There are books on Tiki culture and then there’s Tiki Pop: America Imagines Its Own Polynesian Paradise by Sven A. Kirsten and publisher TASCHEN.
What I mean by that is that this book is the bible on Tiki history in the United States, as it covers its genesis, all of its key elements, how it expanded into everything in pop culture and ultimately, how it faded away and then saw a bit of a revival.
Like all books I own by TASCHEN, this is image heavy and presented on premium paper stock. It’s a legitimate art book that truly delves into Tiki history and displays everything that one could imagine from that pocket of Americana.
This book is a very thick hardcover that covers so much territory, even for being chock full of hundreds of images and also being translated into three languages.
I found every single chapter intriguing and well researched. My only real gripe about the book is that the written part of each chapter is kind of short and I felt like it all could’ve been greatly expanded on. Maybe the author can do that in the future, as this has so many great entry points to different parts of Tiki pop that can be expanded upon in many books.
Regardless of that, this is still the greatest book I have ever come across on the subject. Plus, it’s beautifully and immaculately presented. For lovers of Tiki culture, this is absolutely a must own and it’s also really inexpensive for its size and quality.
Rating: 10/10 Pairs well with: other books on Tiki culture and pop culture from bygone eras.
Release Date: November 14th, 1962 (London premiere) Directed by: Robert Stevenson Written by: Lowell S. Hawley Based on:In Search of the Castaways by Jules Verna Music by: William Alwyn, Muir Mathieson, Richard Sherman, Robert Sherman Cast: Hayley Mills, Maurice Chevalier, George Sanders, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Keith Hamshere, Jack Gwillim, Wilfrid Brambell, Michael Anderson Jr., Antonio Cifariello
Walt Disney Productions, Buena Vista Distribution, 98 Minutes
“I don’t know which is worse, by George: having you so happy you sing all the time, or so glum you won’t even talk. “The ombu tree is gorgeous. Enjoy it!” Huh!” – Lord Glenarvan
While these kids today won’t have the attention span for this movie, it’s still one of the greatest family adventure films of all-time!
Sure, you may disagree, but you’re wrong.
This was made by Disney at the height of their live-action adventure epics. It also starred one of their most bankable stars, at the height of her young career: Hayley Mills.
In Search of the Castaways was also an adaptation of a Jules Verne novel and while it might not be as well known as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World In 80 Days or Journey to the Center of the Earth, it is still a grand adventure of the highest and most exciting caliber.
Disney did a fine job in creating this motion picture and despite a few spots with wonky effects, it is one of the best effects blockbusters of its era. Sure, some of it looks dated but there’s also a certain appeal to it. And frankly, none of it breaks the movie or ruins the magic. In fact, it adds an extra level of charm and for fans of classic filmmaking, it’s just cool to experience on the screen.
This is one of those larger-than-life classic films that I wish I could’ve seen on the big screen but it predates me by a few decades. Unfortunately, I’ve never caught it playing anywhere but that’s probably because it’s a fairly forgotten movie. Hell, it isn’t even streaming on Disney’s own streaming service, Disney+.
Honestly, it’s a film that deserves more love. From start-to-finish it is energetic and fun. You’ll like most of the characters, even if the French guy can sometimes grate on the nerves with his singing and goofiness. But for something that is only 98 minutes, the picture covers a lot of ground, goes to a lot of exotic locations and constantly pushes these characters into new situations to overcome.
The core of the story is about two kids looking for their father who is missing somewhere in the world. They’re not immediately sure where but they set off on a long journey, trying to find answers to their father’s whereabouts.
I’m actually kind of surprised that Disney hasn’t tried to reboot this movie yet. I mean, they probably will at some point because original ideas in Hollywood are like trying to catch a leprechaun. However, it’d be damn hard for a modern version of this story to have the same sort of cinematic magic.
All in all, this is just an amusing and lovable picture. It’s a sort of perfect storm of several important factors just coming together and gelling the right way: a Jules Verne story, Disney’s blockbuster filmmaking style and Hayley Mills in her prime.
