January 19th, 2021
In our sixth Cronenberg-themed show (recorded in 2012), we expanded our scope to include David Cronenberg’s very own spawn, Brandon, whose debut feature Antiviral had just gone wide in Canada. Ricky, Edgar, and Simon tackled the flick, to see how it stacks up against one of daddy’s earlier efforts, 1981’a sci-fi actioner Scanners.
January 18th, 2021
Scanners Podcast Review
This week the Sordid Cinema Podcast takes a deeper look at the 1981 cult classic Scanners to see if there’s still more in this tale of telepathic intrigue than a nifty exploding head GIF. Goomba Stomp writer/editor Mike Worby joins Rick and Patrick on their dive into director David Cronenberg’s first commercial hit, discussing where the film stands in his pantheon, debating the effect a rushed production schedule had on the script, and wondering just why the film’s lead actor comes across as a robot. Along the way here are comparisons to Hitchcock and the X-Men, praise for the incredible practical effects, a chuckle over a phone booth that gets blown up but good, and some questions about that twist ending.
Does Scanners still stand the test of time? What sort of tweaks could be made if this film was ever reimagined? And just how many times will that exploding head actually be mentioned? For all this and more, have a listen!
Editor’s Note: We’ve included our original review of Scanners from 2012 at the one hour and fifteen-minute mark of the episode.
January 4th, 2021
Maybe the original isn’t the best around? This week on the Sordid Cinema Podcast, hosts Rick and Patrick kick off the new year by looking back at an old sequel: John G. Avildsen’s The Karate Kid Part II. It turns out that crane kicking Johnny Lawrence’s face at the All Valley Karate Championship was just a warmup for Daniel-san, as this time he follows his sensei, Mr. Miyagi, to a small village in Japan in order to sort out a long-standing feud. Along the way, they both encounter flying fists, swinging hooks, mini drums, and romantic tea ceremonies. But does this follow-up to a classic stand toe-to-toe with its predecessor?
Though The Karate Kid Part II may have plenty of issues (an overlong recap, a homicidal teenage rival, a lack of focus, and some questionable matte paintings), there is still plenty to love about a sequel that dares to push a franchise forward. The exotic setting and darker tone result in higher stakes, and despite the many familiar beats, this film also has the best romance in the series, as well as an intriguing nemesis in Sato. Join us as we discuss both the highs and lows of this still very watchable slice of the 80s, somehow make comparisons to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and reveal our most memorable moments. For all this and more, have a listen!
December 22nd, 2020
Though director Bob Clark may be most remembered for helming the brilliantly sentimental holiday favorite A Christmas Story, his 1974 slasher classic Black Christmas is just as unforgettable, though for very different reasons. The story of a psychopathic murderer who terrorizes the residents of a sorority house just as everyone is about to leave for Christmas break might come to seem like merely a seedy premise for some cheap thrills, but excellent craftsmanship and standout performances result in one of the most unnerving home invasion films ever made. Where’s a Red Rider carbine action BB gun when you need one?
This week Rick and Patrick are joined by filmmaker Keir Siewert to break down exactly what makes this precursor to the slasher genre explosion so effective. Along the way we touch on the film’s creepy use of POV, discuss how the characters enhance the tension and go into how the film inspired John Carpenter to make his own seminal classic, Halloween. But how does that ending hold up? Is Olivia Hussey’s Jess a true ‘final girl’? Could changing one line of dialogue have made an already superb experience even better? For all this and more, have a listen!
December 19th, 2020
Once a staple of holiday programming, Frank Capra’s 1946 masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life may not be as widely broadcast, but it nevertheless still deserves to be seen by as many as possible. An inspiring story that showcases an inspired performance from star Jimmy Stewart, this tale of a man driven to the brink of suicide who is given a second chance at life remains powerful and effective to this day. What better way for the Sordid Cinema Podcast to kick off the holiday season than by re-taking the plunge ourselves into the world of a disappointed dreamer called George Bailey, the miserly Mr. Potter, and a doddering guardian angel named Clarence.
Rick and Patrick’s trip through the storybook town of Bedford Falls includes talk of a near-fatal poisoning by a druggist, a Depression-era run on the banks, theft of $8000 that could lead to embezzlement charges, loss of hearing, a theory about a possible curse by a marriage-seeking teenager, a supremely talented crow, and discussions of just how many strip clubs a small town needs. Feeling the holiday spirit yet? Find out why the guys believe the notoriously sentimental ending works perfectly, count the references to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It Happened One Night, and maybe even learn what a spinster is!
