“Sudden Impact, 1983”

“Go ahead, make my day.”

Sudden Impact, 1983 (Clint Eastwood), Warner Bros.

Clint Eastwood returns as “Dirty” Harry Callahan in this, the fourth installment of the popular crime/drama franchise. While negotiating punks and malcontents, he stumbles upon a series of vigilante misadventures all involving men shot once in the groin and once in the head. He very quickly figures out these murders are being perpetrated by one person or group. After causing collateral damage (this happens in every movie) during a botched diner hold-up, Harry is put on vacation by his superiors so he takes up residence in idyllic coastal town, Santa Cruz. Meanwhile, the vigilante murders are occurring with greater dispatch in this town. It seems trouble follows Harry wherever he goes.

We’re introduced to the hauntingly beautiful Sondra Locke, a successful artist who has also moved into the town under the pretense of restoring a carousel for the local amusement park, but what she really wants is revenge for her sister and herself. All of the murdered men were involved in a brutal gangrape of Locke and her sibling, which left her sister catatonic and unresponsive. Locke isn’t finished marking names off her list, so she visits the remainder of the men (and their lesbian cohort, played with appropriate sleaze by Audrie Neenan) one by one. Her flashback to the rape is one of the most terrifying and seemingly accurate depictions I’ve ever seen.

The avenging angel.

Though officially “on vacation,” Harry conducts his own investigation into the killings, runs afoul of Police Chief Pat Hingle (who has a personal stake-by-proxy of his traumatized son), and makes time with a surprisingly soliticous Locke.  The “foreplay” of their conversation telegraphs a mutual understanding of the failings of law enforcement and the hypocrisy of the justice system.  As Locke airs her grievances, Harry becomes more interested in her.  It’s a fascinating scene.  Eventually Harry puts the pieces together.  When the other rapists catch on to Locke’s activities (rather than turning tail and running off into the night), they abduct her.  Harry rescues her (in a famous “resurrection” bit evocative of his old westerns), and then covers for her.

Sudden Impact is a fun and atypical Dirty Harry movie that places our sympathies with the “bad guy” (Locke) and transforms her into a reluctant hero because we relate to her and her sister’s  victimization.  Clint Eastwood directs this installment with remarkable assurance.  He had already established himself as an excellent filmmaker, and had a hand in directing sequences from Magnum Force after a falling out with original director, Ted Post.  He’s fascinated and invested in Locke’s character, and uses effective close-ups of her wounded eyes.  According to Locke’s memoir, the film originated as a separate script with no connection to Dirty Harry.  Eastwood would return to the role in 1988 with the inferior follow-up, The Dead Pool.

“Go ahead, make my day.”

Sourced from both the original 1984 Warner Bros “clamshell” VHS release and the Dirty Harry Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray box set. The movie continued to receive different format releases, and is available in Beta, DVD, Laserdisc (using the same art design as the clamshell release) and Blu Ray formats. As with most (if not all) WEA VIDEO CANADA clamshell releases of Warner properties, the paper is flimsier than U.S.A. releases. The paper also has wax stains, and the label on the tape appears to have been printed for Beta tape (as with my previous review of Swing Shift). “Two killers are at large. One of them is Dirty Harry.” The essay on the back of the box reminds us of the previous three movies: Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), and The Enforcer (1976). Clint himself gives us a blurb: “People are a little edgy about the rights of criminals taking precedence over the rights of victims,” Eastwood says, “I think the public is interested in justice, and that’s what Harry stands for. He’s unique because he stood for the same principles from the beginning, when it wasn’t terribly fashionable.”

Be sure to catch the latest Extreme Cinema: Action and Exploitation Movies with Andrew La Ganke and David Lawler podcast, in which we discuss the Dirty Harry franchise in honor of Clint Eastwood’s birthday! You can also find the original, unaltered episode at BlissVille.

Special thanks to Bethany Robertson Heinlen for the Blu-Ray box set.

