Ask 411 Movies for 10.08.12: The Force of Bruce Lee's Fist!
Posted by Leonard Hayhurst on 10.08.2012
Was Bruce Lee a legitimate badass? What would have happened to John Candy's career if he had lived? Are White Zombie and Dead Heat underrated zombie flicks? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Movies!
As a note, 411 Mania has a new comments system. If you've left a comment in the past couple of weeks and haven't seen your question answered yet, you may wish to leave the comment again or email me directly. I do have a few emails I need to answer yet.
Obscure Television Series of the Week
Title: Gemini Man
Air Dates: Sept. 23 to Oct. 28, 1976
Cast: Ben Murphy as Sam Casey, William Sylvester as Leonard Driscoll and Katherine Crawford as Abby Lawrence
Premise: Same Casey was an agent for INTERSECT who was rendered invisible by an underwater explosion. A watch-like device stabilizes him to be visible. He can shut off the watch and be invisible, but if he exceeds more than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period, then he dies. How any of that happened, I have no clue and I'm sure it didn't matter.
Q: when i was young my dad told me Bruce Lee was the baddest man in the world,was it because of movies or did he have credentials? also, been watching King of queens latenite...laidoff!!!they have scenes after the show, they are funny kinda like Martin used to do, why didn't queens do that during their run? Commercials I'm sure.
A: Last week we talked about The Way of the Dragon featuring a fight between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. Lee was definitely a bad ass in real life. He created his own martial arts style called Jan Fan Gung Fu, which basically translates to Bruce Lee's Kung Fu. It was based on Wing Chun, which Lee had studied since he was 13. Later, he created Jeet Kune Do, Way of the Intercepting Fist, because he felt traditional martial arts was too rigid and formalistic for street fighting. He wanted to create a style that had no style with emphasis on practicality, flexibility, speed and efficiency. Lee performed demonstrations in several competitions and expos and also served as an instructor to many, including some training with Norris. There are also stories of Lee being involved in private fights where he usually dominated and won in a matter of minutes. He could do one armed push-ups with just his thumb and index finger and could take a dime from a person's open palm before they could close it while leaving a penny behind.
I'm not really sure what you're talking about with The King of Queens. I never watched the show when it was originally on the air, but have watched it in syndication and do remember sometimes seeing scenes over the closing credits, which we talked a little bit about last week too. Usually in syndication, scenes or bits of scenes are cut to make room for more commercials. Material usually isn't added. Looking online I couldn't find anything about adding scenes for syndication. According to IMDB, some episodes contain bloopers while the credits roll, but not all.
Q: My question is about the relative failure of Homicide Life in the Streets. I always felt shows like Law and Order were pretty standard and generic, yet an underappreciated show like Homicide never got its just due even though it did last seven series. What did Homicide ( a much better show than L&O IMO) lack that could have made it more popular
A: You pretty much already asked this question and I answered it in the Aug.27th column. Changes to make Homicide more popular in the mainstream probably would have taken away from what made you and critics like it. You need to get more middle of the road, which probably would mean trimming away the edgy and gritty material.
Q: should the best supporting actress award be considered "a kiss of death?" Also, What are you thoughts on remakes/reboot? Is hollywood being lazy or is nostalgia/great property a better bet, financially, than new property?
A: I take it you mean the best supporting actress Oscar. Like a lot of the Oscar categories, the winners seem to fall into certain niches. You have rising stars, like Angelina Jolie for Girl Interrupted, you have the sex symbol proving she can act, like Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential, you have the makeup Oscar, some thought Renee Zellweger should have won for Chicago, but she got the supporting trophy for Cold Mountain the following year, and you have the lifetime achievement award, such as Judi Dench winning for basically showing up in Shakespeare in Love.
However in the category, you do have a few oddball wins and one hit wonders. Marisa Tomei has pretty much spent her entire career trying to prove that her win for My Cousin Vinny wasn't the result of a senile Jack Palance picking a name out of the air. It took her nearly 10 years to get back into awards contention with In the Bedroom and The Wrestler. Mo'Nique parlayed her big win into a failed talk show on BET. Jennifer Hudson last had a bit part in The Three Stooges and was a pitch woman for Weight Watchers. And you've got a bunch of names that make people say "huh, who is that?" like Juliette Binoche, Mercedes Ruehl, Brenda Fricker and Peggy Ashcraft.
I wouldn't call the category the kiss of death, but perhaps a category that maybe recognizes one good performance without the politics that goes into the other categories. It's certainly an interesting division to look at over the years.
The party line, and it's true, is that a known property is a better financial investment that an unproven prospect. A sequel, remake, reboot or adaptation from another media has built in name value and a fan base. It also allows you to push other product, such as the original movie or book the film is based on, for extra dough. It's also a property the studio already owns in the case of a remake or reboot, so they don't have to shell out extra money to develop a property or for rights. Sure, nostalgia is part of it. I wouldn't call it laziness though. I would call it cowardice. Producers and studios would rather go with the smart bet, than the questionable one. They're playing blackjack. It's not a sure thing, but you've got the best odds.
Q: For the most part, when someone comes up with a top X zombie movie list it is similar to most others. What do you consider the best of the second tier zombie movies that may not receive much love but are still worth a watch.
Recommendations to ease a young child into the horror genre (not hard R stuff, g-pg movies that might still provide a few scares)? When would you start them out?
A: You want to wait until a child is at an age where they can distinguish reality from fancy. They know it's a movie and the monsters aren't real and can't hurt them. My oldest nieces are eight and 10, so I think that would be a good age to begin.