For all this and more, have a listen!
December 2nd, 2020
The spoof genre may have descended to near non-existence these days, but neither time nor inferior imitators have grounded what many consider to be one of the greatest comedies ever made. This week the Sordid Cinema podcast takes a look at 1980’s Airplane!, a top-notch example of what an amazing take-off looks like. With a story ripped straight from an obscure drama called Zero Hour! and a healthy sense of irreverence built up from 10 years of disaster movies, this story of an airline flight placed in peril by some rotten fish packs in so many jokes that it will be nearly impossible to see them all in just one viewing.
But who watches Airplane! only once? Surely, not Rick and Patrick (and we’re not calling you Shirley). Join us as we discuss some of the best gags, marvel at how close this film is to comedic perfection (oh, Johnny…), and muse about the potential future of the spoof genre. For all this and more, have a listen!
November 25th, 2020
The People Under The Stairs Podcast Review
After our discussion of Scream 2, we couldn’t help returning to director Wes Craven’s library. This week the Sordid Cinema Podcast is taking a look at one of the odder entries in the horror master’s oeuvre, 1991’s The People Under the Stairs. A mashup of different genres that spans everything from genuine chills to slapstick comedy, this heist/home invasion film might inspire some conflicted thoughts, but there’s still plenty of entertainment to be had, as well as craft to be admired.
Joining Rick and Patrick is returning guest Sean Colletti, co-host of Goomba Stomp’s very own TV podcast The Mid-Season Replacements. We plunge into the intriguing premise, the fantastic performances, and all the tonal shifts that make this movie such an interesting watch. Along the way there are debates over the suitability and state of horror for children, plenty of mentions of a certain black leather outfit, and where this fits into Craven’s pantheon. For all this and more, have a listen!
November 15th, 2020
Hot off the heels of The Sixth Sense, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan decided to follow up his smash psychological horror hit with something fans weren’t quite expecting: a grounded look at the comic book superhero myth. This week The Sordid Cinema Podcast takes a look at that low-key masterpiece, Unbreakable. Rick and Patrick are joined by superfan Aisha Newton (her cat is named Elijah, after Samuel L. Jackson’s diabolical villain) to discuss what makes this film so special these many years later, especially in the context of the flood of Marvel and DC blockbusters that have released since. Those who have yet to see this 2000 film will definitely see a different approach than what they may be used to. So how does Shyamalan’s patient, precise style hold up today? Is there an audience for this type of superhero film going forward? And just what exactly is Rick’s ‘kitchen theory’? For all this and more, have a listen!
November 4th, 2020
Scream 2 Podcast Review
‘Sequels suck! By definition alone, sequels are inferior films!’
So, says Scream’s resident movie geek Randy Meeks, but is he right?
Since the original Scream was so groundbreaking with its pop-culture references and discussions of horror movie formulas, director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson seemed bound to fail when they released Scream 2 just a year later, in 1997. But to the surprise of movie audiences everywhere, Scream 2 features more suspense, more scares, more false alarms, and more red herrings than one can count. And while the sequel may have lacked the original’s element of surprise, one could easily make a strong argument that Scream 2 is as scary and smart as the original, if not more.
And that’s just what we try to do this week…
In this episode of the Sordid Cinema podcast, Tilt Magazine’s Caitlin Marceau joins Ricky D and Patrick Murphy to discuss why Scream 2 is a better movie than its predecessor and how it at times, expertly ratchets up the suspense to unbearable levels. All this and more!
October 26th, 2020
Frailty Podcast Review
The late Bill Paxton’s 2001 directorial debut Frailty may have passed by unnoticed at the box office, but over time this low-budget, atmospheric horror film has maintained a steady appreciation. This week Rick and Patrick are joined by Montreal-based film writer and professor Matthew Hays to break down just what makes this underseen gem so good, as well as dive into its themes of religious piety and family dynamics. The story of a man who believes he has been chosen by God to destroy demons living as humans on earth delves into dark places, as this good-natured mechanic also turns his mission into a family affair – even as one of his sons thinks his father may be going insane.
From strong performances to an interesting script with an unreliable narrator, Frailty consistently engages the audience and is sure to surprise them as well with its many (too many?) twists. Join us as we sort out all the plot details and ponder the mysteries. How well does Frailty handle the supernatural elements? Would the film have worked even better with more ambiguity, or is the clarity of vision one of its strengths? For all this and more, have a listen!