Thursday, October 31, 2019

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1994)

Back to sub-standard Survivor Series fare.....

Survivor Series 1994 - Freeman Coliseum - 11/23/94

Here's an ugly bit of business.  Survivor Series '94 saw the return of 5-on-5 elimination matches, which sounds like it'd be great.  Unfortunately the WWF didn't seem to care about making them seem at all important, so they came off as a jumbled mess.  The two main events on the show were singles matches (this began an infuriating trend of every major feud on a Survivor Series card being settled in a singles match while the elimination matches were treated as obligatory filler), neither of which really delivered.

Far too similar to the first match on the 1991 card, the opening match here had all the hallmarks of a classic.  The Bad Guys - Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, British Bulldog, and The Headshrinkers vs. The Teamsters - Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Jeff Jarrett.  A bunch of good workers and a bunch of future main eventers.  What could go wrong?  Well, much like its 1991 counterpart, this match started out great, establishing Diesel as a killing machine, and then about twenty minutes in, ended with five - FIVE - men getting eliminated at the same time, with one guy left standing as the winner.  This was so unbelievably stupid.  It all happened after Shawn accidentally superkicked Diesel (the third time this had happened), leading to Diesel chasing Shawn out of the ring and back to the dressing room.  The rest of their team went with them to try and break up the impending melee, and the referee counted the whole team (yes, the WHOLE TEAM) out of the ring.  Umm, shouldn't only the legal man be counted out?  And then the next legal man would get counted out?  So like, shouldn't the referee have had to count to fifty to eliminate the entire team?

Hey look, it's the Kliq......and Davey Boy.

Look, dummies.  Here's what you do with this match.  The main objectives were obviously to break up Shawn and Diesel, turn Diesel face, and position Diesel as the next main event guy.  So instead of wasting everyone's time with a 20-minute match without a third act and a totally nonsensical ending, how 'bout you have Diesel run through Razor's whole team (like he did), tag Shawn in (like he did), hold Razor for the superkick (like he did), have Shawn miss and hit Diesel (like he did), and then have Razor roll Shawn up for the pin.  Then Diesel (now the legal man) realizes what happened and angrily chases Shawn back to the dressing room, thus getting counted out and making it a 3-on-1 match.  Razor gallantly battles Owen, Jarrett and Neidhart, eventually eliminating "The Anvil," befor Owen and Jarrett's heel tactics become too much and Jarrett covers Razor for the win (thus setting Jarrett up as the #1 I-C contender, which they were gonna do anyway!).  Would that have been so hard?  Then you'd have an epic, dramatic elimination match that elevated Diesel and Jarrett, set up the Shawn-Diesel feud, and painted Razor as a courageous fighter who never gave up despite the long odds.

Nope, let's just throw out another potentially awesome Survivor Series match.  Next?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Parents' Night In #25: Bride of Frankenstein (1935) - Our Favorite Universal Monster Film!

Happy Halloween!  Justin and Kelly are back with another classic Universal horror film, Bride of Frankenstein starring Colin Clive, Elsa Lanchester, Ernest Thesiger, Valerie Hobson, and of course the legendary Boris Karloff!  We discuss the origins and making of James Whale's masterpiece, its run-ins with Hays Code censors, and its shocking-for-1935 subtext.  Sit back, watch and laugh as we dissect the greatest of all Universal monster movies!

****DON'T FORGET TO LIKE AND SUBSCRIBE!****




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The History of WWE Survivor Series (1993)

After three pretty bad editions of the Thanksgiving Night/Eve Spectacular, the show returned to its roots in 1993...


Survivor Series 1993 - Boston Garden - 11/24/93

Well that's more like it.  The '93 Series PPV was something of a return to form after the format had been watered down and then abandoned completely over the three previous years.  This show marks the first time a wrestling PPV had ever been held in Boston, so it has some sentimental value for me.  I was tempted to buy a ticket, but since it was Thanksgiving Eve and I'd have to travel home to the 'burbs anyway, I opted to watch on the tube.

This show not only put the focus back on the elimination matches, but for the first time since 1990 the main event was one of them.  The company made the most of a terribly depleted roster and put on a pretty damn good show, all things considered.  This would sadly be Bobby Heenan's final WWF PPV, as he would soon leave the company and wind up in WCW.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1992)

Oh look, a non-Survivor Series show.....

Survivor Series 1992 - Richfield Coliseum - 11/25/92

Survivor Series '92, or as I like to call it, Generic Wrestling Show '92, returned to the place where it all started, the Richfield Coliseum.  This was the first Survivor Series after Hulk Hogan's departure and featured a host of brand new main event stars.  The WWF had moved away from the superhuman power wrestlers due to mounting steroid allegations, and focused on smaller grapplers and more athletic action.

Sadly they also moved away from a Survivor Series format for this installment and it became just another PPV event.

The show opened with the newly-signed Headshrinkers (or Samoan Swat Team as they had been called in WCW) vs. High Energy (Owen Hart and Koko B. Ware, who for some reason both wore Jim Neidhart's old MC Hammer-style pants).  This was a serviceable kickoff tag bout but little more than a showcase for the Wild Samoans: NextGen team.

Next up was The Big Bossman facing Nailz (a "former convict" whom the former prison guard Big Bossman had allegedly mistreated in the clink) in a Nightstick on a Pole match.  Nailz was comically evil and had a digitally enhanced speaking voice to make him sound more monstrous.  This was his final televised WWF match, as he was later fired for physically assaulting Vince McMahon.  Probably not the smartest move to beat up your boss, but then again Steve Austin made a great living that way.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The History of NWA/WCW Halloween Havoc (1989)

Welcome to another look at PPV History, here at Enuffa.com!  This being the Halloween season I'll be looking back at the very first PPV I ever ordered, the NWA's inaugural Halloween Havoc!

Halloween Havoc '89 is a bit of an overlooked gem.  1989 was considered by most to be the NWA's best-ever year from a creative and match quality standpoint, featuring two landmark Ric Flair feuds and the rise of future headliners like Sting, Lex Luger and The Steiners.  It was the company's first full calendar year under the ownership of Ted Turner, and it felt like the changes at the top temporarily brought about a renewed sense of focus.

Most fans correctly cite The Great American Bash and Chi-Town Rumble as the company's top two PPVs of that year, but for me Halloween Havoc isn't far behind.  Sporting a stacked card (particularly in the tag team division) and a unique first-time gimmick match, Havoc was a thoroughly enjoyable show from start to finish, and it became one of the company's flagship PPVs until its 2001 demise.

But let's take a closer look, shall we?


Philadelphia Civic Center - 10.28.89

The centerpiece of this show was the first-ever Thunderdome match pitting Ric Flair and Sting against Terry Funk and The Great Muta.  After having feuded for much of 1988, Flair and Sting became allies at The Great American Bash, discovering they had common enemies.  The ensuing feud became so heated and intense it was decided the only way to settle it would be inside a giant steel cage with an electrified top and campy horror decor adorning the upper sections.  Each team would have a "second" stationed at ringside holding a white towel, and the match could only end when said team representative threw in said towel.  To ensure law and order, the NWA brought in the vaunted Bruno Sammartino as the guest referee.  This match sure had a lot of window dressing, but it all helped give the bout a big-fight atmosphere and made it feel like something special.

