Oak Island, 11th Episode & 11th Hour

DATELINE: Something’s Happening (we think).

alex front & center Alex, Poised for a Hostile Take Over!

Racing to the end of another and sixth season, The Curse of Oak Island takes time to call in a woman excavator who worked with the ROC equipment last year. Indeed, the Lagina brothers note that it has been a year since they actually dug in the shaft where the Money Pit is likely to be.

It’s a year since they found those two pieces of human bone! If that isn’t slow, we will put our money on the Hare racing against the Tortoise. They admit their hunt has been for “information” this season.

College professors may rejoice over this revelation. Others may not be so thrilled.

The show features Gary Drayton only for a few minutes this week, but he finds part of a lead bracelet that seems a companion piece to the lead Templar Cross he found last season.

Alex Lagina, looking more buff than usual, is once again driving miles to interview middle-aged women at museums in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He does learn that the latest inscription may be a rune from the Vikings. However, even he as the brightest light in the Oak Island sky, throws cold water on the paralells. He is almost ready to steal the show from his father and uncle.

Still, he actually and half-heartedly digs in Smith’s Cove with Uncle Rick. More bizarre wood structures are under the mud: made for no discernible purpose, they are new discoveries and quite fascinating.

There are growing hints that this year’s big money throwaway will not show returns till next season. But, now we seem to have found evidence of Vikings and Ancient Romans on Oak Island, pre-dating the Knights Templar. It was apparently quite a tourist attraction in its ancient days.

 

 

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Unsealed Alien Files

DATELINE: More of the Same?

greenie Little Greenewalde Man?

Well, we found the popcorn version of Ancient Aliens. You have to love a documentary that is listed under science fiction! There are a plethora of these series, all covering the same close encounters and conspiracies developing for over the centuries. This is the ultimate in false names: These are alleged government files that have been released to be public. So much for truth in advertising.

This streaming Amazon series, called Unsealed (no colon) Alien Files, which had four seasons, has three available on Prime. The second season is missing as it seems to have been one-hour in length, or under some other title. The gems of outrage are about 20 minutes. Season 2 may have morphed into Hangar One something or other.

Some people hate these teasers as sensation-seeking missiles.

So, this little series manages to cram as much info as one of the ponderous two-hour Ancient Aliens into a much shorter timeframe.  And, many of your favorite Aliens figures drop by to lend their expertise here—from Nick Pope, David Childress, Linda Moulton Howe, and others who seem to have sent their outtakes along. You may find the same UFO stock footage used in every episode.

These mini-briefs are folkloric in subject, hitting on everything from aliens on the Moon and Mars, to US presidents and their encounters. Most are cram packed with info and photos that you might wait to see elsewhere.

Many UFOlogists disparaged this little series, but we know when we have fallen into a money pit and don’t need any boring shafts.

John Greenewalde is the main host, someone whose claim to fame in the 20-teens was to form something called the Black Vault. The show insists that all these documents are now unsealed. Hardly, but who’s quibbling?

The narrator here is John B. Wells whose voice is a couple of octaves lower and more funeral than Robert Clotworthy over on Ancient Aliens and Curse of Oak Island. His assorted mispronunciations are to be counted and catalogued.

Son of Frankenstein, Reel History

DATELINE:  Consenting Monsters?

consenting monsters Love after Death.

In the days before cable TV, let alone streaming movies, we last saw the Monster in Son of Frankenstein from 1939. So, we jumped at the chance to look at the star-studded horror classic.

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes fits in well as Colin Clive’s son 25 years later, indignant that the small-town minds refer to the monster by his distinguished family name. He is bemused when Igor notes the Monster is his half-brother.

Bela Lugosi, as a Dracula clone, returns as the undead Igor. Yes, he was hanged, declared dead, and came back to life. It gives him a special aura, not to mention the hideous makeup that Jack Pierce laid on him.

Boris Karloff returned to play the Monster one last time. His wardrobe has changed enough that he now wears a sleeveless sheepskin pullover. Not to point out the obvious: he is a wolf monster in lambskin clothing.

