Tag Archives: TCM

Keep off the Grass

TCM (Turner Classic Movies) has been showing old educational propaganda films late Friday nights/early Saturday morning between 5 and 6 a.m. as part of their Underground show. Unfortunately since its Oscar season TCM is exclusively showing Academy recognized films the whole month – nary an institutional short film to be found. I am never up at 5:30 in the morning anymore. However, given the technological advancements of the last few years I have a digital recorder and end up with a variety of these films. Occasionally I watch them, usually having many on standby for when I’m in the mood for this kind of nonsense.

One I watched tonight with my girlfriend is from the ‘60s and is called Keep off the Grass: a film made in cooperation with the San Diego Police Department-a surefire way to obtain objective information and sentiments. The story is about Tom, a preppy, white suburban kid whose parents find his dope stash. The film begins with a close-up on a copy of Cream’s Disraeli Gears and pulls back to Tom’s mother vacuuming. She knocks over something on his bookshelf and finds pot – the devil’s drug. After a discussion with his father, who is actually quite calm about the issue, Tom explores the pros and cons about marijuana. Ending up with his pothead friend Tom ends up at a college pot party, a head shop, an artist  named Waco’s house (where the artist’s brother-in-law is arrested for grass), at another pot party, and finally he’s mugged by drunks at the end (evident by the rolling beer car the goons throw before taking Tom’s wallet). Tom is also almost in a car accident and witnesses his friend selling a joint to a 12 year old. Eventually Tom ends up deciding pot is not for him, telling his father about his decision. Continue reading

The Beyond

“This hotel is one of the seven gateways to hell.”

I was surprised when I saw that Turner Classic Movies was showing Italian director Lucio Fulci’s 1981 (released in America in 1983) cult classic The Beyond on basic cable. The film’s grotesquely violent, containing some of the most intense violence I’ve seen in many films; they’re definitely some of Fulci’s most violent moments. TCM didn’t really censor anything either; the picture and sound is extraordinary and it contains all the violence that appears on the Anchor Bay DVD version. Naturally I recorded it.

The film begins in the early 20th century when a group of enraged townspeople torture and crucify a warlock. The scene is rather violent, with the mob lashing him and finally hanging him to die. Fast forward 60 years and a young woman named Liza (Katherine MacColl) just inherits the hotel the warlock died in. The hotel is Liza’s “last chance,” to make something good for herself. After the mysterious Emily (Sarah Keller), a blind woman with extremely pale eyes, an uncanny knowledge of Liza and the hotel, and a seeing eye dog named Dicky, arrives and warns Liza to leave, bad things start to happen. The hotel is one of the seven gates of hell, nestled over this quaint, rundown hotel. Along the way Liza meets Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck), who’s skeptical of Liza’s supernatural stories and the two loosely bond throughout the film. The film is a mixture of Italian zombie fare and supernatural thriller, containing all the traits common to Fulci’s films – extreme gore, decent cinematography and lighting, and horrible, yet sometimes comedic dubbing. Zombi II contains a metaphysical explanation for the zombie outbreak and The Beyond also follows a similar thread; relying on unexplained phenomenon instead of concrete, corporeal explanations.
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