bijou reviews – R

While watching these films and attempting to multitask- trimming my wife’s hair, I accidentally cut a giant chunk of her hair out. Fortunately for her good nature we found a really fun Raquel Welch wigs store online and she’s thrilled. Wig culture has been a great accidental find for her. And the coolest thing is that she became a wig maven, and has a pretty good collection of wigs of various brands, although her favs are from Raquel Welch. This little trivia around our personal life is something we are both very proud of, as you can probably tell from the amount of chat we’re giving it. But notice that in the first production below, that the leading lady is clearly wearing a very cool wig. Enough said.

Radar Men from the Moon

Radar Men from the Moon
George Wallace, Al…
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Directed by Fred C. Brannon.

RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON (1952) has all the classic ingredients of a good slam-bang serial and then some: a jet-pack hero, ham-fisted mobsters, invading aliens, death ray guns, plentiful explosions, and of course the inevitable “death defying” cliffhanging endings. And that’s just the first episode!

The plot, courtesy SCIENCE FICTION SERIALS: “A mysterious series of atomic explosions devastates America’s industrial centers and military installations. A brilliant research scientist

known as Commando Cody, Sky Marshal of the Universe, investigates, assisted by his co-workers Joan Gilbert and Ted Richards. Using futuristic, advanced scientific devices such as his jet powered flying suit and a rocketship capable of interplanetary travel, they attempt to track down those responsible for the attacks.” — Notes by J. F. Sebastian.

What Critics Say:

“RADAR MEN was one of the last great serials produced by Republic and contains all the elements that good serials had: spectacular cliffhangers, fist fights, special effects and a larger than life, clean cut hero… it is a great example of the Hollywood serial and its unique genre.” — DVD CORNER.net


Reflections of Evil

Reflections of Evil
Curtis, Heatherton…
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Directed by and starring Damon “Pookie” Packard.

What can you say about a flick that makes you equally pensive, thrilled, awed, annoyed and left finally laughing aloud between gasps of amazement? You can say that flickmaker Damon Packard has done the seemingly impossible and made the first truly epic desktop feature. If it is a harbinger of what cyberpunk writer William Gibson once predicted would soon occur – a few dozen “garage Kubricks” emerging to once again show the still unrealized potential of cinema – then let us only hope Mr. Gibson is as prescient about the numbers to come as the trend itself.

What’s particularly thrilling about watching REFLECTIONS OF EVIL (2002) is how totally in command a “first time” flickmaker such as Damon Packard emerges – it’s literally astonishing at times, as visually hypnotic and gripping as APOCALYPSE NOW in sequences. Given a reported budget of $150k, what emerges feels beyond compare in screen impact. No joke, the flick is as well shot as any million-dollar feature and yet still maintains a distance from slick commercialism for commerce’s sake that is as refreshing as it is challenging. Mixing old commercials, video and film (but shot primarily on 16mm film during golden hours), and everything inbetween, REFLECTIONS is aptly named, as it has a kind of brooding technique.

Equally stunning is the dense sound design. Like early Lucas and Walter Murch, the sounds do not just add visual punch ala explosions and gun blasts, but actually create and sustain the narrative mood. It’s a brilliant approach, allowing the director to basically shoot the flick completely MOS and yet have it finally have the feel of a layered radio drama ala Orson Welles and CITIZEN KANE. To say the soundtrack is a key component is like saying 2001 benefits from classical music. With riffs and outright

rips from various found sources, it plays like an urban “foundtrack” mix of hatred and chilling alienation. The

angry snarls of killer dogs has never been more heartfelt, albeit in a black-hearted manner as portrayed.

The sequences of Packard being assaulted by raving homeless and near homeless people, all screaming, “I’ll fuckn’ kill you!” or some minor variation on it, are amongst the best treatments of contemporary unreality I have seen and felt at “the movies” since watching equally spooky moments in Kubrick’s EYES WIDE SHUT. Framing these scenes with posters of inane Hollywood flicks constantly intruding into the backgrounds, a kind of uneasy juxtaposition is made all too apparent and contradictory, and almost explains the

horrid social disconnect the flick so eerily documents. The fact Packard was working with permits and on a “rip off” scale that is almost unprecedented in independent flickmaking is what

makes these sequences all the more mind-boggling, for what emerges is nothing less than an uncannily accurate snapshot of the national zeitgeist.

The scenes of Packard as the Everyday Fat Man aimlessly wandering the soulless attractions at Universal City Theme Park City Inc. (such as the scathingly satirical if horridly logical in today’s corrupted climate ‘Schindler’s List The Ride’ attraction) have the same kind of repugnant fascination that Herzog’s flicks about American culture always had, and render you equally impotent to defend the corporate takeover so vividly captured throughout. Universal City becomes a giant metaphor for all that is wrong, and somehow (before he was “banned for life” by Universal management, that is!) Packard creates an epic vision of this hell by simply wandering through it all, grabbing footage, and unifying it all through his obsessive vision in the editing process. Forget home movie – the effect is like Packard had a steadicam following him across a multi-million dollar stage, as indeed, in some respects, he did!

REFLECTIONS OF EVIL will not be for all tastes. But for folks who frequent BijouFlix, it’s the first real “must see” flick of the new millennia. That’s only fitting though coming from the director of “Dawn of an Evil Millineum,” an earlier short BijouFlix was very pleased to present several years ago right here in this cyber theater. — Notes by Arch Stanton.

