Friday, July 12, 2013

POPATOPOLIS Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love B-Movie Bombs

Heya! As you probably figured, Netflix nixing the community aspects of the site made the original intent of this site impossible. So with that said, I actually have some free time and Netflix Instant in front of me for a while, so I'm using this space to explore one of my favorite finds:

POPATOPOLIS, dir. Clay Westervelt, 2009. "Popatopolis follows veteran B-movie auteur Jim Wynorski as he attempts to produce the soft-core film The Witches of Breastwick on a three-day shoot. Working with a tight budget, he focuses on his filmmaking philosophy: 'A Big Chase and a Big Chest.'" - (I like imagining super serious English professors writing Netflix summaries of stuff like this as a sidejob.)

I was thinking about Andy Sidaris when I thought of re-watching this, fyi. As you do.

By the way, this is the current IMDB score of the movie. You kids!

So we begin the film with our hero waiting in a parking lot. A woman was supposed to meet him for an audition, and she's 40 minutes late. This has to be a meter in Hollywood for success: You keep the talent waiting, you got the power. The talent keeps YOU waiting, nobody has any power and they probably stopped at a Jack in the Box on the way there. So I say that, but then Jim says this:
Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Wait for it...
... what's the lesson, Jim? You said nothing prior to that, and nothing following. The actress seemed to show up shortly afterwards, and the only feedback we see is that he may not be a big fan of her heels. So... is the lesson that as stupid as the chicks in Hollywood may be, they can keep the director of THE BARE WENCH PROJECT waiting in a parking lot? Is the lesson that the promise of big boobs can tame even the grumpiest of hairy straight-to-video auteurs? Loud n' clear, Big Jim.

WHATEVER, WE GOT ROGER CORMAN TALKING. You know how everyone trots out names like Ron Howard, Joe Dante, who's-his-face and Sir EtcEtc when talking about who Corman helped to start out? Well count in Jim "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" Wynorski in that list, pal. (How great would it have been if he married Mary Woronov? Then she could have been Mary Woronov-Wynorski. Say that out loud, if you do it right you'll sound like an old timey ghost.) 
So Roger tells us about this young exploitation kid hanging around and learning the trade, while Jim gives us a tour of his Home of Nary-A-Chick. He says he has videos everywhere because he doesn't live with a woman, but I am a woman and I have the same issue so maybe the problem is us, Jim.

(I did notice he had a poster for the young Jennifer Love Hewiitt vehicle "Little Miss Millions" in his room. I'll admit it creeped me out, until I found out he directed it! That movie came out when I was 9, so I feel I can now claim I was watching Wynorski since childhood. I am going to get laaaaaid.)

You know what I love about Lloyd Kaufman? Everything. Moving on.
Tom Savini is in every documentary ever that has any kind of tenuous link to movies, have you noticed that? He is, and he loves EVERYTHING. If I got to be Tom Savini I'd be in a pretty good mood too, I suppose. Well he's here and like all of us, he is appreciative of dinosaurs and babes in loincloth.

There is a sadness I feel in this film, and it's a sadness that isn't connected to "creative people having to hustle for money" or "creepy directors treating everyone like meat", although that is there. No, this sadness starts to lick at my heart when we see clips from Wynorski's early films like THE LOST EMPIRE, and the brightness in his eyes as he shows us the film posters...

We were so innocent then.
... and starts full-on biting me when the main thrust (HAHAOK) of the film appears. This is not just a look back at a fun, low-budget career; this is about a thing. This is the thing. 

This is the kind of thing where we're supposed to sit back and whoop, "Wooo! Maverick! Throw that fucked up shit together!" The people he's grabbing to work on it, however, are collectively dreaming about shooting themselves in the face. See, you aren't in college anymore. You are expected to pull nothing together to make a something that will actually turn a profit, because now you all have kids and need health insurance and have house payments. On top of that is a simple recipe: Three days + no money= everyone gets treated like shit. 

Monique Parent comes on, and ohmygawd I hope I look that good five years ago. Anyway, she has the exact expression and tone of a single mom who's sitting in a parent-teacher conference, explaining to a bad teacher that the reason her son acts up in class is because his dad ran out on them a few months back and she has to work 16-hour days and they can't always swing the money for the kids medication. In short, she's wary, tired but has a shred of hope that BREAKS YOUR HEART because sometimes lovely women end up getting used and the whole world is a toilet, ya know?