Rating: 8.75/10 Pairs well with: other Jules Verne adaptations of the ’50s & ’60s, as well as other Disney Hayley Mills movies and other Disney adventure films of the time.
Also known as: Mosura tai Gojira (original Japanese title), Godzilla Against Mothra (Japanese English title), Panik in Tokyo (Germany), Godzilla Fights the Giant Moth (Worldwide English title) Release Date: April 29th, 1964 (Japan) Directed by: Ishirō Honda Written by: Shinichi Sekizawa Music by: Akira Ifukube Cast: Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, The Peanuts, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yu Fujiki, Kenji Sahara, Jun Tazaki, Yoshifumi Tajima
Toho Co. Ltd., 89 Minutes
“I’m not as afraid of Godzilla as I am of the editor… he’s meaner.” – Reporter Jiro Nakamura
While not my favorite Godzilla movie of the Shōwa era, this one still holds a pretty special place in my heart, as it pits Godzilla against Mothra for the first time. Granted, they’d become solid allies after this movie, as Godzilla would evolve into a hero and Earth’s protector once King Ghidorah shows up in the picture following this one.
This is still a fun film that merges the two monsters into the same franchise, this being Godzilla’s fourth movie and Mothra’s second after 1961’s simply titled Mothra.
The story sees one of Mothra’s eggs get taken from Infant Island, the kaiju’s tropical Tiki-esque home, and put on display in Japan. Godzilla shows up, the egg hatches and we get some great kaiju action. In fact, the battles and the effects are some of my favorite in the series, so hats off, once again, to effects maestro Eiji Tsuburaya.
And while I’m mentioning Tsuburaya, his miniatures in this are some of the best he’s done. The vehicles looked and performed superbly.
The film also stars some of Toho’s regular actors from the tokusatsu genre, which I always consider a good thing despite familiar faces appearing multiple times throughout the franchise as different characters. In this one, we get Kenji Sahara, who I always enjoy, and Hiroshi Koizumi.
Mothra vs. Godzilla has a simple story but it works. This is a kaiju movie from the best kaiju studio from the best era in the kaiju genre. It brings together two of the most popular characters in film history and it is pretty much exactly what you would expect it to be while slightly exceeding those expectations.
This doesn’t have much of anything wrong with it and its just enjoyable through and through: a true tokusatsu classic.
Rating: 8.25/10 Pairs well with: other Shōwa era Godzilla movies.
Also known as: Leech (working title) Release Date: May, 1960 Directed by: Edward Dein Written by: David Duncan, Ben Pivar, Francis Rosenwald Music by: Irving Getz, Hans J. Salteri (uncredited), Henry Vars (uncredited) Cast: Grant Williams, Coleen Gray, Phillip Terry, Gloria Talbott, John van Dreelen, Estelle Hemsley, Kim Hamilton, Arthur Batanides
Universal Pictures, 77 Minutes
“What woman lives, who has passed the prime of her life, that would not give her remaining years to reclaim even a few moments of joy and happiness and to know the worship of men?” – Old Malla
This is another one of those Universal B-movie horror pictures that was lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000. However, just like some of the others, it’s far from terrible and is actually one of the better movies to be mocked on that show.
Now I can’t say that this is as good as The Mole Poeple or This Island Earth but it’s still an enjoyable romp that has an old school Tiki vibe, lots of crazy science and even a romantic plot.
The plot, in a nutshell, sees a scientist go to the jungles of Africa because there is an old tribal sorceress that has the ability to make herself younger with an arcane ritual. The ritual does involve murder, however, as one of the ingredients needed is the secretion from a male pineal gland. Of course, the scientist and his wife want to steal the secret to use for their own selfish means. This obviously leads to tragic consequences for the pair.
The film is goofy but it’s also kind of cool. While a good portion of it takes place in the African jungle, the sets and the style feel more like they are using a Tiki aesthetic. I mean, that’s fine because in the time when this was made, filmmakers didn’t give a crap about accuracy or even research. African jungles, Pacific islands, Caribbean islands, voodoo bayous… all had the same aesthetic in film circa 1960.