It may seem quaint now but in 1989 this dive was the goddamnedest thing

The match itself was a wildly fun brawl that ranged all over ringside as the four combatants gradually figured out the lay of the land.  The fisticuffs frequently took place on the side of the cage as Terry Funk repeatedly attempted escape.  Sting made good use of the structure at one point, diving off the cage rungs onto an unsuspecting Funk in the center of the ring.  Another memorable moment occurred early in the match, when a cage prop caught fire and Muta managed to put it out with his green mist.  I'm pretty sure that's never happened before or since.  After an unruly 23-minute battle, Flair caught Funk in the Figure Four and Sting nailed Funk's legs with multiple top-rope splashes.  Funk's manager Gary Hart attempted to interfere but ran into Flair & Sting's second, Ole Anderson, who knocked Hart loopy with a punch.  Hart's towel flew out of his hand and Sammartino declared Flair and Sting the victors.  While certainly not on par with Flair vs. Steamboat or the two Flair vs. Funk singles matches, the Thunderdome match was a very worthy main event and all four guys worked hard to make the awkward match structure a success.  My only gripes were the lack of blood and the fluky finish.  But then this match wasn't designed as the blowoff to this feud - that would happen at New York Knockout.

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1991)

Consider this ugly little number, which ended up a sleazy sales pitch for another PPV...

Survivor Series 1991 - Joe Louis Arena - 11/27/91

Wow.  Not only was Survivor Series 1991 not a good PPV, it was little more than a hype show for the newest WWF PPV offering six days later, This Tuesday in Texas.  This was such a cheap-ass bait and switch, and had I actually paid to see this show I'd have been LIVID.  In an odd way this PPV was ahead of its time in that it essentially accomplished the same thing as every PPV in the Vince Russo era - hook the paid viewers into watching an upcoming show.  Just mystifying.

The opener looked fantastic on paper.  Ric Flair, The Mountie, Ted Dibiase, and The Warlord vs. Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Virgil.  This was Ric Flair's first major feud in the WWF, and the heat between him and Piper was fantastic.  Piper had been an announcer for a while and got put on probation for getting physically involved with Flair, to the point that President Jack Tunney threatened suspension if it happened again.  Flair then took advantage, taunting Piper repeatedly and slapping his headset off, hoping to provoke a fight.  Piper snapped, was fired as an announcer and reinstated as a wrestler.

Anyway what a great lineup - Flair, Dibiase, Piper, Bret and Davey Boy all in the same match!  And for about 22 minutes this was a pretty damn good elimination match.  Took its time, didn't rush to get to the end, had all the markings of an epic harkening back to the '87 and '88 shows.  Aaaaaand then a wild brawl broke out where five guys all got disqualified at once, leaving Ric Flair as the sole survivor.  Get the fuck right outta here.  FIVE-MAN DISQUALIFICATION.  This had to be the cheapest and laziest booking of the decade.  There was no discernible reason they couldn't have gone the traditional route, made this a 27-minute match that came down to Flair vs. Piper, and had Flair win using a cheap rollup while hooking the tights.  Then this could've been one of the best WWF matches of the year.  But no.  Let's just toss the whole thing out.  Unbelievable.

Image result for survivor series 1991 flair"
What a promising match this was....

Next we had, for the second year in a row, a pointless match involving Sgt. Slaughter, as he led Jim Duggan, Kerry von Erich, and Tito Santana against Col. Mustafa, The Berzerker, Skinner, and Hercules.  Slaughter had finally lost his feud with Hulk Hogan and once again embraced America, turning on his Iraqi sidekicks.  So the guy around whom they had built most of 1991 as a traitorous, flag-burning terrorist-type was now begging the fans to take him back.  This is reason #387 why the US-Iraq angle was a terrible idea: once you have the villain publicly side with a murderous totalitarian with whom America was actually at war, it's a little tough to get the fans back on his side later on.  Not surprisingly this new Slaughter-Sheik feud didn't exactly light up the wrestling world.  Also they had the babyfaces sweep the heels here, immediately negating the novelty of 1990's Visionaries-Vipers sweep.

Friday, October 25, 2019

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1990)

Sadly the WWF followed up its first three good-to-excellent Survivor Series PPVs with a totally phoned-in edition...

Survivor Series 1990 - Hartford Civic Center - 11/22/90

Dear God this show sucked.  For the first time (and certainly not the last), the WWF took the amazing Survivor Series concept and diluted it beyond all recognition.  The 4-on-4 format was still in effect from 1989 but they added the wrinkle that the survivors of each match would meet at the end of the show for a "Grand Finale" match.  A very cool idea in theory, but a terrible one in execution.

For one thing it resulted in six elimination matches - far too many for a three-hour PPV.  For another, the company also added a Mystery Egg segment - the climax to a weeks-long series of teasers where at the TV tapings they would show this giant turkey egg in the arena and let everyone know it was due to hatch at the PPV (How did they pinpoint the exact date, might I ask?).  At the Series, the egg hatched, and it was a man in a turkey suit, known as the Gobbledy Gooker.  The Gooker ran down to the ring and danced with Mean Gene Okerlund, and that was it.  That's what this whole angle was built around.  Just a colossal waste of everyone's lives.

Anyway, the show opened (OPENED!!) with the match involving WWF Champion The Ultimate Warrior.  This was the match I was most looking forward to, mind you; the hyped main event, and it went on first.  Warrior captained a team of Kerry Von Erich and the Legion of Doom, against Mr. Perfect (with whom Warrior was NOT feuding at the time) and the three members of Demolition.  Nevermind that Warrior was actually feuding with Randy Savage (who I presume wasn't medically cleared to wrestle, being that the two never fought until the following March), the lineup still looked intriguing.  And then it only went fourteen minutes.  Wait.  Thus far the shortest-ever Survivor Series match was almost 18 minutes, while the others were well over 20.  The MAIN EVENT of this Survivor Series PPV lasted fourteen minutes??  Something ain't right here.  Warrior won, incidentally.

Hmm, which of these four guys doesn't belong?
Incidentally only one of these men is still living.

Next was the Dream Team of Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware, and The Hart Foundation against the Million Dollar Team of Ted Dibiase, Honky Tonk Man, Greg Valentine, and mystery partner Kane the Undertaker (that's right, his first name was originally Kane).  This match was pretty good partly due to the intrigue of Taker's introduction, and partly because of the later stretches of the match when it came down to Bret vs. Dibiase.  Ted won the whole thing.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Wrestling Do-Overs: The Invasion Angle, part 2 (Backlash 2001)

Continuing my revisionist version of The Invasion Angle (click HERE for Part 1)....





The Next Night

Now here's where things really begin to take shape.  If you'll recall The Rock was leaving for several months to film The Scorpion King, so to write him off TV they had to "suspend" him.  Also to further Austin's heel turn he aligned himself with the despised Triple H, forming The Two-Man Power Trip.  I loved this alliance but again, it hurt business so I'm willing to erase it from the history books (particularly since it was short-lived).

