Tag Archives: Weirdness Abounds

MORONS:
When “Morons From Outer Space” Out-Moron Earth’s Morons
by Chris Hoey

1. Morons from Outer SpaceAll our famous speculation of visitors from outer space predict a superior being with advanced technology who will humiliate the human race despite all of our incredible advances. This fact is documented by so much of our science fiction. They are huge, they can read our minds, they know our strategies for defeating them even before we have devised them. We are helpless to compete. We think too little of ourselves. What if we’ve underestimated our abilities and grossly overestimated what has evolved in the far reaches of space. Just because the aliens have travelled an incomprehensible distance, does that mean they have to be smart? “Morons from Outer Space” looks at aliens not as a superior being whose advanced technology has brought them here, but instead it sees aliens as a discarded toilet seat that gets stuck in an unlikely current to cross the Pacific and end up on a beach in California.

2. Morons From SpaceInterest in life from outer space can best be proven by our love of all things “Star Wars.” Luke and Leia are international stars, proving that even in outer space, the underdog has a chance to make sure that truth and justice prevail. The film series sees no sign of slowing down now that Disney is churning out new stories that fill in all the empty spaces of the Star Wars universe – and it is a vast universe of advanced technology, oppressive powers and incredibly human values.

3. Morons From Outer SpaceH.G. Wells helped to paint the picture of the conquering aliens when he wrote “War of the Worlds.” The story of superior aliens bringing humanity to its knees rang so true with average Americans that the radio adaptation from Orson Welles sent panicked audiences into the streets seeking refuge from the onslaught.

The image of the superior alien wreaking havoc on humanity litters the sci-fi genre. Will Smith fights off aliens in epically enormous battle behemoths in the “Independence Day” franchise. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” examined the horror of the physiological advanced alien who takes over our cities by taking over our individual bodies. The terrifying scream from Donald Sutherland’s alien infested throat embodies the total and complete alien take over. Marty McFly even takes advantage of humanity’s fear of the technologically advanced alien in “Back the the Future.” Claiming to be “Darth Vader” from the planet “Vulcan,” he tricks his dad, George, into believing the walkman-equipped alien from another planet. Sigourney Weaver’s famous quip to the evil invader in “Alien” seemed to sum up humanity’s reaction to the impending invasion from another planet.

The alien invader has occupied so much celluloid that there are a fair number of great spoofs to the idea. Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs” takes every opportunity to poke fun at the “Star Wars” franchise. 1999’s “Galaxy Quest” pokes fun at the “Star Trek” series when a group of actors, trained in nothing important, find themselves saving an alien race in reality. These spoof films have made fun of the idea of the alien invasion film, but they do little to debunk the idea that aliens are up to no good.

4. Morons from Outer Space“Morons from Outer Space” questions our whole premise, and it makes us laugh at ourselves in the process. What if the aliens we fear are not advanced, but extremely limited? What if they made a wrong turn at Andromeda on the way to the store and landed on Earth. “Morons from Outer Space” answers “Star Wars” the same way “Airplane!” answered the “Airport” franchise. When asked, “are you from another planet?” these aliens do not claim to come in peace, instead they respond, “no, we come from our planet, not another one.” Humanity suffers only self-inflicted damage when it attempts to thwart the evil plans of this planning-challenged group of green men.

What if our imagination about aliens from another planet has led us astray. What if we’ve been underestimating ourselves? “Morons from Outer Space” both bolsters our position in the imagined universe, but it also points out how silly it may be to question our own advancements.

Watch “Morons From Outer Space” on MovieZoot.com here.

DON JOHNSON – “A Boy and His Dog”:
Acting Family Legacy by
Sheri Warren Sankner

1. Don Johnson Head ShotEveryone knows this actor’s tall, dark blonde hair, blue-eyed good looks, the smoky, graveled voice, and his self-deprecating humor. Known more for his TV roles than his films, Don Johnson is the man who literally helped put Miami on the entertainment map with his breakout starring role of undercover detective James “Sonny” Crockett in Michael Mann’s ground-breaking, ”Miami Vice.”

2. Miami Vice logoAfter four failed TV pilots, Johnson finally landed the role that would define his acting career — a gruff, hard-living cop chasing drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes and arms dealers on the South Florida coast. He even directed four highly regarded episodes, including one co-starring long-time love Melanie Griffith. From 1984 to 1989, Johnson’s character typically wore $1,000 designer suits over pastel colored cotton t-shirts, drove Ferraris, sported expensive Rolex watches and RayBans, and lived on a 40’ sailboat with a pet alligator named Elvis. Defining 80s television like no other show of its time, “Miami Vice” was famous for its revolutionary use of music cinematography, lavish imagery and popular music soundtracks.

