Category Archives: Films Released in 1974
IT’S ALIVE-United States-1974
Written and Directed by Larry Cohen
This isn’t going to be a long, drawn out review. I first saw It’s Alive back when I was 14, maybe 15 years old. It’s not like I’ve forgotten the plot of the damned movie. How hard is it to remember the plot of a film in which a lovely couple delivers an infant with sharp teeth, razor claws and a Tweety Bird head that crawls around town slaughtering people and hiding from the cops; all the while trying to get to mommy for what one would assume is a little boob milk action? The little monster does drink milk, after all. He also eats milkmen. Did I mention that daddy has disowned the little monstrosity and is anxious to put a bullet in its head? Isn’t the bond between a father and his son (it’s a boy) such a beautiful thing?
I remember my friends at school talking non-stop about ‘that killer monster baby’. Not having the coolest parents I was not allowed to see It’s Alive until three years after its initial release. Hell, I saw it on TV; so it may have been even longer than three years. I watched the movie again last night as a refresher and I came to a few conclusions. One, the movie wasn’t the least bit scary at 15 years old and 35 years has made no difference. Two, I think John Ryan (Bound, Runaway Train) was on Valium while making this movie. He mumbled so much that I had trouble understanding him with earphones and the TV volume on 80! At least mom (Sharon Farrell, Can’t Buy Me Love) had an excuse for her goofy demeanor; she’d just had a Caesarean section after giving birth to Tweety-head; so she was supposed to be heavily sedated. Thirdly, they never give you a clear look at the little slasher. A head shot here, a shot of teeth there, some claws. The camera also switches to double vision for the tiny terror’s point of view.
On the good side it was fun to revisit a film from my youth. On the not so good side I just wish it had been more scares and less mumbles. Finally, I mentioned my parents earlier. This isn’t the first time I have and it will not be the last. I think they were worried that I would become this kid who would warp into this grown-up who watches horror movies and reads scary books all the time. Son of a bitch, they were right!
Bernard Herrmann titled the music cue where the milkman meets his demise “The Milkman Goeth.”
- The Great Reno Balloon Race (thebumblefiles.wordpress.com)
- Pairing a Spooky Movie with the Ideal Sweet Snack for a Halloween Date (berries.com)
- Goriest Movies of All Time (mrmovietimes.com)
- Fab Flash: Limited-Edition Tweety Designer Collection (fabsugar.com)
- The Hole (2009): There’s Something Down There (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Zach Stahly in Bando Nationals Kickboxing Tournament (inthedojo.wordpress.com)
- HILARIOUS Video: She is Alive…She is Beautiful… Finite… Hurting… Worth Dying for! (spiritandanimal.wordpress.com)
- It’s Alive (1974) (journeysinclassicfilm.com)
- ‘Hitchcock’: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren Slash Through the Melodrama of Making ‘Psycho’ (MOVIE REVIEW) (celebuzz.com)
- Iris Apfel covers Dazed and Confused holding a Tweety Bird cup (myfashionlife.com)
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE-United States-1974
Written and Directed by Brian De Palma
Do you want to know the worst thing that can happen to a critic? It’s when they watch a movie or a play or read a book or listen to music and they don’t have an opinion one way or the other about the experience. They watched it, read it, listened to it and that’s it, done. Nothing moved them to tears or made them laugh. No character touched their hearts with love or filled their souls with hatred. The entire thing was just…there…and it was nothing more. For a long time I’ve wondered about when that was going to happen to me and how I was going to deal with it when it did. Well, that moment has arrived and it comes in the form of “Phantom of the Paradise”. The whole time I was watching I was completely disinterested and the reason for this is because I’ve seen it all somewhere before in parts easier to swallow. There is no originality to the film. The film rips off elements of “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Faust” and “The Picture of Dorian Gray“. Add to that parts lifted from “Frankenstein”, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and even The Who’s “Tommy”, “The Twilight Zone” and “The Godfather” and what you have is one seriously effed-up mess of a motion picture. The only things about the film that I found even remotely interesting were a star-making performance for Jessica Harper (“Suspiria”) and the formations of some of the trademarks (split-screen, voyeurism) that director Brian De Palma (“Carrie”) would work into his later films. “Phantom of the Paradise” was De Palma’s next film after “Sisters”. When I was a kid, “Sisters” scared the shit out of me. As an adult “Phantom of the Paradise” merely bored it out of me.