For the time, the genre and the budget, this is a pretty standard film. It’s not well acted and the script is wonky but it is also salvaged by its style, its absurdity and the fact that it’s pretty fun.
Rating: 5/10 Pairs well with: other Universal horror films of the era.
Release Date: December 20th, 1967 (Chicago premiere) Directed by: Henry Levin Written by: Herbert Baker Based on:The Ambushers by Donald Hamilton Music by: Herbert Baker, Hugo Montenegro Cast: Dean Martin, Senta Berger, Janice Rule, James Gregory, Albert Salmi, Kurt Kasznar, Beverly Adams, John Brascia
Columbia Pictures, 102 Minutes
[a new female recruit gets turned on by Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” playing in the background] “You really like Perry Como that much?” – Matt Helm
The first two Matt Helm films were a lot of fun and really capture the magic and charisma of Dean Martin. I thought the first two were pretty consistent, overall. This one, however, falls off a bit and it looks as if the formula is running out of steam.
Still, Dean Martin makes this picture work and it’s hard to deny his charm and his ability to command the screen and make his audience smile along with him.
As far as the story goes, this one was weak. It features a government made UFO for some reason and a lot of wacky stuff that doesn’t work as well as the wacky stuff we saw in the installments before this chapter in the franchise.
Also, the intro to the film and the title are confusing, as we’re introduced to the idea of this all female assault team called “The Ambushers” but really, they don’t exist in the film in any sort of meaningful way to justify the title or the movie’s awesome opening credits sequence.
Sure, we get to see Dean Martin hamming it up and flirting with good looking ladies at the agency’s HQ in the first act but once he’s off to Mexico, that’s pretty much it for Dean Martin being a guy in a sea of hot women.
The film does have some strengths apart from Martin.
I thought that the Mexican brewery shootout and fisticuffs were well done and the environment was used superbly within the sequence.
Also, the big climax was well written, well structured, executed nicely and pretty energetic. It had a lot of good hilarious bits in it and it sort of makes up for the duller parts of the film.
Now there aren’t many dull moments but the film feels as if they blew most of the good jokes in the first two pictures and didn’t have a lot left to work into this one. But Martin did his best.
I thought the special effects came off well. There is a lot of cheese with it though, like the sparkler guns that levitate objects and the weirdly out of place UFO but some of the levitation gags worked. Well, except for the parts where you could clearly see wires lifting up people and objects. I was pretty impressed with how well the bar scene came out though. The sequence with the bottle pouring and the floating glasses moving across the room and into people’s hands looked perfect.
The Ambushers is certainly a step down. But it still entertains and keeps the party going.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with:The Silencers, Murderers’ Row or The Wrecking Crew: the other Matt Helm films.
RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.
*Written in 2011.
I recently got back from Las Vegas. In fact, this time last week I was still partying pretty hard in that damn town. I was there for work but it didn’t mean that I didn’t party like a raging mastodon. I entered the neon desert as a man and left as a more educated man. What knowledge did I gain during my exploits in this once mafia ruled party town? Well, here are twenty-five things, in no particular order, that I walked away with.
1. Japanese tourists cannot walk by snow globes without shaking them. When I went to the Walgreens attached to the Venetian, it was like walking into a foreign land. It was confusing; I wasn’t sure if I was in a Walgreens in Baghdad or Tokyo. It was a mixture of primarily Iraqi and Japanese tourists. I know the people in Muslim garb were Iraqi because one of them said, “There are a lot of us Iraqi in here, huh?” The Iraqis were pretty much grabbing knick knacks and slushies while the Japanese were thumbing through Vegas calendars and shaking literally every damn snow globe in the store. These snow globes were like crack to the Japanese tourists. I watched one walk by the display and he tried to fight the urge but ultimately gave in to his bullshit temptation and frantically shook three or four of them within a five second span! I swear I heard homeboy laugh maniacally when he did it too. Dude sounded like an anime villain after sniffing video head cleaner!
