Saturday, October 31, 2020


1) Ricky Vaughan or Nuke LaLoosh? (question courtesy of our main Maine monster, Patrick Robbins)

Both movies, Major League and  Bull Durham, played a big role in my burgeoning interest in baseball when I saw them back in 1988, and I got a big kick out of the idea of a pitcher, Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn,  who had such poor eyesight he had to wear huge horn-rimmed specs to get the ball anywhere near the plate. (“Juuuuuuust a bit outside!”) But despite the fact that to my eyes Tim Robbins still doesn’t look like he’s even seen a pitcher do his thing when he’s on the plate, he’s in the middle of an essential ode to the game. Nuke gets my vote.

2) Best moment in the Friday the 13th film series.

I might previously have said the sleeping bag kill in Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood, but having just seen the movie again last weekend that moment was revealed to be as turgidly matter-of-fact and bereft of humor as the rest of the movie. And I’ve always loved the moment in Part 3, the 3D one, when Jason cleaves the guy doing the handstand in two. But the best? The decapitated killer in the original “classic” (1980) reaching up to check if his/her head is actually missing.

3) Henry Hull or Oliver Reed?

Peter Nellhaus said it best in his answer to this question: It's Reed, because he’s the closest we’ll ever get to Marlon Brando taking that logical next step into lycanthropy.

4) What is the last movie you saw in a theater?

We took our Emma to see Emma. just a day or two before the initial lockdown. I couldn’t have asked for a better sendoff.

5) Best movie casting for a real-life baseball player, or best casting of a real-life baseball player in a movie.

Well, it ain’t John Goodman as the Babe. There seems to be no other correct answer to this question: Jim Bouton as Terry Lennox in The Long Goodbye.

6) D.B. Sweeney or Ray Liotta?

I like Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe, but man, he is stuck in one terrible movie. As an actor I’d pick him over Sweeney every time, but Sweeney does Shoeless Joe appropriately haunted in John Sayles’ pantheon baseball history Eight Men Out, so he gets my vote.

7) Given that the fear factor in 2020 is already alarmingly high, is there a film or a genre which you would hesitate to revisit right now?

I was sick to death of it before it moved a step closer from grim fantasy to grim reality, but I care even less now for the post-apocalyptic horror-sci-fi genre, especially entries that have been made in the last couple of years. I don’t even think I’d care to see a Mad Max movie right now.

8) The Natural (1984)-- yes or no?


9) Peter Cushing or Colin Clive?

Clive will, for me and most others, be the OG mad doctor, but Cushing really fleshed the role out, culminating with his great performance as an irredeemably sinister Baron Frankenstein in one of my favorite movies of all time, any genre, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed.  

10) What’s the lamest water-cooler hit you can think of? Of course, define “lamest” however you will, but for “water-cooler hit” Dr. Savaard is thinking about something zeitgeist-y, something everyone was talking about the weekend it opened and beyond, something everyone seemingly had to see—The Other Side of Midnight residing at #1 in 1977 for two weeks is not what the professor has in mind.

I’ve avoided it since seeing it on the ABC Sunday Night Movie back in high school, but having recently seen it again all the way through, for me the answer has to be Love Story (1970). This thing only occasionally rises to the level of mediocrity, content instead to just wallow around in the muck and the mire of the worst kind of sentimentality for about 100 minutes. The dialogue is terrible—Segal writes profanity for these characters that would be stones in the mouths of anyone, but Ali MacGraw makes her swears sound like she’s a grown woman who has just discovered the delight of cursing and can’t figure out how to convincingly wedge “goddamn” into a sentence. And though it’s MacGraw who initially plants the seed in his poor, soft head, Ryan O’Neal is the one who has to repeat “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” to a befuddled Ray Milland at the end of the picture. That Milland managed to not crack up on screen repeatedly is a cornerstone in the case for him being a greater actor than anyone might previously have suspected. And speaking of Erich Segal, have you glanced at the book lately? Jesus Christ, you goddamn preppie. How did anyone ever fall for this junk?

11) Greatest single performance in horror movie history.

Going with the first one that loomed into my head when I first considered this question: Lon Chaney as Erik, better known as The Phantom of the Opera (1925).

12) Ingrid Pitt or the Collinson Twins?

As delightful as the Collinsons are in Twins of Evil (1971), I would never pit myself against Ingrid Pitt.

13) Name one lesser-known horror film that you think everyone should see. State your reason.

You can see it this month on the Criterion Channel as Death Line, but I know it as Raw Meat.

14) Do the same for an underseen or underappreciated baseball movie.

The nature of heroism is the real subject of Ron Shelton’s bruising, unforgiving biopic Cobb, in some significant ways the anti-Field of Dreams.

15) William Bendix or Leslie Nielsen?

Leslie Nielsen’s calls behind the plate will live unto eternity, but I’m going with Bendix for strength under adversity in Kill the Umpire.

