Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fantasmo By the Numbers

Remember back in the 70's and 80's how a lot of popular sitcoms would screen an episode filled with clips? The characters would gather together and recall highlights of their previous escapades, allowing the writers and cast to slack off for a week. Happy Days, Family Ties, Growing Pains, The Facts of Life, Three's Company, etc., all employed this oh so clever tactic. Well today's blog post is essentially my version of the "clip show," a recall of blog highlights over the past several years, allowing me to produce a post with a minimum of effort : )

Actually that's only partially true, the reason I'm doing this highlight reel is because I'm guessing some of you may find this info as fascinating as I do! Being out on the Internet the Fantasmo blog gets visits not just from all of our devoted local Superfans, but from all over the world. My librarian training has instilled in me an interest in statistics and random factoids, and as such I keep track of information related to the blog (e.g. number of visits, visit length, entry and exit pages, etc.) just to see how it's being used. Things start to get really interesting when looking at keyword activity (i.e. the search terms people use to get to the blog), as certain movie reviews have been visited by literally thousands of people. More surprising still are the titles that are getting all these hits, because they mostly aren't what one might expect. Frankly they tend to be the most obscure and offbeat stuff.

So today I'd like to share with you the top 10 Fantasmo movies based on how many folks are seeking them out on the blog. Bear in mind that these are ranked in numeric order according to how many hits they've received. I've also included links so you can revisit the reviews in case you missed them the first time around. Prepare to be shocked, disturbed, and possibly lose your faith in humanity at what is the #1 film on the blog (hint: it has something to do with the poster pictured above)!

10. Hardware: This one is pretty good. Essentially a riff on Mad Max and Terminator, but with a unique sense of style that is decidedly un-Hollywood.

9. The Octagon: My first two-fer review, which also includes a writeup on the much better (in my opinion) Ninja III: The Domination. The problem is that it's dead boring for most of its running time, and features an endless, droning internal monologue by Chuck Norris describing the goings-on in excrutiating detail. Nevertheless The Octagon is an important film in that it marked the U.S. cinematic debut of the ninja.

8. Kill Switch: No top 10 here would be complete without a Seagal movie, and I'm happy to say Internet searchers did not disappoint! Although I must confess Kill Switch would not top my list of the most important Seagal movies, it does feature the worst editing I've ever seen and the most bizarre movie ending in DTV history (or otherwise).

A thing I found interesting was one of the keyword searches used to find the page: "cannibal clown Steven Seagal." While I understand why that landed the seeker on the review, taken out of context for someone who may not have seen Kill Switch that has to sound intriguing! On a related note a keyword search used to find the Seagal film The Keeper was: "Steven Seagal wearing hat." If you've even seen the trailer for that one you'll understand. Unfortunately The Keeper didn't have enough searches to crack the top 10, hats notwithstanding. I'll share a few more unusual keyword searches as we move along.

7. Looker: A strange piece of 80's sci-fi from Michael Chrichton, with Albert Finney playing a plastic surgeon wielding a gun that shoots light. Not great but sports some interesting ideas.

6. Megaforce: One of the worst films of all time . . . but I must confess I love it. In the review I call it "gleefully awful" and that pretty much sums up everything you need to know. The fact that it's clocking in at #6 tells me that a lot of you out there share the same tastes, which is both heartwarming and terrifying at the same time : ) Somewhere Barry Bostwick is shedding a single tear.

Here was a fun keyword search used to find the page: "the good guys always win even in the 80s." Easily THE classic line from the film!

5. Slipstream: An overlooked late 80's movie that was intended to be Mark Hamill's comeback movie. Alas it didn't secure domestic distribution and died quietly overseas. Actually the film is very cool, and Hamill is in fact brilliant in it.

Great keyword search: "super radical maneuver movie." I do describe one stunt as a "wildly radical maneuver," yet this makes me wonder what the seeker was expecting to find? Could've been Megaforce!

4. John Woo's Blackjack: No two ways about it this is among Dolph Lundgren's best films, and is arguably Woo's best film (with the possible exception of Hard Target) since he left Hong Kong. One of the coolest and most bizarre aspects of Blackjack is that Lundgren's character has a fear of the color white. This leads to an ingenious shootout in a milk factory (I kid you not), and perhaps the greatest one-liner in action film history.

Lest you think I'm kidding about the reputation of this milk sequence just check out these keyword searches: "dolph lundgren milk scene" and "dolph lundgren getting afraid of milk." Really it would be more accurate to say that Blackjack was afraid of milk, as I'm sure Dolph wouldn't blink an eye if confronted with a dairy product.

3. Quintet: This one feels a little out of place on the list, in that it is somewhat of a highbrow/artsy film. Directed by the legendary Robert Altman, starring Paul Newman . . . should be a far cry from Megaforce (sorry Megaforce). Quintet is, beyond being somewhat on the intellectual end of the spectrum, profoundly weird. Set in the near future, presumably after a nuclear war, mankind is on the verge of extinction. The only thing that provides meaning is a game of death called Quintet. This movie is not for everyone, particularly for those who enjoy well-paced movies, but I liked it. The way in which it was shot (with grease on the camera lens to imply coldness) irritated many, and the story is hard to follow. If you give it a chance though you'll see a Paul Newman film unlike any other, and a unique example of 70's sci-fi greatness.

