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Now in our seventh calendar year!
PCR #333 †(Vol. 7, No. 32) This edition is for the week of August 7--13, 2006.

MOVIE REVIEW
"World Trade Center" †by Mike Smith
MY MIDDLE TOE
Happy Birthday Nolan....This Time Last Year....Future Goals †by Mark Terry
ODDSERVATIONS
Odds are, I'm Back!...Catching Up with Oddservations....VHS Grindhouse....Mel Gibson...."Talladega Nights" †by Andy Lalino
MATT'S RAIL
Amity Island Excursion †by Matt Drinnenberg
MIKE'S RANT
You Say It's Your Birthday....Welcome Back....Will It Never End....Off To I-O-Way....My Favorite Films, Part 32: "Major League" †by Mike Smith
LETTERS
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Oddservations: The Return
Yes, it's back...like a bad zombie movie

Odds are, I'm Back!
Yes, the terrorscope at the Oddservations Oddservatory pulses to life once again! Yes, the column has been reanimated like a cheap zombie movie. What gives? Well, I talked with Nolan after a lengthy dry spell, and he suggested it. Though my time is probably more limited than ever, I said to myself "why not"? There's never a dull moment in the world of cult cinema, and I wanted to be more active in it, as demonstrated on the CF message boards, on which I am a frequent contributor. So, I figured I should make a more permanent contribution to fandom than simply just my rants & raves on a bulletin board (don't worry, Brandon, I'll still be on there to make your life miserable). So here goes (again). Good to be back. As Frankie Goes to Hollywood would sing: "Let's Go!"

Catching Up with Oddservations
New Oddities may ask...just what is Oddservations? Briefly, it's a weekly excursion into the weird and wonderful world of cult cinema, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, exploitation, '70s/'80s New Wave, pop culture, current events, and other topics that are of interest to me, which in turn may also interest you, I hope.

Once you get a vibe on who I am, you'll quickly realize that I'm a Road Warrior in a fierce melee with the mainstream and any form of pop culture post-1986. Puzzled? You shouldn't be. The late 1980ís (1987 to be precise) mark the end of an unparelled run of fantastic cinema that we'll never see again in our lifetime. The horror classics of the '30s. The nuclear sci-fi and the beginnings of Hammer in the '50s. The experimental and mod '60s. The decadent and exploitive '70s which gave birth to the slasher film, and of course the wild and colorful early/mid '80s - decade of the teenage sex comedy, and the VHS revolution...

...then everything came to a screeching halt thanks to the onset of rap, the orchestrated demise of New Wave, and the mainstream embrace of the big Hollywood studio system. By the time the lame '90s reared its ugly head, you weren't likely to see independently-produced cult hits like Pieces and The 7 Doors of Death at your local movie theater anymore, that is if your local theater even survived the wrecking ball of the mall megaplexes.

I'd like to believe most readers of CF agree with me and my assessment of how music, movies, and other forms of leisure/entertainment have evolved (or more accurately de-volved) over the decades. But as Boy George would say, "That's clearly not the case." I'm not here to tell you what to think, but merely suggest that you ask yourself if you really want to take time to watch that $200 million spectacle at your mega mall (at $9 a pop to see the movie plus another $9 for a popcorn/Coke combo), or opt instead to run down to a pawn shop and buy that dollar copy of Bloodsucking Freaks. Or, simply ask yourself: what would I rather watch Saturday night at midnight: Night of the Blood Beast or "Shrek 2". I know my answer.

What's yours?

VHS Grindhouse
If you frequent the CF message boards, you may have figured out that I watch VHS movies. A lot of VHS movies. Why, you ask, in this day and age of pristine picture and audio quality, would someone goof around with a near-extinct format? Let me first tell you that I do enjoy DVD's - very much in fact, but I more so enjoy the nostalgic quality of my old VHS tapes, of which I have hundreds (were this 1983, I'd have the baddest video store this side of Unique Video). VHS tapes can be purchased dirt-cheap (pawn shops, record stores, flea markets, garage sales) and you can't beat the pre-Photoshop (real) artwork. To me, finding a box of old VHS horror films is like uncovering a stack of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines. In fact, I can often buy 9 VHS tapes for the price of one evening movie ticket. Some of those VHS covers feature excellent horror art by top illustrators. Nowadays you get a slick-as-Crisco photo with a Photoshopped logo floating over it when you buy a new DVD, which I find cheap, un-endearing, and impersonal. Give me a cardboard VHS box from 1984 with a real hand-drawn image/logo any old day.

Sure, a VHS image is grainy, dark, and at times near-unwatchable, but I love it anyway. Next weekend, try taking the time to scout out places that sell these boxy little treasures. I guarantee that once you start collecting and watching, you'll be hooked, and will say goodbye to the mainstream once and forever.

So you may frequently encounter reviews or commentary of delicious old VHS tapes here at the Oddservations Oddservatory. You have been warned.

Mel Gibson
For real fans of the actor (he'll always be my matinee idol from Mad Max/The Road Warrior) this may be a great thing. A nose-dive in his career may mean he'll need to return in Mad Max 4 instead of goofing around with religious films, inane chick flicks, and the awful 'Lethal Weapon' series.

Let's hope Mel takes another spin in the Last of the V8's. Hell, I'll even take a prequel to Gallipoli.

But if Gibson and George Miller do another sequel, please don't make it as bad and unwatchable as Beyond Thunderdome. Pretty please?

Follow up: In an entertainment article the weekend edition of the St. Petersburg Times, it was reported that ex-SNL comedian Rob Schneider purchased a full-page ad in Variety magazine, pledging as a "Half-Jew" never to work with Mel Gibson! A comment like that is as incredible as Pat Boone testifying on behalf of recording artists during Al & Tipper's crusade against rock musicians.

"Talladega Nights"
Well, guess if you're a major Hollywood studio, you can't miss with this premise: a way overrated comic actor (Will Farrell) in a comedy about that slice of Americana known as NASCAR. I wonder how many corporate sponsors had their logos emblazoned on race cars and jumpsuits? As expected, Americano audiences fell for the smelly bait.

Allow me to take the opportunity to state that Will Farrell is undeserving of his status as a major screen comedian. He's about as lucky as Glenn Beck and knows it. At best, he was minimally better than his fellow cast members when he was on SNL (and believe me, that's not saying much) and should have been put out to pasture when the plug was pulled on that troupe years ago. SNL has been a God-awful program since the Spade/Sandler/Levitz/Nealon/Miller era (one of the high points of the 1990's, surprisingly). How this 'comedian' managed to infiltrate top-tier Hollywood comedies is beyond my ability to reason.


"Oddservations" is ©2006 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.