Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Deserts


Hey Thursday fans, it's time for Thursday Movie Picks hosted by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves. This week's topic left me in a bit of a bind. I couldn't think of anything for the longest time. Then I started remembering that as a kid, I watched lots of cartoons starring Bugs Bunny and that whole gang. Every now and again, these shows would depict a character stuck in a desert. Inevitably, two things would happen. First, they would come across a beautiful setting, like a restaurant with happy-go-lucky patrons sipping on the finest drinks. The protagonist would eventually discover this to be a mere mirage as they tried to join in on the fun. Second, the characters would begin to visualize each other as food. Having never really been to any desert, let alone getting stuck in one, I always imagine this is what would happen to me if I ever found myself in such a situation. Even then, it could be worse. I could be dealing with something far more dangerous than gradual starvation. I could find myself in one of these movies.


The Hitcher
(1986)
Jim (C. Thomas Howell) is just a young guy hired to transport a car across state lines. Easy gig, right? Well, it would've been had he decided against giving a ride to seemingly nice guy John. Aside from the inherent dangers of picking up hitchhikers that Jim is old enough to be well aware of, I have another problem with his decision. The guy he picks up is played by Rutger Hauer. I don't know about you, but as much as I love watching him be a badass, nothing about Hauer has ever given me the warm and fuzzies. I see that dude walking along side the road and I press down even harder on the gas pedal. Alas, Jim doesn't and soon discovers that John is completely off his rocker in a homicidal way. A very nasty game of cat and mouse ensues. No, I never bothered with the remake and I don't plan to.


Tremors
(1990)
There's this quiet, little desert town in Nevada by the name of Perfection, It's so small there are only fifteen residents, total. That number grows when they are joined by a batch of gigantic prehistoric worms that travel underground and like to pop out and eat whatever they can grab, people included. As you might imagine this is a bit of an issue. And in a time before everyone had a phone in their pocket, calling for help proves to be rather difficult. This one is a horror flick/very dark comedy/homage to 1950s B-Movies. It has a fun cast featuring the likes of Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, and Reba McEntire and is a blast to watch. The sequels? Not so much.


Feast 
(2005)
Out in the middle of nowhere, and I mean that pretty literally, there is a bar sitting there all by its lonesome. There is absolutely nothing else around. The sad regulars are all sitting around getting shit-faced on a night that seems like any other until a new face pops in and tells them they better seal up the place because there are some rather angry and indiscriminate monsters on the way to attack them. Of course, no one believes him until well, ya know. Anyhoo, the local yokels trying to keep the monsters out while finding a way out, themselves, ensues. This is campy, gory fun, right from the start. No, I never bothered with the sequels.



30 comments:

  1. The Hitcher is fucking scary. I love that film. Tremors is underrated. I enjoyed that film. I've never seen Feast and probably not interested.

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    1. Glad to see some love for The Hitcher and Tremors. Feast is actually a very fun movie, but yeah, not for everyone.

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  2. You've got a little theme within the theme action going on with that horror subtext Dell. Very good. I found The Hitcher deeply disturbing, so much so that I just couldn't like the film. Good performances but unpleasant in the extreme. Tremors is such an odd flick, funny but crazy and ridiculous. I'll be skipping Feast, the title alone is enough to tell me it's not for me.

    My first impulse was to go all Western but I ended up with just one and going in a couple different directions.

    The Desert Song (1953)-Sometimes a movie is just so wildly miscast that you love it more for its faults than its strengths, that’s the case with this operetta. The basic story goes like so: There’s a civil war between Morocco’s Berber and Arab populations in the early 1900’s. French Foreign Legionnaire Gen. Birabeau arrives with daughter Margot (Kathryn Grayson) in tow to check the war’s progress while Arab Sheik Yousseff schemes to discredit the mysterious opposition leader El Khobar (Margot’s tutor in disguise) while Margot and El Khobar fall in love. Simple enough but what ratchets up the absurdity factor is that the Sheik is played by Raymond Massey, famous for playing Abraham Lincoln!, while El Khobar the Berber rebel leader is Gordon MacRae…that’s right Curley from Oklahoma!! If you can look beyond that the strapping Gordon and the lovely Kathryn are in great voice and the score is terrific but if you’re looking for realism look elsewhere.

    Rawhide (1951)-Feisty young Vinnie Holt (Susan Hayward) traveling with her orphaned niece Callie is stranded at the remote stagecoach stop “Rawhide Pass” in the acrid desert of the old West with stationmaster Sam Todd (Edgar Buchanan) and his assistant Tom Owens (Tyrone Power) when the cavalry won’t permit her to proceed through dangerous territory because of a stage robbery. After the soldiers leave, Jim Zimmerman (Hugh Marlowe) bluffs his way into the station saying he’s a guard but is actually one of the escaped convicts responsible for the robbery. His three fellow escapees quickly appear intent on stealing the gold shipment due in the next day. After killing Sam they must keep Tom and Vinnie, who they mistakenly believe is his wife, alive to carry out their plan. As the four men turn on each other Tom & Vinnie work together to try and escape. Tight suspenseful Western.