2. Birth control pills are often taken with alcohol. This came as a surprise to me but it probably shouldn’t have. I can’t tell you how many times I was at one of the many casino bars just hitting on some random chick and the girl got titillated enough to pop a birth control pill right in front of me. I have to admit, when they took a big sip of their cosmopolitan right after, I thought it was quite hot. In some cases it was hard for me to properly articulate my lustful feelings because in Vegas, my speech was ridiculously slurred.
3. There is never a free bench! This really pissed me off because I had to do a lot of walking from casino to casino. Just to give you an idea, if you’re familiar with the layout of Las Vegas, I had to walk from Treasure Island, across the Strip through the Venetian and all the way to the Sands Expo Center multiple times a day. My damn feet hurt! So all I wanted to do every now and again was to take a seat on a bench. However, no matter where I was, inside or outside, inconsiderate people were just sitting on benches with big ass “F.U.” smirks on their faces.
4. Strippers try and follow you home. Man, all I did with a few of my boys was walk by a strip club. Suddenly this half-dressed porn star wannabe was following us. I thought nothing of it as there are lots a big ass titties and people walking around in Vegas. Man, we went for blocks and blocks and split off in different directions. The last friend I was with wanted to go into the Venetian. We walked inside, went to the bar and this stripper sat next to us. The overly sultry lady was asking us if we wanted to bring her up to the room. We were hesitant as I didn’t need some pushy and shady trick jacking my MacBook Pro and my dirty underwear. After leaving the bar, she followed us for another twenty minutes and finally gave up. She caught an attitude when we refused to buy her a drink when she requested one. Buy me a drink bee-otch, I’m the one getting macked on!
5. Why buy a hooker when there are plenty of hot non-hookers willing to have sex with anything free of charge? Now I personally didn’t purchase a woman of the night but a few of my homies were game and were willing to spend some serious cheese. I thought to myself, “Man, there has to be an easier and cheaper way.” Well, there is. What I learned is that a lot of the people in Vegas on vacation just want to get their sex on and I mean hard – I’m talking about women too. I can’t tell you how many wanted to get pregnant with my seed every time I sat at any random bar and shot the shit. What I realized through this experience of aggressive flirtation and over-the-clothes genital rubs is that I need to move to Vegas and open up a condom store!
6. Gambling is the lamest thing to do (besides going to see the Blue Man Group). That’s about all I have to say on that.
7. Rita Rudner is never funny. This is a fact. I’m sure she is a nice lady but every time I walked by that theatre in the Venetian where they have the comedy shows, I was bombarded by videos of Rita Rudner telling her jokes. I’m assuming the two clips they run are her funniest moments, why promote her with her worst moments, right? Well, the clips weren’t funny. They were pretty awful actually. For a fifty-something chick, I’d hit it, but damn, she needs to not call her show “Now Funny”.
8. “Jackpot” isn’t just a gambling term. It is also slang for something involving a person’s head and man’s genitals. Well, at least according to this gay dude I met at Binion’s named Chip.
9. One’s comedic timing is enhanced (except Rita Rudner’s apparently). I noticed that, for whatever reason, my hilarity was at an all time high. My comebacks, insults, wittiness, general joking and tomfoolery were all at peak levels. I had myself in hysterics pretty much the entire trip. Some of this has to be attributed to the fact that I was drunk for nine straight days and I was feeling some elation from the oxygen being pumped into my room every night but goddamn! I was like Chris Rock buttfucking Carrot Top with Richard Pryor filming it and George Carlin holding the boom mic while Denis Leary was handing out disposable cameras and snacks.
10. Downtown trumps the Strip. I can’t really explain it but Downtown Vegas felt real while the Strip just felt like touristy bullshit. The style and the atmosphere were legit and I enjoyed walking around this area even though peeps kept hitting me up for change to buy beer or to have one more shot at winning it all back. Plus it was like ’80s night when I was there, not sure if it’s ’80s themed all the time but the DeLorean in front of one of the casinos mixed with the sounds of the Talking Heads gave me a serious boner.
