Vampires of Santa Carla

I recently watched a big 1980s film for the first time in I don’t know how long. What’s the best way to describe “The Lost Boys“? Peter Pan meets The Munsters with a healthy dose of Jim Morrison and a bit of Edgar Allan Poe? That’s how I see it. There are lots of familiar faces in this 1987 film including Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, and even the most excellent dude Bill (Alex Winter). There are a few others I’ll mention later. Basically, the storyline involves a divorced mom with two boys who move to Santa Carla, CA to live with her dad/their grandad. Shortly thereafter, they find the local group of teenage bad boys are, in fact, vampires.

I remember the soundtrack was “kind of a big deal” back in the day. There’s a cover of The Doors’ “People Are Strange” by Echo & the Bunnymen. When I watched the film this time around, I had the subtitles on and could actually understand some of the Ten Commendments-gospel-ish lyrics in “Cry Little Sister.”

I’ve always been slightly annoyed by the children’s chorus singing “Thou shalt not…this” and “Thou shalt not that” only because I couldn’t understand the lyrics. Does the soundtrack get weirder? Well, Roger Daltrey sings Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” for some reason. There’s an INXS song or two and even Lou Gramm makes an appearance.

Getting back to the film, I found it visually interesting to watch. The grandfather’s house has an over the top funky vibe which makes an interesting backdrop. The only thing I found really dated was Corey Haim’s neon-bordering-radioactive wardrobe. The vampires dress in a very 80s, super-hip, metrosexual kind of way. The only thing is, I don’t think I ever saw anyone actually dressed that way in the 80s outside of this film. The best part of the film for me is the characters of both Grandpa (Barnard Hughes) and The Frog Brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander). Feldman, in particular, plays a satirical 80s action star brilliantly.

Apparently, there are a couple of sequels, which I haven’t watched.

Till next time keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Mysterious Murder of Mona

Who killed Mona Dearly? That’s the question asked and answered in the 2000 film “Drowning Mona.” This is one of those movies that caught my eye while channel surfing — most likely due to the cast. It stars everyone from Bette Midler to Jamie Lee Curtis, Neve Campbell, and more. A blonde-headed Casey Affleck runs a lawn mowing service with his idiotic partner, hilariously played by Marcus Thomas. The film is set in the hamlet of Verplanck, New York. Viewers are in for a wild ride as the Yugo driven by the ubiquitously-hated Mona goes off a cliff and into the river. On a completely unrelated note, I feel obligated to mention how great the Bo Diddley song “Mona” is.

(There’s also a good video clip of Bo joining Tom Petty onstage for this one.) Getting back to the movie, it’s up to local law enforcement (Danny DeVito) to narrow the list of suspects down in Verplanck. Drowning Mona is not the best movie you’ll ever see, but I never pass up an opportunity to watch it and it always makes me laugh. Off the wall is probably the best way to describe this somewhat obscure film. It was directed by Nick Gomez. You’ll also see some familiar faces in the supporting cast like Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy, William Fichtner, and more. Kathleen Wilhoite has a hilarious scene where she sings a murder ballad about the whole thing.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Scarface: 80s Excess & Montages

“Over the top” seems to be one of the best descriptions of Al Pacino’s performance as legendary cinema gangster Tony Montana and maybe the 1983 film itself. Surely, you have seen the Cuban rags to riches drug-thug story at this point, right? For me, cable TV was most likely the medium that exposed me to this film. I can remember seeing mansions filled with luxurious furniture and ornate décor. That, and, hearing the “F- word” almost every minute as well. (Apparently it’s used over 200 times.) Call it “80s excess”, but there were also beautiful women (Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and piles and piles of cocaine.

I recently saw “Scarface” on Netflix again and a couple of things jumped out at me. First of all, there is a montage with a “totally 80s” song to go along with it. Thank you, Paul Engemann for “Push it to the Limit.”

After watching this scene, it reminded me of the hilarious song “Montage” from Team America: World Police.” Thank you, Trey Parker.

Getting back to Scarface, here are some other random observations. Comedian/actor Richard Belzer appears in a night club scene right before they break out the machine guns. Also, I kept hearing a familiar voice during the opening police interrogation scene and found out Dennis Franz did the uncredited voiceover. If you watch it, you’ll see the interrogator is not Franz. Kinda weird. Scarface’s sidekick Manny is the played by the dude who plays another drug lord in both “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” (Steven Bauer). So much for typecasting.