One of the bigger surprises is Lionel Atwill as the inspector of the small town with his creaky fake arm that he postures in salute or to hold a cigarette. Our favorite scene is when he puts his darts on the forearm before throwing them. Mel Brooks, where are you? The best scenes in the picture are when master scene stealers Rathbone and Atwill lock wits.

The story has an insipid subplot featuring the good doctor’s toddler son, an American like his mother, and both are point killers.

We loved the moment when the son (Rathbone as Sherlock) deduces that Lugosi has a hypnotic effect on the monster. “Elemental, my dear Benson,” he notes.

If there is any shockeroo, it is that Igor and the Monster seem to be gayly consenting adults. Igor can’t keep his hands off the Karloff creature, and they are clearly soulmates.

 

 

Stalin’s Death as Farce and Burlesque

DATELINE: So-so Soviet

 

buscemi & tambor

Krushchev & Malenkov at Stalin’s funeral.

Maybe we missed the lesson of the Cold War in which the ruthless homicidal dictator killer was surrounded by fawning idiots like extras and operetta buffoons. The Death of Stalin makes a point that defies historical truth.

Indeed, the opening minutes may strike you as a Monty Python-style farce (compounded with the appearance of Michael Palin), with a posse of dunces dancing to the whim of Stalin. They must entertain him and do his bidding, lest they end up like everyone else:  on a hit list.

Their cruel inaction over the dying Stalin as he lay on the floor in his odeur is the nastiest of political satire. Jeffrey Tambor is Malenkov, the weaking second-in-command and under heavy pressure from Krushchev (Buschemi).

The film features endless background executions in a variety of appalling ways, carried out ruthlessly, to the gallows humor of men like Nikita Krushchev, played in thin fashion by Steve Buschemi.

Most of the Communist comrades speak with British accents, jarring at first, ridiculous in deliberance.

What starts as a black comedy set in 1953 becomes more and more disturbing, despite pathetic Vasily Stalin and sister Svetlana, horrified and fearful at what might befall them with their despot father’s death.

From the early antics of a Monty Python, the film devolves into The Godfather, as these small-minded committee commies become more frightful and violent. We can almost fully believe there is more political truth than satire here. This is Swiftian justice meted out by the Lilliputians.

The evolution of Nikita Krushchev from second banana to dangerous rival to the predatory Beria, Stalin’s child molesting henchman, is truly the centerpiece of this political free-for-all. Buschemi’s performance is ultimately a marvel to behold.

Fast-moving and surprising, it is a film to put on your viewing list.

Project Blue Book Wins Over Fans

DATELINE:  Skeptic Hynek?

blue book

Though skeptical originally, we have had a change of heart. With the latest episode, “Lubbock Lights,” we have become addicted to Project Blue Book.

So, we will stick around for all ten episodes. The latest, the third one, is set in 1951 when dozens of witnesses saw multi-lights in the sky—and suffered a few other abysmal effects.

The government under Dr. J. Allen Hynek turned it into a bird watching scene, claiming street lights on the underside of plovers caused the panic.

Suffice it to say, Hynek (Aiden Gillen impressing again) does not believe it, but he is at the mercy of a government coverup that is swamping reasonable doubt. The subplots of his insipid family may be the biggest drawback so far.

This episode features Don Keyhoe, the original advocate for flying saucers in his early books—telling how the agents under MJ-12 tried to intimidate him. The future promises deeper exposing of Werner Von Braun, among others.

And, again, the spit polish pain in the rumble seat is none other than handsome, rigid, and aggravating Michael Malarkey as Captain Quinn who is more interested in career advancement than truth-telling.

We are completely impressed with the use of sparse artifacts from the early 1950s, that give us such a sense of the era. It is well-done with emblematic details.

Once again, the coda for the show is the documentary images of the real people involved in the case—and how their testimony was lost in a disinformation picnic by your government.

