Friday, January 24, 2020

Wrecking the Wrecking Crew

So, what does a movie have to do be classified as 'classic'?  I only ask because, right now on Sony Movies Classic, they are showing the Matt Helm flick, The Wrecking Crew.  I'm assuming that, in this instance, they are using the term 'classic' in the same sense are car enthusiasts do - it is old.  Well, made in 1969, which will seem old to many viewers (seems like only yesterday to me).  Indeed, that's the whole point of the channel: it is somewhere for Sony to show the older, generally pre 1990s, movies from its library.  Most are black and white pictures from the forties and fifties, but every so often something from the sixties or seventies (sometimes even the eighties) turns up in glorious colour.  Like The Wrecking Crew.  Now, I know that it is the last and the least of the Matt Helm series, but, aside from its age, there is nothing about it that could justify the description of 'classic'.  I actually watched it for the first time in years when it turned up on Movies4Men (now Sony Movies Action) last year.  I was quite shocked at how shoddy it looked.  It was made on a lower budget than the three preceding films and it showed.  James Gregory, who had previously played Helm's boss turned the film down after being offered a reduced pay cheque and was replaced by John Larch (the police chief from Dirty Harry and the police detective in Play Misty for Me).  A distinct step down in supporting cast quality.  It also skimped on the locations, rarely leaving the backlot.  Copenhagen, for instance, is an all too familiar US city standing set, redressed with vaguely continental looking road signs and populated with European cars (manly Mercedes, VW Beetles and Ford Cortinas), rather than the usual Chevrolets and Buicks.

The interior sets look equally cheap and familiar.  In fact, the whole thing has  look of a TV movie.  To be quite honest, just about any of the many ultra low budget Bond knock offs turned out by Lindsay Shonteff look better than The Wrecking Crew. They also have more coherent plots, better dialogue and more convincing leading men.  As in previous Matt Helm films, Dean Martin brings his inebriated charms to the role, to little avail.  Don't get me wrong, I like Dean Martin.  He had genuine charisma and more often than not delivered well pitched and highly entertaining performances.  But here, he isn't even trying.  Perhaps his pay cheque was reduced, too and he was appearing due to contractual obligation.  Whatever the reason, he looks completely disengaged, not to mention completely out of shape.  Consequently, he is completely unconvincing as a womanising all action secret agent.  In the fight scenes he is all too obviously overweight and middle aged, sluggishly going through the motions, (and it is all too obvious when he is being doubled by a stunt man).  But his lack of energy reflects the film as a whole, which lethargically limps through a series of poorly staged set-pieces. There are some points of interest: Bruce Lee co-ordinated some of the martial arts sequences, while his student Chuck Norris gets his first screen appearance (as a briefly glimpsed heavy).  The best performance in the film belongs to the ill-fated Sharon Tate, who makes the most of her role as a clumsy agent assisting Helm.  Although anyone who only knows Tate as a character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will be disappointed to find that she actually didn't look like Margot Robbie, though she is very engaging.

Further Helm movies were planned, but never made.  The fact is that the film series was very much of its era, the late sixties, and by 1969 was looking tired and anachronistic.  It is hard to see how it could have continued in this format into the seventies.  Unlike the James Bond series, whose success it was trading off of, it showed no self awareness or propensity to reinvent itself to suit changing tastes and audience demands. (The Helm character was revived for a one season mid seventies TV series starring Tony Franciosa - it was a pretty much standard private eye series, with Helm no longer a secret agent but instead a PI).  I can't recall if the previous three Matt Helm movies looked quite as slipshod as this one as I haven't seen them in years, but from what I can remember, they certainly didn't look big budget.  On a final note, the books these films are derived from, written by Donald Hamilton, are quite different.  For one thing, they are deadly serious - all the movie series took were the character names, titles and the barest of plot details.  Don't let the films put you off reading them.