I took one film course in college and we watched “Scarface” as an exploration of the gangster genre. We might have watched the original 1932 Scarface as well, but I can’t remember. Some will say the 80s film is overrated or put it in the “cult” status. If you don’t like violence and profanity, it’s not a film for you. If you do, you could be wildly entertained. The screenplay was written by none other than Oliver Stone and the film was directed by Brian DePalma.

Not much left to say except “say (goodbye) to my little friend” and keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Hard Eight

The cast alone is reason enough to check out the 1996 film “Hard Eight” — I’m talking about John C. Reilly, Samuel L. Jackson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Phillip Baker Hall, and Gwyneth Something Paltrow. (By the way, it was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.) I’d call the film a gritty drama with a gambling backdrop. I’ll never forget the opening scene where a buttoned-down older gentleman named Sydney (Hall) offers a cigarette and a cup of coffee to a down-and-out guy named John (Reilly). John reluctantly accepts and the two leave the greasy spoon to set out for a casino. Before long, they have a mentor-mentee relationship.

As their adventure unfolds they meet some other interesting characters like a waitress named Clementine (Paltrow). They also encounter a couple of cocky loudmouths played by the likes of Hoffman and Jackson. The contrast between the “old school” Sydney and younger cocky types make for some great scenes.

There’s more to the story, which makes “Hard Eight” an interesting character study. What makes Sydney such a low key type? Is he just like that or is there more to the story? Same thing could be said of John and the other characters. I think all of the characters are flawed in some way, which make them relatable and interesting.

From what I’ve read on The Internet Movie Database (imdb.com), the director wanted to call this film “Sydney.” It was also influenced by a French film called “Bob le Flambeur” (Bob the High Roller).

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Elijah & Nick Do Vegas

I’d never heard of the 2016 film called “The Trust” before I stumbled across it on one streaming network or another. However, when I saw the film starred Nicholas Cage and Elijah Wood, it piqued my curiosity. Cage and Wood play a couple of police officers who are anything but typical. I don’t mean Starsky and Hutch either. Cage plays a “wacky” officer named Stone. Ironically, Wood plays his subordinate officer who is a “stoner” named Waters.

As their workday unfolds, they hatch a plot to follow the money from a recent high dollar bail check. One thing leads to another and, before you know it, they are trying to put it all on the line. Their goal? To rob a drug dealer with deep pockets.

Why do I like and highly recommend this film? It’s funny and, dare I say, quirky. To my ears, the conversations between Cage and Wood as co-workers are believable. They capture every working person’s desire to dream big and escape the mundaneness of everyday life. It’s funny how they take big risks to hit “the big score,” while they fall deeper and deeper into quicksand. It has some of the excitement of Las Vegas heist films, but I wouldn’t say this film is ever predicable.

I normally don’t pay attention to popularity ratings for films. This is one that doesn’t score very high, but I disagree with those ratings. If you find Nicholas Cage mildly amusing, you HAVE TO SEE THIS FILM. If you need more reasons to watch this one, Jerry Lewis has a bit part as Woods’ (Cage’s) father and Ethan Suplee (Randy from “My Name is Earl”) plays a sadistic, unhinged cop.

In conclusion, this offbeat film is one I have seen more than once and recommend it.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Celebrity Twins/Doppelgangers?

I’m sure this has happened to you, right? You’re watching a film or TV program. One character looks familiar to you, but you just can’t figure out what other projects they’ve done. Prior to the advent of the Internet Movie DataBase (or imdb.com), it could be challenging. Even with it, you’re still not guaranteed to figure it out.

For example, I was told I was “way off” on this one, but I have mixed up the actors Adam Scott and Wes Bentley. To clarify, I think the facial hair adds to my confusion.

I think the issue of actually recognizing that they’re not the same dude came up when I watched the film “The Aviator.” One of them plays a guy named Johnny Meyer — don’t ask me which one. One of them also had a futuristic beard and played a character named Seneca Crane in the first “Hunger Games” film. The solution? Both should be required to wear the freaky, futuristic beards all of the time and start going by the name “Adam Bent” a la J-Lo, etc.

The next example goes back to the 80s for me: actresses Allison Janney and Christine Lahti. They’ve both appeared in a lot of TV shows like The West Wing, Chicago Hope, A Hawaii 5-0 reboot, Mom, and I’m going to guess some made for TV movies.

