Thursday, October 27, 2005

SANTA'S SLAY -- Ho, Ho, Hum

Yes boys and girls it is that time of year again -- the first new Christmas movie of 2005 premiered on Spike TV at 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 25. I use the word "movie" loosly as this cinematic effort is so pathetically appalling it consists, at best, of a series of filmed images slapped together with about as much inspiration as I get when I see the latest image of Jesus Christ on a tortilla (another seasonal event, especially down here in Tex-Mex Country).

SANTA'S SLAY is insipid. SANTA'S SLAY is inept. SANTA'S SLAY is inbred. You read that correctly -- I said "inbred" since this is the only conceivable explanation why those with the money and the power gave Mr. David Steinman the green light to write and direct. I didn't know Jews were into inbreeding, but this is surely proof positive. To spare further embarrassment this man must be summarily circumscised from the rolls of working writers and directors living in LA-LA Land and/or Lapland.

But not all is a waste. At Christmas time one should always look for a silver lining so let it be said that SANTA'S SLAY has one redeeming scene which takes place right off the bat when Santa, menacingly portrayed by ex-WWE wrestler Bill Goldbeg, comes down a suburban chimney and slays Fran Drescher. I guess I've been a good boy -- one of my Christmas wishes has, indeed, come true.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I call your attention to just two lines of dialogue in George A. Romero's latest Zombie Zeitgeist -- LAND OF THE DEAD.

Mike: They're pretending to be alive...
Riley: Isn't that what we're doing? Pretending to be alive?

Make no mistake, Romero is a filmmaker who consistently manipulates a message with his mayhem. was perhaps the most succinct of all previous reviewers in revealing this trait. In NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, for example, we were presented a pitiless commentary on the sixties' self-immolation on the fields of Vietnam and the streets of the American South. DAWN OF THE DEAD was a savage attack on America's Me Generation which transformed far too many of us into a nation of mindless consumers. And now, in LAND OF THE DEAD, we are forced to examine ourselsves as an increasingly fractured, paranoid culture that more than ever seeks the erection of barriers (metaphorical, actual and linguistic) to keep under control our perceived enemies -- whether they be terrorists, Mexicans, secularists or simply the poor.

Romero's not too distant future finds the wealthy elite living together in a barricaded country club-like high-rise called "Fiddler's Green" whose logo looks eerily like Enron's. Although the residents no longer have a golf course to go to, this Callaway clad community goes about their daily lives ignoring and isolating themselves from what used to be the middle class and those beneath. Yes, wealth and privilege provide the illusion that the outside problems can never penetrate the expensive and expansive security they have implimented. These Neocons are alive medically; they are not alive spiritually.

As for the masses, we find them clustering at the foot of the Tower seemingly content to scrabble for crumbs and immersed in the mindless activities provided to them as an opiate against enlightenment. If you keep telling ex-soccer moms, NASCAR fans and Wal-Mart shoppers just how good they have it, they will eventually believe the mantra. And so all is "safe" and relatively secure until the zombies arrive.

Political and social commentary notwithstanding, LAND OF THE DEAD remains first and foremost a zombie flick -- a category of cinema that was by no means invented by Mr. Romero, but one that he has excelled at thus developing a well deserved cult following. Budgeted at a mere $15 million, one cannot help but marvel at the production values. This man knows his business as does Michael Doherty whose razor-sharp editing deserves special mention.

If you can stomach the guts and gore, then LAND OF THE DEAD is definitley worth seeing. If, however, you want to experience a truly classic and frightening zombie film, then I strongly suggest I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE. You can read my review at This 1943 black & white classic directed by Jacques Tourneur and produced by Val Lewton remains the benchmark for the genre.

Monday, October 24, 2005



Without the watchful eye of Dr. Ted Baehr and the Christian Film & Television Commission you and I might somehow be unaware of the global, momentous influence seemingly impotent Deuce Bigelow has over the state of our union and that of fellow round eyes worldwide. I guess we can forget Katrina, Kim Il Sung and Karl Rove -- the KKK du jour. Yes sir, it's Deuce Bigelow that will bring us all down thanks to, and I am quoting here, the "very strong pagan worldview which includes forty-six obcentities (including a couple "f" words), a man eating French fries that have fallen into a clean toilet and generally debased behavior with students pulling a crude, mean prank on a fellow student they hate." Yep, that'll do it...

