Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Romancing the Stone (1984)


I vaguely remember seeing this shortly after it came out and I have to assume it was one I went and saw with my then girlfriend "Anna Maria" who liked to get amorous at the movies because I recall next to nothing about it.  Now, I have to admit, I'm not much of a Michael Douglas fan, I don't hate him, I just don't seek out his work.   Same for Kathleen Turner to be honest. I liked her as Chandler Bing's father and I remember seeing her in V. I. Warshawski which was produced by Jeffrey Laurie who also owns my beloved Philadelphia Eagles.


  Don't remember much about that film either. Saw that one with my erstwhile partner in crime Cerpts, he's on Blogger as well, you can find him here: look him up, he watches way more films than I do. And like "Anna Marie", he puts out at the movies as well.


Maybe that's why I don't remember anything about that film either.  Now that I examine those facts, it seems I should have seen more Kathleen Turner films in the theater.


 But I digest.


 Back to Romancing the Stone; it's OK. Nothing special. I think, since at the time, Turner was being compared to Lauren Bacall, maybe they were trying to form a Bogey and Bacall feel to it but there's no way you can compare them. It's no contest! Also, most times I find Michael Douglas can get a little annoying, here he never got there for me. When "he isn't annoying" is the best thing you can say about someone perhaps there is an issue there.

Danny DeVito helps to save the movie a bit but when it all comes down to it Romancing the Stone feels like the plain rice cake of movies. So with all that said, the best I can do for Romancing the Stone is give it two and a half treasure maps out of five. Thankfully Robert Zemeckis would move on from this (after he was fired from directing Cocoon) to direct Back to the Future.




Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Jesus Christ Superstar: Live Arena Tour ( 2012)



A belated Happy Easter to my Christian friends, an early Happy Easter to my Greek Orthodox friends, Happy "Didn't We Do All This A Couple Of Weeks Ago?" to my Pagan friends.  Oh and I wag a finger at my Jewish friends while jokingly ask "What did you do?".  Now I don't celebrate the entirety of the holiday but most of my family does so I follow suit.  One of the things I have made it a custom of doing is watching the '73 Jesus Christ Superstar movie based on the musical.  For a couple of years now I have wanted to see the live rock opera version starring Tim Minchin as Judas.  Well this was the year.  Aside from Minchin, the performance also features Ben Forster (who won an American Idol type contest named Superstar to win the role) as Jesus Christ, and Melanie Chisholm as Mary Magdalane.  Chisholm is also known as Mel C who was Sporty Spice in The Spice Girls.  Every version I have seen has had a somewhat campy performance from whoever plays King Herod.  I saw Alice Cooper play the part in the TV version from 2018,  for Christ sake, and even that was pretty good.



Oh, pardon the pun!  I don't want to forget to mention Josh Mostel's version in the '73 film which is absolutely sublime!  Playing the part here is English radio and TV personality Chris Moyles.  Now I wouldn't know Moyles if I tripped over him in the street but he does an excellent job as well with it even if the part is only about ten minutes long.  The other person I wanted to mention is veteran stage actor Alexander Hanson because his version of Pilate is like none I have ever seen.  Not that it is better than the (at times) shocking portrayal by Barry Dennen, for I think without his version, we would never have gotten the version we have here.  Hanson is all at once sympathetic and accusatory to Jesus and his choices but you can see the sadness inside him even as he spouts vitriol while condemning Christ to death.  His words say "Crucify Him!" but his face begs the crowd for their forgiveness of Jesus.



The stage is mostly just bare bones black risers with the occasional prop or scenery used in a very updated (but certainly acceptable) way.  One who knows about JCS knows it's filled with anachronisms and this version is no different.  It's always interesting to see how each version will be updated.  The orchestra, which is really more of a rock band, is divided in half on either side of the stage with several different levels of the stage being used for them.  This of course leads to the audience down in front getting a great view of the action.  Also on either side of the stage, scattered throughout the band, is the production crew with some monitors where you could see for a few split seconds here and there stage directors giving different actors their cues.  At least that's what it looked to me, I don't know much about the stage.  That's not really a complaint about it either, but what do I know.



