FLICKSMACKS PODCAST

FLICKSMACKS PODCAST

My love of film has officially spilled over into the medium of audio podcasting.

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A couple of months ago, my friend Scott (@moviedrivel) and I, began throwing around the idea of doing a podcast about movies (and television to an extent). Thus was born FlickSmacks. With both of us being fans of B-movies and the stranger side of cinema, it was only natural that this is where our new venture went to. Each episode we pick a movie that we both watch. These are mostly decided by the title of the film, and/or the cover art. There is an endless well of these types of films at our disposal. As of this post, we have four episodes in the bag, with another waiting to be edited.

If you care to check out this often hilarious look at lesser-known movies, please find us through our website flickskmack.com or other avenues like Apple Podcasts, Spotify and most other pod places. Feedback is always welcome, as are suggestions. We are even looking to have some guests going forward.

This is definitely a passion project, and the quality will not be professional for the first little while as we learn the podcasting ropes, but once we get everything squared away, we will be unstoppable!

Please stop by for a listen.

My Two Cents: READY OR NOT

Ready Or Not

Directed by Matt Bittinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Starring: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Andi McDowell

Fox Searchlight

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By show of hands, who here enjoys a rousing game of hide and seek? If I was to bet, I would say that at some point in our childhoods, we have all played. For children, everything is about fun and games; tag, duck-duck-goose, and the aforementioned hide and seek. Count to one hundred then come and find me. Like I said, these are kid’s games. Now, what if, as an adult, you were thrust into a night of a deadly game where you had to hide to save your life, and if you were found, you’d be killed? This is the situation that the new film from Matt Bittinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, Ready Or Not, presents to us.

Grace (Samara Weaving) is a lovely bride-to-be, marrying into the wealthy and eccentric La Domas family. The family, being rich, are skeptical as to Grace’s intentions. The La Domas Empire was built on the backs of board games and playing cards. Think Milton-Bradley or Parker Brothers. With this being said, it is only fitting that the family “welcomes” Grace into the fold with a wedding night game of chance. Unfortunately for Grace, she selects the wrong game; hide and seek. Thus begins a night of survival for the newlywed, as she must make it until dawn without being found.

Going into Ready Or Not, I had no real expectations. I saw the trailer for the movie a couple times, and thought it looked interesting. We decided to check it out, and will grab you right away with its back-handed charm. The characters are all jaded and untrusting, which makes them, as odd as it sounds, relatable. The family is dysfunctional and cagey, which is the case in a lot of people’s experience. The idea of someone having to survive the night until dawn, being hunted by lunatics is not original by any stretch, but the execution here is almost perfect. The dark humour and sarcasm contained in the dialogue is biting and beautiful, and the distain these characters show for one another adds to the humor and paranoia. Also, as an added bonus, there are outbursts of violence that will satisfy your bloodlust and your sense of amusement. The final ten minutes of the film are wild, and the creators do not skimp on the violence and gore. This was a welcome touch in a year that has been less than generous with good horror movies. Ready Or Not is a fun film if you take it for what it is. It may have even slid into my list of favorites so far in 2019. If you want to be entertained for ninety minutes, Ready Or Not is a game worth playing.

T.

JOHN CARPENTER LOVEFEST

Why John Carpenter Is My Favorite Director

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The Maestro in Action

Many directors have a distinct style. When directors carve out their own niche, for the most part, the men behind the lens gain notoriety. Great examples of this are Martin Scorsese, with his quick cut, narrated crime capers. Quentin Tarantino, who uses dialogue and ultra-violence to give his stories life. There is also, my personal favorite director; John Carpenter. From the time I was a boy, there is something about Carpenter’s films that hook me. The ingredients he uses to cook up his films fit perfectly with my movie pallet. For this reason, I would like to tell you why John Carpenter is my favorite movie director.