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Celebrity Cull

Do we need to start culling celebrities?  Not just because there are so many of them these days.  Though God knows, that alone would be reason enough to start taking them down.  I mean, once upon a time you actually had to have done something to be famous.  Now all you need to do is to have been on some 'reality' show seen by three people on an obscure cable channel.  Or related to somebody who was on such a show.  They just seem to multiply these days, these so called 'celebrities'.  Because if it isn't 'reality' TV then it is those talent shows promoting people with no talent.  You know, just about every day now I see some tabloid story other about some 'celebrity' and how they are breaking up with someone, flashing their knockers/knob on the beach or having drunken antics somewhere, and ask myself, who are these people?  I've never heard of any of them.  Yet they fill column inch after column inch.  The internet is even worse - not only is it awash with with the doings of celebrities, but just by being on the web you can apparently become a celebrity.  Just set up a You Tube channel and talk bollocks and you are away.  It is getting so that they are like an infestation.

But, as I said, tat isn't the main reason why we should be considering a cull.  It is because too many of them are 'going rogue', suddenly spouting idiotic 'opinions' that they clearly think shows their intelligence, but instead reveals them as moronic reactionaries.  Just look at that that Laurence Fox - previously known for being a supporting actor on an Inspector Morse spin off, he appears on Question Time and starts trying to tell us hat racism isn't a problem as long as it isn't overt.  Next thing, he's all over the press and social media pursuing a 'war against wokeness', which is simply revealing him for the dick that he actually is. His entire fan club disappointed and disillusioned in well swoop.  Quite literally tens of people suddenly had all their illusions shattered.  But he isn't the only one - who can forget that intellectual giant Meatloaf's assertion that Greta Thunberg had been brainwashed into believing in climate change?  Clearly, they and their ilk need to be culled before they can shatter the worlds of more adoring fans.  The trouble is, though, that if we wait for them to spout idiotic bollocks before we cull them, then the damage is already done.  What we really need is some kind of early warning system, to predict the slide into crackpottery and enable action to be taken before it happens.  Years ago I worked with a bloke who thought we should have such a system to give us warning of famous women likely to suddenly come out as lesbians, so that he wouldn't have to waste time writing them fan mail.  He reckoned that we should have them monitored by spy satellites, so as to see if they were wearing comfortable shoes.  Obviously, that was just sexist, but we clearly need something similar to detect the celebrity crackpots.

But how best to carry out the cull?  Should we just gas them like badgers?  Seal them into their mansions, stick a hosepipe connected to the exhaust of a car through the letter box and rev the engine?  Or perhaps we should be more subtle: invite them to something they'd be guaranteed to turn up to, like the opening of an envelope, then, when they get there, usher them int a room and get them with the old bolt gun.  You know, the humane killer they use on cattle - straight between the eyes, they won't feel a thing.  Maybe we could have health spas that are actually death camps - what they think is a sauna is actually a gas chamber.  Mass drownings in the swimming pool, perhaps.  The ultimate solution would be to set up a fake reality show, like I'm a Celebrity, say, tell them that they have been selected to take part, then make out sure that all of the challenges are fatal.  You could even televise it - people are so ghoulish that they are bound to tune in.  Then again, rather than I'm a Celebrity, perhaps it could be patterned after Love Island and see the blokes fall prey to a murderous femme fatale and the women to a crazy sex killer of the kind found in giallo movies. I know it all sounds cruel, but believe me, it has to be done.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

That Bandit Express

You ever find yourself watching something and asking yourself: why?  That's what I'm experiencing right now as I sit through Smokey and the Bandit, Part 3, which is currently showing on ITV4.  Most people don't even know this film exists (they don't know how lucky they are), damn it, it doesn't even have Burt Reynolds, (aside from a tiny cameo right at the end).  This time around Snowman (Jerry Reed) steps up to fill the Bandit's boots.  It does have Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T Justice, though.  Indeed, this last desperate attempt to wring some mileage from the Smokey and the Bandit franchise was originally entitled Smokey IS the Bandit.  According to some sources, in the original version, Gleason played both Justice and the Bandit, others claim that his character merely adopted his nemesis' techniques in order to win out.  Either way, it clearly didn't work as the film was re-shot, with Reed standing in for the Bandit, instead.  Not that this helped - the film was still a flop.  So, just why am I watching it?  I guess it is down to a residual affection for the original.  Sure, I know that Smokey and the Bandit was a broad action comedy about a bunch of rednecks crashing cars, but it had Burt Reynolds.  For anybody who didn't experience the era, it is probably hard to grasp just how huge Burt was at the box office in the late seventies and early eighties. His name alone could sell a film - let's not forget that Smokey and the Bandit was only outgrossed at the box office in 1977 by Star Wars.  With his easy charm, self deprecating humour and obvious attraction for the ladies, he was a big influence on young men like myself.  (Damn it, he inspired me to grow a moustache, which had rapidly been becoming a 'gay thing', until Burt reclaimed it for straight guys).