One more thing; my friend Ben Kenber sent me an article he wrote reminding me of one little detail that I missed in “Phantom” : the soundtrack. The words and music were written by Paul Williams, wh0 portrays Swan. Williams has written songs for Three Dog Night, The Carpenters, Helen Reddy, Barbra Streisand and The Muppets just to name a few. There’s a reason he is referred to as a legend in the music business. His amazing words and music for Phantom of the Paradise are the reason I’m raising my rating for the film.
Jessica Harper beat out Linda Ronstadt for the part of Phoenix.
Much of the movie deals with birds: The names Phoenix and Swan, the Phantom’s bird-like costume, Phoenix’s dress after her first appearance, her feather jacket, Swan’s bird vest, Beef’s bird tail during his number. Even the logo for Death Records is a bird. A possible nod (or rip-off) to Hitchcock’s Psycho, perhaps?
When Swan (Paul Williams) is adjusting Winslow’s voice, the singer is not William Finley but Paul Williams. This makes it a little in-joke when Swan announces that the voice is “perfect”.
Gerrit Graham was so sick the day that the “Life at Last” scene was filmed that he could hardly walk.
- The Phantom of the Opera (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- ‘Phantom of the Paradise’ Tribute Concert & Paul Williams live at Cinefamily! (dangerousminds.net)
- Los Angeles: A PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE Tribute Concert… With Paul Williams! (badassdigest.com)
- ‘Paul Williams Still Alive’ opens at NYC’s Anjelika this weekend; Paul doing Q&As at screenings (brooklynvegan.com)
- My Recent Mini Obsession Brian De Palma’s Movies (moviesinpurgatory.com)
- Quint chats life, addiction and documentary filmmaking with Paul Williams Still Alive team Stephen Kessler and Paul Williams! (aintitcool.com)
- The Good Guys and Bad Guys That I’ve Been: Paul Williams on ‘Paul Williams Still Alive’ (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Live Streaming At 6PM Pacific: Paul Williams Q&A And PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE Tribute Concert (badassdigest.com)
- Phantom of the Paradise (superradnow.wordpress.com)
- Malick and De Palma lead Venice (bbc.co.uk)
- ICY Challenge: 1 – I Hate Phantoms! (maple-news.com)
- Palace Theatre to show movies again (lfpress.com)
- Electric Violin “Phantom of the Opera” by Lindsey Stirling (thecontrapuntist.com)
- ‘Phantom’ to overtake Temecula stage (swrnn.com)
- The Fabled Coast by Sophia Kingshill and Jennifer Westwood – review (guardian.co.uk)
- Paul Williams Still Alive (superradnow.wordpress.com)
- Behringer Xenyx 502 phantom power (gearslutz.com)
Directed by Mel Brooks
Screen story and Screenplay by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder
I’m not going to make this a long, drawn out review. Looking back, this is probably the first time I have ever reviewed a comedy so I’m not really even sure if I’m doing this right. It’s easy to talk about a funny movie when you’re with your friends. You can act out scenes from the film and quote your favorite quotes; but putting all that down on paper and getting that humor across to your readers is another thing altogether. So, the next paragraph will be me doing my best to review a film that has become a comedic classic. I hope I got it right. If not, then be gentle with me.
When “Young Frankenstein” made its debut Mary Shelley rolled over in her grave…from laughter. The ghost of James Whale did a spit take. Somewhere, the spirits of Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive and Dwight Frye sat eating popcorn, sipping Pepsi’s and giggling their asses off. “Young Frankenstein” is a classic of the comedy genre. As Doctor Frederick Frankenstein, Gene Wilder leads one of the most talented and hilarious casts through a riot of a film that will leave your sides splitting with laughter. Marty Feldman, Teri Garr and Cloris Leachman all take their turns in stealing the spotlight. Peter Boyle as the monster is nothing short of casting genius. As for Madeline Kahn as Elizabeth, all I can say is that she was one of the funniest women to ever walk the face of this earth. With a nod of her head or a blink of her eye she could make you laugh harder than some comedians can in an entire stand-up routine.
