Currently Watching: CANDY SNATCHERS Blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome

 

The Candy Snatchers (1973)

One of the hardest things I find a film to be, is almost immediately engaging, exciting, and surprising. THE CANDY SNATCHERS is the first film I picked up from Blu-Ray Boutique label VINEGAR SYNDROME, and I picked it up because 1/it was given good reviews on a couple online outlets 2/ it had a stunning slipcover and 3/it was on sale.

I personally did not have high hopes for the film, it is not my genre of film. I don’t like extreme cinema, it is not my cup of tea. The torture/porn variety of cinema, just not for me.

I have seen the extreme films of Directors such as Miike Takashi, and I have seen their subtle films, and particularly with Takashi, his subtle films I find vastly better and more entertaining and well told, such as THE BIRD PEOPLE IN CHINA and THE NEGOTIATOR.

But I do appreciate crime films. So it is a tricky tight rope for a film to walk, to ride that line between telling a tale of criminality and not going overboard into atrocity and gore for gore’s sake. That said, it is no walk in the park. If you do not like challenging films, and films about and showing a certain amount of violence and sex and abusive behaviour, you will want to avoid this film. At the end of the day, you have to be the barometer for where that line is for you.

I spent the first 10 minutes of THE CANDY SNATCHERS with my mouth agape, saying “WTF?!!!” and I spent my last 10 minutes of the film with my mouth agape saying “WTF?!!!”

And in between that ending and that beginning, i was completely riveted, and impressed by the quality of the performances, and the adept, stylish excellence of the Direction.

The performances are all excellent, all the actors are great, but particularly Tiffany Bolling as Jessie and Cristophe who plays Sean Newton are revelations for entirely different reasons. When they are on screen they are riveting; Tiffany Bolling for her beauty which is honestly mesmerizing, and her performance which is galvanizing, and Cristophe for his performance.

 

“1973 was the Mt. Everest of the ‘MADE for TV’ years. It was a pretty stunning period. So bear in mind, you could go to the theater and see this film [THE CANDY SNATCHERS] then you could turn around come home, and you could see something like DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK or COLD NIGHT’S DEATH.”

—from the pretty compelling Audio Commentary on the Blu-ray by film Historian Nathaniel Thompson

 

It is a film that veers wildly between suspenseful, horrific, disturbing, distasteful, riveting and just plain strange, and even rare bits of awkward levity. I was doubtful, very doubtful of this inane titled THE CANDY SNATCHERS being a good movie, however now having just fished it — I’m hard-pressed to find a reason not to call it a great movie.

I don’t want to oversell this little known crime oddity from 1973, but if my reviews have not steered you wrong in the past, they will not do so now. Pick up Guerdon Trueblood’s THE CANDY SNATCHERS, this was the director’s first and only feature film. Great Gaia, what a debut! It adds him to that list of great one time Directors (such as Charles Laughton, Saul Bass and Patrick McGoohan) that you wish had gotten the chance to direct more.

It is a must own. And get it with the stunning embossed Slipcover if you can.

The Candy Snatchers (1973)

There is a lot of Negative in the World — This surprisingly made me feel great

There is a lot of negative in the world.

Particularly now, when seemingly the proponents of hate and intolerance have wormed their way into places of trust and power. From the police force, to the president.

We have somehow, transitioned from a nation that fought Nazis, that gave the lives of Fathers, Brothers, Sons, Uncles, Wives, Daughters, toward this pursuit of Liberty, and the dream of America; to now where the grandchildren and great grand children of the greatest generation, have put on the yolks of ignorance, and stupidity, and bigotry and hatred — have become the Nazis that, at great spill of blood, we pushed into the sea.

That’s fine. Nazis fell before, they will fall again.

What is not fine– is that you can not resolve a problem; if you can not grasp, or define, the scope and depth of the problem.

So a racist media, selling only fear and outrage, but never really concerned with resolving the issues they bring up (to garner ratings); they are concerned with profiting from the criminal and the caustic and the egregious, but never punishment or closure.

A racist media, which in many ways is a membership campaign for more racism; makes the problem amorphous, and too big for us, makes it an unchangeable reality, rather than what it is, a problem— to be understood, and worked, and fought, and solved,

Organizations that start putting into perspective the problem, specific locations, specific organizations, specific patterns, that tangibility of the problem, that definition of it, makes it something you can work. Something you can fight.

Particularly when we begin highlighting the ties between movements of  stupidity and corporations. When we start tracing the money and the history, we can then start attacking the finances of these movements of hate, and that is when you start having results. There are a lot of companies no person of color should be giving money to, just for their historic, and in some cases present ties to movements of intolerance.