But Smokey and the Bandit didn't just feature Burt Reynolds.  Oh no - it featured Burt driving a Trans Am!  The Pontiac Firebird has long been epitome of the US pony car for me and the Trans Am was the top option of the range: bristling with spoilers and air dams and, more often than not, sporting a big block V8 - not to mention that phoenix spread-eagled across the bonnet (sorry, hood), it still looked remarkably elegant.  The new 1977 model, (I say 'new', but in reality it was merely a face-lifted 1976, with a restyled front end), featured prominently in Smokey and the Bandit, forever cementing its place in popular culture.  In many ways it established the 1977 model as the definitive version of the Trans Am in many people's minds.  Of course, it wasn't the only Trans Am the Bandit drove: in 1980's Smokey and the Bandit II (aka Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again), he drove a 1980 Trans Am Turbo (with, as the name implies, a 4.9 litre turbo charged small block V8), but it never quite captured the public imagination in the way the 1977 Trans Am had.  Smokey and the Bandit, Part 3 also features a Trans Am.  This time it is 1983 Trans Am with full body kit - a third generation model similar to the one KITT the car was based on in Knight Rider.  But aside from showcasing another Trans Am, the film is an unworthy sequel to the first film.  The fact is that, despite its lack of sophistication, its over abundance of Good Ol' Boy stereotypes and redneck humour, Smokey and the Bandit remains an amiable film.  Largely improvised by the cast, it provides ninety six minutes of undemanding entertainment, carried along by the sheer charisma of its star.  By contrast, Part 3 just seems tired - Gleason's foul mouthed schtick, while fitfully amusing, has run out of steam and, without Reynolds' charisma, the whole thing is utterly charmless: just a roughly assembled series of unfunny skits and car chases. 

Still, to this day I have an enduring fantasy that I'm going to buy a Trans Am, (curiously, despite my liking for them, I've never owned a Firebird of any kind - the closest I've come is its Chevrolet cousin, the Camaro), put on a white stetson and stick on moustache, slap 'Bandit Express' into the Eight Track and hit the road with a screeching of tyres.  You never know, it could be my next mid life crisis.

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Monday, January 20, 2020

The Wild, Wild Planet (1966)

In my search for new frontiers of schlock, I've been thinking that maybe I should start watching Italian science fiction movies.  (I also received a book on the subject as a Christmas present).  During the sixties Italian studios turned out a number of space operas (which often also worked in crime and horror themes).  While other Italian exploitation genres such as peplums, giallos, cannibal and zombie pictures and spaghetti Westerns remain popular, the space movies seem to have been largely forgotten.  So, as an introduction to this half remembered genre, I thought I'd present a Random movie Trailer devoted to a typical example of the Italian space opera.

1966's Wild, Wild Planet kicked off a quartet of films chronicling the adventures of Commander Mike Halstead of space station Gamma One.  It's Italian title translates into English literally as 'Criminals of the Galaxy', a fair summing up of its content.  Halstead (played by Tony Russel, an American actor who spent most of his movie career in Italy), finds himself tangling with a crazy criminal scientist who is kidnapping earth people (by miniaturising them) to use in his bizarre experiments.  His aim, apparently, is to create a super race with which he can conquer the earth.  Directed by the ubiquitous Antonio Margheriti (aka 'Anthony Dawson'), Wild, Wild Planet, like most Italian exploitation films of the era, looks great, all bright colours, stylish costumes and sets which look like they've sprung from the panels of a comic strip.  Indeed, it presents a very sixties vision of the future, the architecture, space suits and spaceships apparently based on science fiction magazine cover illustrations. 

