Wednesday, 28 July 2010


I'm really sorry for my deplorable lack of recent posting.

Two weeks of non-stop socialising, alcoholism, fresh air, hard work and loud music have inevitably played havoc with my usual schedule of skulking around in the dark writing about weird movies, and now, sitting here with a sore head, I can't even think of any emergency space-filling posts to fill the gap.

I do have a huge pile of half-finished reviews, new screengrabs, new movies to watch etc. though, and a week of holiday in which to work 'em all out, so stay tuned -- good shit coming soon.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

House Of The Devil
(Ti West, 2009)

Along with seemingly everyone else in the civilised world, I’m a long-time reader of of Stacie Ponder’s Final Girl blog, but until now I’ve never before managed to wrangle by writing schedule and idiosyncratic film-watchin’ habits sufficiently to allow me to take part in her Film Club. The overwhelmingly positive notices received by Ti West’s “House Of The Devil” though, together with the fact that the DVD seems to be on the shelves at a knock-down price every time I go to the shops, persuaded me to take a chance on it despite my general ambivalence toward modern horror, and… well fuck it, how many words is it going to take me to say “I had a copy lying around, so thought I might as well watch it and do a review”?

So, hmm – bit of a strange one, this “House of the Devil”, eh? Or rather, not so ‘strange’ at all really, given that it’s a film so thoroughly marinated in the established iconography of horror cinema that its supposedly terror-inducing contours end up seeming more cozy than anything – pure comfort food for fans of the genre.

What renders “House Of The Devil” unusual is rather the extent to which it seems to make a stand against the tide of conventional modern horror, offering no enticements or explanations at all to viewers unschooled in classic horror aesthetics, and the way it… well, uh, y’know, just the way in which it kind of jams together elements of the past in order to – in a sense – create something new.

Wes Craven’s “Scream” often gets rather tediously hailed as ‘the first post-modern horror film’, a claim that never ceases to infuriate me, partly because the film’s self-referential ‘innovations’ had already been explored ad-nausuem by smarter b-movies through the ‘70s and ‘80s, and partly because any argument that lends legitimacy to Craven’s candy-ass, cynical, misogynistic avalanche of crap is sure to get my goat. (Maybe you think differently? That’s ok, we can discuss it later, in the parking lot.)

In the past few years however, I believe we have seen popular culture begin to eat itself in a far more thorough-going and exciting fashion than the ‘90s irony culture embodied by “Scream” could have imagined, as a new generation ploughs the past back into endless new creations through filters of memory, deterioration and nostalgia. This methodology can be seen running wild through the world of music at the moment, via such flash-in-the-pan coagulations of aesthetics as ‘Hauntology’, ‘Witch House’*, ‘Glo-fi’, etc., but “House Of the Devil” is perhaps the first feature film I’ve seen which picks up these ideas and really runs with them, emerging as perhaps a good contender the first, genuine, 100% POST-MODERN horror movie.**

Much as Quentin Tarantino has made a lucrative and hugely enjoyable career out of crow-barring together all his favourite bits from old exploitation movies and imagining what might have transpired if they had had the resources, time and technical proficiency of Hollywood behind them, Ti West here seems intent on revisiting all the joys and peculiarities of VHS era horror that (presumably) enthralled him as a teenager. Step by step, he shows us what might have been if one of those weird, indefinably fascinating ‘80s shelf-fillers had been made as a labour of love by a talented a director who was able to take his time, concentrating on the film’s overall artistry and making those funny peculiarities a central feature of proceedings, rather than just a random distraction.

“House of the Devil”s plot-line is so minimal it’s scarcely worth reiterating. Girl gets baby-sitting job > goes to remote, spooky house > there are Satanists, in case you were wondering. I forget who it was who once defined gothic horror as “pretty girl goes into old house, gets the shit scared out of her”, but that's the deal here, no more no less. Most of the enjoyment in the movie arises not from the narrative, but from watching West shift his film through a whole universe of horror aesthetics with all the kaleidoscopic richness and randomised drift of a tumblr blog.

The film’s opening half hour, in which we bear witness the heavenly minutiae of our heroine Samantha (Jocelin Donahue)’s life as a small town college student in the 1980s, plays out like an extended love letter to all the oddly captivating prosaic detail that’s ever made your heart sing on an old horror tape. And when the actual horror itself finally gets going, we can sit back and let ourselves ricochet happily between slasher-era sartori (the takeaway pizza, the repurposed kitchen knife, the unsettling, jokey answerphone messages and all those endless phonecalls), late period ‘70s gothic (unnatural light through the stained glass windows, the harpsichord at the bottom of the stairs), hints of “Shuttered Room” style mad-relative-in-the-attic antics and Texas Chainsaw style deformed killer family mythos, Dennis Wheatley-approved old school Satanism, Phantasm-esque otherworldly graveyard shtick, all-purpose American haunted house tropes…. you name it, it’s probably in there somewhere.

Where West’s MO very much differs from Tarantino though is that “House Of The Devil” is a surprisingly subtle and slow-moving film – an approach that seems very brave given the fuck-yeah-gore approach favoured by most modern horror. In fact, it occurs to me that for a non-horror-fan viewer, unprepared to drink in the steady stream of referential, nostalgic reverie, “House Of The Devil” could easily become an unbearably dull experience – an exercise in deliberate mediocrity, lacking any entertainment-based pay-off.

As such, I can’t help but admire Ti West for taking a chance and placing the success of his film solely in the hands of those of us weird enough to react with joy at the sight of Samantha’s big, orange-padded walkman headphones, or at the beautiful climbing-the-stairs shots based on the bit where they find the mutilated body in ‘Night Of The Living Dead’. And given that he has apparently managed to make the film a roaring success on that basis, what can we say except HIGH FIVE, DUDE? What further proof could be needed that the Age of the Nerd is upon us?

The menacing kitsch of the house itself is wonderfully realised. These aren’t the kind of Satanists who live in rotting gothic splendour and leave a big ol’ grimoire conveniently open on the coffee table – rather their home evokes a horrid neo-classical banality that seeks to recall the stifling atmosphere of a million repressive parental homes. On second viewing, the empty, airless still-lifes that West frames within the house are by far the most chilling aspect of the film, recalling the way David Lynch filmed the interiors of the Palmer house in “Twin Peaks”, or the inexplicable dread of Pupi Avanti’s “House Of Laughing Windows” (a film whose influence seems to loom large over “House Of The Devil”).

Moreover, these eerie interiors represent the key point at which “House Of The Devil” really begins to transcend its status as a mere horror-movie-about-horror-movies, providing us with echoes of abuse and loneliness more subliminally menacing than any pasty-faced demonic crone. After all, you can punch one of those, but try punching an Edward Hopper painting. (Ok, obviously you COULD punch an Edward Hopper painting, but I’m talking figuratively here, let’s not go there.)

In fact, the only thing that ended up marring my enjoyment of the film was the inevitable satanic bloodbath that concludes proceedings – an odd thing for me to say, given that I generally welcome satanic bloodbaths as a fine addition to any motion picture. But, whilst there are a few wonderfully spine-tingling ‘evil reveal’ scares to be had in the closing twenty minutes of “House Of The Devil” (I’d tell you about ‘em, but I wouldn’t want to spoil ‘em), the full realisation of the film’s satanic shenanigans is rather hum-drum and predictable, somehow managing to feel infinitely less satisfying that the hour of sublime mudanity that proceeded it. I mean it’s some ok Satanism I guess, but it’s no "Devil Rides Out", y'know?

Actually, I probably would have enjoyed the film a lot more if the evil Satanists hadn’t revealed their existence AT ALL, and if Samantha had just gone to the house, hung around, noticed a few things that were *slightly* not-right, got a bit worried, and gone home. That would have been an amazing movie – a daring affront to the audience’s satanic bloodbath-based expectations, and a brilliant example of a horror movie whose horrors are created entirely in the imagination of the viewer; a new benchmark for restraint and the power of suggestion in the genre.

Sadly though, this isn’t that film, and when the time comes, the blood is spilled, the robes are donned, the knives are drawn, the doors are banged, the corridors are frenziedly run down, the teeth are bared, the colours are drained, and I start involuntarily humming The Ramones “You Should Never Have Opened That Door”.

Which is probably just as well I suppose. I mean, would anyone be rushing out to see this movie if the reviews had amounted to “ok, so nothing actually happens at all, but there’s some nifty interior décor and some great shot compositions, and the main theme music is totally killer”..?

