Monday, March 31

I watched another crocodile movie..

I'm not sure why so many low-budget Croc movies get the green-light, but I am apparently unable to turn off the TV (sci-fi channel!) when another one of these movies is playing. This one, succinctly titled Croc was made in 2007 and includes exactly 0 big names. In fact, the characters were so superfluous to the ridiculous crocodile eating antics, that I actually had to to back and read the list on imdb to remember the names of the main characters.

I decided that Croc isn't worth a long summary post, so instead I will list my favorite parts of the movie!

1. There are no real movie stars. This meant that every single person in this movie gave 110% in every scene because they REALLY needed the money. Even with some truly pitiful dialogue, everyone managed to keep a straight face while discussing the 25 foot salt-water croc that just wouldn't stop eating their friends and family members.

2. The croc comes up through the floor of a building and tries to eat a yippy dog. I was actually a little disappointed that the dog escaped.. it had a really shrill bark.

3. The HUGE 25+ foot croc hid in a normal sized swimming pool and managed to totally escape notice while someone swam laps, and then talked to someone poolside. The swimmer (he was one of the bad guys) then got eaten. His brother (or crony? both?!) then was also eaten rather gorily after going to investigate the blood filled pool that had bits of his brother/crony floating on its surface. I should probably move this one to #1 on the list, because it was the most RIDICULOUS scene ever. How would a huge salt-water crocodile hide in a pool?? Why would you investigate said pool if you saw that it was literally covered in body parts and filled with blood??

4. The people who were making out in the water got eaten. Homage to the Jaws opening scene (she gets kind of dragged about on the surface) was TOTALLY appreciated!

5. There is a large boat involved in the death of the croc, a less crazy Quint-like character, and the afore mentioned scene. So basically, this was Jaws with crappier actors and a more 'exotic' location (Thailand).

6. The main character, Jack, whose name I had already forgotten by today ends up with his leg caught in the dead croc's mouth, underwater, in the cave where the croc has been storing the rotting bodies of all of his victims. The Quint-esque character starts yelling that they have to cut off his leg to save him.. so they give him a scuba mask....and then I hid my eyes. I don't think they ended up cutting off his leg though, because he looked way to conscious and happy laying down on the boat as they sped away later. Maybe they just had to pry the dead 25 foot croc's mouth open??

Size 4 is perfect?

I'll admit it, I LOVED the Sweet Valley High books. I can still tell you which one was my favorite (the one where the parents go out of town and good girl Elizabeth lets her boyfriend sleep over), and I'm pretty sure I tore through almost all 100+ of those books. I was even a little excited that my younger sister would get a chance to read all of the soon to-be-reissued books, until I saw an article that included a letter sent by the PR group in charge of the re-launch. The letter includes a side by side comparison of the old books and some of the new 'updates.' While I could care less that the twins now share a red Jeep (instead of the old Fiat), I was pretty upset when I realized that one of the highlighted changes has to do with their weight! In the original series the girls were a 'perfect size 6,' and now in the new books they are listed as a 'perfect size 4.'
I'm not sure I would have noticed the change, except that the PR people went out of their way to highlight this as an important aspect of the revamped books. In addition to the scary message they're sending about the value of shrinking waistlines, I wonder who decided that this was worth noting to book sellers. You would think Elizabeth's foray into digital media would be way more indicative of how they've updated the book to appeal to a new generation of readers. Blogging as both a word and activity would have been entirely missing from the original series, and would date the new series way more than clothing size. I think it says something (something scary!) that some editor decided that size 6 was no longer the 'perfect' size and every book title and publicity campaign should highlight how the girls are now smaller. From what I remember the twins were also described as being medium to tall--maybe 5'6'' or 5'7'' --which would put their new size 4 frames at almost model proportions. While there is nothing wrong with being tall-ish or slender, I think they're sending a pretty bad message. Even for idealized blue-eyed blonde California girls, why is a size 6 (which is still WAY below the average clothing size for a woman) too big?

Wednesday, March 26

Add 'em to the list..

I just found this great article on Newsvine about the best post-apocalypse movies. I am stealing the list (see the full article here ) and adding them all to my queue!

