Archive for November, 2011

Ken Russell reported dead

November 28, 2011

Ken Russell reported dead

You often hear about the idea of a director being an artist.

Ken Russell defined that.

You can watch a minute of a Ken Russell movie and recognize his hand, his eye, his heart, and his mind.

Like Kubrick, Cronenberg, and de Palma, you know you are seeing his vision, not yours. With Russell, you may be simultaneously drawn in and repulsed. It’s visceral and intellectual at the same time.

I sometimes suggest a marathon of the works of a fallen filmmaker, but in this case, I wouldn’t suggest more than a movie in a day…maybe in a week. You need time to process one before moving on to another.

If you do want to take that journey, here are a few essentials:

The Devils (1971)

Oliver Reed (an elemental force himself) and Vanessa Redgrave star in this R-rated vaguely historical drama about Cardinal Richelieu’s literal witch hunt to destroy Reed’s Grandler.

Tommy (1975)

The Who’s rock opera is certainly best experienced purely aurally. This version, though, is so over the top it’s an experience in its own right. Not only does it start The Who, but features Elton John, Tina Turner…and once again, Oliver Reed.

Altered States (1980)

When people refer to a “trippy” movie, this is still one of the most mentioned. William Hurt stars in a movie based on Paddy Chayefsky’s novel about a research scientist exploring the human mind.

The Lair Of The White Worm (1988)

Hugh Grant (yes, that Hugh Grant), Amanda Donohoe, and Catherine Oxenberg star in Russell’s own adaptation of a Bram Stoker (Dracula) work. Russell’s work as a screenwriter may not be sufficiently recognized, due to his uniqueness as a director.

Other notable works by Ken Russell include: The Boy Friend (a 1920s musical starring Twiggy); Lisztomania (Roger Daltrey as Franz Liszt); Gothic (Natasha Richardson and Gabriel Byrne in a movie about Mary Shelley); and Mindbender, a TV biography of Uri Geller.

Good-bye, Ken Russell…we may not have always lived in the same world, but this one will miss you.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Review Storm #1

November 22, 2011

Review Storm #1

What’s a “Review Storm”? It’s like piloting your pop culture spaceship through an asteroid storm…a whole bunch of little things hitting you at once. 🙂

I consume a great deal of data, partially because I work better when something else is happening in the room. That may be something on TV, or music, or a conversation. I write faster and get more done that way. That’s a problem for me when I go into work (as opposed to doing work stuff on, say, the weekend). If I’m in a room with other people, I don’t want to put on headphones, but many of them like things quiet. I’m much less productive in that situation.

As an educator, I know that’s not true for everybody…my experience tells me that it’s about fifteen percent of people who actually get more done in a noisy environment…and a higher percentage of people think they do. 😉

So, here are some quick reviews. This first bunch mostly covers things I’ve seen on Pub-D-Hub on my Roku, but as public domain titles, you can find them other places, notably I’ve also provided links to them, so you can watch them free online.


The Amazing Transparent Man

It’s a simple sci fi noir. about a safecracker broken out of the joint by an ex-military man who is forcing a scientist to develop a process to create an army of invisible soldiers. Not surprisingly, the major’s plans don’t quite work out.

The Ape

Boris Karloff never phoned in a role in his life. This is one of those where you feel he is trapped by the material. He plays a sweet-hearted doctor trying to cure a plucky young woman’s polio. As is often the case in these movies, the materials for the cure can’t be gotten over the counter…that, and an escaped circus gorilla, complicate the non-clinical trial.

The Ape Man

Another Universal horror superstar, Bela Lugosi, needs another unorthodox cure. In this case, Lugosi follows the advice of “physician, heal thyself”…it’s a good thing, because there aren’t that many specialists out there in reversing your partial transformation into an ape. A gorilla features in this one, too…you could watch this one and the one above as a “mad scientist needs spinal fluid as a cure with a gorilla on the side” double feature.

Assignment: Outer Space

A reporter assigned to a space flight is seen as a “parasite” by the crew…no, no, not in an Alien way…they just don’t respect him. When a crisis arises, they have to work together.

The Astral Factor

This is a weird little movie from 1976. You get a couple of TV stars, Stefanie Powers and Robert Foxworth, and a killer who has studied in his cell to develop psychic abilities. The script seems to confuse astral projection with being invisible, and the killer goes on a rampage. Foxworth (The Questor Tapes, Falcon Crest) is the world weary cop trying to stop him. Powers (Hart to Hart, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.) has fun as his flirty girlfriend. We also get some very brief nudity from both of them.

The Atomic Brain

This one deserves its place in the pantheon of bad and strange movies. “Bad” here would be a societal judgement…I like a movie with imagination…and no money to carry it out. This one has an older woman who wants to have her brain transplanted into a younger woman…not a willing one, of course. A selection of girls think they are working for her…and the experimentation includes using a cat’s brain. Some of you will be reminded of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.

Atomic Rulers

If you’ve never seen a movie with the Japanese superhero Starman, you’ve been missing out. He’s sent from the Emerald Planet to prevent space criminals from causing an atomic war on Earth. The right word for Starman might be stalwart…he’s never particularly concerned. It doesn’t hurt that bullets bounce off him, but in a fight, he just sort of tosses people around and laughs. I’d seen it decades ago, and it was worth revisiting. For more Starman, see Attack from Space. With the origin story over in the first movie, we see a lot more action…and more shots of Starman posing in his tights and laughing during fights. He also gets kid sidekicks and the action moves off our planet.

