Saturday, October 23, 2021

Review: National Lampoon's Movie Madness

National Lampoon's Movie Madness is not funny. It's not unfunny in a way that certain comedies from the past can be, where the humor relies on situations and references that haven't translated to modern times. It's also not unfunny in the way that really smart comedy can sometimes be, where you see the cleverness of the observation, though it doesn't elicit a chuckle. No, it's just not funny. 

Movie Madness consists of three different and unrelated segments, each running approximately 30 minutes. We have a parody (if such a word can be used) of "growth movies" (going away so I can find myself), a parody of soap opera melodramas, and a spoof of cop movies. To use the word parody or spoof would imply that there are jokes associated with these stories, but really, almost no jokes exist. The tales themselves feel like exercises in creative writing, or even collegiate projects. Given the Harvard origins of National Lampoon, this makes sense. However, what works in a ten-page printed article does not translate to a half-hour film segment, and all three stories feel far longer than they actually are. My favorite segment was the final cop satire, but even that one feels twice as long as it should be. 

If the movie has anything to connect the disparate segments together, it's a series of adult-oriented drawings which likely come from the National Lampoon magazine itself. Things like a large-breasted gorilla with a bosom bursting out of a blouse, or Ronald Reagan with a banana going in one ear and out the other. Hope you like these naughty little cartoon images, because you're going to see them alot. The movie opens with them AND they appear again between each segment. Accompanying the images is a song by Dr. John, a wonderful talent who seems to have written and recorded this tune over the course of an afternoon. Hope you like that too, because you're going to hear it four times. 

On the plus side of things, the film is cast to the nines with lots of actors who had been somebody, were somebody, or would soon be somebody. Candy Clark, Diane Lane, Robert Culp, Fred Willard, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller, Robby Benson, Richard Widmark, Christopher Lloyd, Julie Kavner (the voice of Marge Simpson) and Rhea Perlman all make an appearance. It's worth mentioning that this film was also made during the era where nudity on film was still quite a novelty, and this movie plays this card as much as possible. 

Movie Madness was conceived under the title National Lampoon Goes to the Movies and was to feature ten segments which would parody movie genres. An entire fourth segment was filmed and cut from the feature before release. Even those involved with the project recognize its shortcomings, referring to the cocaine-fueled writing segments that resulted in a project with no structure, no purpose, and no experience in the things that are necessary to create a film. When it was turned over to the studio, the title was changed to Movie Madness and the director of the cop segment (the best segment), Henry Jaglo, was so disillusioned with his experience that he vowed never to work for a major studio again and stick to the indies. Also worth mentioning: this project was made in 1981 and unreleased for two years, when it went virtually straight to cable. 

Comedy is subjective, and there may be folks who really love this movie, especially those who are deeply connected to the late 1970s and early 1980s comedy scene, but this is miles away from National Lampoon's feature debut Animal House. Even the unfunniest segments of Saturday Night Live from the much-maligned Dick Ebersol era run circles around the attempts at comedy here. This one is for National Lampoon completists and for fans of the actors who appear. I watched the film via a new Blu-ray from Code Red (distributed by Kino Lorber) and the transfer is very good. There are no extras included. We're living in an age of wonder when such forgotten features get such respectable treatment. 

UNSCRIPTED: How Much Darker Can DC Movies Get?


Each new DC movie from Warner Bros. seems darker and grittier than the one that came before it. In this UNSCRIPTED episode, Heath discusses the history of DC and its connection to darkness in the movies AND in the comics!

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Friday, October 22, 2021

A Conversation with Filmmaker David Sterling (Camp Blood, Axe Grinder)


Heath sits down with indie producer David Sterling, the man behind Camp Blood, Axe Grinder, Empire of the Apes, and over a hundred other films, for a discussion about micro-budget filmmaking, what it takes to succeed in the film business, and what's coming next!



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Thursday, October 21, 2021

In the Shadow of Hollywood: Flicker Alley's Poverty Row Collection REVIEW!


We're taking another walk down Poverty Row with the brand new Flicker Alley collection IN THE SHADOW OF HOLLYWOOD: HIGHLIGHTS FROM POVERTY ROW, featuring stellar restorations, deep and informative special features, and a top notch presentation. Find out why some of the most interesting cinema was made OUTSIDE of the studio system as we explore how these movies are still relevant today!


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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Snake Eyes - G.I. Joe Origins 4K UHD Review


SNAKE EYES -G.I. JOE ORIGINS is now on 4K UHD and Cereal At Midnight has your in-depth review! What does it look and sound like? What special features are included, and are they worth your time? Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. YO JOE!


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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Ultraman Tiga and Retro VHS Blu-rays from Mill Creek Entertainment!

Mill Creek Entertainment's October releases have arrived! In this episode: Ultraman Tiga has the G.U.T.S. to save the world, plus four new Retro VHS Slipcover Blu-rays!

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Friday, October 15, 2021

Smallville Complete Series Blu-ray Unboxing and Review (Plus Superman & Lois!)


SMALLVILLE soars onto Blu-ray in a brand new complete series package to commemorate its 20th anniversary! In this episode, we unbox the series, discuss the transfers and and how they compare to previous editions, and detail the special features, both new and old. We also discuss SUPERMAN & LOIS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON and how it is the modern spiritual successor to Smallville in almost every way!

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Fictional Crimes and Real Murder: A Conversation with Crime Writer Stephanie Kane


Award-winning author Stephanie Kane stops by Cereal At Midnight to discuss how a cold case murder has changed the course of her life, where the ideas for her novels come from, and why failure is invaluable. Don't miss her new crime novel Object Lessons, now available everywhere!


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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Certified Meh - Rotten Tomatoes And Internet Film Criticism (Patreon Exclusive)


In this Patreon exclusive, Heath and Bree discuss Rotten Tomatoes, numerical scores in reviews, and the state of internet film criticism!

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Countess Dracula - Hammer Horror Review! (Imprint Films)



It's HAMMER TIME! Let's talk about 1971's COUNTESS DRACULA starring the lovely Ingrid Pitt as a villain who bathes in blood! It's Hammer at its goriest and most gothic!

This movie is part of Imprint's HAMMER HORROR: FOUR GOTHIC HORROR FILMS box set. 

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

WHY WE LOVE SLASHERS feat. F This Movie Founder Patrick Bromley


Heath is joined by Patrick Bromley, the founder of the F This Movie podcast and website, for a discussion about why we love slasher movies! This conversation goes to some very surprising and unexpected places.

@PatrickBromley on Twitter

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Green Knight 4K Review - Still My Favorite of the Year


THE GREEN KNIGHT arrives on 4K UHD! Embark on a quest of epic proportions, a journey that will test our mettle and question our sanity. Do you have what it takes to be a knight of the round?

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Monday, October 11, 2021

Kino Lorber ROCTOBER SALE HAUL!

Kino Lorber is running a massive sale on their website through October 26th. Join Heath as he shares his first haul of pick-ups from the event!


Shop the sale HERE

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Friday, October 8, 2021

Patreon Exclusive: Recent Pick-Ups and Hamilton Book Scores!


In our latest Patreon exclusive, we're discussing recent pick-ups, poverty row discoveries, and Hamilton book scores!
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Robotech Macross Saga Blu-ray Review - How Does it Compare to the DVD?


Robotech: The Macross Saga bursts onto Blu-ray from Funimation in a controversial new release! In this episode, we've got a full review, complete with comparison discussion between the new HD transfers and the legacy DVD set!

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