Another marathon day!  Saturdays tend to be the days when my body still tries to wake me up at godawful hours of the morning, so I’m forced to crawl out of bed and seek comfort on the couch.  These are the times I usually watch things that Mick doesn’t want to watch. 

So I started off the day with

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1959)

This had a lot of things going for it.  60s and 70s B-movie horror is some of my favorite stuff ever.  It had a weird, completely implausible premise.  And the copy on the DVR was from an old episode of Elvira’s Movie Macabre.  All good things.  And yet…

I did not like this movie.  I really wanted to, and I was convinced that the first 20 minutes or so were a great start.  And then…let me recount this scene for you:

Man and woman are driving in a convertible; he takes a turn too fast and the car crashes; man is thrown from the vehicle and rolls down an embankment, but is surprisingly uninjured; woman is still in the car (I assume she was wearing her seatbelt), which has mysteriously caught on fire; she reaches out a hand as if pleading for assistance; man cringes, and hands her his coat; moments later, man reaches into the flaming car and takes the coat with her head wrapped neatly inside.

I had to pause the damn movie after that because I had so many questions. 

It’s probably not much of a spoiler to tell you that the man takes the head to his lab where he pumps it full of juice and a mysterious “elixir” that keeps her head alive without a body, seemingly just sitting on a cookie sheet filled with blood and some sort of pumping mechanism.  Oh, there’s also an Igor-type assistant with a withered arm, and a mysterious “experiment gone wrong” creature locked in a closet. 

From there, the man begins a long and arduously-misogynistic search to find his fiance a new body.  He checks all the reasonable places: strip joints, bikini modeling contests, art school sessions, even picks up ladies walking down the road.  At one point there’s a stripper catfight.  It’s a series of horrible representations of women who all fawn over the murderous man who obviously hadn’t thought of things like VD when he went on his body-quest.  I won’t tell you how it ends, except to say that the woman sort of wins and the man gets his comeuppance.   

Le Mans (1971) 

After breakfast, I turned on TCM and watched the last half hour of Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo.  Because it’s Saturday, and why the hell not. (Why the hell Knotts?)  After that, they stuck with the racing theme and showed Le Mans, which I stuck around to watch because it has two things I adore: fast cars, and Steve McQueen.  If you like real F1 or Grand Prix racing, this flick is great.  If you’re really into Days of Thunder, this might not be your thing.  For one, there’s hardly any dialogue in the whole film.  There’s hints of romantic subplot, a relatively unexplained rivalry, and just enough backstory to make you care what happens to Steve McQueen (like you need an excuse to care about Steve McQueen).  But the thing you have to remember is that McQueen was really into racing in real life.  He wanted to make a movie about racing.  He even got clearance from the  producer to do all his own driving. (Did I mention he was the producer?)  

But trust me, folks, this is not NASCAR.  Though the story is sparse, it has an understated intensity that lets characters speak volumes in mere glances.  The racing is genuinely exciting to watch, and of course there are some excellent crashes to witness.  It’s not a light-hearted or thrill-a-minute kind of flick, but if you want a slow-burn with some sweet cars and a handsome protagonist to keep you company while you do laundry, put it in your queue. 

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

And then TCM made a completely off-the-wall jump, from car racing to Greek mythology.  Don’t get me wrong, I am defintely not complaining.  Ever since I was wee, Ray Harryhausen has been one of those men who make me love to love movies.  When I was young I loved Clash of the Titans, and Jason and the Argonauts is a film I came upon within the last decade and have just adored.  It may not have quite the star power that Titans has, but I think the animation is far superior.  The skeleton warrior fight scene is one of the most impressive stop-motion animation sequences ever put to film.  (It was here that Mick and I had an indepth conversation about the merits of both Harryhausen and Rankin-Bass, and what if Harryhausen had done Rudolph.)  I don’t think there’s much praise I can give to this film that hasn’t already been heaped upon it by generations of fans, so I’ll leave it at that.  On a related note, I want to start a metal band called “Children of the Hydra”.

Here, watch some skeletons kick ass.