Her and other actors explain to us that low-budget films usually take three weeks or a month to film. "Then it became two weeks," Ms. Parent says. "Then they started shooting them in a week..." Oh boy, eh? Keep in mind, these are (nearly) full-length movies, not Youtube clips. Then her voice shakes and cracks a bit when she delivers this: 

You don't even bother to clean your room for her, do you?
What are you, a human? Gross! Back to Big Jim, who tells us all you need a Big Chase and a Big Chest in your movie and you're a winner. Smart then, that he named the movie THE WITCHES OF BREASTWICK. Witches tend to chase things, and Breastwick makes someone think both of big boobs and a possibly tasty breakfast sandwich so why isn't this guy a billionaire already?

If you're anything like me, you sometimes look at a massive list of credits on a film and wonder, "How do they keep them all straight? Does a director really control all these people? Where are my keys?" When I was waiting at the end of IRON MAN 3 I actually kind of panicked that so many people actually existed. Well Jim has thought of you and I, unseen chum, because he just needs a 2-person crew for this nonsense.

He ain't gonna feed nobody.

So he tells people to get "lights that light breasts really well" lol then to make up for the low payment they "get to be around beautiful naked breasts all the time" lol. I KNOW he's aping this up for the camera, but how much? Maybe he's pulling back? I always thought that while Russ Meyer was obviously attracted to well endowed women sexually, he seemed to tire of talking about them and was probably pretty cut and dry around them on set. Otherwise he'd overdose, and hate boobs forever. Don't let that happen to you, Jims- them boobs are your bread & butter if you had space in your kitchen for bread and butter.

Maybe I'm wrong, because it'll be an adventure! He's getting a cabin that can hold 12 people, and they all get to share! He calls it an "experiment", which would be fun if you weren't working for someone who seems to be completely disinterested in the people around him. Oh, also there's no food. Let's see how Monique Parent takes that news, shall we?

She's so classy. I'd be punching him to tenderize the meat, screaming, "WE CAN EAT YOU, JIM. WE CAN EAT YOU."
No towels are there, just two washcloths. Nobody knew they had to bring towels, so they actually borrow some from the people from the towns bar. They tell this to Jim's face while laughing good-naturedly. You hope Jim would laugh back, and say "I'm sorry guys, I'll take care of that." Well, he DOES laugh! Then suggests each washcloth can cover a breast, hugs the actress and says "Hey, nice to see ya." We don't see Monique in this scene, so I assume she's in a closet, putting the finishing touches on a Wynorski voodoo doll.

So the actors share pretty funny stories about Jim's low criteria for auditions while we wait for Stormy Daniels, who I appreciate having the kind of name where I don't have to Google to figure out she's worked in porn. (No judgements... except some of those names. Adorable?) When she finally arrives, she has the kind of complaints I don't really sympathize so much with. Yeah, actors get used to a certain amount of pampering- even with a low budget- but these are concessions that I think would be pretty obvious you'd be making. 

"I had to drive myself... and I'm BLONDE." I'm sorry, I blame this movie.
I'll admit, I am surprised that actors on porn films and low budget horror/exploitation flicks get driven to the set. I guess it'd suck if it was far away... but a three-day Wynorski movie? Sorry, Stormy, but half the cast has already licked the side of the oven for some kind of sustenance, so you'll have to work on your complaints a bit. Oh, there's no makeup artist? Stormy, you innocent baby unicorn.

I have two favorite scenes of this film, and of course one involves Monique Parent. (The other I love because it's freakishly uncomfortable, so stay tuned!) Here's #1, which is on the heels of us finding out one of the characters is a "hooker witch":

"So a couple of rum and cokes and the anger comes out, eh?" Julie K. Smith says. Then Jim yells, "Guys, we're making a movie back here, ok?"
Jim is one of those guys who you meet at a convention, and he seems cool. You could totally have a beer with the guy, if beer wasn't so gross but with such a fascinating history. He's the kind that can turn on the charm, and while he's no George Clooney, he's pleasant to be around. 