I haven’t seen it yet, but one of them played Tonya Harding’s mother in the film “I, Tonya”. Again, don’t ask me which one. I think most people would describe the two as tall and attractive. Do you think they look alike? The solution is they should both go by the stage name “Jan Lahti” and leave it at that. It would make my life much easier.

What about you? Have you ever been told you look like a celebrity? At various times, I’ve been told I look like everyone from longtime Queen bass player John Deacon (their Greatest Hits cover in particular) to U2’s guitarist The Edge to Canadian actor Alan Thicke. Naturally, there’s little to no commonality among any of them.

By the way, doppelganger apparently means “double walker” in German. Till next time, keep your eyes out for your doppelganger and keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Wizard of Blaaahs

Picture this. It’s mid-nineties, yours truly is browsing the vinyl selection at Record Reunion….then some guy (who looks like Jay or Silent Bob with long hair and resplendent backwards baseball cap) strikes up a random conversation.

Unidentified Dude: Hey, dude, did you hear about that new Pink Floyd thing?

Author: Ummm….no?

UD.: Dude, where have you been? It’s all over the news!

Author: What is?

UD: Get this…Dark Side of the Moon, man….it’s a secret soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz!

Author: Yeah, right – – and the album Wish You Were Here is one for Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

UD: (staring coldly) Whoa….seriously??

Smart ass comment aside, there really was an urban legend that surfaced about syncing The Floyd’s epic, mega-platinum-album and the film with the flying monkeys. Supposedly, you started the album at the MGM lion’s third roar and there were all of these crazy coincidences that took place between the music and the movie. I watched about 20 minutes of this today (thanks, COVID!) and was pretty underwhelmed. Maybe being sober while watching it was my mistake.

It’s a pretty wild idea. Apparently a newspaper writer in Indiana gets credit for this urban legend. Supposedly the song “Brain Damage” goes nicely with Dorothy’s chance meeting with the Scarecrow.

According to Wikipedia, this Floyd-Oz sync is referred to as “Dark Side of the Rainbow – also known as Dark Side of Oz or The Wizard of Floyd.” The whole idea is kind of crazy if you ask me, but that’s what makes it an interesting topic of discussion. Apparently, a guy named Griffin McElRoy spoofed the whole thing by supposedly doing a sync between the album and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Give the guy some credit!

Oz or no-Oz, my favorite cut on Dark Side of the Moon is “Time.” I think the lyrics are great and the guitar playing of David Gilmour is great. The bass intro is fantastic as well. It’s epic.

I think the alarm clock beginning to the song is pretty clever/unique, but it seems to overshadow the song itself. One time I heard a guitar player say “That’s a special effects song”. Is it, really? I think an acoustic or more stripped down version would still work.

Back to the whole Oz thing…is this what happens when your art reaches THAT LEVEL of mainstream popularity? If that’s the case, then the Paul Blart guy may be onto something. How come none of the five-thousand Star Wars films have made the list? Surely, Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” has to sync with Princess Leia and Han Solo, right? Or what about Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara? I’d like to say more, but I’ve got to sync The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” with Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Rod Rosse, The One Man Posse

Like most Americans, I watch way too much TV. It’s not all I do, but the pandemic has provided a convenient excuse. I could tell you about the number of push ups I did this week to make myself feel better, but that’s not what this blog entry is about. The question is….do we watch TV as a time filler or to be truly entertained? Maybe after we’ve watched X number of shows, movies, etc. your entertainment threshold gets higher…or is really great entertainment hard to find?

I’ve been trying to think of a way to gauge this, but I will just say the animated film “Reveangance” is probably the funniest thing I’ve seen in years. (Just to clarify, it is not a Disney production aimed at kids. ) I have to credit the free streaming network Tubi for carrying this one. As the title of this blog entry implies, the story’s protagonist is a bounty hunter named Rod Rosse, The One Man Posse. Rosse looks more like an accountant than Dog the Bounty Hunter, but the dude who hires him actually looks a little like Dog now that I think about it. Without getting too much into the plot, I will just say it involves a biker gang, a rock concert, several other colorful bounty hunters, a young lady with a bow and arrow, a senator, professional wrestling, and a weird cult in the desert. Directions, storyboards, animation are credited to Bill Plympton while Jim Lujan is credited with story, design, voices, and music.