Top Ten Post Apocalypse Movies

No. 10 -- A Boy and His Dog (1975)

No. 8 -- Def-Con 4 (1985)

No. 9 -- The Quiet Earth (1985)

No. 7 -- Waterworld (1995)

No. 6 -- Escape From New York (1981)

No. 5 -- The Omega Man (1971)

No. 4 -- Planet of the Apes (1968)

No. 3 -- The Road Warrior (1981)

No. 2 -- 12 Monkeys (1995)

No. 1 -- Silent Running (1972)

The author of this article seems to have a thing for Charlton Heston, but I am willing to reserve judgment until I have seen all of the movies. I have already seen 12 Monkeys, & Planet of the Apes, but might have to re-watch in order to refresh my memory and blog accurately!

Monday, March 24

sidenote on Towering Inferno

Despite my complete and total enjoyment of the movie, it was a little hard to watch post-9/11. A lot of firefighters died in the film, and Steve McQueen's advice about firefighting in high rise buildings seemed a little too prophetic..

Towering Inferno!

Things I learned:

1) Never live above the 7th floor! According to Chief O'Hallorhan (Steve McQueen) firefighters can't fight fires above that floor. Steve McQueen's word is gospel! I will now be adding 6th floor or below to my list of apt building requirements. The list also includes a basement--for use in case I need a fallout shelter of course.

2) Faye Dunaway was, is, and probably will always be super hot. Totally irrelevant in terms of disaster movie blogging, but still worth noting.

3) Paul Newman makes a damn good salad dressing, and damn good action/ish movie hero!

The Towering Inferno was a GREAT pick! Thank you weird online algorithm that magically suggests 'movies you might also enjoy!' I sat down to watch Towering, and literally refused to move until the movie ended almost three hours later. Usually I'm a pause, get a snack and keep watching kind of girl, but this movie was the perfect combination of awesome actors and really stupendously stupid action scenes. The gist: the tallest building in the world is about to hold its grand-opening, but the building is rife with faulty wiring thanks to the shady business dealings of the owner's son-in-law. Chief architect, Doug Roberts (Paul Newman), realizes that the building and the party goers are potentially in danger, but his warnings are ignored. Eventually, the faulty wiring causes sparking in a storage closet and a fire breaks out. Over the next few hours the small fire turns the entire building into an inferno (!) and the the people at the party find themselves trapped floors above the fire, and hundreds of stories above ground.

Overall, the special effects were pretty good! The fire lapping through the windows never really corresponded correctly to the fire inside, but it looked cool! There were also some really random explosions that were clearly plot devices, but again, kudos for trying pre-computer generated special effects. One thing that was really surprising was the way they killed people off; I was especially surprised when they rather graphically burned to death one of the executives and his secretary. They did break the cardinal rule (they had sex! gasp!), but their deaths sent a pretty clear message: people were actually going to die in this movie and they were going to die in large numbers and in possibly unusual situations. Examples include: the secretary being blown out the window while on fire and half naked, and an entire elevator of people being practically incinerated and then delivered back to the floor of horrified party goers.

Skipping some great explosions and quite possibly the best nail biting, crawling down a broken staircase moment in movie history (thank you Paul Newman!) the film entered true disaster movie history by coming up with several truly implausible and thus brilliant rescue scenarios:

1) They sent some of the women and children, including Roberts' better half Susan (Faye Dunaway), down an exposed glass elevator. The fire then half-blows the elevator off its cable and some of the panes blow out. One passenger falls to her death, and a few dangle dangerously close. It should be noted that the woman who falls had earlier started a very adorable dalliance with Fred Astaire (literally!). It was sad that she died, and even sadder when Fred later takes in her orphaned cat, but it was to be expected--think Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure.

2) While the super cool Steve McQueen is battling the fire, some other brilliant guy decides to try a rescue plan that involves a helicopter, a rope, and what looks like a giant birdcage. While this plan does actually manage to save a few people, the conniving son-in-law creates a panic and falls to his death along with a few others.