This concert tour/performance was the first time that composer Andrew Lloyd Webber actually saw his original vision fully realized.  He even makes a point of coming on stage afterwards to say so.  As much as I liked this version (which I am leaning towards rating higher than I do the '73 film which is so far the best version I have seen) there is a couple things keeping it from being perfect for me.  One is due to a few decisions (wrong ones to me) by the director of the film Nick Morris who has made his living off of filming musicals.  The main one that stood out to me is during the song Hosanna which is when Jesus gets a idea that he's going to die for his actions. His followers are seemingly asking him to prove his love to them by doing so.  In the '73 version when Jesus makes this realization the change in looks that overcomes the face of actor Ted Neeley's clearly foreshadows what Jesus already knows is to come.  Here, Jesus is hardly shown feeling one way or another, in fact it isn't until the Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say) performance do we really know that Jesus is aware of his coming fate.



The other and more glaring part is while Tim Minchin is hands down the best part of the show, I mean it's not even close,  his performance is the only one that is auto-tuned.  As far as I can tell it also seems unnecessary.  Upon further investigation, Minchin himself was furious when he found out about it.  This two things are pretty much all I have to complain about.  I know what the '73 film was trying to achieve and that was put a musical in a wider area than a stage can afford.  Which it does well.  I mean it looks incredible but (and here comes the hate mail) I always thought the actual vocals by the actors were the third most important part of the film.  Don't get me wrong, the performances are some of the most iconic in rock opera history, if not in all musical film history.  I just feel cinematography and acting was valued more than the vocals.  With all that in mind I highly recommend this version regardless if you've seen the film before.  Either way see this and let me know how you feel about it.  Watch both, compare them, and then talk to me.  Until I am convinced differently this is my new favorite version and I will give it four and a half apostles out of five.





Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Lisa Frankenstein (2024)


On a snowy Fat Tuesday, the Horror Honey and I celebrated the 22nd anniversary of our first date by dragging our bodies out of the house and to the moving picture show to see Lisa Frankenstein.  The film stars Kathryn Newton (Lady Bird and Freaky) as Lisa (Swallows is her last name here not Frankenstein), a high school student whose mother is killed when a serial killer breaks into her home.  A little while later her dad gets remarried to Janet, played by Carla Gugino (Night at the Museum and Watchmen), who is a nurse in a mental hospital.  Lisa also has a step-sister named Taffy, Liza Soberano (Alone/Together and My Ex and Whys), who is a beauty queen, a cheerleader, and prom queen.  After Lisa's dad marries Janet, Lisa has to go live in a new town and attend a new school.



Surprisingly, Taffy and Lisa actually get along well with Taffy going out of her way to try and get her new sister to be accepted in her new school.  Lisa works as a seamstress in a tailor's shop.  She has a crush on a boy in her new school named Michael who is also the editor of the school paper.  Michael loves the poems Lisa presents to him for publication.  One day, at an abandoned cemetery in her new town, Lisa does some grave rubbings.  One of the rubbings she does is on a monument with a statue of a young man on it.  The name on the statue is Frankenstein.  Lisa develops a one sided relationship with the statue as she goes there often and talks to him.  At the beginning of the new school year, Taffy takes Lisa to a party.  At the party, Lisa, on a dare, drinks from a glass that contains some spiked alcohol.



While Lisa is heavily under the influence of whatever the drink was spiked with, Lisa's lab partner Doug, Bryce Romero (Maggie and Eagle and the Albatross), tries to help her by holding her hair back while she pukes, to taking her somewhere quiet to sober up.  Of course this leads to a bedroom where Doug grabs Lisa's chest and puts her hand on his crotch.  Lisa is able to get away from Doug and heads for the cemetery.  Right after she leaves, a huge bolt of lightening strikes the cemetery.  Later, Lisa is left home alone and The Creature, as it is called in the credits and played by Cole Sprouse (Five Feet Apart and Big Daddy), breaks in and chases Lisa around the house.  I gotta say when I was watching the film, I had no idea who Cole Sprouse was, in fact it wasn't until I looked him up on IMDb that I realized he was one of the boys playing opposite Adam Sandler in Big Daddy.



Sprouse gives off some serious Johnny Depp from Edward Scissorhands vibes.  Now that I think about it Newton reminds me a little of Winona Ryder as well.  The Ryder character she reminds me of isn't the one she played in Scissorhands however, but rather the character she plays in Beetlejuice.  I guess what I'm ultimately saying here is the movie reminds me of a Tim Burton film.  Is that good or bad?  Honestly, I dunno but I'm not mad at it.  Lisa slowly realizes that the creature she is fighting off is the animated corpse of the young man from the cemetery.  The Creature is more zombie than Frankenstein monster.  He is missing both ears, one of his hands, and cannot talk.  After that, people around town start to go missing and then things really start getting weird.



