Hodgepodge

 

And so, the big debate is just days away.

The challenge for Trump, it seems to me, is to resist the temptation to point out the obvious: Biden’s mental and physical deterioration. To do so might appear “mean-spirited” to some viewers. The current president’s feebleness should already be clear to anyone who’s watched him.

Instead, Trump should relentlessly hammer on the sky-high cost of food, gas, and rent; illegal immigrants repeatedly allowed to stay in the country, and often raping and killing young girls; the increasing likelihood of a world war with Russia or China.

In other words, don’t make the debate about Biden personally, nor about your own legal battles. Make it about the destructiveness of Biden policies on we, the people.

 

**

 

 

I am conflicted by the raging debate over The Acolyte.

On the one hand, I am so, so sick of fantasy shows in general, and Star Wars shows in particular.

On the other hand, I am so, so sick of wokeness permeating Hollywood output in general, and Disney shows in particular.

My solution: Ban all fantasy-related projects for the next five years. This will punish the Hollywood woke and Star Wars fans alike.

And it will make me happy.

 

**

 

I recently mentioned the 1972 Wes Craven movie (The) Last House on the Left.

I called it Last House on the Left

Rotten Tomatoes calls it that. IMDB and Wikipedia, however, refer to it with the extra article: The Last House on the Left.

Which is correct? This, to me, is the burning issue of the day.

 

**

 

 

If you are of a certain age, you might fondly recall Creepy and Eerie magazines. Today, they would be called graphic novels. They followed in the spooky tradition of Tales from the Crypt, and new issues were a cause for celebration, if you were a kid.

And so it was with nostalgic joy that I discovered this Web site. It seems that you can find and enjoy most, if not all, of the old magazines. I’d say more, but I have to get reading.

 

**

 

 

As a longtime smoker, over the years I’ve been alternately bemused and angered by this country’s attitude toward the obese and toward smokers.

Fat and smoking are both bad for you, we can agree. But while smokers are banned, shunned, taxed and sent 20 feet away from the door, the reaction to fatties is … oh, well.

To me, this hypocrisy is simply a matter of numbers. While you probably don’t have many friends who smoke, you probably do have fat friends. Or you are fat, yourself.

 

 

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Annie Belle tempting David Hess in House on the Edge of the Park

 

If you were producing a twisted, psychosexual thriller 45 years ago, your go-to-actor to play the bad guy had to be David Hess. Lantern-jawed, dark, and muscular — but with a crooked smile and threatening leer — Hess resembled an archetypal hero who was just a bit … off.

Think what you will of movies like Last House on the Left and House on the Edge of the Park, there is no denying the power of Hess’s performances. When it came to playing villainous creeps, he had the acting chops.

 

 

It just so happened that he was routinely cast in low-budget films that are now more infamous than famous.

Long before the era of “intimacy coordinators,” Hess was humiliating female co-stars on screen by teasing, torturing, and — if Hess’s own words are to be believed — occasionally enjoying unsimulated sex with them.

 

 

In House on the Edge of the Park, Hess enacts a story-opening rape scene … with his real-life wife, actress Karoline Mardeck (above and below). Hess rips off her clothes, briefly exposing her full-frontal nudity.

 

 

Hess was then asked to: 1) simulate sex with co-star Annie Belle in a scene that he described as not simulated; 2) tear off the clothing of black actress Marie Claude Joseph, revealing her breasts; and 3) strip and torture a “virgin” blonde played by petite Brigitte Petronio.

Italian director Ruggero Deodato seemed hellbent on ensuring that viewers got full-nude views of every actress in the cast. This parade of female nudity commences after Hess’s character and his mentally challenged buddy turn an innocuous suburban party into a harrowing home-invasion.

It’s difficult to imagine the following scenes in today’s Hollywood, in which political correctness rules. All the scenes involve the physically imposing Hess:

 

Scene 1:  Hess assaults real-life wife Mardeck. Oh, to be the proverbial fly on the wall when this rape scene was choreographed by Mr. and Mrs. Hess and director Deodato.