Million Pound Note, or Man with a Million

DATELINE:  My Fair Laddie?

wilfred & greg

Col. Pickering Meets Atticus Finch.

If you are looking for John Beresford Tipton to be handing out checks for a million smackeroos, this forgotten movie is way beyond your expectation. It’s actually a Mark Twain story written in 1893, one of his last ‘Americans abroad’ tales.

Here the American need not do much to blow away the fawning British aristocracy, in love with American money.

This gem came after Roman Holiday, but before Moby Dick, when Gregory Peck stayed in England to do justice to this low-budget marvel.

Two aristocratic British brothers make a bet that they can pull a Pygmalion and Importance of Being Earnest tale using a vagabond American sailor as their Liza Doolittle.

Enter Peck to do business with, whoa, is that Wilfred Hyde-White doing an audition for Colonel Pickering? You better believe the bettor. It’s like killing two mockingbirds with one million pounds.

We only wish the other brother had been Rex Harrison. Then, we would have had a film premonition of “my fair laddie.”  As it is, we have the formula that George Bernard Shaw would soon adapt to his famous play. He never found the time and the Twain to meet personally. So, he took a notion.

Yet, this makes My Fair Lady a delicious ripoff, especially since Audrey Hepburn had just made a classic movie with Peck before he shot this one.

Twain outdid Oscar Wilde here, as the poor American schmuck must not spend his million-pound note for one month to win the bet. Thank heavens for the fake media that goes on a toot to help Peck.

Because American audiences in the early 1950s wouldn’t know a pound note from a B-flat, this movie had a different American title: Man with a Million, but a million pounds was likely about five million dollars in 1893.

This film is charming, and in Technicolor, and stars Gregory Peck. What more could you ask?

 

 

 

 

Discovering Bigfoot: Standing Off

DATELINE: Devotee Snares Academic

meldrum Dr. Jeff Meldrum.

We are all for intriguing documentaries about conspiracy theory and crypto-zoology.  And, we love it when our favorite academics, like Ph.D., Dr. Jeff Meldrum of Idaho, decides to partake of the antics.

In this case, the highly respected scientist and expert on Sasquatch seems to have been roped into Todd Standing’s self-promotion, self-directed, vanity project.

Standing may not have much academic standing, but that does not let him think any the less of himself. Indeed, we admire his courage to spend time out in the Northwest wilderness and be harassed by mysterious howling creatures in the night.

He stands alone in the dark whilst rocks are hurled at him and nine-foot tall things that go bump in the night threaten to bump into him. What courage!

He has even photographed these figures up close, and it is pretty amazing stuff. No wonder a bigwig like Doc Meldrum was drawn in. Alas, he must listen to the prattle and pushy stream of verbiage from his host. Standing cannot stand still, nor keep quiet.

He presses again and again to have his obsession validated.

We admire Meldrum’s self-control in face of the director’s out of control energy. Everything is kept in check by some of the strange videos presented. Watching apples disappear in the dark by unknown hands hardly proves it was Bigfoot.

There are also the large structures created by some force with superhuman strength. Whether these are signposts, religious totems, or warnings from Bigfoot, director Standing has the answer. Don’t contradict him.

We think this is a sincere effort to prove something is out there, and it is not extra-terrestrials.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster Magic Maker: Jack Pierce

DATELINE: Unsung Creative Force!

jack with lon jr Wolf Man Credit!

What a delicious untold story!  A Greek immigrant boy comes to Hollywood and his creative juices give us the most famous monster makeup creatures of 20th century movies. Check out Jack Pierce: Maker of Monsters.

Like all the people who came to Hollywood in its infancy, they were self-made and their artistic sense was equally applied to their own lives. Jack Pierce did it all—from stunts, to camera operator, to director, but found his niche in applying makeup to the stars.

When Lon Chaney bailed on playing Dracula, Jack was thwarted by Bela Lugosi who had his own ideas. However, it was on Frankenstein that he grew into legend, spending months researching how the creature should look. It led to a plethora of famous monsters: The Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Bride of Frankenstein, but he was head of Universal and worked on making beautiful women more stunning.