Thank God we have a watchful eye in Teddy Baehr and his minions protecting us and OUR CHILDREN from the satanic evil of the sinful studios. Once again those precious little rug rats serve as the excuse for every effort at increased censorship and legislative morality that bombards us today in greater numbers than Ploesti. It is on their collective behalf, Dr. Baehr, that I salute you and your Christian Schutzstaffel. Put another way -- Heil, mein Movieguide!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Numero Uno?

The University of Texas at Austin vows to be "Number One" in dozens of categories. In some instances there is truth to the assertion -- many athletic teams come to mind as does a beautiful, build-it-at-any-cost campus that is rivaled by very few colleges.

Alas, academics is another story entirely.

Going to the University of Texas for a great education is like going to Hooter's for a great meal. In any given year there are almost as many sheepskins emanating from Bevo U. as New Zealand. Big isn't necessarily better. Big is just big -- but do I care? NO...

You see, I like going to Hooters and I thoroughly loved going to UT. What I found was a world-class party school and so in this second installment of NOWOTNY'S PARTY HEARTY COLLEGE CAMPUS GUIDLINE it is a privilege, indeed, to award my alma mater a "Suds to Semen Ratio" of 3.4 -- yes, this is a remarkable score that probably will not be topped by any other Division One Football Institution. Pardner, this is no BS and no BCS. The Texas coeds are the cutest this side of TCU and they require far less maintenance than their counterparts at Ole Miss. Night life is phenominal in and around Austin and close to three hundred days of sun afford nude undergraduates at Hippie Hollow a far more endearing collegiate tradition than any Aggie bonfire or Touchdown Jesus pep rally.

Hook 'em...I know I did.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Those of you who know me know that there are two things in life that I absolutely cannot stomach --- Born Again Anythings and Pretentious Hollywood Movies. It is the latter of these two that I will direct my attention towards today.

You see, the clowns at Disney are at it again. This time Goofy and the Gang have released THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED -- a historical feature which Mr. Cranky declares is "looser with the facts than former FEMA director Michael Brown under oath." In trying to keep up with what may very well be the single most pretentious movie title in the history of global cinema, screenwriter Mark Frost and director Bill Paxton have elected to bring this mulligan to a climax by having amateur American golfer Francis Ouimet defeat British champion Harry Vardon in the 1913 U.S. Open by one glorious stroke on the 18th hole. In actuality, Ouimet won by five (5) stokes. FIVE STROKES! That's more strokes than Hans Blix would find in a nursing home in a year. Numerous other historical inaccuracies are par for this course, but that's nowhere near what annoys me the most.

Can there be anyone anywhere in the world who actually believes that THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED was on a God-damn golf course? Are you shittin' me? Disney's shittin' me -- that's for sure. The annals of truly GREAT GAMES abound in dozens of sports -- football, baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer... Hell, there's fifty-nine water polo matches in recorded history that are GREATER than a five-stroke win on a golf course, probably more. Gimme a break...

Oh yes, one more thing. In an effort to keep audience fannies in their seats these filmmaking hackers have elected to photograph gobs of golf balls from unique, never-before-seen angles. Golf balls to the left of balls to the right of balls in close-up flying through the balls straying into the balls plopping into the cup. Well excuse me, but if I want to see a small white thing with dimples dancing all over the damn screen I'll go to a Shirely Temple film. I bet Tiger would agree...

Monday, October 10, 2005


Welcome to the Premiere Installment of NOWOTNY'S PARTY HEARTY COLLEGE CAMPUS GUIDELINE. For those of you with a son or daughter contemplating enrolling in a Four-Year School Of Higher Education this GUIDELINE is designed to provide pertinent, up-to-date information regarding the "fun quotient" of selected colleges painstakingly researched by yours truly.

Yes, US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT and FORBES, among other established, widely-available magazines, publish annually their rankings which focus on academics and tuition costs, etc. This service is provided for those of you who still believe in the enduring myth that the college experience is an important educational undertaking that has significant implications in your darling's future adult life. Get a grip, folks, because like it or not 90-plus percent of these hallowed halls of learning are simply "degree mills" which, at best, prepare their alumni to ultimately become real estate agents...or worse.

So, why go to all that expense and time and effort? To have the time of your life, baby, so read on and enjoy ---

Our Premiere Installment will focus on Texas Tech University, aka TTU, since the football team loves to run up the score as much as the frat boys. Be advised, if you have a lovely daughter and she enrolls here she will be ridden more often than the school's official mascot -- the horse that carries the semi-famous Red Raider. TTU is a Parthenon of Party Schools in great part because there simply isn't much else to do other than to drive out to the county line for beer and bourbon. (The civic leaders, under the stern influence of Born-Again Baptists, keep the town and campus dry thereby creating weekend traffic jams of biblical proportions). Anyway, sooner or later your son or daughter will be placed on sco-pro but don't worry -- the courses are so easy that it won't take too much effort to ultimately pass the minimum number of hours required for TTU's worthless sheepskin in a five to six year span.

So, hats off to Texas Tech and Bangin' Bertha (the "Victory Bell" which signals yet another score on campus as well as on the gridiron).

Friday, October 07, 2005

Comparisons, Comparisons...

I can remember not too long ago when "The Big Question" making the rounds at the office water cooler was: Xena or Buffy? An interesting dilemma, at least for us males and, perhaps, the lesbians that walk among us. Yes, Lynda, I will fully admit to vacillating (pun intended) on this one almost daily.

Well, the new "Big Question" for us to ponder is: Anna or Danica? I'll be interested to hear what the loyal readers of this blog have to say. As for me, I merely want to point out that while Danica has yet to win a CART race, she has already performed at a higher level than her Russian-born counterpart. Danica's sport consists of high speed danger at some of the most grueling race tracks in North America. She is competing against the big boys. She is more than holding her own -- especially in qualifying trim.

Anna grunts with the best of them, but other than an occasional victory over an unseeded French woman, she is pretty much a "bust". "Point, Game, Match" -- Danica wins.

Monday, October 03, 2005


As some of you know, I was born and raised in New Braunfels, Texas. At the time New Braunfels was a small community which had successfully maintained its very strong German heritage. Over the years my hometown has grown exponentially, as has its signature annual celebration -- WURSTFEST.

The original Wurstfest was held in 1961, and it was dedicated to celebrating the time-honored German tradition of Octoberfest -- cold beer and, of course, wunderbar wurst. (As in knockwurst and bratwurst). What was once a simple two-day event has now exploded to a ten-day gala attracting over 155,000 people each year who consume 42 tons of sausage and who down enough beer to float the Bismark. It's good times for uber alles.

With this background in mind, I am thinking today about forming a new film festival which I would tentatively name WORSTFEST. The idea would be to identify and vilify the absolute worst filmmaking worldwide. Lord knows there are enough projects to choose from each year and 2005 is certainly no exception.

This year's winner would undoubtedly be MAYDAY, the CBS primetime movie that aired last night. In fact, I am afraid my Worstfest idea will never come to fruitition since I absolutely cannot conceive of a worse film than this (feature or movie-of-the-week). I know the year isn't over, but that matters little. MAYDAY is so wretchedly written, so dismally directed, so pathetically photographed, so abysmally acted and so phlegmatically produced it makes AIRPLANE! seem like a hard hitting, in-depth, factual documentary.

For example, do you know the best way to survive a complete decompression within the body of a commercial airliner at 65,000 feet? Yes, that's the altitude specified on several occasions. Well, according to Director/Co-Writer T. J. Scott the answer is to lock yourself in a bathroom unless, of course, you are petting your dogs in the cargo hold of a trans-pacific jetliner before the "weekend pilot" now at the controls engages the afterburners. Yes, the number of implausabilities within the MAYDAY screenplay rival the turnstile count at last year's Wurstfest.

I couldn't help but notice that one of Producer Judy Cairo's previous TV movies was VANISHED WITHOUT A TRACE. At first I thought both she and Mr. Scott should suffer that very same fate. In giving more thought, however, to this "three-bagger" (as in the minimum number of airsick bags one needs to sit through the 88-minute running time), I now would simply like this devoid duo to be perennially stuck in a TSA screening line. It's a totally appropriate punishment and one that would ensure they NEVER, EVER work again.

In closing, allow me to add that I have been told that nothing in this world is without at least one iota of merit (although MAYDAY comes perilously close to being the exception). So, as a public service I have chosen a photo of Kelly Hu to accompany this review. Ms. Hu plays the lovely flight attendant and was the only thing worth looking at during the shaky-cam excess of MAYDAY. And you thought THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was nauseating...