Hello! Back again with Part Two of another one of those crazy movies one sees on late-night TV or, at least, used to see before you could stream everything in the universe almost any movie you want to watch.
It’s Part Two of Kingdom of Spiders!
You’ll note a distinct absence of Woody Strode throughout this part of the flick. And a “meet cute” at a gas station that will no doubt make you glad you missed the 70s warm your heart.
Hi, today I’m reviewing Glass Onion, the second Knives Out Mystery. This is a really good movie, in my opinion, and just terribly clever. Both movies are terribly clever, and so hats off to Rian Johnson. That’s all I can say. I mean, it’s about, in this one we’re talking about going to a, I won’t say a house. It’s more like a huge monument to this guy’s self.
It’s an extraordinarily rich tech billionaire, of course, who owns this massive place on the water, and he’s got all these hangers-on who rely on him for their living. So it’s a very, very interesting movie for all sorts of reasons, and what I think is most amusing, it, it’s structured very much like Knives Out where you have jumps in time and it’s a matter of how-dunnit rather than who in a sense, maybe, I don’t know. But it’s really cleverly done, and I enjoyed it, and I don’t understand anybody who thinks this is about Elon Musk. I know who this is about, and what was it that the detective said?
Couldn’t have been anything very important.
On second thought, it could be about Elon Musk. It could be about anybody, but I have my theories. Thanks. Talk to you later.
Directed by Rian Johnson Screenplay by Rian Johnson Produced by Ram Bergman and Rian Johnson
But, as we suspected, Donna’s been “turned” so to speak. Vampirized by Yorga. He awakens her telepathically and has her turn off the alarm clock set to wake Michael up. So he misses his meeting with Dr. Hayes, who’s fallen asleep after cramming all night for an exam in Vampire Lore 101. And, because they hope to save Donna (who, by the way, was raped by Brudah, but we are spared from watching it), they race off to the mansion after breaking up a chair or two so they can make crosses and stakes from the pieces. Along with destroying some furniture, they gather free wood sticks from the woods.
Eventually, there’s a confrontation between Yorga and Hayes, in which they finally drop all pretense that this is a social visit. Thus all bets are off as Yorga leads Hayes to the basement (Michael is elsewhere), where Donna is visiting mom at the morgue slab where she now rests in… undeadness. Meanwhile, Michael finds Paul’s dead ass in the crypt, where he stupidly looks for Yorga in the coffin. But the sun’s gone down and … well, no one’s home. Then Michael hears Dr. Hayes’ cries from a great distance. Or, actually, from the basement, where Hayes waves a makeshift cross around in front of Yorga. Yorga backs off but manages to face Hayes and taunt him mercilessly, causing Hayes to linger a ridiculously long time with him. This gives Yorga time to telepathically bring his Vampire Brides to “life.” They creep up behind Hayes and attack him en masse, consuming his blood like a pack of stoners tearing into a pizza.
Okay, so … BIG FINISH … Michael stabs Brudah. He gets to the basement, where Hayes is dying of boredom ennui his wounds. In his dying breath, he tells Michael where Donna is. Then two Vampire Brides, Erica and Redhead Extra, come after Michael. He fends Redhead off (somehow) and tries to stab Erica, but can’t bring himself to do it. So he runs away and she hisses after him.
Michael goes back upstairs to get Donna and ends up staking Donna’s mother. But first he runs into Brudah, who’s not quite dead yet. Brudah makes very brief (and extremely gratuitous) attempts to stay alive for the final scene. But no. He crawls all the way to the foot of the long staircase sweeping to the second floor, where he croaks kicks the bucket dies.
Okay … FINALLY, after not staking Erica but staking Donna’s mother, Yorga ambushes Michael is attacked by Yorga. And Michael makes fairly quick work of letting Yorga stab himself by running into the stake. Donna says, “Bye,” to her mom once more, while Yorga turns into piles of brown dust.
BUT then they have to leave the castle mansion. Erica and the Vampire Brides (What a great name for a band!) come after them. Michael fends them off with a cross (one that doesn’t seem to affect Donna, who he’s protecting) and with a combination of that and a second front from the Yanks careful positioning, he herds them into the cellar, closes the door, and locks it.
Then, he drops the damn cross. And you know that can’t be good. Because he turns toward Donna, who lunges and bares her fangs at the camera. Even though she has no bite wounds. So WTF? Anyhow, everyone dies or undies becomes undead and they remain so crappily ever after.
So, I guess you could say the séance worked. Kinda.
PS: The Horror Syndicate review reminded me about all the long shots of the two men talking, which I pointed out to my husband was a sign of really low-budget filmmaking, since you just shoot two guys walking randomly about and dub in whatever you want them to say later. Very economical.
And here’s the trailer, complete with red VW minibus! Click there to take it from the top! 🙂
So what I wanted to say was, it’s a really, really excellent book. It is just riveting, and I don’t think I’ve read another book or anything else by a film critic that has had me so engrossed as this book did. He is just an excellent writer. Eddie Muller is. He not only tells you about the people involved film noir, their backstories, their lives, as well as the productions, what went into them. He tells you the stories and he does it with the lingo from the movies and in such an engaging way that I was just captivated throughout.
So if you like film noir, this is a must-read and it’s a must-read for anybody who is interested in film, because it gives you a window into a different time and how movies were made back then and some of the characters, some of the people, and some of the surprises. Wonderful surprises.
Like the fact that Dan Duryea and Richard Widmark were really, really nice, normal people in their ordinary lives. They were not nearly as messed up as they appeared on screen. I like that sort of stuff. And of course there are people who were every bit as messed up as their screen characters and worse sometimes. So I mean, it was just a different time. Hollywood was different, movies were different and it’s well worth reading. It’s got fabulous photos at the end. Posters like this one …
… and pictures like this one.
And also, yeah, I will not forget this lovely one here that I just love. Okay. Yeah, I’m getting there. I’m getting there. Really? I am. It’s here. It’s somewhere.
I just love this book so much that I can’t recommend it highly enough. Yeah, I will cut this part out. Really, I will. [Okay, I lied forgot to do that … sorry …] Okay. That’s an index. That’s not what I want. Where is it? It’s gone. It disappeared on me. I don’t know what happened to that picture. I know it’s here somewhere.
Ah, here it is. <laugh>. Wait a minute.
Did I do that right? Yes, I suppose so. I really love that photo. I don’t know, I just do, as well as this movie.
Just one of my favorites of all time. Okay. Yeah. Alrighty then. My love letter to film noir, TCM Noir Alley and Eddie Mueller. Way to go, man. Great book. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Dr. Hayes treats Erica’s condition (an alarmingly low level of blood) with a transfusion from Paul, while Erica babbles incessantly. She asks Paul to forgive her and adds, “Please kill me.” Unfortunately, Paul does only one of those things. Michael shows back up at some point and the three men discuss the possibility that Erica is suffering from vampirism. Michael is skeptical, Paul is also likely skeptical, but less so than Michael, and the doctor is a scientist so… Who knows? Maybe? Maybe not? Can you prove that there are or aren’t vampires? Or is it all fake newsfiction myths and legends?
In any case, they put a pin in the discussion eventually and agree to follow up the next day. Giving Yorga plenty of time to sneak in by an open window and spirit Erica away and back to the mansion, where he hopes (I assume) to add her to his collection of undead women (including, as it turns out, Donna’s dead mom). (Or undead mom, actually.)
Did I forget to mention Yorga’s collection of vampiric brides? He keeps them in the basement on slabs. There’s this part where he sits on a throne and brings them to “life.” Then, according to Wikipedia, he “commands them to have sex.” Well, I either fell asleep or they cut that part out of the version I saw. Or the sex was so subtly implied, you’d miss it if you blinked.
Anyway, Stupid Boyfriend Paul wakes up from the couch he’s sleeping on, goes upstairs, realizes Erica is missing, freaks out, drives like a bat out of hell to the mansion, doesn’t bother to leave a note or make a phone call, barges onto the property, and promptly gets captured and choked to death by Yorga, who hands him to Brudah (his manservant), who gratuitously breaks his back. (Thus demonstrating but he is majorly strong.) (It’s a visual medium. And sound. SNAP!)
Michael tells Dr. Hayes about Paul heading off for the last round up to the mansion to rescue Erica. Hayes says Paul is an idiot may end up dead. (Or non-dead. Who knows?) Then Hayes’ girlfriend (who has no name that I could discern) shows up and tells them about the Strange Case of the Baby Who Was Drained of Blood. Dr. Hayes starts to wonder. Could Yorga be a … bloodsucking creature of the night? So Dr. Hayes, Michael, and Donna pay an impromptu visit to Yorga, to see what they can learn about Paul. And they apparently plan to spend the entire night, sitting with Yorga and talking him to death. (Or something.) (Perhaps a vampire coma?) The whole idea, of course, is to keep him up past sunrise. Frankly, an extremely weird plan from anyone’s perspective.
Yorga, meanwhile, is way too polite to ask anyone outright to leave. Let me set the scene.
INT. MANSION – NIGHT
Standard mansion living room furniture surrounded by stone walls.
Dr. Hayes sits on the sofa across from the Count Yorga in a corner chair. Donna and Michael are seated off-screen.
DR. HAYES Isn’t vampirism interesting, Yorga?
YORGA Yeah. Sure. I guess.
DR. HAYES Hey, what time is it?
YORGA Uh. Four o’clock. And not in the afternoon.
DR. HAYES This is so much fun. I could do this all night.
INT. MANSION – LATER
Everyone’s still sitting there.
DR. HAYES Tell us, sir. Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Vampire Party?
MICHAEL (O.S.) Are you really a Count?
YORGA I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. I confess that being Bulgarian, I’m a stranger to your ways, but it is a bit … um … late … or early …
At some point, Michael goes off looking for the bathroom and, following a further exchange of barbed dialogue, Hayes goes off to look for Michael, leaving Donna alone with Yorga. Take a guess what he does with her. While completely avoiding sunlight, I assume.
Eventually, they get the hint and leave, but make plans to return during the daytime. Why they don’t simply wait another hour and finish Yorga off then and there… well, Dr. Hayes needs time to read up on vampire lore, where he discovers what anyone even vaguely familiar with vampires knows. That vampires don’t like crosses and you kill them with a stake through the heart.
The movie opens with some guy (whose name is Dr. Lloyd Craig, but we don’t know that yet) stumbling down the road in the middle of nowhere like a zombie. He somehow hitches a ride with a faint wave of his hand, The driver chats him up, but the man (who we’ll know soon enough is Dr. Craig) sits mute, practicing his thousand-yard-stare.
Well, he gets to this place in San Francisco, goes up to a room, takes out a gun, and then there are gunshots. We get a glimpse of a woman (who we’ll eventually learn is Margot Shelby) and her maid (I assume). Then, the cops come. Specifically, a certain Sgt. Portugal arrives on the scene. He cradles the Woman/Margot in his arms and carries her to the sofa.
At this point, Margot starts the movie tells what happened in flashback.
Ya see, Margot’s boyfriend was a gangster named Frankie Olins, who robbed a bank of $400K. He hid the money out in who-knows-where. Problem is, Frankie killed a guard when he pulled the job. So, after being apprehended, tried, and convicted, it’s off to Death Row for Frankie. However …!
Margot has a plan. One that involves “reawakening” Frankie from The Big Sleep. She plans to use some kind of chemical to bring him back to life. And, if that sounds ludicrous, that’s only because it is.
What’s even more ludicrous is that it works.
And then … they end up shooting him. Dead.
So … think of the legal defenses here. I mean, the man was executed according to the law. Then they brought him back, which is … what? Unlawful disposal of a corpse? Obstruction of justice? (This guy is supposed to die, right?)
In this case, wouldn’t shooting him just be … setting things right?
If only they hadn’t done it for that pesky four hundred Gs. Yes, it’s all to get the convicted man to draw a map to the loot’s location. Which looks more like a rough sketch drawn on a napkin.
Then the movie turns into It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, only with a much smaller cast, a double-crossing dame, and a kind of Treasure of Sierra Madre ending.
I’ll give it 4 stars.
* * *
Directed by George Marshall Produced by John Houseman Screenplay by Raymond Chandler
PS: Here’s a fascinating video about the movie! (Thanks again to Flickers in Time!) Um … wow! 🙂
Paul and Erica drop Yorga off at the manse, where (despite Erica’s great interest in having a sleepover) they decline Yorga’s offer of a bed for the night and a pitcher of Bloody Marys as a nightcap. But when they try to leave, the micromini bus gets stuck in a muddy section of road. The only mud pit on the road, in fact. A mud pit that resembles nothing more than a muddy spot on the pavement. Why are they stuck? Must be supernatural mud. I guess.
