About Danny Reid

Danny is a long time videostore employee and movie nerd who mostly dabbles in 1930's Hollywood for his kicks, but he also dabbles in anything else that grabs his attention, good or bad.

Live a Little, Love a Little

Live a Little, Love a Little

Written by Michael A. Hoey and Dan Greenburg
Directed by Norman Taurog

Someone’s too excited about Elvis’ naked body. Then again, anyone being excited at all about Elvis’ naked body is a scary, scary thing.

Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, starred in 31 motion pictures between 1956 and 1969. He did it because he loved movies, and his management loved money. Every movie rolled out with a tie-in album that promised a lucrative pot of gold, and while Mr. Presley desired to be another Brando, his management fashioned him instead as a low rent James Dean. A rebel with a cause, and that cause was a bag covered in dollar signs.

I’ve been watching through the Elvis filmography the last couple of months, half because I find dated cultural artifacts fascinating and half because I’m a total glutton for punishment. The films he’s mostly remembered for are big gaudy musicals like Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas, but these are, politely, the tip of the iceberg.

It’s always an awkward love triangle when there’s a Darren involved.

Usually he’s a pretty typical character: race car driver/airplane pilot/bon vivant who is a part time singer and a bit of a sex machine who gets himself in a bit of trouble.  If I told you there was a film where Elvis was fighting his brother in the Civil War, would you be surprised? One where he was mistaken for a spy and chased around the world? One where he plays a Native American in redface? One where he plays a dual role and both Elvises chase around a bunch of sexy bumpkins through the Appalachians?

And I’m only listing out ones that I’ve seen. For all I know, there’s an Elvis movie out there where he plays a giant poodle. Hell, this one comes close.

I’m not going to write about every Elvis movie for TarsTarkas.Net, but I wanted to highlight a few of the most unbelievable. Because maybe if someone believed me when I talk about these films, if someone else knew the pain involved in just how bad some of these are… maybe they won’t be quite so painful.

If you stick with me through these reviews, you may pick up on the fact that most Elvis films have a view of women that nowadays is considered slightly more mature than those held by most cavemen.

Greg Nolan (Elvis Presley) – Not a driver or a flyer this go around (though he does own a rockin’ dune buggy), but a photojournalist. He also, of course, knows kung fu.
Live a Little Love a Yowza Bernice Bernice (Michelle Carey) – A dippy chick who is known by a range of different names by her many male acquaintances. She drives Elvis nuts, but we’ll touch more on that below.
Live a Little Dick Sargent Harry (Dick Sargent) – Bernice’s ex-husband. Or is it current husband? I don’t know, he keeps showing up to annoy Elvis, and is about as square as square can be.
Live a Little Sterling Holloway Milkman (Sterling Holloway) – Okay, so the milkman doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the film, but it’s Sterling Holloway! He was a twerpy character actor from the 1930’s onward. Look at how old he is!
Albert (Brutus) – Albert is Bernice’s Great Dane who seems just as obsessed with the man as Bernice is. Albert is played by Elvis’ own Dane, Brutus. Et tu, Elvis?

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Dragon Fury (1995)

Dragon Fury

Written and Directed by David Heavener

“Welcome to Motel 6. Do you have a reservation… TO DIE?”

So the Apocalypse happened back in 1999. I know, you probably missed it; I know I did. But it happened, and Los Angeles split from the continent by the fault line and was hit by a plague. By some strange voodoo, this resulted in the remnants of the city becoming entrenched in a mix of medieval pageantry and ninja violence.

Well, if any post-apocalyptic city is going to devolve into a bad action movie, they’re right, L.A. would be the place.

Mason (Robert Chapin) – Also known as ‘Dragon’, he saw his wife and child get brutally murdered by the evil Fullock. Cult leader Vestor also tried to control him, but Dragon was too strong! He’s normally on the run in the Post-Apocalypse until he’s tasked with traveling back in time to grab the vaccine that will stop the plague two days before the quake. Got all that?

Also, his hair is really goofy. I mean, look at that.

Milton (Chuck Loch) – Despite the fact that the notion of light bulbs continues to elude him, this chap invented a time machine! Unfortunately, his time machine is incompatible with shirts for some reason. Look, he invented time travel, he’s allowed some wiggle room.
Regina (Chona Jason) – Mason’s girlfriend. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still upset after his wife died and all, but this movie needs nudity, dammit, and someone has to provide.
Vestor (Richard Lynch) – Self proclaimed “Chief Medical Dictator”, he runs around future L.A. like he owns the place. He also tries to indoctrinate various people into his cults. He’s the bad guy here, and spends most of the film stuck in the post-apocalypse glowering like few other character actors can.
Dr. Ruth (Deborah Stambler) – The doctor who takes care of Mason when he arrives back in the hoary days of 1999. She thinks his story of traveling through time is amusing, until the shirtless assassins show up and start karate chopping shit.
Fullock (T.J. Storm) – Look, I’m not saying he’s technically playing the Terminator, but he wanders around shirtless, is practically unstoppable, doesn’t say anything, and by the end has a shotgun that he runs amuck with.