**there is also an attempted roof-top helicopter rescue scene, but a panicked woman causes it to crash and kill the pilots. at that point, I wanted to slap that woman and then slap the writers for playing into the women are hysterical stereotype**

3) Steve McQueen and Paul Newman save the day with this truly ridiculous and would only work in a movie plan: they are going to detonate the water towers on the top of the building and dump a million pounds of water onto the fire. All the people still trapped on the top floor have to tie themselves down and try not to drown or get blown out of the windows by the rushing water. At this point my roommate and I had a rather in-depth conversation about the likelihood of a building having that much water stored on its roof, as well as the general feasibility of the plan. It was pretty much B-list end of movie scenario, but with a fabulous cast and the panache to carry it off!

165 minutes after beginning, the movie ended with the water rushing down and the rest of the survivors magically straggling out of the building; magically because the staircases had been blown out, and I refuse to believe that the elevators worked after all of that fire, water, and wire damage. Faye and Paul find another and re-pledge their love, while Steve tells them that the death toll of 200 wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Friday, March 14

Deep Rising

I don't have time for a full post right now, but wanted to add a few things I learned from watching Deep Rising (no, it is not pornography):

1. Treat Williams really needed money in 1998. Otherwise, he never would have signed on to do a disaster moving with a semi-pornographic title.

2. If you want to die, buy a ticket on a large ship (re: Titanic, Poseidon, and this movie!)

3. You too can master an automatic weapon the first time you pick it up!

4. Large part snake-slug-squid creatures can bash through metal hulls and suck people into their creepy mouth areas at full-speed, but get REEEALLLY confused when people talk softly or stop moving. They're just like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, without any of the semi-scientific evidence to back up their behavior!!

5. If you are caught by one of the snake/slug/squid things, it is best to commit suicide. Otherwise, you might be regurgitated in one of the grossest movie scenes ever and stand there half-digested and screaming before you fall over and die.

Thursday, March 13


I've been doing a little disaster movie research, and decided to add the Airport movies to my list. When I told someone of my plan, they immediately assumed I was mispronouncing the funny spoof version Airplane and tried to correct me. Despite this common misconception, Universal actually produced Airport in 1970 (and three sequels over the next few years) as one of the first flight based disaster movies! After looking over the cast ( Jacqueline Bisset, Burt Lancaster, and Dean Martin) I decided that this movie would be the perfect return to the world of disaster movies after the somewhat disastrous and paranoia inducing The Day After. It even won an oscar!
After watching the movie I understood why it won an oscar; produced in the days before CGI it could not depend on amazing special effects and stunts to make it a worthwhile disaster movie. Amazingly enough, the actual 'disaster' aspect does not occur until more than 3/4 through the movie and then almost seems superfluous. The real drama has to do with the melodramatic personal relationships of the main characters, all of whom happen to be involved in the mini airplane disaster. Mel (Burt Lancaster) is in charge of the airport and must deal with weather problems and the bomb on a plane while adulterously lusting after his co-worker Tanya (Jean Seberg). Meanwhile his equally two-timing brother-in-law Vernon (Dean Martin) is lusting after the stewardess Gwen, played by Bisset. Ultimately the tension peaks when D. O. Guerrero (Van Heflin) takes out insurance on his own life and brings a bomb aboard the plane being flown by Vernon and attended to by Gwen. There's also a really funny sub-plot involving a modern day stowaway who ends up sitting next to the bomber.
Anyway, after over an hour of lust-drenched encounters between every possible staff member at the airport, the actual disaster part of the film occurs. Basically: thanks to some would be hero passengers, the bomb goes off, Guerrero gets blown out of the plane and general chaos ensues both mid-air and on the ground. After some tense moments, the film ends with the plan safely on the ground, Mel in the arms of Tanya, and Vernon holding the hand of the injured Gwen (too close to the bomber) and informing the paramedics of her condition while his wife unknowingly listens.
As mentioned earlier, this film was made in 1970, so most of the bomb and damaged airplane shots are pretty bad. You can tell they re-created an airplane on the studio lot and then basically shook it up and down while extra had to sit there and try not to get too badly hurt. The great thing about the movie though, is that this barely matters. Thanks to the really funny stowaway subplot, as well as some great character development (especially for both the bomber and his wife), the movie remains quietly interesting even with the poor special effects. In some ways though the movie reminded me of Grey's Anatomy--because it seemed like EVERY single person in the film was in some type of sexual relationship with a co-worker. Despite the constant sexual tension, I also felt like all of the women were really interesting characters. I found Jean Seberg's character,Tanya, especially fascinating because she was playing a young widowed woman in a position of responsibility in a mostly male environment. While she did coddle (and apparently sleep) with her boss/co-worker, she was a clearly valued employee. Jacqueline Bisset's character, Gwen, was also really interesting in other ways, as she dealt with an unexpected pregnancy. She and Vernon even engage in a not so subtle conversation about abortion, and verbalizes some strong feelings about her own path. Overall, it was worth the watch for the great cast and compelling if overly melodramatic plot!

