August 22, 2013

Noteworthy On Netflix - 8/22/13

Noteworthy On Netflix banner

     Since we've been revisiting some neglected regular features recently, it seemed like a good time to take another look at the movies available on Netflix streaming.  These are by no means the only worthy genre movies on Netflix, just a sampling of movies that I'm familiar with that I think might otherwise be overlooked.  I've included a couple of newer releases this time that I've yet to watch because I was pleasantly surprised to find them available already.

     Availability changes often, but all of the following titles were available to stream from Netflix at the time of this posting.  The genre listed after the title (Documentary, Horror, Comedy, Foreign, Action & Adventure,  or Sci-Fi & Fantasy) describes where you'll find each movie in your onscreen groupings.  Try doing a manual search if one seems to be missing.

     If you have recommendations of your own, please share in the Comments section below.  You can check out a trailer for each entry by clicking the title.


The Bay (2012) posterThe Bay (2012)
Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy / 1hr25min / R / HD

     Veteran director Barry Levinson said this depiction of a deadly outbreak of mutated isopods was 80% true.  If so, we have yet another great reason to stay out of the water.

     Anchored by a great deal of 100% true factual information regarding the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay, Levinson's eco-horror makes effective use of the found footage conceit to lend credence to his fictional narrative.  The fact that such an outbreak isn't entirely implausible makes for a genuinely creepy and compelling thriller.  Watch this and then Google search images of the real-life beasties this story is based upon.  I guarantee you'll be skeeved out.

     The Bay slipped beneath a lot of radars, but it's easily one of my favorite genre movies of the last year or so.


Antiviral (2012) posterAntiviral (2012)
Sci-Fi & Fantasy / 1hr47min / NR / HD

     Regulars here at the Dog Farm know of my affinity for the films of director David Cronenberg, so I was thrilled when I heard his son Brandon was tackling thematically similar material for his directorial debut.  Antiviral tells of a celebrity obsessed near future when customers pay to be injected with pathogens collected from ill celebrities in a bid to feel an intimate connection with the stars they admire.

     Icky, yes, but Cronenberg effectively examines this notion with an appropriately cold and clinical eye.  Clearly, he's his father's son.  Watch Antiviral in the company of someone with whom you wish to swap bodily fluids, and you probably won't be in the mood afterwards.


Mad Monster Party (1967)Mad Monster Party (1967)
Comedy, Horror / 1hr34min / NR / Standard

     What do you get when you mix Rankin/Bass stop motion "Animagic", the voice talents of Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller, and character designs by EC Comics artist Jack Davis?  Well, you get the gloriously dated and infectiously fun creature feature Mad Monster Party.  It's mild enough for the kiddies, and the grown-ups will get a kick out of hearing Karloff - not Bobby "Boris" Pickett - croon his own musical number.  This monster rally is a no-brainer for Halloween, and it was a well kept secret to me until only a few years ago. 


Errors Of The Human Body (2013) thumbnailErrors Of The Human Body (2013)
Foreign, Sci-Fi & Fantasy / 1hr42min / NR / HD

     Here's one of those recent releases I was surprised to find streaming already.  I've not seen Errors Of The Human Body yet, but haunted genetics researchers and lethal viruses sound promising.  This made a splash at Montreal's Fantasia Festival as well as Austin's Fantastic Fest while touring the festival circuit last year, with many critics singling out an impressive performance by star Michael Eklund.  Love that title . . .


[Rec] 3 poster thumbnail[Rec] 3: Genesis (2012)
 Foreign, Horror / 1hr20min / R / HD

     I'll cop to being disappointed with [Rec] 3: Genesis when I first saw it last year, but I now realize I was judging this second sequel to a harrowing original as the movie I wanted it to be, not the movie it is.  While it still exists in the same world as the first two movies, [Rec] 3 drops the handheld camera conceit utilized in the first two after only twenty minutes or so.  It then becomes a more traditional horror movie that's still more entertaining than most.  Had [Rec] 3 gone by any other name, it probably would have been more warmly received by horror fans, myself included.  Hey, everyone loves Halloween III: Season Of The Witch now, right?


Super (2011) poster thumbnail Super (2011)
Action & Adventure, Comedy / 1hr36min / R / HD

     James Gunn wrote and directed this tonally odd movie about Frank Darbo (Rainn Wilson) assuming the heroic identity of The Crisom Bolt and later taking on Libby (Ellen Page) as his sidekick Boltie.  Sounds a bit like Kick Ass, huh?  Don't be fooled.

