim Alexis, Maud Adams, and Beverly Johnson).  All of them are super models who owe their careers to David but four of them hate his guts and Dee isn’t happy when she sees evidence that he has been cheating on her.  When David turns up dead, Dee is arrested.  She claims that she’s innocent but the prosecution is sure that they have an airtight case.

This sounds like a case for Perry Mason!

However, Perry’s out of town so it falls to Perry’s never previously mentioned best friend, Tony Caruso (Paul Sorvino), to solve The Case of the Wicked Wives!  With the help of Perry’s tireless associates, Della Street (Barbara Hale) and Ken Malansky (William R. Moses), Caruso works to solve the case and prove the Dee is innocent.  He also prepares many pasta dinners and frequently sings.

So, where was Perry?  As everyone knows, Raymond Burr played Perry Mason for 9 seasons in the 50s and the 60s.  20 years after the show aired its final episode, Burr returned to the role in a series of highly rated, made for television movies.  Unfortunately, Burr died in 1993 with several movies left to be filmed.  In his will, Burr specifically requested that production on the remaining films continue so that the cast and crew wouldn’t lose their jobs.  Since the role of Mason obviously could not be recast that soon after Burrs’s death, it was decided that the remaining movies would feature guest lawyers.  Enter Paul Sorvino.

The Case of the Wicked Wives was the first Perry Mason film to be made after Burr’s death.  As his replacement, Tony Caruso has much in common with Mason, including the ability to make the guilty confess in open court.  Unlike Mason, Caruso is also obsessed with cooking elaborate spaghetti dinners and singing operatic arias.  This movie came out just a year after Sorvino left Law & Order to specifically pursue his opera career.  Sorvino sings a lot in The Case of the Wicked Wives, sometimes in court.  Unfortunately, a love of singing and pasta are the only two personality traits that are really given to Caruso.  Through no fault of Paul Sorvino’s, Caruso is never as compelling a character as the coolly calculating Mason.  Mason could trick anyone into confessing through perfectly asked questions.  Caruso is more into courtroom stunts that would get most lawyer disbarred.

Because the mystery itself is a dud, the main reason to watch The Case of the Wicked Wives is for the wives.  Who wouldn’t want to keep Kathy Ireland from being wrongly convicted?  All of the wives get at least one big moment to shine and tear up the scenery.  You’ll guess who the murderer is long before anyone else in court.

Game Review: Rock, Paper, Scissors! (2022, William Moore)

As is explained in the description of this interactive fiction game, you are a contestant in the biggest Rock, Paper, Scissors! tournament in history.  I did not even know that there was such a tournament!  While the crowd watches, no doubt spellbound, you and an opponent challenge one another to a battle of who can cover rock, cut paper, and blunt scissors!

That’s the entire game.  It’s just Rock, Paper, Scissors over and over again.  Sometimes you win.  Sometimes you lose.  Sometimes, you tie.  It says something about the way that interactive fiction works that this is one of the more addictive games that I’ve played this year.  You don’t get anything for winning.  As far as I can tell, the tournament goes on until the player decides to stop playing.  But I will be damned if I didn’t get caught up in whether or not I would be able to pick the right hand gesture.  By typing “rules,” you can command that the rules be displayed so you can see how and why your opponent picked whatever it is that they picked during each round but I preferred to keep the game mechanics a mystery.

It did take me a few turns to figure out how to actually initiate the game with the opponent.  The version of the game that I played did not understand the commands “play” or “challenge.”  Eventually, I got  frustrated and wrote “Hit Opponent,” because violence is always the last resort while trying to guess the verb while playing interactive fiction.  It turned out that was exactly the right command.

Play Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Book Review: Mafia: The Government’s Secret File On Organized Crime

If you are a writer and you’re currently working on a novel or a script about the Mafia in the late 50 or early 60s, you simply must include a character based on Usche Gelb.  Gelb was born in Austria in 1897 and apparently came to New York City when he was just a teenager.  Between 1913 and the 60s, he was arrested multiple times and charged with everything from disorderly conduct to felonious assault to perjury to federal narcotics conspiracy.  According to the FBI, despite not being Italian, he was a powerful figure in the Mafia and served as a liaison with various international drug cartels.  He also worked as a machinery salesman and as a florist.  He and his wife Ethel lived on West End Avenue and spent their summers at Tenaha Lake.  His nickname was King Gelb.

You might also want to include a character based on Joey Caesar (real name: Joseph Divarco), who owned a glassware distribution but who was secretly one of the top men in the Chicago Outfit.  Or maybe Sam Giacana, who took over Capone’s organization and eventually ended up getting murdered in his own kitchen.  Don’t forget Luigi Fratto, the crime boss of Des Moines, Iowa who was so confident in his position that he flashed a big grin for his mugshot.  And certainly, be sure to remember Joe Civello, who ran the Dallas mob and who had the look of a weary accountant whose only client was being audited.