Two interesting keyword searches: "quintet meaning of movie" and "how to play quintet." I take a stab at explaining the first query in my review, and am a little creeped out by the second keyword search. Hope no one is running Quintet games out there . . . might I recommend UNO or Old Maid as substitutes!

2. The Island: In many ways I think this is my favorite movie I've reviewed here on the site. This is a truly bizarre movie that had blockbuster pretensions, while managing to twist every aspect that qualified it for that ambition. Its existence is a minor miracle, and although flawed it never ceases to be thoroughly entertaining. From the author of Jaws, the director of The Bad News Bears, and the star of Alfie comes a new longitude and latitude for horror . . . welcome to The Island! Okay that's not the real tagline but it would have prepared audiences a little better for what to expect.

1. Smokey and the Bandit Part 3: That's right folks the most often read and visited review on the blog is none other the the concluding chapter of the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy. Unbelievable. This is actually the only movie Rob and I ever tried to get the audience to agree not to watch. After suffering through Part 2 we offered the alternative of checking out another movie, but our loyal Superfans soldiered on and insisted upon seeing this one . . . so maybe it does inspire a kind of inexplicable madness. Kind of a Pandora's Box type of thing. Either way this is a completely awful movie in almost every regard. My review gives the pertinent details, suffice it to say you have been warned.

And yes, the most oft used keyword search for the Fantasmo blog is: "smokey is the bandit." The horror, the horror . . .


MyLifeAndCode said...

Just stumbled across your blog today, great stuff! Found it while searching for info on "Smokey Is The Bandit" (FYI, the teaser trailer is now on YouTube and has Sheriff Justice talking about how he is going to fill the bandit's shoes, shirt, and moustache).

Megaforce: classic! Did you know that the song they play during the end "flying motorcycle" scene was later recycled and used on Ace Frehley's "Frehley's Comet" album?

Jim Blanton said...

Thanks so much! I will definitely be checking out that teaser : )

Yes! A fellow Megaforce fan had tipped me off about the recycling of the song, which of course quickly found its way into my Ipod! I forget what the connection was as to how Frehley got involved with the remake, it might have been a crossover member from the other band. Either way it was a victory for Megaforce fans, and lovers of quality music everywhere!

MyLifeAndCode said...

There was a guitarist/singer in his band named Todd Howarth, who had been involved with the band who had written that song, 707. Megaforce was a film I'd wanted to see all throughout my youth (due to those aforementioned comic book ads) and when I finally saw it in '94 or '95, I was surprised by 2 things: first, Edward Mulhare was in it (a friend and I used to constantly make fun of this show called "Secrets And Mysteries" that he was in) and second, that song: I had the Ace Frehley album and as soon as that song started, I couldn't believe it.

I have a blog now, but I had a different one previously where I'd talk about bad movies and music and stuff like that, but I closed the blog last summer because I ended up with trolls (a word of advice: don't badmouth your local township on your blog -- they just might find out about it. Anyway...).

The other thing I could go on and on about is HIGHLANDER 2. Oh man, where to begin? I'm at work now so don't have a lot of time to write, but I've been trying to write more on my new blog nowadays, and this enforces that feeling.

I'll be checking back on a regular basis. And hey, if you add that "Followers" widget to your blog, I'll add myself as a follower.

Jim Blanton said...

I knew there was a connection like that! I'm sorry you had to wait so long to see Megaforce, but no doubt it was worth it : ) For me it will always be immortalized as the oddball member of the class of the summer of '82, and for that I will always love it . . . and of course for the flying motorcycle.

As for Highlander 2, volumes could (and probably have) been written, but I nevertheless find it a fascinating topic. To me The Quickening is the preferred version because it's closest to the filmmakers' original intent - for better or worse. The Renegade Edition is just a lackluster, albeit pretty, sequel to a landmark film.

Thanks for the tip on the Followers widget. I'm sure I've subconsciously noticed that on other blogs, but for whatever reason glossed over it here (now remedied).

MyLifeAndCode said...

I remember being surprised to find "The Renegade Version" on VHS at a local store when it came out. I'd read that they were going to make a version without the Zeist references, but had no idea when it would be released. The commentary track on the DVD is a riot -- the producers complain about how the fans wanted answers to where the immortals came from, but when they got the answers, they didn't like them. They gloss over the fact that their answers sucked, but whatever. Yeah, I think I prefer "The Quickening" as well just for the cheese factor. And after watching that, who would've imagined that THIS would be the best of the sequels? Unreal. I saw the 3rd film on opening day, and about 15 minutes into it turned to my friend and said "This isn't very good, is it?" Then when "Endgame" came out on DVD, the top of the packaging read "From the producers of the original Highlander" -- which is misleading, considering those guys were also the producers of the crummy sequels.

MyLifeAndCode said...

I've added myself as a follower. If you're interested, check out my blog later today for a post I'll have about William Shatner's "The Transformed Man" album. Oh the horror...

Jim Blanton said...

Yeah, say what you will about #2, but compared to the later sequels it was certainly bold. I listened to that commentary as well, and have some sympathy for them. They really should have exercised better judgment in providing those answers, but you can understand why they made the attempt.

Will definitely check out your review of Transformed Man . . . my personal fave is Mr. Tamborine Man : ) A few years back a release combining highlights from that album, plus a few of Nimoy's was released called Spaced Out. Well worth a listen (particularly Nimoy's rendition of The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins).