Film Reviews

2,000 MANIACS! [1964]
"This is gonna be the best centennial we ever had. Dogged if we don't!" The southern town of Pleasant Valley was totally wiped out by Union troops during the Civil War. Now, 100 years later, the ghosts of those murdered have risen up to exact revenge. The "Wizard of Gore" himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis, directed this masterpiece, one of the first of the splatter film genre. 2,000 Maniacs was filmed in 14 days in St. Cloud, Florida, on a miniscule budget. Look for a moving performance from former Playboy Playmate, Connie Mason. Here's an actual quote from the movie poster: "An entire town pulsing human blood! Madmen crazed for carnage! Brutal . . . evil . . . ghastly beyond belief! . . . Gruesomely stained in Blood Color!"

Jack Lemmon portrays a lonely office worker who lets upper management use his dwelling at all hours of the night to entertain their "girlfriends." You see the poor guy is hoping his generosity will lead to a promotion. Then he falls for an elevator operator played by Shirley MacLaine (who is actually less obnoxious than usual, believe it or not!). After watching the late Jack Lemmon and the late Walter Mattheau stumbling and bumbling through that piece of crap Out to Sea, it's easy to forget that Lemmon actually made some classic movies back in the day. Billy Wilder directs the stellar cast, which includes Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston and Edie Adams. Bottom line: Rent this flick in a double feature along with Office Space—then go to work tomorrow and tell your boss to go fuck himself.

CLERKS [1994]
Bill Chinaski: "How did you like Clerks?"
Jim Foley: "I was not impressed with Kevin Smith's initial effort."
Bill Chinaski: "Hahahahahahaha!"
Jim Foley: "I like that he gave props to Jarmusch."
Bill Chinaski: "I've got to admit that the guy is overrated."
Jim Foley: "The characters were caricatures."
Bill Chinaski: "Yeah, I haven't seen it in a couple of years but thought it was just okay."
Jim Foley: "The store customers reminded me of bit players in a Woody Allen movie. Honestly, Jay and Silent Bob were the best characters in the movie. No wonder you hear nothing about the other actors."
Bill Chinaski: "Don't watch Mallrats then. It was even worse than Clerks."
Jim Foley: "I thought An Evening with Kevin Smith was good . . . nice rapport with the audience and crazy Hollywood antics . . . better than his scripts anyway!"
Bill Chinaski: "He's got such a cult following, it's almost amazing because when you watch the films you're like, 'that's it?' He must have tapped into some type of teen/twenties angst in the '90s and he's been riding the wave ever since."
Jim Foley: "Yeah . . . I guess Mary Jane helps a whole lot."
Bill Chinaski: "Huge blocks of his films are just amateurish, like if you gave some guy off the street a camera and sent him into a mall to get some footage."
Jim Foley: "Yeah, the dialogue was just so stilted . . . at least it is now . . . nearly 20 years later."
Bill Chinaski: "I agree that Jay and Silent Bob are the only good aspects of the film but actually would reduce that to 'Jay.' I think he's kind of funny. I mean the Harpo Marx routine wears thin after awhile."
Jim Foley: "He is in the movie so sparingly, I don't mind him not talking. But Jay is funny as shit."
Bill Chinaski: "Wait till you see Mallrats! Silent Bob has a bigger role and that does not help the movie at all. The Batman antics in the shopping mall seriously lack humor and are actually annoying at times . . ."

It took David Lynch, a former art student, five years to make Eraserhead, a curious blend of Kafkesque horror and Orwellian nightmare. At one point, Lynch even took a job delivering the Wall Street Journal on a paper route to support himself during the film's production. Lynch once remarked, "Waking dreams are the ones that are important . . . I like to dive into a dream world that I've made or discovered; a world I choose." In Eraserhead, Jack Nance portrays total loser Henry Spencer (Nance died under mysterious circumstances in 1996 after a fight at a donut shop). After viewing Eraserhead, you'll know who served as the inspiration for fight promoter Don King's unique hairstyle. Lynch once revealed in an interview that he had a chocolate shake at Bob's Big Boy at 2:30 PM every day for seven years: "Two-thirty is Bob's time . . . I can think there and draw on napkins and have my shake. Sometimes I have a cup of coffee and sometimes I have a small Coke. They both go great with shakes."