Okay, so I said one paragraph. But let me close with this; with “Young Frankenstein”, Mel Brooks did to the horror genre the same thing he did with “Blazing Saddles” and the western genre earlier that same year. He made a hilarious parody without once being disrespectful of the original source.
- The Bride of Frankenstein (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Mel Brooks: funny moments and facts (telegraph.co.uk)
- AT AMAZON, bestsellers in Mysteries, Thrillers & Suspense. Also, today only: The Mel Brooks Coll… (pjmedia.com)
- The Mel Brooks Collection: $29 (ritholtz.com)
- The Curse of Frankenstein (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Happy 86th birthday, Mel Brooks; it’s good to be the King – Vote for your favorite Mel movie (timesunion.com)
- Blu-ray Geek Deal: Mel Brooks Collection for Only $28.99, The Usual Suspects for Only $7.99 (slashfilm.com)
- Blazing Saddles [retro review] (mutantreviewers.wordpress.com)
- Promo Video, New Poster, and Image Gallery for Phil Nichols’ Frankenstein Stage Play (dreadcentral.com)
- West Seattle Outdoor Movie lineup is set to flicker into life July 20 (westseattleherald.com)
Directed by Mario Bava
Screenplay by Alessandro Parenzo
“Rabid Dogs” is an intense thriller that packs more claustrophobic, sweltering action into 90 minutes than Michael Bay has packed into his entire career. What’s even more amazing is that most of the action takes place within the confines of a small white car filled with three desperate men and their prey; a woman, a man and a sick child in need of medicine. The three men are on the run from the police and their abductees are in the wrong place at the wrong times as they usually are in movies like this.
Mario Bava’s film has been compared to Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” and I guess I can understand the comparison. Both films are about the aftermath of a botched robbery/escape attempt, both feature the abduction of innocent(s) and both feature characters that are cruel and without moral foundation. In “Reservoir Dogs” it is the razor wielding Mister Blonde; in “Rabid Dogs” it is Bisturi and Trentadue (Thirty-two). Like the title implies, they are men needing to be put down.
However, the main difference in the two films is the twist. Tarantino lets the audience in on the secret early in the film. With “Rabid Dogs” Bava never once lets us in on the secret and the final scene in the film is a complete surprise. For a director to have that kind of control over a film is a work of genius and it’s no wonder that Bava was compared to Hitchcock throughout much of his career.
“Rabid Dogs” is not an easy film to watch. There are scenes in the film that I hated at first; but then came to realize that they are necessary in conveying the cruelty of the characters. In the end, my final assessment of the film is that if you can find it, watch it.
- The 10 Best Crime Films You Will Ever See (thebambooshoots.com)
- Did The Events Of ‘Inglourious Basterds’ Change The Rest of Quentin Tarantino’s Film Universe? (slashfilm.com)
- BLACK SUNDAY (The Mask of Satan) (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Morning Banana Oatmeal: Female Versions of Reservoir Dogs (bananascoop.com)
- How INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS Fits into Tarantino’s Film Universe (geektyrant.com)
- Bombast #31 (sundancenow.com)
- The unified theory of Quentin Tarantino’s movie universe (kottke.org)
- Crazy Connections: INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS Fits Perfectly into Quentin Tarantino’s Movie Universe and Influences the Entire Filmography (collider.com)
- Quentin Tarantino and Johnny Depp saddle up to give new life to the western (guardian.co.uk)
- Sam’s Order of Tarantino Favoritism (greencarbon2112.wordpress.com)
- The American (mrmovietimes.com)
- 15 Insane Theories About Movies And Television That Will Blow Your Mind (buzzfeed.com)
- Drive-By Dogs (colliefarm.wordpress.com)
- The Buzz: The Dark Knight Rises 13-Minute Featurette (filmophilia.com)
- uppity women and the neo-nazi rabid dogs (toomanytribbles.blogspot.com)
- The Heart is in the Edit: Camera Technique ‘Black Sunday’ (collectivefriction.com)
- Rabid bats prompt warning in Camden County (jacksonville.com)
- What Famous Directors Said About Making Their First Feature Films (theatlantic.com)
- Dog Poop And Leash Signs (dogpoopsigns.com)
- Health Ministry: Watch Out for Rabid Dog in North (israelnationalnews.com)
- Mountain lion that attacked dog rabid (myfoxphoenix.com)
- Cat confirmed as rabid in Niagara Co. (wivb.com)
- Rabid Afghan dog bite kills US soldier (bigpondnews.com)
- 7 Crawford County residents exposed to rabid raccoon (goerie.com)
- California man bitten by rabid bat while cleaning pool (foxnews.com)
- Larimer County officials confirm two more skunks rabid (denverpost.com)
- Middle Ga. officials on lookout for rabid foxes (onlineathens.com)
- Two more rabid skunks found in Larimer County (denverpost.com)
- Man, 55, Bitten By Rabid Bat In Riverside (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE-United States-1974
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Written by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel
My earliest memory of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would probably be somewhere in the area of 1980, maybe 1981. I was all of eightteen years old with a brand new Indigo Blue Camaro that had been given to me by my mother and father. It was a Friday night, my parents were out for the evening and I was cruising through town looking for something to do.