 

 

Scene 2:  Hess tears off the top of actress Marie Claude Joseph, who is inexplicably bald. He later corners her and gropes her breasts. She is inexplicably nonplussed.

 

 

The video:

 

Scene 3: Belle seduces Hess by allowing him to grope her at the party and then showering in front of him. Eventually, they wind up in the sack.

 

 

The videos:

 

 

Belle, perhaps realizing her mistake in not contributing any crotch scenes in House on the Edge of the Park, atoned for that inexcusable error a few years later in 1984’s The Alcove (below).

 

 

Hess plays an excellent cad. Seems like he might have been one in real life, as well, judging from some of his comments about his notorious sex scenes.

 

From an interview with Hess about House on the Edge of the Park

 

Question:  “Out of the other cast members, who really sticks out in your head?”

Hess:  “Annie Belle, who played Lisa. She was just this crazy, little, young, and wonderful kind of actress that had no predispositions about what to do or what not to do. As long as there’s a sheet, let’s fuck! Literally.

“Anything that went on between Annie Belle and I, even on the screen, was real.”

 

 

From an interview with Hess about his rape scene with actress Sandra Peabody (Sandra Cassel) in Last House on the Left

 

Hess: “I scared the living shit out of her, man. She really thought I might — I started to pull her pants down and grabbed her tits and everything.

“Pulling her pants off, right? And then drooling in her face, which I did intentionally. It just so, it humiliated her. There was all of a sudden this look. It would have been easy to fuck her, right there on the set. I mean, because she really gave in.”

 

Scene 4: The only sequence not directly involving Hess. His pal “Ricky” assaults actress Lorraine De Selle, who later enjoys consensual sex with him. Yes, you read that right: consensual.

 

 

Scene 5: Poor Brigitte Petronio. Her character inadvertently walks into the home invasion. She is then stripped, groped, and tortured by Hess while other members of the cast bear witness.

 

 

The video:

 

 

House on the Edge of the Park predates home-invasion movies like The Strangers, but with several twists on the formula. For one, the villains do not target their prey and then break into the house. They are invited to a party.

The surprise revelation at the end of the film works well even though, in retrospect, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

But thanks to copious, often gratuitous female nudity and Hess’s amusing scenery chewing, this house party from hell is never dull.

 

Director: Ruggero Deodato   Cast: David Hess, Brigitte Petronio, Annie Belle, Karoline Mardeck, Lorraine De Selle, Marie Claude Joseph, Giovanni Lombardo Radice  Release: 1980

 

(Credit to AZNude for the videos)

 

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Falling Down

 

Once upon a time, and not that long ago, I despised Republicans in general and George Bush in particular. I voted for Al Gore.

Later, I cast my ballot for Obama and Biden — twice.

I once called Rachel Maddow, on this Web site, a “national treasure.”

In other words, I was far from a gun-clinging, bible-toting “deplorable.”

 

But today, I look at our stumbling, bumbling commander in chief and at the results of his time in office, and I see: outrageous gas, rent, and food prices.

I remember his daughter’s revelations of showering with daddy, and the videos of Biden’s creepy fascination with young girls.

I watch in disbelief as Biden (or his minions) uses the courts and the Justice Department to do everything from censoring to jailing his political opponents.

I see Biden provoking Russia, sending billions of our dollars to Ukraine and pushing Putin into a new war. If that happens, Midwest kids will fight and die while Biden’s playboy son snorts cocaine and waits for daddy’s pardon.

And I read about millions of illegal aliens not just invading the country but encouraged to do so by our president and his fellow Democrats.

 

And I think: I don’t care what you feel about the bombastic Orange Man. How on Earth can you justify voting for Biden?

 

**

 

And now for something completely different …

 

 

It’s one thing to see the president of the United States down on his knees. It’s quite another thing to see Sydney Sweeney down on hers.

 

 

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Hit Man

 

Netflix Nuggets

 

Filmmakers have this knockout idea for a scary movie: Let it take place in one of the creepiest places on Earth — the catacombs beneath Paris.

