Category Archives: 1970’s

A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE

I last watched this back in 2012, but decided to watch it again as it is a very good documentary about movie-making.

It starts off in the late sixties when films were made big and starred The Kirkster amongst others, then moves onto the seventies when new directors started experimenting and made films that were about real people and real life. By the end of the seventies they were making films like Star Wars and Jaws, pure escapism and more uplifting. It was quite a decade really.

There are interviews with people like Francis Ford Coppola, Bruce Dern, Julie Christie, Roger Corman, Sydney Pollack, Peter Bogdanovich, and Dennis Hopper.

I have seen many of the films mentioned, but there are just as many that I have not seen, so I am going to seek some of them out.

A very good watch if you like a bit of film history.

Date watched: February 8th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2018: 11

Death Race 2000

This is a 1975 film starring David Carradine and produced by Roger Corman.

The opening title of the film says a lot about the film…

… cheaply made and probably a bit amateurish.

And it was indeed made on the cheap. Wikipedia says it was made for either US$300,000 or $530,000, but it made either five or eight million.

Apart from David Carradine the only other notable actor was Sylvester Stallone in only his fifth film.

The story was about a race across the U.S. between five cars with a driver and navigator. The driver could get points along the way for killing people. The race was endorsed by the president, who in the dystopian future of the year 2000 ruled the country under a totalitarian regime. He also resided in China for some reason. The sworn enemy of the U.S. was France!

A group of rebels though tried to sabotage the race, and the granddaughter of the leader was able to become a navigator for “Frankenstein”, the national hero driver dressed in a black leather suit (David Carradine). The government controlled media covering the race would blame any attacks on the race on the French.

So it was basically a black and murderous comedy version of The Cannonball Run. It was actually quite funny in places, mostly because it was absurd or just plain silly. For most of the car chase scenes they pushed the 2x button to make it look faster.

While watching it was thinking that Arnold would been great in a late 1980’s remake, perhaps just after Running Man…oh, what could have been.

Date watched: January 25th
Score: 7/10
Film count 2018: 4

DEATH RACE 2000, David Carradine, 1975

Blazing Saddles

A few days ago I decided this would be my final film for the year. I wanted it to be a comedy, and this is one of my all-time fave comedies and I have not seen it for a while (I last watched it in 2012).

As usual it was funny, although there were one or two flat jokes. It is also very un-PC, but even so despite the derogatory terms used it is not a racist film, quite the contrary actually.

All of the actors were very funny, even the supporting cast. Some characters had only one or two scenes but they were memorable. The hangman for example was very funny even though he had less than one minute in the whole film.

Sadly the only actor from the principal cast still with us today is Mel Brooks. Cleavon Little who played the sheriff died way back in 1992, Gene Wilder last year, Madeline Kahn back in 1999, Harvey Korman in 2008, and John Hillerman just last month.

Richard Pryor was one of the writers. He was the original choice for Sheriff Bart, but the studio was against it due to his drug problems. Cleavon Little though aced the part.

This is not up there with the Monty Python films, or Airplane!, but I still think it is a silly hoot.

And that is it for my film watching this year. Not a bad one.

Date watched: December 31st
Score: 9.5/10
Film count 2017: 148

Jaws

James and I watched this together this afternoon, it was a film I recommended James see due to it’s importance in cinema history.

Recently I started listening to a new podcast by Chuck Bryant (he of Stuff You Should Know fame) called Movie Crush, where he chats with celebs (not super famous ones) about their fave film. Roman Mars (he of 99% Invisible podcast fame) chose Jaws as his fave film and it gave me a hankering to watch it again.

And indeed it is still a great film, even if it has dated a little. Some of it is a bit contrived, but it is still a great tale of one huge and smart shark who just wants to eat, stupid people who ignore warnings about giant people-eating sharks, and the hero who wants to save the stupid people by killing the shark.

The film really gets going when Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, and Robert Shaw (who was apparently drunk most of the time on set) get on a boat and go huntin’ for the shark (the mechanical shark used in the film was nicknamed “Bruce”). It is tense the whole time and Roy Scheider’s reaction when he first see’s the shark up close is cinema gold, alng with the line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!”, which was ad-libbed (story behind that here).

Steven did a great job of keeping the film tense, and there was never a dull or unnecessary moment in the film. The cinematography too is great.

The soundtrack too is fabs with the shark theme being one of the most iconic in all of cinema history. In fact I would rate it along with The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme) as being the best villain theme of all time, both by John Williams of course.

An excellent film to finish off the year, although I have one more film lined up as my final of the year…

Date watche: December 31st
Score: 9/10
Film count 2017: 147

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I had been meaning to revisit this film for some time, so I did so last night.

I last watched this back in 2012, and my blog entry back then said that I always forget the story after watching it, which yet again is true, I had forgotten a lot of it.