3. Miami Vice Art posterDuring this peak in his acting career, Johnson also appeared in several films, including the critically acclaimed TV film, “The Long Hot Summer” in 1985, adapted from the William Faulkner novel, and the 1988 film “Sweet Hearts Dance” with Susan Sarandon. After “Miami Vice” ended he concentrated solely on his film career for many years, starring in “Dead Bang” (1989), “The Hot Spot” (1990) and “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man” (1991). While many films did not meet critical expectations, some have obtained a considerable cult following with his fans. During his career, Johnson worked with several legendary filmmakers including John Frankenheimer, Sidney Lumet and Dennis Hopper.

In 1996, Johnson returned to his first acting love, television. He developed and starred in the CBS police drama Nash Bridges with Cheech Marin until 2001. He played the title role of Nash Bridges, an inspector (later captain) for the San Francisco Police Department. In “Nash Bridges,” Johnson drove a flashy bright yellow 1971 Plymouth Barracuda convertible. In 2010, he appeared in the HBO series “Eastbound and Down.” He later was cast in ABC’s 2015 series “Blood and Oil.”

4. Don Johnson and Melanie GriffithJohnson personal life has been rocky one, checkered with failed marriages, sexual indiscretions, substance use, and legal issues. He was born in Flat Creek, Missouri, the son of beautician Eva Lea (Wilson) and farmer Freddie Wayne Johnson. He originally wanted to be a professional bowler, but after run-ins with the law at a young age, Johnson discovered acting. His big break came with the controversial off-Broadway play “Fortune and Men’s Eyes”, which was directed by and starred Sal Mineo. The play, with its realistic prison rape scene, generated significant press due to its subject of homosexuality in the arts.

After working on the stage for a while he ventured into films and television, starring in the sci-fi kinky, black comedy “A Boy and His Dog” in 1975. A MovieZoot watchlist film of the week, “A Boy and His Dog” is set in 2024 in an apocalyptic wasteland in the Southwest following WWiV. Johnson’s sex-starved main character, Vic, is accompanied by his telepathic dog, Blood, a “rover” that searches for women (to serve Vic’s carnal needs), supplies and enemies. It is based on Sci-fi writer, Harlan Ellison’s story. Even though the plot is stranger than strange, this cult classic ends up consistently on lists of the top science fiction films of all time. It is said to have served as inspiration for “Mad Max.”

Don Johnson with Demi MooreDuring the late 1960s and early 70s, Johnson had two short-lived marriages that were annulled. Johnson lived a bit of “Lolita” story with his love, Melanie Griffith. Her mother, Hitchcock “It” girl, Tippi Hedren, who co-starred with him in “The Harrad Experiment” (1973), gave Johnson permission to date her daughter despite the fact that she was only 14 and he was 22. When Griffith was 15, they began living together in a house in Laurel Canyon. On her 18th birthday, they became engaged, and in January 1976 they married for the first time, but divorced in July. In the 1980s, Johnson lived with actress Patti D’Arbanville and they had a son. He was also romantically involved with Barbara Streisand, with whom he recorded a chart-topping duet, “Til I loved You” in 1989. He even recorded his own marginally successful album, “Heartbeat.” Johnson and Griffith reunited in 1989 and had a daughter, actress Dakota Johnson, who was born October 4, 1989. He remarried Griffith in 1989, but they divorced in 1996 when she fell for Antonio Banderas. Johnson and his current fifth wife Kelly Phleger married in 1999 and they have three children.

Dakota JohnsonDaughter Dakota Johnson seems to have inherited the family legacy for acting, most recently appearing in the highly successful 50 Shades screen trilogy. She is known in the industry for her beauty, talent and professionalism. In 1999, she made her film debut in “Crazy in Alabama,” with her half-sister, Stella Banderas, playing daughters to real-life mother, Melanie Griffith. The film was directed by her stepfather, Antonio Banderas. 2010 brought her brief film recognition in “The Social Network.” Since then she has had many roles with some of Hollywood’s sexiest leading men. It is her sex-charged BDSM role of Anastasia Steele (playing opposite Jamie Dornan’s Christian Grey) though for which she is most well-known, appearing in “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Fifty Shades Darker,” and the soon-to-be-released “Fifty Shades Freed.”