But he also knows karate. So he’s got that going for him.

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When Nature Calls (1985)

When Nature Calls

aka The Outdoorsters

Directed by Charles Kaufman
Written by Charles Kaufman and Stan Weisman

I find this gag to be ‘bearable’.

“How many people remember that Eleanor Roosevelt had great tits?”

Seven years after Kentucky Fried Movie, a different group of filmmakers decided to basically do the same thing: a theatrical experience that was a parody of the entire theater going experience. You get fake trailers, fake theater announcements, fake concession stand ads (here’s a hotdog doing another hotdog doggy style! brilliant!) and a feature presentation that makes mockery of a big hit.

It doesn’t help us much now that the object of the film’s scorn, the series of Wilderness Family movies in the late 70’s, are pretty much forgotten now. Those were a series of film where the dad took everyone out into the woods where they were much happier without the technology. And, you know, other people.

They use most of the film’s run time to skewer this, but rather than settle for a simple parody, they mixed their approach with the Airplane gag-a-minute philosophy, and while there are a lot (a lot) of misses, it still works out since the people in front of the camera seem to be having such a good time.

Baby Bullets (N/A) – A baby buggy that gets to reenact gangster movie cliches. It’s funny. Because it’s a baby.

Yeah. And this is the trailer they start with…

Gena (Cheryl “Gates” McFadden) – The future chief medical officer of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” plays Gena in a trailer entitled Gena’s Story. This involves a lot of pokes at ‘female pictures’ that Meryl Streep probably would feel comfortable in. It also involves dancing around in her underwear, uh, if that’s your thing.
Marty (Matthew Adams) – The third and last trailer parody is probably the deepest of them all, which ain’t saying much. This satire of Raging Bull involves a great deal of swearing, which is all bleeped out (because bleeping is much funnier than uncreative profanity). I think the title of this segment is apt (Raging Asshole) and it wisely doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Greg (David Orange) – The lead and madman who kicks off the plot of our feature, The Outdoorsters. Greg one day decides his city job (in “Shanghai, 1913” which looks suspiciously like 1980’s New York) and take his family out into the wilderness where they can build a life. He’s completely self delusional and narrates this movie which only seems to feed into his madness. But, hey, check out that physique and kinky scarf.
Barb (Barbara Marineau) – Greg’s wife who thinks he’s crazy. She also will not make love to him, resorting to sticking mice traps in her pockets for whenever he gets frisky.

Probably also nuts.

Bambi (Tina Marie Staino) – A teenage girl who loves her teddy bear too much. And when she finally meets a real bear, it’s love at first site.

She becomes his honey! :rimshot:

Little Billy (Nicky Belm) – Little Billy is what all parents worried their kids would become in the 80’s– an entrepreneur without a conscience. We start the movie with him deciding the fates of a bevy of prostitutes, and soon find him creating peep shows for elephants out in the woods. He’s a brat, but, oddly, probably the most sane of them all.
Weejun (David Strathairn) – Yes. Future Academy Award nominee David Strathairn. He plays an Indian (or at least a man who thinks he’s an Indian) who becomes friends with the family as they rough it in the wilderness. He has much to teach them, especially in the arena of bobcat wrestling.

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Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, & John Logan
Directed by Sam Mendes

Tron, nooooooo!

The formula for a successful James Bond film is tricky. Too serious, too lighthearted, too romantic, too distant, too many people dressed as clowns: all problems the franchise has faced before.

Now we may have run into a new one: too artsy. Sam Mendes, the Academy Award winning director of American Beauty and a half dozen other explorations of the horror of American life, helms the latest Bond excursion, Skyfall. Getting the opportunity to play with a British icon, Mendes delves immediately into doing what he enjoys doing: peeling away the paint to find the rot underneath.

With the cliches of the franchise firmly in place, Mendes decides to throw the accumulated mess against each other and find where the pieces fall when push comes to shove.