So what to do? They could return to the castle mansion and spend the night there, but Erica’s changed her mind about that. Can’t imagine why, what with the weird shallow mud pit problem and the occasional cries of (possible) wolves (or maybe large dogs) from the surrounding woods. They end up spending the night in the van, because they don’t have cell phones in the 70s and aren’t willing to return to Goulish Manor to see if the phone works there. (Probably not, right?)
First order of business: have gratuitous sex in the van. (This is practically required by law in the late 60s/early 70s.) A few seconds later, fall blissfully asleep. Erica is awakened, however, by a knock at the van’s window. It’s… guess who? Who else, but Yorga, baring his fangs and leering through the glass. He creates enough of a ruckus to lure Paul, a.k.a., the Near-Extra with No Last Name, out of the van. Yorga makes swift work of knocking him out, so he can sink his teeth into Erica. Later the next day, after becoming magically unstuck from the wet spot on the road, Paul and Erica return home, with Paul claiming they were attacked by an unidentified person or thing and Erica trying to forget the incident unable to recall any of it. (Including the sex? I wonder …)
Erica does notice these unusual bite marks on her neck. She goes to Dr. Hayes (with a Y, dammit!) (and an E after that, for Pete’s sake) about it. Although he can’t really explain how they got there, he does notice she seems much less bubbly and more like a zombie than usual. He recommends rest and lots of protein shakes. Paul brings up Erica’s lackluster behavior (post-Yorga visit) with Michael (you remember him? Donna’s boyfriend? You remember Donna, right? The daughter of… etc.), who becomes concerned, so they give her a call. Erica answers, but drops the handset (and the call) before speaking.
So the boys go to investigate and find Erica feasting on her kitten. And, I mean, she basically disembowels the poor little kitty-cat with her teeth. Chomps into the thing, like a furry pork chop. A bloody, furry cat-shaped pork chop. Um … I forgot to mention that this movie review should be read only by people who can stand to read about such things. And if you think reading this is bad… it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta warn you do it.
But then Erica goes slightly bipolar and threatens to attack the guys, followed quickly by an attempt to seduce Paul. Then she cries and says whatever she said while I was busy trying to unsee the bloody kitten.
And here’s the trailer!
More to come! So come back if you dare for Part Three! 🙂
It was one of those hot days of summer, when simply thinking of moving made me sweat. But I was playing it cool. I was also playing a game of solitaire with actual cards, waiting for the phone to ring at the Offices of Marlo Wiley, Private Eye. My offices.
Summers were slow in this business. In fact, I’d suffered a bit of a drought, client-wise. So when the knock sounded at my door, I swept up the playing cards and dropped them into the side drawer of my desk.
“Enter,” I called.
The door eased open, and a young man poked his head inside. He seemed almost frightened to cross the threshold.
“C’mon in,” I added. After a beat, he finally did.
Once inside, I judged the fellow to be in his late 20s or early 30s, though he acted a bit younger. He shifted from foot to foot with a mildly puzzled expression, as if he’d forgotten the purpose of his visit.
When he finally spoke, he murmured, “Are you the detective?”
“Yes,” I said, standing and extending a hand. He grasped my fingers and gave them a brief squeeze before letting go. “Why don’t you have a seat?” I added.
He lowered himself into one of my old guest chairs, a rickety affair with one leg that was slightly too short, causing it to teeter when he sat in it.
“How can I help you?” I asked.
The young man swallowed and stared at his lap for a moment. He shook his head.
“It’s … complicated,” he said.
“Why don’t we start with who you are?”
He seemed reluctant to share even that intelligence. A protracted silence followed my question.
Finally, he said, “My name is Hamlet.”
“First or last name?”
Well, that was unusual. I don’t usually get clients without the standard number of names.
“Okay,” I said. “Hamlet. Is that like a stage name?”
“No, they call me Prince Hamlet.”
Right, I thought. I’m sure they do.
“Well, Mr. Hamlet—“
“Just Hamlet,” the young man said again.
“Right. What did you want to hire me for, Hamlet?”
Hamlet appeared distressed. A deep furrow formed on his brow as he thought about whatever was on his mind.
