Weblogging is replete with Carnivals of this, Bonfires of that — most of which fall on a Friday before all of this gets put into sleep mode. One such I thought is missing is something along the lines of a Carnival of Matinee Movies. These are the movies you saw Saturday afternoons, either in a theater or at home on television.
Saturday matinee movies aren’t just film or cinema–they’re culture. How we are as people is greatly defined by what Saturday afternoon movies we saw with our friends, family, or by ourselves. They didn’t even have to be Saturday afternoons, because the Saturday matinee movie is a state of mind as much as a state of time.
I am not particularly good at starting a meme, so I won’t. Rather than attempting to start a “Matinee Madness”, I’m just going to write about Saturday matinee movies on Saturdays and if folks want to join, they can. If not, no big deal. At a minimum, it’s a change of pace from discussions about Wikipedia, Google, and big-haired bloggers.
Matinee movies differ for each of us. My roommate is partial to westerns, but my Dad favored war movies. Old dancing and singing movies ring other people’s bells, but my Saturday matinees invariably focused on science-fiction movies; usually featuring what I called the Playtex Living monsters.
I’m not alone in being brought up in the tradition of creature features on Saturdays. The SciFi channel seems to have tapped into this with its CGI movie of the week, but with, to me, much less class. Bizarrely enough, I fit the demographics for these types of movies: being a woman over 50 (and therefore to some conservative writers, equivalent to dog food).
I didn’t believe the demographics until I visited my Mom. She loves the SciFi creature features. More, she loves disaster flicks. While there, we watched shows on killer bees, killer locusts, and little nanobots that can eat a human in 3 seconds flat. Humanity dies a thousand deaths, weekly, at my Mom’s.
Mom went to The Day After Tomorrow at the movies twice, and while I was visiting, got into a conversation with her 82 year old neighbor next door about the merits of some kind of disaster flick on NBC. Listening to them, I was reminded of two wine lovers discussing the relative merits of a new wine. Yes, it had a good tension, but it spent too much time getting into the action. Oh my yes, that building falling down was especially good. It became flat, though, in the middle: not enough people squished.
If they do a remake of the Poseidon Adventure, as the rumors go, she’ll be in alt.
(Now, I like disaster flicks, too, but I didn’t like the Poseidon Adventure. The premise was good even if the clothes were awful. But I could have lived with the clothes, and the hair, and even Ernest Borgnine in yet another disaster flick. No, it was the song, you know what song. I still hate that song.)
I, on the other hand, grew up with monsters: from the sea, from space, and particularly from Japan. Yes, this means Godzilla. I loved Godzilla. It didn’t matter that the monsters were fake and the Tokyo looked like it was made of cardboard, or that the tiny little human being stepped on looked like Ken of Barbie doll fame. I loved it when the thing screeched; I loved when it would smash through power lines; and when it fought the bad monsters and would jump up and down with glee, I would join it.
As a consequence, I love Japanese movies that feature Playtex living monsters, no matter how improbable.
Recently PZ Meyers wrote a review of The Calamari Wrestler, a new Japanese flick where the hero, a famous wrestler, reincarnates as a giant squid. PZ, who most likely picked this up because of its giant squid associations (he, like me, is all things Archituethis Dux), started his review with:
I have seen The Calamari Wrestler. It was…indescribable. I won’t even try.
Variety had a few more words:
Funny pic about a brooding wrestler reincarnated as a giant squid is a kind of “Waiting for Godzilla” aimed at the midnight circuit. F/x, amounting to men in rubber suits, is proudly of the Ed Wood school, but tasty tale is served up with a redeeming wink. Quick sketch of Japanese pro wrestling history, couched in terms of island’s postwar identity problems, give extra context to the tentacle-in-cheek sports spoof. Cult suction should ensue, but it won’t see much theatrical ink.
A Japanese giant squid that wrestles–impossible to resist. It is now first in my Netflix queue. I’ll have a review of it for next Saturday’s Matinee Movie of the Week.