“Say Goodbye To Classical Reality.”

I have something of a hit-and-miss relationship with John Carpenter’s work. I adore The Thing. I like Big Trouble in Little China. Escape from New York is enjoyable enough, but ultimately, I liked Snake Plissken more than the actual movie itself. Halloween is a classic that I don’t love nearly as much as I’m supposed to, and The Fog, unfortunately, really didn’t much for me. All I remember about Vampires is that it was goddamn dreadful.

Today–as my first reward essay for the Clarion West Write-a-Thon–we’ll be discussing John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, which, I can tell you right now, is not destined to be one of my favorites. But there are aspects of this movie that I find really intriguing.

Let’s talk about them, shall we?

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“Boy, Have We Got a Vacation For You.”

Next year, HBO will be airing a new television series, a genre-bending western about killer robots. Said series is called Westworld, and if “western” plus “killer robots” wasn’t enough to excite you (you clearly unexcitable heathen), it’s also got an interesting cast (Ben Barnes, Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jimmi Simpson, Evan Rachel Wood, etc.) and is being helmed by Jonathan Nolan, who, yes, is related to Christopher Nolan, and is also the dude who created the pretty fantastic Person of Interest. So, yeah, I’m definitely hopeful.

But this isn’t a review of that show. This is a review of the source material its adapted from: Westworld, the 1973 western about killer robots.

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The pacing is a little rough sometimes and there are some damn silly things about it, but ultimately I enjoyed watching this movie.

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“I Never Met Parry. But I Know Psychologically He’s No Killer.”

When I completed my 2013 Western Challenge, I was pretty burnt out on the genre. Basically, I didn’t want to look John Wayne or Clint Eastwood in the face for months. I couldn’t say the same for film noir, though, because — bullshit romances aside — I generally enjoy private detectives more than cowboys. And when Mek pitched the idea of renting Dark Passage, a Bogart/Bacall noir where Bogie’s face is obscured for at least half the movie, I was intrigued enough to give it a try. “Sure,” I said naively. “I’m working on a bunch of stuff right now, so I probably won’t get around to reviewing it, but yeah, let’s check it out.”

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But people, I had to review it. Because Dark Passage has problems. Serious problems.

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“I’m Not Bad. I’m Just Drawn That Way.”

After Bob Hoskins passed away on Wednesday, Mekaela and I ended up watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

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We used to own this movie on VHS, but we never ended up replacing it after our VCR died a sad and whining death some years ago. Thankfully, Netflix was there in a pinch. (As they were with Ghostbusters when Ivan Reitman died. Is it bad that a part of my brain is wondering if Netflix has some kind of Dead Watch committee, a team whose primary focus is acquiring rights for films that people will want to view after beloved directors or actors pass on?)

(I’m not a cynical bastard. I’m just drawn that way?)

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“That’s Not A Plan. That’s a Shit Sandwich Without Bread.”

Many years ago, I watched the original Red Dawn. I know I did. I actually remember sitting down to watch it. And yet . . . and yet it’s like the entire experience was wiped from my mind, like something traumatic happened that my brain overwrote to protect itself. Aliens, I don’t know. The point is, it’s all gone.

At some point, I may revisit that past trauma. In the meantime, I decided to just watch the remake instead.

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This probably doesn’t come as a shock, I’m sure, but it’s not very good.

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“To Hell With Dignity. I’ll Leave When the Job’s Done.”

When it comes to James Bond, I’m fairly ambivalent. I find a handful of the Sean Connery movies enjoyable enough — Goldfinger might be my favorite, or at least the one that sticks out the most in my mind — and I actually like Casino Royale quite a bit. But I’ve never felt any need to go back and watch every James Bond movie. Sorta, you’ve see one, you’ve seen them all, you know? Also, I never really liked the Pierce Brosnan films very much, probably because I don’t particularly like Pierce Brosnan — I don’t know; it’s irrational — and despite being a fan of Daniel Craig, I never bothered to see Quantum of Solace and felt vindicated when everyone said it wasn’t worth watching. (I can’t get past that title; I just can’t.)

However, I had some interest in Skyfall, and more to the point, my sister really wanted to see it, so last week we finally got around to watching it.

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It’s definitely a fun movie . . . but I do have some problems with it.

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