You’ll know in the first five minutes if you’ll get into this film. What’s interesting to me about animated satire is the ability to exaggerate characters’ looks, voices, mannerisms while letting viewers say, “I’ve seen that guy or girl.” Not only that, but there is definitely a clever, dry humor about the film. Rod, for example, runs his bounty hunter business with the help of his mother and her cat, Mr. Butterkisses. Here’s another paraphrased example of dialogue from the film:

Rod Rosse: What do you want?

Lana: Reveangance.

Rod Rosse: I’m pretty sure that’s not a word.

By the way, “Reveangance” has won a couple of awards if you care about those types of things. Personally, I don’t, but I will give it my inaugural Pandemic Couch Potato Award for being the funniest film I’ve seen in a long time.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon.

THE ÜBER REDNECK?

There is something about redneck humor that just absolutely kills me. While there are many choices and examples, I want to mention two of them you might not have encountered. The first is an early 2000s film called “Run Ronnie Run.” I’ll never forget the first time I watched it. I came home from work on a Friday afternoon, dozed off on the couch, woke up around midnight, and this film was on TV. It stars David Cross as Super-Redneck Ronnie Dobbs. He’s a mullet wearing troublemaker from Doraville, Georgia. In one of the first scenes, he walks down the sidewalk — as he strolls past another Doraville resident, he says, “I’m sorry about doing that to your sister. I forgot.” This pretty much sets the tone for the film.

Ronnie Dobbs hangs out with his buddies and drinks beer at the local gas station, deals with his on-again-off-again wife Tammy, and his kids who are all named “Little Ronnie.” In addition, he spends a good deal of his time running from the police for his various mischievous activities around town. One thing leads to another and a leaked videotape of Ronnie’s exploits fall into the hands of the nearly washed up infomercial producer Terry Twillstein, played by Bob Odenkirk (Saul from “Breaking Bad”/”Better Call Saul”). Twillstein decides to hop on the reality-TV-bandwagon and give Ronnie his own show where he runs from the cops to entertain viewers. When Redneck Ronnie lands in Hollywood, hilarity ensues. There is some great satire in this film including a ludicrous meeting of network TV executives and a party scene with numerous celebrities.

There’s also a “Survivor” TV show parody, a music video by an R & B duo called “3 times 1, minus 1”, and a scene with “freaky new age hippies.” According to imdb.com, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross have disowned the final cut of this movie, but I still enjoy it. There’s also some great Southern Rock to go along with the whole thing.

Another one of my favorite redneck characters was introduced to me via The Bob & Tom Radio Show. This dude sports not only a mullet, but a “Kentuckiana” accent. His name is Donnie Baker.

His voice reminds me of one of my college buddy’s. Donnie Baker is the creation of comedian Ron Sexton. You’ll often hear his catchphrases “I swear to God” and “It’s state law.”

There are other redneck-themed comedies I enjoy like “Trailer Park Boys: The Movie” and the NBC series “My Name is Earl.” I’m proud to say I’ve watched every episode of Earl, and the soundtrack is awesome. “I swear to God it is!”

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Dick, Dunst, & Williams

Ahhh, the glories of streaming TV. I can’t remember exactly where or when I become aware of the Nixon administration-themed comedy “Dick”, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams star as two teenage girls who bake some delicious (albeit pot infused) cookies called “Hello Dollies” and, somehow stumble their way into the White House. They not only become the official White House dog walkers for President Nixon’s dog “Checkers”, but start rubbing elbows with staffers like Henry Kissinger, Bob Haldeman, John Dean, and G. Gordon Liddy.

As you might imagine, the Watergate scandal is also a big part of the film and its punchlines. Kirsten Dunst plays a giddy high schooler extremely well and her partner in crime Michelle Williams is hilarious, too. For example, there’s a scene where Williams’ character develops a crush on Nixon and decides to sing “I Honestly Love You” (made famous by Olivia Newton-John) onto his infamous reel to reel tape recorder in the oval office. There are a couple of songs I associate with the film. One is Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love.”

Other musicians/bands featured in the film include David Essex, Yes, Bread, and more. As for the film itself, reporters Woodward and Bernstein are played by the likes of Will Ferrell and Bruce McCulloch. Other comedic actors involved are Dave Foley, Jim Breuer, and Harry Shearer. Teri Garr sneaks into the cast as a housewife and mother. Even Ryan Reynolds makes an appearance. Nixon is played by Dan Hedaya (Nick Tortelli on Cheers). If the cast and the music aren’t reason enough to check it out, the 70s outfits are pretty damn groovy. “Dick” was directed by Andrew Fleming.

Till next time keep your Mojo on the Horizon!