Wooley & Torgo's September Excite-o-rama!

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I think you should read the book and report back to us.
I would, but it's just an endless stream of meows followed by "The End".





If his name isn't Ad-Elf, the book is a waste.
This one features in Paperbacks From Hell, a really entertaining look at horror novels from the 70s and 80s. It's written by Grady Hendrix, who used to do the terrific Kaiju Shakedown column about Asian genre cinema for Film Comment. I will humbly recommend it to the denizens of this thread.



This one features in Paperbacks From Hell, a really entertaining look at horror novels from the 70s and 80s. It's written by Grady Hendrix, who used to do the terrific Kaiju Shakedown column about Asian genre cinema for Film Comment. I will humbly recommend it to the denizens of this thread.
Ooh, looks like a must-have for my coffee table. It begs the question: is the book itself from Hell, too?

Speaking of, used media stores thankfully haven't gone the way of video rental stores. I still have many of them in driving distance. There's just something about the potential of making a good find that makes them so much fun...and that smell.




Well.
This was... interesting.
Quick background on me and this film, I saw it in the theater in '86, I saw it again several times on cable in the late 80s (I would assume '87), and then found myself seriously outgrowing it by like '88. I revisited it once in my adult life, though I can't remember when, I really just didn't like it at all, finding it way to juvenile in its target, a real Children's Movie in my mind with nothing for an adult. I have considered giving it another go for probably 15 years but have always assumed I wouldn't like it and moved on.
And then I watched it last night.
I actually have kind of a lot to say about this film as I felt that, while watching it, a lot of its history and its intentions and its different influences could all be seen, some worn intentionally on the sleeve and others more subtle and perhaps only obvious to people who've seen a lot of movies.
I will say this: To my absolute utter shock... I loved it. Granted, I was really high. But I loved it.


Sarah is a 16 year-old girl who is just an awful, privileged, spoiled bitch. To be somewhat fair, her mother, an actress, died at some point prior to the film but really, she's just a terrible brat who is nasty to her stepmother for no reason (other than the obvious) and who both of her parents must tiptoe around. Interestingly, she has also sort of retreated into fantasy, role-playing (alone) and surrounding herself with everything from L. Frank Baum to Maurice Sendak to M.C. Escher. So, when she is "forced" (actually asked really nicely) to babysit her baby-brother she calls upon The Goblin King to take him away to his castle forever. Unfortunately for her, it turns out The Goblin King, Jareth (David Bowie) is real and hears her call.
Though she begs him not to take her brother Jareth considers the deal final, but offers her the opportunity to traverse his Labyrinth and reach his castle in 13 hours and save the babe. Although he strongly appeals to her spoiled nature to simply give up and go on with her life or to accept all her dreams coming true if she simply lets go, Sarah says she cannot do that and she must save her brother and our adventure begins.


Along the way, Sarah will face danger and deception while meeting various helpful and not so helpful creatures - a worm she meets at the beginning of the Labyrinth sends her to the right, afterward saying that that was lucky, if she'd turned to the left she'd have gone straight to the castle - assembling a cast of strange allies and learning life lessons, of course.

So, why did I like this movie so much? Well, I can tell you it didn't start off that way, ten minutes in, I was ready to turn it off as the acting was terrible and nothing was looking all that great either. I mean, Connelly won an Oscar later but was really struggling through the first 10-15 minutes and honestly even Bowie, who is literally David Bowie, wasn't coming off so good.
But somehow in once we get to the Labyrinth everything works itself out. Because, honestly, there is just so much imagination at work in this film and, even though it's obvious sets and puppets and all that, there is a lot of craft on display as well. There are so many little ideas that are so clever, I mean, honestly, the movie won me over in a big way with the first tromp l'oeil that it pulls on the audience when Sarah is about to give up on finding the entrance to the Labyrinth. I watched it like 3 times trying to see the seams of it and I just couldn't see them no matter how many times I looked. And there were just so many clever ideas.
But the tone of the film was always the problem for me in the past and this time I had nearly the opposite experience. It is still mostly a children's movie but the main reason, in my opinion, that it bombed so badly at the box-office and got such mixed reviews is that it is honestly just such a weird film. As I got into the meat of it I was reminded, simultaneously, of both Monty Python and Clive Barker. And while Barker had nothing to do with it, you can see how this and Nighbreed have a little something in common and then especially if you've ever seen Barker's art. But the Monty Python thread just kept pulling at me, so many little moments felt right out of a Monty Python children's movie that never got made... and then of course I discovered that Terry Jones wrote the original script. Now the internet will tell you that all these writers came in later and re-wrote it so much that Jones' script was almost washed away, and yet he has the only writing credit on the movie and if you know your Monty Python and you watch this, you will have little doubt that the roots of this story and several scenes and bits of dialogue are right out of a Python work.
Finally, the movie has a great deal of heart. Despite some less-than-stellar acting by the human principals (which somehow actually improves once the movie gets going), the movie actually makes you feel. I found myself with deep pangs for the dwarf who is caught between his desire to help Sarah and his fear of Jareth.