This Ti West is a smart cat, I think. He knew what he had to deliver, and he got around to it within eighty minutes (PRAISE THE LORD, A MODERN MOVIE THAT ACTUALLY ENDS ON TIME), without resorting to any shitty ‘jump scares’ or ‘lightning strike’ cutting, and whilst still managing to turn in a film that often seems to function more as an extended video art project on aesthetic fetishisation than a narrative horror flick.

One thing that helps him to pull it off, I think, is sheer technical skill. Watching old VHS movies, and low budget cinema in general, we get used to certain things. Y’know what I mean - scenes will be inexplicably filmed in long shot, dialogue will not match on-screen action, bizarre music will deafen us at random intervals, people will talk about nothing in particular for minutes on end whilst the camera remains static, and so on. Some viewers learn to tolerate these deficiencies as natural wastage in between the cool bits, whilst some of us actively embrace them as perverse statements of otherworldly, homemade charm. But at the same time, would anyone want to watch a competent modern movie full of *deliberately contrived* long-shot addled padding..? Seems doubtful.

And so, like Tarantino before him, this is where West wisely breaks from mere re-enactment of the past, making sure that “House Of The Devil” is instantly recognisable as a good film, in the middlebrow newspaper critic / film studies teacher sense of the term. His directorial style is flawless, the film is perfectly paced, and flows beautifully. Every single shot is carefully and interestingly composed, full of rich incidental detail. The cinematography and production design is top notch. The acting is excellent, and all of the characters are lively, engaging and sympathetic (props in particular to Mary Woronov and Tom Noonan as our oddly loveable Satanist couple). The music is fantastic (opening credits theme = TUNE).

Even through sequences in which nothing whatsoever is happening, the film is a joy to behold. I could happily have watched Samantha and her best friend eating pizza and discussing the local property market for hours.

Subsequently, the film gains much of its power from the fact that the movie industry doesn’t usually let us see such specialist aesthetic fetishisation and vague, uneventful narratives in the context of a quote-unquote ‘good film’. “House Of The Devil” is a ‘good film’ that is utterly in thrall to the forbidden magic of ‘bad films’, and, as usual, the mainstream critics, copywriters and squares just won’t know what the hell to make of it, other than to acknowledge that it’s there, that people are watching it and enjoying it, and that it can’t be ignored forever.

A modest creative success on its own self-defined terms, “House Of The Devil” is far from the greatest film most cult movie buffs will have seen this week/month/year, but it DOES hopefully represent the stirring of a promising new approach to horror in the 21st century, and, speaking as a life-long fan of the weird, the obtuse and the cultish, it is always nice when one of ‘our guys’ manages to make a splash in the big pond, however fleetingly. Put me down as officially looking forward to whatever Ti West does next.

* Is that the best contrived sub-genre name ever, or what? Lovecraft fans will be delighted to learn there’s already a Brighton club-night called “Dreams In The Witch House”.

**As with all “the first [whatever] EVER!” type proclamations, this claim is of course utterly fatuous, and readers are encouraged to write in and tell me why “Abbott and Costello Meet The Wolfman” or “House of Frankenstein” or something was actually the first ever post-modern horror movie.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Savage Night
by Jim Thompson

(Corgi, 1988; originally published 1953)

Well I’m not posting this one for the cover, that’s for sure.

In fact, the more I look at this cover illustration, the uglier and stupider it gets – an unhappy reminder of the dark days of the ‘80s when publishers weren’t sure whether to wrap up classic crime books in old-fashioned pulp style, or go for the more upmarket ‘classic books’/noir heritage look that’s predominated in the past few decades, instead going for a thoroughly unsatisfying halfway house approach.

I seem to remember bland, cardboard cut-out characters like these inhabiting the covers of a lot of the books I used to get out of the library as a kid during the '80s. Who the hell are they anyway? They certainly don’t resemble anyone you’ll find in Thompson’s book. The two main female characters in “Savage Night” are the scheming, ex-nightclub singer wife of an alcoholic mob stool pigeon, and an emotionally-scarred maid-servant with a deformed leg. Did the illustrator even bother reading a plot synopsis? At least when cover artists used to make shit up back in the old days, they’d usually make up cool shit. What a drag.

Oh well, I guess all the pill-poppin’ maniacs and long-gone daddies in the illustration game had moved on to churning out eye-boggling VHS covers by the time this edition came out, so we can still enjoy looking at those.