The Mummy makeup took 8 hours to apply and another hour to remove. If Karloff was uncomplaining, no wonder a friendship between them developed.

Pierce’s makeup effects often terrified the naïve audiences of the 1930s. He was Universal Studio’s master: responsible for all the horrors up to 1947. When they were about to gather all the monsters for a comedy, Abbot and Costello meet, Jack was fired, but his makeup style was maintained.

Later, a myth grew around Frankenstein that James Whale, director, created the face: not true. Karloff always gave credit to his friend, Pierce. You can thank the movie and book Gods and Monsters for the misinfo.

Always an actor at heart, Jack wore a lab coat in the makeup room, which certainly intimidated Elsa Lanchester, who was the Bride of the monster. She recalled it thirty years later in less than happy terms. Jack did Lon Chaney, Jr., as Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein, over the years. That too was not a good relationship.

If they needed a star to age from 30 to 80, Jack Pierce could make it happen for a generation. One of his last makeup jobs was for Mr. Ed, the talking horse, hired by his friend from Universal, Arthur Lubin.

When Jack died in 1969, almost no one from the movie world came to his funeral. Fascinating bio of a nearly forgotten figure of film history.

 

 

 

Oak Island, Another Week, Another Snail’s Pace

DATELINE: Getting Hands Dirty?

heartthrob alex lagina Alex Goes to Library.

We have come to realize that producers of The Curse of Oak Island will never cut to the chase.  They cut all right: after digging in mud, the treasure hunters suddenly have clean hands and clean clothes every time.

Alex Lagina never dirties his hands. He went to the library this week.

As for the chase, it has something to do with following a snail at his own self-contained pace.  And, the latest episode of the series, now in its sixth year, and tenth episode, indicated to us that it is written by the same formula that gave us As the World Turns, or Another World.

We have a soap opera here that meanders and takes a spurt of action, digests it for weeks, and then crawls onward.

On top of that, we realized again how much you have to trust the insights of the “heroes,” in this case, the Lagina Brothers. They are reasonable if not plodding. This week another “new” worker found a stone with hieroglyphs on it that the team has apparently not noticed after walking past it for years.

Call in the radar people who shoot it with red laser lights and will get back to us.

It may mean that you can add the Vikings to the Knights Templar and the Romans, to the original Captain Kidd, as visitors to Oak Island. We aren’t sure if the place was sort of a historical bank vault where you might come to make a deposit or take out a loan.

In any respect, we have noticed this season that there are dozens of background workers milling about, and huge areas of excavation. Please don’t keep selling us that this is a “mom and pop” friendly treasure hunt.

We are feeling the signs that the summer is almost over on Oak Island, and the kids will have to go back to school soon. Nephew Peter is already gone. Alex Lagina is here for a couple of weekends, and the show is likely to hang us up to dry for another season.

We see new structures in the mud at Smith’s Cove, but we remain the only one with clean hands.

Underground Space Aliens

DATELINE: Not so Nice

phil blasts aliens

Genius scientist with government-drug induced amnesia and son of a notable Philadelphia Experiment doctor, Phil Schneider predicted he would be murdered and made to look like a suicide. It happened in 1996. In the documentary The Underground, we have them coming up for air.

Schneider either planned ahead, faked with improbability, or was clairvoyant. Yep, he died after a series of lectures warning of underground tunnels done in cahoots with reptilians and insectians who colonized our world from outer space.

Even worse, according to Phil Schneider these creatures smell worse than Bigfoot. In one shootout with the creatures, Schneider explains how he lost some fingers to a ray gun. We are not sure why cooperative aliens are being shot at by our scientists and engineers.

Well, you might say we haven’t heard the whole story.

This might sound like science fiction, except that trillions of dollars in black budgets and secret building projects have the US admitting about a dozen bases a couple of miles under the earth.

His family gives full cooperation to this documentary, including many illustrations. There is also a grisly set of autopsy photos to show Schneider’s death was unnatural.