And his reaction, as well as other characters to her kindness really touched me. I'll admit it was a bit abrupt considering she was like the most awful teenager in the world 40 minutes earlier, but hey, I didn't say this was a masterpiece. And also, I share this image to let anyone considering it know that either you buy into the puppetry and the Jim Hensonness of this world or you simply cannot watch the movie. If you can't feel empathy for the puppeteered head of Hoggle or whatever the hell Luto is, if you can't enjoy Henson's soft and fuzzy vision of goblins...


...you're not gonna like this movie much no matter how much weird, or craft, or heart I tell you is in it.
To sum up, here was a movie I thought simply wouldn't have enough edge to keep me interested and would honestly just be another terrible post-Goonies children's movie, that actually engaged me for its weirdness, its creativity, and its heart. Here is a bizarre artifact of its time that I think I will revisit often in my future.



I like Labyrinth a lot as well. Favorite character? It has to be Sir Didymus. There's something very adorable about him being equally heroic and hapless. I bet the character of Hup from The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was inspired by him.

I hope to have another fantasy entry ready later today.
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I like Labyrinth a lot as well. Favorite character? It has to be Sir Didymus. There's something very adorable about him being equally heroic and hapless. I bet the character of Hup from The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was inspired by him.

I hope to have another fantasy entry ready later today.
Yeah, the whole Dark Crystal tie-in with this movie was somehow news to me. Apparently after working on DC together, Henson and the designer, Toby Froud, wanted to work together again but they wanted to do something a little lighter. When Terry Jones went to work writing the story/script, he took Froud's sketches and sat down and wrote a story based on the sketches and the basic idea of goblins stealing a child.
It would certainly be a clever nod to put a character from Labyrinth in the new DC.



I also saw Labyrinth in its initial run, along with my younger brother. I was 15 I guess, and mostly remember thinking that it was silly and for kids and beneath me. (Bear in mind that I also felt this way about ET at age 11. I was a fun kid.)

So with expectations low, I found myself enjoying it the couple of times I've seen it as an adult. It's a Bowie/Henson collab, so I can pretty much just enjoy it on that level, but like you say there's also some heart to it. It's my BFF's favorite movie so her enthusiasm has influenced me too, I'm sure.
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I also saw Labyrinth in its initial run, along with my younger brother. I was 15 I guess, and mostly remember thinking that it was silly and for kids and beneath me. (Bear in mind that I also felt this way about ET at age 11. I was a fun kid.)

So with expectations low, I found myself enjoying it the couple of times I've seen it as an adult. It's a Bowie/Henson collab, so I can pretty much just enjoy it on that level, but like you say there's also some heart to it. It's my BFF's favorite movie so her enthusiasm has influenced me too, I'm sure.
Well, to a small degree, it's even a Bowie/Henson/Monty Python collab, so you gotta feel good about that.
Unfortunately you can still kinda smell Lucas on it, but I just tried to ignore it.





The 7th Voyage of Sinbad -


I decided to take a detour from the '80s fantasy binge I've been doing to classic fantasy and I'm very glad I did. This has the potential to be one of the best fantasy movies I've ever seen, or at least the most fun one. In this Sinbad (Kerwin Matthews) story, he runs afoul of evil magician (is there any other kind) Sokurah (Torin Thatcher) while on the mysterious island of Colossa, an encounter that leads to a cyclops confiscating the magician's magic lamp. Incensed by Sinbad and the Caliph's decision to not return to the island to get it back, he enacts revenge by shrinking Sinbad's fiancée, Parisa (Kathryn Grant), andh the only known cure is found on - you guessed it - Colossa.

Nathan Juran's direction is a well-oiled machine for how every scene has something enjoyable in it. There's also a welcome buildup and release between each moment of fun so you never feel like it's being crammed down your throat. In other words, Michael Bay must have skipped the showing of this movie while he was in film school. The cast are no slouches either, the highlight for me being Torin Thatcher's scenery-chewing performance as the devious Sokurah, which must have been a fun role to play. Also, with its vibrant Technicolor, detailed sets and Spanish shooting locations, the movie is simply a joy to look at. Now, let me finally praise the movie's secret weapon: Ray Harryhausen. Not only is each of his claymation inventions from the cyclops to that poor baby roc to my favorite, the skeleton knight, impossible to look away from while they're on screen, they have near-seamless integration with the performers. Then again, is Bernard Herrmann the real MVP? The movie has one of his best scores, particularly during the skeleton knight battle, which features an instrument I would describe as a bone xylophone.