Simplicity   There is one common thread through Carpenter’s work; survival. From Assault On Precinct 13 to Ghosts of Mars and everywhere in between, a fight for survival against an evil force is the main theme throughout. This makes for his films to be unsettling, intense, and simple. Babysitter versus madman, scientists versus alien, or truck driver pitted against evil sorcerer. You get the picture. A simple plot. Good versus evil. Everything right down to Michael Myers expressionless white mask is uncomplicated. This makes a plot like an escaped mental patient stalking babysitters in small town Illinois seem plausible, organic, and more terrifying; it could happen to anyone. Simple is good. Carpenter does it well.

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The Soundtracks   If you were to take away the haunting synth-based soundtrack from the previously mentioned Halloween, what are you left with? You have footage of a man walking around the dark with a knife. This is not nearly as effective as the same footage armed with the iconic theme of the film. Carpenter’s soundtrack scores and themes are very effect in drawing out the tension and action. The main title from his 1980 ghost story The Fog is my personal favorite. The music is creepy in all the right places. Carpenter still continues to tour, performing his vast collection of synthesizer music. His Anthology and Lost Theme albums are amazing.

The Villains   All great stories have a great protagonist. John Carpenter’s films have a wide arrange of monsters and bad guys. From a possessed 1957 Plymouth Fury named Christine, to a whole island filled with violent criminals in Escape From New York, Carpenter villains run the gamut. The Shape, also known as Michael Myers has even become a pop culture icon since he first appeared in 1978. Perhaps his best creature is the parasitic alien that jumps from host to host in The Thing. This is Carpenter’s best film, and it is party because the alien is convincing and pretty damn cool. A great movie monster goes a long way in telling a great story.

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They Live (1988)

The Anti-Hero   John Carpenter’s films also have another common theme; the anti-hero protagonist. Anti-hero, by definition, is “a central character in a story, movie, or drama, who lacks conventional heroic attributes. Carpenter’s heroes do not wear capes, drive fast cars, or fit into any typical hero mold. Look at these characters, for example. Snake Plisskin is a convicted bank robber who sent into a crime infested Manhattan to save the U.S. president. In Big Trouble in Little China, Jack Burton is hard-living truck driver who battles a sorcerer. For the Kurt Russel hat-trick, whiskey drinking anti-social helicopter pilot McReady battle the alien that invades his Alaskan science outpost in The Thing. Nada, the drifter in They Live and Dr. Loomis, Michael Myers psychiatrist are also examples of Carpenter’s unconventional good guys.

Genre Crossover   Blending genres is something that can make a compelling story. John Carpenter is the master of blending horror and science fiction together to make great cinema. Look at films like The Thing, They Live, and Village of the Damned. All great horror films with some science thrown in for good measure. His use of aliens and Martians is pretty much a Carpenter trademark. Humor is also something the director does well. It is usually subtle, but in a movie like Big Trouble, the laughs are right on the surface. Starman is a blend of sci-fi and romance. I think you get the point I am trying to make. The man is a damn good writer and filmmaker.

 

My Top Five John Carpenter Movies:

  1. The Thing
  2. Halloween
  3. Escape From New York
  4. The Fog
  5. They Live / Big Trouble In Little China

T.

My Two Cents: SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK

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Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

Directed by: André Øvredal (Troll Hunter)

Starring Zoe Margret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush

CBS Films, Entertainment One (2019)

Based on the book written by Alvin Schwartz

While I was growing up, there were not a lot of horror books and shows made for kids and preteens to enjoy. It seemed everything in the nineteen seventies and made for the horror genre was geared towards adults. The nineties kids had plenty of horror –lite to enjoy. That generation had Are You Afraid Of The Dark? And the Goosebumps books to jump-start their horror obsession. By the time these arrived, I was already desensitized from watching movies like The Exorcist and The Shining at a young age. No starter horror for me. I jumped in headfirst. Today, kids can be exposed to horror without being scarred for life. This is where Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark falls into place. The main characters are all younger teenagers, and the frights are far more palatable and less gruesome.