That all changes when filming starts. It's no secret that filmmaking is frustrating and tough, but when you mix a three day shoot with expecting things to run smoothly with a two-person crew and no money? COME ON. SERIOUSLY. DON'T BLAME THAT ON THESE PEOPLE, THEY'RE STARVING AND USING BAR TOWELS AND EVERYTHING SMELLS LIKE TANNING LOTION IN THIS EMPTY CABIN AND ONE MIRROR ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?
The actors back this up, saying he's rough when things don't go well. Some people deal with frustration by being cruel to those around them, and Jim is that kind of guy. Why take my word for it when you have it from the Penthouse Pet of the Month for February 1993?

Jim Wynorski has Chuck Klosterman hair. This came to my attention when he was throwing a tantrum with a phone. Sadly?, he didn't go into a spiel about KISS and baseball afterwards.
The best line of the picture pertaining to Jim belongs to Langston Ball, the sound mixer. "His directing style is sort of an angry Gandalf meets Gary Coleman." Haha, nice nightmare fuel there, Mr. Ball!

To give you a taste of how obviously sloppy this operation is, we have two actors in a small scene. Jim says "Great, let's move on." The camera guy says "Uh... oh, did you want that?" Jim never said "roll camera" so they had to do it again. Sound had no idea he had to record, either. Way to save time, Jimbo.

Ooo, a montage! It's of Jim saying "I hate it", "I beg of you", "Fuck it, here it goes", "Pop those tops" and "Here's something the whole family will enjoy." (You see him saying that to little Jennifer Love Hewitt too, right? He was snickering in his mind. Now she plays a lady of the evening on television. THANKS, JIM. I used to idolize her on Kids Incorporated and now what?) It ends with Julie Strain (Swoonsville, Population: Everybody) telling us about him screaming "Run you fucking monks, run!" on the set of!...

I just really wanted to post this, forgive me. 

Aw, now we meet his sweet mom... I can't say anything about the guy now. They even showed his childhood book collection! I can't hate on someone after seeing their book collection, unless it has (insert whatever thing you hate so you think I'm cool here.)

She mentions that he has "The Hungarian Temper", man... I bet Joe Ezterhaus has that too! I can't be mad at any of these guys. She's so cute, I love her. She just barely knows that her son is a director. "All he ever told me was, 'Mom, this movie is coming out. Don't go to see it, you won't like it.'" Cue clip from 976-EVIL II. Then we see a scene from THE CHEERLEADER MASSACRE, and it turns out when one of the cheerleaders calls her mom, they were actually calling Jimmy's mommy. "Have you heard? There's a killer on the loose!" So, SO cute.

She HAD seen CHOPPING MALL, calling it a "wonderful picture." That's my favorite Wynorski too, Mama Jimmy, and I agree. It's also an important piece of the Kelli Maroney Mall Trilogy, along with NIGHT OF THE COMET and FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH.

Then a hero comes along...
This is getting too gooey, isn't it? Well lucky for us, it's time for my other favorite scene! Here we find out that Jim is NOT sexist, he is an equal opportunity exploiter of people.

Joe Souza is our lead man, and has been affable and easy-going the entire time. Now he has a big love scene against a tree with Stormy Daniels, who is having a bit of trouble with knowing how much she's allowed to do and show. That in mind, everything is going fine until... Joe's face ruins Jim's spank bank image. He ruins it by having a face.

Jim sounds SO disgusted at Joe for not facing his head towards the woods that it's kind of hilarious. Stormy tries to take some blame off him, but to no avail. Jim wants a faceless dude in this sex scene, and Jim's gonna get it. Start from the top, which is already popped. (I probably would have teared up if someone talked to me the way Jim talked to Joe, so props to him.)

We talk a bit more with Julie K. Smith, who's known Jim for years. Her and Julie Strain note that he goes more softcore now for financial reasons, and while he can sleep at night, part of it kills him that he's not as creative as he once was. I believe that, because I've seen his early films and I'm good at reading faces; his face during this betrays an unfulfiilled, stressed out guy. As cheesy as you may think his early stuff was, it was fun, original, and you could tell care was behind it. He wasn't making brilliant stuff, but he knew how to make them fun. You can see that things like THE WITCHES OF BREASTWICK are made out of frustration and sometimes desperation, else it would have been done as something like a comedic short film with improv elements. 

The taste of sadness comes back when they show how clever Wynorski was with editing and using stock footage bought wholesale off Paramount. He was having fun being creative, and that came through on screen. Everyone is miserable making WITCHES, and no amount of celluloid boobs can detract from a bad time.

