30 June 2006

Billy Jack

There's this episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch where Martin Mull and Melissa Joan Hart fight over the theme for the Homecoming Dance. She wants Grease, he wants Billy Jack. She wins, but he still shows up in a western shirt and black hat.

That shit had me rolling on the motherfucking floor.

Billy Jack is classic. Billy Jack is a badass, Howard Hesseman is a badass, and Susan Foster has a hot ass! Too much soapboxin'; really great improv-in'. Released in 1971. All you need to know. See it now and up your cred.

27 June 2006

Love Object

Kenneth is creepy, lonely, and socially inept, but he's also a kick-ass instruction-manual writer and the kind of guy who thinks nothing of throwing down ten grand on a silicone doll. But that doll, she is switched to evil she is. Pure evil. She makes him do all sorts of crazy things. They get in arguments, he buys a Do-It-Yourself home bondage kit, he slices up an apartment manager. Oh, and how could I forget that he has sex with a plasticine woman! More than once. Whoa. Crusty cuffs are so much easier on the pocketbook, dude. Get a clue. If that's not creepy enough, perhaps I should mention that he orders this doll to look exactly like the new office temp. Allow me to reiterate: Whoa.

Love Object sounds like it'd be all disturbing and gross, but it's pretty Tales From the Crypt (read: too light on the gore and flesh). Decent acting though. When you need a Gwyneth Paltrow understudy, look no further than Melissa Sagemiller. And when you need a character actor to be a hardass boss, look no further than Rip Torn.

The Highland Cinema liked the surprise ending (hint: they get the wrong guy...hmmm...not really a hint....you aren't gonna see this anyway), the Shield co-star, and....hell, Melissa Sagemiller. She must not have a good agent 'cuz she hasn't been in anything.

26 June 2006

The Brother From Another Planet

Couldn't be more of a Roger Corman picture if it was. The Brother From is connected to the Corms tangentially (John Sayles screenwrote a number of drive-in classics and still script-doctors today), but it has all the trappings of a Attack of the Crab Monsters, a Deathrace 2000, or a The Wild Angels. Trappings like: understated yet wholly present socio-political commentary, cheap (read: nonexistent) special effects, undeniably great supporting cast (nothing but "that guy!"s), and burgeoning auteurs.

But get this: Sayles had three movies under his belt by this time. And all of his movies (save for the Roan Inish) are extraordinarily terrestrial -- characters so real they live next door and dialogue the entire time. Yet the Brother is a three-toed mute from the outer regions of this galaxy who finds himself adrift in Harlem with only the power to heal Burger Time machines and owies. It's as if the years behind a desk penning werewolf stories, 'gator scripts, and space operas caught up to Big John and he just had to make one himself. Once it left his system he was back to real estate development and hot bloggin'. Perhaps the world is a better place. You remember how we heaped praise on Limbo, but this one here fell a little short of our Sayles expectations. Quirky and interesting, but not really a success. At least not in the same way.

Still, this movie does its best to remained focused about immigration and xeno-relations (no, no, not Xenu-relations! Shit, don't click that link -- they might shut me down!), but we got a huge kick out of Sayles and Strathairn playing a pair of intergalactic men in black. You will never ever see Straths in something like this. So fucking camped out and classic. This pair in these roles is Jack in the dentist's chair, people. They order beer on the rocks, screech like banshees, and slink around the bar. I also dug how the Brother's silence made him something different to everyone. And also how he found a shoe in the trash. And popped out his eyeball. And boned that happenin' lady. This Joe Morton's a real actor I tell ya.

Keep your eyes peeled for the late Steve James, Josh Mostel, and Fisher Stevens. And this guy, who you'll recognize right off the bat but you won't know from where!

22 June 2006

Mean Creek

Mean Creek has it all! A fake Macaulay, a fake Andy Milonakis, a fake dude from Parker Lewis, a fake Arquette daughter, a fake Breckin Meyer, a fake cameo from a fake Jump to Conclusions guy, and a fake Wayne Knight as gay other dad. The soundtrack even boasts a fake Elliott Smith, a fake Silver Mt Zion, and a fake Superchunk.

Hey, what did you expect? It's just a fake Bully. A less disturbing and less -- ahem -- "adult" Bully, but a fake one nonetheless.

That said, we thought this Culkin kid really killed it. If it didn't already have a Rory adorning its metaphorically hallowed hall(s), the Highland Cinema would accept Culkin Jr's application for admission. Sorry, kid. Keep up the good work and someday you could find yourself heralded right alongside him!

And speaking of killing it, this guy spent the entire movie copping Tyler Durden. "Stop!" we said. "Pots! " Where's a chemical burn when you need one?

19 June 2006

Jonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple

Jim Jones was a horrible person. I feel so strongly about it that I'll admit to you that the Highland Cinema started to tear up a little bit during this one. Just over nine hundred real people died thanks to this cruel, manipulative, lying sonofabitch. If Jim Wynorski's name was in the credits, I'd offer you a Kool-Aid joke and exaggerated, insensitive Darwinism. Instead I only offer you the following:

Read up on Jonestown here, here, and here. A number of People's Temple texts are in circulation, but I've only read this one.

Wow, that turned to be way more serious than I'd anticipated. We will now return to our regularly scheduled sleaze.

Coming soon: Nekromantik!

18 June 2006

Peeping Tom

Scop(t)ophilia, and maybe an allegory about film spectatorship. Marty says it's all you need to know about directing!

Carl Boehm plays a creepy, lispy, super 8 fetishist who kills women with his Kinoflex and records the whole thing. Maybe he does it for posterity, most definitely he does it to capture the ultimate fear, and perhaps he does it to...ah...well, let's forget about that last one, but I think you know where I was heading.

There is much to be said about Peeping Tom, but Highland Cinema is a blog and not a dissertation. We'll leave it at, "And I thought a camera only stole your soul!"

"Pretty great when the old dude buys the girlie pics."

And "How about when he actually makes out with the camera?!?" He does. Caresses it oh so gently. Weirdo.

Enjoy this spoiler:

16 June 2006


The most unsettling stuff we've seen at Highland thus far. If you remember this, you remember how Joel M Reed made us yawn when he showed us human dart boards and some broad with a straw stabbed in her skull. What a hack. Then some guy named Fruit Chan of all things shows me a bloody fetus and I think I'll have nightmares. Don't even get me started on this Takashi Miike character. We'll leave his segment for the neo-Freudians. That guy is some kind of genius. An auteur, if I remember my Film 151 definitions. No, not Freud, he was a quack. Scroll to "Acquisition and Control of Fire" and laugh yourself 'til you pee.

Act I: Soylent dumplings make you young. I'll have to wait until a Supreme Court decision comes down before I can definitively call them "soylent." Grossed us out with its gyno-corporeal Cronenbergisms and bloody bathtub water, but way too conventional when stacked up against the next two. Watch as Bai Ling picks her nose. We spotted the plot turns a mile away.

Act II: Ok, Fruit Chan was lame. This Oldboy cat is the real deal. Fingers in a blender. Vampire girl in the opening scene. Unbelievably great set design. Hurtful and nasty confessions. I didn't get the ending. Probably requires a second viewing.

Act III: Miike gives us some Taboo shit. [Wince] Speechless. Nothing funny to say.

Except this: remember when I saw the Three...Extremes trailer? It was after this. I was not on my A-game that day.

14 June 2006

Das Experiment

[Editor's note: I had to bring Highland Cinema up to date, hence today's rash of entries. Hope you enjoy it.]

Based on the Stanford Prison Experiment, a psych experiment which I think Philip Zimbardo dreamed up just so he could buy more black hair dye. I read about this thing four years ago when it debuted at the California Theater, but missed it because it was only there for a week. C'mon! Expectations remained moderately low since no one ever mentions or stocks this. But torpedos be damned. The Highland Cinema tracked it down and so should you.

Twenty volunteers: half guards, half inmates. Humilation as punishment, Napoleon complexes and power trips, a German Elvis impersonator, and that guy from Run Lola Run. But what was up with the love story? Sure, she's grieving and he's "imprisoned," but that was a stretch. You still get a forcible head-shaving, a hives-outburst, and lactose intolerance, so all is right in the world.

GWAR -- Live From Antarctica

Craig Kilborn had Bob Saget, Larry Sanders had George Segal, the Highland Cinema has GWAR. Whenever we're feeling a little uninspired or find our programming is in a rut, GWAR is there to bail us out. Sometimes you just need to see dopesick space monsters pee on someone, rip a beer out of a guy's stomach, or melt your face with bitchin' solos.

Live From Antarctica is the greatest of GWAR's filmic output -- to not see it is to forever insult the Cinema. Really. You're hurting my feelings right now. At least watch this.


Drunken Korean man asks, "Why did you lock me in this room for fifteen years?" The answer is only revealed after he eats live octopus, beds a happenin' lady, and performs impromptu oral surgery. Recommended some time ago by one of these guys, but screened here when we heard about this. Which I can't imagine happening. I'll spoil Limbo, but I'll keep Oldboy a secret since you might actually want to see it.

Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?