16) Would you go back to a theater this weekend if one reopened near you?

No. Way too soon.

17) Your favorite horror movie TV show/host, either running currently or one from the past.

I saw Bob Wilkins and John Stanley on KTVU’s Creature Features  out of San Francisco occasionally, but they were always a bit too smarmy for me, and their interstitial bits usually went on well past their sell date. For me, growing up as a teen in remote Southern Oregon, I lived for 11:30 pm on Saturday nights when the transmission from KATU-TV Channel 2 in Portland brought Victor Ives and Sinister Cinema, with supporting players like Head and Ravenscroft, to horror-thirsty outliers like me. Always a double feature that ran close to 3:00 a.m., if you could stay awake that long, and always fun. It was on this program that I saw Night of the Living Dead  for the first time.

18) The Sentinel (1977)—yes or no?

I have a lot of fond memories of seeing it multiple times with Bruce back in our scholastic days—it was always paired with some other horror picture as a second fear-ture—but as much fun as the first two-thirds of it can be (Sylvia Miles is properly unleashed here), the last third, when director Michael Winner goes off the rails into pure carnival exploitation, is truly sickening. So a qualified “no” from me.

19) Second-favorite Ron Shelton movie.

Cobb would be number one, so it’s the Durham Bulls for me. "This son of a bitch is throwing a two-hit shutout. He's shaking me off. You believe that shit? Charlie, here comes the deuce. And when you speak of me, speak well.

20) Disclaimer warnings attached to  broadcasts of films like Gone with the Wind and Blazing Saddles-- yes or no?

No, thanks. I’m fully capable of placing films in their context without Ben Mankiewicz’s guidance.

21) In the World Series of baseball movies, who are your NL and AL champs?

For the NL, The Bad News Bears-- this time "GOAT" stands for "Greatest of All Time," Charlie Brown. For the AL, I'll take Bull Durham. Playoff contenders include Eight Men Out, The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, Mr. 3000, Everybody Wants Some! and Ken Burns' massive documentary Baseball.

22) What was the last horror film you saw?

I showed Re-Animator to Emma just last night. Before that, Fred C. Sears’s The Werewolf (1956), which was a hell of a lot better than I ever thought it would be.

23) Geena Davis or Tatum O’Neal?

I saw Geena Davis several times in the late ‘80s, always on Jeff Goldblum’s arm at some movie in Westwood, and I can testify that she was a real-life stunner who inspired a decade-long crush. But on the mound, I’ll take the fire and accuracy of Tatum O’Neal every time.

24) AMC is now renting theaters for $100 - $350, promising a more “private,” catered party-movie experience. What do you like or dislike about this idea?

It’s an interesting notion, but again, I think its just way too soon, even for monitored and distanced get-togethers like this. Besides, the corporation has been, not too surprisingly, I guess, somewhat unimaginative in the films they’ve chosen to make available for their parties—Jurassic Park, anyone? I suppose I should be grateful that they avoided the temptation of Grease or  Back to the Future, but would it have been that difficult to expand the roster of older films just a bit?

25) Name the scariest performance in a baseball movie.

I think it’s gotta be Tommy Lee Jones’s fearless portrayal of Ty Cobb in Ron Shelton’s equally fearless movie. One day I think this movie, and this performance, will be better appreciated, but it’s been 26 years already and it’s still pretty low on most folks’ radar.

26) Second-favorite Jack Arnold movie.

Creature from the Black Lagoon. Top honors go to The Incredible Shrinking Man. That makes two unassailable classics in Arnold’s book, and that’s to say nothing of No Name on the Bullet, It Came from Outer Space, The Mouse That Roared, and one I’ve loved since the Sinister Cinema days, Tarantula.

27) What would be the top five films of 2020 you’ve seen so far?

Just speaking of the top of my head, in alphabetical order, American  Utopia, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy Blache, Da Five Bloods, Emma., First Cow, The Trial of the Chicago Seven and You Should Have Left. What, that’s seven, you say? Oh, well… I know Dr. Savaard personally, so I get a little leeway…

28) What are your top three pandemic-restricted movie viewing experiences so far in this... unusual year?

1) Fellini Roma  watch party with my dear friend Katie, who lives in Indianapolis.

2) Seeing Gremlins with the three ladies at the drive-in.

3) Watching the 1988 cheapo Necromancer with best friend Bruce-- Bruce can be seen for about .5 seconds in a party scene we were both on hand for, at the invite of the movie’s lead, Elizabeth Kaitan (Cayton).

4) Watching the 4K Blu-ray of Flash Gordon (1980).

5) Ushering out my 50s late at night on August 17 with Ken Russell’s Lisztomania. When the movie was over, I was 60 years old.

Okay, again, that was five, not three, but Dr. Savaard said I could, so…


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