A notable aspect of the film is its extensive use of miniatures.  Margheriti was something of an expert in this area, often creating the special effects for both his own films and those of other directors.  The results can be variable.  Although Margheriti's miniatures are usually of a high quality, their use can often be shaky.  As can be seen from the trailer, the space effects seem to be realised mainly by crudely suspending his models on strings, against a black back drop.  Later Margheriti directed films would often feature a better deployment his miniatures.  A pair of Lewis Collins starring action pictures from the mid eighties, Code Name Wild Geese and Commando Leopard, for instance, feature, respectively, a well staged car chase partly filmed using miniatures vehicles and the shooting down of an airliner, again using large scale miniatures.  Both sequences are actually pretty convincing.

Aside from Russel, the rest of the cast are Italian, and includes a young Franco Nero.  This and the other 'Gamma One' films were bank rolled by MGM, (explaining their superior production values), and, apparently, were originally intended to be released directly to TV in the US, (a common practice at the time with regard to foreign produced films purchased by US distributors).  In the event, Wild, Wild Planet, at least, got a theatrical release.  If nothing else, the trailer has certainly whetted my appetite for this genre.  Time will tell if I manage to get into it.  I'm still contemplating writing something about Rollin's Two Orphan Vampires and there's some more seventies British smut I'm looking at before I can fully turn my attention to Italian space operas, though.


Friday, January 17, 2020

No Thank You

You can often feel under siege in January, with all these things like 'Veganuary' or 'Dryanuary' going on.  If you choose not to participate then certain parts of the media seem determined to make you feel as if you are some kind of heretic.  Even though, in truth, the vast majority of the population aren't participating either.  I try to be polite about when being bombarded by calls upon me to go vegan or not drink alcohol for the month - I just say 'No thank you, I don't want to go vegan or teetotal' and hope that they'll then leave me alone.  But they don't.  They are relentless, implying that I'm a complete bastard as, by continuing to eat meat and drink alcohol, I'm personally responsible for climate change, domestic violence, road deaths and knife crime.  I'm not.  I'm merely exercising my right to make a choice.  I just wish that all these people wanting me to give things up would respect that choice.  I mean, I don't go around trying to persuade vegetarians to eat meat or pouring alcohol down the throats of non-drinkers.  They've made a choice and I respect that.  Moreover, I don't go around decrying fast food outlets for adding vegan products to their menus - I don't have to eat them and it makes perfect business sense for them to try and widen their appeal to minority groups.  AsI've said before, I have nothing against the likes of veganism as a lifestyle choice, but I do object when it starts becoming a political campaign, getting in my face and refusing to take 'no thank you' for an answer.

In which respect it is a bit like Brexit.  Despite the much vaunted 'leave' 'victory' in the 2016 referendum, a majority of the UK's population didn't vote in favour of leaving the EU.  Just as, despite his majority and all the trumpeting about 'Tory landslides', the majority of the electorate didn't vote for Boris Johnson.  His majority, thanks to our antiquated first-past-the-post system, is base upon winning only 45% of the vote.  But to get to a point, of sorts, what's really bugging me about Brexit right now, is the Brexit bastards' determination that our 31 January departure must be marked by some kind of celebration. Once again (and I suspect that I'm in the majority here), my response is 'No thank you'.  Yet they persist.  They want their triumph.  Let's face it, for most of the right-wing idiots who enabled Brexit, this is the only moment of 'glory' they are ever going to have in their lives.  Once the deed is dome, they will fade back into deserved obscurity.  But the rest of us shouldn't have to suffer (let alone pay for, as taxpayers) their celebration of the UK having fucked itself up the arse.  So, they can take their 'Festival of Brexit', or whatever the fuck it is meant to be, and stick it up their arses.  So there you go, a bit of politics to round off what has been a difficult week - I'm still working behind the scenes on The Sleaze to rectify recent problems.  It's slow progres, but we're getting there.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Technical Problems

Ever started something and wished you hadn't?  I've just spent my entire evening trying to sort out some problems with The Sleaze.  What should have been straightforward - updating the theme, PHP version and various plugins - quickly turned into a nightmare involving numerous 500 errors (which take the front end of the site offline).  The whole process wasn't helped by a server error at my web host, which took everything offline for nearly an hour.  The problem with the site was that something was breaking the htaccess file (causing those 500 errors) every time a plugin was updated, installed or deleted.  In what I thought was a separate problem, something else was affecting the way the back end of the site was displaying, rendering some functions inoperable and interfering in the functioning of the theme.  Over many years of using Wordpress, I've learned that these things usually come down to either a conflict between plugins or a single rogue plugin. Finding out which plugin or plugins are involved is a lengthy process of trial and error, involving deactivating the plugins and reactivating them all singly to try and ascertain which one is causing the problem.