Lisa Frankenstein is written by Diablo Cody who also wrote Juno and Jennifer's Body and directed by Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin Williams in her full length feature debut.  Also starring is the music we hear in the movie which is taken right from the 1980's. At one time or another my entire record collection from that era is included here.  Which, for those of you keeping score, I would have been around 21 years of age myself.  Sometimes music is just there and often taken for granted, here, the music is often a driving force in the film.  Songs take us not only from scene to scene but also they play a part in molding scenes and making them even better than they are to begin with.  Is it perfect?  No, and without giving away spoilers, I cannot go into it further why I deducted points.  Most of it is tiny details but they add.



As The Horror Honey pointed out to me early on during the film, this is a chick flick, and I'm OK with that as it's not the first one I've seen.  I'm not tricked into seeing many though, like I sort of was here because this is NOT a horror movie as I thought.  I knew nothing but the title going into it but figured it was at least a horror comedy.  It's more of a comedy romance or a romcom if you will.  With some roots in horror though as it definitely pays homage to Frankenstein as well as zombie films.  In fact Romero's Day of the Dead can be seen playing on the TV in Lisa's house.  I will say another thing about the film and that is it really pissed me off for a split second.  When Lisa's father, Joe Chrest (Gifted and The Perfect Date), asks his step-daughter Taffy if she wants to go to Fuddruckers for dinner it hit that nostalgic spot in my heart that made me miss the 80's.  It also reminded me I can't go to Fuddruckers anymore because there are none near me now. But, I'm OK with it now and I will gladly give Lady Frankenstein three and a half tears that smell like a hot toilet at a carnival out of five.



Tuesday, January 30, 2024



 Sometimes a film comes along and I have a hard time deciding how to grade it. Throughout watching this I went from complaining to myself that it was made to look old, which of course it does. It's supposed to take place prior to the original film from 1955 so it needs to look older. Which I have to recognize that it's hard to make something look old in 2023, so one of the things I am complaining about is also something I will compliment it on. See, that's my issue in a nutshell. Seeing it in RPX on the big screen was a nice added touch as well, I add points for that.



Probably surprising to some is that I went to the theater to see a movie that is subtitled. For someone who has Parasite, The Wailing, I Saw the Devil, and a couple other films with subtitles waiting in a pile of blue rays to watch because, let's face, if I wanted to read, I'd pick up a book so seeing this says something in it's favor.  Some things, like Godzilla the King of the Kaiju, is well worth my time. It still doesn't stop me from hating myself for it though. The good part is, it's a Godzilla movie, how much dialog can it have? And for that matter, just how do you subtitle "GRRRRREEEEEYYYOOOOONNNKKK!"?  Well, I gotta admit, it had more dialogue than I expected so again, I don't know how that effects my grade and the fact that I dislike subtitles doesn't necessarily mean I hate subtitled movies.




Moving on, the actors all do a masterful job, even down to the young girl playing little Akiko so there's no complaints there. The story is just as good and while I can still say a Godzilla film has never made me cry, this one came pretty close to it, so it gets some points for that as well. The final thing I wanted to mention is the digital effects on Godzilla himself. Herself? Did we ever know? Maybe we'll just go Godzilla themself. Itself sounds insulting, I think and now I'm sure I'm overthinking this. But anyway, the digital effect made Godzilla look so much meaner and more aggressive than ever before. Also worth mentioning is the effect used when Godzilla prepared to unleash the heat ray. The scales standing up on Godzilla's back in ascending order as the attack loaded was a sight to behold. Plus there was the original 50's music announcing the presence for every scene Godzilla is in, won't really add anything for that but not having it would for sure cost it a couple points.




 Leaving the theater I wasn't sure if this was going to get three or three and a half stars. The more I thought about it, the more I went to three and a half. Now, after writing this I'm stuck between three and a half and four stars.  See, writing these reviews are just as cathartic for me as they are informative for you reading this. So I ended us somewhere in the middle and that's what I'll give it here on Blogger even if I did give it four stars on Lettrboxd (because you can't do a quarter star rating there), three and three quarter tugboats out of five. Good job Toho.







Sunday, December 31, 2023

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Sometime around noon on December 24th ...