Known experts like Richard Shaud, who has a series of books on tunnels into the Earth’s core, highlight the veracity of something big going on under our feet. There is no mention of how such drilling miles down might impact earthquakes. It must have some connection.

The old master series Ancient Aliens has given cursory nods to this notion over the years. Perhaps they await a new season before giving Dr. Shaud’s insights full coverage. He makes more logical sense and real investigative journalism than most.

Schneider seems to have died in vain. Let’s hope not.

 

 

 

Surrogates Again

DATELINE: AI Goes Bad

bee-strung surrogates Young Bruce Replicant!

It’s been ten years since one of the most clever and intriguing films about Artificial Intelligence in the future came out. Surrogates deserves another look because so little has superseded its message and style.

All the robotic replicants have bee-stung pouts.

This was another in a series of highly intelligent films made by Bruce Willis in the sci-fi mode. It may be the best of the lot.

Set in Boston in 2054, it tells of an era when the Supreme Court has allowed surrogate robots to replace you in daily work and routines while you lounge in a control seat.

You will be a fat slob, aging and ugly, but your surrogate will be a beautiful toy of whatever gender you choose. So, all the day-to-day people in the film are stunning and stiff, wrinkle-removed and smooth skinned. What’s amazing is that Bruce Willis looks like Baby Jane Hudson-young with his blond locks and handsome young physique.

We could not figure out whether he needed more makeup and special effects to be his middle-aged self, or his young replicant self.

He plays an FBI agent who must investigate the murders of surrogates and their masters—but he has to become a true gumshoe and go out on the street as his old self to do it, despite the agony and stress of being out in the “real world”. He constantly surprises his beautiful partner cop (Rahda Mitchell).

The notion that AI will legalize identity replicants is not so far-fetched, and the hilarious satiric barbs at “loaners,” and other modern problems is delightful. Intermeshed here is a murder mystery.

Yes, there is an obligatory and over-the-top car chase through the streets of Boston, though we have no idea how they did it in reality, so we presume it was all faked.

And the climax in which all surrogate replicants must be deactivated is a delight to see as they literally fall in place around Boston. It was a pleasant, summery diversion during an ice storm in Boston.

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Dali!

DATELINE:  Little Ashes.

dali & lorca  Sur-Real Dali & Lorca!

No one can say Robert Pattinson is not a courageous actor. His 2009 performance in Little Ashes as Salvatore Dali in his youth was gutsy and properly over-the-top.

A lesser actor might have underplayed Dali’s growth as a non-conformist, but Pattinson has never flinched from wide-eyed brazen acting. He has particularly liked escaping the awful roots of vampires by giving portraits of notable famous people in docudrama.

Of course, this film is not just about Dali’s genesis. It deals with Luis Bunuel and Frederico Garcia Lorca. Javier Beltran is nearly a spitting image of the real Lorca, as cast by director Paul Morrison.

It is hard to believe they were all college frat chums, life-of-party types, and budding genius artists. Javier Beltran plays Lorca who was a well-known gay poet and playwright. You might say Dali and Lorca had some kind of gay love affair, but that would not be exactly correct. These artists lived on another planet.

Indeed, the approach/avoidance of Dali and his self-centeredness drives a wedge between them. Id his own insane style, Dali likely  was in love with Lorca, but his “divine” madness rent it apart.

Bunuel and Dali ridiculed Lorca with the film called Andalusian Dog, which also was a wedge of straights against gay. They also dismissed politics for artistic expression. By 1930 they were rich, and Lorca was doomed to be repressed and murdered by Franco  thugs in Spain.

The ultimate madness of Dali upon hearing of Lorca’s death is muted by the fact that he was already around the bend. This is a most unusual movie.

 

 

 

 

Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power

DATELINE: Classic Bad Leaders

olivier Olivier as Trump?