“I need you to prove that my uncle killed my father,” he said. The words came out so slowly, they seemed to trickle out.
“How do you know this?” I asked.
“I have it on good authority. But I still need evidence.”
“What good authority would that be?”
“My father’s ghost appeared to me and said so.”
Oh, boy. This was a live one. And one I’d rather avoid.
“I tried to explain this to my mom. I should mention that my uncle married my mother right after my father passed away.” He took a breath. “Now she thinks I’m crazy.”
Imagine. But it did seem to suggest dire possibilities.
“Here’s another thing,” he added. “I think my uncle has turned my two best friends against me.”
I nodded, trying to scrounge up a sympathetic smile. “My apologies, but I don’t handle domestic cases.”
Hamlet rose from the chair just high enough to fish a wallet from his pocket. “I can pay you,” he announced, pulling a thick wad of bills from his billfold. He placed the pile of bills on my desk and straightened them with edges lined into a neat stack.
Picking up the money, I rifled through the bills, gauging the amount to be roughly $1,000 in hundreds.
“Actually, I might just be able to fit you in,” I said, counting out the money and writing a receipt for the cash. “I’ll do what can to find hard evidence of who killed your father.”
Hamlet perked up a bit, which in his case changed his expression to one of faint hope. “How soon can you start?”
“What’s the rush?” I asked.
“I’m supposed to go to New England with my two former best friends. My uncle … step-dad, or whatever he is wants to get rid of me.” His eyes widened. “He might even try to have me killed.”
I imagined Hamlet’s accusations must trouble his uncle, but I couldn’t imagine anyone taking them seriously. But what did I know? I had a client and a job to do. And I aimed to do it.
Let’s ring in the new year with the first part of my review of a truly cheesy 70s movie! I speak of none other than Count Yorga, Vampire (aka, The Loves of Count Yorga, Vampire).
Make what you will of this movie poster. 🙂
As one might imagine from the title, this movie is about a vampire. So when the story starts with a coffin being lowered from a very large boat into the back of a truck and taken to a gated mansion on a hill, one can safely assume the likely contents of said coffin is… a highly-fanged creature.
At some point, we meet Donna. (What happened to the coffin? They drop it off at the mansion. I’m pretty sure. My husband was trying to ignore the movie talking about unrelated matters and, at some point, I kinda lost track of the whole beginning part, but still…) Donna hosts a séance in hopes of talking to her dead mother. Since the story takes place in LA in the late 60s/early 70s, this is a completely normal event to hold when one’s mother has recently kicked the bucket died.
Among those attending the belated wakeparty séance are Donna’s boyfriend, Michael Thompson, some guy named Paul (no last name) (played by Michael Murphy, so…), Paul’s girlfriend, Erica Landers, and someone’s close friend Dr. Jim Hayes. (That’s H-AY-E-S, Hayes. Got that? We get to hear the doctor say that a few times when he (eventually) tries to convince people that vampires exist, dammit!)
Also in attendance is the titular character who, as we know from the title, is a vampire. He tells everyone he recently moved to the States from Bulgaria, a statement made ominous only by the way he delivers it. While wearing a cape and sporting a gleam in his eye.
The séance starts off like a very lame frat party (you know, the one where no one thought to bring beer) as everyone cracks jokes about séances and spooky things, while Yorga quietly examines their necks looks on. Eventually they quit making predictable dialoguedumb jokes small talk and get down to business. It doesn’t take long before Donna becomes hysterical. (Why? Who knows? There may be a whole backstory/subtext we’re not privy to.) We do know that Yorga “calms” her with what seems to be hypnosis. At that point, it’s safe to say that the séance/party is over.
Paul (who, as I mentioned, has no last name) and/or Erica (who offered hers to Paul, who declined it) offer Count Chocula Yorga a ride home in Paul’s bright red VW microbus. After they leave, Donna tells the remaining guests that she only invited Yorga because he was such close friends with her mom for a few weeks before she died. She made all the burial arrangements according to Yorga’s instructions, because he knew Donna’s mother so well after a such a long few weeks, he insisted it was her wish to be buried, not incineratedburned to a crisp cremated. Although, Donna couldn’t help noticing Yorga’s absence from her mother’s funeral. Or, at least, she didn’t see him there.