Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Recent Watches: August 2013 Edition

Been a little lax about updating things here at the blog. (Stop me if you've heard/read that sentence before.) I'll probably just blame typical summer month shutdown mode. (Sure, that'll work.) Now that school has started back up and cooler weather is just around the corner it's time to start ramping up the viewing (and posting) again. Stay tuned to this blog and our Facebook and Twitter homes for info on the upcoming print edition but in the meantime here's some quickie thoughts on some of my latest views...

"Fresh? You never had anything fresh at this joint!"
With the O's getting trounced and no interesting tennis taking place at the US Open I went trawling for trash on Netflix and stumbled across this odd slice of aquatic horror. JAKE SPEED star Wayne Crawford stars in, co-writes and co-directs this mix of JAWS rip-off and straight-faced conspiracy thriller. No tongue-in-cheek send-up a la PIRANHA or ALLIGATOR, BARRACUDA is all business with Crawford playing a marine biologist who gets mixed up in a major conspiracy in a small town. Forgets about the, you know, barracudas every now and then but you have to love any flick with Crawford tooling around in a dune buggy and getting into gunfights with shadowy land developers (read that "government agents").

"If you don't scream every time... you must be dead."
I have yet to scream while watching SCREAMTIME but it did take me three attempts to watch it. Lightweight anthology flick with wraparound story about two good for nothings who look too old to be boosting VHS tapes from some store in NYC. Some good location footage from a time we'll never see again, including shots of Tad's Steaks and other grimy New York landmarks. For more on culinary landmarks of The Deuce check out SLEAZOID EXPRESS' Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford as they Eat Out The Deuce at The Hungover Gourmet.

"He'll get away when he tries hard enough."
It's like a character actor convention in THE PACK as marine biologist Joe Don Baker (?!) teams up with other Seal Island residents (like RG Armstrong and Richard Shull) to fight off a pack of wild dogs left behind by damn tourists. ENTER THE DRAGON helmer Robert Clouse's 1977 thriller features effective, tense attack scenes and believable performances from both dogs and humans. Underrated dogsploitationer available from Warner Archives (order at Amazon).

"They're not retarded. They're disturbed."
Wall-to-wall atrocious acting and Michael Moriarty's stellar rug highlight this fascinating misfire from usually reliable Larry Cohen. Moriarty is a cultural anthropologist who takes his foul-mouthed son to the cabin he's inherited in Salem's Lot. Turns out the vampires want the truth told about them and have lured Moriarty there to write their bible. Sam Fuller briefly livens things up as a Nazi hunter turned vampire killer, but most of RETURN is a schizo mish-mash that tries to blend horror and comedy with LarCo's observations on modern society. Not good but strangely watchable and available from Warner Archives (order at Amazon).

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