Leave it to Curiosity Streaming to come up with a documentary on tyrannical leaders as delineated by the Bard. In this curt show of 35 minutes, the complexities of Shakespeare are also explained simply by down-to-earth experts, including Stephen Greenblatt (who wrote the scholarly book on which this is based).

You have here a film that exposes the foibles of criminal leaders in historical terms without ever mentioning the name of the “bloody dog” Trump. It’s called Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power.

Instead, there is a smorgasbord of scenes from Macbeth, Richard III, King Lear, including clips of a delicious Laurence Olivier as the evil king Richard, looking more like Vlad the Impaler than Donald Trump.

What do the experts uncover? Well, these Shakespearean monsters are all inveterate liars. They can’t help themselves. And, each one has a problem with women with power, from motherhood to wives. Heaven forbid a woman wants political influence. These bad guys are cursed with a childish sense of self-deception.

It only grows worse:  you will find they are delusional and humored by aides surrounding them for their own reasons. It is likely those aides will be betrayed, as the monster tyrant sees loyalty as a one-way street. He will send loyal workers to the tower in an instant.

The tyrant also uses and abuses children to his own political gains: tormenting them, killing them, locking them up, separating them from family and protectors.

Imagine, not once does the show mention the President of the United States in 2019. It does end with one of the great characters celebrating the death of the “bloody dog,” after his tumultuous reign. We should be so lucky.

 

 

 

Back for More of Blue Book

DATELINE: Flatwoods Conundrum

flatwoods Kid illo of West Virginia Monster?

Project Blue Book, the teasing docudrama, has high production values and dubious manipulative techniques. So, we tuned in for another episode, despite being sick as a dog this week.

We were not as sick as the kids who encountered “The Flatwoods Monster,” some kind of alien creature who popped out of a crashed UFO.

The show did not cure us of our UFO-it is, or from a nasty case of laryngitis. It did take our mind off the self-pity party we have been suffering.

Dr. Hynek continues to find people worse off than any of us from their UFO encounters. And his less than helpful young military attaché continues to be a man following orders to disrupt the research.

Of course, we remain puzzled as to why these advanced beings in their souped-up space ships keep crashing. If you can fly across the universe, what’s the problem flying around the United States?

In the meantime, some mysterious people are following Hynek (are they really men in black?), and his insipid family is under scrutiny by rejects from the Un-Americans series about Soviet-style spies.

Based on the experiences of a mother and a group of kids in the early 1950s, we are shown how clever the professorial Dr. Hynek can be when it comes to finding a perfect debunking story to explain away whatever lunacy citizens report.

We have to admit he comes up with a lulu on this episode, and everyone is left to a temporary happy ending. Not according, however, to the taglines at the end. Each episode ends with real photos and real reactions of the witnesses.

 

Oak Island: Paydirt Hit on Season 6

DATELINE: Sky Above, Mud Below

drayton cap

Can it be that after six years of toil and faithful viewing, we are coming into something big?

One of the most guarded shows and secrets is the work being done on Curse of Oak Island. If they had found the Holy Grail, you won’t learn about it until they air the episode.

At long last, we feel as if there is something meaningful opening up on all fronts.

Our favorite British Bobby Dazzler, Gary Drayton, the man with his metal detectors, was in on all the action again this week. A couple of young scientists were trying to read any inscriptions off a stone thought to be an original clue. They told us the obvious and awaited more instructions. The show never gives you more than a dollop if they can stall for another few weeks.

On nearby Apple Island, recommended for exploration by Dr. Travis Taylor, though you can see the Smith Cove metal barriers from its shores, was never visited by the Lagina brothers. Without permission to dig, Drayton’s metal detector teases us with strange emissions—but no payoff.

The big news drew the entire cast to the site of a mysterious new discovery—a wood beam wall ten feet underground. It appears to be original work—by whom and when still unclear.

It is a new archeological discovery that could predate even Columbus. Drayton immediately stepped in to announce there were no nails used in its construction.

However, when all the bigwigs of the show come out for the dig, you know something is happening there, Mr. Jones.

We feel like we are on the verge.