I like enthusiastic, passionate people to the point that I'm still rooting for Wynorski. At the end of this documentary, Corman says, "Jim is a better director than he thinks he is", and I actually agree. Nobody has any expectations for a movie called "Witches of Breastwick" beyond... well, breasts. If Wynorski was given a great script, money, time, a real crew and a seasoned cast? That would be even more pressure then a quick low budget piece. He could do it, though, but he may be too good at underestimating himself at this point. Also, maybe some anger management classes?

So he finishes his "experiment" on time and on budget, so I can really go jump off a cliff for all my jibber jabber.

Julie Strain lays out that there are only A-movies and C-movies now, and that we're missing the middle rung to the ladder. She didn't just appear in these films for a quick buck, she really cares and knows what she's talking about. Cards at the end announce a few of the actresses retirement. The end of this seems to shrug and say, "at least we have everything on tape."

Damn right.

Now he's making stuff like PIRANHACONDA for SyFy, and I think that's perfect. Push the man back towards the weird stuff... there can still be busty ladies in it, but don't make them carry the thing.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Brutal Sorcerer's Battle Evil Dolls

I have it when I bite my tonque and it goes into my typinq. Unrelated, Q is an awesome fuckinq letter.

I feel you, and I don't understand people that let their kids watch Child's Play got son/daughter.

I had to wait until I was 10 to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre, no fair.

Full disclosure: Train is so heartlessly gruesome I feel the need to share a clip to warn people away from it. Warning: not for the weak of heart!

Monday, May 16, 2011

We're Back! (not) A Dinosaur Tale

Wow, more than a year for an update! Well I'm back updating (at a slightly slower pace than I did before, however). If you enjoy please leave comments so I know this is worth continuing- I'm so insecure! Anyway, let's dive back into this madness, shall we?

Actually, the Super Bowl ad was the third movie. The 3-hour toy movie they're going to release in theaters is going to be Transformers 4, which takes off where #3, the prequel to #4, left off. Talking robot babies breakdance while using E*Trade, and Betty White (who transforms into a '77 Cutlass Supreme) teaches Shia LaBouf how to love and be sassy and eat Snickers.

Megan Fox actually has a disorder to stay in the Transformer franchise- as in she literally cannot appear in a non-Transformers movie. All the other films she supposedly appeared in were just sophisticated cardboard stand-ins of Megan Fox with voice chips attached. Sometimes I suspect Michael Bay just lacks the fuck giving capabilities of anything remotely sentient- mind you this is a pet theory of mine.

This only scratches the surface. His mom only liked the second in the series. Dad found the movies lacking but really enjoyed the pink paper version of the script; grandma came on board for the Goldenrod one. His older brother only ironically likes the toys until he gets a girlfriend (or the value significantly drops on the secondary market). His kids will not get to see this because nobody wants to have sex with a Transformers movie fan.

Hugh hopes crash hard, especially if you're familiar enough with Rob Schnieder's ouvere that you can refer to his movie as "Deuce B".

Your guess is as good as mine.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Temporary New Columnist... or Comminist??

Sorry for lack of updates, I've been downed with a migraine that just won't quit. So I'm gonna turn over the reins to Stefano Patriciano, famed (with waiter/actors, at least) entertainment magazine gossip columnist from New Jersey. I'll warn you know: his takes are longer than mine, but in his beloved breezy, dishy tone the words will just fly by your eyeballs. Take it away, Stefano!

God, don't you hate coming into movies late? Did you know in Vegas the Cirque du Soleil will HECKLE you if you come in late? I was so mortified I started screaming at the little ringleader man that sounded like 15 European accents mashed together, and had to be restrained and dragged out by Blue Men!

One ruined-suit-with-blue-paint-that-won't-come-out and one non-refunded ticket later I learned a hard lesson: don't walk around for two hours before a show drinking countless amounts of those giant margarita glasses. CLEARLY you had the same issue when watching Shaun of the Dead (I ran into Simon Pegg at a Wild Oats once, he's a big fan of ricotta cheese! Can't get into it myself.) Starting to watch a movie with "of the Dead" in the title and being startled that zombies are in it? That's like me walking into a Reese Witherspooon movie and being startled that I fell in love with love all over again!

