Q: The Winged Serpent – A Retrospective

Lets have a quick conversation about schlock. I always appreciate anytime a filmmaker is swinging for the fences. Doesn’t always have to be an arthouse jam. It can be the guise of any kind of 60s/70s churn trash that manages to have someone smart behind the lens.

And to me, that’s what I want in schlock. I don’t care if its one takeaway, like a single shot or line read. Sometimes the whole movie can be worth it for one scene a glory in a sea of violent, crazy stupidity.

Especially this time of year. I just decided to reactivate my sub to Shudder so I can get me a good dose of schlock, when suddenly…

Criterion, you fuck. I just gave shudder my money. While I am still trying to decide, I went ahead and looked at the list. Got some good shit on there like Near Dark or Society. Plus a few others I haven’t seen.

Among those, I was recommended this film by a motherfucker much more well versed in schlock. And luckily enough for me, its on prime right now.

So, I watched it.

What a delightful piece of trash. You know, I think this thing may be textbook schlock.

Lets take it in pieces, that monster looks like bad Harryhausen. The director does everything in his power to cut around it. You only really see it at the very end. The movie starts with like 3 kills all in a row (including one with classic unnecessary nudity). All of them are cut so fast you don’t really get to see what is killing these people.

So buried in this giant monster living in NYC killing people movie is a procedural in which David Carradine and Richard Roundtree try to figure out what is going on…AND a fucking heist movie in which Michael Moriarty completely botches the heist and spends the rest of the movie trying to redeem himself.

To me, I think those two sub plots is really what makes this movie. ESPECIALLY Michael Moriarty, who turns in a performance that is leaps and bounds above being in a giant fucking monster movie. I mean, it is almost worth watching the whole movie just to see that performance.

Also, the script is shockingly tight. A ton of horror movies tap dance to get to that 90 min runtime. This feels like the perfect length. Never overstays its welcome. Doesn’t drag it out.

The actual kill effects are much much better than the Harryhausen-style monster. They are fucking gross in the style of the time, and look relatively clean.

The ending is definitely lackluster and probably the weakest part of the entire enterprise. But again, it doesn’t linger. We move on and credits.

Overall, I am really glad I watched the thing. You kind of forget sometimes what its like when a single director writes a thing, shoots it, and its not a fucking franchise and its not dragged out over like 6 episodes.

3/4 – Looking for some schlock? Check out Q. If not just for Michael Moriarty’s performance.

Justified – A Retrospective

I have this recurring tendency to never watch things right when they come out. I watched Breaking Bad years after it was off the air. Will probably go through Better Call Saul in about a year or two.

Why is this? If I had to put a name to it, life is short, and there is already too much content to consume in one lifetime. So, I have a strong predilection to wait. See what stands the test of time. What is worth coming back to.

I mentioned in my first write up on this that I was on the hunt for something new. I scratch that itch from a number of different sources. This time, a wiser man than myself guided my way to Justified. I had heard good things, so I decided to start.

And boy am I glad I did. Pulled me in from the first 5 minutes.

On its surface, the show is a procedure. There is a bad guy/event of the week and our hero stops him. However, much as I say about any genre of music, you can make any genre of anything work if it just has good writing.

My first big takeaway on this show is writing craft. This show is meticulously written. Not even just from a full season story arc perspective. Scene to scene just has time and effort put into it.

That kind of dialogue work doesn’t spring out of the ground organically. That takes effort.

Another HUGE part of the show for me is the fucking casting. Lets put aside the leads for a minute, I want to give the casting director Cami Patton all the credit in the world of managing to pick up the strongest actors for the bad guy of the week parts. Pulling everybody from most of the cast of Band of Brothers to Mary Steenburgen to Stephen Tobolowsky.

Every episode is a treat to just see who they managed to pull in from episode to episode to act off this wonderful main cast.

But of course, all of those are just some of the reasons to watch the show. You know why you should watch this show.