Time for the Justin version: Austin goes to the ring, takes the mic, and explains why he accepted Vince's help at 'Mania.  During his year-long absence he was obsessed with winning back the WWF Championship.  It's all he thought about.  Then Triple H sidetracked him, and even bested him at No Way Out.  But when it came time to face The Rock, he was gonna do whatever it took to win back the Title, even duping Vince into thinking Austin would be the corporate Champion he wanted back in 1998.  So Vince agreed to help him beat The Rock.  But Austin'll be damned if he's gonna do anything differently than he ever has.

The Rock interrupts and points out that Austin couldn't beat him straight-up so he had to get help.  Austin says "I told you Rock that I was gonna do whatever it took to win back this Title."

Vince comes out and berates both Rock and Austin, and says he's not worried because in four weeks at Backlash Austin will defend the WWF Title against the man who beat him at No Way Out, Triple H!  The Rock reminds Vince that as the former Champion he is entitled to a rematch and is going to enact that clause tonight!


The main event arrives and Austin and Rock have a hard-fought rematch (Vince sits at ringside), with neither man seemingly able to get the duke.  Suddenly JR announces that there's been a security breach outside and there's some sort of commotion in the backstage area.  There's a split-screen keeping up with the action in the ring as the backstage camera tries to capture what's happening.  We see about fifteen masked men beating up the security team and they start pouring through the backstage curtain.

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1989)

Wait, it's not five-on-five anymore?  And the tag team match is gone??  WHAT THE DAMN HELL??

Survivor Series 1989 - Rosemont Horizon - 11/23/89

Here's a Survivor Series I went into just eager to hate the whole thing.  When I found out they had changed the format to 4-on-4 and done away with the 20-man tag team-based match I was livid.  This felt like it would totally water down the concept and ruin what had been one of my favorite gimmick matches.  Instead of putting all the tag teams in one supermatch, they paired two singles wrestlers with each tag team, and in the case of the Hart Foundation, actually split them into separate matches (something I still find baffling).

Fortunately though, Survivor Series 1989 was still a fun show to watch and featured some very good elimination bouts.  This was also the first Series where each team had a name - a silly touch, but it added a sense of officiality to the whole thing.

The opening match featured The Dream Team - Dusty Rhodes, Brutus Beefcake, Tito Santana, and The Red Rooster vs. The Enforcers - Big Bossman, Bad News Brown, Rick Martel and Honky Tonk Man.  On paper this looked like a yawner but it was actually pretty good.  Rhodes and Beefcake outlasted the Bossman team.

Second was the match I was initially looking the most forward to, as Randy Savage captained The King's Court, with Dino Bravo, Greg Valentine, and originally Barry Windham, who had jumped to the WWF as The Widowmaker.  I loved Windham at the time and had high hopes for his WWF run.  Unfortunately Windham only spent about six months in the company, for reasons I still don't understand, and was replaced by the WWF's newest monster heel Earthquake.  Savage's opponents were the 4x4s (a name that makes little sense since Jim Duggan carried a 2x4, not a 4x4): Jim Duggan, Bret Hart, Ronnie Garvin, and Hercules.  This match was solid and featured some rare televised Bret Hart vs. Randy Savage interaction (why they never had a major feud with each other I'll never know).  Savage's team was dominant thanks largely to Earthquake's involvement.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Alien 3

Welcome to another Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com, where I complain about someone else's hard work!


Today I'll be talking about one of my least favorite sequels ever, Alien 3!  Yup, it's gonna be a struggle to come up with many positives about this film, as I hate it.  HATE. IT.  But I wouldn't be telling the truth if I failed to talk about its good qualities.  Directed by the great David Fincher, Alien 3 is a stylish, exceedingly bleak sequel to the mega-popular thrill ride that was James Cameron's Aliens.  Picking up where that film left off, Alien 3 finds Ripley stranded on a penal planet populated by the worst criminals in the galaxy, when a stray alien breaks loose and starts butchering people by the dozen.  Ripley and the others must find a way, sans weapons, to kill the alien before a Weylan-Yutani supply ship arrives to bring the specimen back to Earth.  And, well, that's about it.  Nothing terribly complicated about this story, and the film was such a troubled production for the first-time director that Fincher has disowned the movie.  The studio began shooting without a completed script and questioned Fincher on nearly every creative idea, to the point that his intended cut was very different from the theatrical version (The "Assembly Cut" as it's called is widely considered superior to the latter, but I still don't like it).

But before I begin shredding this movie, let's take a look at what did work.....



The Awesome


Acting

Sigourney Weaver is back as Ellen Ripley of course, and she once again brings a sense of both empowerment and vulnerability to the role that made her famous.  She doesn't have quite the emotional arc here as she did in Aliens, but with what she's given to work with she excels as always.  This film has a number of strong supporting performances as well, the two biggest standouts being the dignified and understated Charles Dance as Dr. Clemens, and Charles S. Dutton as the reformed murderer and spiritual leader of the prison, Dillon.  Add accomplished character actors such as Pete Postlethwaite and Brian Glover, and there's no shortage of convincing work on the acting front.

There are some fine thespians in this tripe movie.



Visuals

As with all of his films, Fincher lent Alien 3 a distintive, stylish look, with filthy, gothic sets and a muted color pallette of yellows and browns.  The one area where this film surpasses Aliens for me is its unique visual style.  This is a gorgeously photographed movie from a young director already demonstrating his superior skill.  'Tis a shame the story didn't have more going on, as it's akin to a beautifully painted but mostly empty landscape.

There are also some fine visuals.



Effects (mostly)

Most of the special effects in Alien 3 still hold up, from the grotesquely sloppy chestburster scene to the amazingly lifelike Bishop head/torso, to the frightening closeups of the full-size alien.  The blood n' guts look first-rate, and aside from terrible compositing of the rod puppet used in wide shots (The puppet looks great, the blue screening looks like garbage), any xenophile should be satisfied with the effects.

And a boss-looking alien.


The History of WWE Survivor Series (1988)

Time to talk about my favorite Survivor Series....

Survivor Series 1988 - Richfield Coliseum - 11/24/88

Well somehow they did it.  The WWF managed to top the near-perfect 1987 Survivor Series with an EVEN BETTER show in 1988.  They crammed 50 wrestlers on the show (granted some were hardly A-listers but still) and presented 4 huge elimination matches once again.  Because of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage being presented as co-faces of the company, each team this year had two captains instead of one.  Kinda silly but it's a minor nitpick.

The opening match was once again built around the Intercontinental Championship feud, as new champ The Ultimate Warrior and Brutus Beefcake captained a team including Sam Houston, The Blue Blazer, and former Killer Bee Jim Brunzell (subbing for Don Muraco), against The Honky Tonk Man & Outlaw Ron Bass, and their team of Greg Valentine, Bad News Brown, and Danny Davis.  This bout was nothing special but kicked off the show with a fast-paced match and a feel-good moment, as the Warrior overcame the odds to survive.

