Friday, October 31, 2008

My father’s neighborhood theater.

This is a photo of the old Fox theater in Miramar. I never saw this old neighborhood theater, located next to the Lourdes gothic Church in Ponce De León, close to the old Fine Arts theater. It was torn down many years ago.

But my father did see it. This was the place where on Saturday afternoosn he used to watch serials, newsreels, westerns and adventure movies. Four hours of fun every Saturday for maybe twenty five cents. Must have been quite a time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shivers/ They Came from Within

This being Halloween season I keep going back to old horror movies. Especially strange ones I saw as a kid. Which brings me to a “They Came from Within” (AKA: “Shivers”). I saw this movie at the Regency theater in Fernandez Juncos in Santurce, Puerto Rico. At the time, I loved watching B horror movies and the poster for the movie made it clear that we were in B movie territory. It featured a woman in a bathtub being attacked by a strange creature. This meant two things, the movie had gore and the movie had nudity. A fun time was surely guaranteed.

I’m not sure what friend went to see this movie with me. But I imagined he must have been very bored to accept seeing a movie like this. But at the end of the movie, he must have agreed that this was a great one.

I didn’t know at the time that this was a movie by David Cronenberg, a director who would gain great fame in the 1980’s and 1980’s for movies such as “Scanners”, “ Videodrome” and in the 2000’s for the excellent “A History of Violence” and “Eastern Promises”. But what I realized then was that this was a terrific movie.

In an isolated apartment building in Canada a scientist was doing experiments which resulted in creating a virus that would make people lose all inhibitions, especially sexual ones. The virus begins spreading one night throughout the building, creating all kinds of mayhem. And this being a Cronenberg film and this being the 1970’s, anything was possible. No taboos went unexplored.

The movie featured Barbara Steele in a small role. She had gained some cult fame because of some horror movies she made in the 1960’s, but I was unaware of that at the time. It also featured a quirky looking actress called Lynn Lowry (see photo), who I considered to be extremely sexy. I had seen her in some other B movies and always found her to be beautiful in an odd sort of way. Actually that could be a topic for a separate blog entry.

So, all in all, this was a fun movie. And a couple of years ago I saw it on DVD and had a great time. It still holds up as a good horror flick. I may see it again these days. And I recommend it to people looking for a strange, no holds barred horror flick. It occasionally plays on Showtime and the Movie Channel on cable tv. Check it out or rent it. You’ll be glad you did.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Remembering "Carrie"

If you were a teenager in the 1970's, "Carrie" was a movie you never forget. I certainly never did. I remember a group from school went to see on a Friday afternoon. It played in the Puerto Rico theater in Santurce. In those days, one screen theaters like the norm and you would wait outside in the lobby to wait for the previous show to end. While waiting one would look at the lobby cards and the various posters for upcoming attractions. While doing so with a group of friends, we suddenly heard the biggest audience scream I have witnessed in my life. Two minutes later, hundreds of people left the theater, laughing, excited. Everyone waiting to get in was wondering what all the screaming was all about.

So we went in. The movie begins with a volleyball game and then the titles appear over scenes of the young women in their locker room. This was a scene that a teenager can never forget. There was nudity everywhere, there was Nancy Allen completely nude, Amy Irving in only underwear. You inmediately knew that anything could happen in this movie. And th movie does eliver some amazing shocks, including the final shock that made everybody jump out of their seats. It is still the most memorable jolt one can experience in a horror movie. No scene has ever made me feel that way.

I had not seen "Carrie" in years. But yesterday I decided to watch the DVD. First thing, the locker room scene is still as memorable. In a way, it looks more daring today since nudity has all but disappear from multiplex screens, replaced by gore and extreme violence. The shocks are still there but, with age, one notices different things. First, one can appreciate the cruelty that was inherent in the world of high school. even though life can always be cruel, nothing can be as cruel as high school. For some reason, those years bring out the worst in people. And "Carrie" certainly shows that. Second, one sees life's ironies in realizing what happened to many of the actors in the movie. John Travolta and Sissy Spacek went on to become stars, William Kaat ended up in awful movies, Amy Irving married Steven Spielberg , but her career went nowhere.

Finally, there's the ending. I knew it was coming and it brought back so many memories of that Friday afternoon at the Puerto Rico. But it did not make me jump. Unfortunately, things like that only work once in a lifetime. And in a dark movie theater. Especially on a Friday afternoon with friends.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bad movies we love

What is it about bad movies we saw as kids that make them so fascinating? When I was maybe 8 years old I went to the Metro theater with my parents to see this terrible movie called "Wicked, Wicked". It was a standard serial killer movie with a great twist (at least for an 8 year old) was in "Duo Vision" which basically meant that the screen was splt in half and you would be seeing two different actions in each one. Usually this consisted of the killer on one half of the screen and the potential victim in the other.

This movie, released my MGM, has never received a DVD or VHS I had not seen it since 1969. This all changed last weekend when wonderful Turner Classic Movies showed it as part of their TCM Underground movie series. And I must admit I enjoyed it so much. It was tacky, the acting was awful...but it was strangely fascinating. It seemed like a cinematic experiment in which the filmakers decided halfway through that it wouldn't work and just said "let's have some fun."

The movie also has Tiffany Bolling, one of those so 1960's sexy movie actresses that triggered my childhood's fantasies. So that made it even more interesting to watch.

All ina ll, a fun time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Double Feature

Last week I bought a couple of old horror DVDs at Best Buy that featured old fashioned Double Features. Since we are in Hallloween season I thought it would be fun to see some not so classic horror flicks. So this weekend I did a Double Feature of " The Shuttered Room" and "It!". And I have to admit that it was a lot of fun. "Shuttered Room" is another variation on the old "who's in the attic?" theme. It features Carol Lynley, Gig Young and Oliver Reed. Very 1960's.
"It" is a retelling a the old Hebrew folk tale of The Golem. It stars Roddy McDowell in one of his many "strange young man" roles. It is totally ridiculous, but very entertaining.
The other Double Feature DVD I bought was " Chamber of Horrors" and "Brides of Fu Manchu". I'll leave that treat for later on this week.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

On vacations

I have been noticing that as years pass by, one's idea of a great vacation change. In my 20's when I had my vacation days I would choose wild places like Club Med(back when it was a single's paradise). I remember those vacations in Martinique and Cancun very well. It was all about the fun and the drink and the potential for sex. After all, Club Med in the late 1980's was a place in which there was practically no one over 30 there.

So, by magic, when I hit was goodbye Club Med, hello Miami. It was still a fun, sexy place, but certainly more organized and interesting than a simple resort. It was adult. Yes, it was more adult. I had grown a bit.

When I hit 40, I wanted to go to cities. So it was New York...museums. Good dining became important so going to cool restaurants became a must. Yes, the good life. Maybe catch a play on Broadway. Love the cities now.

After 45, well, I have been to France. Talk about sophistication. Went to Bordeaux, Paris, Normandy. Saw the beauty. Drank the good wine. Went to the museums. Sat in a Paris cafe and watched people go by. Heaven.

Now I'm going to a forest during autumn to simply watch the colors. Just that. To see the beauty of autumn after so many years of seeing it in college and not really appreciating it. And I'm looking forward to that. To nature, to beauty.
To a change of seasons that shows very clearly the change in me.