Scary Stories is the tale of a group of teens growing up in Middle American during one of the most tumultuous times in U.S. history; the late 1960’s. On Halloween night, the gang visits a mansion, which according to legend, is haunted. The family that lived in the home had many dark secrets, including a hidden away daughter that lived a secluded, tortured existence. The kids take a book that once belonged to the daughter, and this begins a series of fateful stories being written into the book by a ghostly presence. These stories begin to happen in real-time, and the group must face their fears to save their lives.

Scary Stories is definitely meant for a teenage crowd, but also has enough to keep adults interested as well. Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape Of Water) co-wrote the screenplay, and if you are a fan of the directors work, you know there will be some wild imagery and creative monsters in the movie. I found the political and social references of the time set a dark tone for the story, although most of the younger viewers won’t understand them. Subtle humor is injected for a good counter balance the intensity of some scenes. All in all, I enjoy my horror with a little more violence, bloodshed, and of course, nudity. After all, I am a horror veteran. Scary Stories, however, would be a very nice jumping point for someone who is new to the genre, or feels like upping the game from light fare like Goosebumps.

T.

 

My Two Cents: Ari Aster’s MIDSOMMAR

Midsommar

Directed by: Ari Aster

Starring: Francis Pugh, Jack Raynor, Vilhelm Blomgren

A24 Films 2019

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After watching Hereditary, director Ari Aster’s first feature length film, I wasn’t really sure how to feel about it. Visually, the movie was great. The acting is stout and believable, and the characters are polarizing. However, I felt that maybe I missed a lot of the films symbolism after the first viewing. The film was very monotone for the first hour, and not until the final act did I become fully engaged in what was happening on the screen. After a second viewing, I was able to absorb a lot more, and pause and rewind when I felt a scene needed to be dissected. This made me appreciate Hereditary a lot more. Upon hearing about Midsommar, Aster’s second feature, I was hoping that I wouldn’t encounter the same trepidation I had after Hereditary. I was cautious.

This was not the case at all.

Midsmmar is the story of Dani (Francis Pugh), an early twenties woman whom experiences an absolutely horrific family tragedy. Dani’s emotionally absent boyfriend Christian, along with his college friends, are planning a trip to Sweden to experience a centuries old festival that takes place on a commune. Out of guilt and thinking she will decline, Christian invites Dani along. To the dismay of the group, she accepts the invitation and they are soon on their way to Sweden. Through a series of bizarre rituals and strange customs, the trip starts to unravel for the group of American outsiders (oddly enough, only one American actor stars in the film). I will leave the synopsis to this bare bones description, because honestly, you have to experience this film for yourself.

I love Midsommar. The film is a beautifully paced, and gorgeously shot look inside grief and the impact it has one a person’s mental wellbeing. I found it easier to process than Hereditary. The symbolism is there, but the messages and meanings are there for the viewer to grab on to, rather than piece together and think too much about. You know right from the time of their arrival that the journey will end badly. You just have to watch and see how badly it ends.

To be honest, there are not many likeable characters in Midsommar, but that is a good thing. This results in the tension being heightened and the dread more palpable. People grieve in different ways, which makes grief isolated and a subjective matter. This is why I feel not everyone will like this movie. I love looking beneath the surface of film plots, and with Midsommar, I was revealed a truly beautiful experience. The last thirty minutes of this motion picture is one of the wildest, imaginative and twisted conclusions to a film I recall seeing in cinema. If you enjoy watching something truly original, Ari Aster has cooked up a five star feast for your senses.

T.

 

My May 2018 Spotify Playlist

Every month or two, I create a new Spotify playlist. Quite frankly, Spotify is probably my favorite internet based music application. For ten bones a month, I get access to pretty much any song I want, at any time. So naturally, I like to create playlists. There is no real rhyme or reason to the songs that I add to my playlists, except they all have one thing in common. I like them. I suppose my mood has a lot to do with my monthly list of songs, perhaps the time of year as well. I would like to share with you this months tunes. Maybe you can find some inspiration, something you’ve never heard, or rediscover some greatness. You will notice I added an entire Alice Cooper album; Killers. This was no mistake. Great record by one of my favorites.