    Five Graves to Cairo (1943)-British Corporal John Bramble (Franchot Tone) is the lone survivor of a battle against Rommel’s army on the Egyptian border. Wandering through the desert he finds a remote hotel assuming a false identity to elude capture. Arriving shortly after is General Rommel himself (Erich von Stroheim) who takes Bramble for a German spy and lets slip hints of his secret strategy, the 'five graves' to Cairo-hidden excavations of supplies to enable survival across the desert. It’s up to Bramble to find a way to get word of the plan to the Allies and perhaps change the tide of the war.

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    1. Feast is certainly for a limited audience. I had fun with it, though. Lots of people had that reaction to The Hitcher, so I understand.

      I "think" I've seen Rawhide. It sounds very familiar. Unfortunately, even if I did see it, that was at least thirty years ago, if not forty. Haven't heard of your other two picks.

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    2. Rawhide shows up on the Encore Western channel frequently and is worth a rewatch, it's a wonderfully compact drama without a single wasted scene and a hard realistic attitude.

      I forgot to mention that Five Graves is directed by Billy Wilder. It was his lead up to Double Indemnity.

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    3. I'm down with some Billy Wilder.

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  3. Damn it, I should've went with Tremors. I at least like how campy that one is. This week was hard.

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    1. Yes, it was a hard week. Glad you like Tremors, though.

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  4. I liked The Hitcher a lot more when I was younger. I rewatched it not that long ago, and it didn't work nearly as well for me. I think I might have been more of a nihilist in my late teens. Tremors, though, is still a load of fun. It's stupid and silly and entirely entertaining. Feast is one I still need to see.

    I'll second Joel's mention of Five Graves to Cairo, which includes (I think) the only Franchot Tone performance that doesn't immediately put me to sleep. Another classic desert war movie is The Desert Fox with James Mason playing Erwin Rommel. Honestly, it's worth it just for that casting decision. I'll also suggest Woman in the Dunes, which is sort of a horror movie and sort of an I don't really know what. An entomologist gets literally trapped in a relationship with a woman who must continually dig her house out of sand to survive. There's no real explanation for what it is, but it's absolutely worth your time. I have no evidence that this is one of David Lynch's favorite films, but I suspect it might be.

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    1. Haven't watched The Hitcher in quite a while, myself. Might have to. I'm curious to see how it holds up.

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  5. When I was younger, a lot of my friends loved Tremors. I wasn't into anything even remotely scary at that time, so I avoided it. Maybe I should try it now. The Hitcher has also been on my list for a while - there's something darkly charismatic and alluring about Rutger Hauer, so I MIGHT pick him up, too.... although definitely not after seeing this movie lol.

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    1. Yeah, I don't think Tremors will scare you too bad. As for Rutger Hauer, it's the "darkly" part of "darkly charismatic" that would keep me from picking him up.

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  6. I liked The Hitcher but not seen it since. No idea why they remade it.

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    1. Someone thought they could make some money off it.

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  7. I always liked Rutger..I mean who wouldn't like someone with that name? It's right up there with Hansel. I have not seen that film but remember when it first came out and it scared me so I didn't watch it. I love Tremors, silly and fun but I can watch it over and over again...but not the sequels. I shall pass on Feast

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    1. Rutger is a great name. No arguing that, from me, anyway. Tremors is a blast.

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  8. If I see Rutger Hauer walking down the road holding a basket of kittens, I don't even bother flooring it. I immediately jump out of the car while it's moving, and if I survive the impact, I run in the opposite direction until my death. We're about the same age, Dell. That dude scared the shit out of me as a kid, you know?

    As for Tremors, I only vaguely remember that flick, so I should probably revisit it one of these days. And Feast? Never saw it...but it sounds like I probably should have.

    Good stuff.

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    1. That's a good strategy. Still not sure it would save you from him, though.

      Feast is a blast.

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  9. I've seen the remake of The Hitcher, but I'm sure the original is better.

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  10. All delightful picks I must say. Tremors is one Ive seen bits of but never stuck around for long. Feast I would avoid like the plague or Amanda Bynes but The Hitchicker is one I would like to watch.

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    1. I would love to read your thoughts on The Hitcher.

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  11. My brother recommended The Hitcher to me, many years ago, and I was so freaked out by the finger in the French fries that it ruined the whole movie for me. I had much more delicate sensibilities then than I do now. :-)

    I love the fact that you included Tremors. It's a good bad movie.

    Great post! I haven't seen you for a while. I've probably run you off by being a terrible blogger. I don't seem to have the attention span, during my off-work hours, to even watch a movie, let alone write a halfway decent review.

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    1. The finger fry is one of the most memorable movie moments of all-time, far as I'm concerned. Yes on Tremors.

      Nah, you didn't run me off. I haven't been as active about getting to other people's blogs lately because I've been busy, myself. I'll have more time for that during the summer.

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    2. I can definitely relate to that, as you know, I haven't been too active in the blog realm. I actually posted four new reviews (within about a week) then sank into inertia again. Damn that business of working for a living. :-)

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  12. Great picks. As a kid of the '90s, Tremors will always hold a place in my heart. I love that damn movie. I remember hearing Kevin Bacon tell a funny story that once that film was wrapped, he started sobbing in his car, thinking his career was over. Who knew haha!

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    1. Never heard that story before. He must have really thought it was bad considering the fact his career was pretty much the only survivor of the original Friday the 13th.

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  13. Nice theme within a theme...desert horror.
    I haven't seen any of them but the Hitcher sounds familiar...wasn't it remade recently?

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  14. I came for Renaissance and got Deserts instead. Definitely some original picks.

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