The second match on this show is my favorite elimination bout in Survivor Series history.  Once again five tag teams were partnered up on each side of the ring, and this might be the greatest assembly of tag teams in a single match.  Newcomers (and Road Warrior clones) The Powers of Pain captained a team of the Hart Foundation, the British Bulldogs, the Rockers, and the Young Stallions (that's an unbelievably stacked crew right there) against Tag Champs Demolition, the Brain Busters, the Rougeaus, the Bolsheviks, and jobber team The Conquistadors (okay so they probably didn't belong).  The match was an epic 42-minute war where all the teams got plenty of ring time and the action was more or less non-stop until the closing minutes.  Then a shocking double-turn occurred, as Mr. Fuji turned on Demolition, causing their elimination.  The Powers of Pain then made short work of the Conquistadors and adopted Fuji as their new manager.  Demolition went on to become one of the most beloved teams in WWF history and set a new record for the longest Tag Championship reign (which held until The New Day eclipsed it in 2016).  This match holds up as a classic example of elimination wrestling.  Spectacular stuff.

That there is an even BETTER tag team division.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The History of WWE Survivor Series (1987)

From the wrestling-dependent jackoff who brought you The Histories of WWE WrestleMania and SummerSlam comes the official Enuffa.com History of WWE Survivor Series.


Welcome to my retrospective about what has traditionally been one of my favorite wrestling concepts, the Survivor Series.  The PPV debuted in 1987 when the WWF's chief rival, the NWA, decided to venture into the PPV market with Starrcade '87.  Vince McMahon, in full-on predatory mode, created a new gimmick PPV to go head-to-head with Jim Crockett's flagship show, but also told the cable companies they would have to choose between Starrcade and Survivor Series, and if they chose the former they would not be permitted to carry the following year's WrestleMania event.  This unfortunately crippled Starrcade's distribution (a shame since Starrcade '87 was a helluva show) and essentially ruined Crockett's PPV hopes, leading to the promotion's sale to Ted Turner in 1988.

The Survivor Series was built around a simple but ultra-awesome concept, superteams of five men (with either one or two captains depending on the year) battling for supremacy in a sequence of elimination matches.  The last team (or portion thereof) left standing would be the winners.  I had seen six-man elimination tag matches but the idea of a 5-on-5 version blew my freakin' mind and I absolutely loved this plan.

For the first few editions the show was entirely comprised of these elimination matches, but as the years have worn on WWE has almost disowned them and made the card more like a regular old PPV with an occasional elimination bout thrown in.  The result has been a very watered-down version of a once epic annual tradition.  But let's take a look at the history of WWE's second-oldest PPV event.


Survivor Series 1987 - Richfield Coliseum - 11/26/87

The original Survivor Series was an absolutely colossal extravanganza.  The three-hour PPV consisted of only four matches, three of which pitted teams of five against each other.  The fourth (and this was fucking GENIUS) stacked five tag teams to a side, and when one man from a tag team was eliminated, both members were gone.  So for example if Dynamite Kid got pinned, his partner Davey Boy Smith had to leave the ring as well.  This match type was only featured in the first two Survivor Series' (and was brought back in 2016), but it was amazing.  It also demonstrated how incredibly deep the tag team division used to be.

That there is a tag team division.

The first event opened with the team of Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake, and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan facing the Honky Tonk Man, Hercules, "Outlaw" Ron Bass, Harley Race, and Danny Davis.  Savage and HTM were feuding over the Intercontinental Title, and the "Macho Man" had become the second-most popular babyface in the company.  Also consider how monumental it was that Savage and Steamboat were teaming up only months after their venomous blood feud.  This match was absolutely thrilling and kicked off this historic event in style.  Team Savage was dominant, winning the match with three survivors (Savage, Steamboat and Jake) after the hopelessly outnumbered Honky Tonk Man took a powder and got counted out.  Just twenty-four minutes of BOSS.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Movie Review: Joker (2019)


Todd Phillips' Joker is one of the more tangibly uncomfortable films in recent memory.  We spend its two-hour running time in intimate proximity with a severely mentally ill fellow named Arthur Fleck, who is either ignored, dismissed or antagonized by everyone he comes in contact with, except for his equally disturbed mother who seems to have, among other issues, Munchausen Syndrome (when we meet him, Arthur is taking seven different prescription meds at any given time).  Fleck works as a clown-for-hire, rented out for store closing sales and children's hospital visits, but dreams of being a famous stand-up comedian, attending open-mic nights and taking hopelessly tone-deaf notes on what plays with a crowd and what doesn't.  He also fantasizes about being discovered by late-night talk show host Murray Franklin (an insensitive Robert Deniro, reversing roles from The King of Comedy, one of Joker's primary inspirations).

Joaquin Phoenix is a realistically terrifying force in this role (bringing to mind his Oscar nominated triumph as off-the-rails PTSD victim Freddie Quell in The Master, as well as DeNiro's troubled lead characters in Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy), unafraid to alienate the audience and push his portrayal into authentically unpleasant places.  I'd be shocked if Phoenix doesn't get an Oscar nod; he is a truly fearless actor and his performance legitimately feels like one of those dangerous immersions that must've stayed with him for weeks after shooting wrapped.

This film works even without the comic book trappings, relying on them only as window dressing while approaching this well-worn mythos from a different angle.  It's like the opposite of the Batman origin.  Instead of a wealthy orphan dedicating his life and unlimited fortune to fighting crime, we have a poverty-stricken outcast lashing out at a system that threw him overboard, inspiring Gotham's like-minded downtrodden to rise up against the wealthy.  While I found the sociopolitical commentary a bit messy and heavy-handed at times, it's nonetheless an interesting approach in imagining how a sociopathic arch-criminal like The Joker would come to be.

The 1981 Gotham City in this film is grimy, seedy and unwelcoming like the NYC of Taxi Driver, made worse by an ongoing garbage strike that's left the streets overflowing with refuse.  Rampant disillusionment hovers over this Gotham like a black cloud, permeating every scene until the tension becomes palpable and oppressive; spending two hours in this environment alongside this character will most certainly not be for everyone.

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)

Welcome to another Frankenstein-related Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!  Continuing with the Universal Studios franchise, we've arrived at the first cross-over film in the series, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, starring Lon Chaney Jr and Bela Lugosi.  If you missed our Ghost of Frankenstein review, click HERE.


FMTWM served as both a continuation of Ghost of Frankenstein (review HERE) and the 1941 classic The Wolf Man, and the studio wasn't coy about the two characters' eventual showdown.  The story here finds The Wolf Man Lawrence Talbot accidentally brought back to life and searching for a way to kill himself.  His travels take him to the old Frankenstein castle, where the monster is somehow still alive.  This barebones plot is just a way to get the two monsters in the same room so they can fight.  Not unlike a certain DC Comics crossover film released recently....

Anyway, there is unabashedly little substance to this movie but the filmmakers at least found ways to make it visually engaging, and its 74-minute running time flies by.  So let's take a look at the pluses and negatives of Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man....