Now, I have been, and will always be, a Huge with a capital H movie buff. That statement was no different in 1980 as it is today. I was too shy to think about dating so when I said I was looking for something to do that usually meant going to the movies. Now that I had a car that meant one very important thing. I could go to the drive-in.
In Spartanburg, South Carolina back in the day, we had the South 29 Drive-In Theater. Now, most nights the only films you would see at the South 29 Drive-In Theater were the films where people took all their clothes off and did the horizontal bop (thank you, Bob Seger). But every now and then they would put a good old horror film up on the screen for everyone to enjoy through those little tinny speakers. Tonight it was a double feature combination-porno-horror-extravaganza of Debbie Does Dallas and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Wow, two films about Texas. I guess it was theme night.
Now being a red-blooded American boy of eightteen I had seen my share of ‘adult’ entertainment and must admit I was a little intrigued by the exploits of Debbie and her adventures in Dallas. But the words ‘Chainsaw’ and ‘Massacre’ kept swirling around in my mind. Hmm, let’s see: the murderous use of power tools versus Debbie taking on a football team in a sexual Super Bowl. No contest. You lose, Debbie.
I pulled up to the ticket window and asked the woman at the window for one ticket, please and thank you. She took my money, gave me the ticket and asked me if I had anyone in my trunk. I told her I had Richard Nixon and two midgets back there and they were having the time of their life. She looked at me like I was something she’d scraped off the bottom of her shoe. Tough room, I thought, as I headed into the drive-in to enjoy the show. Well, after I stopped off for popcorn and a soda. You never forget the essentials.
I found a place to park and got all set up to watch the show. The film started and a voice that I now know as that of John Larroquette boomed into the speaker telling everyone in attendance that the film they were about to see is an account of the tragedy that befell five youths and would go down as one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American History-The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bring it on, Dan Fielding! For those of you who don’t know who Dan Fielding is just google John Larroquette and you’ll find out.
The movie plays along for a while and I’m thinking that if I have to listen to that whiny Franklin for another second I’m gonna go berserk. Then they pick up the hitchhiker and everything changes. I am totally freaked out by this guy. He is every kind of weirdo I have ever met in my life. I mean this dude is every french fry short of a Happy Meal.
The hitchhikers slices Franklin with his knife and the rest of the group kick him out of the van. If it had been me I would have kicked Franklins’ whiny ass out of the van and given the hitchhiker a beer. But I didn’t write this movie, now did I?
Okay, so the hitchhiker is out and our merry band of what-ever the hell they are is making their way to where ever they are going. They find their way to this old house and like very other horror movie out there they decide to get nosy and snoop around inside not wondering or worrying if anybody lives there or not.
Now up to this point I’m thinking that aside from Franklin being a whiny girly-boy and the hitchhiker being crazier than a wrasslin’ fan when somebody tells ‘em it’s fake, this movie hasn’t really been that scary.