As to the inevitable comparisons between the original VHS tape and the Blu-Ray, the differences are staggering.  This is a discreetly clean-up transfer from original negatives that preserves the clarity of cinematographer Bruce Surtees’ compositions without the need to “improve” the visual quality by artificially brightening the image.  The Panavision process is staggering in four of the five Dirty Harry movies on the set.  As for the VHS videotape – other than myself and curious cinephiles, I don’t see any reason to watch the movie in standard (read: low) resolution, panned-and-scanned to 4:3 for televisions.  Here’s a good overview of the Blu-Ray box set.  

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

Mixtape Rewind – Queensrÿche: Operation Mindcrime

Episode 2 – Queensrÿche: Operation Mindcrime (1988)


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Operation: Mindcrime is the third studio album by the American progressive heavy metal band Queensrÿche, released on May 3, 1988. The album was re-released on May 6, 2003 with two bonus tracks, and in 2006 as a deluxe box set.

A concept album and a rock opera, its story follows Nikki, a recovering drug addict who becomes disillusioned with the corrupt society of his time and reluctantly becomes involved with a revolutionary group as an assassin of political leaders.[6] In January 1989, it ranked at No. 34 on Kerrang! magazine’s “100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time”.[7]

The album was certified by the RIAA as ‘gold’ a year after its release, and it was certified as ‘platinum’ in 1991. A sequel, Operation: Mindcrime II, was released on April 4, 2006.

Mixtape Rewind – Skid Row (1989)

Episode 1 – Skid Row: Skid Row (1989)


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Skid Row is the eponymous debut studio album by American heavy metal band Skid Row, released on January 24, 1989 by Atlantic Records. After being noticed by manager Doc McGhee, Skid Row signed with Atlantic and began recording its debut. The album was recorded in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with producer Michael Wagener, and received favorable reviews upon its release. The band promoted Skid Row mainly as an opening act on worldwide tours by Bon Jovi and Aerosmith in 1989–1990. The album peaked at number six on the Billboard 200 and was certified 5× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 1995 for shipping five million copies in the United States. It generated three singles: “Youth Gone Wild“, “18 and Life“, and “I Remember You“, all of which were accompanied by music videos and received heavy rotation on MTV. The album’s commercial and critical success made Skid Row a regular feature in rock magazines and brought the group nationwide popularity.

“Nate and Hayes, 1983”

“Can’t trust women – even when they’re dead!”

Nate and Hayes, 1983 (Tommy Lee Jones), Paramount Pictures

Big “Bully” Hayes tells his story to a writer hours before he is to be executed. He had been busted and betrayed by repugnant Brit Ben Pease (whose balls he had “shot off” at some point in the back-story) after trying to sell guns to backward natives on a remote island. He talks about the time he had been paid to ferry Reverend Nate (Michael O’ Keefe, wearing a ridiculous hat) and his intended, the gorgeous Sophie (luscious Michelle Pfeiffer lookalike Jenny Seagrove) to an island in the South Pacific his Aunt and Uncle govern.

Sophie hints she’s warm for “Bully’s” form (he’s kind of like the bad boy all chicks dig), but before she can do anything about it, the wedding is interrupted by the sleazy Pease and his cohorts, who murder Nate’s family, leave him for dead, and abduct Sophie so he can sell her off to a Samoan king. “Bully” comes back (presumably to liberate Sophie from her impending domesticity) but he discovers the island has been ransacked and the peaceful villagers have been taken away to be slaves. Meanwhile Nate, assuming “Bully” to be the principal architect behind the massacre, sets off to exact revenge.

After several days without food and water, he very nearly dies, but he is then rescued by Hayes. They join forces to rescue the (improbably) brave Sophie, who has to fend off Pease, his men, and and an inept German Count (Grant Tilly). The reason I say Sophie is improbably brave is because her character is obviously written to be, while no-nonsense and a realist, of aristocratic background and something of a porcelain doll, but because of our burgeoning feminist sensibillites (for the time) and a script co-written by John Hughes, she comes over as a tough chick. I don’t have a problem with it because it feels natural. If anything his script is stronger for it’s anachronisms.