The Awesome


Dutch Angles

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, despite its obvious status as an early shlock film, is actually pretty visually stunning, in part due to extensive Dutch angles to create a sense of being off-balance.  Unlike Ghost, which featured flat angles and drab cinematography, the filmmakers here made a conscious effort to at least draw the viewer in with the visuals.

Crooked cameras.....


Use of Shadows

In the same vein, this movie has a distinctly Expressionist look, with intense shadows that add to the gothic flavor.  There may be very little going on plot-wise, but this is damn sure a fun movie to look at.

Nice, atmospheric sets in this movie

Friday, October 18, 2019

Top Ten Things: October PPV Matches

Welcome to another Halloween-themed (but not really) Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com.  Instead of this column relating to Halloween and all things scary, instead it's October-centric.  Specifically I'll be counting down the top ten October PPV wrestling matches.

While pro wrestling's autumn season (falling as it does between the SummerSlam peak and the beginning of The Road to WrestleMania) has been pretty consistently known for B-level PPVs, shoddy writing, and rather stale characters, many of the October PPVs over the years have produced some excellent matches.  Here now are the ten greatest October PPV matches of all time.





10. Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio - Halloween Havoc 10.26.97


Quite possibly the greatest WCW Cruiserweight match of all time, Guerrero vs. Mysterio was voted WCW's Match of the Year and it's not hard to see why.  The action was breathtaking and impossibly fast.  Both men were in peak form and easily upstaged the rest of the WCW roster.  Mysterio won the Cruiserweight Title with a stunning top rope hurricanrana. 





9. Rock vs. Chris Jericho - No Mercy 10.21.01


This was the match that elevated Chris Jericho to a main eventer.  For the previous two years he had struggled to rise past upper-midcard status, but on this night he bested The Rock for the WCW Title in a spectacular 24-minute war, turning heel in the process.  Sadly the company hotshotted the belt back to The Rock only two weeks later, but this match proved Jericho could hang with the WWF's top stars and deliver a classic main event.






8. Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle vs. Rob Van Dam - No Mercy 10.21.01


No Mercy 2001 featured two amazing Title bouts.  After the Rock-Jericho classic came the WWF Title match, as heel Champion Steve Austin defended against archenemy Kurt Angle and white-hot tweener Rob Van Dam.  The bout was a whirlwind of intense brawling, virtuosic grappling, and daredevil highspots.  Austin narrowly retained and added to his succession of fantastic 2001 PPV matches.


Parents' Night In #24: IT (2017) - Kelly Is Scared of Pennywise....

It's Halloween time, and that means Justin & Kelly sit down and watch some horror films!  Our latest Parents' Night In episode is about the 2017 smash-hit, Stephen King's IT, starring Bill Skarsgard as everyone's favorite murderous supernatural clown Pennywise!

We discuss the differences between the book and the film, the 80s, our favorite Red Sox players from childhood, and the correct indefinite article one should use preceding words that start with "H."  Yeah, I know, just go with it.....



#Halloween #IT #ITChapterTwo #StephenKing #HorrorMovies

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Top Ten Things: 10 Ways to Fix WWE

Welcome to a special edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!


It's no secret that WWE's product is in tatters these days, with disorganization at an all time high, ratings and morale nearing all-time lows, storylines with no endgame being thrown at the wall willy-nilly in the hopes that something, anything, sticks, no current roster members getting over (except maybe one), old-timer appearances yielding inevitably diminishing returns, young audiences walking away in droves, etc.  Creatively the company is resembling WCW in its dying days more and more, and were it not for the exorbitant fees they're getting from Fox, USA and Saudi Arabia we'd likely be watching the death throes of Vince McMahon's juggernaut.  Inexplicably virtually everyone in the industry seems to recognize some of the fundamental mistakes Vince has been making for the last fifteen years except Vince himself.  Ever the fragile ego, Vince has long surrounded himself with sycophantic yes-men too terrified to challenge him on his creative decisions, and the result is a product that's hopelessly out of touch with what wrestling fans in 2019 want to see. 

But I'm here with some constructive suggestions, most of them pretty simple, to fix WWE's creative process and return the product to its former glory.  Before you call me a "WWE hater," know that I've been watching this company's product since 1986.  I've been a Network subscriber since Week One.  I don't hate WWE.  I want WWE to put on compelling television again.  I've seen them do it and I know they're capable of brilliance, they just need to find it again.  So let's get started.  Vince, if you're reading (you're not, I know), please take these suggestions to heart...



1. No Scripted Promos

First and foremost, this, this, a thousand times this.  Scripted promos are maybe the most counterproductive creative policy in wrestling history.  Literally every major star in the history of the business who got over even partially by cutting promos (which is almost all of them) did so because they had the freedom to develop their character and speak in a way that sounded spontaneous and heartfelt.  You hired these people because you saw in them something compelling, yes?  Presumably they know better than a team of hack writers how their character would speak - after all, the best wrestling characters across the board were simply extensions or exaggerations of the person underneath.  Imagine someone like Steve Austin or The Rock or Ric Flair or Dusty Rhodes trying to get over in this climate.  We'd never have "Austin 3:16," that promo was a spur-of-the-moment idea in response to something Jake Roberts said earlier on that show.  We'd never have smelled what The Rock was cooking, that's just a fun catchphrase he came up with off the cuff.  We'd never hear from the "limousine riding, jet flying son of a gun," who was given as much mic time as he needed, or the "son of a plumber," whose promo philosophy was all about selling his upcoming match, not himself.  The art of cutting a promo is one of the most vital parts of making a wrestling product successful, and WWE lost that art a long time ago thanks to stilted, forced, unnatural-sounding dialogue, where two people wait for their turn to recite rather than have a conversation.  Maybe the worst part of all this is that Vince McMahon for a long time hasn't understood what makes a babyface likable, and therefore every babyface is written as either a shriveling coward or a jerk.  Get back to real promos again and you'd see probably 90% of WWE's creative woes go away.  A good talker like the former Dean Ambrose would be able to connect with the audience AND hype his big match with Seth Rollins, thus making the fans genuinely care about seeing the former friends duke it out.  Ratings and buyrates would go up, thus getting more eyes on the other talent as other natural talkers organically rose to the top like so much cream.  We as the audience would believe in these characters and their feuds, and the live audience would actually seem excited to be there.  Emotion and excitement are contagious, and a good promo generates both.      



2. Stop "Producing" Matches and Commentary

Along those same lines, the practice of "producing" everything else on WWE television, from the corporate buzzword-infested commentary to the matches themselves, needs to end. 

No one wants to see a show full of essentially the same match over and over.  This philosophy about how WWE has its own "style" of wrestling is pure nonsense.  WWE doesn't have a "style," it has a corporate policy wherein nearly all the in-ring creativity of its wildly talented roster is sucked out of nearly every match, resulting in every match feeling meticulously planned out and identical to the last.  Compare for example the AJ Styles-Daniel Bryan matches from this past year with their mid-2000s work in Ring of Honor.  Yes I get that there's an age difference factor, but their indie matches felt urgent and organic, like they were actually involved in a real fight.  They listened to the crowd and proceeded based on what was connecting and what wasn't.  Wrestlers need to be able to improvise in response to the audience so they don't lose them over the course of the match.  Now look at the Styles-Bryan match from the Royal Rumble, which was already facing an uphill battle because it had to follow Becky Lynch's Rumble win.  The bout was slow, overly methodical, lacking any urgency, and too long for a slot following a 72-minute Rumble.  These two guys needed the freedom to change the planned bout (like Bret and Owen did in 1994 when Bret realized Owen's aerial tactics would've hurt his effectiveness as a heel) and get the crowd invested, but in 2019 WWE that sort of free-thinking is a no-no.