ARTIST SONG ALBUM
Mastodon High Road Once More ‘Round The Sun
Anthrax Indians Among The Living
Alice Cooper Under My Wheels Killer
Alice Cooper Be My Lover Killer
Alice Cooper Halo Of Flies Killer
Alice Cooper Desperado Killer
Alice Cooper You Drive Me Nervous Killer
Alice Cooper Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Killer
Alice Cooper Dead Babies Killer
Alice Cooper Killer Killer
Alice In Chains We Die Young Facelift
Clutch The Mob Goes Wild Blast Tyrant (Deluxe Edition)
The Damned Love Song Machine Gun Etiquette
Deftones My Own Summer (Shove It) Around The Fur
Doom Side of the Moon Wish You Were Here Encore
DOWN Witchtripper Down IV Part I – The Purple EP
Eagles Of Death Metal Don’t Speak Death By Sexy
Explosions In The Sky Your Hand In Mine The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
Faith No More Easy Angel Dust (Deluxe Edition)
Faith No More I Started a Joke – Live Faith No More: Live in Germany 2009
Fu Manchu King Of The Road King Of The Road
High On Fire Snakes For The Divine Snakes For The Divine
Iggy Pop I’m Bored New Values
Iron Maiden The Number Of The Beast Somewhere Back In Time
Quiet Riot Metal Health (Bang Your Head) Metal Health
Slayer Seasons In The Abyss Seasons In The Abyss
David Bowie Modern Love – 1999 Remastered Version Let’s Dance
Sleep Marijuanaut’s Theme The Sciences
Slaughter Eye To Eye Mass Slaughter
Anthrax Got The Time Persistence Of Time
Pallbearer Love You to Death Fear & Fury EP
Van Halen Unchained The Collection
Ozzy Osbourne Over The Mountain Prince Of Darkness
T. Rex Telegram Sam The Slider
Rage Against The Machine Bulls On Parade Evil Empire
Megadeth Public Enemy No. 1 Th1rt3en
Slayer Gemini Undisputed Attitude
The Raconteurs Carolina Drama Consolers Of The Lonely
The Rolling Stones Can’t You Hear Me Knocking Sticky Fingers (Remastered)
Skid Row Monkey Business Slave To The Grind
Soundgarden Live to Rise Avengers Assemble
Cream White Room Wheels Of Fire (Remastered)
Black Wizard Harsh Time New Waste
Neil Young Heart Of Gold Harvest (Remastered Version)
Yes Owner Of A Lonely Heart 90125
The Sword Tres Brujas Warp Riders
Misfits Saturday Night Famous Monsters
Faith No More Motherfucker Sol Invictus
ZZ Top Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers The Very Baddest
Queens of the Stone Age 3’s & 7’s Era Vulgari
The Smashing Pumpkins Disarm Siamese Dream (2011 – Remaster)
Nirvana Very Ape In Utero – 20th Anniversary Remaster
Nirvana Lake Of Fire MTV Unplugged In New York
Gary Numan / Tubeway Army Down in the Park Replicas Redux
The Payolas Eyes Of A Stranger 20th Century Masters
Roky Erickson Night of the Vampire The Evil One
Sleep Dragonaut Sleep’s Holy Mountain
Truckfighters Desert Cruiser Gravity X
Red Fang Wires Murder the Mountains (Deluxe Version)
Black Sabbath Children of the Grave Master of Reality (Remastered Edition)
Clutch Electric Worry From Beale Street to Oblivion
Megadeth Holy Wars…The Punishment Due Rust In Peace
Kylesa Scapegoat Static Tensions

 

Daily Tonality: Song of the Day 02/07/2018

February 07, 2018

Today’s Daily Tonality is brought to you by fond memories.