 

 

This is such a great concept that it’s been used twice in the past ten years. First in As Above, So Below, and then in the shark-movie Under Paris, now playing on Netflix.

 

 

It’s too bad that both movies suck — although they do have their moments.

One bright spot for Under Paris is its musical score. It was entrancing. It was pretty much the only thing that kept me interested.

 

*

 

Speaking of mediocre misfires on Netflix, we have the premiere of Hit Man.

 

 

Inexplicably, critics and the public seem to love this thing, and 2024 seems to be the year that we crown Glen Powell as The Next Big Movie Star. 

I don’t understand the fuss over this film. It doesn’t matter that it was directed by critics’ darling Richard Linklater. I share this dude’s exasperation.

 

 

**

 

 

Good point, Stephen. Biden wasn’t involved because, at the time, Biden was in the shower with his daughter.

 

**

 

Glen Powell proves in Hit Man and in Anyone But You that he understands the importance of attractive co-stars. Now if only he understood the importance of attractive scripts.

There’s no question that Adria Arjona is a highlight of Hit Man. She is hot. For more Arjona hotness, check out season one of Narcos, or her appearance in True Detective season two (below).

 

 

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Godzilla Minus One

 

Critics and moviegoers went wild with praise when this movie opened in 2023. It was a Godzilla movie for people who normally don’t care for Godzilla movies. It was a Japanese, relatively low-budget flick that put Hollywood blockbusters to shame.

I’m sorry, but there is a distinction between “Oh, that was better than I expected,” and “This is the best movie of the year!” The effusive praise, I suspect, was more a commentary on general unhappiness with Hollywood’s recent output than genuine accolades for a monster movie.

The plot:  A World War II Japanese pilot is twice shamed, once for failing to complete a kamikaze mission, then again for failing to destroy the Big Bad Monster when it first appears. When he returns to post-war Tokyo, the pilot inherits a makeshift family consisting of an attractive young woman and an orphan girl.

The human story is touching, but also predictable and marred by some typically overwrought acting. (I say typical, because a lot of Japanese movies feature actors who express emotion to such a degree that it seems comical to Western eyes — or at least to my eyes.)

But it’s a traditional story about family and redemption, which audiences seem to crave. And the special effects are well done. And the monster is fun.

Release: 2023  Grade: B

 

Would I watch it again?  Not likely. It would help if they cut 15-20 minutes from the runtime.

 

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by Robert B. Parker

 

When you think about it, celebrated gun-for-hire Spenser isn’t all that great at his job. In A Savage Place, Spenser flies out to Hollywood to function as bodyguard-helper to a TV reporter investigating mob ties to the movie industry.

In the end, things don’t work out so well for the reporter. Nor do they for Spenser.

But that’s not what Parker’s Spenser books are about. They are about the Boston tough guy’s self-deprecating wisecracks, and about his wry observations of people and places. What, for example, does a hardened egg like Spenser think about the “beautiful people” of 1980s L.A.? Will he charm his way into the sexy reporter’s bed? Does a bear shit in Beverly Hills?

I don’t think this is one of the better books in the Spenser series. The “white knight does his part to serve feminism” theme feels a bit forced. Also, the damsel in distress isn’t particularly likeable.

But the wisecracks are on cue, and so are the action scenes.

 

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Trump Musings

 

I don’t know if the left is terrified of Trump, desperate, crazy like a fox or just flat-out crazy. But they are throwing everything they have at the Orange Man.

A year ago, I would have said an assassination attempt on Trump was too extreme even for his worst enemies. I’m not so sure about that anymore.

 

*

 

The left seems to be trying what worked for them during the last presidential election: What they did back then — insist that the Hunter Biden laptop story was “disinformation.” After the election, admit that the laptop story was real.

What they are doing now — convict Trump and jail him. What will likely happen next — Trump’s conviction is overturned on appeal.

In both cases, Trump’s ultimate victory is too little, too late. Biden gets another term.

 

**

 

I inadvertently left one channel off last week’s list of YouTube “rabbit hole” sites:

 

 

This guy gives an Everyman’s perspective on everything from luxury hotels to obscure dives as he travels the globe. (His poor wife occasionally joins him; usually, she’s stuck at home with the kid.)