If you are a person of color, or just a person of conscience, patronizing companies like SHELL and KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN, you may want to do your homework and add them to your “sanctions/do not do business with” list. Otherwise the bullet that ends you, or the rope that lynches you– you may have paid for. Yes, I have no tact. 🙂

Now helping to clarify the problem, that is not an ending, it is not even a solution, but by helping to define the problem, that is the only way to begin to work a solution.

I went to SPLC’s website, and signed up to be a member immediately. I already donate to NAACP, and EFF, and Catholic Charities, but I really, after an incredibly stressful day at work, looking at the SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER’s webpage, looking at the work they put in, looking at their hate map, and don’t take this the wrong way, but I felt— empowered, I felt better.

I don’t love the name, HATE MAP, it is to the point, but I think it gives these organizations the ‘bad boy’, fear inducing glamour they are looking for, call it ANTI-AMERICAN MAP call it TERRORIST MAP, and now you are painting these enemies of liberty with the brush, they would paint others with. Now you truly are defining them.

I felt in an age of fake, racist news, and public servants murdering the public, that  finally these — repeated failings of our nation, someone is taking the time to map them, to define — however rudimentary—the scope of the problem.

And God Almighty, give me a foe I can see, and a problem that I can understand, and that understanding is both lever and weapon, give me a big enough lever and I will move the world, to borrow a quote; that is how it felt finding the SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER and becoming a member. 

I’m going to be reaching out to them, because I think a Think Tank approach, devoted to resolving the issues of intolerance and hate and malfeasance in our law enforcement and elected officials ( I would love to see a JUSTICE or LIBERTY map, showing off organizations doing good, as a counterpoint to their hate map), is a great idea and can use contributors.

Do your own homework before donating, but heck you can donate for as little as $25, and just the good feeling I received from their website existing, is worth that $25. Do your own homework, donate, get involved.

And for people who do not like using credit cards or paypal online (especially with one time or new purchases), I can not blame you, I do not either. Do what I did, print out their donation form, fill it out, get a money order from the post office, and mail it in.

View the site here!

And if you choose Donate Here!

WEDNESDAY’S WORDS was postponed to bring you this post. I think it is a worthy substitution.

Thanks and enjoy!

And when you sign up, tell them HT sent you!!!

 

And if you found this post useful, if it made you breathe a little easier, or stand a little straighter, or feel not alone in the night. then do me a favor. Like, subscribe, comment, and share this with others.

You do that and in little ways and in big ones, we win. We win the moment, if not the day. And win enough moments, well who can say.

I’m going to keep shouting out people and organizations that I think our winning the moment, Come shout with me.

The silence of good men and women, is all evil needs to triumph.

So reach out, and make a joyous noise. Join me here, as we speak in these— Heroic Times. 🙂

 

Thanks and enjoy!

 

Currently Listening To – SICARIO and THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING by Johann Johannsson

I am currently listening to the score of the late, great, ‘left us way too soon’ Johann Johannsson.

I absolutely adore the compulsive and propulsive score to SICARIO, and currently listening to his completely different but completely as mesmerizing score for THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING.

What amazes about his score is it does not tread water, it does not overstay its welcome, or pad out the running time with filler. The score gets in, delivers its moments to you, and gets out.

Not a wasted chord, which is incredibly rare. These days a lot of scores feel like they are trying to make a minimum length, they feel padded. Not so with SICARIO or what I’m hearing on THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. There does not feel to be an extraneous or tired chord,

His style in its surety, and experimentation and power, is reminiscent of the film scores of Quincy Jones at his best, most notably Quincy Jones phenomenal score for his ground breaking IN COLD THE BLOOD, which hands down is one of the greatest scores ever made. And why the EFF almost 60 years later that score is not available on CD, (akin to the way the best films of Ousmane Sembene, CAMP DE THIAROYE etc, are not availanle on DVD or Blu-Ray – I’m looking at you ARROW and CRITERION) is not an oversight, that is a crime.

 

In Cold BloodClick on the image to pick up the album, the only way to hear Quincy Jones seminal work. It is a MUST OWN. 

 

But getting back to the scores of Johann Johannsson, which thankfully are available on CD, if you don’t own his CDs, forget just streaming compressed MP3s, buy a quality $50 portable player, get some decent headphones, enjoy the music as close to the way the artist intended as possible.

Use the links below… and put aside witch hunts and social media bs posing as law, and politicians using fear to further grab power and disenfranchise the masses.

Put aside social media weaponized to remove and demonize those who actually stood up to oligarchs, and fought for you the people.

You, the people, who are so easily stampeded by hashtags and twitter and face-book into eating your own (you butcher the dogs that defend the flock…for being dogs, unaware that they were the only things that kept the wolves at bay)…

 

Let’s put all that on the back-burner for now, and embrace music, that may just help us…think better, in a world where so few of us think at all.