buckowenspromophoto4Buck Owens – Act Naturally (from the single Act Naturally, 1963) Buck Owens has the best country music name, ever. If your name is Buck, what do you call your backing band? The Buckaroos, of course. My grandparents used to have a modest collection of country records when I was a kid. I didn’t care for the majority of them, but two artists stuck out. Johnny Cash and Mr. Owens. There is just something about his brand of country western music that differs from most. Don’t ask me what it is, because I can’t explain. Just listen to his stuff and you will see. His music has a very lovely effect on me. It always makes me nostalgic for my childhood, as well as remembering my grand folks fondly. Sometimes you just have to shut up and let the music do the thinking for you.

Fun fact – There is rumor (probably true considering the crazy life he led) that my granddad, Jim, was a roadie for Buck Owens during one of his western Canadian tours back in the day. I would have loved to ask him about it, but he passed before I was given this information. If it is a true story, I hope Jim and Buck shared a laugh or two.

T.

List-o-rama: My Five Favorite Comedy Movies

Everybody loves a good comedy. People love to laugh, and if they don’t, well, that is just weird. The question is, what makes a good comedy? It starts with what type of comedy that one prefers. There are so many sub genres of comedy that there is something for everyone. There is dark comedy, slapstick, parody/spoof, dramedy, romcom, even horrorcomedy. No matter what the genre, funny is funny. I would like to share with you my five favorite comedies of all time, so far. These are the five films that I remember laughing at the hardest and longest. The one thing I think connects these movies is great writing. A lot of the funniest bits are subtle little scenes and jokes that you don’t even notice the first time you watch. If you have not seen any of the following films, please do so immediately. You will get some genuine laughs and entertainment out of them.

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5. Bad Santa (Directed by: Terry Zwigoff | Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Lauren Graham, Tony Cox | 2003) Willie (Thornton) is a down on his luck, scumbag safecracker. Along with his pint-sized partner Marcus (Cox), they pose as mall Santa and elf just so they can case the place and rob them blind. Everything would go perfect if Willie wasn’t such a drunken screw-up. Along the way, a sweet kid named Thurman Murman (Brett Kelly), and an even sweeter love interest (Graham) complicate things even further. Billy Bob Thornton is perfect as the “Bad Santa”. His character is so low and disgusting that you can’t help but love him. Two late, great comedic legends also star. Bernie Mac and John Ritter play the mall employees who know that something is off with Willie and Marcus. This movie is gross, vulgar, offensive, and absolutely wonderful. Plus it’s also a Christmas movie, sort of.

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4. Revenge of the Nerds (Directed by: Jeff Kanew | Starring: Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Curtis Armstrong | 1984) A group of freshman nerds join a college fraternity and use their smarts to outwit the Alpha Beta fraternity of jocks and bullies. Lambda Lambda Lambda is led by Lewis (Carradine), and Gilbert (Edwards), and has a collection of bizarre geeks and loners. I probably watched Revenge of the Nerds fifty times as a kid. I recently watched it again, and it is still as funny now. Curtis Armstrong is classic as “Booger”. He is part of so many funny scenes that he steals the show. Released in 1984, Revenge of the Nerds still stands up to the majority of comedies that come out now. I have gotten rid of ninety nine percent of my VHS tapes, but I refuse to part with my copy of ROTN. It holds a lot of fond memories.

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3. What We Do In The Shadows (Directed by: Taika Waititi | Starring: Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Johnny Brugh | 2014) Shadows” is a mock documentary about four Vampires who share a flat in New Zealand. We follow their day-to-day lives, and discover that being a vampire is not as glamorous as it seems. The fellows deal with problems like in fighting, chores, love, death, and werewolves. And they do it all in hilarious fashion. The writing and acting is so clever and spot on that it is hard to not love these characters. Most people that I talk to have not heard of this film, which is a shame because it is damn funny. Director/actor Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) and Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) have a strong background in quirky comedy and this movie is the blueprint for quirky hilarity. If you are not familiar with it, look up What We Do In The Shadows. I promise you will laugh.

