Live Tweet Alert: Watch Dario Argento’s Inferno with #ScarySocial

Inferno (1980, dir by Dario Argento, DP: Romana Albano)

As some of our regular readers undoubtedly know, I am involved in a few weekly live tweets on twitter.  I host #FridayNightFlix every Friday, I co-host #ScarySocial on Saturday, and I am one of the five hosts of #MondayActionMovie!  Every week, we get together.  We watch a movie.  We tweet our way through it.

Tonight, for #ScarySocial, I will be hosting 1980’s Inferno!  Dario Argento’s sequel to the original Suspiria is one of his best films, a dream-like exploration of the dark and the disturbing.  I can’t wait to share it with everyone!


If you want to join us on Saturday night, just hop onto twitter, start the film at 9 pm et, and use the #ScarySocial hashtag!  The film is available on Prime.  I’ll be there co-hosting and I imagine some other members of the TSL Crew will be there as well.  It’s a friendly group and welcoming of newcomers so don’t be shy.



West of the Law (1942, directed by Howard Bretherton)

In the mining town of Gold Creek, an outlaw gang has been hijacking shipments of gold.  Newspaper publisher Rufus Todd (Milburn Morante) has learned that the head of the gang is saloon owner Jim Rand (Harry Woods).  Todd is planning on publishing a story identifying Rand as the outlaw leader on the front page of his newspaper so Rand’s secret partner, businessman John Corbett (Jack Daley) arranges for Rufus’s printing press to be blown up.

Rufus calls in his old friend, Marshal Buck Roberts (Buck Jones).  Buck arrives in town with his fellow Rough Riders, Tim McCall (Tim McCoy) and Sandy Hopkins (Raymond Hatton).  As usual, everyone is working undercover.  Buck pretends to be an outlaw named Rocky Sanders.  Tim claims to be a preacher who is not afraid to draw his gun and force everyone in the saloon to put down their drinks and listen while Rufus identifies Rand as being an outlaw.  Sandy is the new undertaker and his coffins prove useful for smuggling in some much needed equipment.

The eighth Rough Riders film trods familiar ground.  Once again, Buck is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and, as always, the villains are a businessman and a saloon owner.  Still, I enjoyed seeing Tim to pretend to be a preacher and Sandy had some funny moments are the town’s garrulous undertaker.  As always, McCoy, Roberts, and Hatton possessed an authentic western toughness that made them compelling heroes even in B-westerns like this one.

Since Tim McCoy reenlisted in the U.S. Army following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, this was the last Rough Riders film to feature the original three riders and their chemistry and friendship are as strong as when the series first began.  The movie ends with the promise that the Rough Riders would ride again but sadly, it was not to be.  Though West of the Law doesn’t break any new ground, it’s still a decent finale for the original team.

Previous Rough Rider Reviews:

  1. Arizona Bound
  2. The Gunman From Bodie
  3. Forbidden Trails
  4. Below the Border
  5. Ghost Town
  6. Down Texas Way
  7. Riders of the West

Retro Television Reviews: The Master 1.3 “State of the Union”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a new feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past! On Fridays, I will be reviewing The Master, which ran on NBC from January to August of 1984. The show can be found on Tubi!

This week, The Master stands up for the working man!

Episode 1.3 “State of the Union”

(Dir by Alan Myerson, originally aired on February 3rd, 1984)

“Hi, I’m Max Keller and this is how I start my morning.”

So begins yet another episode of The Master!  This time, McAllister (Lee Van Cleef) is forcing Max (Timothy Van Patten) to start his day by running.  McAllister says that it’s a part of Max’s ninja training but I think it’s more a case of McAllister just seeing how many stupid things he can force Max to do before Max says, “Enough!”

This week finds Max and McAllister in Clearwater, California.  In order to make a little money, Max enters a dirt bike race.  It turns out that Max is very well-known on the dirt bike circuit and he even runs into an old friend named Hog (Mickey Jones) at the race.  Hog only shows up for a few minutes.  He shakes Max’s hand, jokes about the fact that Max is traveling with a hamster and a weird old man, and then he pretty much disappears from the episode.

McAllister watches the race while stroking Max’s pet hamster.

Try to get that image out of your head.

Anyway, Max does not win the race.  Instead, the race is won by Carrie Brown (Crystal Bernard).  At the finish line, Carrie is nearly run over by one her competitors, Chad Webster (Cotter Smith).  Chad is the son of the owner of the local cannery.  It turns out that Carrie also works at the cannery. Max takes an immediate liking to Carrie and decides that he should also get a job at the cannery.

