Friday, October 13, 2017

WHAT AM I WATCHING THIS WEEK? - Edition 5: 10/13

This week, we delve a little deeper into the film catalog of Amazon Instant Video by travelling back to the year 1975 for a trio of films that we have selected for viewing. We have a horror/sci-fi cult favorite from a renowned director making his debut, another cult film from the post-apocalyptic realm and a film that is most famous for being savagely riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000, but in this case, it is the original MST3K-free version. So make your own commentary, if you must. As always, screw you Netflix! We want movies!

Mitchell - You probably know this movie from it's run on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in one of their better-known riffs. However, this is the original uncut version, so we actually get to see how John Saxon dies!! Mitchell is an abrasive detective who nobody likes, not even his own police captain. He ignores orders, doesn't care to do things by the book, is a bit of a slob and can't tell when a woman is coming on to him. John Saxon and Martin Balsam also appear in the cast as a couple of bad guys who suffer greatly from Mitchell's insufferable mannerisms. In my opinion, the movie is not all that bad, although the plot tends to be jumbled and confusing at times. The Mitchell character is supposed to be widely-perceived as horrible, but I felt somewhat drawn to the big, smelly lug. Go figure. The theme by Hoyt Axton is pretty bad, however. There are car chases (not terribly exciting ones), there are helicopters chasing boats, and plenty of scenes of Mitchell driving, leaning on or standing in the vicinity of various vehicles. Give this one a look because it doesn't really deserve to be in's Bottom 100.

Shivers - The feature film debut for the cult-favorite Canadian director David Cronenberg. A mad doctor has developed a parasite that is "part aphrodisiac, part venereal disease" and it has been unleashed on the residents of a luxury high-rise apartment in Montréal. Once inside of someone, the parasite turns them into sex-crazed zombies that will stop at nothing to "feast on your flesh" so to speak, as it is sex they're after, rather than lunch. One-time song-writing partner of Burt Bacharach, Paul Hampton stars as the high-rise's own medic, who attempts to piece things together but then finds himself running to save himself from the huge massive orgy that awaits him if he is caught. I've actually made it campier than it sounds, but it is actually a serious horror/thriller with some social subtext just under the surface. This was an impressive debut for Cronenberg. One of the better horror films you will find on Amazon Instant Video.

A Boy and His Dog - This post-apocalyptic sci-fi black comedy was directed by L.Q. Jones, who some may remember as being cast as a villain in several Sam Peckinpah westerns. The story involves a young man named Vic (Don Johnson), who roams the desolate wastelands of a future United States along with his telepathic dog, Blood (voiced brilliantly by Tim McIntire), foraging for food and seeking women for Vic. They come across a group of underground dwellers from a place called "Topeka", who want Vic to supply their women with little Don Johnsons. The depiction of "Topeka" as some sort of Fellini-inspired Norman Rockwell middle America is both surreal and threatening, as a Committee (led by the great Jason Robards) dictates the proceedings with a less than empathetic approach. Expect a witty and intelligent sci-fi film rather than an action-filled one. Another sneaky good film.

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