All of these people (and more) are profiled in Mafia, a fascinating book that contains the over 800 organized crime dossiers that the Treasury Department put together in the late 50s and 60s.  Some of the gangsters profiled have familiar names.  Meyer Lansky, Mickey Cohen, Lucky Luciano, Johnny Rosselli, Carlos Marcello, Vito Genovese, and Joseph Valachi are all included.  Even more interesting to me, though, are the less well-known gangsters.  All of them were prominent within their organization but most of them managed to hide in the shadows of history.

For history nerds and true crime buffs, it makes for interesting reading.  Almost all of the men profiled in the book came from blue collar backgrounds.  Many of them were immigrants.  The great majority were from Italy but Germany, France, Austria, and the United Kingdom are all represented as well.  When they weren’t committing crimes, many of them worked as salesmen.  Some were truck drivers.  Many of them were union reps.  A large number either worked at or owned small taverns.  Many of them had been arrested for violent crimes but most of them also had families and vacation homes and everything else that was held up as being a part of the American dream in the 50s and 60s.  Most people probably wouldn’t give these men a second look but, secretly, they were among the most powerful people in their city and state.

It’s hard not to become fascinated with the people in this book.  Enough details are provided in the government’s sparse reports that you get a clue for who they were but enough is left vague to reward those of us with an active imagination.  Why, for instance, was John Daneillo nicknamed “Baldy” when his mugshot shows that he had a full of head of hair?  Who nicknamed him Baldy and did it have anything to do with his day job as a construction worker?  And why did Lucky Luciano give Patsey Matranga, an olive oil salesman who was a known narcotics smuggler despite having never been arrested once in his life, an old Oldsmobile?  Was it a sign of friendship or something else?  Maybe Luciano was just sick of looking at the car.  These are the type of questions that are raised by reading the dossiers within Mafia.  They’re just waiting for creative reader to answer them.

Film Review: Ted K. (dir by Tony Stone)

Ted K. is a film about a man who lives in a cabin in the Montana wilderness.  The man was a child genius who attended Harvard University when he was only 16.  He worked briefly as a professor but, in the early 70s, he started to retreat from society.  He moved into a tiny cabin, one that he had previously built with his brother.  The man’s name is Ted Kaczynski.  He would later be known as the Unabomber.  As of today, he is known as prisoner #04475-046 at a Colorado supermax prison.

When Ted K. begins, Ted (played by Sharlto Copley) has been living in the cabin for close to ten years.  He is usually unshaven and unbathed.  He loves the wilderness but he hates all evidence of technology.  He screams at jets as they fly overhead.  When a group of vacationers ride their snowmobiles across his property, Ted responds by breaking into their house and taking an axe to their snowmobiles.  Ted carries on an inner dialogue with himself, talking about how technology and progress are destroying the world.  He also talks about how he can’t handle the idea of ever having to take orders from a woman.  Ted hunts a rabbit and then thanks its spirit for giving up its life so that he could eat.  I’ve never quite understood people who do that.  Is the spirt of the rabbit supposed to be happy that its body is getting eaten just because the schmuck who shot it offered up some halfass prayer?

Sometimes, Ted goes into town and he calls his mom on an old payphone, one that regularly steals his coins.  He usually calls to demand money because Ted is incapable of holding down a job.  Ted yells at his mom, blaming her for his lack of social skills and sexual experience.  Ted swears that he will never again speak to his brother.  Later, Ted calls his brother to beg for money and swears that he will never again speak to their mother.  When he’s not in front of the payphone, he can be found buying tools at the local hardware store.  He also sometimes goes out so that he can peep through windows and point his rifle at anyone who he sees.  He gets especially upset when he sees a man and woman about to make love.  Little seems to anger Ted more than knowing that there are actually happy people in the world.

In short, Ted Kaczynski is a loser, an incel who is bitter about having never been able to get his once promising life together.  He hates everyone, with the exception of the always-sympathetic girlfriend who pops up in his fantasies.  Every loser needs someone or something to blame and Ted challenges his self-loathing and his sexual frustration into rage against modern society.  When he first appears in the film, Ted has already made his first bomb.  As the film progresses, he starts to send his bombs out.  Some, he mails.  Some, he leaves sitting in front of computer stores and university buildings.  Eventually, he becomes the most wanted man in the country but Ted has an offer to make to the authorities.  If they just let him publish his manifesto, he’ll call of his reign of terror….