Lovely Jenny Seagrove

The movie was, inexplicably, renamed Savage Islands (perhaps to cater to fans of exploitation movies), produced as a “tax shelter” movie with New Zealand money, and then sold to Paramount as a negative pick-up, which may explain the spotty distribution of the film to other formats. This is one of a handful of movies to trigger the MPAA’s PG-13 rating due to scenes of graphic violence too intense for children. Obstensibly an attempt to cash in on the action and pulp adventure boom of the early ’80s, the film failed at the box office.

A daring rescue!

Nate and Hayes was my “white whale” for a time in pursuit of those hard-to-find movies that received endless play on cable television.  This was a movie I spent years trying to track down, and even existing in chunks at places like YouTube, those chunks were soon deleted.  I finally gave up and found a VHS tape of it thanks to Captain Ziggy.  I thought I was getting a well-worn tape, but imagine my surprise when I find the Captain had sent me a sealed Paramount Home Video tape made in 1990 (possibly the last time the film was released on VHS for home exhibition)!  There are two other “white whales”; one film I managed to find, the other is still elusive.

Special thanks to Captain Ziggy!

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

WGC – Bunny #nelliepalooza

Episode 13 – Bunny


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The crowds cheered when Nellie was named the winner! Here is the first installment of the #nelliepalooza from Walnut GroveCast.
When Nellie Oleson is seriously injured after falling from Bunny, a horse that used to belong to Laura Ingalls, Nellie’s mother blames Laura for the accident and orders the animal destroyed. But Laura secretly steals her still-beloved Bunny away from Mrs. Oleson’s vengeance and resigns herself to the penance of waiting hand and foot on a demanding, bedridden Nellie.

The opening song “Albert” is written and performed by the amazing Norwegian band, Project Brundlefly and is used with permission.
Check them out at:
https://www.facebook.com/ProjectBrundlefly

“Strange Invaders, 1983”

“Three-headed dogs are big, but aliens?  Well, aliens are passe’.”

Strange Invaders, 1983 (Paul LeMat), Orion Pictures

1957-58, young couple listens to rock music and makes out while aliens wreak havoc in a small Illinois town called Centerville (“A real great place to raise your kids up!”).  The boy takes the girl home.  The boy goes to his own home to find everybody gone.  The television is on.  The bathtub is filling up, and nobody’s there.  The creepy shadow of an alien hand reaches out to grab the young home.  He screams.  We jump forward some 25 years later to Columbia University and sports-coat-with-patched-elbows professor Paul LeMat teaching a course in entymology.  Ex-wife Diana Scarwid shows up at his suspiciously spacious New York apartment, tells him she has to go home, to Centerville, on family business, and leaves their daughter, Elizabeth with him.  She never comes back, so Paul sets out to find her.

Paul arrives in Centerville to find a strangely quiescent town. Main Street is a ghost town, and the few people he does run across seem … a little off.  There’s a deserted, yet well-kept church.  The kids in the town have a “retro” sensibility.  They looks like transplants from the ’50s.  They all stare at him.  He’s obviously not welcome.  His car breaks down (of course) so he kills time in an old-school diner.  The people in the diner seem like mannequins, or seat-fillers.  He looks out a window and sees his car being destroyed by what looks like a lightning bolt.  He takes off in a stolen antique car and notices some of the townspeople have turned into weird, reptilian anthropoid-like creatures.  He is arrested by local law enforcement.  Some time later, people from Centerville have chartered a bus to New York.  They are revealed (in somewhat short order) to be aliens.

LeMat returns to New York to find his apartment ransacked.  His ex-wife is still missing.  He looks up his local bookworm on the subject of extra-terrestrial life who puts him in touch with resident UFO nut, Louise Fletcher.  She tells him no one has lived in Centerville (officially) since 1958 when a tornado struck the town.  This is weird.  At a news kiosk, he picks up a tabloid paper with a picture of an alien that looks an awful lot like the ones he encountered.  He looks up the writer (Nancy Allen) of the article.  She informs him these articles are bullshit.  The picture was found in their files, so they ran a story to go with the picture.  He leaves in a huff, even after she hits on him.  Nancy goes home, and is beset by alien lady, cleverly disguised as an Avon representative who kills her super (Wallace Shawn, in a fun bit), and calls the cops, but they can’t find a body.  After watching The Day the Earth Stood Still, Nancy becomes convinced.