It looks like sexual subjects are part of the Johnson family acting legacy.

Watch “A Boy and His Dog” on MovieZoot.com here.

SO BAD, IT’S GOOD
Andy Warhol’s “Bad”
by John Francis

1. Andy Warhol's Bad PosterThe impact of iconic American artist Andy Warhol on today’s art, film, fashion and music can’t be overstated. Google his name alone and you’ll get more than 2 million results. He has his own page on Amazon. In fact, calling him a mere “artist” seems an injustice. He was so much more than that.

Film theorist and writer Peter Wollen described Warhol as “A filmmaker, a writer, a photographer, a bandleader (if that’s the word to characterize his involvement with the Velvet Underground), a TV soap opera producer, a window designer, a celebrity actor and model, an installation artist, a commercial illustrator, an artist’s book creator, a magazine editor and publisher, a businessman of sorts, a stand-up comedian of sorts, an exhibition curator, a collector and archivist, the creator of his own carefully honed celebrity image, and so on. Warhol, in short, was what we might loosely call a ‘Renaissance man,’ albeit a Pop or perhaps post-modern Renaissance man.”

It’s hard to imagine any other artist living or dead with such an imposing resume. And Warhol didn’t just dabble in his many professions. For example, as a filmmaker he’s credited as director on almost 100 films, albeit many of them shorts or screen tests. But he did produce a number of feature films that became part of his filmmaking legacy, “Chelsea Girls,” “Heat,” “Flesh,” “Trash,” and his final film, “Andy Warhol’s Bad.”

“Bad” benefitted from a million dollar budget and a fairly known Hollywood cast, but suffered from a bizarre, over-the-top script and a neophyte director (who happened to be Warhol’s companion at the time). Critics savaged the film at the time (The Los Angeles Times film critic called it “morbid and depressing”), but it has raised its status over the years. It is a piece of Warhol art, after all. Warhol’s Brillo boxes and Campbell soup cans didn’t sell well at first either.

The film review website rottentomatoes.com gives it a 71 out of 100 rating, while IMDB rated it 6.7 out of 10.

2. Andy Warhol's Bad Carroll Baker“Bad,” rottentomatoes says, “retains its sense of underground credibility thanks to a wild story line that trashes every taboo in arm’s reach to create a memorably bizarre satire.”

Critic Dennis Schwartz, writing in Ozus’ World Movie Reviews, describes “Bad” as “This sicko black comedy is a near masterpiece in outrageous schlock shock.”

Directed by Warhol companion and film editor and Jed Johnson, “Andy Warhol’s Bad” is the story of Hazel Aiken (Carroll Baker), a New York housewife who, in order to support herself, not only operates an electrolysis service out of her home. On the side she also operates a hitman-for-hire business using only women, all of whom have no hesitation in killing children and household pets.

Because of the unsavory business she’s in, she has to deal with a corrupt cop (Charles McGregor), who wants her to sacrifice one of her hit-women and arrest her so he can show that he’s actually doing something on the job.

Enter L.T. (Perry King), a good-for-nothing layabout who wants to join Hazel’s hit squad. The bodies pile up, L.T. is assigned to kill an autistic boy and a crying baby is tossed out of an apartment to splatter on the sidewalk below and Hazel realizes, too late, that her bloody business has a high price to pay. As in art and other pursuits, Warhol liked to push the envelope.

3. Carroll Baker Perry King in BadKing and Baker, being professional actors, unlike the amateurs and other hangers-on of his other films, were concerned with the script (or lack thereof) and the freewheeling, improvisational nature of the shoot.

King, told the Los Angeles Times that Warhol “makes no effort to communicate his concept of the film, but it’s a strong concept. You begin to feel it. There is a short-hand among these people. There is a very special Warhol world view here and it’s hard to define. But it will lose its edge in the professional technique.”

King went on to say, “It sounded insane to me, but you know, she was absolutely right. If you’re working on an Andy Warhol film you can’t approach it like it’s a conventional film with a beginning, middle and a end. You had to forget about the character arc. This was an Andy Warhol movie. You had to give yourself over completely to that world. You had to embrace that world and one of the things you did was to improvise everything. They didn’t want to do anything conventionally.”

Baker told Le Cinema Dreams that appearing in a Warhol film it was “like working on the moon,” and King told the Times, Warhol wanted to make a film about “bad women and incompetent men.” At this he was wildly successful.

Watch “Bad” on MovieZoot.com here.