Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Double Features (Movies That Go Well Together)

Ahh, the double feature. It used to be a staple of the American movie-going experience. Now, it's something you do at home, usually on some designated "movie night." In my house, "movie night" means finding a pair of movies I think everyone else will like and having plenty of snacks on hand. I don't mind doing it that way because I do double features for myself all the time. I'll be doing more of them over the summer months. The wife and kids will be watching some string of TV shows I don't really care to see so I'll hole up in my room and watch a couple movies they won't care to see. It all works out.

If you haven't figured it out, double features are this week's topic for Thursday Movie Picks. Thanks, as always, to our host Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves. It could be a fairly easy topic, or an incredibly difficult one. The reason is, there are lots of ways to go. The one way I didn't want to go was suggesting direct remakes. Rip-offs, though? I'm fine with that. Let's see what I have in mind.

Repo! The Genetic Opera & Repo Men
(2008 & 2010)
You know how it goes. You buy something you're supposed to make monthly payments, fall behind for whatever reason, and it gets repossessed. I know I'm not the only person this has ever happened to. Apparently, in the future, things that can be repossessed will include organs. No, no, no, not those funny sounding pianos they play in church. I mean human organs. Both of these movies look at precisely this. You may have heard of 2010's Repo Man since it was given a wide release and has cast that includes Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, and Alice Braga. It's not a great movie, but better than it's reputation. 2008's Repo! The Genetic Opera did it first, and in a much more unique (read: bizarre) manner. It embraces it's horror-flick roots, somehow includes both Paul Sorvino and Paris Hilton in its cast, and it's a musical. Yeah, I said musical.

Star Wars & Star Crash
(1977 & 1978)
For you youngsters, when I say Star Wars, I mean A New Hope. That's really all I'm going to say about that movie, directly. I'll just ask you this: have you ever wondered what Star Wars would be like with David Hasselhoff as Princess Leia? No? Well, Starcrash shows us anyway. He's called Prince Simon. It's not his film, though. He doesn't show up until about 50 minutes into it. This is all about Caroline Munro. She plays Stella Star, our Luke Skywalker. For most of the movie she runs around in a leather bikini. Her Obi-Wan is Akton. He has some mystical powers and shortly after the Hoff shows up, Akton gets to whip out the light saber. Seriously. By the way, it's blue when we first see it, but green after that. No, seriously. The bad guy they're fighting against is not Darth Vader, but Count Zarth Arn. They pal around with a talkative droid and fly around in a rusty old smuggling ship. It has boobs, by the way. No, I'm still serious. The big switcheroo, other than a battle with scantily clad Amazons of course, The Emperor is a good guy. Somehow, they got Christopher Plummer to play the role. Was he badly in need of money, or did someone have some incriminating photos of him?

Casablanca & Barb Wire
(1942 & 1996)
One of the most revered classics in cinematic history and a failed comic book movie starring Pamela Anderson? Stop scratching your head for a moment, I'll explain. In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart plays a nightclub owner in the titular city during World War II. He utters the iconic line "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine," because the woman who broke his heart has come into his club, with her husband, seeking his help in getting safely back to America. In Barb Wire, Anderson also plays a nightclub owner named Barb Wire, who happens to be a bounty-hunter on the side during The Second American Civil War. She never says anything as iconic as Bogey, unless you count "Don't call me Babe!" Anyhoo, the man who broke her heart shows up at the club, with the woman Barb is currently hunting, seeking her help getting safely back to Canada. You may now pat me on the back.

Bonus Pick:

Raiders of the Lost Ark & Raw Force
(1981 & 1982)
Unlike the other pairs of movies I've chosen to speak about, one is not a rip-off of the other. In fact, there are no plot similarities to be found anywhere. Raiders of the Lost Ark is about a swashbuckling archaeologist trying to stop the Nazis from getting their hands on The Ark of the Covenant and gaining untold power. Raw Force is about jade smugglers, cannibal monks, and zombie samurai. And I'm not even kidding. So why did I put them together? Because I actually saw them in a real double feature, once upon a time. This is probably the weirdest theater experience I've ever had. Read all about it by clicking here.


20 comments:

  1. I've seen bits of Repo Men and thought it was OK. I have no interest in Repo the Genetic Opera despite the involvement of Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy. Barb Wire and Casablanca makes sense since the latter is a bad and bloated rip-off of the former as the only reason to see it is the opening credits unless you have her sex tapes. I've never heard of Starcrash as I think I want to see it. I've seen bits of Raw Force but not all of it. I should check it out though.

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    1. Repo the Genetic Opera is certainly not for everyone. Starcrash is really bad, but in an interesting way. Raw Force is monumentally bad and should be seen for that reason.

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  2. Those are some mashups Dell, the Casablanca/Barb Wire combo is the most abstract and funny. I've never seen either of the first two but have seen the original Repo Man back in the 80's with Emilio Estevez which I liked for it weirdness. Of course I've seen Star Wars but I'm not much of a fan but I LOVE Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    I didn't go quite the same root but tried for pairs that interrelated in some way.

    Filmmaker Double Feature:
    Bride of Frankenstein (1931) Scientist Victor Frankenstein having survived the assault of the original film is forced by the evil Dr. Pretorius to assemble a mate for his monster. Using an electrical storm to bring the creature to life (an iconic looking Elsa Lanchester) he starts a chain of events that lead to much tragedy when it turns out the bride isn’t having any of the monster. Quintessential horror film that with the first set a prototype for many years and started a trend that made its studio, Universal a mint churning out pale imitations of other creature features.