McAllister points out that Carrie is attractive.  Max replies, “Does your ninja training make you immune to such things?”  McAllister shrugs.  It’s kind of an odd scene.

Anyway, at the cannery, Max quickly learns that there’s more to Carrie than just 80s hair and dirt bike racing.  Carrie is also a union organizer!  She’s carrying on her late brother’s dream of unionizing the cannery.  This largely means handing out flyers and encouraging people to go to a meeting. 

How bad are things at the cannery?  They’re so bad that an older worker gets crushed by a palette.  Fortunately, McAllister and Max show up just in time to help out.  Through the use of one of his magic throwing ticks, McAllister is able to send the palette crashing into the ocean.  While Max proceeds to flirt with Carrie, attentive viewers will see the worker — who is now probably crippled for life — being carried away in the background.  Despite having saved the guy’s life, neither Max nor McAllister ever ask about him again.

Anyway, you know where all this is heading.  Carrie wants to unionize the workers.  Chad and his buddies try to intimidate the workers into not joining the union.  At a meeting at the local church, Max gives a speech about how the workers have to get organized.  There are plenty of fights and car chases and yet another bar brawl.  That Max just can’t say out of trouble!

McAllister also joins Max on the dirt bike so that he can throw ninja stars at the bad guys.  This leads to some pretty bad rear projection shots.

In the end, Chad is revealed to have murdered Carrie’s brother.  The cannery votes to unionize and Max and McAllister promptly leave town because even they know better than to work at a union shop.  Though it’s not specifically stated, I imagine that the cannery probably closed two months and Carrie ended up following in the lead footsteps of Jimmy Hoffa.

This episode was a bit silly, largely because neither perky Crystal Bernard nor perpetually mush-mouth Tim Van Patten were believable as firebrand labor activists.  Lee Van Cleef seemed to be largely bored with the whole thing.  Fortunately, next week’s episode features a guest appearance from George Lazenby so maybe that will liven things up on The Master.

We’ll find out soon!

Live Tweet Alert: Join #FridayNightFlix for Attack The Block!


As some of our regular readers undoubtedly know, I am involved in a few weekly live tweets on twitter.  I host #FridayNightFlix every Friday, I co-host #ScarySocial on Saturday, and I am one of the five hosts of #MondayActionMovie!  Every week, we get together.  We watch a movie.  We tweet our way through it.

Tonight, at 10 pm et, #FridayNightFlix has got 2011’s Attack the Block!

If you want to join us this Friday, just hop onto twitter, start the movie at 10 pm et, and use the #FridayNightFlix hashtag!  It’s a friendly group and welcoming of newcomers so don’t be shy.

Attack The Block is available on Prime and Tubi!  See you there!

Film Review: Amityville Emanuelle (dir by Louis DeStafano)

Amityville Emanuelle is the latest film about the dumbass Amityville Haunting.

In order to watch any of the many films about the supposed haunted house in Amityville, New York, you need to be aware of two real-life events.

In 1974, a 23 year-old junkie named Ronald DeFeo, Jr. gunned down his entire family in their Amityville home.  DeFeo first claimed that unknown gunmen had killed his family while he was out.  He then changed his story and said that he killed his family but he did it because he knew they were plotting to kill him.  He then suggested that the whole thing was a mafia hit.  He then moved on to claiming that his sister was the one who actually killed everyone.  And, finally, he claimed that he had been possessed by demonic spirits.

One year later, the Lutz family moved into the Amityville House.  After a month, the Lutzes left the house and George Lutz claimed that the house was haunted and that the family had been forced to flee for their lives.  Thanks to a book and a few movies based on that book, the Lutzes made some money and eventually ended up suing a lot of other people in order to make even more money.  Subsequent owners of the house have never reported anything strange happening while living in the house, other than strangers stopping by to view the supposedly haunted structure.

So, we can either believe that Ronald DeFeo was a junkie who killed his own estranged family or we can accept that the Devil took one look at Ronald DeFeo shooting up heroin and decided, “I’m tired of possessing the innocent and the naïve.  I’m going to possess someone who is already so screwed up that no one will even notice that he’s been possessed.  That’ll show ’em!”

And we can either believe that a bunch of demons chased George and Kathryn Lutz from their home or we can believe that the Lutzes looked at the success of books and films like The Exorcist and The Omen and they decided that they might as well cash in as well.