11. Friends don’t let friends drink and pick prostitutes. I’m not getting into the details on the fiasco that taught me this lesson. You’re just going to have to trust your boy on this one and be thankful that none of us got cut by a crazy bitch lactating all over the goddamned casino. My stomach churns even thinking about it but I’m alive, no thanks to my friend’s stupidity and bad choice in seedy women. He actually, at one point, handed her his black AMEX to buy drinks.
12. Dennis Rodman digs my artwork. I found this to be a great honor because Rodman is the most stylistic cat in the history of the NBA. For him to give props on something I created was pretty badass.
13. C+ level food can be sold at A+ level prices if it is covered in enough B level sauce. Man, the food in Vegas is expensive but it isn’t as good as it looks and especially isn’t worth the price range, except for a few places. Out of all the meals I had in the nine days I was there, only two meals were all that memorable. Most of the food is mediocre and smeared in good sauces to cover up the lack of anything spectacular. Trevi in Caesars Palace provided the best meal I had in the neon desert.
14. Frankie’s Tiki Room is as good as it’ll ever get for anyone. I have to go on record and state that this is quite possibly the greatest bar or lounge I have ever been in. The place feels authentic as fuck. It’s like it has been sitting on some Vegas side street for 50 years, undiscovered. The truth is, the place was established in 2008! The music, the drinks, the atmosphere, everything is perfect. The bartender was cool as hell. I was so blown away by the awesomeness of this majestic place that I vowed to return home and open up a place as close to this as possible, except my Tiki Room will serve burgers and tots. I left this bar with a huge list of new bands to check out off of their jukebox. It was a surf rock and Tiki bar fan’s heavenly haven.
15. You can get a draft beer and a blowjob at Ellis Island for $41! I didn’t get to go to Ellis Island, which is one of my biggest regrets on this trip, but I did learn from multiple people that they have dollar drafts and one can easily get a blowjob for forty bucks behind the dumpster out back. Granted I wouldn’t want a blowjob from a forty dollar hoochie but I know a lot of people that would, so I am sharing this with you. Go get some sucky sucky, boys!
16. Supply and demand is a MFer in Las Vegas. I first realized this on my first day when I was thirsty as shit walking around the desert atmosphere. I went into a pizza place and grabbed two bottles of Aquafina. The cashier charged me $8.11! Talk about no condom shit-pushed-in prison rape! Then one of the more popular bars charged me $32 for two shots of Jameson! I quickly learned where not to buy stuff in Vegas.
17. People in Vegas believe that pirate ships had DJs. Well, at least the people who run the attractions and shows at Treasure Island believe this. I watched their pirate show and I was a bit perplexed at how they had a DJ on the pirate ship not to mention the fact that there is nowhere at sea to plug in an amp. Also, half the pirates were women which was against pirate code. Plus, these women obviously shop at Rave, which wasn’t around back then, and they danced and sung Pussycat Dolls sounding pop tunes. I guess historical accuracy isn’t important in Las Vegas.
18. The Bellagio and the Cosmopolitan are the only casinos with any real style. I stick by this statement, although the Tropicana, Bill’s and the Imperial Palace all had some unique shit. Everywhere else is exactly the same. I couldn’t tell which casino was which if I wasn’t in any of the ones already mentioned. The Bellagio is just off the charts and absolutely beautiful. The Cosmopolitan is on some next level shit. The lounge Bond in the front of the building was one of the coolest places I ever sat in while drinking a Pabst (although it was $7!). I also had a Tom Collins and a bourbon sour. The best part about Bond was that there were multiple go-go girls dancing over my head! Needless to say, I fell in love with both of these awesome casinos.
19. Celebrities are much cooler in Vegas. Well, at least the handful that I met were cool as balls. I won’t name them because I ain’t out to give free publicity and I’m not trying to wow anyone with a list of people who’s hands I shook. In any event, every celeb I saw was mad cordial and cool with shooting the shit for a few minutes. One celeb I got to hang out with at the casino bar for a good hour. He was a dope ass cat.