 

**

 

I watched the Sydney Sweeney rom-com Anyone But You on Netflix …. You know how the cliche ends: “… so you don’t have to.”

It was woke, derivative, and dull. 

But you’d probably like to see the scene where Sweeney gets her ass groped. So here you go:

 

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Miss Marple

 

We all know The Beatles. And James Bond. But to me, an unsung hero of the 1960s “British invasion” was Margaret Rutherford as Miss Jane Marple.

Movie lore has it that Marple creator Agatha Christie was not a fan of Rutherford’s portrayal, which emphasized comedy over mystery. It’s true that the four Marple films rely more on slapstick and buffoonish supporting characters than anything found in Christie’s novels.

 

 

But I’ve watched numerous actresses portray the spinster sleuth on television series, and I remember very little about them. On the other hand, rubber-faced, jowly Rutherford as Miss Marple made an indelible impression.

Which of the four movies is best? The critical consensus seems to place them in chronological order, with Murder, She Said (1961) followed by Murder at the Gallop (1963), Murder Most Foul (1964), and Murder Ahoy! (1964). To me, they are pretty much interchangeable.

 

Robert Morley and Rutherford in Murder at the Gallop

 

All four films are enjoyable larks. The jaunty musical score by Ron Goodwin, the supporting players including Robert Morley, Ron Moody, Lionel Jeffries, and James Robertson Justice (not to mention Rutherford’s real-life husband, Stringer Davis) — all of that makes me smile.

The mysteries are only mildly engaging, but they are mostly there just to give Rutherford and company something to do.

 

Rutherford and Davis

 

Release: 1961-1964  Cast: Margaret Rutherford, Charles Tingwell, Stringer Davis  Overall Grade: B+

 

With Lionel Jeffries in Murder Ahoy!

 

Would I watch them again?  Of course.

 

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Down the YouTube Rabbit Hole

 

It’s easy to get lost in the sea of YouTube videos. You get sucked in by (often) misleading headlines or provocative thumbnails and, while you planned to spend 15-20 minutes surfing videos, at some point you look at the clock and realize you’ve been swimming for three hours.

But not all YouTube channels are created equal. The following are channels I find myself returning to, again and again. They are listed in no particular order. I apologize in advance if I overuse the adjective “fascinating.”

 

 

 

Tim Pool is interviewing Donald Trump tomorrow. He’s come a long way since the day I watched him blow a gasket over the movie Cats.

 

 

 

Travel stuff. Fascinating.

 

 

 

A young guy’s interesting takes on history and what it predicts about the state of the world today.

 

 

 

Bill Maher’s podcast is certainly flawed. Too often he does 90 percent of the yakking himself, with his guest serving as a captive audience. But as long as the subject of the moment isn’t named Donald Trump, the conversations are often engaging. And stoned.

 

 

 

I have no idea what country this young gal is from. But she’s charming and it’s good to get Gen Z’s perspective on cultural affairs.

 

 

 

A young couple from Romania who exist in YouTube’s world of “First Time Watching” movie reactions. He is from Romania, she is from the Philippines. They are fun and I want to live next door to them. But not in Romania.

 

 

 

If you dig movie reviews from an intellectual, uh — goth girl? — this is the channel for you. In her channel’s comments section, I once accused her of “recency bias” and she blew up at me. But I still watch her reviews.

 

 

 

If you enjoy snark and film reviews that attack wokeness with relish, the “Critical Drinker” is your man. He’s been popping up as a guest on Piers Morgan’s show, for whatever that’s worth.

 

 

 

This guy is the anti-Critical Drinker. He’s sunny and friendly and loath to say anything bad about the movies he reviews. But he’s into old Hammer and Universal horror movies, which is a nice change of pace (no “recency bias” here).

 

 

 

This couple living at the top of the world (Svalbard) sucks me in every week. Their videos are often repetitive — shovel snow, do housework, shop for groceries … repeat, repeat — but I find it all very soothing and comforting.