Then WHAM! That ominous looking metal door opens. BAM!! Out pops Leatherface for the first time in all his gory glory. THANK YOU MA’AM!!!He pops good old Kirk upside the head with the sledgehammer and popcorn and soda take flight inside my car. I should have been mad as hell but there was no way I could be. This was love at first sight. I was witness to one of the greatest horror film villains of all time and he was wearing a bloody apron and a mask made out of human skin. Later on, he endeared himself even more to me when he sliced through Franklin with that chainsaw like a knife through butter. Of course we haven’t gotten to the dinner scene and Grandpa. I thought I was going go as apeshit as poor old Sally before that scene was finished.
The film ends and I just sat there in my car. Everyone else was starting their engines and making their way single file out of the drive in and back onto Highway 29. What a bunch of morons. Did they not realize that they had just been witness to one of the greatest horror films of all time? What the hell is wrong with you people?!?
Okay, so it’s 2011 and I’m calmer now. But I still believe with all my horror-movie loving heart The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the greatest and most influential horror films in the history of cinema. Marilyn Burns, Ed Neal, Gunnar Hansen and the rest of the cast give it everything they’ve got and it shows in every frame of this film. Tobe Hooper would never really reach the level of notoriety that he did with this movie. He didn’t have to. He had already made his masterpiece.
Hmm, and to think it all started with Ed Gein. You can google his name, too.
Directed by Bob Clark
Written by Roy Moore
Olivia Hussey as Jess
Keir Dullea as Peter
Margot Kidder as Barb
John Saxon as Lt. Fuller
Black Christmas is the prototype for the modern day (1980′s to the present) slasher film. The film takes place on a holiday and features a group of sorority girls and their house mother. One by one they are murdered by an unseen killer who terrorizes them after each murder with obscene phone calls. One of the girls, Barb, played by Margot Kidder, is the template for the teenagers who would be hacked, slashed, and diced by the likes of Michael, Freddy and Jason. She drinks, has a foul mouth (in a hilarious scene, she tells the desk sergeant at the police station that the number to the sorority house is Fellatio 2880) and is more than likely sexually promiscuous. Olivia Hussey plays Jess, the final girl. For those of you who don’t know, the final girl is the last girl to either live or die in a slasher film. She is also the one who finds all or some of the bodies of the previous victims. You could also say that Hussey was the prime example of how the final girl should look as she is very beautiful in a wholesome sort of way. The killer, Billy, is never seen and the film is left wide open for a sequel the same way Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween were left open. This is not to say that it’s a bad film or that its predictable. It is quite a good film and the only way it is predictable is that we’ve seen the exact same thing time and time again in the movies that followed it. This is a very good film and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know just exactly where their favorite slashers got their start. Billy was their teacher and he was a good one.
Keir Dullea worked only for a week on this film, never meeting Margot Kidder and barely meeting John Saxon, but the film is edited in such a way that he appears to be present throughout.
- Black Christmas (2006) (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- what have you done to solange? (peanutbutterandgialli.wordpress.com)
- Margot Kidder, Gary Busey, Marshawn Lynch, and more on set in Ballard today (ballardnewstribune.com)
- New film based on real-life experiences of a Ballard man (ballardnewstribune.com)
- Non-Review Review: Scream 4 (Scre4m) (them0vieblog.com)
- Afternoon Palate Cleanser: Annette Funicello, Margot Kidder Chat About Sex (sfist.com)
- Horror Movie Freak Author Don Sumner Presents the Horror Movies to Watch Over the 10 Days to Halloween (prweb.com)
- Film: Newswire: Silent Night, Deadly Night is getting a remake with Malcolm McDowell (avclub.com)
- Top 10 Groundbreaking Horror Movies of All Time (dreadcentral.com)
- Christmas Coupons Floods Website with Thousands of Deals Right Before Black Friday (prweb.com)
- Final Girl Photo Tuesday (finalgirlsupportgroup.wordpress.com)
- Final Girl Photo Friday – The Slasher (finalgirlsupportgroup.wordpress.com)
- Nightmares (1980) (horror-movie-a-day.blogspot.com)
- The Initiation of Stacie: An interview with “Final Girl” Stacie Ponder (moviemorlocks.com)