From all of us to all of you, we wish that whatever you celebrate; even if it's only the coming of winter, that there is some magic mixed in with the love and beauty of the season.  A happy and a merry to all.  

And if you happen to be celebrating Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah, we hope that your holiday season is everything you hoped for and that it is



Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The Mortuary Collection 2019

Since it's the middle of December, I felt that it was the perfect time to give a film review.  No, not a Christmas film, silly, I usually do those in October.  What we have today is a film titled The Mortuary Collection.  An anthology horror film (which you should know by now is one of my favorite type of films) directed and written by Ryan Spindell.  Starring is Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, Pet Sematary 2 and LOST) as Montgomery Dark.  Dark is a mysterious mortician with questionable purpose who tells four stories about people who have passed through the doors of his funeral parlor.



Dark tells these stories to a girl who shows up at the mortuary claiming to be looking for a job.  The first story is sort of average and it concerns a woman who uses the bathroom while she is at a party.  She does what a lot of people would do:  she looks into the medicine cabinet.  What she finds in there she would never have expected, ever.  The next story, which was a step up from the first one, is about Jake, a frat boy who, meets a girl named Sandra.  He gets her into bed and in the middle of having sex with her he removes his condom.  The result is that ages old story of an unwanted pregnancy.  Only, it's not Sandra who is pregnant, but rather Jake is the one who is with child.  Exactly how did this happen and when the baby wants out, just how is that supposed to happen?  Some really good gory effects in this one.



The next story is a step back in quality and it features a husband taking care of his catatonic wife.  Everything he does is centered on taking care of her and he feels trapped and depressed as he sees life passing him by and he is just a spectator.  One day his doctor suggests he just kill his wife with an overdose of pain medication.  He takes the doctors suggestion to heart and things do disastrously wrong.  As I said, very average.  Back at the mortuary, Sam, the girl, tells Dark, she is really not there for a job.  She is there for the dead child who Dark is about to cremate.  She also informs him that she is not impressed with his stories.  Sam then decides to tell him a story.



The story she tells is about herself while she is babysitting a boy named Logan.  While she cooks dinner she watched a horror movie on TV but misses the bulletin concerning a mental patient who has escaped from a local asylum.  Soon after Sam finds a strange man in the house and the two begin to fight as the man tries to get to Logan.  He swears he is not the escaped patient but that doesn't stop Sam from killing him.  This all would be bad enough, however, Sam's story isn't quite over.



This all leads to the ending of the wrap around story which really might be the best part of the movie.  Not sure what that says about the rest of the film but I will say for a horror anthology this is pretty average but the one thing it has is atmosphere.  The film just feels creepy.  Brown seems to be born to play the part of Montgomery Dark.  Playing Sam is Caitlin Carter (Cinema Verite) who does a decent enough of a job and then goes even further with an over the top ending to her story.  Overall, I could see people giving this a higher rating than I will be giving it, it all depends on if it checks your boxes or not.  As it is I will give this three bottles of embalming fluid out of five.







Friday, December 8, 2023

I know it's the holiday season but we have some bidness to attend to


Yeah we all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun.


Sorry I've been bringing the mood down lately. I'll try to do better next time.



Thursday, December 7, 2023

A Christmas Tradition (2023)

 This year it comes with a little touch of melancholy as we recently lost the great Shane MacGowan.


May he rest in peace that in this life sometimes proved difficult for him to find.



Monday, November 27, 2023

Timecrimes (2007)


There's something to be said for networking.  Even in the blogosphere as well as on Letterboxd networking pays off.  Welcome to story time with Cheeks DaBelly.  If you are reading this on blogger, I can also be found on letterboxd here: and if you are reading this one letterboxd I also have a blog which is here: .  For most of the year, the posts on my blog are few and far between but for one month every year, The Man Hole is alive with activity.  That month is October.  And the reason for all the activity, or another way of asking it is to say what's causing all dis?  Well, that's easy, October brings with it the best time of year, Halloween, and to celebrate I usually contribute to The Countdown to Halloween on blogger.  I try to watch as many horror films as I can and review them.  This year, I broke my own record with posting 64 films for the month.  That's more than two movie reviews a day.