Anyway, I’ve been enjoying (if that’s the right word) a few Jim Thompson books recently. Quotes on the back tend to say things like “read Thompson and take a tour of hell” (The New Republic), and to be honest it’s hard to convey the sheer, unremitting bleakness of his work without resorting to similar hyperbole. Seriously, Nelson Algren and Raymond Chandler were happy-go-lucky funsters compared to this cat.

Or at least, however dark things get in Chandler, we see events through Philip Marlowe’s withering eye – a man of reason, ready to reluctantly clean up the mess, quietly asserting his moral authority in the process. We get no such reassurance from Thompson, who prefers to plunge us straight into the minds of the most lowly and doomed operators he can conjure, all struggling like rats in a trap.

Thompson’s characters are uniformly cruel, brutalised, self-centred, confused and misguided, capable of slitting each other’s throats on the flimsiest pretext. But they’re not villains, or freaks, or drop-outs or psychopaths… at least, not on the surface. They’re guys who might work next to you in dead end jobs, or that you might meet at the bus station, or see killing time at the library. Their world is devoid of the romanticism usually implied by gangster and noir shtick. They all had rough upbringings, they all work hard and do their best, and where does it get them? Fucked, that’s where.

The protagonists of probably Thompson’s best known book “The Grifters” are so screwed up, they never even manage to get a proper crime narrative rolling before they meet their inevitable demise. The characters, the situations, the language, are all those of a crime novel, but when you reach the end you realise you’ve been suckered into reading a study of brutish, existential despair rather than the heist/double-cross yarn you may have been expecting. And somehow we can’t help but want to read more.

I know I’m making it all sound pretty comedically grim, and it is, but the depth Thompson manages to invest in these characters in the space of a 120 page “American groin kick novel” (thanks to Vanity Fair for that one) makes his work absolutely devastating. Really one of the great mid 20th century writers, irrespective of genre, and I look forward to dipping into more of his tales whenever my approach to human nature starts to get a bit too rosy.

I didn’t mean to write quite that much here, because actually this post was supposed to be the first in an occasional thread where I’d post brief illuminating and/or amusing extracts from books I’ve read recently, and keep the commentary to a minimum. Oh well, maybe next time.

Anyway, I thought you all might this rare moment of brevity from “Savage Night”, wherein our "hero" Carl Bigelow lays unable to sleep next to an obnoxious, snoring dame, and thinks back to the time he once hitched a ride with an eccentric pulp novelist…


He was a writer, only he didn’t call himself that. He called himself a hockey peddler. ‘You notice that smell?’ he said, ‘I just got through dumping a load of crap in New York, and I ain’t had time to get fumigated.’ All I could smell was the whiz he’d been drinking. He went on talking, not at all grammatical like you might expect a writer to, and he was funny as hell.

He said he had a farm up in Vermont, and all he grew on it was the more interesting portions of the female anatomy. And he never laughed or cracked a smile, and the way he talked about it he almost made you believe it. ‘I fertilize them with wild goat manure’, he said. ‘The goats are tame to begin with, but they soon go wild. The stench, you know. I feed them on the finest grade grain alcohol, and they have their own private cesspool to bathe in. But nothing does any good. You should see them at night, when they stand on their heads, howling.’

I grinned, wondering why I didn’t give it to him. ‘I didn’t know goats howled,’ I said.
‘They do if they’re wild enough,’ he said.
‘Is that all you grow?’ I said. ‘You don’t have bodies on any of – of those things?’

‘Jesus Christ!’, he turned to me like I’d called him a dirty name. ‘Ain’t I got things tough enough as it is? Even butts and breasts are becoming a drag on the market. About all there’s any demand for anymore is you know what.’ He passed me the bottle, and had a drink himself, and he calmed down a little. ‘Oh, I used to grow other things,’ he said. ‘Bodies. Faces. Eyes. Expressions. Brains. I grew them in a three-dollar-a-week room down on Fourteenth street and I ate aspirin when I couldn’t raise the dough for a hamburger. And every now and then some lordly book publisher would come down and reap my crop and sell it at two fifty a copy, and lo and behold, if I praised him mightily and never suggested that he was a member of the Jukes family in disguise, he would spend three or four dollars on advertising and the sales of the book would swell to a total of nine hundred copies and he would give me ten percent of the proceeds… when he got around to it.’ He spat out the window and took another drink. ‘How about driving a while?’

