BOOTLEG FILES 731: “Sneak Previews” (PBS series starring Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert).
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No perceived reissue value.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.
In 1975, the Chicago public television station WTTW debuted a monthly show with the somewhat awkward title “Opening Soon at a Theater Near You.” The show featured two of Chicago’s most prominent film critics, Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, in a half-hour discussion regarding the merits and flaws of films in release. Clips from the films in question gave audiences a sampling of what they could expect on the big screen.
The main flaw to “The Fright File” is that author Dustin Putman only offers three films out of 150 made before the seventies. A portion of the list are films made in the seventies, while most of the films are from the aughts and are as recent as 2013. While I don’t mind being given suggestions for films as recent as 2013, I wouldn’t have minded stumbling on to a hidden gem or two. For folks looking for a primer on films that are essential to horror fans, “The Fright File” surely isn’t a bad book. But for horror fans looking to discover something new and completely out of left field, this isn’t really the book to turn to. That is unless you’re a fan of Dustin Putman’s writing, and want to see his thoughts on various horror films.
“I will never do anything that violates my personal and professional code of journalistic ethics. However, I will do anything for money.”
Joe Bob enters the video age! Don’t worry, though, he’s still all about the drive-in. It’s just Joe Bob is now in the era where studios are sending critics screeners, and half of the book is mainly reviews for drive-in movies, and movies on VHS that Joe Bob either really liked or really hated. He’s hardly ever middle ground. As his loyal readers express anger at his changing of format for the sake of keeping his job, Joe Bob devotes a column in the book to explaining why he’s suddenly reviewing VHS tapes, and of course it’s a necessary evil.
I mean it was the late eighties after all. And during this time, Joe Bob was no longer just cruising drive-in movies, as now he was being sent VHS tapes, and was going to cable television for his famed show on The Movie Channel in US cable television. But hey, Joe Bob is still the same guy. And he’s still as funny as ever. In this second compilation, Joe Bob spares no one with his rants about the government, and public education, while reviewing movies that he feels warrant mentioning for his reader.
“Women should never be judged by their personal appearance. They Should be Judged by the Size of their Hooters.” – Joe Bob’s Rules to Live By
It’s easy to see why John Bloom aka Joe Bob Briggs would arouse the ire of pretty much everyone in the South. He is not a writer that’s intent on being politically correct, nor does he really pull his punches with his reviews.
He refers to women only as bimbos, he calls men turkeys, he has an article devoted to Steven Spielberg and his “wimpy” movies, he bashes Gene Shallit, he mocks Moustapha Akkad for being an ayrab, and he calls people who perfer to go to indoor movies rather than drive-ins, folks too poor to afford cars.
But that’s all apart of the character of Joe Bob Briggs. Rather than writing a Drive-In report as John Bloom, writer Bloom created Joe Bob Briggs, a Southern gent who is politically incorrect, offends at every turn, and has a deep passion for the drive-in.
It’s pretty funny that “DNA” manages to be a total rip off of “Predator.” Because once you get a full glimpse at the alien monster in this 1997 Mark Dacascos vehicle, you realize that the alien in the film looks exactly like the early concepts for the monster in “Predator.” Anyone who knows movies, knows that the early designs for the monster in “Predator” featured a long necked more primal beast with a beak like mouth later changed in to a dreadlocked crab like hunter. The beast in “DNA” looks similar to the aforementioned monster from early drafts of “Predator,” except this time he’s tangling with Mark Dacascos and his boss long hair. “DNA” is not the worst “Predator” wannabe I’ve ever seen, it’s just incredibly silly. Especially when the first half is pretty much a riff on “African Queen” that then turns in to “Predator” once we learn of the evil plans bad guy Jurgen Prochnow has in store.
“Battledogs,”is a film that demonstrates the fine art of retooling a movie and having a good time doing it. In this instance, Writer Phillip Van Dyke retreads 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” but tailors it more for werewolves. Every plot device and moment in the film is shamelessly derived from the 2008 action film. Hell, there’s even a moment where one of the infected humans is kicked out of a helicopter in mid-air and sent crashing in to the Earth as it transforms in to the rabid werewolf.
Ticket-Keeper: A rebel in hell–how original.
Apparently Darren Lynn Bousman’s “Repo! The Genetic Opera” has not only become a massive cult classic, but it’s rising to the status of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” where fans swarm in droves to pay homage to the punk rock horror musical engineered by the director. While its initial release was piss poor, that never means it’s the death of an actual film. Quality always rises above horrible marketing and advertising. While “Repo!” was an entertaining enough horror treat, director Darren Lynn Bousman follows up his hit musical with a quasi-sequel of a sorts. While it’s not a direct continuation of “Repo!” it definitely garners the spirit of the former film, and even casts some actors from “Repo!” including Paul Sorvino, Bill Mosely, and Alex Vega in an especially saucy role as the demonic Wick.
There’s just so much mystery behind Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” that you have to ponder on the mystery behind “Room 237.” The Rodney Ascher directed documentary is a film that explores the dimensions of “The Shining” but also garners its own curiosities in the mean time. I mean there’s no denying that “The Shining” was never meant to be anything more than a puzzle from Stanley Kubrick, but what is the puzzle? Did Kubrick really pay so much attention to the film to include a yet to be deciphered message within the film cells? Or is it just a pastiche of random imagery left for the laymen to tinker with for decades to come? Did Kubrick find cinematic immortality by simply giving his audience a movie to think about that ultimately just meant nothing? You have to wonder, why would Kubrick be so meticulous about scenery, props, and symbolism, but forget to hide the shadow of his chopper during the opening scenes of the film?