Friday, September 21, 2007

Camera Obscura: Luckless Chuck; History of Bava; Japanese Guitar Gods

Want to know about the romantic comedy "Good Luck Chuck" with Dane Cook and Jessica Alba? You have my sympathy if it is on your list of movies you have to see. Here's just one sample of what movie critics have to say:

[It] is so ham-fisted and blunt that you feel like you're being beaten about the head with clubs made out of artificial breasts, sexism, gross-out humor and Dane Cook's naked body. Another friend, after I dismissed Good Luck Chuck as unfunny trash, said "It'll probably be the top of the box office, then" and offered that I was "an elitist." Well, to paraphrase David Rees, if 'elitist' means 'not the dumbest person in the room,' then hell, yes, I'm an elitist. And Good Luck Chuck may make money; so does cocaine, but I don't feel like that alone is a reason to endorse either product."



Weighing in a 12 (count 'em) 12 pounds, the new book "Mario Bava, All the Colors of the Dark" by Tim Lucas is beyond exhaustive and comprehensive. Bava's work, many times uncredited, was vastly influential on every genre of film made in Italy (and America) during the 20th Century.

from Planet of the Vampires

Bava made some true gems in the fantasy/sci-fi/horror genres which have always been among my personal favorites - like Planet of the Vampires, and Black Sunday, featuring the incomparable Barbara Steele, and "Danger: Diabolik!", which is so super groovy it makes Bond and Flint look like total squares, baby, yeah.!

Lucas is also the creator of Video WatchBlog, and he currently has several deeply detailed posts about some of Bava's last few movies and tons of photos. There's also a post on this week's 90th birthday of schlock cinema scribe Ib Melchior, who worked with Bava and many others. His movie "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" is merely one of the minor classics he created.

Bava used simple techniques and vivid scenes which were the inspiration for dozens of American filmmakers, from Scorsese to Tarantino to Dante and many of the slasher movies still around today. Though often given cheesy dubbing, his movies were eye-popping and always very entertaining.


I've been waiting a long, long time for the movie "From Beyond" to land on DVD and it has arrived in a great un-rated version which makes it a Must Have (for me, at least.) Director Stuart Gordon's Lovecraft-inspired tale brings back Jeffery Combs and Barbara Crampton from "Re-Animator" for a grisly and funny romp. When the movie includes scenes of folks biting off someone's extruding pineal gland, well ... 'nuff said.

Extras include a full-length commentary by Gordon, Combs and Crampton that's as much fun as the movie itself. Who knew 20 some years ago that Scream Queen Crampton would be a soap-opera star?


And a bit of music for this fine Friday. When the American band The Ventures toured Japan in the summer of 1965, they set off a massive cult following in the country and a movement called the Eleki Scene. Many guitarists took to the fuzzy, grungy sound, such as Takeshi Terauchi, and the folks at WFMU's Beware of the Blog has a collection MP3s of his recordings which you can (and should) listen to.

Recently, a cover band called The M-Ventures re-recreated that Tokyo concert by The Ventures, and a collection of their MP3s is here. All of which leads to today's obligatory YouTube presentation. They wail on a version of "Surf Rider":


  1. james2:51 PM

    I have seen planet of the vampires and liked it.Now,I want to tell you about a must see movie A MEXICAN WEREWOLF IN will laugh yourself silly as they chase El Chupacabra.The scene of one girls defense against the werewolf is worth the rental.Unique to say the least.Another movie I rented and liked The Host,set in Korea,a good monster movie.Another thing,my low instincs told me I would like Good Luck Chuck.

  2. James -

    ya know, i thought i had written a movie post about "The Host" and turns out all i did was a brief mention back in March. You're right - it is a very, very good movie. I'll be sure and offer a full review next week!

    And likely the best draw to Chuck is Jessica Alba and her, ahhh, um, attributes.

  3. The M-Ventures? Soooooooo awesome. Thanks, baby.

    Among my top 5 best concerts ever? Dick Dale. He referred to himself in the third person for the entire show.

    Loves me some surf guitar.

  4. Tits!!! Dick Dale rocks.
    And Joe, I love Planet of the Vampires for odd and strange reasons that I cannot articulate.