In this brilliant adaptation of author Chuck Palahniuk's cult novel, a lonely, depressed insomniac becomes addicted to attending support groups. He soon discovers an alternative view of life through the help of a free-spirited, eccentric (and ultimately nihilistic) soap salesman. The two eventually start their own support group - underground clubs where the participants beat the living shit out of each other. Fight clubs soon become the rage across the country and the participants soon focus their energies into darker, even more sinister goals. Loaded with intense, disturbing and humorous images, Fight Club makes A Clockwork Orange seem like The Warriors in comparison. The late, great film critic Roger Ebert called it "the most frankly and cheerfully fascist big-star movie since Death Wish, a celebration of violence in which the heroes write themselves a license to drink, smoke, screw and beat one another up." I can't think of a better endorsement, can you?

And so the movie starts at 7:10 PM and we’re already late and I tell my wife to call her brother because he pre-paid for the tickets the night before and he tells her that they are running late and I look at my watch and it’s 6:35 PM and she says we will get a bite at the food court and hopefully they will get there with the tickets in time and she says that her brother said don’t worry because hell the previews run for 20 minutes but I complain because this is opening night and the fuckin’ place is going to be packed so we’ll probably end up in the front row and she says don’t worry nobody is going to be there but I tell her that they marketed the shit out of this film and besides it's PG-13 so everybody and their mother’s going to be there and then we grab a bite to eat at Pita-Pita and I get some sort of chicken pita thing smothered in cucumber sauce and I’m feeling like I’m gonna puke or pass out and I look at my watch again and it’s 6:50 PM and still no sign of her brother and I look at this huge line in front of the ticket window and I imagine myself in the front row and now I’m really getting pissed and then we start waiting in front of the theater and before you know it the time is 7:05 PM and they finally arrive with the tickets and my brother-in-law has to excuse himself and grab some McDonald’s to smuggle into the theater and we finally make it into the theater and the only rows that have seats left are the two in front and so we find four seats together in the second row at the end and the lady behind us has two obnoxious kids and a baby that’s crying and then my brother-in-law asks if I want an apple pie from McDonald’s and I say no and then he says he’s headed to get some popcorn and asks if we want anything and I say that I want a Coca-Cola slurpee and he comes back with a cherry slurpee because there are no Coca-Cola slurpees and I HATE cherry slurpees but I start wolfing down popcorn and then I realize I have to take a major dump because of the lousy pita with the cucumber sauce and so I miss a huge portion of the flick on the shitter and then when I return the kid behind me is screaming his head off and for some reason they’ve cranked up the heat in the theater and I’m wearing a sweater so I’m sweating my balls off and before you know it the movie’s over and we sit there watching the credits and it’s 9:15 PM and my wife looks over at me and says that the mall closes at 11 PM so we have almost two hours in which to do Christmas shopping . . .

The years haven’t been kind to this shallow, overly stylistic adaptation of an even shallower 1985 bestseller. Just think, I once actually thought this was a powerful movie, but now I mainly chuckle at some of ridiculous dialogue and predictable plot twists. Based on Bret Easton Ellis’ sophomoric novel (once hailed as the "first MTV novel"), Less Than Zero details the sordid lives of three aimless teens from wealthy Beverly Hills 90210 families who were best friends in high school but whose lives are now going in opposite directions. Clay (Andrew McCarthy) returns home for the holidays from his stint as a freshman at an Ivy League college to find his former girlfriend, Blair (Jami Gertz), strung out on drugs and his best friend, the nihilistic Julian (Robert Downey Jr.), on the downward spiral toward total addiction. Worse still, Julian has been banging Blair while Clay was away reading the Harvard classics. Everybody proceeds to get fucked up, move from party to party, try to half-heartedly bail Julian out of his troubles–you get the idea . . . It’s worth watching just to marvel at the sleazy performance of James Spader ("Rip"), who portrays one of the lamest drug dealers ever to hit the silver screen. It’s also interesting in hindsight when you realize that Downey wasn’t really acting at all when he portrayed the drug-addled loser. Also look for Brad Pitt in an uncredited role as one of the drunken revelers and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers as "Musician #1". One of the best things about this flick is the classic soundtrack, which includes "A Hazy Shade of Winter" (Bangles), "Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night" (Poison), "Bring the Noise" (Public Enemy), "Life Fades Away" (Roy Orbison), "Bump ’n Grind" (David Lee Roth), "Moonlight Drive" (The Doors) and "Fire" (Jimi Hendrix).

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