Needless to say, it was the very last plugin I tested which turned out to be the culprit.  It was an insignificant SEO-related plugin which hadn't played a significant role in years, yet it was behind both problems, creating havoc.  Once it was deactivated, everything was back to normal.  Just like that. All so bloody frustrating.  But such are the pleasures of running one's own website.  That's one of the advantages of using such things as Blogger (as this blog does) - somebody else deals with technical problems of this kind.  The disadvantage, of course, is the lack of control you have over most aspects of the site, the restrictions which are sometimes placed upon the kind of content you can publish and the possible censorship which, consequently, might be applied.  Anyway, solving these problems over at The Sleaze have taken up my evening to the extent that I haven't been able to come up with a proper post for today.  Don't worry, I'm about to watch something called Vampire Orphans, a DVD I was given for Christmas, thereby supplying potential material for a future post.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Two Fisted Pontiff

So, this business of the Pope decking a parishioner, or whatever the Hell happened, what's that about, eh?  OK,  so, in reality, he only slapped away the hand of someone trying to touch him, but if you were to believe the press, Pope Francis might as well have punched them in the face and given them a kicking while they were down.  I don't know why the media were acting all shocked about it - after all, it isn't as if the papacy doesn't have a track record when it comes to violence.  Let's not forget the Borgias.  I know, that was centuries ago - things have changed since then and the Vatican has become devoted to peace.  Even when they have a former Hitler Youth member in charge.  But this latest outburst from the unlikely source of Pope Francis - does it have any significance?  Could it be that the Pope is becoming tired of those groupies who keep throwing themselves at him?  It's long been a problem, you know - all those old biddies desperate to touch the Pontiff in the hope having their lumbago cured, or their continence restored.  Not to mention the sex starved nuns with erotic fixations upon the Pope - shagging him would be the next best thing to bedding Jesus himself.  With this Pope - who is seen as a bit 'Rock and Roll' with his radical approach of, well, being guided by the actual teachings of Christ - it has reached epidemic proportions.  Nuns have been known to secrete themselves in his wardrobe and leap out, clad only in their wimples, when His Holiness enters his bedroom. 

But perhaps it's part of a bigger plan.  Maybe Pope Francis is planning to become the 'Two Fisted Pontiff', using his martial arts skills to fight evil.  Who knows, perhaps the person he swatted away was actually an assassin, planning to off him?  I'd imagine, though, that the Pope's strategy is further reaching than just foiling assassination attempts.  He's probably tired o the limitations of trying to fight evil through the power of prayer and doing good deeds - it's so time consuming and, at his age, he needs to see instant results.  So what better way to get them than by taking the god fight directly to the bad guys.  Now, while he could simply go out on the streets of Rome and beat up a few pimps and drug dealers, I'm willing to bet that he has bigger plans than that.  Beating up Trump, for instance.  I'm expecting him to challenge the ambulatory tub of lard to a no holds barred fist fight, with world peace as the prize.  Maybe giving the adulterer and fornicator Boris Johnson a good kicking for a follow up.  Both contests would, of course, just be warm ups for the main event: taking on the Prince of Darkness himself, Vladimir Putin.  Perhaps he could follow all this with a challenge contest against other world religious leaders in order to establish, once and for all, which faith should have global hegemony. 