Ted K tells the story of Kaczynski’s life in Montana, often using passages lifted straight from Kaczynski’s journals to illustrate his inner thoughts.  It’s an interesting film because, on the one hand, it’s clearly sympathetic to Kaczynski’s feelings about technology.  The film starts with a slow motion shot that makes the snowmobiles plowing through Montana wilderness look like an invading, faceless army.  Shots of blissful and silent nature are contrasted with shots of lumber mills, airplanes, and humming electrical wires.  On the other hand, the film never makes the mistake of trying to turn Kaczynski himself into a heroic character.  Ted is a creep from the minute that he first appears and he assures us in his own words that his main goal is to get revenge on a world that he feels has rejected him.  He’s a misogynist who alienates everyone that he meets and who tries to hide his insecurity behind a projected air of arrogance.  There are a few scenes in which Ted lowers his mask just enough to reveal his loneliness and that he’s someone who is incapable of understanding how communication works.  He desperately wants to be able to talk to people and have someone in his life but he doesn’t know how to do it.  His natural awkwardness gets in the way every time.  Ted turns his anger out on the world.  He may claim that he’s angry with what technology had done to society but the truth of the matter is that he’s angry at a world that has passed him by.  Retreating to a cabin to seek enlightenment is charming when someone is in their 20s but far less impressive when that person is nearly 40.

With a two-hour running time, Ted K runs a bit long.  The film’s final 30 minutes seem to move slowly, largely because we already know how the story is going to end.  That said, Sharlto Copley makes Ted into a compelling character without ever making the mistake of trying to make him sympathetic.  Director Tony Stone and cinematographer Nathan Corbin gives us some truly striking shots of the Montana wilderness.  (At the very least, one can see why Ted would view it as being a potential paradise.)  Blanck Mass provides a wonderfully ominous score, one that puts the viewer straight into Ted’s mind.  Ted K deserves credit for both its refusal to idealize Kaczynski and also its attempt to understand just what exactly causes him to take the actions that he did.  It makes for a valuable study of a man who has influenced terrorists on both the Left and the Far Right.

Incidentally, I once took a philosophy class where the TA was a huge Kaczynski fan.  He suggested that everyone read the Unabomber Manifesto and “judge it by what it says, not what the author did.”  I couldn’t get past the first paragraph.

Miniseries Review: Traffik (dir by Alistair Reid)

First aired in 1989 and running a total of six episodes, Traffik is a British miniseries that takes a look at the War on Drugs.

British minister Jack Lithgow (Bill Paterson) has negotiated a treaty with Pakistan.  The UK will send increased aide to Pakistan if the government will crack down on the heroin trade.  In theory, it sounds like a good idea.  Pakistan will get extra cash while joining the effort to stop the flow of heroin into Europe.  In reality, it harms the poor farmers in Pakistan.  After soldiers destroy his village’s poppy fields, Fazal (Jamal Shah) is left with no way to support his family.  He travels to the city, where he gets a job with drug lord Tariq Butt (Talat Hussain).  It’s a job that Fazal has to take in order to feed his family but it’s also a job that puts his family’s safety at risk.

After the heroin in processed in Pakistan, it is smuggled into Europe by men like Karl Rosshalde (Juraj Kukura), a German businessman whose company is a front for his operations.  When two German police detectives (Fritz Müller-Scherz and Tilo Prückner) arrest Jacques (Peter Lakenmacher), one of Karl’s couriers, it looks like Karl might finally being going to prison.  However, Karl’s British wife, Helen (Lindsay Duncan), proves herself to be just a ruthless as he was when it comes to running his operations.

Even with Karl on trial, the drug trade continues.  The heroin that is processed in Pakistan and smuggled through Germany eventually ends up in the UK, where it is used to by Caroline (a very young Julia Ormond), the teenage daughter of Jack Lithgow.  When Caroline runs away from home, Jack searches the streets and back alleys of London and, for the first time, he starts to understand the futility of Europe’s war on drugs.

If Traffik sounds familiar, that’s because it served as the basis for Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 film, Traffic.  When I watched Traffik this week, I was actually surprised to see how closely Soderbergh’s film stuck to the plot of the miniseries.  The only difference, beyond shifting the action from Europe to North America, is that Soderbergh replaced the farmer’s storyline with a story involving Benicio del Toro as a Mexican policeman.  That’s a bit of shame, actually.  Traffic is one of my favorite Soderbergh films but it is a bit cop-heavy.  The people who actually do the day-to-day work in the drug trade, as opposed to the drug lords, aren’t really represented in Soderbergh’s film.  As the British miniseries shows, people like Fazal end up working in the drug trade not because they’re evil but because they literally have no other choice.  It’s either work for someone like Tariq or starve to death.

