Episode 1: Introductions/”Handshake Five”
As a listener to both Killer POV and Shock Waves, and a reader of the blog Rupert Pupkin Speaks, I was thrilled to hear that Elric Kane and Brian Saur were teaming up for a new podcast named after Elric’s catchphrase. The beauty of podcasts such as these is that they feel as if you are in the room with the hosts, engaged in an intimate conversation among friends. Of course, the downside is that you’re not engaged in the conversation, and if you speak, you’re speaking to yourself. Well, that’s true no more. With this series of Pod-Commentaries, I’m pitching in my two cents, starting at the very first episode and playing catch-up from there. I hope you’ll lend these fellows your ear, and then lend me your eye.
In the first episode, our hosts answer a few introductory questions and dig into their Handshake Five.
Earliest Movie Memories
Brian: THE MOUSE THAT ROARED (1959), and FREAKY FRIDAY (1976)
Elric: STAR WARS (1977), and RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)
Since the hosts both gave two titles, I will follow suit with two of my own. The first is Walt Disney’s animated THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967) when it was rereleased to theaters in 1984, which my mother took my sister and I to see in reward for being brave at the doctor’s office and receiving a shot of some sort. And the second is a live action Disney film, FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR (1986), which we saw at the drive-in with my father on a somewhat rainy night. Before the movie started, we “raced” raindrops on the windshield, and I was fast asleep before the movie was over.
First Favorite Film or Director
Brian: THE TERMINATOR (1984)
Elric: Roman Polanski; THE SHINING (1980)
Like Brian, I didn’t become aware enough of directors to follow their work until later in life, but the first ones that I did start to follow were Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, and Wes Craven. It’s much easier to develop a favorite film as a youngster than it is a favorite director, and the earliest that I can recall being enthralled with were STIR CRAZY (1980) and BILL AND TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY (1991)—yes, even more so than the original. STIR CRAZY was a family television favorite, while BOGUS JOURNEY was the very first VHS tape that I ever owned.
Cinematic Weak Spots
Brian: Newer foreign films
Elric: 1930s and 1940s musicals
While both of these answers would be suitable for me as well, for the sake of diversity I’m going to choose silent films. I’ve seen a smattering of them, almost all from the horror genre, and although I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen, it’s just been a difficult area to dive deep into. I’m unlikely to purchase a film that I haven’t seen, and finding quality silents to stream on Netflix and the like isn’t an easy proposition, so at best I’ve been able to dip a toe into the water while the lake itself is a bottomless expanse.
Last DVD/Blu-Ray Purchased
Brian: HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940) Criterion edition
Elric: RITUALS (1977) on DVD; TENEBRE (1982) on Blu-Ray
My latest purchases were made at the same time from Amazon in order to fill a few gaps in my collection that nobody else would care about but me. They were the original CAPTAIN AMERICA (1979) and DOCTOR STRANGE (1978) films. I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and watch them yet, so I can’t comment on how well they stack up against the latest iteration of the characters. And before anyone asks, yes, I do already have the Dolph Lungdren PUNISHER (1989). Now if I could just get a proper release of David Hasselhoff’s NICK FURY: AGENT OF SHIELD (1998)…
Favorite Releasing Label
Brian: Twilight Time
Elric: Grindhouse Releasing
To be honest, I don’t own many specialty releases from boutique labels, so this isn’t the easiest question for me to answer; however the catalogue titles from Something Weird Video have always been among the most fascinating to me and align with some of my more esoteric tastes. In fact, I’ve probably reviewed more titles available from SWV than any other distributor. Although not all of their titles are what you might call good, they do important work—rescuing these oddball films from being lost and/or completely forgotten. As I have stated before, the Something Weird catalogue is just as important as the Criterion collection, because trash is just as much art as art is.
Favorite Film Book
Brian: Guide for the Film Fanatic, by Danny Peary
Elric: Film as a Subversive Art, by Amos Vogel
Narrowing down my favorite film book is a difficult proposition, as I’ve got a running list of them HERE. Probably the best in my collection is the pricey but oh-so-good Nightmare, U.S.A. by Stephen Thrower, which Elric and Brian discussed in the show. If I were forced to choose a favorite, though, it would likely be one of Michael Weldon’s books, The Psychotronic Video Guide and The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, which were extremely influential in forming my tastes in media and my desire to write about it.
And finally we have the Handshake Five, five films that aren’t necessarily your favorite films, but which best represent you. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, how well and how quickly you hit it off could easily correlate with their acceptance of your list and its overlap with theirs.
Brian: THREE O’CLOCK HIGH (1987), AFTER HOURS (1985), ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979), DUCK SOUP (1933), and RIO BRAVO (1959)
Elric: THE SHINING (1980), THE ‘BURBS (1989), POSSESSION (1981), A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951), and BLUE VEVET (1986)
I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to boil my essence down to five films, but this was the hardest list I’ve made in a good long while. THE ‘BURBS certainly would have had a spot, but Elric already claimed it, so I’ll give that position to another worthy candidate. In no particular order:
1) AT MIDNIGHT I’LL TAKE YOUR SOUL (1964) – A right bastard of an undertaker commands fear and respect from the other villagers, and searches for the perfect mate to keep his bloodline alive. This first entry in Brazil’s “Coffin Joe” franchise is pulpy, twisted, beautiful, and bizarre.
2) KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988) – If you’re going to make a film entitled KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, you better embrace the ludicrousness of the concept and go for broke. Luckily the Chiodo Brothers do just that, giving us a ton of evil fellows in greasepaint and goofy carnival gags.
3) TRUE ROMANCE (1993) – This film has early ‘90s ALTERNATIVE NATION written all over it, with comic shop employee Christian Slater and prostitute Patricia Arquette falling in love and embarking on a Bonnie & Clyde style road-trip—not to mention Val Kilmer as the ghost of Elvis. This early script from Quentin Tarantino was initially the first half of a much larger concept that concluded with the script for NATURAL BORN KILLERS, so the two make an interesting double-feature.
4) ED WOOD (1994) – Tim Burton’s ode to low budget auteur Ed Wood is perfectly cast, perfectly paced, and a perfectly realized dream for B-movie fans. It is itself a B-movie about B-movies that is elevated to top-tier material. For me, this is Burton at his best and I would love for him to return to the world of stylized biopics sometime in the near future. Might I suggest Tom Graeff…?
5) REAR WINDOW (1954) – As far as I’m concerned, this is not only Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest film, but one of the greatest films, period. PSYCHO may have been the one that got me interested in Hitchcock, but REAR WINDOW is the one that keeps me coming back.
So that’s my (unwanted) contribution to episode 1 of the Pure Cinema Podcast. I’ll be back soon to pitch in a few thoughts for episode 2!