Author: Ian

Copycat Shower Scenes

I know that Psycho is not obscure but it is a good case in point for today’s blog. The shower scene has captivated film buffs for decades and been parodied and copied to death. Each shot one by one has been analyzed and evaluated and not just by casual critics on social media. A shower scene nowadays has an immediate association with the Hitchcock classic. Nothing has surpassed it in intensity. If a student filmmaker, for example, wants to do something similar as a nod to the great director, he or she had better be creative. The good thing is that it doesn’t take going on location. Ha! Any shower will do, especially one with a glass frame for easy filming. Then you have to find a willing participant whose major talent is a terrified facial expression. Get her positioned and let it roll!

One budding filmmaker I know told me that he tried my suggestions and got everything set up. The camera was in place and the “actress” ensconced inside, without costume. Ha! That saved money. He had set a limited time for the shot since he had to pay everyone and budget was a concern. To his chagrin, there wasn’t enough hot water to last the whole time. The actress, of course, was hysterical since he made her continue the scene under the frigid spray. There were several retakes to be sure there was no skin exposure. He didn’t want an R-rated film. She vowed never to work for him again! I told him to be sure to get a tankless water heater from here next time.

Why So Odd?

I got into weird movies because I am a bit of an odd guy. I can’t help it. I’ve always been the weird kid. I didn’t have a lot of friends because I just didn’t know how to manage socially. I was kind of a loner. I’m not saying I was going around torturing puppies as a kid. I just sort of laughed at things that other people did not think were funny, had interests that other kids did not gravitate toward, and felt like I was different from everyone.

Growing up sucked a bit, I am not going to lie.

But as I got older, I realized that it wasn’t just me. There are plenty of other people out there who feel the same way – a society of outcasts, if you will. And with the internet being the way it is now, it is even easier to find a group of people who think the same way. It is a relief to find out you are not alone. You’ll find that there are plenty of people who get your sense of humor and laugh at the same things you do. It might be hard to believe sometimes but there are people who have the same interests as you. You’ll feel validated. It’s actually a cool feeling.

Seeing odd movies is another way that I feel like I belong. If somebody makes a movie that really makes you laugh, or think, or makes you really happy, you feel more understood and actually seen. It is awesome. The movies that make me feel that way are often not mainstream movies. They are the weird ones that come out of nowhere and get distributed by a place like Troma Studios. Then it makes its way around internet forums and you hear about it and it is easier for those of us who are interested in these things to get a hold of it and watch it.

I don’t mind being the way I am anymore. I don’t know if the internet helped because now I know I am not alone or if it is because I am a little older now and I care less. Or maybe because as time goes on, I have gotten better socially and have friends now.

It’s ok that I am weird. It is OK that I like weird horror movies. I like watching bizarre movies with subtitles and foreign languages and random actors who probably still have day jobs. I like films that have really impactful messages and lots of themes. And also gore and dark humor and noir. The interesting stuff. I don’t want to see the formulaic blockbusters that have the same basic characters over and over blowing up the same things and all the special effects. I can’t relate to sappy romantic comedies with meet-cute scenes. I’m tired of it. I am smarter than that. So are you. We should expect more from each other and from our entertainment.

 

Finding an Odd Theater

I have a pretty good home theater system. That is the joy of having a job that pays ok and an apartment with no other responsibilities. So I rarely choose to go to a theater to see a movie. I would much rather wait for it to stream so that I can relax in my own place, with my own snacks, enjoying surround sound at a volume that doesn’t make my teeth rattle. It is a no-brainer about 90 percent of the time.

But going to the movies can be fun. That is for sure. There is nothing like that huge screen and finding yourself totally immersed in the film. Also there is the shared experience, too.

There are other upsides as well. I often forget to turn off my phone when I watch movies at home but at the theater I never do. Plus the people who tend to call or text me are often the people sitting with me in the theater. So there’s that. There is something just fun about going to the movies with your friends and then sitting around afterward and dissecting the plot or reciting the best lines.

When you like offbeat or odd movies, though, it can be hard to find a theater that is playing the type of films you want to see. So how do you find one of those? How do you find a place that is… odd?

Believe it or not, some theaters do have different things that they show. Maybe they don’t advertise it quite as well as the latest Michael Bay phenomenon, but it is there. Look on the website. Some very mainstream theaters have Bollywood nights, or old school films, or all kinds of other things. It won’t take you long to do and it will take only a minimal amount of effort too.

If you strike out there, do not fear. You might not be able to see a film in a theater in a traditional sense. That does not mean you don’t have options, though. I have also had good luck on college campuses, believe it or not. Especially if you have a good theater program near you, there is a good chance that they will show – at least on occasion – movies that are out of the mainstream. If you have a film program, even better. There are student film nights and you may get to see some really fresh takes on things.

There are not many video stores left. But if you are lucky enough to live near one that is still in operation, spend some time there. Talk to the employees. They also sometimes show different films. Maybe there is a bookstore near you that has film nights, too. Again, you can either go online and check it out or you can look around the next time you’re shopping there.

You may have to do a little more work to find the kinds of films that you want to see at the movies. But it will be worth the effort!

What if it’s Bad?

For me, there is almost nothing worse than watching a bad movie. I love watching movies so much so that I make it an experience. I really hate being let down by a terrible product. And unfortunately there are a lot of bad films out there.

I try so hard to find something redeeming about just about anything, but it does not always help. Some things really are not redeemable, and that is unfortunate. I wish that I was willing to turn off the really bad ones. It is just too hard for me to give up. I am one of those people who will just sit through something in the hopes that maybe it gets better at some point.

