"See the lonely boy, out on the weekend. Trying to make it pay." – Neil Young
Greetings from the apocalypse, and welcome to the new weekly feature where our lone warrior gives you the play-by-play for how your filmgoing weekend can unfold, Friday-to-Sunday, morning-to-night.
No, the Mayan doomsday didn't actually come to pass, but we are in the moviegoing wasteland known as January. Get out your grandfather's Geiger counter buried under the porno mags in his fallout shelter, because the risk of contamination is high from the radioactive lineup of post-Christmas studio dumps. As our nation does a "Thelma & Louise" over the fiscal cliff, we're diving head-first into the cinematic 'pockyclypse that is 2013, and with my help you just might survive the long nuclear winter.
Friday, January 4
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Nothing says "dog days of January" like a sequel to a remake to a warmed-over horror franchise from the studly '70s. "Texas Chainsaw 3D" is riding on the assumption that the perfect antidote to all that holiday time spent with your family is watching a fat guy kill hot models with hedging equipment. Couldn't we just DVR "Ax Men" instead? As the seventh film in the series, you have to delight at the trailer tagline: "It happened before. It's happening again." That aptly sums up every other film coming out this year, as well as my continuing war on marauding motorcycle scavengers.
Later in the evening classic monster movie fans can enjoy — and furious potheads can blaze up to — a marathon of director Jack Arnold's finest B-grade morsels on TCM from 8.p.m. to 2.a.m.: "Creature From the Black Lagoon" (1954), "Tarantula" (1955), "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (1957) and "It Came From Outer Space" (1953). Keep watching the skies!
I'm not sure what regular folks eat in the heavily populated urban areas, but when I'm riding the wastelands in the last of the V8 Interceptors me and my faithful dog companion enjoy canned goods. Today's recommended canned good is Green Giant Three-Bean Salad, an excellent source of sodium.
New on the DVD shelves of your nearest Wal-Mart that wasn't decimated after the collapse of society is "Cosmopolis," David Cronenberg's bizarre attempt to make a "Twilight" movie without ever having read one of the books. Robert Pattinson's vampire Edward Cullen, who is referred to as "Eric Packer" throughout the whole film, spends the majority of the running time cheating on Bella and shooting himself in the hand. You gotta agree they really shot themselves in the foot by not going with their original title, "The Twilight Saga: Cosmopolis – Part 1."
Saturday, January 5
Yesterday was a slog, and you've got a headache from the 3D chainsaw you paid $18 to have jammed in your eyes, so why not relax and really settle into the cultural scene with a live nationwide Fathom movie theater presentation of Berlioz’s opera "Les Troyens" simulcast straight from The Met at 12:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 a.m. PT. The clarity of the presentation is so good that if you listen carefully you can hear the homeless New York bag lady outside The Met screaming about how Obama is a reptilian spy.
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My big weekend recommendation, the "Survivor of Thunderdome" so to speak, is "John Dies at the End," available on iTunes and VOD ahead of its limited theatrical release on January 25. "JDatE" is the latest splatterpiece from Don Coscarelli, who made his name with perennials like "Bubba Ho-Tep" and the "Phantasm" series, and is adapted from Cracked editor David Wong's comedic horror novel. It concerns the "Bill & Ted"-esque duo of David Wong (not actually Asian) and John Cheese (spectacular newcomers Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes) as they battle supernatural forces including a monster made out of meat, door handles that turn into penises ("This door cannot be opened!") and a big baddie creature that looks like it formed out of H.P. Lovecraft's diarrhea. Paul Giamatti is in top form as the schlubby reporter who learns their trippy story, and you too will fall under the spell of this instant cult classic.
If you're in sunny California be sure to wear SPF 5000 lotion to protect yourself from the rays of the sun that are about to collide with the Earth, and enjoy the Palm Springs International Film Festival from Jan 3-14. Today's lineup includes Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin in "Stand Up Guys" at 4 p.m., "The Shining" documentary "Room 237" at 8:30 p.m. (followed by a screening of Stanley Kubrick's classic at 11 p.m.), as well as the fest's annual Awards Gala.
Today's canned food recommendation hails from Thailand: Smokey BBQ flavor Roasted Scorpions. Made from the highly edible Heterometrus Spinifer species of scorpion, the flavor is reminiscent of prawns ... but you wouldn't want to eat canned prawns. That would be gross.
At 8 p.m. HBO premieres last year's chowderheaded Farrelly brothers take on "The Three Stooges," but do you want to DVR a half-hour block of original black and white Stooge mania from 5:30 a.m./4:30c on AMC as a palette cleanser? Soitenly!
Sunday, January 6
It's Sunday, which means its time for some religion. For all you secular folk we recommend attending services at the church of Rob Reiner for a 9:30 a.m. wedding of "The Princess Bride" (1987) on TV Land.
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At 2:30 p.m./1:30c AMC and Ridley Scott deliver a killer that makes Leatherface look like an amateur in the wearing people's faces department: "Hannibal" (2001). Dr. Lecter not your cup of chianti? Another horror icon bears his claws for your viewing pleasure in the undisputed champ of the Freddy Kruger saga, "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors" at 2:40 p.m. on Encore.
We're starting to run low on supplies until we stumble on another abandoned Hostess truck, so for now we're gonna have to cap the weekend off with that Canned Cheeseburger from German company Trekking Mahlzeiten, which you cook by boiling the can for 10 minutes. It has a supposed 12-month shelf-life, so go ahead and roll those dice, adventurous eater. Beggars can't be choosers.
Lastly, apropos of our opening quote, I recommend Netflix Instant queueing Jonathan Demme's 2006 concert film "Neil Young: Heart of Gold" in which the "Old Man" Canadian rock legend assesses "The Needle and the Damage Done" before encoring with a little "Harvest Moon." Keep on rockin' in the free world, man.
As I ride off into the distant horizon, here's wishing you fellow weekend road warriors the best outing imaginable from this burnt out, blighted wasteland. Enjoy your world of fast Internet, clean-ish movie theaters, plentiful gasoline and all the comforts of home, for this world lives now only in my memories …