    Paired with:
    Gods and Monsters (1998)-James Whale (Ian McKellan), esteemed director of Frankenstein and many others, is living a wealthy genteel retirement in California tended to by his faithful housekeeper Hanna (Lynn Redgrave). Lonely and unbeknownst to most ill with a condition that causes a slow diminishment of his faculties he strikes up a friendship with his handsome gardener, ex-Marine Clay Boone (Brendan Fraser). As they share stories Whale recalls making The Bride of Frankenstein among other things as his thoughts scattered and re-form. Deliberately paced but with brilliant acting, both McKellan and Redgrave were Oscar nominated.

    War Double Feature:
    So Proudly We Hail (1943)-In December 1941 a group of Army nurses lead by Lt. Janet “Davey” Davidson (Claudette Colbert) and including Lts. Joan O’Doul (Paulette Goddard) and Olivia D’Arcy (Veronica Lake) are headed to Hawaii for their tour of duty but plans change radically when Pearl Harbor is bombed and they are diverted to the battle sieged island of Bataan. Once there they are confronted almost hourly with bombardments, attacks and masses of wounded calling for enormous sacrifice and resolve. Strong drama headed by three great stars with Veronica being a standout as a bitter woman hell-bent on revenge.

    Paired with:
    Bataan (1943)-Looking at the male side of the same battle. The Japanese have just invaded the Philippines and the US Army in hopes of holding them back assigns a group of 13 under the direction of Sgt. Bill Dane (Robert Taylor) to destroy a key bridge and prevent its rebuilding. Tense and grim with an excellent cast including Thomas Mitchell, Robert Walker and Desi Arnaz.

    Drive-In Double Feature:
    The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)-A group of scientists on an expedition for fossils in the Amazon stumble upon the previously unknown Creature from the Black Lagoon on their journey. Not having the sense to leave well enough alone they capture the mysterious gill man but he breaks free returning later to take the beautiful Kay (Julie Adams) for his own. The surprisingly hunky and scantily clad remaining scientists (Richards Denning & Richard Carlson) take off in pursuit. A mix of suspense and hilarity ensues.

    Paired with:
    The Thing from Another World (1951)-Stationed in the Arctic a team of scientists along with a crew from the US Air Force find a crashed spacecraft in the ice as well as the frozen body of the presumed pilot. Again not having the sense to leave well enough alone they extract the body from the ice and then pay a heavy price when it thaws out and becomes THE THING!! Though he’s unrecognizable under the makeup the Thing is played by James Arness before his decades long career on TV’s Gunsmoke.

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    1. Not abstract at all, lol. The connection between the two is actually pretty widely known. Even in Roger Ebert's original review he cautions the reader "it's Casablanca recycled."

      The Bride of Frankenstein is brilliant, but I haven't seen Gods and Monsters and had no idea it was about James Whale. I guess I have to to see it.

      Of the rest, I've seen most, or all, of The Creature from the Black Lagoon in bits and pieces, but never a proper viewing. Bataan has been on my watchlist for years. That's another I need to try and get to sooner rather than later.

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  3. I've never heard of Star Crash, now I need to look that up.

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    1. The fastest way to look it up is to scour the revamped MST3K on NetFlix. Star Crash is lovingly "featured."

      That said, I think I enjoyed it more than I liked Repo, which I hated aside from the song Zydrate Anatomy.

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    2. It is a mess and The Hoff does what The Hoff does and exacerbates the matter. I haven't seen the MST3K version yet, but I bet it's hilarious.

      Yes to Zydrate Anatomy.

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  4. I did not realize Barb Wire had a plot even partially lifted from Casablanca. WOW.

    I'm very much looking forward to the Star Crash episode of the new MST3K on Netflix - even more so now!

    I really need to see Repo!

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    1. Most of its plot is lifted from Casablanca.

      I need to watch the new MST3K, period. I keep passing it on my scrolls through Netflix, but haven't stopped on it yet.

      Repo! is one of the most bizarre things you'll ever see.

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  5. Star Crash sounds like one of those so-bad-it's-awesome movies! Or maybe it's just bad, I'm not sure.

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    1. I think it's so-bad-it's-awesome, but that could just be me.

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  6. oh man. How could I forget that gem that is Barb Wire when listing female-led comic book movies in my WW review.....though to be fair I remember it at least had rad apocalyptic thing going on

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    1. Definitely had the post-apocalyptic thing going on.

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  7. Casablanca next to Barb Wire is one of the greatest fucking things I've ever seen. Maybe I should actually try that as a double feature....?

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  8. I have to hand it to you. No one else could have come up with that match up!

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  9. I haven't seen the first 2 but I have seen the good movies which are classic but I have heard about the bad ones. In between The Battle of Britain and when Plummer had a resurgence in his career, he made a lot of stinkers that I bet he would love to have to under the rug and stay there. He was even in a Canadian TV show that I used to watch with Simon MacCorkindale(I think that's his name). As for Munro.....ahhh yes, sad:) great pairing and great write ups!

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    1. Starcrash certainly qualifies as a stinker. Never heard of Simon MacCorkindale, or whatever his name is. Sounds like that might be a good thing. Thanks!

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  10. I cannot congratulate you enough for successfully double billing Casablanca & Barb Wire. That is absolutely priceless.

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