Are there any noticeable flaws? Not really. While I could mention that Sinbad is never properly introduced - I'm much more familiar with the one who was in Houseguest, I might add - it's because he doesn't need to be; after all, the character is in three feature films released not too long before this one, so he was sort of a superhero of his era. Not to mention, early on, I expected to criticize the marginalization of Parisa's character - no pun intended - as a mere damsel in distress. Thankfully, she's more than that and actually uses her new size to her advantage. All in all, it's a very fun fantasy adventure that stands alongside several that came after it that have more advanced and/or larger budgeted special effects. Oh, and if you don't think a scene with a claymation creature can bring you to tears, watch this.



Yeah, the whole Dark Crystal tie-in with this movie was somehow news to me.
When I was in school in Cambridge I got to see a Dark Crystal/Labyrinth double feature at this great little theater called the Brattle. (I will never stop talking about their $9 double features).

Most of the people were there for Labyrinth, and it was really fun to see them discover The Dark Crystal.





I decided to take a detour from '80s fantasy to classic fantasy and I'm very glad I did. This has the potential to be the best movie I watch for this thread, or at least the most fun one. In this Sinbad (Kerwin Matthews) story, he runs afoul of evil magician (is there any other kind) Sokurah (Torin Thatcher) while on the mysterious island of Colossa, an encounter that leads to a cyclops confiscating the magician's magic lamp. Incensed by Sinbad and the Caliph's decision to not return to the island to get it back, he enacts revenge by shrinking Sinbad's fiancée, Parisa (Kathryn Grant), andh the only known cure is found on - you guessed it - Colossa.

Nathan Juran's direction is a well-oiled machine for how every scene has something enjoyable in it. There's also a welcome buildup and release between each moment of fun so you never feel like it's being crammed down your throat. In other words, Michael Bay must have skipped the showing of this movie while he was in film school. The cast are no slouches either, the highlight for me being Torin Thatcher's scenery-chewing performance as the devious Sokurah, which must have been a fun role to play. Also, with its vibrant Technicolor, detailed sets and Spanish shooting locations, the movie is simply a joy to look at. Now, let me finally praise the movie's secret weapon: Ray Harryhausen. Not only is each of his claymation inventions from the cyclops to that poor baby roc to my favorite, the skeleton knight, impossible to look away from while they're on screen, they have near-seamless integration with the performers. Then again, is Bernard Herrmann the real MVP? The movie has one of his best scores, particularly during the skeleton knight battle, which features an instrument I would describe as a bone xylophone.

Are there any noticeable flaws? Not really. While I could mention that Sinbad is never properly introduced - I'm much more familiar with the one who was in Houseguest, I might add - it's because he doesn't need to be; after all, the character is in three feature films released not too long before this one, so he was sort of a superhero of his era. Not to mention, early on, I expected to criticize the marginalization of Parisa's character - no pun intended - as a mere damsel in distress. Thankfully, she's more than that and actually uses her new size to her advantage. All in all, it's a very fun fantasy adventure that stands alongside several that came after it that have more advanced and/or larger budgeted special effects. Oh, and if you don't think a scene with a claymation creature can bring you to tears, watch this.
This sounds like fun. I've always enjoyed the Sinbad movies.

I'm not sure Harryhausen is a secret weapon, though.
Looking forward to checking out that Skeleton Knight, that's for sure.



This sounds like fun. I've always enjoyed the Sinbad movies.

I'm not sure Harryhausen is a secret weapon, though.
Looking forward to checking out that Skeleton Knight, that's for sure.
The skeleton sword fight is cool, as is the Cyclops vs Dragon wrestling match towards the end. Good times.



minds his own damn business
When I was in school in Cambridge...
What? Huh? Is there? More than one? Who? ****? Going on? How many? Massachusetts? Who? Whai's happening? I don't...? The Christ? Flimflam? Cha....?
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Good ol' Cambridge, Idaho. The summers are so beautiful there. I'm sure going to school there would be a treat.



What the **** am I watching?



Good ol' Cambridge, Idaho. The summers are so beautiful there. I'm sure going to school there would be a treat.
Double features were $12 for an adult, $9 for students, and 14 potatoes if you were willing to let them keep the bag they came in.



Double features were $12 for an adult, $9 for students, and 14 potatoes if you were willing to let them keep the bag they came in.
LOL
I would think potatoes in Idaho are like the lupines Dennis Moore gives to the poor in that Monty Python sketch.

I also saw a WTF movie. I'll report back later today or early tomorrow.