Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jim Hosking: The Greasy Strangler

The Greasy Strangler, the first feature film by Jim Hosking, is something else entirely: it's a horror-comedy about a serial killer, but the serial killer is an old man living with his nerdy son, not some mastermind criminal. The old man also has a huge cock and he dresses up in grease. In one scene he dives into a barrel full of axle grease or some such goo, and in his outfit he looks absoteluly disgusting. The nerdy son starts to suspect something fishy is going on, but the story has some surprising twists, some of them being really surprising. The film is accompanied by a really irritating synthesizer soundtrack, which adds to the overall feeling.

Disgust is the film's main feeling, or repulsion. The film is yucky all the way. Still it's very funny throughout. There are lots of details I just can't explain in writing, as you wouldn't believe them. I don't know how easily this independent film can be seen, but I recommend you try. This is a film you really can call unpredictable.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: Starcrash

You've seen Plan 9 from Outer Space? You thought it was the worst movie of all time? You ain't seen half of it, there are films that are infinitely worse than Ed Wood's turkey.

The worst part of Plan 9 is that is so slow and boring, mainly just dead people staring at something and walking all too slowly. Where's the action, where's the goofiness? Both are found in large quantities in the Italian space opera Starcrash (1978), directed with hysterical gusto by Luigi Cozzi, using the American-sounding pseudonym Lewis Coates. You want action? Here's action for you. Lots of babes in scantily-clad suits? Check. Uninterested extras parading around? Check. Badly-made spaceships? Check. Red, orange, blue and green planets filling the space? Check. Flat-out weird psychedelic monsters? Check. Stupid one liners? Check. Robot talking with Southern accent? Check. Incomprehensible space battle scenes? Check. Totally goofy last-minute savings by far-out machinery? Check. David Hasselhoff in an early role? Check. Christopher Plummer looking dazed out and giving bad monologues eyes half-closed? Check. Joe Spinell raving about being the emperor of the universe? Check.

This film has got it all. It's entertaining all the way, everything goes ahead with full speed, and the dialogue just keeps giving you shiny examples of humane wit. Most highly recommended.

I don't know if anyone's collecting these posts nowadays, but I thought I'd use the moniker nevertheless. Do check out Todd Mason's blog, he used to collect them earlier.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Donald Trump

I haven't been blogging and I realized why that was. Even though Pulpetti has for years mainly focused on crime fiction in its many forms, I realized I can't go on pretending nothing happened.

You know, I've been devastated. I know now that there were many flaws with Hillary Clinton's campaign, and I hoped Bernie Sanders would've been the Democrat candidate. I don't know whether he'd been able to defeat Trump, but it still would've been the same, right? And maybe Sanders could've set something else entirely in motion. (There's still that Clinton got more votes than Trump. She was more popular. Maybe the Americans should do something about how the votes are counted.)

But Trump? I can't begin to understand what went on here. You would've thought his story would've ended during many points of his career, like when he made condescending remarks about a journalist with a handicap. C'mon, you let this guy run your country?! Okay, I've read lots and lots of reports and articles about how bad things are for the American middleman, but this is still no excuse to vote someone who runs on racism, hatred and bigotry. (Not to mention the notion that also the rich voted for Trump. They are the real ones who benefit from Trump and his politics.) Lots of people have been trying to be moderate and saying that maybe Trump will not go with what he said during his campaign, but however his campaign and his victory made hate speech and vitriolic racism more acceptable.

And it made it more acceptable not only in the US, but all over the world. There's been a lot of racist backlash in Europe and Russia, and I'm beginning to fear we are not seeing the end of it. Talks about building a wall on the Mexican border (which sounded only absurd at first) don't much differ from talks about building camps for special people.

"It couldn't happen here." That was the title of Sinclair Lewis's novel of the rise of the American fascist. That's what they said about Hitler as well.

PS. I don't even want to think what this might mean for Putin's Russia and the rest of Eastern Europe and Middle-Asia. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Dennis Hauck: Too Late (2016)

Dennis Hauck's first feature-length film is Too Late that premiered earlier this year. It's an exceptional film, filmed on 35 mm film and shown only on film. I don't know if there will be a DVD or Blu-Ray later on or if the film will be available on streaming sites, but I guess not. (Oh, it's available on iTunes.)

I was lucky to have the opportunity to see the film last week. While Too Late is not a masterpiece, it's an interesting film in its own right, while it's also an interesting experiment, as it consists only of five shots, each 20 minute long. (The length of a film reel.) This is not done actually very consistently, as there are some scenes with split screens, and there are some edits in the end, but all in all Too Late is a marvelous technical experiment.