20. Cab drivers are the coolest dudes in town. That may sound crazy and you may think that they are all foreign dudes with little to no knowledge of the English language. In some cases this is true but the few who I really talked to were badass. One guy I met used to fight off elephant poachers in Africa. He was like the African Teddy Roosevelt. I should have got his autograph because my time with him trumped any of the celebrity bullshit. The conversation was well worth him “getting lost” and sticking me with a $78 cab bill.
21. Casino security won’t stop a pimp from hunting you down. This is a scary thing because when a friend of mine dissed a hoe, the pimp came hunting. When the pimp tried to follow him, security didn’t even attempt to stop the brute. Luckily for my friend, he got away safe. The lesson learned here though, is that pissing off a pimp in Vegas is a bad idea, especially when security isn’t going to protect you from getting a brick bounced off of your eye.
22. After 4 am, most high class prostitutes run 2-for-1 specials, as in you can get two hoes for the price of one hoe! Just don’t get swindled and make sure your important shit is in the safe before bringing these pro-sluts up to your room. Then again, you’re probably not getting sloppy seconds or treacherous thirds, you’re getting frothy fourths or filet-o-fish fifths (and we’re talking extra tarter sauce if ya feel me). So play it safe!
23. Blueberry pancakes and Mai Thais compliment each other like “whoa!” That is all. Just go try it! But you better have a hell of a sweet tooth and be inebriated beyond comprehension.
24. If a girl tells you that she has been drugged and that the couple who are buying her drinks are trying to have a threesome, she is probably trying to recruit you for an orgy full of old fat Canadians. I started to think this girl needed to be protected from these vile creatures but then instincts prevailed and I realized that it was a ploy to get my seed. Nope, not happening trollop!
25. Nine days in Las Vegas is probably too long because then you start seeing things you can’t unsee. Just a word to the wise.
Also known as:Chikyû saidai no kessen, lit. Three Giant Monsters: The Greatest Battle on Earth (Japan), Monster of Monsters: Ghidorah (Worldwide English title), Godzilla vs. Ghidorah (Finland), Frankensteins Monster im Kampf gegen Ghidorah (Germany) Release Date: December 20th, 1964 (Japan) Directed by: Ishirō Honda Written by: Shinichi Sekizawa Music by: Akira Ifukube Cast: Yosuke Natsuki, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yuriko Hoshi, Akiko Wakabayashi, The Peanuts, Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Kenji Sahara, Susumu Kurobe, Haruo Nakajima, Shoichi Hirose
Toho Co. Ltd., 92 Minutes
“Yes, it is possible for someone to be saved from an exploding aircraft. If we understand the curvature of space, we know that the continuum surrounding any spherical body such as our world is composed of different dimensions. The force of the explosion created a gap between these dimensions, and fortunately for her, she fell into it.” – Alien Expert
I’ve put off reviewing this film in the Godzilla franchise for awhile. The main reason, is that I wanted to save it for the week that the new American Godzilla movie was coming out, as that one features the same four monsters featured in this film. So if the new American film is remaking anything, it is closest to remaking this film.
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster isn’t just one of my favorite Godzilla movies, it is one of my favorite monster movies… ever.
King Ghidorah is, hands down, one of the coolest and most iconic monsters ever created. While he might not be as popular as Godzilla or Mothra, he is most definitely the best villain in Godzilla lore and the true king of Toho’s baddies. He’s also much better than any of the evil kaiju creatures from any other Japanese series whether it be Gamera, Ultraman or anything else. Personally, Gigan is my favorite but I can’t deny the greatness and dominance of Ghidorah.
What’s also really interesting about this film is that it is where Godzilla really becomes a good guy and a protector of Japan and Earth from worse monsters. He teams up with Mothra, after the two of them fought in Godzilla Vs. The Thing and he also encounters Rodan for the first time, which starts off as a big fight but eventually ends with the two of them becoming strong allies.