I would introduce them with some scary cartoons like Coraline, which had my oldest niece on the edge of her seat, or even the now out Hotel Transylvania or the older Mad Monster Party to introduce the classic horror characters to them. When you go live action, go to the Universal classics. House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein have most of the classic monsters and, of course, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is really a great movie and all of their horror related films mix in a good bit of humor. Some might say kids aren't going to watch those movies because they're old and in black and white. Trust me, children don't care about that. They're not old enough to be jaded and prejudiced to think something isn't good because it's old or not in color.
I'm not sure what you're calling the top tier zombie films. I would guess most of the stuff that's come out in the past 10 years that's really got the zombie craze going, all the George Romero stuff and the Italian flicks.
White Zombie (1932): This deals with voodoo zombies, but it's pretty much the first mainstream U.S. zombie related movie. Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer) invites Neil (John Harron) and Madeline (Madge Bellamy) to get married on his plantation in Haiti. He really wants to lure Madeline away from Neil, but isn't having much luck. He enlists the help of Murder Legendre (Bela Lugosi) who runs his mill with zombie slaves. They turn Madeline into a zombie, which Beaumont later regrets as Neil tries to save her. A sequel, Revolt of the Zombies, came out in 1936. The band White Zombie led by Rob Zombie took their name from this movie.
The Walking Dead (1936): John Ellman (Boris Karloff) is a concert pianist framed for murder. After being executed, Dr. Beaumont (Edmund Gwenn) (Beaumont seems to be a popular zombie movie name) revives Ellman with an artificial heart as part of his experiments. Ellman has no memory of his previous life and those who framed him, but somehow has a sense of what happened. He visits those who framed him just wanting to know why. In the best twist of the movie, Ellman doesn't kill anybody. Everyone dies of strange circumstances in what could be chalked up to divine intervention. Oh, yeah, by the way, spoiler for a movie 76 DAMN YEARS OLD!!!
Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972): This is one of the first comedic, tongue in cheek zombie movies that would pave the way for flicks like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. It's directed by Bob Clark of Porky's and A Christmas Story. A theater troupe goes to a secluded island where criminals are buried. The director, Alan (Alan Omsby), conducts a ritual to raise the dead and then digs up a body to use in a series of sick jokes. The dead on the island then come to life and torment the actors.
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988): Once again we have voodoo zombies. The Wes Craven directed film is loosely based on the non-fiction book by Wade Davis about zombie makers in Haiti. Bill Pullman plays an ethnobotanist and anthropologist who goes to Haiti to research voodoo drugs for use as anesthetics. He runs afoul of a corrupt police captain and is framed for murder and forced off the island. Alan returns to face Peytraud and is buried alive.
Dead Heat (1988): This one is just plain fun. Roger Mortis (Treat Williams) and Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo) are cops who stop jewelry thieves who they discover are reanimated corpses. They track them down to the Dante Corporation, where Mortis is accidentally killed. He's reanimated using a special machine, but only has about 12 hours to solve his own murder before he disintegrates. The company owner is Arthur P. Laudermilk (Vincent Price) and he created the machine to preserve his own life and create a criminal ring. Yes, Vincent Price and Joe Piscopo in the same movie. As a kid, I remember the scene where Lindsay Frost, also a reanimated zombie, falls to pieces while begging Roger's forgiveness for not telling him the truth being really creepy.
Q: Hey Mr. H,
A few weeks ago a reader lamented the lack of the older B level movies aired and sure enough my local CW affiliate aired Summer Rental on a Saturday afternoon. My question to you is had John Candy not passed where did you see his career trajectory? Sticking with the comedy or maybe moving more into serious roles on occasion like Tom Hanks? His early stuff like Going Berserk and Volunteers were hilarious.
A: John Candy died March 4, 1994, at the age of 43 of a heart attack. He was on location in Mexico filming Wagons East, which was a huge flop even carrying the label that it was his last movie. According to Wikipedia, he had signed to voice a turkey in Pocahontas, but the character was deleted from the movie after Candy's passing.
Candy's career was at a nadir at the time of his death as his last starring role in a hit film was Uncle Buck in 1989. However, Cool Runnings where he played the supporting role of a coach was a surprise hit and he did have a small role in Oliver Stone's JFK. The light romantic drama Only the Lonley from 1991 was supposed to be a new direction for Candy, but the movie bombed with critics and fans.
If Candy had lived, the first thing he would need to do is get his health under control and lose some weight. Reportedly he weighed about 375 pounds when he died. I could see him dropping out of the public eye for a year or two, then emerging after having dropped at least 100 pounds if not more. This publicity would help propel him to a new film or possible television series. Even if one of those ventures proved successful, Candy would be hard pressed to stay as a top box office comedic draw as he neared 50. I think he would have done voice over work and took small, but memorable parts in movies by the likes of Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell as they became the new comedy film stars. I don't really see him jumping to dramatic parts the way Bill Murray has, because that just didn't seem like Candy's personality or strength. If anything, he probably would have went more the way of Dan Aykroyd as sort of the comedic royalty you pull out for supporting roles.
Q: I have very fond but very vague memories of some sci-fi film from the late 80's, I believe, think it was made for TV, might have had 2 or 3 parts to it, pretty sure it played on one of the major networks, and the captain of the spaceship had a beard. Think there might have been some kind of elevated chambers that people were being held in as well at some point... any help? -James
A: Given that vague description, my best guest is Earth Star Voyager a sci-fi miniseries from 1988. It was a two-part pilot that aired on the Disney Channel that didn't get picked up as a regular series. The earth is dying due to pollution and the Earth Star Voyager spaceship is going to a new planet to develop it for earth colonization. The crew is very young and suspended animation pods will slow their aging, but not stop it. Shortly after they start out, they pick up a stranded astronaut played by Duncan Regehr, who has a beard, that serves as a mentor and adviser to the young crew.
"You should see the toast. I couldn't even get it through the door."