The Really Awful Movies Podcast

Smart talk, dumb movies? That’s not a bad description. The Really Awful Movies Podcast is a celebration of genre cinema of all stripes, with a focus on horror. If you like what you read here, or in print (our acclaimed book, Death by Umbrella!) you’ll (hopefully) like what’s being talked about there.

Every week on the show, Jeff and I get down to the business of critiquing films that occasionally get short-shrift from the mainstream. Despite our name (derived from a phrase one of our mothers used to describe a burgeoning interest in horror, “why do you have to watch those awful movies?”) we are relentlessly positive, silver lining types. Even as we fire broadsides, we pull back and offer praise and constructive criticism (something lacking in movie criticism).

Over the course of hundreds of episodes, we have explored everything from misguided musicals (Xanadu), to lurid Italian cannibal movies (Cannibal Ferox), meatheaded action flicks (Shotgun), and even silent surrealist films (Un Chien Andalou).

The beauty about our mandate is we’re never pigeonholed. As much as we could chat about our favorite slashers week after week, we have the luxury of pulling back and delving into film noir, like we did with D.O.A., or peeling back the curtain for some 70s exploitation (The Baby).

We realize that time is precious. When we started The Really Awful Movies Podcast, we wanted to create bite-sized morsels rather than buffet-style entrees. As a result (with a few exceptions), our episodes are roughly 30-45 minutes in length. We cut right to the core, with some extemporaneous personal anecdotes and detours as we see fit. Mostly though, we place our focus where it should be: on the film.

You may have wondered about our banner…The Lamberto Bava film, Demons, is a mutual favorite. It’s a perfect combination of hilarity and horror, a lunk-headed oddity that is impossible not to love. And those three demons on the poster capture the spirit of the film  (and our podcast) perfectly, even if there are only two of us (we have a guest on occasion, so there’s room for a third).

If you’d like to subscribe to The Really Awful Movies Podcast, we’d really appreciate it. We’re not big on Patreon. Instead, we urge listeners to grab copies of our book (soon to be plural – update to come) to support us.

Thanks for listening! And thanks for reading too, we update Really Awful Movies as humanly possible.

Best,

Chris & Jeff

D.O.A.

The 90s Canadian Sanda Oh starrer, Last Night, was about the last night on earth, as an apocalyptic scenario (unexplained), descended on the world and played out in our hometown (Toronto). That one put a time limit on a question that has bugged everyone from the Stoics to Nietzsche and beyond, “how is life best lived?,” — especially when it’s about to come to an abrupt end. In D.O.A., the question is a simple one — it’s becoming your own detective as your last breath draws closer and closer.

Frank Bigelow, an accountant, is on a business trip to San Francisco. While on the coast, he hits a bebop club, The Fisherman, featuring the most frenetic jazz band ever depicted in celluloid. There, his drink is swapped for another one, and gradually, Frank finds himself becoming increasingly ill.

Docs point out that he’s been poisoned, like he’s a Ukrainian politician. Lab tests reveal he’s ingested a substance for which there’s no antidote. Who would’ve/could’ve done such a thing?

Frank has dwindling time to effectively solve his own murder, and it’s in the film’s stunning tracking shot opener that he saunters into a police precinct to make such a proclamation.

From there, twists and turns aplenty, as Frank finds out there is a distant associate, Eugene, who’d been desperate to contact him before he died, apparently from a suicide. The trail then leads to Eugene’s window, and a mysterious bill of sale that Frank had notarized for the deceased, involving a suspicious substance.

What keeps D.O.A. in motion is essentially an inversion of Kant’s categorical imperative: Frank has to treat people as a means to an end he can’t behave otherwise as the clock is ticking away. As a result, what we get is a character removed from the conventions of how someone might ordinarily act. It’s unsettling, and realistic.

D.O.A. fell into the public domain, but do yourself a favor and track down a high quality print. After all, it’s film noir, and you need the blacks as black as they can be (thanks, guys in Spinal Tap).

Director Rudolph Maté cut his teeth working for Hitch (Foreign Correspondent) among others, and the Master’s influence is pretty apparent in the pupil.

***1/2 (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast of DOA here!]