Friday, February 25, 2011

Worth Mentioning - A Hell of a Ride

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

This week, Cody has a Devil of a time and Jay lets in Americanized vampires. Plus: bonus Tobolowsky!

Immediately after seeing the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature Grindhouse and the four fake trailers within it on opening day in 2007, I began thinking, "What would I have done if I had made a fake Grindhouse trailer?" The idea I ended up with mixed two popular subjects of the 1970s, and the thought expanded from making a fake trailer to turning it into a feature film. I've been kicking around this movie idea for almost 4 years now, regularly watching and studying films in the sub-genres it's inspired by.

One of the inspirations is the horror sub-genre of Satantic cult films. The devil was big business at the end of the '60s and throughout the '70s, the most popular cinematic entries of the time being Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, and The Omen. (The '70s preoccupation with Satan even branched into comic books, where it inspired the creation of the comic hero of my childhood, Ghost Rider.)

My latest visit to some of these films coincidentally coincided with this weekend's release of


From the My Bloody Valentine (2009) team of Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer, Drive Angry is a bit of a throwback itself, with its revenge story featuring muscle cars and cultists. Nicolas Cage plays a killer who's out to avenge his daughter's murder and save his infant granddaughter from being sacrificied by a bunch of devil worshippers. Along the way, he's aided by a feisty waitress played by Amber Heard and pursued by the awesome William Fichtner as a demonic Accountant.

It's worth checking out, because Lussier knows how to shoot 3D and make it work, the action is fun, the nudity is plentiful, and Amber Heard could kick the ass of everyone who's reading this.


A couple other cult movies I watched this week:


Also known as The Devil's Bride in the U.S. Christopher Lee is out to thwart a Satanic cult led by Charles Gray in this one, which was directed by Terence Fisher and written by Richard Matheson (based on a novel by Dennis Wheatley.)

The Devil himself shows up at one of the cult's gatherings, and dude looks like this:


Another Satanic cult, this time headed by Ernest Borgnine, terrorizes a family, particularly a pair of brothers played by William Shatner and Tom Skerritt. Eddie Albert of Green Acres helps Skerritt out and John Travolta has an early acting role as one of the cult members.

People tend to lose their eyes and get a case of funky face in this flick. Shatner gets the treatment, and apparently it was the lifecast done of Shatner's face for this movie that Don Post later used to make his Captain Kirk masks. It was a Post Kirk mask, slightly altered and painted white, that became the mask of Michael Myers in Halloween.

Satan takes over Borgnine's body in a couple scenes and dude looks like this:

And now, in non-Satanic news, a follow-up to previous mentions: A while back, I recommended David Byrne's film True Stories, which was co-written by character actor Stephen Tobolowsky. I also recommended Tobolowsky's podcast The Tobolowsky Files, where he tells "stories of life, love, and the entertainment industry". In the episode that went up last Friday, #44: The Voice From Another Room, Tobolowsky talks about how he met Byrne and got involved with True Stories, as well as the secret origin of Radiohead.

I should also mention


Directed by cinematographer Robert Brinkmann, this film is what led to the creation of the Tobolowsky Files podcast. It's all about Stephen Tobolowsky holding court at his birthday party and telling his life stories. He's got very interesting tales to tell, and he shares them in a really entertaining way. The movie can be rented from Netflix, or purchased at

Jay's pick:

LET ME IN (2010)
Directed by Matt Reeves
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Dylan Minnette, and Elias Koteas

Per IMDb: A bullied young boy befriends a young female vampire who lives in secrecy with her guardian.

Let Me In is an American remake of a Swedish film I love immensely, Let the Right One In. When it comes to remakes I almost always expect to dislike them, and my initial feeling toward them is almost always spot on, sometimes even more so than I could have ever imagined. That's not the case here, as I found this to be a serviceable "American version" and thoroughly enjoyed the performance delivered by Chloe Moretz as Abby (Eli in the Swedish version.) This is really saying a lot as I absolutely loved Lina Leandersson's performance in the original film.

The rest of the acting is solid too, including Kodi Smit-McPhee as young Owen (Oskar in the original film) who keeps up with Chloe quite well and is really great in a couple of scenes, namely where he calls his father on the telephone to ask him about the existence of evil.  Richard Jenkins is impressive as Abby's keeper and this version delves more into the fact that he and Abby were once the same age, and were seemingly in the same type of relationship that Owen now finds himself in with Abby. The expansion of this aspect as well as a wonderfully shot car crash scene are just a few touches that have changed from the Swedish version and they are all welcome additions in my book.

Matt Reeves spoke a lot in early interviews about making this an American version, and at the time I thought he seemed to be saying all the right things. Now that I've finally seen the film I must applaud him for delivering on his word and adding some interesting American aspects into the film. They work pretty well and I commend him on pulling off a rare feat-- taking someone else's work, staying true to it, making it his own, and most importantly, doing a good job.


  1. "A Hell of A Ride" was a great bullriding movie. Fantastic photography. In Australia it was released as Shadows of the Past -really worthwhile mentioning to watch

  2. Thanks for the recommendation, Anon. Will have to check it out sometime.

  3. Thought Drive Angry was a blast! Loved the bit when Cage walks away from the car explosion in slow-motion. Classic 80s.

    Also Let Me In was good too. If it didn't have those actors, it would have been a dud.