As for the wretched banter that passes for commentary in this company, WWE needs to remember that the commentators are the de facto hosts of the show.  We as the audience need to actually like spending time with our hosts.  The play-by-play announcer needs to be someone we trust to guide us through the stories being told and enhance them, not a corporate shill we think is trying to sell us more shit.  Michael Cole, for as good as he is at navigating Vince's barrage of order-barking through the headset, comes off as the latter.  I don't feel anything genuine from Cole as an announcer and he's not someone I'd ever want to hang out with.  He's a company man who's there to further a mandated narrative and parrot idiotic buzzwords like "sports entertainer" and "WWE Universe," or cringe-inducing phrases like "controlled frenzy" to describe Kofi Kingston, or "real-life superhero" for Ricochet.  He doesn't talk like a real person and he's almost never given a chance to enrich the story in the ring.  The color commentator (and there should almost always be one, not two), needs to have an easy chemistry with the PBP announcer, whether from a babyface/neutral position or a heel position (Jesse Ventura and Bobby Heenan were masters at being heel color-men).  If both announcers are babyfaces we need to get the sense that they really like hanging out together (JR and Tony Schiavone anyone?).  If the color man (or woman) is a heel, they need to disagree with the lead announcer without it coming off as bickering.  Gorilla Monsoon and Ventura/Heenan could argue in a way that was amusing.  Michael Cole and Corey Graves don't; instead it comes off like petty squabbling and it's like listening to your parents have a fight.  If we don't like the people hosting the show, why would we want to spend three hours watching it?  


Awesomely Shitty Movies: Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Sigh.....welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com.  Today we look at the moment when Universal's Frankenstein franchise took a screeching 90-degree turn and went tumbling, ablaze, off a cliff into the night.  That moment when the studio ceased making top quality films about everyone's favorite flat-headed clod and transformed him into a mindless B-movie ghoul.  That's right, I'm talkin' about Ghost of Frankenstein....  (Click HERE if you missed Son of Frankenstein)


When Son of Frankenstein was another smash-hit, Universal realized there was still a ton of money in these movies and began churning them out at a rapid-fire pace, without paying attention to the annoying little details like story, characters, acting, or in this case visual style.  Ghost picks up the story shortly after the events of Son, where the villagers of Frankenstein are still angry and hysterical because the apparent death of the monster hasn't magically fixed all their woes (Kinda like with American politics).  They believe the monster might still be alive, not to mention Ygor (Good guess), and it's kept them under a curse.  The mayor eventually gives in to their badgering and greenlights their plan to destroy Frankenstein's castle (Because apparently the authority figures in this town are cool with rioting).  As they smash and burn the castle, Ygor stumbles onto the preserved monster, embedded in a block of solidified sulfur.  He breaks free and Ygor takes him to the village to find Wolf Frankenstein's brother Ludwig, also a scientist who might have the secret to restore the monster to his former glory.  Here we go again.....

So what worked and what didn't (Spoiler alert: Most of it didn't work)?  Let's take a look.....



The Awesome


Bela Lugosi

Bela's back as Ygor, and despite being directed to play the character completely differently than before, he gives another solid turn as the villainous hunchback, manipulating both the monster and the scientists to bend to his will.  No matter how cheesy and low-rent the movie, Lugosi's presence is always a welcome one.  Just ask Ed Wood.

"Hello young lady.... vant to see the inside of my van?"


Twist Ending

After a pretty tedious, meandering hour, it all comes down to Ludwig's decision to take out the monster's criminal brain (Remember that from the first movie?) and put in a healthy one.  Unfortunately though, Ygor has convinced his assistant Dr. Bohmer to substitute Ygor's brain, which will allow him to live in a strong, healthy body instead of his current mangled form.  Ludwig unwittingly puts Ygor's brain in the monster's head and revives him, and the monster begins triumphantly speaking in Ygor's voice.  But just then he discovers his eyesight is failing due to Ygor not having the same blood type as the monster.  Yeah this is all pretty goofy, but it's kind of a cool, disturbing plot twist for this series and I would've liked to see where they took this storyline.  Problem was, in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man the studio hated Lugosi's performance as the monster and cut all his dialogue, removing any references to this scene, including the monster's blindness.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Top Ten Things: Wrestling Championship Belts

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

Today I'm talking about some of my favorite championship belt designs in wrestling lore.  For decades the WWF generally seemed to have the most eye-catching belt configurations, but in recent years other companies have somewhat surged ahead in this area.  With the advent of the Universal Title it became clear WWE was endeavoring to make all their belts look the same, a la UFC.  To me that's both uncreative and bad business - if you're trying to sell loads of belt replicas wouldn't you want each one to look unique?

A great-looking belt design can add a sense of grandeur to a title, helping elevate it beyond simply being a prop, to being one of the richest prizes in the game and a symbol of excellence.  Of course a lot of that also depends on who wears the strap, but a championship belt needs to look like something for which every wrestler would be willing to risk it all.

Anyway, here are my ten favorite championship belt designs of all time....




10. WWE US Title (current)


Probably the least conventional of the designs on this list, the WWE version of the US Title uses the American flag as the center plate background, with images of the Statue of Liberty on the side plates.  While the NWA and WCW versions of the belt sported understated stars and stripes imagery, the WWE version just took it one step further, conveying literally the idea of a United States Champion.





9. WWF Intercontinental Title (1985-1998, current)


For years this was the best-designed belt in the WWF.  When the "Winged Eagle" belt was adopted in 1988, the Intercontinental Title became physically the largest belt in the company, and for a long time this was the top belt for the in-ring workhorses.  It displayed a simple, blocky design (which was borrowed by both WCW and ECW for some of their belts) with the side plates all carrying the company logo behind the image of two wrestlers grappling.  This design was so successful the company went back to it in 2011, after the rather bland Attitude Era design was discontinued.  It's kinda sad the best-looking current WWE Championship is the one recycled from the 80s.





8. TIE: ROH World Title (current, 2012-2017)






I had to cheat here and include a tie.  The current and former Ring of Honor belt designs are both incredibly ornate and gorgeous to look at.  The previous one boasted leaves climbing up the sides in incredible detail, bringing to mind Roman gladitorial games, while the new version smacks of kingly tradition, with its paisley flourishes adorning a stylized crown above the nameplate.  These are both beautiful belts.


Parents' Night In #13: Frankenstein (1931)

Join Kelly & Justin as we discuss the horror classic Frankenstein!  We'll talk about Boris Karloff's performance, James Whale's direction and set design, Telling Bird Zinfandel, and more!


Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and MeWe!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Parents' Night In #14: The Shining (1980)

It's Halloween time and that means Kelly & Justin pop in one of their favorite scary movies, Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's classic The Shining!  That also means Kelly & Justin pop open some delicious beer and wine and talk about said film for your enjoyment!  

From Jack Nicholson's operatic high-wire act to Shelley Duvall's brilliant hysterics, to the gorgeous steadicam photography to the amazingly realized Overlook Hotel set, The Shining is as fascinating today as it was in 1980....

Watch, listen, laugh, like and SUBSCRIBE!





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Wrestling Do-Overs: The Invasion Angle, part 1 (Bischoff Buys WCW)

Welcome to another edition of Wrestling Do-Overs, where I'll examine a famous (or infamous) event or angle from pro wrestling's rich history and reimagine it as I would've executed it, thereby demonstrating that a) I should be booking this stuff, and b) I should immediately seek psychological help.


Today I'll be talking about the 2001 Invasion - the fallout of the WWF's purchase of WCW.  As we all know this disappointing angle was a trainwreck from the start and Vince McMahon threw away tens of millions of dollars just to satisfy his own ego and present WCW as a vastly inferior organization/product.  After about five months of excruciating storylines the whole angle was prematurely nixed at Survivor Series 2001 and things went back to normal the next night.

Modern North American wrestling had seen two major invasion angles prior to this one.  One of them (the NWA's purchase of UWF) was an utter disaster and its architect Jim Crockett sold his own company to Ted Turner less than a year later.  The other (obviously the nWo) was a monumental success, at least for a little while, and made WCW the biggest wrestling company in the world.  Vince unfortunately modeled his Invasion angle after the former.

But what could the WWF have done to make the Invasion the record-breaking all-time classic it should've been?  I'm going to create an alternate reality where the WWF didn't horribly botch potentially the biggest money-making storyline of all time.  This will be a multi-part column covering a full year: March 26, 2001 (the date of the final episode of Monday Nitro) through March 18, 2002 (the RAW after WrestleMania X8).

Vince's first mistake was refusing to hire the handful of remaining top WCW stars because they were still under contract to Time Warner and buying them out supposedly would've cost too much money.  But the ratings and PPV buys yielded by such signings would've easily offset these costs and more.  Really Vince could have hired just five additional people, for a total of probably $15 million, and this angle immediately would've been a massive hit with almost no effort required.

With these five names they could earn back that $15 mil in probably two months:

1. Hulk Hogan
2. Ric Flair
3. Goldberg
4. Sting
5. Eric Bischoff

Four of these five men would end up signing with the WWF within two years anyway.  Hell, Flair redebuted with the WWF the night after the Invasion ended!


The Final Nitro

So here's how things should've kicked off.  On March 26, 2001 the final Nitro aired, and at its conclusion Shane McMahon showed up to announce he had bought the company out from under his father.  This is all wrong.  The McMahons' egos were so out of control they actually believed they and their family squabbles were bigger draws than the wrestlers themselves.  It obviously got worse that summer when they put Stephanie in charge of the ECW squad, and then in 2003 the PPV calendar was littered with McMahon in-ring appearances.  So this whole saga got off on the wrong foot, turning WWF vs. WCW into little more than a convoluted Vince vs. Shane feud.  Anyone who thinks Vince vs. Shane was really what the fans wanted to see is not being honest with themselves.

The man fans really wanted to see mix it up with Vince was a fella by the name of Eric Bischoff.  Vince and Eric had real-life animosity, and ever since 1998 when Bischoff issued a public challenge to fight Vince, fans had been intrigued by the potential matchup.

This is the power struggle we all wanted to see

Monday, October 14, 2019

Winery Outlinery: Broken Creek Vineyards (Shrewsbury, MA)

Welcome to a brand new feature here at Enuffa.com, Winery Outlinery (sister series of Brewery Reviewery)!  Yeah that's right, I'm branching out into wine reviews.  Thanks to Adam from EatDrinkLearn.com I've been drinking and discussing a lot of wine lately, so let's give this a go.  Hopefully I won't come off as a wine amateur....


Broken Creek Vineyard
​​614 South St 
Shrewsbury, Ma 01545


This past weekend my family and I traipsed out to Worcester to see my mother sing at the Worcester Jazz Festival, and on the way home we drove through the Shrewsbury, MA neighborhood where I grew up.  Right down the street from our old house there just happens to be a young little winery called Broken Creed Vineyard.  Launched in late 2015 by Eric Preusse, Broken Creek is a small boutique vineyard offering an eclectic variety of reds, whites, and a few special editions, all of which have big, bold flavor and a ton of character.  Of all the wineries I've visited, Broken Creek has perhaps the most memorable roster of wines; each one is an unusual take on its respective varietal and they stick with you after you've left.  Tastings are $10 for five one-ounce pours and you get to keep your branded wine glass - that there is a bargain.  Broken Creek also books private events in their welcoming, rustic tasting room.

So let's dive in and talk about some wine, shall we?


Riesling: A dry white wine made with grapes sourced from California.  This wine has notes of nectarine and pineapple. ​

JB: My wife and I got into Rieslings a decade ago during a visit to the Finger Lakes (Riesling country), so I'm always on the lookout for a good dry one.  This fit the bill nicely; light and dry with just a hint of citrus.  The Riesling was my favorite of the whites and I picked up a bottle to go.


Chardonnay: This is a well balanced white wine with flavors of green apple, citrus and hints of vanilla.​

JB: Generally my favorite white varietal is an oaky, buttery Chardonnay.  Broken Creek's version is unoaked, drier than a typical Chard, with just a bit of fruitiness.  I liked this one too but preferred the Riesling. 

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Welcome to the third Awesomely Shitty Movies piece dedicated to the Universal Studios Frankenstein series!  In case you missed part 2, check it out HERE.  Today we're talking about the third film in the franchise, Son of Frankenstein!


After the critical and commercial triumph that was Bride of Frankenstein, it seemed like another sequel would be a natural.  But Carl Laemmle Sr and Jr were soon forced out of the company due to their extravagant spending, and it seemed monster movies were off the table as well.  It was only due to an LA theater reviving Dracula and Frankenstein as a double feature, and the ensuing huge box office success, that the studio opted to jump back into that pool.  James Whale was not interested in returning however, and Rowland V. Lee was hired to direct the third film.  Son of Frankenstein was originally to be shot in color as well, but the monster's makeup didn't look quite right, so that plan was scrapped.

Son of Frankenstein was another box office success and helped pull Universal out of its financial slump.  Following this movie the studio began churning out cheesy Frankenstein sequels and crossovers, making Son the last serious entry in the series.

So what worked and what didn't?  Let's take a gander...



The Awesome


Visuals

This series thus far has been full of rich, expressionist lighting, off-putting Dutch angles, and an emphasis on intense lights and darks to plunge the viewer into this bizarre world.  Son of Frankenstein continues this trend and in some ways takes it a step further, with some of the sets including angular, surrealistic staircases that cast jagged shadows on the walls behind.  Almost every set in fact has bare, textureless walls so the shadows can come across more strongly.  More on that aspect a little later.  The Film Noir genre was just beginning to blossom at this point, and many of those films must've taken some visual cues from Son of Frankenstein, among others.