Ghidorah has three heads, so I guess it makes sense needing three good monsters to fight him. Also, it sort of helps to build up the mystique of the new villain. For the first time ever, Godzilla alone can’t take on another monster. Granted, Godzilla, over time, would evolve to be far more powerful than the standard Ghidorah.
The story of this one is also interesting in that it introduces a monster threat from outer space, as well as bringing in alien races and a new sort of dynamic to the Godzilla franchise, which changes all the movies going forward.
Additionally, this movie was helmed by the A-team of Toho tokusatsu: director Ishirō Honda, writer Shinichi Sekizawa, special effects maestro Eiji Tsuburaya and composer Akira Ifukube. It also features the top Toho actors, the real core of the studio’s talent at the time: Hiroshi Koizumi, Kenji Sahara, Takashi Shimura, Akiko Wakabayashi and Akihiko Hirata.
While I like the original Godzilla and King Kong Vs. Godzilla more than this, this chapter in the franchise is almost a perfect storm where everything just sort of went right. It ups the ante in new ways, is a hell of a lot of fun and it’s the one film that really sells you on how menacing and dangerous King Ghidorah is.
Rating: 8.5/10 Pairs well with: other Shōwa era Godzilla movies.
Also known as: A Aventura de Kon-Tiki (Brazil), Kon-Tiki 1950 (Swedish re-issue festival title) Release Date: January 13th, 1950 (Sweden) Directed by: Thor Heyerdahl Written by: Thor Heyerdahl Music by: Sune Waldimir Cast: Thor Heyerdahl, Herman Watzinger, Erik Hesselberg, Knut Haugland, Torstein Raaby, Bengt Danielsson, Ben Grauer (voice), Gerte Wald (uncredited)
For those who don’t know the story of the Kon-Tiki expedition, you are sorely missing out. Back in 1947, a brave Norwegian, Thor Heyerdahl, rounded up a team to construct a primitive style raft with local materials in Ecuador and Peru for the purpose of setting sail towards Polynesia to show that such a task was possible in order to prove that it’s also possible that the Pacific islands were populated by people who migrated from South America.
Heyerdahl also kept things as primitive as possible, as far as the method of travel. They did bring some military rations for food and had a radio, in case of emergency and to make contact with the outside world in an effort to check-in on their progress.
If you love nature documentaries or seeing real men do some really manly shit, than this is something you’ll probably enjoy. It’s really exciting, informative and kind of magical. It makes you wish that you were there, even though it was hard and strenuous. But these guys really tested their mettle and spirit but got through it okay.
Also, if you’re into history, science or just love things pertaining to South Pacific culture, this really delves into all of that.
There is a great scene with curious whales, another regarding the dangers of having freshly caught sharks on the boat, as well as the big climax where they have to work their way over a massive and dangerous, razor sharp coral reef in an effort to finally hit land.
I loved this documentary and it’s made me want to go back and watch the 2012 motion picture based on this expedition. Mainly, because I want to test its accuracy after having seen this documentary and just because this is such a great and incredible story.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with: The 2012 motion picture Kon-Tiki and the other Thor Heyerdahl seafaring documentary The Ra Expeditions.
Published on: April 25th, 2017 Written by: Jon Adams Art by: Horacio Dominigues Based on:The Enchanted Tiki Room attraction at Walt Disney World
Marvel Comics, 128 Pages
Being a fan of all things Tiki and since my first real Tiki experience actually came from a trip where I stayed at the Disney Polynesian Resort and went to a show at the Enchanted Tiki Room, I thought that I owed it to myself to drum up some of that childhood nostalgia by reading this comic based on that classic Disney attraction.
Put out by Marvel, who Disney now owns, this is a very weird ride.
It tries to give life and some sort of a background story to the Disney attraction that has been around since Walt was alive. It takes the famous birds, gives them a tale but it also introduces characters exclusive to this story, who sort of take center stage.