Atomic Submarine

It starts out as a fairly serious Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (the movie, not the series) type movie. There’s interpersonal drama, of the tough guys arguing variety. Then they encounter the solution to what’s been sinking ships…and figure out how to defeat it in one of those “why didn’t evolution solve this problem first?” moments that happens in movies.

Attack of the Crab Monsters

This is a really strange movie from Roger Corman and screenwriter Charles B. Griffith (Death Race 2000, Little Shop of Horrors). Russell Johnson, the Professor on Gilligan’s Island, has a key role. The title may make it sound simple, but was often the case with Corman, there is a key idea here that ricochets it off into something different.

his post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Roku owners: get Pub-D-Hub free

November 13, 2011

Roku owners: get Pub-D-Hub free

Do you already own a  Roku box? If so, this is an easy one.

There is a free channel available for the Roku called Pub-D-Hub. “Pub D”, in this case, is short for “public domain”.  Those are works which are not under copyright protection…they are owned by the public.

I’ve seen some of these before…I remember enjoying the Japanese Star Man movies (Atomic Rulers, Attack from Space) decades ago. Others are curiosities…like an early Betty White TV show.

If you are a geek movie buff, there are certainly films here you know:

  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  • Carnival of Souls
  • Dementia 13
  • Destination Moon
That’s just from one category, though. They have Westerns, television, commercials…even cautionary films.
They also have an Old Time Radio channel.
New content is added once a month.
Remember, all this is free! You can see the list here:
but you can’t actually watch them at that website…that’s through your Roku box.
There is a premium, second tier service with even more content…for the amazing price of $2…a year!
It’s worth noting that the videos may not be in pristine condition…I’ve certainly seen scratches and such. There also aren’t a lot of controls in the free version…but it does remember where you were if you stop in the middle of a movie, even if you leave the channel and come back.
So, enjoy! If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch some more of Attack of the Monsters…go, Gamera!
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

White House: “Searching for ET, But No Evidence Yet”

November 6, 2011

White House: “Searching for ET, But No Evidence Yet”

In this

Official White House Response

Phil Larson says:

“The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”

This response is to two petitions:

Immediately disclose the government’s knowledge of and communications with extraterrestrial beings
5,387 Signatures

formally acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race – Disclosure.
12,078 Signatures

Whew! I’m glad that’s settled. 😉

It’s not, of course. Many people simply won’t believe it. It’s also inaccurate: we know that evidence relating to UFO encounters has been redacted in released documents. However, that evidence doesn’t need to confirm an extraterrestrial position, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Another interpretation could be that UFOs are real…but aren’t extraterrestrial. There have been other hypotheses, including time travel and “ultraterrestrials.”

Still, it’s nice of the White House to respond…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Leonard Stone reported dead

November 4, 2011

Leonard Stone reported dead

You’d probably recognize Leonard Stone. He had a sort of a hangdog look…seeming like he was perpetually put-upon.

You can see that in his role as Violet Beauregarde’s father in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Who wouldn’t be put upon with a kid like that? 😉

He was a popular TV guest star, but interestingly, despite his distinctive look and persona, he would often appear on the same show multiple times in different roles.  I think of him in association with Barney Miller, where just the fact that he would show up was a bit of an in-joke…he had five appearances as five different characters.

Geeks may also remember him for a role he did repeat…that of alien huckster, Farnum, on Lost in Space.

His long list of credits includes a lot of iconic Baby Boomer shows: The Rifleman; The Real McCoys; Perry Mason; Mannix; and many more. He continued working into the 2000s…you may know him from the 1990s as Judge Hanson on L.A. Law.

Always geek-friendly, he was on: The Six Million Dollar Man; Mission:Impossible; The Outer Limits (in The Architects of Fear); and on.

I would be remiss is I didn’t also mention his appearance in Soylent Green…it was a small part, but he’s memorable.

He was one of those rock solid character actors, and the industry will miss him.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Win a $1000 ThinkGeek Shopping Spree

November 3, 2011

Win a $1000 ThinkGeek Shopping Spree

ThinkGeek is one of my favorite websites. I’ve gotten some cool stuff there over the years, including the ThinkGeek Personal Soundtrack T-Shirt.

It was great to see that they are doing a drawing to win a $1000 shopping spree:

You need to enter by November 25, 2011…let me know if you win. 🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

“You’re bitter, Faust…mean and…”

November 1, 2011

“You’re bitter, Faust…mean and bitter. You trust no one, and you hate everyone. You’re the kind of man I need and understand.”
Major Paul Krenner (played by James Griffith)
The Amazing Transparent Man
screenplay by Jack Lewis

I’ve been working, from time to time, on a book of quotations for many years.  I call it, “The Mind Boggles”, from one of my favorite quotations.  I do source quotations a bit differently from a lot of people.  In the case of a work of a fiction, I consider that the character said the line…not the author.  As a bit of an author myself (in a minor way), I can tell you…my characters definitely say things that I would never say.  These are all quotations that I’ve collected myself: I’ve read the book, seen the TV episode, and so on.

Hope you enjoy them!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

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