Freaky Fridays: The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys (1987)

Until this week, The Lost Boys had always been one of those film’s I’d claim to have seen, despite only seeing bits and pieces of it over the years. For the longest time, all I knew about Joel Schumacher’s 80’s classic was it had a part where a kid goes to a comic book store and a part where dumb teens fall off a bridge. Now I know it is so much more.

Not only is The Lost Boys memorable as one of the best vampire films of its time, it also launched a brand so popular it has its own Wikipedia entry. I am of course referring to: “The Two Coreys”, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, who became teen idols with the release of this film and 80’s pop culture icons. Not gonna lie guys, they’re pretty dreamy.

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Bro Busters

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call

It is a pretentious, emotionally entitled idea that a sequel, prequel, reboot, or remake can diminish your love for the original. Whatever that thing was still exists, unchanged (unless we’re talking Star Wars) and freely available to you. You know this, because I know this, it’s obvious. But it doesn’t feel true, does it? That idea that corporate money-chasers are taking something you care about and trying to cash in on your nostalgia hurts. What’s worse is that Hollywood is targeting exactly the wrong era and demographic for this practice of reviving films.

The Eighties were a weird, wonderful time for Hollywood movies. Many of the most creative, most “how did this get made” stories we love came from that era or as a direct response to it in the Nineties. And in the past few years, that decade has been absolutely stripmined for remakes. We’ve gotten new versions of Total Recall, Conan The Barbarian, RoboCop, Vacation, Red Dawn, Clash of the Titans, The Karate Kid, Footloose, and pretty much every horror movie, to name a few. That’s a lot of remakes! The problem for the Hollywood studios pushing these remakes is the fans of those movies had one advantage that prior decades of cinema-goers didn’t have: home video.

If you loved a movie like Ghostbusters, you owned it on VHS. You watched it over and over. You grew up with it. I know I did. And then there were way more channels on TV, and the stations had to always be showing something, so every once in awhile, you’d get to see Ghostbusters on TV. And then you bought it on DVD. And then you downloaded it. And then you bought the Blu Ray. And then you saw it was on a streaming service. Ghostbusters isn’t a warm, fuzzy memory for you or me, it’s been a part of our lives. It never went away.

That’s at least part of why the backlash against the new Ghostbusters reboot has been so severe. A remake is just totally unnecessary, it’s an attempt to fill a need that doesn’t exist. As for why it’s been so much angrier and louder this time than those other Eighties remakes, well, I think it’s fair to say sexism is a part of it. How much of that was manufactured by marketers to get people defending the movie is hard to say. It’s a lot of misplaced rage, because honestly this isn’t a movie deserving of such passion. I think this Ghostbusters is a fine comedy movie, but it’s not even the best one this year.

Writer/director Paul Feig and writer Katie Dippold set this story in a world much like our own, except there was never a Ghostbusters movie or TV series or anything. So, it’s like the zombie movie rule where nobody knows what a zombie is or even the word “zombie,” except for “ghostbusters.” We start with Dr. Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), who used to want to prove the existence of ghosts, but has settled for a career in more conventional academia. However, she ends up getting brought on a ghost hunt with her old friend, Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and her new partner Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). They eventually start a ghost hunting business, hire a ditzy secretary (Chris Hemsworth) and a fourth member (Leslie Jones) and end up saving New York City.

Yeah, the overall story beats end up being pretty similar to the original film. You can map each of the characters to ones from the original, but it doesn’t feel like the actors are trying to recreate performances. Erin may be the Venkman of the new team, but she ends up having a very different motivation and of course Wiig’s style of comedy is quite different from Bill Murray’s. I wish the movie had more confidence being itself, I was most pulled out when they forced references like showing the creation of the Ghostbuster logo or having lines like “Who you gonna call?” or “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” dropped into conversation like they’re normal things to say. The biggest departure is that the third act tries to become an action movie and kind of stops being funny. It actually introduces some weird consistency issues if you’re not too caught up enjoying the Avengers-style action and includes some imagery that seem designed to incense even more outrage from the haters… It is what it is, right Nancy?

Will this movie be up for a Mildly Pleased Award come New Years? Almost certainly. Will I still be thinking about it well into 2017 and beyond? Probably not. It was an OK comedy. I laughed and I did not get mad. As far as remakes go, honestly this is one of the least offensive ways to do it. There is a chance that this will lead to more female-led comedy and action films, which is good, and this cast is being embraced as role models for young girls, which is very good. If it gets a sequel, I bet it will be a better movie for being that much further out of the original’s shadow. After all, it may be impossible to beat the original Ghostbusters, but Ghostbusters II? Now there’s a film that could maybe actually use a second shot.