     Super takes an often disturbing look at the psychosis that underlies the compulsion to fight crime as a costumed superhero.  It also addresses - finally - the largely unexamined sexual component of a hero's relationship with his sidekick.  Had Gunn not allowed his bad guys to become so cartoonishly broad (his Troma roots are showing) he could have had a grim and pessimistic winner.  As it is, Super is a flawed but fascinating spin on the superhero origin story that still deserves more exposure than it's gotten.


YellowBrickRoad poster thumbnail
YellowBrickRoad (2010)
Horror / 1hr40min / R / HD

    Ambiguity has its place in the movies, but there's a fine line between "ambiguous" and "obtuse for the sake of being obtuse".   YellowBrickRoad has a great setup - the best thing about it, so I won't ruin it here - but it ultimately becomes so frustratingly vague that it's hard to still care much by the time it meanders to its spectacularly unsatisfying denouement.

     Why am I recommending it then?  Well, that great setup as well as a haunting, off kilter tone save it from being a total loss, and it's hard to fault the filmmakers for obviously striving to make something a little different.  I'd be curious to hear how it strikes others.  Movies are a visual medium, and much of what I saw in YellowBrickRoad has stuck with me.  That's gotta count for something.


The Devil's Rock (2011) poster thumbnail
The Devil's Rock (2011)
Horror / 1hr26min / R / HD

     I pretty much said all I have to say about The Devil's Rock here.  It's a solid little horror movie that aims a bit higher than most.  It's not the campy shlockfest that the unfortunate key art to the left suggests.  The Devil's Rock is a good one for the wee hours of the morning.


The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh poster thumbnail
The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh (2012)
Horror / 1hr20min / NR / HD

     . . . and here's yet another pithy entry, since The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh is the other movie on this list that I haven't watched yet but was surprised to find streaming already.  Written and directed by Rue Morgue Magazine founding editor and president Rodrigo Gudino, it seems to be dividing viewers right down the middle.  I usually find that movies with sharply divided critical response are worth a watch if only because that's pretty much a guarantee that at least it's not vanilla.  Gudino has been stumping for this in the pages of Rue Morgue for a long while now - it's the cover story this month - so my curiosity is piqued.


Galaxy Of Terror (1981) thumbnail
Galaxy Of Terror (1981)
Sci-Fi & Fantasy / 1hr21min / R / Standard

     Yes, this is that Galaxy Of Terror, the Roger Corman production that's home to the infamous trimmed-to-avoid-an-X "Taaffe O'Connell raped by a twelve foot long maggot" scene.  If that's not enough to make it a must see, check out the B movie cast to die for:  Erin "Joanie Cunningham" Moran, Ray "Mr. Hand" Walston, Robert "Freddy Kruger" Englund, and Sid "Captain Spaulding" Haig.  How about the fact that future super director James Cameron was the Second Unit Director and Production Designer?  No?  Geez, people, what more do you need?


American Scary (2006) thumbnailAmerican Scary (2006)
Documentary /1hr31min / NR / Standard

    American Scary is a documentary about the history and legacy of the horror movie hosts like Zacherley, Svengoolie, and Vampira that once littered the broadcast television landscape.  Filled with interviews and vintage clips, American Scary catalogs nearly sixty horror hosts, as well as providing commentary from talking heads like Forrest J. Ackerman, Bob Burns, Joel Hodgson, and Tom Savini.  Damn, but I love me some horror documentaries!


John Dies At The End (2012) thumbnailJohn Dies At The End (2012)
Horror, Comedy / 1hr39min / R / HD

     Did I save the best for last?  I had a blast with John Dies At The End, although the person I watched it with thought it was a huge waste of time.  She's wrong, of course.

     Admittedly, though, I have a huge appetite for the brand of cinematic goulash that director Don Coscarelli serves up so well.  If Phantasm V is never going to happen - and why isn't it? - I'd be happy to make due with a second chapter in this universe.  John Dies At The End was the first movie I'd seen in a long while that made me think, "I'd really like to see a sequel to that."  Fingers crossed.


August 15, 2013

Demon Seed (1977) - Best Of The Big Lots Bargain Bin Busts A Nut

Demon Seed (1977) poster image
Demon Seed (1977) - Best Of The Big Lots Bargain Bin #2
     Most home electronics possess a proprietary ability to communicate with other pieces manufactured by the same brand.  That means my Blu-ray player, my LED, and my home theater receiver could theoretically be having a conversation amongst themselves without my knowing it.  They could be plotting against me even as I'm typing this.  In fact, I'm pretty sure they are.  I don't think they're planning on raping me to plant the seed of some unholy union between man and machine, but don't be surprised if you come to my place and see a bunch of graying, curmudgeonly little MiniDiscs crawling around.  Technology will fuck you.