I slid over him, over behind the wheel, and his hands slid over me. ‘Let’s see the shiv,’ he said.
‘The what?’
‘The pig sticker, the switchblade, the knife, for Christ’s sake. Don’t you understand English? You ain’t a publisher are you?’


I suspect our agrarian friend might have felt more comfortable within the covers of this older edition of “Savage Night”;

More classic Thompson cover art can be found here. Most of the Lion covers are pretty cheesy, but the Signet editions of “The Getaway” and “Wild Town” are both incredible pieces of work, and make the above ‘80s cover look even more stupefyingly tepid in comparison.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

VHS Purgatory:
The Edge of Terror
(Nico Mastorakis, 1986)

PRICE PAID: A record breaking 30p from the basement of Greenwich Music & Video Exchange.

“It comes at night. It’s a merciless, vicious killer. It can be your enemy or it can be your friend.”

Huh? It can do what now? What’s ‘It’ anyway? Where am I? As usual, sounds like an intern was just slinging this shit together using some magnetic poetry kit of video box copy clichés.


The Greek director Nico Mastorakis seems to have operated as something of a one-man film production powerhouse from the ‘70s through to the ‘90s, knocking out a steady stream of independently-financed exploitation flicks ranging from the notorious sickie “Island of Death” in ’75 through to brainless fare like “The Zero Boys” and “Ninja Academy” in the late ‘80s. Given that his mighty efforts seem to have been rewarded with an almost total lack of commercial success, critical recognition or cult following that persists to this day, I can only assume Mr. Mastorakis was one determined dude. Apparently his last film as writer/director/producer was something called “.com for Murder” in 2002, which… sounds like as good a place as any for him to admit defeat and move into property management or whatever the hell he does now.

Approaching a 15-rated ‘atmospheric suspense thriller’ lensed by a guy best known (in so far as he’s known at all) for sex/violence shock tactics and utter trash (this VHS dates from the bad old days when the BBFC used to slap an ‘18’ on anything that even LOOKED like it might be a horror movie), the only edge I was expecting “Edge of Terror” to take me to was the queasy precipice between boredom and ridicule, but you know what? I’m going to drop the sneery tone right there, because “Edge of Terror” is actually pretty good.

I mean, it’s certainly not a GREAT film by any means, probably not one I’d encourage you go out of your way to track down unless you have some particular interest in it, but if you happen to find a cheap copy knocking around somewhere, go for it - you could do a lot worse. Essentially Mastorakis’ attempt at a legitimate murder/suspense film in the ‘Cape Fear’-via-Hitchcock mould, “Edge of Terror” is a well made, thoroughly watchable and not-entirely-stupid piece of work that didn’t have me checking my watch once through its 100 minute run time.

Aside from anything else, it certainly gets a thumbs up for the economy of its plotting. American thriller writer Sean, played by Meg Foster (she of the weird, iridescent eyes and fiery red hair), has rented a remote house in a near deserted Greek village in order to get some peace and quiet to finish off her new book. Unfortunately though, her landlord (an eccentric old duffer played with relish by veteran character actor Robert Morley) is promptly murdered by psychotic handyman Phil (Wings Hauser, he of the post-Jack Nicholson fevered grin, lurching nervous mannerisms and personal grooming that befits a guy named Wings Hauser). As the only witness to said crime, Sean is naturally in the hot seat for the next round of slaying, and the rest of the film essentially consists of a life and death struggle as she and Phil stalk each other around their isolated clifftop locale.

Refreshingly for a movie that could easily have degenerated into a dreary slasher, the focus stays firmly on the fight between the two characters, and they’re a lot more evenly matched than the legacy of a thousand faintly misogynistic Euro stalk n’ slash movies would lead one to expect. Meg turns out to be convincingly bad-ass heroine, keeping a cool head when pursued by a murderous loon with a sickle, going into full-on “resourceful” mode and ditching her high fashion duds in favour of a more practical boilersuit… y’know, just like a sensible, real-life woman probably would. And Wings, for his part, portrays a fairly goofy, amateur psychopath, staggering about in a confused rage and looking pretty taken aback by the fact he’s got an actual opponent to deal with rather than a screaming bimbo to terrorise. So: smart woman with a butcher’s knife vs. staggering weirdo man with a sickle? You’ve gotta like those odds.