C.A.T.: Chuck Berry Is On Top

Chuck Berry – Chuck Berry Is On Top (1959)

The other day I was watching a video of Chuck Berry performing at the Blueberry Hill Restaurant and Bar in St. Louis in 2014. The legendary rocker looked nice in his satin shirt and captain’s hat, but man, it didn’t sound nice. Chuck more or less wandered around the stage, mumbling his lyrics and occasionally reaching down to strum the wrong note on his Gibson hollow-body. Then I looked up his age. Chuck Berry was born in 1926! This means he was still performing live at 88-years-old! Pardon my French, but that is motherf#@king rock ’n roll!

I don’t care if Chuck Berry today sounds like shit. The fact that he’s up there, living the dream, even as a deteriorating skeleton-sailor-man is the personification of rock. Hats off to you Mr. Berry. Now on to this week’s “Classic Album Tuesday” where I will be discussing one of Berry’s finest works.

The 1950s was an odd era for the “album.” Apart from jazz or classical musicians, most albums were nothing more than compilations of singles. The “album” didn’t take off as an art form until the 1960s, so most 1950s rock albums were a couple of the hits and then a bunch of covers or leftover junk. What’s special about Chuck Berry is he was a hit making machine. Seven of the twelve tracks on Chuck Berry is On Top were on the Billboard Hot 100 and there’s not a cover to be found.

Not only was Chuck a hitmaker, he had a presence. Few people were playing the guitar like Berry back then, with Bo Diddley being one of the few exceptions. So guess who also plays on this album? Yep, Bo Diddley. This stuff was raw, or at least as raw as you could get back in 1959. I think a great deal of credit goes to Chess records for making this happen.

If you’re not familiar with Chess Records, Chess was a record company founded by Polish immigrant brothers Leonard and Phil Chess, that over time became what Brownsville Station frontman and later music critic Cub Koda described as “America’s greatest blues label.” They even made a movie about it with Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess. I believe Mos Def plays Chuck Berry. I should watch it, but only if Mos Def duck walks. It ain’t a Chuck Berry movie if there’s no duck walking.

And these songs, what can I say? “Johnny B. Goode”, “Carol”, “Maybellene”, “Roll Over Beethoven.” It’s like the 1992 NBA “Dream Team” of songs. These are the songs that Berry built on a foundation of earth, wood and rock and roll. When I was taking guitar lessons as a teenager, the opening riff to “Johnny B. Goode” was one of the first things I learned. It’s amazing how much power Berry’s songs carry today and will continue to carry on.

Thanks, Chuck.

Favorite Tracks: “Carol”, “Johnny B. Goode”, “Roll Over Beethoven”

Stream Police Ep. 23: Monkeybone

Looks like Michael and John have come down with a severe case of “Brendanmania” in this week’s review of the 2001 Fantasy/Action/Adventure masterpiece Monkeybone. Listen to a couple of bonafide Fraserphiles express their admiration for Brendan Fraser’s most personal project. It’s time to get boned.

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Freaky Fridays: The Stuff

The Stuff (1985)

If you’ve ever stumbled across this blog in a drunken stupor, you know I love horror movies. So much so that every year my fellow bloggers and I review 31 horror movies in October. Naturally, some films slip through the cracks, this is one of them. The VHS box to The Stuff is an image firmly burned into my memory. Tell me, how could you walk past this tape without at least a second glance? “Why is marshmallow fluff pouring out of this man’s eye sockets?” Well past John, let me show you the way.

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Freaky Fridays

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to with either the 1976 or 2003 version of the film Freaky Friday, my deepest apologies.

Earlier this week I alluded to a new weekly segment at Mildly Pleased and the time has come. We’ve had many segments over our eight years in existence; Classic Album Tuesdays, Top Ten Thursday’s, The People’s Albums, Obsessong, Retrospecticus and The Vault. Let’s not forget my favorite yearly tradition, Shocktober, where we spend 31 days reviewing 31 horror movies.

Recently, I was contemplating whether I could extend my love for Shocktober to all year round. An opportunity to discuss not only horror movies, but all kinds of cult cinema. An opportunity to delve into hard sci-fi, 80s action movies, Exploitation, Blaxploitation, Christploitation, and maybe a few Beastmaster films.

Think of this as a love letter to the VHS era. Many of the movies I will review will be ones I vividly remember sitting on shelves in colorful cardboard boxes. In fact, the name “Freaky Fridays” refers to what my Dad use to say when it was time to rent a video on a Friday night. It’s not because every Friday we switched bodies… Or did we?

My goal is to carry this new segment all the way to Shocktober. Whether I will continue it come November 2016 is unknown at this time. Hey, remember how we’re going to have a new president in November? *shudder. Let’s not get too freaky yet. Stay tuned.

Rokk Talk Ep. 03: So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star

We all have a song in our hearts. The question is: do we all have a song worth hearing? Some of the celebs on this list seem to think so. This week, Colin and John talk about ill-fated heroes of Tinseltown who have attempted a transition from the silver screen to the bargain bin at the last Sam Goody in existence. From Shatner to Willis we have it locked down. It’s a party all the time at Rokk Talk!

P.S. R.I.P Alan Vega – frontman of Suicide – who is mentioned in this podcast. We miss ya already brother!

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