Walton fucking Goggins

Look, Justified ran for six fucking seasons. They can’t all be winners.

BUT, even in the series laziest hours, Walton fucking Goggins. Coming in to save the day. The writers only wrote one of the best TV villains for him to play and he fucking crushes it. Delivers 100% every time he is on the god damn screen.

Like it is worth just to see what shit Boyd Crowder gets into this week.

Much is made of gatekeeping things. Whether it be anime or a music scene, people are protective of a certain definition. To me, the worst offender is the Western. Justified is a Western with no fucking horses and set in eastern Kentucky. A lawman out to figure out what justice means. Dunno how much more western you can get.

It’s the Atmosphere too that sells it as a western. Building this whole world out of this small coal mining county just lends it to a man wanders into town looking for justice, vibe.

This is a show I plan on revisiting over and over again. In a land of 8 episode streaming bullshit that feels 4 episodes too long, this thing is a breath of fresh air. Go watch it.

4/4You’ll never leave Harlan alive.

Surf’s Up – A Retrospective

[Editor’s Note: Apologies for the lack of entry last week. It has been a shitty time. Too shitty. More on the next AMEN Pew preaching, but for now, I felt like doing this one. So, lets go]

This record was another post-college discovery. During my great run through every review site’s big record lists. I cant remember which list had this one, but I remember enjoying it. Putting it on the “I’m gunna buy it eventually back burner.”

It wasn’t until recently that I fell back into it. Found it at a random record store for cheap, so I picked it up. Easy purchase.

Sometimes, a record shows up right when you need it. I’m on a beach vacation right now, and melancholy is how I feel about it. Especially with how shitty the world is, I am struggling to be all Jimmy Buffett about shit.

Enter Surf’s Up. If you wanted the weird-ass summer-bummer album. You got it right here.

I feel like that is not enticing as it should be. BUT to be fair, the album starts fucking strange.

The definition of alienating your audience

You know, Marvin Gaye did this in a much cooler, smoother way. Post-60s Beach Boys? Fuck no. You getting a weird ass synth lead song about how you are fucking up the ocean.

In fact, this is the perfect track opener. If you aren’t ready for this kind of strange, you aren’t ready for the album. In addition to double records, my other favorite type of albums are albums that get so CLOSE to not working, but somehow pull it all together. This is a great example.

Hell, the centrifuge pulls you back in on the next track.

The album is definitely the document of an extremely talented group on their last strings. Threads running bare, and worldview getting darker. The boy band of summer has experienced some world time. Surf’s Up reflects the maturity and lessons of both being a huge celebrity and just going through a normal human existence. It is everything that Taylor Swift has been trying to do and failing at.

I have seen this album described as a “progressive pop” album. I mean I guess. In that it has big guitar work. And synthesizers. But its not overbearing. No polyrhythm here. No odd time signatures. Just the band doing what they have always done. What they did on Pet Sounds. Be strange and still make pop music.

We are firmly in the groove, just with odd instrumentation.

And it shouldn’t work.

It should feel like a total fucking hot mess. A piecemeal construction of a record. Hell, the title track (and probably the best track) is cannibalized from the failed Smile project.

But it all works. The band must have been feeling the same kind of energy during those sessions. Cause they actually have something thematic and put together. Chaos barely strung together. Submerged and salty.

I cannot express how much this record is made for these kind of times. The sort of lost in the murk.

It’s really how I feel on this lovely beach even as I type this. It’s picturesque, but I will be returning to the world, and the heaviness remains out there.

The Beach Boys are sort of saying, “We know. It sucks. We will find a way.”

And that’s comforting somehow.

4/4 – This album is the equivalent of walking on a beach while a thunderstorm comes in, wearing a swimshirt and a hawaiian shirt that blows in the wind. You feel the coming storm, but you feel like you can survive it.

Surf is, in fact, up.

© Church of the Holy Flava 2016 - 2021