Too Late is also a crime film, a neo-noir, if you will. John Hawkes is very good playing a private detective getting caught up in his own past, and there are some other known actors in small roles, like Robert Forster, Jeff Fahey (whom I didn't recognize), Joanna Cassidy and some others. The story is about a stripper working at a seedy club and getting to know some intimate secrets of the owner - or is it...? It's a bit like David Lynch and also a bit like Quentin Tarantino and his Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs: the story moves back and forth in time and you have to be careful to really understand what's going on.

The major problem with the film is that it's too talkative. The 20-minute shots get caught up in people talking, and nothing much happens on screen. There's also the familiar problem with many experimental movies: you don't really invest much interest in these people. It's more a like game, though the surprise twist in end feels more touching than anything else in the film.

Still, Too Late is a very worthwhile film and if you have the opportunity, check it out.

More Overlooked Films at Todd Mason's blog. (I hope there will be more Films.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: LBJ: The Early Years (1987)

I can't resist buying stuff like this I find on thrift stores and other places: cheap VHS cassettes with movies that probably have never been released on DVD or don't show up on TV. LBJ: The Early Years cost me 20 cents a year ago, and I finally watched it. As it's pretty long (almost 3 hours) it took me many days to watch. The series was published on video cassette in Finnish in 1989 with the title Vallan huipulla ("Top of the Power" or some such).

LBJ: The Early Years is a solid work from director Peter Werner who's had a pretty long career on TV. For some reason, the screen writer of the mini-series isn't said anywhere, not in the credits nor in IMDb. I don't know why, certainly there's no reason for anyone to hide. LBJ: The Early Years starts from the fifties, with Johnson working in the senate, but not yet being a senator. The series follows his career in politics from running for senate and later for vice-presidency. The climax is of course the assassination of John F. Kennedy on which no time is wasted. The murder is not shown, the series focuses on the aftermath of the assassination. The series doesn't go into LBJ's actual presidency. 

I'm no expert on the US history, but the mini-series seems trustworthy on many themes, like the relationship between the Kennedys and Johnson. As the series is not about LBJ's presidency, it doesn't deal with the war in Vietnam, so it can dust off the more difficult issues. 

The best thing about LBJ: The Early Years is the lead actor. Randy Quaid makes a believable and likable Johnson, with all his quirks, Texas drawl and sudden changes in mood. Quaid is full of energy, when need be, but he's very good also portraying Johnson's depression. There are many good actors in the small roles: Kevin McCarthy, Pat Hingle, R. G. Armstrong, Barry Corbin, Royal Dano, Frances Conroy... In the narration are included several newsreels, which are used to a good effect. 

I don't know if this is regularly shown on American TV, but it could very well be. 

More Overlooked Films at Todd Mason's blog here (when they show up). 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Ed Gorman

Just noticed that Ed Gorman passed away. It's a damn shame, I'm sure there were more books in him. His work as a novelist, short story writer and anthologist has been great and revered by many.

As far as I know, I'm responsible for the only two Finnish translations of Gorman's work. I published two of his short stories, both of which were excellent. The first one to come out was "Layover", a thoughtful and melancholy look at people who got tangled up in crime. It was first published in my fanzine, Isku, and then it came out in Kaikki valehtelevat/Everybody Lies, the anthology of short stories that were published in my crime fiction fanzines. Then came "Scream Queen", another melancholy story, this time about some nerdy guys working in a video store and meeting the idol of their teenage years, the actor of many slasher films. It was published as a small pamphlet, with a limited print run and with Aapo Kukko's great cover illustration.

May Ed Gorman rest in peace. I know there are many people who miss him - my condolences to them. I never met him, but would've sure liked to.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

On Dylan

As everyone by now knows, Bob Dylan got the Nobel prize for literature earlier today. Now, I've never really understood why people like him and his music so much. To me his music always been a bit boring and at times obnoxious, and it's not just about his singing voice. I have a strong taste for more rhythm and more vigorous beats, and you have to admit there's not much of those in Dylan's music. I have found his orchestrations noisy and incoherent, and it's something I don't like in Bruce Springsteen either. The Big Sound just escapes me. I like it when The Byrds made "Mr. Tambourine Man" into a jingly-jangly pop song.

My ex-girlfriend and the mother of my first child is a great Dylan fan. She had to have everything Dylan ever did. You can easily see this caused some difficulties between her and me - our tastes in music were too different. This wasn't the cause for us breaking up apart, but it had something to do with it. It has also cast a shadow over me and my relationship with Dylan's music. Still, whatever I do, I just can't get the taste of it.

Of course, Dylan got his Nobel prize for his lyrics, not his music. In rock music, though, they are inseparable, but as for me, I've never really cared for listening to the lyrics. I don't really know why this is - maybe it's because it reminds me of my work, reading and writing, and I want music to be something else entirely.

There are some exceptions to my views of Dylan. I like Dylan without a noisy band, like for example here.