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Archive for October 7th, 2019

by Sam Juliano

My 89 year-old Dad remains in Holy Name Hospital with a “weak” heart that nearly resulted in him being placed in hospice care.  But our family ultimately rejected that proposition in view of his ability to rebound and stabilize.  He is alert, eating well and in a fighting mood, so we have some measure of optimism even while realizing that the situation could change at any time.  A planned procedure to replace a heart valve however has been been deemed useless by the attending cardiologist who feels the entire heart mussel is weak.  I want to thank all our friends who have expressed deep concern and for the prayers and well wishes.

Last night in the Walter Reade Theater at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center our short film “The Thing That Kills Me the Most” directed by the brilliant Jay Giampietro and featuring our entire family and close friends as the actors in footage shot around 18 years ago in our home was screened as part of the New York Stories shorts section of the same ultra- prestigious New York Film Festival where “The Irishman” screened last week. We are enormously proud of this achievement and posed in front of the festival boards last night: Lucille, audio narrator of the film Dennis Polifroni, Director Giampietro, Yours Truly, good friends Bill Kamberger (up from Baltimore) and good old Broadway Bob Eagleson (standing). Jeremy, Danny Juliano and Samuel Juliano are kneeling in front. Giampietro spearheaded a superlative Q & A afterwards. (main photo at top of post)

Saturday was the biggest children’s book festival day of the entire year, one where two major events were staged. The first was the inaugural “First Annual” Children’s Book Festival on the Borough Hall lawn in neighboring Glen Rock, New Jersey (Bergen County) where some heavy hitters in the field appeared. Lucille, Jeremy, Sammy IV and I attended from about 11:00 AM till noon, and left to travel up to Chappaqua, New York for the massive annual book festival in that Westchester County bastion of affluence. In Glen Rock, we again met good friends and distinguished author-artists Sergio Ruzzier (Good Boy); Beth Ferry (The Scarecrow); two-time Caldecott Medal-winning Sophie Blackall (Hello Lighthouse); Caldecott winner Brian Floca (Locomotive) and Rowboat Watkins (Most Marshmallows) Jeremy is pictured with each artist. (Glen Rock Children’s Book Festival Post #1)

One again the great writer Jamie Uhler has imparted his remarkable ability to probe beneath the surface of cinematic horror with two more stupendous capsule reviews in his 2019 horror series:

1990: The Bronx Warriors (E. Castellari… 1982)

It’s always been quite remarkable to me how fast the creatively fertile 1970s in Italian genre cinema turned into the barren 1980s. The 70’s burst forth with some of their very own genres they’d cultivated throughout the Swingin’ Sixties that would be highly influential in the decades to come. Plus, even when they attempted already established genres they provided a litany of wild, stylish forays as well (see the police crime procedurals and spaghetti westerns), often creating enough films for classification on their own. But, seemingly overnight many of these directors aged past their primes or died, or worse yet, turned to more lucrative works in decidedly less interesting genres (like the sex comedy for one). At the dawn of the 1980s, the next generation came and either had to make cheap video knockoffs of popular American (and sometimes foreign in the case of the classics) exploitation films or due slight variations of the great 70’s works with worse style and a crassness turned to 11. The former is the case with this one, an Italian cheapie made to resemble something like Escape from New York meets The Warriors, with a little Mad Max 2 thrown in for good measure. These are all good to even great movies though, with semblances of plot and subtexts, while 1990: The Bronx Warriors is only slightly worthwhile for its cheesy, camp values, no doubt ironically liked now mostly by hipsters (I’ve seen the music described as ‘trippy’ at least 6 times now this morning as I breeze past takes on it, which is quite an interesting description for somewhat funky basslines and minimal drum accompaniment played over much of the film). Meanwhile, anyone who likes the movies (especially low genre ones) has seen this stuff elsewhere, under much seedier contexts and with much wilder action. Thus, we sit watching a movie that sets up the world 8 years in the future as a hellscape, but not really, as the outside world seems more or less OK (albeit still controlled by arms dealing multi-nationals, which wasn’t that far off our reality 1982 either) and relegates the Bronx borough of New York as where death and mayhem rules the day. People seem to be able to come and go from the Bronx though, and no other such lawless area is hinted at, so we wonder, how bad a world is when it can be contained wholly within a few square miles. Anywho, the daughter of the largest arms dealing company in the world runs away and seeks hiding there, the only place such a powerful person could go slightly undetected. The powers that be come to get her—but not with a huge, full force but rather one guy who looks about 50 (Vic Morrow, veteran of such trash) who must get all the various gangs (who dress in garish, comic costumes much like those gangs in The Warriors did to distinguish themselves from one another) in-fighting so he can more easily pluck her. She’s fallen for Tiger Beat pinup Trash, the leader of a Hells Angels group who must also navigate a coup attempt from a member in a Nazi officers jacket. Who cares really, in the end mounted police on horse come baring flamethrowers and a bunch die in action sequences that resemble boys playing in the backyard with sticks. At only 88 minutes or so, this seems like an eternity. A classic of the VHS era is a big ol’ pass from me.
(this one was added to my list, you’ll recall, under the heading, ‘Horror Adjacent: Gangs and Cults (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood inspired)‘, so yeah, this may or may not be classified as straight Horror)

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