Boring and hideously unfocused doc about the indie Christian music scene. I forced this on the Highland Cinema because I like the Electrical Audio forum so much.

Directed by the ladyfriends of Steve Albini and Tim Midgett, and edited by the late Michael Dahlquist.

Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt

Steve Earle says Townes Van Zandt is better than Dylan.

I say Joel RL Phelps singing Townes Van Zandt is better than God.

12 June 2006


Dolph Lundgren fights some guys in a locked-down high school. Well, not really "some" and they don't exactly "fight," but he takes care of business like an ex-Special Forces officer turned inner-city history teacher should.

We like Dolph because he's a stone-cold genius.

And he could totally kick Chuck Norris' ass.

09 June 2006

Morrissey -- Who Put the "M" in Manchester?

Moz put the "M" in Manchester and Kilbs put the "Y" in "Why I like Morrissey."

Morrissey is important to some people. Remember how he kept you company while you drove your parents' station wagon? Or how Strangeways didn't leave your walkman until junior year? Morrissey has charisma and personality, people, it's the only way anyone could tolerate his velvet croon and easy-listening orchestration. Not to mention his questionable merchandise (the Smiths only metaphorically saved your life, Morrissey does it for real). The Highland Cinema likes fandom, cults, and concert dvds, so we have to like this even if it is a little, ah...well, never mind, never mind.

08 June 2006


Whoa, f'ing weird. We've been screening all these sleazy movies and now I have to call David Lynch to tell me what this is about. I know, I know, it's interesting and good, and probably has a lot to say about serious things like gender identity and patterns of abuse, but we're in the mood to eat Doritos and make snide comments. That's hard to do when you're saying, "What's happening?" or "Is this real?" At least there's a decapitation and some extended needle torture. How 'bout that guy who lives in a bag? He had a reverse shocker. And no tongue. I wonder what he thought of Bad Taste?

The Highland Cinema's current calendar looks more Grindhouse a Go-Go than Pacific Film Archive. My condolences to our more erudite readers, but stay tuned as I'm sure this will change if only slightly.

07 June 2006

Hell Comes to Frogtown

Back when the Highland Cinema was the El Moro Cinema, we screened so many Roddy Piper movies that it wasn't funny. No, wait, it was funny. Roddy Piper is the man, dammit. Back in Action was a favorite at the El Moro, and a double feature with this, after all.

So of course it was a surprise how Hell Comes to Frogtown could have slipped through the cracks. Look! There's frogs, Sandahl Bergman, Rory Calhoun, a post-apocalyptic future, that guy from Maniac Cop. All super-awesome, and we could only imagine what wonderous possibilites would occur when combined. Especially with Rowdy Roddy there to kick ass and chew bubble gum. But where are the frog beast vs man beast fistfights? And where are the one-liners? And why is everything so boring?

Seeing this only made my life better inasmuch as I can say how horrible it was. I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger -- I could have spent that ninety minutes on YouTube.

We were drunk while this played. It was 6-6-06, what do you expect? The movie still wasn't good.

Bloodsucking Freaks

Every scene should be disturbing, but they all turn out boring. Does that mean I'm going to hell? Necro seems to like this movie a lot, so much he'll "enslave you / similar to Sardu." Okay, the fact I know that means I'm going to hell.

That dwarf was in this and also this. And kind of looks like this.

Street Trash

Not enough people talk about this one. "Why?!?" I ask you, "Whhhyyyyy?!?" C'mon, homeless dudes melt into fluorescent ooze. A fat guy explodes. A cop beats a mafioso thug unconscious, leaves him in a urinal, and then pukes on his head. That Bill Chepil never did any other movies is evidence there is no God.

Did I mention that homeless guys melt? Did I mention Frankenhooker's James Lorinz is hilarious? Or that there's a cringe-inducing game of manhood keepaway? Or that there's absolutely no plot to get in the way of the story?

Street trash bad, but Street Trash great.

05 June 2006

Fangoria Weekend of Horrors

Always on the lookout for new titles to screen at the Cinema, I spent the past two days at Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors in ungodly hot and strikingly unsightly Burbank, California. The verdict? That Masters of Horror show ain't bad. Pan's Labyrinth looks cool, "fucking" cool as Guillermo del Toro would say. Abominable comes out in September. And Sin Jin Smyth has Roddy Piper. We missed the Night of the Living Dead 3D trailer, but I think I saw that guy from A Christmas Story and that Christopher Titus show.

Plenty of updates were planned for Highland Cinema the Blog, but our formerly good friend SupaFreak decided to password protect his network thus disabling our internet. We shall return shortly, please be patient.