by Sean Axmaker
[Originally written for Parallax View, reprinted with permission of the author.]
Spider Baby (Arrow, Blu-ray+DVD) is one of the greatest blasts of creative B-movie inspiration to hit American drive-ins and grindhouses. It was the solo directorial debut of Jack Hill (whose Coffy and Foxy Brown both recently hit Blu-ray from Olive), a low-budget film that was financed by real estatedevelopers who wanted to get into the movie business and got stuck in limbo for years when the producers went bankrupt. Shot in 1964, it was finally released in 1967, by which time black-and-white films were no longer considered for first-run bookings. It was sold as a second feature and then fell into the public domain, where it became a cult movie a generation later, thanks to cheap videotape copies. Hill never made a dime on it, but he did belatedly get some attention for it. For all of its technical shortcomings and budget-related compromises, I still think it’s his most inspired film.
by Travis Vogt
With Indispensable Oddities, Scarecrow asks an artist of note to select and discuss a few of their favorite films which many people might not be overly familiar with. For this inaugural installment, we spoke with Emmett Montgomery, a Seattle-based comedian, beard cultivator and institution who recently appeared on Last Comic Standing.
by Travis Vogt
Action is one of the most transgressive movie genres known to man. The only genres proven to be more transgressive are blaxploitation, body horror, revenge-sploitation, New Queer cinema, gothic horror, docufiction, mumblecore, remodernist, erotic thriller and quite a few others. For what we talk about when we talk about “action” is, of course, violence. Man’s basest, most animalistic instincts. Action cinema and the art that it produces emerge not from the head or the heart but from the bowels. But there can be great value in holding a mirror up to the insides of our bowels. A thousand years ago, great masters like Goya and Caravaggio peered deep into the heart of darkness and showed us the truth that lies within the eye of the beast. The artists who created the adornments for the following VHS tapes were similar men, only they got paid in beer.
We’re trying something a little different for this very special bonus episode of The Scarecrow Video Podcast. It’s a feature-length audio commentary for one of Kevin’s favorite movies, THE KARATE KID that you can download, cue up, and watch along with the movie at home. It’s not a Rifftrax episode; we’re not making fun of it but discussing and dissecting a film that, while being beloved by a certain demographic, may indeed still be underappreciated. If you enjoy this one, there’ll be more to come!
You can download the entire thing here.
(Spoilers for The Gift ahead)
Like a lot of Americans, I have had Republican Presidential front-runner Donald Trump (goodness, that phrase still feels as surreal to write as “Governor Schwarzenegger”) on the brain as of late. The demented jester of American politics used the Republican Presidential debate as a bully pulpit in the truest sense, antagonizing Megyn Kelly for having the audacity to ask him to defend all of the awful, misogynistic things he’s said in the past (and present) and generally being the biggest, most obnoxious and self-absorbed baby onstage.
When Trump’s comments about Kelly got him uninvited from a gathering held by Republican bigwig Erick Erickson, Trump responded predictably, by accusing Erickson of being a “loser.” For veteran Trump watchers, it was a common refrain. Hell, The Washington Post recently ran a lengthy list of all the people Donald Trump has called a loser, a list that includes such luminaries as George Will, Bill Maher, Rosie O’Donnell, Graydon Carter, TV writer and producer Danny Zuker, Seth Myers, Russell Brand, John McCain and pretty much everyone in the world who isn’t enthusiastically onboard the Trump express.
It’s another glorious New Release Tuesday! Remember, on Sundays from now through the end of September, you can get 2 FOR 1 on New Releases! So that will give you two different 2 FOR 1 Days, the usual Wednesday for catalog titles and Sundays for New Releases! As usual there’s a limit of 10 rentals (5 pairs), and this isn’t valid with any other offers.
There are certain elements in film, plot and otherwise, that I’m inherently drawn to. Someone could start describing a movie to me and specific key words will make me immediately add it to my watch list. Did you say blood that looks like pink paint? Awful one-liners? Troublemaking teens? Anything at all about 1970s interior design? Girls who get supernatural powers around puberty? A young Drew Barrymore? Count me in.
One especially satisfying subgenre for me is the female friendship film. The type of movie that revels in the world that two female protagonists create with their own imaginations, strange obsessions, and impenetrable bonds with each other. I’m not talking about Mean Girls here (although I also will never renounce it), or even our beloved The Craft (long live Nancy Downs), because those cliques and companionships exist within the confines of social structure and depend on a certain hierarchy, cattiness and rivalry to form the core of these girls’ supposed “friendships”.
The type of films I want to highlight here are the ones that portray the bizarre connections, unspoken loyalties, imagined worlds, and the utter decadence and destruction that surrounds the best friendship of girls. If you’re sensitive to spoilers I’ve bolded some alerts, but I think comparing the endings of these four films is pretty beneficial.