I have a few regular readers who have been around for several Halloween's.  One of them being Caffeinated Joe.  You can find him here:  .  During this years countdown Joe asked me if I had seen Timecrimes.  I had not seen it and Joe recommended I check it out.  So here I am a month later and I can say I have now rectified that issue and I have indeed watched Timecrimes and I will give my review.  First and foremost Timecrimes is a Spanish language horror film about a man who time travels an hour into the past.  And then keeps doing it causing many different versions of himself.  Every time he does so his time traveling crimes or Timecrimes increase.


I'm a sucker for a good time travel flick and this is no exception.  Trimecrimes was written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo who has also contributed to two horror anthologies V/H/S: Viral and The ABC's of Death.  Both stories were one of the better stories in both of the films.  Even though this is a foreign language film for me, I took two years of Spanish way back when I was in high school.  Now, while I wasn't great with the language, even back then, I still retained enough that with the movie being subtitled, I still didn't find myself referring to the subtitles as much as I would if the film was Japanese or Korean.  Most of those I end up reading more than I do watching a film which is why to this day I have several horror films from Asia that I still have not seen.  Now I'm not sure if the film was supposed to have some element of a dark comedy but I couldn't help have a huge smile on my face for nearly the entire time.  Is it a perfect time travel movie?  No, but it sure does feel close to it.  I thank Joe for suggesting this one.  I'll give this four walkie talkies out of five.



Ouch, that looks like it hurts!     


Tuesday, October 31, 2023

That's a Wrap


Once again, we bring another Countdown To Halloween Blogathon to a close.  We had a good month.  It was a long month.  At times a rough month.  Cerpts over at our sister blog The Land on Cerpts and Honey lost his mother early on and thankfully through blogger magic was still able to participate all month long.  His mother was like a second mother to me as I was growing up when I was just a teen-aged Cheeks.  She had a part in raising me just as she did raising Cerpts.  She did a much better job with him.  One of the things I will always remember about her was one occasion when I was gesticulating as I was talking, I went to raise my hand and Cerpts bent down in a laughing knee slapping sort of movement at the same time.  My thumb went right into his eye.  His contact lens was ripped in half and it lodged into his eyeball.  I forget exactly what happened after that as far as medical treatment for it was concerned.  The most memorable part of the incident was when Cerpts went home and told Ma what happened she came up with the most epic quote that sums up our friendship.  Her response was: "Well, I'm not surprised, I'm happy if on nights when you go out with Cheeks you come home not covered in shit!".  Yes, she called me Cheeks!


I will always remember Ma for her love of Halloween and how every year she would painstakingly decorate the house for Halloween.  She made a habit of decorating inside and outside and I remember the first year I went over to Cerpts' house during October and noticed she was using the cardboard cutout decorations like those pictured up there ^^^.  It was classic Halloween.  I think Cerpts might still have some of these cardboard decorations still.  Although we never really talked about it, I'm pretty sure Ma liked witches and all things witchy.  I remember one Halloween, when I lived just a few blocks away from Cerpts, Ma came over to my apartment dressed up for Halloween and she was decked out in her best witch costume.  She also had a pentagram with bells hanging off of it.  It sort of looked like this:


She also liked Stevie Nicks, I think, because the way Ma dressed she reminded me so much of her with her flowy, gauzy dresses that always seemed to sway around her as she danced.  She loved to dance.  She loved music.  She just, loved.  Maybe she was a witch, who knows, and I guess it begs the question "Was she a good witch or a bad witch?".  Seeing as how she was responsible for giving me the best friend I have ever had for the past (nearly) 40 years I would say she wasn't a good witch or a bad witch.  She was the best witch!  And I will do my best to make sure when Cerpts and I get together for a frolic in the future that he will go back home without any shit on him.



Mother Goddess, Father God, I release myself from those who have left this plane and let them walk the blessed gardens of the Summerland.  

As they enter a dream from which rebirth will arise, I give thanks for the time spent together and invoke their protective light to guide me.

 I light a candle to bless this day with the splendor of fire, the freedom of the wind, the stability of earth, and the depth of the sea.

 Sun and Moon, grant us birth.  Grant us life, death, and rest.  For we shall meet again when our souls leave this world.  

 Guide me through the night and the sun-lit days.  Merry part and merry meet.  In soul and heart, Blessed Be.


photo credit from the cover of The Summerland by Elizabeth Cheryl



Romancing the Stone (1984)

  I vaguely remember seeing this shortly after it came out and I have to assume it was one I went and saw with my then girlfriend "Ann...