Skyfall Daniel Craig James Jimmy Bond James “007” Bond (Daniel Craig) – Still smarting from all the other dumb crap he’s gone through in the last two films, Bond is brooding and upset. He also gets shot and presumed dead in the pre-title sequence, something that would put a damper on anyone’s mood.
Skyfall Judi Dench M (Dame Judy Dench) – The head of British Intelligence’s MI6, she’s getting up there in years, having advised James Bond way back in the day when he was still Pierce Brosnan. She’s a big focus of the plot this time around, as apparently the entire island of Britain has a good old case of the Oedipus complex when it comes to her.
Skyfall Q impish being creature thing Q (Ben Whishaw)– Impish little man with a foppish hairdo that puts Bond on trial for the crimes of humanity…I bet no one’s ever made that joke before! Anyway, this little twerp is Dr. Who, Jr. for the most part, except his extreme overconfidence gets the better of him more than a few times.
Skyfall Voldemort Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) – Yes, Voldemort is in this movie. This time he’s M’s superior, so we have someone threatening to take her badge away after one more reckless act. Layers upon layers.
Skyfall Two Bits Eve (Naomie Harris) – Another British spy who hangs out with James during some down time. Also knows the correct response to the ages old riddle of “Shave and a haircut.”
Skyfall Pain Fear You Know Not These Things Severine (Berenice Marlohe) – The villain’s sex slave girlfriend, with all the joy and fun that that entails.
Diego Silva (Javier Bardem) – One of the greatest computer hackers the world has apparently ever known, he also has questionable fashion taste and social skills. Completely different than me, I assure you. Well, at least the hacker part.

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Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters (1982)

Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters


Directed by Jopi Burnama & Charles Kaufman


Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters (1982)

Well, this is fun.

“Have you ever heard that little voice inside you say that there’s more to life than slamming another woman to the mat with incredible force?”

We continue our journey through the depths of Troma’s catalog this week with Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters, which contains two reliably Troma staples:

  1. The movie’s cover is a beautiful, buxom woman who appears nowhere in the film.
  2. The movie rips off a better known source but sprinkles in a lot more self congratulation and jokes about bodily functions.

Here we have the minds behind the scenes ripping off Woody Allen’s What’s Up Tiger Lily? If you don’t know that movie, a simple summation should suffice: Allen took a Japanese spy film and dubbed new dialogue and sound effects over the action.

That’s a pretty great way to make a cheap movie. Charles Kaufman seized upon this and decided to do the same. Since Charles Kaufman is the man who wrote and directed When Natures Call and not the man who wrote and directed Sleeper, the results are less than stellar.

Litmus test time: here’s the film’s signature joke. “What is brown with holes in it?”

If your response was “Swiss shit”, congratulations, that’s right. Now tell the joke about a dozen more times and you’re basically reenacting a large portion of the film.

That violates copyright laws. You could go to jail. (But I won’t tell.)

Bambi (Eva Arnez) – This is the main character. She doesn’t want to fight. But she does.
Barney (Barry Prima)– A kung fu fighter who talks like Elvis and fights kung fu. These are deep characters, you see.

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Tuesday Never Comes (1993)

Tuesday Never Comes

Directed by Jason Holt
This is going to be a review that begs for the angry comment. Once I misinterpreted a character’s inflection in Beauty and The Boss (1932) over at my blog and I got a three paragraph response which basically called me an Obama/Bush-loving atrocity-condoning socialist.

I need that here. I need someone to point out to me what actually happens in Tuesday Never Comes and I need them to do it quick because this may be a wholly inaccurate review and I’ll never know about it. Then again, anyone else watching may come across a different interpretation by design; maybe this movie is whatever you want it to be.

The reason for the confusion is that a good three quarters of the dialogue in this film is muffled beyond recognition. The other quarter is either screamed or comes from a man who has what can generously be called ‘the fakest Irish accent in the world’. By comparison he makes Chief O’Hara sound vaguely Russian.

Zack (Jason Holt) – You know the leprechaun who shills for Lucky Charms cereal? Now imagine someone made a movie about him where he’s an assassin who’s into dirty sex and crack cocaine. Not enough for you? Now imagine he’s played by the guy who directed the film, so his performance is completely uninhibited. Scary, right?
Mecelli (Erik Estrada) – Estrada is in full scenery chewing mode as he pretty much plays Robert DeNiro in The Untouchables; hell, he even kills a goon with a sporting implement, though here it’s a golf club. He also enjoys the company of women, running drugs, rubbing guns up and down, and laughing maniacally.
Michelle (Karen Black) – Cross eyed, Academy Award nominee Karen Black needs some money to satisfy her crack habit, so she sleeps around to get it. And I presume that’s what her character is doing in the film as well.

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