Also, where the heck is the pun in "having a huge pole shoot straight through her"? That's NOT a pun. You're just trying to make that sexual, which offends and confuses me. Kind of like an Eli Roth movie, but with better dialouge.

I have never heard of this film before now, and I got really excited when I read the title. I thought they had already released a straight-to-DVD sequel to "2021", adding the "Supernova" kinda like when they did that reality show "Rock Star: INXS" and then "Rock Star: Supernova", with that surly Metallica bass player, sexy rotting corpse Tommy Lee and Dobey Gillis... oh, Gilby Clarke?.. who always makes me think of Val Kilmer if he was a pirate that shopped at Hot Topic, so I'm big fan of his!

It's like looking into a mirror... on Halloween, and you're dressed like Jack Sparrow.

Glad they shot a commie? Hon, the cold war is over, let it go! Hating commies is as outdated as a very recent Newport cigarette magazine ad. We've come a long way, baby! (OK, that's Virginia Slims but it's so inspirational you can apply it anywhere.)

"OMG, that club looks sooo cool!" Not pictured: the 90's, surprisingly.

Oh my God, what is wrong with you? I hope Diana Ross hears about this and takes a "wiz" on you on! (Now THAT is a pun, Shaun of the Dead reviewer! Learn from... The Wizard! Ho ho I'm on a roll! I love Fred Savage.)

THANK YOU! Critics, take a cue- it's completely fine to be adequate, bland and forgettable! If the cast is non-offensive, then that's very pleasant! I don't really get the reference to midgets- er, little people, but I'm with you for the rest of it. Imagine if all the movies you paid good money for were carefully written, acted, directed and made with a passion- you'd be exhausted! Sometimes you just need cinema cottage cheese, and by sometimes I mean 85% of the time.

Let's see this infamous Hightly Reccomen now...

Signature twice in the beginning? Alright... whit some real hot girl... prevs... what? This is a joke, right? Are all his reviews like this??

First sentence- one misspelled word but not bad! Second sentence- yes, ok, we know who you are.. Third sentence... sweet bippy, this actually feels as violent as the things it describes! The rest is... barely suppressed rage at his parents? He's so enthusiastic about the murders... alright, that's it for me!

I'm off to my good friend Cher's house. We're going to study her Oscar and figure out how to slowly turn her more and more into its image.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I Hate Haunted Reservoir Genies

The Dead Kids Fighting Rhyme would have made a MUCH cooler version of Kazaam. MUCH cooler. Can you imagine crying at the end of Kazaam? I mean with pure emotion, instead of relieved insanity or at the loss of your childhood innocence? The real one did creep me out and make me paranoid for a while, though.

Jay Sherman's gone a little pervo and monosyllabic or something, which is unfortunate since we already have our knighted reviewer of lusty incoherence!



Going solely from this review, I would guess they were talking about "He Blinded Me With Science: The Violent, Erotic Story of Bill Nye the Science Guy", a True Lifetime story.

Actually, nevermind. There's no WAY that would be boring!

Ok, know what? That doesn't mean you get to write a review before you see it. Nobody cares! You know how many movies are filmed/set in Brooklyn? It's not a rarity! I live in Las Vegas, if I went and saw every movie filmed here I'd HAVE TO CLAW MY EYES OUT. Stop making completely inane reasons to see movies that are dreck, you're just giving them money!

Ohh, THAT character- Forgettado DiAdequate? Yeah, he was great in that one thing! Always overshadowed by other actors, though, for whatever reason.

To make it up to this reviewer for having to suffer through dialouge and character development (yikes! Poor guy...) I shall keep this review action-packed!

*Pitchoo pitchoo!*

"No!! My partner!! He was 12 hours from retirement at his little girls wedding!!"

*Coughing* Avenge me, Antonio..."

(Antonio throws knife at passing Ninja) "Damn right I will, McCloud..."

(Antonio bites off then throws a grenade!! An ACTIVE one!!)

(Slow motion, running while carrying McCloud's blood, bullet-riddled corpse) "Whoooooa......!"

(Biggest, most amazing explosion ever, ninja body parts flying everywhere!! Antonio whips McCloud's limp, dead body around over his head like a helicopter and flies!)

(Antonio lands on a bikini island of hot ladies. He tosses the corpse of McCloud into the ocean. He lights his cigarette as he regards 50 hot, naked chicks.) "Hey baby. You look like a grief counselor to me..."