Saturday, March 10, 2007

It's four AM and thanks to a combination of restless pets, falling asleep in the living room only to wake an hour later (I have difficulty going back to sleep when I'm awakened abruptly), and two movies on TCM I wanted to see, here I am.

The movies? I Bury the Living, a pretty cool 50's horror flick (with no monsters!) that starred Richard (Paladin, Have Gun Will Travel) Boone as the head of a cemetery committee. In his office at the cemetery, there's a big honkin' map (see pic above) which shows all the plots, and which features a system by which white pins are placed in plots belonging to living people, and black pins are placed in plots that are, shall we say, permanently occupied. By chance, he discovers that by placing a black pin in the plot of a living person, that person soon dies, and vice versa! Needless to say, this becomes a distressing situation, though never fear- it's not quite what it seems. Shot on a modest budget complete with day-for-night scenes, and saddled with a script that you wish was just a little sharper, it nevertheless evokes a nicely morbid mood and is very engrossing. Features Theo (Rance Mohammitz, 200 Motels, later Warner/Reprise artist) Bikel adopting a dreadful approximation of a Scottish brogue as the graveyard's caretaker. Bikel's music has never really been my cup o'tea, but I just think it's cool that he used to be on WBR, and got listed often on those $2 Loss Leaders they used to sell. Anyway, I first saw it back in 1973 or '74 on Channel 4 Nashville's Creature Features, so there's also that nice nostalgia buzz as well.

The second flick was new to me- I'd heard of it, but never had the opportunity to view it before. It says Dead Men Walk was made in 1943, but it looks like it could have been made 15 years earlier- everything looked cheap, creaky and dated...and this gave it a creepy mood that a bigger budget wouldn't have been able to approach. Funny how that works. Walk is pretty much a no-frills horror movie made in the waning days of the 30's horror boom- George Zucco, usually seen as a priest of the Mummy or a mad doctor or whatnot stars as twin brothers, one an upstanding doctor in a small town and the other a Satanist who is killed by his brother (for reasons unknown, it happened before the events of the film) but comes back to life as a vampire and swears vengeance on his twin, as well as his daughter. It pretty much proceeds in tried-and-true Dracula fashion after that, as Evil George, aided by hunchbacked assistant Zolar (Dwight Frye, who died not long after this as made), puts the bite on the daughter and intends to make her his thrall. There's a pretty good synopsis at the IMDb link above, including a mention of the creepy monologue at the beginning of the movie featuring the superimposed, lowlighted face of uncredited Forrest Taylor, which sets a suitably eerie tone. The rest of the movie doesn't quite live up, but it had a certain surreal atmosphere and was well worth viewing, especially if you're, oh, unable to sleep like your humble correspondent!

In other news from hither and yon, I see where Brad Delp, singer for the sporadic 70's group Boston, has died. Much to my surprise, I see where many around the Blogosphere are mourning his passing, but I won't join them. Nothing against Delp, who was a fine person I'm sure, and yes, it's sad that he died...but I could never stand that band's music, so I don't quite have the same attachment that many do. To me, it was always grotesquely slick, intermittently tuneful (yes, even catchy, but that doesn't equate good) edge-free corporate rock (in fact, one of the first of the corporate rock bands) that always served as fuel for numerous rage-filled "X can't get arrested in America or on the charts, but frigging BOSTON and the like are HUGE" diatribes. I saw Boston in 1976, part of a triple bill that also featured Manfred Mann's Earth Band (touring on "Blinded by the Light", and the main reason I was there) and pre-Steve Perry Journey, and I wish I could say that I remember it vividly but I don't, and that's only partly because of casual drug abuse. I wasn't impressed then, and it didn't get any better as that debut album and its followup became ubitiquous on radio and in my friends' record collections. So I'm sorry for the loss of the man, but I'm not inclined to mourn the memory of the group.

Back to TV, I watched two episodes of 30 Rock Thursday evening, because I'd read a lot of positive word of mouth by a lot of people whose opinions I respect. And what did I think? Well, I was disappointed. The humor was a lot broader and more farcical than I expected, often just plain ol' silly as opposed to witty or clever. I will say this, though- Alec Baldwin is indeed very good, often eliciting more chuckles by simply reacting to the insanity than contributing, and the first episode, which featured Nathan Lane as a scam-running long-lost brother, got really good when a booze-swilling and loud-mouthed Molly Shannon, of all people, joined in as one of a group of his siblings. Biggest annoyance was Tracy Morgan's "Tracy Jordan", whose eccentric character is supposed to be "wacky" or "edgy", I suppose, but just struck me as "goofy" and "irritating" and made me want to channel surf until his scenes were over. And honestly, I didn't really find many reasons to empathize, sympathize, relate to, like, or even root for, Tina Fey's Liz Lemon character- who seems to be the center around which the show revolves. Maybe I just didn't screen the right episodes, who knows, but she never seemed to have a consistent stance, an internal logic, in her portrayal- manic, petty one time, warm and approachable another, scatterbrained and silly another, and so on. And this is coming from someone who likes Dirt, where nobody is likeable. Oh well, it was enjoyable enough, and I'll probably watch it again next week, if it airs. I think it's got a hiatus coming up. We'll see.

It's now 5 AM, I'm actually yawning a little, and things seem to have settled down so I think I'll stop now and try to get some shuteye. Good morning to ye.

Cross-posted from the LJ.

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