I have been super busy with work lately, but I’ve still had a chance to watch a few things in my down time. Yet more Sherlock Holmes was in there with The Woman in Green, a murder mystery which is one of the films I was most familiar with going into watching the set. It reintroduces Moriarty and makes it plain just how much they reused actors in the series as many of the characters are played by people that had previously appeared in differing roles. Moriarty himself was previously a red herring in at least one of the films where Holmes battles the Nazis. You would think that since they had the same people playing Holmes, Watson, Lestrad and even Mrs. Hudson through the series, someone as important as Moriarty would be constant as well, but rather we get a different Napoleon of crime in each outing. I guess it could be considered a metaphor for his slippery nature. Or maybe he’s a Time Lord. Anyway, this is another one of the fairly good outings from the series, though not as moody or atmospheric as some of the earlier films. At this point they were beginning to wind down and I remember some of the later films being a bit more mediocre. But I’ll still soldier on.
I also finished the final Daimajin film, Wrath of Daimajin. It closes the series in grand style, even if it falls on the old chestnut of using children as the protagonists in order to elicit more feels from the audience. As usual, there are warlords and thieves up to no good and they get their just deserts as the ancient god stomps his way to justice. For a series that follows structure so rigidly, it managed to stay surprisingly fresh. Plus I think the visual quality was a step back in the right direction after some squiffy effects work made the second look not quite as good as the first. I absolutely recommend the set for those that enjoy this sort of thing.
I got another Twilight Time release with Drums Along the Mohawk, a John Ford film from the late 30s that stars Henry Fonda (who would later be in his Grapes of Wrath) as well as Claudette Colbert and a few of his stalwart acting company like Ward Bond. The film looks nothing less than astonishing given its age. Part of that may be due to the fact that, while extremely popular at its release, it hasn’t been regarded as the kind of classic that some of Ford’s other films have and it undoubtedly was handled less. The other part would have to be that it was created using the same kind of technicolor process that went into The Wizard of Oz.
I can’t think of a great Revolutionary War film, which is too bad since it’s a fascinating period of history. (I never officially declared a focus when getting my history degree, but that period is probably the one I came closest to doing so with.) Mohawk may be the closest there is. We see very little of the actual fighting, but we see life among the “frontier” back when the frontier was still in places like New York. The Redcoats strike up deals with many of the local Indians, leading to many of the colonists losing their homes during the war. They’re led by walking cadaver John Carradine, who folks like myself will recognize from his many appearances in Mystery Science Theater 3000, in the role of head Tory. It’s episodic and has moments of melodrama, but damned if it isn’t also funny and entertaining in the style of many of his Western epics that would follow.
Last weekend I went to Horror on the Boulevard again. It’s an annual triple feature put on by the Boulevard Drive-In of Kansas City. This year the quality average of the films was definitely higher. Sure, last year had the original Dawn of the Dead, which is a bona fide classic. But it also had Demons, which was hilariously awful, and Nightmare on Elm Street 2, which sucks on toast. This year they had some pretty well known films I’d never seen before, but was looking forward to. It opened with Child’s Play and it was also bad, but in a much different way. It was a kind of a hoot. I laughed at the kills and the ridiculousness of the movie, while looking up on my phone that the cop is actually Prince Humperdink. Finally, that data plan is good for more than just a high-cost GPS. Second, we had Night of the Creeps, which I loved. It’s not quite a full-blown horror comedy, but you can tell that they’re being just tongue in cheek enough for it to work. I loved the black and white opening and the salty cop for whom everything is an opportunity to make a surly one-liner. I also enjoyed the frat guys that look like slightly burly versions of John Oates. We watched them from the back of my friend Jared’s beat-up pick-up while drinking Blue Moon pumpkin ale and eating Cheetos, but eventually even the blanket couldn’t keep the October chill at bay, so we took off before the final film.
However, I grabbed a copy of Dawn of Dracula, the feature debut of the Midnite Mausoleum crew. I’ve been a fan of the show for some time now and was glad to see Marlena Midnite, who I’ve referred to a few times as the DIY Vampira, host of the show and star of the film. I also got my picture taken with her and had not realized just how tiny she is until I saw it. Concentrated horror host cuteness. The debut of the film had been at the Friday night event (I had to go to the Saturday showing due to work, just one more reason for me to quit) so I wanted to pick it up and see it on my own.
Anyway, the film is exactly what you would expect if you’ve seen the show: cheap, questionably acted, full of bizarre jokes and weirdly charming because of it. Marlena’s Victoria Van Helsing has a wonderful British accent that wouldn’t fool a small child and Robyn Graves plays herself as per usual. The 70s setting is mostly an excuse to make Star Wars references and have a reason for not including cell phones. (And I suppose to be a semi-sequel to the Hammer films of the 50s that they are obviously pastiching.) The camerawork is certainly better than the show, but it still looks like somebody was just standing there pointing without a plan. Oh, and there’s a weird subplot involving a UK punk group’s new single that seems to exist just to make a third-grade style political jab. And it still works better than the stuff in Iron Sky. So you know what? I enjoyed the hell out of it. This is a bunch of friends doing something they obviously enjoy and putting it out there for us, just like the public access show that was their labor of love for over six years. And you’ll never look at strawberries or jelly donuts the same way.
It probably helps that I got a lot of the inside jokes that reference the show since I have watched a lot of it. (And will continue to since I just grabbed some more of their DVDs. I’ll be sitting my friend Jared down to watch their old Halloween special with Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things soon.) While the show is no more, this is a heck of a nice little capper to its existence and at only about 80 minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. They’ve got a limited edition version of it out now that comes in an 8mm film can, so if you want one you should probably get it before it’s gone.