Also.. they made 3 sequels. One of which involves a plane underwater in the Bermuda Triangle. I think that one is definitely going to be my favorite/the most ridiculous movie EVER.

Thursday, March 6

Who knew? Men crave real bodies..

I just a read an article at entitled "Why men crave real (not perfect) bodies" and am so disappointed! The byline below the articles states that "actor Gabriel Olds has dated his fair share of surgically enhanced women. Now he tells us why most men prefer the real deal-'flaws' and all."
When I first read Olds' article I was kind of impressed by his attitude. He talks about dating women who have had plastic surgery and his belief that surgery somehow "implie[s] a lack of confidence. It was as if something purchased to say, 'Hey, check me out,' actually said, “I don’t like myself very much.” Given the pressure society places upon us to be tall, skinny and well-endowed this seems like a slightly obvious but still noteworthy explanation. Olds' also mentions that a lot of this pressure comes directly from male behavior, and cites men trading in their wives and partners for 'newer models' as the impetus for a lot of the cuttting and stitching payed for by women. As Olds' talks us through several of his most intimate relationships with women, he talks about nose jobs, boob jobs, and lip work-- and explains how in almost every situation he found himself initially attracted but ultimately repelled by these women who had changed their bodies to fit some type of ideal. I found myself feeling pretty sexy and satisfied by the article, especially when he wrote that when men enter into a relationship they suddenly start seeing their partner's body as the ideal.
Olds' article didn't start to bother me until I started writing about the experience of reading about how men see women's bodies, and what they look for in a partner. While I definitely agree that societal pressure exists, and that women often make decisions about their bodies that are not truly in their best self-interest, Olds' entire article reeked of paternalism. When he talks about the plastic Hollywood, he's only talking about the women. He conveniently forgets that Simon Cowell recently admitted that he gets Botox once a year-- and you can't tell me that he gets poison injected under his skin because he likes the feeling, or that he's the only man in the business who pays to look 'better.' Instead of writing an article to reassure women that men like real women even with their 'flaws,' perhaps Olds' should be examining why he finds himself attracted over and over again to women who 'perfected' themselves via plastic surgery . Although he describes one relationship with a plastic-surgery free woman, she still has a culturally idealized body: tall, fit, and cute. Her flaw? Her breasts are slightly different sizes. Perhaps Olds' should do a little anatomical research, because many women's breasts are asymmetrical! Something that occurs naturally in many women isn't exactly what I would call a flaw.
Ultimately, I think Olds' missed the boat on this one. He could have written about how plastic surgery is consuming our culture, that men and women alike change their bodies to fit a cultural ideal without changing their attitudes to their own bodies. He could have written about how much he enjoys women who love how they look- whether or not they CHOSE to change it via surgery. Next time he decides to take a break from his day job and write about relationships, I hope he writes about his own attitudes; how maybe the problem isn't only with plastic surgery, but with those who deign to reassure those of us who embrace our 'flaws' that we are still sexy, and what men really want.

Wednesday, March 5

Some of the sites I found after watching The Day After..


at least according to these websites..
(this one actually mentions Jason Robards and The Day After!)

I'll post more as I find them and scan them.. I'm hoping that some of them will help distill my paranoia with their truly ridiculous suggestions. If not, at least we'll all be prepared! And I'm sticking by my new self-imposed rules and going back to harmless funny disaster movies.