What Critics Say:

“A half tribute/half attack… unabashedly paints the right kind of portrait of the right kind of Hollywood, that being the real one… plays like a cross between HOLLYWOOD BLVD.., COPS, JACKASS, MIRACLE MILE, AFTER HOURS and Gaspar Noe’s I STAND ALONE..” — Gene Gregorits, SEX AND GUTS MAGAZINE.com

“Best of the Fest” — 2003 SEATTLE U.G. FILM FESTIVAL

“An extraordinary film…this may be the ERASERHEAD of the new millenium.” – Ron Lemming, BONE STRUCTURE

“”Really gripping. The plainclothes cop scene was amazing and the trip though downtown… was the worst acid trip I have ever seen on film. The dog scene was nothing short of genius.” — HENRY ROLLINS

“Mixes urban paranoia, comedy, freaky horror, and rabid over-eating into a disjointed, disorienting nightmare… this blissfully bizarre vision is filled with remarkable moments.” — Steve Puchalski, SHOCK CINEMA

”I really enjoyed it.” — JOHN LANDIS

“Wow! What a trip!! I personally loved it. Laughed my ass off a couple of times. But I don’t know if it’s supposed to be funny? Why haven’t I seen this on the Sundance Channel??” — SAMMY HAGAR

“Top Prize. Most Groundbreaking Film: GOLD Publique.” — FANTASIA FEST 2003

Like this flick? See also: THE UNTITLED STAR WARS MOCKUMENTARY.

Revenge of the Zombies

Revenge of the Zombies/Voodoo Woman
Marla English, Tom…
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aka The Corpse Vanished. Starring John Carradine, Robert Lowery & Gale Storm. Directed by Fred Sekely.

A Nazi doctor creating zombies to fight for Der Feuhrer. Sound familiar? No, I am not talking about SHOCK WAVES, I mean a 1943 effort from Monogram Pictures starring John Carradine called REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES.

Long John is Dr. von Altmann (or maybe Dr. von Altermann since no two people in this picture pronouce his name the same way) who lives in an isolated mansion deep in a Southern bayou. His brother-in-law (Robert Lowery, soon to become Batman in a Columbia serial) comes down to visit his sister (Veda Ann Borg) only to be rebuffed by the not so good Doctor and informed that his sister has passed away from “a sudden illness.” Oh really? So how come she is dead and in her coffin one minute and walking around the bayou the next?

The local sheriff (Bob Steele) comes snooping around but seems more sympathetic to the doctor than to the greiving brother. It is not revealing too much to say that von Altemann (or whatever his name is) has been

dabbling in the secrets of voodoo and thanks to a local preistess (Madame Sul-Te-Wan) has learned how to revive the dead. He hopes to create an indestructable army to sweep across Europe and eventually the US to win the war for Hitler. To test his theory the doctor murdered his own wife and then brought her back to life. The sheriff is a spy who is on the doctor’s side . . . or is he? There is a lot packed into this movie to keep you guessing just who are the good guys.

The cast is great, along with John Carradine and Bob Steele are Gale Storm as the resident damsel in distress. The real treat though is Mantan Moreland playing practically the same role he did in KING OF THE ZOMBIES (1940). To heck with political correctness, just laugh! Mantan shows us what real comedy relief was supposed to look like. Watch his reactions as he keeps trying to inform Lowery about a corpse that keeps appearing and disappearing for most of the picture!

Also in the cast is William Baskett as Lazarus, the leader of the zombies. In 1948 Mr. Baskett played Uncle

Remus in Disney’s SONG OF THE SOUTH and won a special Academy Award for singing “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”. Alas, he could not accept the award in person because the Oscar presentation was held in a segregated “Whites Only” hotel and they refused to make an exception even for an award winner.

Madame Sul-Te-Wan who also appears in KING OF THE ZOMBIES and would go on to play a role in Cecil B. Demille’s REAP THE WILD WIND, was the real life grandmother of

actress Dorothy Dandridge.

The director Steve (Istvan) Sekely had directed movies in Hungary and Germany before coming to American in 1940. He later directed most of the the 1963 sci/fi thriller DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS. His final cut was too short though so the subplot involving a couple trapped in a lighthouse on a small island (Kieron Moore and Janette Scott) was added, padding the film by almost 30 minutes. These scenes were directed by someone else.

REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES is full of genuinely eerie moments. Watch when Carradine calmly shoots Lazarus only to have the bullets pass through him harmlessly. The dead-heads climbing out of their coffins and marching single file through the swamp is very good also.

Veda Ann Borg’s zombified wife character seems to have been inspired by RKO’s highly successful I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE. This one is a lot of fun because everyone acts with real sincerity and does not pander to the audience. Give it a try.– Notes by Dr. Maniac.

What Critics Say:

“Wonderful opening scene in which the zombies are summoned forth on a windy night.” — Dave Sindelar, SCI-FILM

“Another example of the genius of Poverty Row studios… the sinister elegance of a John Carradine, as well as the comic genius of a Mantan Moreland… I urge anyone who is interested in a little Saturday entertainment to catch this little gem if you can. You won’t be disappointed.” — David Maxwell, IMDB.com

Like this flick? See also: ONE DARK NIGHT

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