Nancy and Paul hook up and talk shop.  Paul speculates about the aliens and their motivations.  After cocktails, they go back to his apartment and get sexy, but they are interrupted by Scarwid finally showing up in a freakazoid panic.  Scarwid is looking for their daughter.  Scarwid confesses she’s an alien, that she was sent to study the Earth, but she found she enjoyed our planet (as I do), got married and had the baby.  The divorce made it tough on her (as it does) and her family.  The aliens follow Nancy back to LeMat’s apartment building.  She shoots one of them and it spouts horrible green blood!  Scarwid sets up a diversion so Paul and Nancy can escape.  Along the way, Louise Fletcher picks them up and informs them our Government and the aliens have an “arrangement” – they provide us technological advances and we give them a place to live.  Now it’s up to Paul and Nancy to go back to Centerville and get tot eh bottom of this crazy mystery.

Now there’s something you don’t see everyday.

Strange Invaders is every great science fiction movie ever made in the ’50s and early ’60s.  Replete with paranoia shared en masse and unified only by the times those movies and this movie were made in – the ’50s and the ’80s.  The film’s opening crawl illustrates that point effectively: “It was a simple time, of Eisenhower, twin beds, and Elvis from the waist up — a safe, quiet moment in history.  As a matter of fact, except for the Communists and rock-and-roll, there was not much to fear.  Not much at all … until that night.”  Strange Invaders had the kind of fun as a movie that The Rocky Horror Picture Show enjoyed; interpretation of classic paranoid science fiction extrapolated with fresh eyes and placing it in modern context.  The music, editing, and performances perfectly capture the nostalgic narrative.  This is a fun, fast-paced movie.

Our first cable box was a non-descript metal contraption with a rotary dial and unlimited potential (with no brand name – weird). We flipped it on, and the first thing we noticed was that the reception was crystal-clear; no ghosting, no snow, no fuzzy images. We had the premium package: HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, MTV, Nickelodeon, CNN, The Disney Channel, and the local network affiliates. About $25-$30 a month.  Each week (and sometimes twice a week!), “Vintage Cable Box” explores the wonderful world of premium Cable TV of the early eighties.

MBA – The 1st Donny & Marie Show!

Season 1 Episode 3

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Donny & Marie kicked off their iconic television show with their first ever episode on November 16, 1975. And what a resplendent episode it is, chock full of so many amazing bad apples. Your hosts Mark and Chris discuss all of the amazing (and, in Chris’ case, mind blowing) highlights: the Osmond brothers presenting a trippy (and hilariously costumed) performance of the song “Gotta Get Love”; Donny does a karate workout (!) with Chuck Norris(!!!!); and so much more. Please give us a listen and share the bad apples with us.

 

A special thank you to Dave Evans for not only the support but for providing a remarkable collection of Osmond classics to the public!

Visit his YouTube channel NOW!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwNDcqHGpP3gXtHoPxM3lIw

MBA – Valentine’s Day Special!

Season 1 Episode 2

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In our 2nd episode of MBA we review :
The Osmond Family Valentine’s Day Special (1979) With Andy Gibb, Ruth Buzzi and Paul Lynde as guests!



This show first aired on 2/11/79 and this is a rundown of what is in this nearly 40 year old gem!

  • All Osmonds – “Love Is A Good Foundation”
  • Marie, Jay & Jimmy – “You’re Not Sick You’re Just In Love”
  • Andy Gibb – “(Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away”
  • Old Fashioned Love Song Segment
  • Paul Lynde – Cupid Basic Training
  • Donny – “Puppy Love”
  • Marie & Ruth Buzzi – Usherette Skit
  • Osmond Brothers – “Baby’s Back”
  • Paul Lynde & Ruth Buzzi
  • Love Birds Skit
  • Party Finale

Visit his YouTube channel NOW!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwNDcqHGpP3gXtHoPxM3lIw