Amityville Emanuelle accepts, from the start, the everything was due to the paranormal, which is fine.  It’s a movie and Occam’s razor goes out the window when it comes to the movies.  George Lutz’s daughter, Laura (Dawn Church), moves into a new house and is soon visited by a strange woman who claims that she is delivering some of George’s belongings.  Laura discovers that George owned an urn that was full of Ronald DeFeo’s ashes.  Apparently, George and DeFeo had a psychic connection and George, who is insinuated to have been some sort of an occultist, knew that DeFeo was going to murder his family before he even did it.

(Wow, those are some pretty mean things to say about the late George Lutz, who was a real person and not really around to defend himself.  Then again, George Lutz would be totally forgotten today if not for the fact that he made up a bunch of stuff about a haunted house so really, Lutz being portrayed as an occultist feels like karma.)

Laura soon finds herself acting in strange ways, picking up random men at bars and then barely noticing when they’re subsequently killed by someone who looks just like Ronald DeFeo.

Meanwhile, Ronald DeFeo’s son, Gordon (Shane Ryan-Reid, himself a director of transgressive films), makes the mistake of using a Ouija Board with his friends and he’s soon having visions of his father killing people.

(Now, I know that some of you are now saying, “Where does Emanuelle fit in with this?” because, after all, the symbol of sexual freedom and experimentation is namechecked in the film’s title.  Well, Emanuelle really doesn’t fit into it, unless you include the scene where Laura goes to a bar and picks up two men.  But those watching this film because they’re expecting it to be some sort of soft-core haunted house flick are going to be disappointed.)

Amityville Emanuelle is a low-budget and rather dumb film but it is at least partially redeemed by the fact that it doesn’t appear to be taking itself seriously at all and there’s no attempt to convince the viewer that they’re somehow watching anything that could be based on fact.  There’s not much in the way of suspense and both the gore and the sex are rather tame but there is a medium (played by Saint Heart) whose generally annoyed attitude is occasionally fun to watch.  The Amityville Haunting has always been a particularly stupid story and the cynicism of the majority of people who continue to try to sell it as being fact has always been more than a bit icky so, at this point, Amityville Emanuelle is kind of what the legend deserves.

Film Review: White Men Can’t Jump (dir by Calmatic)

Hulu’s White Men Can’t Jump is the story of two aging basketball players who have never lived up to their potential but who have yet to totally give up on their dreams.

Even when he was in high school, Kamal Allen (Sinqua Walls) was considered to be one of the best basketball players in the country.  A lot of that was due to how he was raised by his father, Benji (Lance Reddick, giving a strong performance in one of his final roles).  Benji was a basketball star himself and, as we see in several flashbacks, he trained Kamal to be the best.  Benji was so obsessed with turning Kamal into a great player that he even drove away Kamal’s mother.  Benji taught Kamal all that he needed to know about playing basketball but not enough about how to survive once his playing days were over.  Unfortunately, after Benji was diagnosed with MS, Kamal lost his concentration.  When he responded to being taunted during a game by going into the stands and punching a guy out, Kamal ended up getting arrested and he also ended up losing his chance of entering the NBA.

Jeremy (Jack Harlow) was a college basketball star who blew out his knee and lost his chance to go pro.  He makes his living hustling other basketball players, knowing that they’ll assume that he can’t shoot because he’s white.  He also sells highly suspicious health tonics and he spends a lot of time meditating.  Though he can barely walk without taking his pain pills first, Jeremy still wants to make the NBA.  When he hears that stem cell treatment might help his knee, Jeremy starts to scheme to win the money to cover the cost.

Together, Jeremy and Kamal hustle other players, make some money, and become unlikely friends.

It took me three days to get through White Men Can’t Jump, largely because the film itself was so boring that I struggled to actually pay attention to it for more than a few minutes at a time.  This film is a remake of a 1992 film that starred Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.  I have not seen the original White Men Can’t Jump but I have seen enough films featuring both Snipes and Harrelson to know that they are both talented and charismatic actors who both have strong comedic timing.  In short, they don’t have much in common with the two leads of the new version of White Men Can’t Jump.  In the role of Kamal, Sinqua Walls is solid but dull.  Walls is convincing but he’s never particularly interesting.  Making his film debut in the role of Jeremy, rapper Jack Harlow is so incredibly obnoxious that I found myself wanting to throw something at the screen whenever he popped up.  The film repeatedly emphasizes that no one wants to play with Jeremy because he’s white but I think it’s equally probable that they’re just reacting to the fact that he is an incredibly annoying human being.  Director Calmatic does all the usual choppy editing and slow-motion dunking that most viewers have come to expect from movies about basketball but with little chemistry between the leads and a script that tends to repeat the same jokes over and over again, this film never takes flight.