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Monday, January 13, 2020

A Right Royal Ruckus

You know when you see something unfolding which everyone else thinks is a big deal, but which leaves you just shrugging your shoulders?  Well, that's the way I feel about this current Royal 'crisis' with Prince Harry and his wife deciding that they want to 'step back' from being 'full time' Royals.  If I'm to believe the press this is a constitutional crisis the likes of which hasn't been seen since the abdication of Edward VIII.  This wholly spurious comparison seems to be based upon the fact that Edward VIII gave up the throne to marry an American divorcee while Prince Harry has married an American divorcee and, well, hasn't given up the throne. Indeed, as he isn't actually directly in line to the throne any more, his decision to 'opt out' really shouldn't be a big deal.  Yet we've had Royal 'summit' meetings, interventions by the Queen and the Prince of Wales and all sorts of wild speculation on the part of various Royal 'experts'.  According to the latter, this 'crisis' could lead to the end of the monarchy as we know it.  Good.  It is an anachronism which serves only to validate and legitimise our archaic system of class, privilege and patronage. 

But, of course, it is highly unlikely to derail the monarchy any time soon.  While the media might have viewed it as a crisis so severe that it knocked everything else - Iran, the fact that Australia is ablaze, Brexit - off of the front pages, the public don't seem to have shared their view.  As far as I can see, it has elicited little in the way of public discourse.  But just why does the press and, apparently, the establishment they represent, feel that this development is such a threat?  Could it be that they fear the fact that someone doesn't like this privileged royal bubble they keep telling us mortals is so wonderful and is prepared to walk away, undermines the myth they are constantly peddling?  After all, Royalty, in the UK, represents the apex of the social pyramid, the ascension of which is peddled as being the ultimate aspiration of the populace.  The higher you go, the greater your wealth, power and privilege, the happier you will be.  But Prince Harry's recent actions give the lie to this, implying that the opposite might be true, which undermines the whole basis of the class system. 

Of course, this idea of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just walking away from being active members of the Royal family and becoming 'ordinary' people instead is just bollocks.  It isn't as if they are short of a bob or two.  I mean, they aren't likely to end up living in a two bedroom council house on an estate in Slough any time soon.  As for them becoming 'financially independent', well again, I doubt very much that we'll see either of them working in Burger King or delivering Pizzas on a moped for Just Eat. As a final thought on the subject, just why was this story promoted as a constitutional crisis presenting an existential threat to the Royal family, when Prince Andrew's  connections with an international sex offender wasn't?  Surely allegations that one of Her Majesty's sons was involved with underage sex slaves were far more damaging to the image of UK Royalty?  But hey, his alleged depravity wasn't actually challenging the very basis of our culture of privilege, but rather reinforcing it by effectively implying that if you have enough money and access to power, you can get away with anything.

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Blazing Trash

I found myself watching this film in the early hours the other day.  I say 'found myself' because I'd fallen asleep on the sofa while watching TV and awoke to find this car chase playing.  As I had been watching Sony Movies Action (formerly Movies4Men), I figured that I must be in the midst of some low rent direct-to-DVD action film, a suspicion reinforced by the fact that the passenger in the cop car was Ice T.  I guessed that it must be of some vintage, as the cars involved in the chase all seemed to be nineties Ford LTDs.  But I kept thinking that thee was something familiar about that car chase.  Even though I was sure that I hadn't seen this film before - I don't make a habit of watching movie with Ice T in them - I was sure that I'd seen that car chase before.  Moreover, it just looked far too well staged to belong in a low budget action flick.  Then the chase was over and we suddenly went into the opening titles - I realised that it had been merely the pre-title sequence.  Anyway, as the titles rolled - it was called Ablaze and featured lots of actors you vaguely remembered from various TV series - I remembered where I'd seen that char chase before: it had been lifted in its entirety from the 1993 Bruce Willis film Striking Distance.  I have to admit, its use in Ablaze did feature some decent editing in replacing the original interior shots featuring Bruce Willis with new ones featuring Ice T.

