Friday, May 15, 2020

Worth Mentioning - Ain't No Doubt About It

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. 

Violence, possession, and bad behavior.

CRASH! (1976)

I love '70s smash 'em up car chase movies like Smokey and the Bandit, The Car, Race with the Devil, and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, so when I found out that Full Moon founder Charles Band had directed a car movie appropriately titled Crash! back in 1976, that movie instantly went onto my "must see" list. And thanks to the free streaming service Tubi, I have now seen Crash! After watching it, I can't say it was a particularly good movie, but I did really enjoy the car crash stunts that were featured throughout.

Written by Marc Marais, the story begins with a wealthy older man named Marc Denne (José Ferrer) attempting to kill his younger wife Kim (Sue Lyon) because their relationship has crumbled since an accident confined him to a wheelchair. His murder attempt is quite an epic one - as Kim drives away from their home in her black convertible, Marc sics his doberman on her... and the dog has to run a long distance to catch up with the convertible before it jumps into the vehicle and attacks her. Kim crashes her car and ends up hospitalized, suffering from amnesia.

Eventually Marc and Kim will be reunited so he can try to finish her off, but in the meantime we get several scenes of a driver-less convertible motoring through the countryside, causing crash after crash, killing citizens and the police officers who give chase. By the end of the film we'll find out that this car is Kim's convertible, and that an occult trinket that she had in the vehicle is now in control of it. These trinkets can make anything with wheels come to life; in one scene Marc is even attacked by his own wheelchair because the trinket is placed on it. Still, the explanation causes some confusion, because by the time we see Kim crash her convertible due to the doberman attack we've already seen a couple scenes of the car driving along by itself, causing crashes and deaths. There's some non-linear trickery going on in here.

Anything with the human characters is kind of a drag, but the car crashes are really cool, and - after decades of watching very low budget Full Moon movies - I was quite impressed that Band was able to pull these things off at the beginning of his career. Anyone who likes watching stuntmen smash up vehicles will probably like at least some moments of Crash!


Fans of the grindhouse / drive-in era of filmmaking may get a kick out of writer/director Sam Farmer's Cry for the Bad Man, which gets its title from a 1976 Lynyrd Skynyrd song and stars original I Spit on Your Grave heroine Camille Keaton as a widow who defends her home against three armed intruders who have been sent by a land developer to take her property out from under her.

And that's basically all there is to the movie, an extended sequence of Keaton's character and the intruders threatening each other with their weapons, and using those weapons on each other. Cry for the Bad Man is only 74 minutes long, and the intruders show up at the house about 26 minutes in.

I was sold on this movie as soon as Keaton's involvement was announced, and it turned out to be so quick and simple that I couldn't help but enjoy it. It was cool to see Keaton dish out violent punishment again, and Scott Peeler, Eric Dooley, Christopher James Forrest, Mark Poppleton, and Victor Jones make strong impressions in the roles of antagonists, with Karen Konzen playing the daughter of Keaton's character who also gets caught up in the violence.

If you're a fan of Keaton and have 74 minutes to spare, Cry for the Bad Man is a fine old school time killer.


Four years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by director William Brent Bell's film The Boy, which I enjoyed largely because it wasn't what I expected it to be. The story I thought was going to be about a possessed doll turned out to be the story of a masked man living in the walls of an old mansion. Four years later, Bell has re-teamed with The Boy screenwriter Stacey Menear for a sequel that subverts expectations again - Brahms: The Boy II is not about the return of the man who lived in the walls. Instead, it reveals that the porcelain doll from the first movie was indeed a supernatural force. The Boy II is the movie I thought The Boy was going to be. 

The Boy II stars Katie Holmes as Liza, who heads off to spend some time in a country cottage with her young son Jude (Christopher Convery) and husband Sean (Owain Yeoman) so they can get beyond the trauma they experienced when Jude witnessed Liza get hurt by men who broke into their London home. Jude has been selectively mute ever since, and the hope is that time away from the city could get him talking again.