As I mentioned earlier, Traffic is one of my favorite Soderbergh films.  Considering that I usually find Soderbergh’s films to be hit-or-miss, it’s actually kind of remarkable just how effective Traffic is.  The original miniseries, however, is superior to the film in every way.  Some of that is because the miniseries has six hours to explore its world whereas Soderbergh had to cram a lot of incidents into 147 minutes.  Beyond that, the miniseries succeeds because director Alistair Reid takes a straight-foward, no frills approach to telling his story.  Even at his best, Soderbergh has a tendency to be a bit pretentious.  Even though Traffic deals with real-life issues, it never allows you to forget that you’re watching a film.  Traffik, on the other hand, tells its story with an almost documentary-style immediacy.  One need only compare the scenes where Bill Paterson searches for Julia Ormond in Traffik to the scenes where Michael Douglas searches for Erika Christensen in Traffic to see not only the differences between Reid and Soderbergh’s style but also to see why Reid’s more gritty style works better for the story that’s being told.  Whereas Soderbergh can’t resist framing Christensen with a blonde halo when she’s finally rescued by Douglas, Traffik leaves little doubt that Ormond has been through Hell and that, even if she does eventually beat her addictions, she’ll be carrying the scars of her experience for the rest of her life.  Whereas Traffic ended on a note of hope, Traffik ends with the realization that there is no perfect solution.

Traffic and Traffik are both good looks at the destructiveness of both drug abuse and the efforts to treat drug addiction as a crime.  Both are worth watching.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Andy Warhol Edition

4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More 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!

On this date, 94 years ago, Andy Warhol was born.  Today, we mark this occasion with….

4 Shots From 4 Andy Warhol Films

Empire (1965, dir by Andy Warhol)

Vinyl (1965, dir by Andy Warhol)

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

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

6 Classic Trailers For Umberto Lenzi’s Birthday

This week’s edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse trailers is dedicated to Umberto Lenzi, who was born, on this date, in 1931.  Lenzi was one of the most prolific of the Italian directors who came to prominence in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  A craftsman at heart, he directed films in every genre.  Admittedly, he was never quite the critical favorite that Argento, Margheriti, Deodato, Bava, Fulci, and Soavi were.  That’s a polite way of acknowledging that Umberto Lenzi was responsible for a few very bad films.  But he directed some good ones, as well.  Even if he’s not as acclaimed as some of his contemporaries, I think every Italian horror fan has at least one or two Lenzi films that they will happily defend to the grave.

Today, in honor of Lenzi’s life and work, here are 6 trailers for 6 Umberto Lenzi films!  These trailers, by the way, could be considered NSFW so watch them at your own discretion.

  1. Spasmo (1974)

I will be the first to admit that I have shared this trailer quite often on this site.  What can I say?  I just love the way everyone keeps going, “Spasmo!  Spamso!”  Spasmo is giallo, one with the a plot that will keep you guessing.

2. The Tough Ones (1976)

Though Lenzi is probably best-remembered for his horror films, he also directed his share of violent, French Connection-inspired crime films.  The Tough Ones is a good example.

3. From Corleone to Brooklyn (1979)

From Corleone to Brooklyn is another one of Lenzi’s crime films.  While Corleone is a town in Sicily, there’s little doubt that the main purpose of the title was to trick people into thinking that this film was somehow connected to The Godfather.

4. Eaten Alive (1980)

Eaten Alive was one of the many cannibal films that Lenzi directed.  This is actually one of the better examples of that rather icky genre.  It’s certainly superior to Lenzi’s own Cannibal Ferox.  Ivan Rassimov as Jim Jones turns out to be perfect casting.  The trailer below is actually an edited version of the original trailer.

5. Nightmare City (1980)

This was Lenzi’s best-known contribution to the zombie genre.  Uniquely, for the time, Lenzi’s zombies were fast and clever.  The film was not acclaimed when it was originally released but it has since been cited as an influence on many recent zombie films.  This is probably Lenzi’s most effective film as a director, even if the ending will probably have you rolling your eyes.

6. Nightmare Beach (1989)

Finally, in one of his final films, Lenzi brought together the spring break genre with the slasher genre.  There’s some debate over how much of this film was directed by Lenzi and how much by a mysterious figure known as Harry Kirkpatrick.  When I reviewed this film and mentioned the controversy, the film’s star, Nicolas De Toth, replied that Lenzi was definitely the one who directed.  As he would definitely be in the best position to know, that’s good enough for me!

Music Video of the Day: What We’re All About by Sum 41 (2002, directed by Marc Klasfeld)

In this song from the soundtrack of the 2002 Spider-Man film, Sum 41 plays upside down, in the best tradition of Spider-Man fans everywhere.  Along with keeping an eye out for clips from the film, also watch out for Slayer’s Kerry King, who shows up to remind everyone what rock is all about.  As someone who grew up with an MTV that played music, I miss the music videos that always used to be released to promote movies.  I always enjoyed the mix of performance footage with the most kinetic scenes from the movie.

This music video was directed by Marc Klasfeld, who has directed music videos for literally everyone.  Don’t even think about becoming a rock star if you can’t get Marc Klasfeld to direct at least one music video for you.