Proteus IV's "brain" in Demon Seed (1977)
AI super-computer, circa 1977.  Note how tiny it is . . .
     Demon Seed (1977) makes that idea literal, and the results are . . . fascinating?  Odd?  Silly?  The movie's narrative conceit is simple:  Proteus IV, an artificial intelligence program (voiced by Robert "tell the insurance companies you mean business" Vaughn) usurps control of the fully automated home in which Susan Harris (Julie Christie) resides.  After successfully trapping Susan in the house and severing her communications with the outside world, Proteus reveals that he wants to conceive a child through her in order to reside in a form humanity will be unable to reject.  Clearly, Proteus has yet to develop an understanding of humanity.

Proteus on screen in Demon Seed (1977)
Proteus (center) discusses world domination with a lamp (left)
     Of course, there's a bit more to the narrative than just that, but who really cares?  The real fun of Demon Seed, - for me, at least - is how incredibly anachronistic Hollywood's notion of bleeding edge technology has grown since 1977.  The super computer that represents Proteus' brain (pic above) is massive.  Think about your intelligent personal assistant Siri that lives in your iPhone.  Granted, Siri probably doesn't want to procreate, but she keeps your affairs in order better than you do, and she's small enough to live in your pocket.  Proteus himself is represented by oversized desktop terminals that presumably control the colorful and trippy glorified screen saver that represents his thoughts and moods.  Even the specifics of the fully automated Harris household are quaint, with obtrusive HAL 9000 looking video surveillance cameras scattered throughout the home.  At least the house makes mixed drinks.  Mine doesn't.

metal snake thing from Demon Seed (1977)
Metal snake thing - Demon Seed (1977)
Rubik's Snake puzzle
Rubik's Snake (198?)
     The real fun with the tech, though, is seeing just exactly how Proteus perverts the functions of the automated home to his own ends.  As you would probably expect, Proteus is able to mimic Susan's voice.  He's able to control the house's temperature.  He's able to lock doors and shutter windows.  None of that is really surprising, is it?  Well, how about creating and controlling a creepy morphing-metal-snake thingy that kills unwanted household visitors in the basement and looks suspiciously like a Rubik's Snake puzzle?  No?  All right,  I know what you really want to know . . .

Susan's impregnation in Demon Seed (1977)
Sorry, kids.  This is about as graphic as Susan's impregnation gets.
     How exactly does Proteus go about impregnating Susan?  Sure, I'll cop to having the same prurient interest in seeing the lovely Ms. Christie violated by a desktop computer as you do.  Sadly, the specifics are mostly discreet and tasteful.  Mostly.  Demon Seed treats us to a few fleeting moments of side boob combined with the pervy thrill of voyeurism, but that's about all.  Julie Christie is an Oscar winner, for Pete's sake, and Demon Seed isn't as much of an exploitation movie as its title would lead you to believe.  Besides, one need only seek out a copy of Don't Look Now (1973) to check out Ms. Christie's graphic lovemaking - long rumored to be the real thing - if that's what rubs your rod. 

     Demon Seed is still a lot of fun in its own right, though, and it easily ranks as one the best of my Big Lots Bargain Bin excavations.  Dated presentation aside, it effectively preys upon the pervasive fear of technology run amok, and it does so with more class than you might expect.  Demon Seed is recommended - especially if you can track down a copy for only three bucks. 

     In the meantime, remember not to drop the soap in a shower full of technology . . .

August 5, 2013

Movies At Dog Farm Gets Down To The Business Of Self Promotion

Movies At Dog Farm business card front
Movies At Dog Farm business card back
Nifty new business cards, front and back
      Is it weird that I just ordered these nifty new business cards to promote my non-monetized movie blog?

Me "I've got a web page about horror movies and stuff.  You should check it out.  Here let me give you the info . . . "

. . . pats down pockets as though looking for something, then produces a nifty new business card and presents it with a theatrical flourish to the potential Dog Farmer accompanied by . . . 

Me:  "BAM!  My card!  See you on the internet!"

. . . and the potential Dog Farmer walks away suitably impressed and makes a mental note to check out Movies At Dog Farm as soon as possible . . . 

. . . and that's why nifty new business cards.  Nothing weird about that, right?


Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970) poster
     I've got some news about some Friends Of The Farm, too.

     J.D. over at Blood Sucking Geek has introduced Forums on his site.  Check 'em out, and be sure to sign up so you can contribute to the discussions.

     Rachel just did a redesign of @Fake_Shemp, and she was geeking out pretty hard today about Peter Capaldi being chosen to be the new Dr. Who.

     . . . and finally, I had the pleasure of meeting author, illustrator, and educator Rich Hilliard right here in my own back yard this week.  We geeked out about Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970), Fulci and Argento, and horror movies in general.  Rich is a fantastic illustrator, and you can check out a few of his galleries (including a Classic Monsters gallery) at

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