All of the characters are very streamlined and unimaginative archetypes played up for their faults. There’s an old actress, a Norma Desmond type, that doesn’t get why she isn’t a star anymore. She has a little dog that starts talking once they get on the “enchanted” island. Then there is a family of greedy white people where the dad is obviously a fat slob. All they care about is buying things. The next character is a young black guy that just went through a breakup with his ditsy, self-absorbed, alpha white girlfriend. There is also a young white girl that you don’t know much about for most of the story; she acts like a total savage. Lastly, there is this guy named Chip that turns out to be a villain in the story when he rips off the idea of the Enchanted Tiki Room and turns it into a competing casino.
Again, I love Tiki stuff and I loved my experiences visiting the real attraction. I really wanted to like this book but it fell flat and was just sort of a lame attempt at being funny. As is standard with Marvel products these days, their employees don’t seem to write for comic book fans and have some sort of strange sense of humor that doesn’t work unless you’re a techie hipster that spends your entire life behind a keyboard with a social circle you’ve never met IRL. You know, the type of people that like to say that everything is “so meta.”
I had hoped this would be good because I wanted to check out the other comics Disney has done for their other attractions. There are two Figment series that I planned on reading but after this, I’ve lost interest.
Rating: 4.75/10 Pairs well with: Probably the other Disney comics based off of their attractions but I’m not going to waste time or money in an effort to read them.
Release Date: June 12th, 1963 (Philadelphia premiere) Directed by: John Ford Written by: James Edward Grant, Frank S. Nugent Music by: Cyril Mockridge Cast: John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Jack Warden, Elizabeth Allen, Jacqueline Malouf, Cesar Romero, Dorothy Lamour, Mike Mazurki, Patrick Wayne, Dick Foran
Paramount Pictures, 109 Minutes
“Well, there is our Mike Donovan. Three children and not one marriage. Oh, I do not say that he’s the first man to put the cart before the horse, but three carts and no horse? Huh?” – Marquis Andre de Lage
John Ford and John Wayne made a lot of really good movies together. Some of them had Lee Marvin in them too. Well, this is one of them but sadly, it is the last of them.
This also has Jack Warden and Cesar Romero in it too though, as well as Elizabeth Allen, Dorothy Lamour, Mike Mazurki, Patrick Wayne and Dick Foran. Plus, it is shot in beautiful and luscious Hawaii at the height of the Tiki subculture’s popularity in America.
Donovan’s Reef is a really good and lighthearted movie. It’s a lot more playful than what Ford and Wayne collaborations typically were. Sure, they’d have some tiny comedic moments but this is really a straight up romantic comedy that just so happens to have a male lead with real gravitas.
The thing is, I love seeing Wayne be funny and playful and kind of hamming it up. He doesn’t lose his machismo and if anything, it’s that machismo that makes his lighter roles work so well. For instance, Rooster Cogburn isn’t remotely close to the quality of its predecessor True Grit but Wayne is so damn good in it, playing opposite of Katharine Hepburn in an “odd couple” sort of situation. This is like that in the way that Wayne isn’t afraid to step outside of being the quintessential badass of his era.
I also love Lee Marvin’s character in this and the rest of the cast is damn good too. Cesar Romero was friggin’ delightful. And the young Jacqueline Malouf was perfect and sweet in her role. I truly enjoyed Elizabeth Allen’s role in this though, as she was the perfect pairing for Wayne’s wit and for the romantic stuff. She was the typical “rich white lady thrown into an exotic culture” archetype but she evolved beyond that and gave the role a lot of personality.
This is a beautiful film to look at. Hawaii is majestic and it is on full display in this movie.
Donovan’s Reef was actually much better than I thought it would be and I’m glad I checked it out. It’s definitely something I’ll probably revisit many times in the future.
Rating: 8.25/10 Pairs well with: Other Ford and Wayne collaborations. For the Tiki aesthetic, The Road to Bali which also features Dorothy Lamour. Also, Diamond Head, which was also filmed in Hawaii and features Elizabeth Allen.