A bit of research revealed that Ablaze was, indeed, a direct-to-DVD release - from 2001 - and was a notorious example of 'cut and paste' film-making, being built around footage taken from other films.  In this case, aside from the pre-title sequence (which turns out to have zero relevance to the rest of the plot) lifted from Striking Distance, the bulk of the action sequences were taken from City on Fire (1979), along with some stock footage from the old TV show Emergency!.  In fact, its whole scenario is, unsurprisingly, lifted from City on Fire, with an oil refinery fire engulfing a city.  Like the earlier film whose footage it borrows, Ablaze features corrupt city officials responsible for the fire, a threatened hospital full of overworked doctors and nurses and the heroic efforts of local firefighters to deal with the disaster.  It even apes a sub-plot from City on Fire involving a female socialite (movie actress on Ablaze) who finds herself trapped in the hospital and helps the medical staff.  The most perplexing aspect of Ablaze, though, is the participation of Ice T.  Clearly desperate for a 'name' actor to headline the film with, it seems as if the producers could only afford to hire him for a day's shooting: aside from that irrelevant opening sequence - where he is inserted into a Bruce Willis film - his cop character vanishes until the end of the film.  The rest of the film is carried by such TV and direct-to-DVD stalwarts as John Bradley, Amanda Pays, Tom Arnold and Cathy Lee Crosby.  The closest it comes to an actual 'star' name who actually plays some major part in the film is Michael Dudikoff - a long way from his heyday starring in Cannon produced action flicks - in a supporting role as a firefighter.

As I've indicated before, I'm something of a fan of these 'cut and paste' jobs and Ablaze is a modern classic of the genre.  There is a actually a certain degree of skill involved in stitching together footage from several disparate sources to make an entirely new film.  At their best, these films offer a seamless experience: if you haven't seen the movies the lifted footage came from, you'd never know the difference.  In cases like Ablaze, however, some of the stock footage is so poorly matched with the new footage that it becomes unintentionally hilarious, (in particular the collision of seventies, nineties and two thousands fashion, cars and so on as it switches between old and new footage).  I can heartily recommend Ablaze to all lovers of trash and 'cut and paste' film making.  Indeed, the film itself clearly know it is trash, with the cast barely taking it seriously and the script dropping in things like the address of a fire being that of The Munsters (1313 Mockingbird Lane).  Really, next time it is on Sony Movies Action, set the recorder - it's well worth a look.


Thursday, January 09, 2020

Strange Followings

Thank God I only work four days a week these days - I couldn't do a fifth this week.  Going back to work after a break is always Hell, but it is much worse when it is post Christmas at the start of the year.  After the festivities January can feel pretty bleak.  The weather is usually shitty as well, (although this week the temperatures have been relatively mild).  But on top of all that, this week has been ridiculously hectic. Not particularly productive, but very hectic.  See, despite my resolution to focus on more meaningful postings here, already we're back to trivia.  Actually, I think I've done pretty well since the beginning of the year in terms of raising the quality of posts here.  But there should always be a place for the trivial and inconsequential.  Such as the fact that someone followed me on Twitter last week.  Now, there's nothing unusual in that, you are doubtless thinking.  But here's the thing - the notification came up that this person was following me back.  That's right - as if I had already followed them.  Except that I hadn't - I hadn't followed anyone new in an age.  Pretty weird shit, eh?  The thing is though, that when I checked the 'Following' bit of my Twitter account - there he was!  This, despite the fact that I know I hadn't followed this guy.

The funny thing is, though, that his profile does seem the sort that I would follow.  He's into giallo movies and has a podcast related to them.  Spookiest of all, this guy's profile name is derived from a seventies giallo - one that I had watched only hours before I saw the follow notification!  Weird, or what?  Is there a rational explanation for it all?  Probably.  I'm guessing that the profile must have appeared on that 'Who to Follow' panel you get on Twitter and that, somehow, I inadvertently clicked on it without realising.  Probably when I was trying to click of its 'refresh' link.  Regardless of how it has happened,  I've let my follow of him stand.  To be honest, it isn't the first time something like this has happened with my Twitter account.  Some years ago, when I first had my Nokia Lumia phone and before I'd got the hang of its screen lock, it somehow managed to open the Twitter app and like a Tweet by someone I didn't follow and whose timeline I had never looked at, all while in my pocket.  Of course, I had to 'unlike' it when I realised what had happened, which must have seemed strange to the Tweet's owner, but there you are.  Modern technology, eh?  I still use that phone although, ny mobile phone standards apparently, it is considered ancient.  But hey, I like it and it still works.  That said, it is a Windows phone and Microsoft have now discontinued support - I can't replace apps that fail as the app store is now closed.  So, reluctantly, I'm going to have to get a new phone somewhen this year.  Anyway, there you go - my first rambling and inconsequential post of the year - decade, in fact.  It felt good!