Tuesday, December 31, 2019

My Year in Schlock

So, as 2019 staggers to an end, once more I've determined to maintain a lone vigil at its bedside until it gasps its last.  I say 'lone', but I will be accompanied by a large plate of sausage rolls, beer and maybe even a whiskey or two.  You know, I've tried, in the past, to get into all this celebrating the New Year thing, but it just isn't me.  I see it as more of a contemplative time of year - a time to reflect.  One of the things I could never buy into about the New Year is the idea, perpetuated by people who should know better, that once the tired old year expires at midnight, we step into a brand new, freshly minted, year, where we can all start afresh, putting our problems behind us.  If only.  Unfortunately, experience has taught me that life simply doesn't work that way: the problems you had on New Year's Eve will still be there on New Year's Day - and beyond.  But I'm not here to be gloomy on this, the last day of the year (not to mention decade).  Equally, I'm not here to make predictions about the coming year: the future is unknown and not worth speculating about. Not that I'm going to start doing one of those retrospectives of my past year - just read the last twelve months of posts here to get an idea of what's been going on.

I thought, though, that I might briefly look back at the schlock I've watched this year.  I have to concede that it hasn't been a vintage year for watching schlock movies and I've been equally remiss when it comes to writing them up here.  Part of the problem lies in the fact that I simply don't have the energy I had before I was ill a couple of years ago.  I'm afraid that all the stress, high blood pressure and diabetes - not to mention the treatments for them - have taken their toll.  I'm still hopeful of a more or less full recovery, but it is turning out to be a much a slower process than I anticipated.  But to get back to the schlock - of the relatively meager number of films I watched and wrote about, a handful stand out.  First up, Al Adamson's Dracula Vs Frankenstein: compared to many of Adamson's patchwork films, often assembled from footage shot years apart with the finished product frequently completely different from the project's original intent, this film is surprisingly coherent.  Indeed, it is a highly entertaining, if somewhat rickety, homage to the Universal 'moster rallies' of the 1940s. 

Next up, Brutes and Savages, a faux Mondo so bad that it makes you appreciate just how good the real article is and, more importantly, the level of cinematic skill required to pull this sort of film off.  Split Second, watched in tribute to the late Rutger Hauer, was an unexpectedly enjoyable piece of schlock from the nineties, featuring a great, against type, performance from its star, some decent action, a relatively witty script and a well-realised vision of a dark future blighted by global warming, (not that that will ever happen, eh?).  Humanoids From the Deep was another blast from my formative years.  A curious throw back to fifties-style monster movies, with added sex, which, if not as bad you think it will be, certainly doesn't live up to the controversy which surrounded it upon its release in 1980.  Finally, the absolute highlight of of my year in schlock has to be Nocturna, the incredible 1979 vanity project by belly dancer extraordinaire Nai Bonet.  By turns inept and beguiling, this nominal horror comedy also encompasses disco, romance, soft porn and even Blaxploitation.  All of them badly. It has to be seen to be disbelieved.  But really, it has to be seen.  For connoisseurs of schlock, Nocturna is truly a delight.

So there you have it - my year in schclock.  I'm not much of one for giving recommendations - what we like and don't like is deeply personal and I wouldn't presume to inflict my pleasures on other people - I would say that if you were to watch five schlocky movies in 2020, you could do a lot worse than these five.  And if you do want to watch them, as far as I'm aware, they are currently all available on YouTube.  Anyway, that's it for this year - see you all in 2020.  Oh, and a Happy New Year to you all.



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