Enjoy these marvels,  from a marvel of a composer. Use Spotify or Amazon Music to try before you buy, then Click on the images to order it in still the best format… CD.

 

Sicario

 

The Theory of Everything (Original Soundtrack)

 

Come back for future installments where we cover the below albums, and much more. And till then subscribe, comment, email, like, and support the links.

It all helps to keep this blog going, and a voice that is perhaps a little different…. out there.

 

Thanks in advance for your support!

 

Today’s Deal of the Day – Please click and Support!!!

 

Today’s 2nd Deal of the Day – Please click and Support!!!

 

 

  • Black Panther 2018- I hate the fact they only offer the compressed MP3 version on CD, and not a full , wave, uncompressed CD of Goransson’s award winning music. The closest they offer is an LP, and I am not an LP fan, LP does not offer the dynamic range of CD and is a degradation prone medium. I’ll get it for now, but I want a full uncompressed CD! Just for longevity sake. More on this in an upcoming installment.

1994 artwork

  • The Crow

1994

1997 artwork

  • Love Jones

1997

1990 artwork

  • The Sheltering Sky

1990

1979 artwork

  • Apocalypse Now

1979

1968 artwork

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey

1968

1972 artwork

  • The Harder They Come

1972

1972 artwork

  • Super Fly

1972

Under The Skin
Directed by Jonathan Glazer
Score by Mica Levi

 

Great Television Analyzed : Boris Karloff’s THRILLER (1960-1962)

THRILLER is a tv series hosted by the late, great Boris Karloff, that even for fans and students of cinema and television, is more rumored of than actually seen. So imagine my happy surprise to come home from a hard day of work and find the first season of this perennially hard to find show, available on the Roku Streaming Channel for free.

Very much an attempt to ride the popularity of Rod Serling’s TWILIGHT ZONE (1959-1964), THRILLER ran only two seasons, starting out as a crime/thriller series before drifting into pure horror. The show never truly finding its footing or audience, but is remembered fondly by fans of classic television.

After watching the first episode “Twisted Image” I can see why. WoW! As someone watching this episode for the first time, 59 years after it was first aired, I was absolutely riveted. Everything here, works, the cinematography, the direction, the performances, the writing, the undercurrent of sex, dread and desperation… I mean we have seen variations on this theme, in the decades since, and yet this episode  still manages to own every single minute of its 48 minute run-time.

I can only imagine how powerful this episode must have seem in 1960. To a generation just coming off of shows like LEAVE IT TO BEAVER it must have felt nearly X-rated. And yet 60 years removed from that relatively simpler America, the show somehow magically still has power, and is still oddly relevant to our world now. A world of desperate people, doing desperate things, in an attempt to find someone to hold them through the night.

Directed by the esteemed Arthur Hiller, from a teleplay by James Cavanagh, from a novel by William O’Farrell, this is as good a 48 minutes of television as you will find.

And a quick aside about Arthur Hiller, while his cinematic filmography is impressive (see some of his movies below) it is filled mostly with comedies.

It is his little seen early television work that is imbued with this seedy, nightmarish intensity.

Tobruk (1967)The Out of Towners (1970)Miracle of the White Stallions (1963)Man of La Mancha (1972)

Al Pacino, Dyan Cannon, Tuesday Weld, Bob Dishy, and Alan King in Author! Author! (1982)

Liam Nielsen, long before becoming known to a younger generation as a comedic lead, cut his teeth doing serious, often mirthless roles. And this episode of THRILLER is one such role.  He is great here, as is the rest of the cast, but the real draw for me is actress Natalie Trundy, her beauty and fragile madness is the spark, that burns the whole world down.

Just a phenomenal episode. I would buy the boxset of THRILLER on Dvd/BLU-RAY  just to own this episode. It is that good. I put it right up there with the first episode of the original ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS. Now as I mentioned not every episode is a hit. Every great episode seems to be followed up with two mediocre ones, but the series is worth having for the great ones. Try it for free courtesy of Roku, and if as impressed as I, use the link below to get the box-set, while you can.

 

https://amzn.to/2IjIrsF

 

 

 

Netflix Movie of the Day : FORCE OF EXECUTION

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Keoni Waxman’s latest Steven Seagal vehicle, FORCE OF EXECUTION is an odd duck.

It suffers from confusing, even muddy story telling, but despite that there is an uncomfortable but riveting modern gangster story being told. With an awkward unnerving schizophrenic melange of violence, martial arts, gun-play, sexuality, histrionics, and even a bit of humor, and sporting surprisingly solid performances; the film transcends its initial shortcomings to be an enjoyable and entertaining and purchase worthy film.

Joining the short (but growing) list of films I saw free on NetFlix, and thought enough of to own in a quality DVD or Bluray format.

FORCE OF EXECUTION is a film you will return to. Grade: B. Purchase your copy Here!