 

 

 

Cody Leach is a very persuasive podcaster. His specialty is horror movies, and his arguments for or against a particular film are very convincing. At least for a while. Often, five minutes after I watch his latest video, I will decide that I completely disagree with his opinions. But never while I’m watching.

 

 

 

An enigmatic guy who reviews films primarily from the 1960s and 1970s. He does a lot of background work on each film and finds juicy behind-the-scenes anecdotes. But for some reason he has disabled his comments section. Too bad.

 

 

 

I can’t decide if this guy is a real redneck or just pretending to be one. Either way, I find his travel videos about America and Americana to be — you guessed it — fascinating.

 

 

 

There are many prank sites on YouTube, but I think this channel might be one of the best. It’s creative and who doesn’t find chicks in thong bikinis to be fascinating?

 

**

 

 

I’m not interested in salacious stories about Diddy. I just find the blonde bending over in the bikini to be fascinating.

 

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There are three reasons you might want to watch 1972’s women-in-prison flick, The Big Bird Cage. 1 — You are a fan of this kind of campy exploitation. 2 — There is an amazing scene in the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines, in which a mass mud-wrestling tournament erupts, pretty much out of nowhere. 3 — You grew up in the 1970s and had the hots for “Barker’s Beauties” on The Price Is Right. Especially sultry Anitra Ford (above and below), who modeled on the show from 1972-76.

 

.

.

 

Bob Barker ran into a string of difficulties with the show’s models, some of whom sued the “get your pets spayed or neutered” host for sexual harassment. But Anitra, one of the two original “Beauties,” was not among the claimants — possibly because she was too busy acting in B-movies. And often getting naked in them.

 

 

The Big Bird Cage (1972) is available in high definition and is dubbed and subtitled. We are supplying our own subtitles for some of the screen captures below. (Click on any picture for a bigger view.)

 

The plot: The plot doesn’t really matter. Anitra’s character is in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets sent to a Filipino women’s prison, where inmates toil at a sugar-cane mill and tussle with two chunky prison guards, both of whom happen to be gay men. One of them watches Anitra shower in the scene below.

 


“This is how I auditioned for The Price Is Right. Bob told me to go behind the curtain and, when it opened, to show him what was behind door number three.”

 

“Hi, I’m actress Candice Roman. I have a nice rear end, too, don’t you think?”

 

“Listen dude, I know you’re wondering why I just flashed my pussy. If you hadn’t noticed, I’m small-breasted. They told me small-breasted girls have to show more to get this kind of role. So now you know.”

 

“Another pussy flash? All right, how’s this?”

 

The Big Bird Cage videos: 

 

 

More plot: Meanwhile, revolutionaries played by Sid Haig and Pam Grier infiltrate the prison because, well … they believe that freeing the locked-up gals is somehow the equivalent of 1789, when French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille.

Like I said, the plot doesn’t matter.

 

“Does this look gay enough? Yes, I think we look gay enough. It’s 1972, after all.”

 

“Perfect spot for a mass mud-wrestle. Because … why not?”

 

“This wasn’t in the script, but who could resist a spontaneous roll in the muck?”

 

 

I would never be so bold as to assert that Ford is in league with Meryl Streep in terms of acting. But she does have a certain savoir faire, a smoldering tough-girl charisma. But not so much in the scene below, in which she’s gang-raped by three horny Filipino men. The men, no doubt, were grateful that there were no “intimacy coordinators” in 1972.

 

“Rip off the clothes of a hot American actress? Sure, we think we can do that.”

 

“Sure, I can take a moment to look between her legs. These American movies are great!”

 

 

The video:

 

 

Writer-Director: Jack Hill  Cast: Pam Grier, Sid Haig, Anitra Ford  Release: 1972

 

Anitra’s (nude) resume also includes:

 

Stacey (1973)

 

The video:

 

 

Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)

 

 

If Ford looks familiar to you, but you can’t imagine why because you don’t watch sexploitation movies or old game shows, you might have seen the California native sharing a bed with box-office champ Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard (below).

 

 

(Credit to AZNude for the videos)

 

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