In what I assume to be an unusual move for a low budget ‘80s movie, “Edge of Terror” is filmed in old fashioned Technicolor, and Director of Photography Andreas Bellis deserves credit for some splendid and imaginative cinematography – even on this battered, 20+ year old tape, the movie looks superb. In fact, aside from the odd detail of fashion or dialogue, the opening sequences here could easily be mistaken for one of those lavish Italian movies from the ‘70s where a load of fashionable ladies flounce around some luxurious coastal resort getting up to no good and murdering each other and what-not. At times “Edge of Terror” put me in mind of Bava’s “Bay of Blood”/“Twitch of the Death Nerve”, if admittedly with a smaller cast and minus the gratuitous carnage.

Mastorakis’s direction is sometimes a little artless, and subject to rather overcooked ‘stylistic flourishes’ (slow motion, Ridley Scott style back-lighting etc), but in general it’s pretty solid, squeezing a great deal of atmosphere out of the Greek locations, whilst his tight editing keeps things moving along at a cracking pace. The closing daybreak/final struggle sequence is particularly noteworthy, bringing an unexpected dose of disorientating otherworldliness to the film’s conclusion, recalling the eerie intensity of classic low budget ‘70s Euro-horrors like DeOssario’s “Tombs of the Blind Dead” or Rollin’s “Grapes of Death”.

The script (also by Mastorakis) lets the side down slightly, with some clunking mouthfuls of unlikely dialogue, which… ok, actually I always enjoy those, but more crucially, some poor writing later in the film that come dangerously close to ruining the good feeling the rest of the movie has built up. As noted, both Foster and Hauser work hard to establish their respective characters on a level that goes beyond mere assemblages of cliché, but increasingly in the final half hour the script begins to undermine their efforts, as Meg’s previously down to earth character suddenly starts doing incredibly stupid things, and Hauser’s shambling nutter seems to find himself imbued with Michael Myers-like supernatural cunning.

Case in point is the sequence in which Sean suddenly remembers that the landlord told her his son’s hunting gear was kept in a locked cupboard in the house; kicking it open, she suddenly finds herself with a high-powered hunting rifle! Aha! A real game-changer in a struggle-for-survival movie like this, needless to say. Emptying a box of ammo, she declares that there are 4 LIVE ROUNDS left, and we see a close up of her loading them one by one.

Now a scene like this, and a specific piece of information like that, creates certain expectations for an attentive audience – namely, that the use of those four rounds is going to prove pretty pivotal to the narrative, and is going to be drawn out for maximum tension and excitement. Not so here though, as Sean simply kicks open the upstairs window and starts randomly blasting away at the general area where Wings is patrolling around looking for her, shrugging when the ammo runs out and going back to her knife. I mean, why the hell was that scene even in the movie? Pure amateur hour stuff whichever way you look at it, and very much detrimental to the enjoyment of the film’s ‘one-on-one battle of wits’ aspect, needless to say.

And that’s a good summation of “Edge of Terror”s shortcomings really. Whilst Masterakis succeeds admirably in his presumed goal of making a good, comparatively serious film without falling back on tits and gore, his occasional lapses into silliness render it not quite good enough to have really grabbed anyone’s attention on release (especially when Robert Harmon’s similarly-plotted “The Hitcher” was kicking twenty kinds of ass in cinemas the same year). And whilst it is objectively speaking probably a better film than a lot of the oddities unearthed by DVD labels like Code:Red and Shameless, the lack of any big names or Unique Selling Point, the dull-sounding plot-line and the absence of aforementioned tits and gore - above all, the lack of any honest to god WEIRDNESS – all this sadly points toward the film’s continued obscurity in the eyes of modern day cult film fans.

Ah well. You gave it your best shot Nico, and no one can take that away from you. You made a pretty good movie, and that’s more than most of us can say.


“Your problem Sean is, you think I’m one of those super-studs from your novels, but I’m not. I’m a real, forty-two year old, overweight guy, and once in a night is enough after a hard day in the mine.”

David McCallum, playing Sean’s boyfriend in the film’s LA prologue, manages to deliver this speech with such sincerity, I immediately started thinking “boy, he’s got a pretty swanky pad for a miner”. Then before I could finish that thought, they opened the skylight and saw the Goodyear blimp! The actual Goodyear blimp! I loved that whole sequence, actually.