365 Days of Roku: Day 1 – Amazon Prime’s HEADSHOT

headshot

HEADSHOT-Needlessly convoluted with a purposely fragmented and confusing structure, no doubt aping such films as MEMENTO, there’s room for frustration and dislike when watching director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s HEADSHOT. However it is, for much of its running time, done and played well; and the central conceit such an intriguing idea, that it transcends mimicry and suspect storytelling, to be an involving film in spite of itself.

Stylish and existential, this is a very different crime thriller, that has a voice over (a film noir trope for this new age film noir) that is compelling.

The movie does lose momentum mid-way through, forgetting to use in any meaningful way or examine the interesting idea of the title character’s affiction, and becomes a rather ordinary and plodding man on the run film.

So a film not without its failings but one that has enough intriguing moments to transcend those failings, and have you interested in the end. Grade: C+.

Podcast of the Day: Agony Column interview with Walter Mosley!

Podcast of the Day: Agony Column interview with Walter Mosley!

A great interview by Rick Kleffel with Walter Mosley in full on brilliant mode discussing his new GIFT OF FIRE omnibus novels. Covers everything from Philip K. Dick to Hegel to Christ to creation myths to Darwinism to Jazz to the American Prison System. Listen to it here and thank me and the Agony Column later! 🙂

Subscribe to the Agony Column podcast here.

Recommended Writers and their most celebrated work: HUGH HOLTON and his Larry Cole Series

Proof positive I do this blog to educate myself as much as entertain anyone else, is this post on Hugh Holton.

I knew Hugh Holton was a high ranking, highly decorated Chicago Police Officer.

I knew he was a fantastic writer from owning and reading three of his books.

I knew he had passed in 2001.

I did not know he had as many books, above and beyond the ones I own. Given his responsibilities as one of Chicago’s Top Cops, that he was able to be as prolific (and going by the novels I’ve read, as consistently good) as he was, is quite amazing.

So without further ado, today’s Recommended Writer is HUGH HOLTON:

Police Lieutenant Hugh Holton was a twenty-nine year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. He authored several bestselling novels, including, Time of the Assassins, The Left Hand of God, and Violent Crimes. At the time of his death, at the age of only 54, Hugh Holton was the highest ranking active police officer writing novels in America.

1994. Presumed Dead
1995. Windy City
1996. Chicago Blues
1997. Violent Crimes
1998. Red Lightning

1999. Left Hand of God, The
2000. Time of the Assassins
2001. Devils Shadow, The

The following three titles were published posthumously, which is why they came as a surprise to me when researching this post. I’ve heard REVENGE was an early discarded rough draft of his, so it’s not up to Hugh Holton’s high standards. It’s something he would have tweaked/perfected had he known it was being published. So take that into consideration when reading it. It’s basically just an early draft, the publisher decided to put out there, so judge it as such, and not as representative of Hugh Holton’s usual great work.

2002. Criminal Element (Amazon – Alibris)
2005. Thin Black Line, The (Amazon – Alibris)
2009. Revenge (Amazon – Alibris)

I was turned onto Hugh Holton’s fantastic Larry Cole mystery series a while ago, and they are pulse-pounding procedurals and thrillers, grounded by the experience of someone who knows intimately the facts behind the fictions… he writes about.. My personal favorite of the three novels I’ve read so far is the juggernaut-like TIME OF THE ASSASSINS. In terms of pacing, and just keeping you racing till the end, it’s the strongest [the others I own are WINDY CITY, and VIOLENT CRIMES].

It was a great starting point for me to the excellent body of work Hugh Holton left us with, but I think I’ll now go back, pick up all the books I’m missing and read them all chronologically.

REVENGE, by all reports should not be considered part of the chronology, it’s something that (again according to reports) was not ready for publication, and was put out as a cash grab by the family and the publisher. It’s a curio, at best, and I would have less problem with it if the family had put their name on the novel(his Daughter I believe signed off on this version), rather than just Hugh Holton’s.

Being a writer, the idea of assigning sole responsibility to me, for something I didn’t have the chance to proof/edit… well that would bug me even in the grave. A writer’s books are his reputation.

And Hugh Holton has a well earned, and well deserved reputation as a great writer. Try the books for yourself at the links below! And tell’em HT sent ya!!!

The Thin Black Line: True Stories by Black Law Enforcement Officers Policing America’s Meanest Streets
Presumed Dead (Larry Cole)

Windy City

Chicago Blues (Mysteries & Horror)

Violent Crimes (A Larry Cole Mystery)

Red Lightning (A Larry Cole Mystery)

The Left Hand of God (Larry Cole Mystery)

Time of the Assassins

The Devil’s Shadow

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Pic courtesy Planet Preset

See more on this writer at SciFan.
As well as an informative interview with him, done shortly before his passing, here!