And it does, in a way. Liza and Sean are very happy when they hear Jude start talking out loud while shut in his bedroom. Problem is, Jude is talking to the porcelain doll he found in the woods near the house they're staying in, and that porcelain doll is Brahms. The more Jude has Brahms in his possession, the more obvious it becomes that the evil force within the doll is having a negative effect on the kid. And when Liza gets troubled by having Brahms around, things get even worse for the family.

Personally, I would have rather seen more of Brahms the human wall-dweller, but The Boy II managed to win me over anyway. It's a decent popcorn horror movie that provides 86 minutes of entertainment and then lets you get on your way. 


I stepped into the world of social media when blog contributor Jay Burleson suggested that I create a MySpace account in 2005 or so, and over the last fifteen years I have spent way too much time on sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Instagram. A lot less time than many other people have spent on them, certainly, but still too much time. And anyone who has spent too much time on those sites will recognize what goes on in director Matt Spicer's dark comedy Ingrid Goes West.

Aubrey Plaza stars as Ingrid, a young woman from Pennsylvania who has recently lost her mother and has tried to cure her sad loneliness by stalking people on Instagram. A simple exchange of comments convinces her that a woman on there is now her best friend, and she is so enraged when the woman doesn't invite her to her wedding that she crashes the party with a can of mace. That earns her a brief stay in a psych ward. When she gets back out into the world, she quickly turns back to Instagram - and finds a new obsession.

That new obsession is Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), who - judging by her social media posts - appears to have the perfect life set up in Los Angeles. Ingrid becomes so fascinated by Taylor that she even uses the $60,000 her mother left her to head out to California and insert herself into Taylor's life; initially by kidnapping the woman's dog from her home and then presenting herself as a hero who happened to find him running loose.

There are shades of Single White Female in here as Ingrid obsesses over Taylor, builds her life around her, and changes herself, including altering her appearance, to be more like her. Ingrid does a lot of things that are repugnant, but making the whole situation even more cringe-inducing is the fact that Taylor is so gratingly fake. She's always posing and showing the world, not just her Instagram followers, a version of herself that she has created to conceal just how uncool she really is.

Ingrid is completely off-balance, and yet her character will be very familiar to viewers with social media accounts. She's troubled, but the movie also shows that she has a soul... it's just not clear whether or not she can be redeemed in the long run.

Most of the characters in this film aren't very likeable. Wyatt Russell has some good moments as Taylor's husband Ezra, but Ezra is also a pretentious aspiring artist whose art is really horrible. Billy Magnussen shows up as Taylor's douchebag brother Nicky, who has a fondness for "nose beer" (something most of us call cocaine) and can't bother to remember that Ingrid's name isn't Olga. Pom Klementieff has a minor role as a woman who gets involved with Nicky. The most likeable character is O'Shea Jackson Jr.'s Dan Pinto, Ingrid's landlord and potential love interest, who is obsessed with Batman and is writing a Batman spec script he hopes to pitch to Warner Bros. Which reminds me that I wrote a Batman spec script and mailed it to Warner Bros. when I was 14 or 15, and it was sent back to me unread because they don't accept unsolicited materials.

Speaking of superheroes and their peers, whenever Olsen, Russell, Magnussen, and Klementieff were in a shot together I would feel a bit of fanboy amusement because three of those four play characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Olsen is Scarlet Witch; Klementieff is Mantis, one of the Guardians of the Galaxy; and Russell will be US Agent in the upcoming Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Magnussen hasn't made it into a Marvel movie yet, but he will be in the next James Bond movie, No Time to Die.

I was also simultaneously proud and embarrassed when Ingrid and Taylor stop at a place in the desert and I immediately recognized it as "that country bar from The Howling: New Moon Rising!"

Ingrid Goes West was a great feature debut for Spicer, who also wrote the screenplay with David Branson Smith. He has directed a couple TV episodes since the release of this movie, and whenever he directs another feature I will be there to watch it.

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