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2. Borat: Cultural Learnings Of American Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Directed by: Larry Charles | Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian | 2006) I have never laughed so hard at the cinema as I did when I went to see Borat. There are so many over the top, ridiculous scenes in this movie that it’s hard to pick the funniest. Sacha Cohen plays the title character, which is a “reporter” from Kazakhstan who comes to America to learn about its culture. The majority of the people in the film are not actors, and had no idea that they were being filmed for a motion picture. This results in genuine reactions to Borat’s actions. Because of Borat’s “ignorance”, he can get away with a lot of questionable things, and it is hilarious. Cohen also appeared on the talk show circuit, in character, to promote the film. I think to an extent, Borat had the same effect on the public that the Blair Witch Project had; a lot of people thought it was real. In addition to the movie being funny, it is also a commentary on the ignorance and intolerance of some people. But mostly it is just criminally hilarious.

gallery_movies-ghostbusters-1984-cast1. Ghostbusters (Directed by: Ivan Reitman | Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver | 1984) Not only a brilliant comedy, but maybe the perfect movie. For me, Ghostbusters is at the top of the heap. The movie is full of comedy brilliance; Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis all bring it. Throw in a pretty lady (Weaver), a city that never sleeps (New York City), and some pretty sweet special effects, and you get an instant classic. Bill Murray is wonderful as usual; delivering his trademark perfectly timed dry humor as Dr. Peter Venkman. The premise is ridiculous. A group of down on their luck scientists decides to use their knowledge of the supernatural to devise a way to capture ghosts and house them in nuclear containment storage boiler. Sounds legit right? Well when New York City starts to get overrun by all sorts of ghouls and specters, who you gonna call? You know the answer. Call me a Ghostbusters snob, but I think the 80’s cartoon sucks and the recent remake with the all female members also sucks. Call me old fashioned but maybe I’m just a Ghostbusters traditionalist.

T.

Daily Tonality: Song of the Day 01/28/2018

January 28, 2018

Today’s song is brought to you by putting my Spotify library on random and making the first song to play your Daily Tonality.

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Charles Bradley – Strictly Reserved for You (from the album Victim of Love, 2013) A former James Brown impersonator named “Black Velvet”, Charles Bradley did not achieve a good level of success and notoriety until later in life. For my money, he is second only to James Brown as far as male soul performers go. I discovered his music a few years back in a record store. His LP Victim of Love was being played on the turntable and I instantly knew it was special. Bradley’s voice is soulful, but has a shade of pain and experience within. His longtime backing band, The Menahan Street Band, perfectly compliment the singer’s vocalizations.

As I write this, I have found out that Charles Bradley succumbed to cancer and passed away in September 2017 at the age of sixty-eight. The world was just discovering the man’s talents. Rest in peace, Black Velvet.

T.

Daily Tonality: Song of the Day 01/25/2018

January 25, 2018     

Today’s Daily Tonality is brought to you by Ice T…because he’s certified dope.

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Ice T – O.G. Original Gangster (from the album Original Gangster, 1991) In the world of hip hop, a lot of M.C.‘s claim this, and claim that, and brag and boast about how they are the hardest. In 1991, Ice T made a claim that he is the Original Gangster. Guess what! Damn right he is. When I was eleven, my boy Keithy came over with a cassette he acquired. It was called Power, and it was a rap album by Ice T. This cassette changed us. We heard some things on this tape that we never heard before. One song in particular, L.G.B.N.A.F. (Let’s Get Butt Naked And F**K), captivated us. It was as if learned a life lesson or something. That was my introduction to what it was to be Gangster. From hip hop, to his metal band Body Count, to acting on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit for nineteen years, Ice T has made a living out of being a B.M.F. I recently listened to a podcast featuring Ice as a guest, and he said something pretty cool. He said “you don’t guide life, you ride life”. Words to live by.

T.