But, as usual it was a fun film to watch, and Tim Curry was delicious as Dr. Frank N. Furter, he was always fun to watch. Reading up about Tim Curry I was surprised and saddened to see that he had a major stroke in 2012 and is now confined to a wheelchair.

After this was released in 1975 the reviews were not good, but as we know it quickly became a cult classic and is considered to the longest-running release in history, with 20th Century Fox keeping it in continuous release since 1975.

From Mentalfoss:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a flop when it was originally released in 1975, but as midnight showings continued it developed a rabid cult following with a penchant for shouting at the screen as the film played. Brian Thomson first witnessed this phenomenon at New York’s Waverly Theater in 1977, and when he asked what was going on, this was the reply:

“We thought it was pretty boring, and we thought if we yelled back [it would be more fun].”

This isn’t for everyone, and I mainly enjoyed it because of Tim Curry’s performance and some of the camp humour. I shall be watching this again someday, perhaps in another five years time.

Date watched: December 15th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2017: 141


An alternative poster, a spoof of Jaws which was released in the same year.

Weekend of a Champion

I stumbled across this on Netflix and had to watch it becaue it was about Formula 1 and Jackie Stewart.

It was directed by Roman Polanski who is a good friend of Jackie’s, and was filmed over the course of the 1971 Monaco GP weekend.

It followed Jackie as he prepared for the race, with plenty of behind the scenes footage which was fascinating to watch. There was footage of him talking to his engineers about car setup, talking with other drivers including Graham Hill, Francois Cevert (Jackie’s teammate, who died two years later), and to Roman himself.

The trackside and in-car footage was good to see. Jackie had a 16 mm camera in the car with him which gave some great footage as he screamed around the circuit during practice. The cars in those days looked fragile and lacked basic driver safety, so those drivers were truly brave and slightly nuts. Both Chris Amon and Denny Hulme were in the race also (both NZ drivers).

The almost total lack of safety was clearly evident. Jackie was at the time trying to get Formula 1 safety improved, and it was his efforts that have made F1 as safe as it is today. But, in this documentary you can see track marshals, photographers, and other people right on the side of the track during the race, with absolutely no barrier between them and the cars which in places were passing by only a metre or so away.

As this is Monaco there were plenty of celebrities around, and in the after-race dinner we saw Ringo Starr, Joan Collins, Grace Kelly, and Prince Rainer.

After this premiered in 1972 it had a small release then was forgotten for 40 years. Roman rediscovered it, recut it, and it was re-released in 2013. Roman added some present day footage shot in the same hotel room where Jackie and his wife stayed during the 1971 race weekend. He talked with Jackie about the race, his work on F1 safety, Jackie’s dyslexia, and sideburns.

This is really only for Jackie Stewart and Formula 1 fans, of which I am both so I enjoyed it. For others it might be a bit dull.

Date watched: December 4th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 138

The Incredible Melting Man

I don’t know why I put this on “Watch later” on YouTube quite some time ago, perhaps it was purely because of the title.

It is a 1977 science fiction horror film about three astronauts who are on a mission to Saturn and are near the rings when a blast of radiation (the stock footage showed sun flares) kills two of them and serious burns the third. He somehow makes it back to Earth (not explained how this happened at all). He escapes from hospital, severely burned and with his skin dripping pus and tomato sauce. He is a bit nutty by this time and as he escapes from the hospital he chases a nurse who is so terrified she runs straight through a glass door (only one of two good scenes in whole film unfortunately, and the actress bravely did the actual stunt). His doctor and good friend surmises that he needs to kill and eat people to survive. The doctor calls an army general who is for some reason is involved in all this, and he decides this must be kept under wraps, so only the doctor, another doctor, and the general set about finding The Incredible Melting Man, even though he is clearly very dangerous. It is all very messy from there on and ends with the deaths of everyone involved.

According to Wikipedia this film started out as a horror spoof but the producers decided during filming that a straight horror would make more money. Some scenes were re-shot without the director, with the director criticising them because of the inferior acting in these scenes (indeed this was quite evident in many scenes). So it comes out as quite a mess of a film.

The other good scene of sorts in this film was the reaction from a character who chopped of The Incredible Melting Man’s arm, as you can watch here. The scene is rather protracted and is the best piece of bad acting you will see for some time. Pure gold!

The makeup by Rick Baker though was quite impressive, and quite gory. At one point the right eye of The Incredible Melting Man drips out, and his face was constantly dripping pus and other revolting liquids.

Looking up Rick Baker I found that he had a cameo in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, as you can see below.

Not worth watching at all, just watch the two clips I included in this post, that is all you need to see.

Date watched: August 25th
Score: 1/10
Film count 2017: 95

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