If there is a big film that comes out you may want to see it regardless, but you often can read reviews to let you know whether something is worth your time and money. The big problem with subversive or obscure films is can be hard to even get information about them. You never know what you are going to get.

So a big thank you to the internet for making things easier for all of us. You can type in any movie title plus the word “review” and presto, the internet will give you anything that might be floating around out there. That can be really helpful. There are also sites that cater specifically to obscure films, with lists that you can check from time to time to find new films to watch and reviews so that you know what to expect. Some streaming services let users review or at least star different films. You may not know why the rating is what it is, but it can help you avoid some real stinkers before you spend your valuable time on it.

All of that is helpful, but what if you don’t do that? Maybe you’re out of the loop or you decide to give it a try anyway and somehow end up with a real terrible movie, what can you do?

Welp, a normal person can just stop and walk away. That is probably your best option. But, and this is good especially when you have friends around, you can always make fun of the movie. This way, you are at least entertained. Plus you and your friends are probably very funny. So MST3K it up.

You can write your own review and pan it to help others avoid it. Create a website like this one and just get all your thoughts down. Dissect the plot, point out loopholes, destroy the acting skills, rip apart the writers. Maybe people will agree with you or maybe they won’t, so be prepared for that. Decide if you’re the type of person who is willing to feed the trolls or if you’re going to rise above it and move on.

I don’t know, life is so short. I probably should not waste them by futilely hoping that a terrible movie somehow gets better. What about you? Are you a quitter, or are you like me?

Finding an Odd Theater

I have a pretty good home theater system. That is the joy of having a job that pays ok and an apartment with no other responsibilities. So I rarely choose to go to a theater to see a movie. I would much rather wait for it to stream so that I can relax in my own place, with my own snacks, enjoying surround sound at a volume that doesn’t make my teeth rattle. It is a no-brainer about 90 percent of the time.

But going to the movies can be fun. That is for sure. There is nothing like that huge screen and finding yourself totally immersed in the film. Also there is the shared experience, too.

There are other upsides as well. I often forget to turn off my phone when I watch movies at home but at the theater I never do. Plus the people who tend to call or text me are often the people sitting with me in the theater. So there’s that. There is something just fun about going to the movies with your friends and then sitting around afterward and dissecting the plot or reciting the best lines.

When you like offbeat or odd movies, though, it can be hard to find a theater that is playing the type of films you want to see. So how do you find one of those? How do you find a place that is… odd?

Believe it or not, some theaters do have different things that they show. Maybe they don’t advertise it quite as well as the latest Michael Bay phenomenon, but it is there. Look on the website. Some very mainstream theaters have Bollywood nights, or old school films, or all kinds of other things. It won’t take you long to do and it will take only a minimal amount of effort too.

If you strike out there, do not fear. You might not be able to see a film in a theater in a traditional sense. That does not mean you don’t have options, though. I have also had good luck on college campuses, believe it or not. Especially if you have a good theater program near you, there is a good chance that they will show – at least on occasion – movies that are out of the mainstream. If you have a film program, even better. There are student film nights and you may get to see some really fresh takes on things.

There are not many video stores left. But if you are lucky enough to live near one that is still in operation, spend some time there. Talk to the employees. They also sometimes show different films. Maybe there is a bookstore near you that has film nights, too. Again, you can either go online and check it out or you can look around the next time you’re shopping there.

You may have to do a little more work to find the kinds of films that you want to see at the movies. But it will be worth the effort!

One of my Favorite Films: Street Trash

I don’t know why, but Street Trash is one of my favorite movies. To be completely honest, it is not the greatest of films. It was supposed to be the director Jim Muro’s thesis film for school. So you would think he would have tried harder, but he made the movie he wanted to make. It wasn’t accepted. For good reason.

For starters, there’s the plot: the owner of a liquor store finds a crate of booze hidden in his basement. The alcohol – Tenafly Viper – makes you melt when you drink it. Homeless people drink it and start melting. There’s also a crazy homeless Vietnam vet (Bronson) who, with his henchmen, rule a junkyard. There is also a cop who is trying to figure out what the heck is going on and how to get to Bronson. There are some incredibly disturbing scenes in it involving necrophilia and a disgusting game of keep away. I don’t want to give away the ending, in case you actually want to see this film. I’ll just say that you probably won’t see it coming.

Second, there are a lot of characters. It is a lot to keep straight. Many of the characters are supposed to be homeless, and they often die or commit terrible crimes before you even really understand what is going on or why. There are so many characters, in fact, that some of them don’t even interact with each other. For example, I didn’t even tell you about the mobster yet.

Third, there is a lot of gore. The homeless guys kill a guy and smash his brains all over a windshield. It is just gross. They don’t try to make it look authentic. The logic was, I think, that the budget wasn’t going to allow it to look realistic anyway so they just went the opposite route. It’s like dayglo craziness.

Fourth, oh boy can this movie be offensive. It is pretty racist. It’s got a lot of terrible language. You could say that it is street language from that time period but it is still rough. The one thing you can say about that is in this particular film, the discrimination is spread around equally, everybody hates everyone else – which is part of the tone, I guess, without offering any kind of morality tale in either direction. There’s also a really offensive assault scene, which I am not going to go into detail about but I would rather just have it never have been in the film in the first place. It really just feels like it was there to offend the people who managed to not be offended by the racism.

Having said all of that, there’s a lot of humor in it. It’s gross and nasty humor, but the darkness in it can be viewed as a really dark comedy. Also, if you have any desire to see what New York City looked like back in the 80s, you are in a lot of luck! It was filmed all around the city.

If all of this sounds appealing to you, you are going to want to check out the Meltdown Edition! One quick tip: don’t eat while you watch it. You’ve been warned!