This really is the best job I’ve ever had.
Back in the summer of 1997, I was a colossal fan of FFWD Weekly, eagerly grabbing each issue as soon as it hit the newsstand. Calgary had news and entertainment weeklies before FFWD, and I liked those as well, but this was so much better. In my opinion, there was just one thing missing; coverage of ridiculous, obscure movies like Infra-Man (1975), The Devil’s Daughter (aka La Setta, 1991), Eyes Without a Face (1960) and The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916). Surely there was room for one more home video column in a paper with a title like Fast Forward?
It turns out there was. The magazine accepted me with open arms, and gave me free reign to write about whatever the hell I wanted. A list of movies with inflatable clothing in them? Check. An essay on nosebleeds as a visual manifestation of sexual frustration in Japanese cartoons? Check. Make-believe conversations with a neglected VHS copy of Reptilicus (1961) that I totally should get around to watching one of these days? Hell yeah, baby – I ran that one into the ground.
Video stores were everywhere, and for the first time, consumers could watch pretty much anything. I wanted my column to reflect that. Forget new releases — I just wanted to let people know how crazy Shaolin Drunkard (1983) was. (Answer: Sooooo crazy! You must see this movie!) I even got to keep going after the video stores started to vanish. They let me get away with this nonsense for seventeen and a half years!
But this isn’t the time nor the place for sentiment. You can go to the Video Vulture facebook page if you want to read more Goodbyes, Thank Yous, and hopes for the future. (Oh, and check out my just-created website www.video-vulture.com for more of my stuff, if that appeals to you.) No, this is the last printed edition of my column, and I must perform my final duties by racing through as many topics as I can fit into the available space. Go!
Where has he Shaun? Wool he be back?
That little bleater “Shaun the Sheep” is starring in his own movie! Fans of the Wallace and Gromit films will remember little Shaun from his scene-stealing appearance in the 1995 short, A Close Shave, where he helped the inventor-and-his-dog duo to foil a dastardly sheep-rustling operation, headed by a vicious robotic dog. Since then, Shaun has been in his own self-titled children’s TV series (still in production, I believe). And now, to commemorate the Chinese Year of the Sheep (seriously, it started on Feb. 19th), we have the brand new Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)! And by “We”, I mean England, not us, because the film doesn’t seem to be available in Canada at the moment. Curses! The film is said to be completely without dialogue other than grunts and animal noises, much like the Shaun the Sheep TV series, but extended to 85 minutes. Does that make it a bit too oddball and niche to release over here? I hope not.
The Most Ridiculous Apocalyptic Scenario the Video Vulture Has Ever Seen
There have been some doozies in this category. Rats: Night of Terror (1984) had that crazy ending where the dudes in the HazMat suits turned out to be…not human. Cabin in the Woods (2012) did that awesome thing that I still don’t want to spoil. Atlas Gets a Drink (1999) saw the globe deflate like a balloon. Fans of the delirious Japanese Yakuza nightmare Dead or Alive (1999) will fondly recall the final scene, in which one of the main characters reaches into his own chest, pulls out his soul, and hurls it at an oncoming bazooka round, causing the Earth to dissolve in fire.
Still, even with such remarkable competition, one must give praise to the sheer lunacy of the sixth episode of Mike Tyson Mysteries (2014). In that episode, Tyson and his three trusty compatriots (adopted daughter Yung Hee, the ghost of the Marquess of Queensbury, and a talking pigeon) try to stop the construction of a canal that is prophesized to herald the End of the World. They fail. The canal splits the planet open like a huge zipper, from which emerges an enormous rocky phallus that extends into the sky and fucks the Moon.
Yeah, they actually did that. The following week, the gang was back solving mysteries in a blue van, like nothing happened.
Embarrassing Confession Time
For years now, I’ve been telling people that my first celebrity interview for FFWD was with Spawn creator Todd McFarlane. Looking back over the archives, I now recall that my first interview was actually a spirited conversation with two local porno directors. In 2000, I spoke with “Rob and Gus” about their Calgary produced XXX skin flick Alpha Movie (2000). It was just a regular porno movie, only made entirely with Calgarian actors, and with even less attention paid to production values than usual. Cables, lighting equipment, and the cameraman’s leg often snuck into frame, usually accompanied by a caption pointing out the gaffe with a noncommittal shrug. Oh, and a cartoon alien would show up from time to time, steal a car, and drive through Calgary, unconnected to the main…er… “story”. You’re probably never going to see this movie.
Recommendations from the Bottom 100
I will now go on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) and pick some genuinely entertaining movies from the notorious “Bottom 100” list! Here goes…
Hmmm. The Bottom 100 is not the cornucopia of inept hilarity it once was. Schlocky treats such as Troll 2 (1990) and The Room (2003) have received enough positive votes to ascend up out of the list, leaving behind genuinely dreadful fare like Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) and an endless parade of failed comedies, like The Hottie and the Nottie (2008). For Heaven’s sake, do NOT watch failed comedies for your bad movie fix! A failed drama, horror film or sci-fi epic has the opportunity to be hilarious, but a failed comedy is just plain torture to sit through.
Sparse though the pickings might be, there are still some really fun movies on the current list. The Video Vulture recommends The Horrors of Spider Island (1960) (a bunch of sexy models get stranded on an island of monsters); The Wild Wild World of Batwoman (1966) (okay, this one actually tries to be funny, but I still find it endearing for reasons I can’t articulate); Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010) (every bit as inept and hilarious as you’ve been led to believe); and House of the Dead (2003) (still Uwe Boll’s finest hour).
Not a classy movie
The rape scene from Naked Weapon (2002) contains three (count ‘em; three) high-fives. That’s a level of crassness humanity has rarely glimpsed.
How much space do I have left? What? Only 31 words?! Oh shit!
After years and years of agonizing procrastination, I finally got around to watching the Danish giant monster movie Reptilicus (1961)! It was delightful!