Movies I will henceforth avoid..despite making the cut

I decided to watch The Day After because Blockbuster told me I might enjoy it based up on my rental history. I was kind of proud that even my online rental service recognized that my mild obsession with disaster movies and their ilk. Since it was a made for TV movie with Jason Robards (Jr.) I figured that it would be a great combination of good actors stuck in a bad movie. I should have read the review more carefully, namely the part that said: "At the end of the broadcast, many stations offered teams of counselors staffing 800 telephone numbers to help distraught viewers calm down."
The Day After is set in the Midwest, mostly the Kansas City area. I currently live in St Louis about 4 hours east of Kansas City, MO. I should have immediately turned off the movie when I realized that they were about to bomb my part of the country. Instead, I kept watching. The film follows a few key characters as they realize that nuclear war seems imminent. Some of the key players include: the Dahlberg, a student named Steve, and Jason Robards playing a doctor. The Daylbergs live on a farm and sets up a fallout shelter in their basement. Stever miraculously survives the bombs and eventually ends up joining the Dahlberg's in their underground room. Jason Robards Jr. is a doctor who remains at his university hospital (instead of returning home to his family) as it is besieged with fallout survivors and those who hid during the attacks. The portrayal of the attacks themselves are surprisingly intense and graphic--especially since made for TV movies usually include stock footage and something clearly made on a home computer, until you realize that they used actual footage from testing done by the US government. With the exception of the bomb footage, the first part of the movie is surprisingly dry. Not quite a snoozefest, but definitely pretty low key for a disaster movie.
The second part of the film, however, follows the survivors after the bombs have been dropped and the fallout has begun to spread. Thanks to Blockbuster's recommendation and The Day After's made-for-TV status I was expecting some post-apocalyptic sex, drugs, and rock and roll. No sex, no rock and roll, and the only drugs shown are given to those suffering from radiation poisoning--which the film shows plenty of in GRAPHIC detail. The nice farming family who hid in their basement fallout shelter--well their daughter Denise goes crazy and frolics in a field of dead animals. She then becomes sick from the radiation and has to be carted off to the hospital by their survivor friend Steve, (with whom I pegged as her end of the world sex buddy) and bomb-blind brother. Jason Robards Jr. goes a little crazy too from radiation sickness and leaves the hospital to return to his hometown and mourn in the ashes for his wife and son. Oh, and his hospital is both filled and surrounded by people sick and dying from radiation. My favorite scene though, was probably when some government officials are trying to explain to the remaining farmers how to remove the layers of topsoil so they won't contaminate the new plants. The farmers point out that they have acres and acres of contaminated soil and nowhere to put it.. so farming is pretty much a wash post-bombing too.
By the end of the film I was almost glad that most of the main characters were dead or dying, just so I could turn the damn thing off. If I had read that Blockbuster review more carefully I would have known that the movie was made to scare the crap out of Americans and implore them and the government to prevent this type of wide-scale disaster from occurring. Thanks to some recent news about North Korea and Iran, I found myself nervously researching how to survive a nuclear attack as soon as I turned off the TV. Apparently you can turn any basement space into a relatively safe fallout shelter with a little preparation. I have now decided thanks to this movie that I will never be able to live in a building without a basement again! I might also have to start stocking up on bottled water, batteries and canned food just in case. Thanks to this lovely bout of movie induced paranoia I have also decided that:

1) Movies created SPECIFICALLY to scare people will be avoided. I am apparently really susceptible to scare tactics and do not want to spend any more time researching what to do if a bomb drops, a tidal wave is about to cover the entire east coast etc. ONLY ridiculous funny disaster movies will be allowed.

2) If a movie is not funny or ridiculous, it will only be allowed if it has legit actors and won some type of academy award. This caveat is in place almost solely because I know that Airport is next up on my list. I don't know if this type of movie is less likely to cause nightmare or paranoia, but at least it won't be a waste of 2 hours.

3)Movies like this scare me so much that I forget to write about all the fun feminist stuff that goes along with disaster movies. Must avoid such scariness in the future if my blog is to survive as a hybrid feminist interest/disaster movie forum!

4) Nuclear disaster movies will be avoided for a few weeks. Unfortunately, this means I can't watch the current season of Jericho until I calm down. Luckily, I can watch the current Terminator TV series because the show takes place pre-bombings!