Great use of lighting and angles


Friday, October 11, 2019

Top Ten Things: Vampire Movies

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!  Continuing with the Halloween festivities, today we'll count down what are in my estimation the ten greatest vampire films of all time.

Before Stephanie Meyer forever ruined the vampire genre by turning it into insipid teen melodrama involving beautiful undead emo heartthrobs (who despite not technically being alive can somehow procreate), there used to be quite a few excellent films devoted to the subject.

Being a vampire really isn't any fun when you think about it.  I explored this topic a little in my Awesomely Shitty Movies piece about The Lost Boys:

"It is possible to create complex, thought-provoking films about vampires, exploring at what cost such powers come: isolation, loneliness, unending bloodlust, tedium, having to live with murdering people, having to evade capture and prosecution for murdering people, etc."

The vampire, no matter how romantic a character you try to make him, is still at heart a repulsive, predatory creature who must kill human beings in order to survive.  Think of how awful his breath must be after drinking all that blood.  Imagine how filthy his clothes would be after sleeping in dirt every day.  Really, are the fringe benefits of being eternally young and having superhuman strength and speed worth all the other headaches? 


Anywho, here's my ten picks.


10. Near Dark (1987)


Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow's second film was an unusual mashup of the vampire movie and the Western.  Starring Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, and Jenette Goldstein of Aliens fame, Near Dark tells the story of a gang of vampires who live in a sun-proofed van and drift from place to place, going where the food is.  One of their group, Mae, inadvertently turns a young man named Caleb into a vampire and because of her romantic attachment to him, persuades the others to accept him into their gang.  Caleb spends much of the movie struggling with his transformation and trying to appease the others so they don't kill him.  Near Dark is a very unusual and modern take on the genre, portraying the vamps as scavenging marauders not unlike the post-apocalyptic villains in the Mad Max films.  They are evil but charismatic, and Bill Paxton especially shines as the brutal second-in-command Severen.  With this film Bigelow showed her adeptness at eschewing the conventions of genre films and gave us an exciting new take on the vampire mythos.




9. Dracula (1979)


In the late 70s the well-renowned John Balderston-Hamilton Deane theater production of Dracula was revived in London and on Broadway, and its success prompted Universal Studios to remake the 1931 Bela Lugosi film for modern audiences.  The result was this stylish, romantic Frank Langella version.  Directed by John Badham and featuring an excellent score by John Williams, this update of Dracula depicts the Count as a suave, handsome seducer, whom women willingly give their last drop.  Langella is excellent as this debonair demon, imbuing the character with both smoothness and a fearsome underlying rage.  The rest of the cast is also first-rate - the legendary Laurence Olivier plays Dracula's nemesis Van Helsing, Kate Nelligan is an unusually strong and independent Lucy Seward (in this version Lucy and Mina's names are oddly swapped), and Tony Haygarth is a rather degenerate incarnation of the Renfield character.  This film is a triumph of production design and atmosphere, and a gritty, original take on the Lugosi version.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling 2019 Preview & Predictions: No Red Spotlights!

It's October and that means it's time for NJPW's biggest show of the fall season, King of Pro-Wrestling!


This year's lineup has five big matchups with potential Tokyo Dome ramifications, plus the usual undercard tag bouts.  Should be a helluva fun PPV to watch, and boy do we need one of those desperately these days.  One thing I can guarantee with this show, we'll never see a red-tinted, no disqualification match stopped because one dude was using a hammer.  KOPW will automatically be better than Hell in a Cell.

Sorry, had to get a WWE dig.  Let's do some predictions.



Ryusuke Taguchi & RPG3K vs. El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Douki


Your standard undercard six-man opener.  I suspect this is about getting Sho & Yoh a win.  I was on hand in Lowell to see them almost defeat GoD for the tag belts, which was a helluva match.  I'd love to see them move up to the heavyweight division full-time.

Pick: Good guys win




Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma vs. Togi Makabe & Toru Yano


Okay, first off, how is Tanahashi in the second match of the night?  Bizarre.  Second, when did Makabe and Yano become buddies again?  Third, does this mean we'll see the violent Yano of old?  This could be good, could be a throwaway.  We shall see.  I guess Honma probably eats the pin?

Pick: Most Violent Players




Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & Bushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Lance Archer & Taichi


Another shockingly low spot on the card belongs to Mr. Naito, who's been on a bit of a tailspin lately.  I'm guessing we'll see a Naito-White rematch at the Dome where he'll regain the I-C Title.  Or maybe he'll feud with Zack over the RPW belt.  One thing's for sure though, I wanna see an Archer-Shingo feud.  Goddamn that'd be something.

Pick: Either Taichi or Bushi is taking the pin in this one.  Flip a coin.  I'll say LIJ wins.



Awesomely Shitty Movies: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Welcome to the second installment in our Awesomely Shitty Movies series pertaining to Universal Studios' Frankenstein franchise!  (Part 1 can be seen HERE)

Today it's the Frankenstein sequel that is almost universally (heh, get it?) praised as being superior to the first film, Bride of Frankenstein!


After the monumental success of the 1931 adaptation, Universal Studios understandably pushed for a follow-up, but James Whale was initially skeptical, thinking there was nothing more that could be explored in the material.  Instead Whale directed another hit horror film, The Invisible Man, and the studio pushed even harder for a Frankenstein sequel.  Whale finally agreed on the condition that Universal would produce a film of his called One More River, and when directing Bride opted to swing for the fences.  It would be a much larger-scale production with garish surrealism and subversive undertones, blending monster horror with dark comedy.  On paper this movie should never have worked as well as it did.  Whale was allowed to inject so much of his own personality into the film and its characters, and thus it became a celebration of those who live outside the norm.  With the expressionist influences of the first film turned way up for the second, and the drama ranging from horrific to funny to genuinely touching, Bride of Frankenstein is the pinnacle of the Universal monster films.


Now let's criticize it.....



The Awesome


Karloff Again

Boris reprised the role that made him a superstar, once again slipping on the giant boots and flat head.  This time the monster actually spoke, lending more depth to the character and making him even more sympathetic.  Indeed, Bride of Frankenstein is much more about the monster's character arc than Frankenstein's.  His driving motivation in this film, much like in the novel, is the search for a companion of some kind, and Karloff gives a largely quite tender, vulnerable performance that further solidifies the monster as a misunderstood brute.

Still the man




Elsa Lanchester

Despite very little actual screen time between her two roles (Seriously, it's maybe five minutes total), Elsa Lanchester brought to life one of the great movie monsters and gave a tremendously memorable turn.  Also notable is the disparity between her two characters; Mary Shelley is sweet-faced and proper, while the title character is wild-eyed and bird-like (Lanchester apparently based her head movements on those of a swan).  Her brief onscreen interaction with Karloff is bizarre and climactic; one of the great monster movie payoffs.

Makes sense her hair is standing up,
she did just get electrocuted technically