Horror of Dracula (1958)

Watched this 1958 British Hammer movie,  Horror of Dracula, on Svengoolie.  It is a good version of the Dracula stories and I give it 3.5 out of 5.  

[From Wikipedia] Dracula is a 1958 British supernatural horror film directed by Terence Fisher and written by Jimmy Sangster based on Bram Stoker‘s novel of the same name. The first in the series of Hammer Horror films starring Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, the film also features Peter Cushing as Doctor Van Helsing, along with Michael GoughMelissa StriblingCarol Marsh, and John Van Eyssen.

In the United States the film was released as a double feature with the Universal Pictures film The Thing That Couldn’t Die, and was retitled Horror of Dracula to avoid confusion with the US original by Universal, 1931’s Dracula. Production began at Bray Studios on 17 November 1957 with an investment of £81,000. 

As Count Dracula, Lee fixed the image of the fanged vampire in popular culture.Christopher Frayling writes, “Dracula introduced fangs, red contact lenses, décolletage, ready-prepared wooden stakes and – in the celebrated credits sequence – blood being spattered from off-screen over the Count’s coffin.”[5] Lee also introduced a dark, brooding sexuality to the character, with Tim Stanley stating, “Lee’s sensuality was subversive in that it hinted that women might quite like having their neck chewed on by a stud”.

In 2017 a poll of 150 actors, directors, writers, producers and critics for Time Out magazine saw Dracula ranked the 65th best British film ever.  Empire magazine ranked Lee’s portrayal as Count Dracula the 7th Greatest Horror Movie Character of All Time.

The Hitcher (1988)

Watched The Hitcher from Netflix DVD. 
The Hitcher is from 1986. I will give it 3 out of 5. I will say that I thought some of the reviewers were kinda harsh.  The car crashes and effects were pretty cool.  I like the old school movies where they really do the stunts,  not CG .
[From Wikipedia] American road thriller film directed by Robert Harmon and written by Eric Red. It stars Rutger Hauer as a seemingly suicidal and homicidal maniac and C. Thomas Howell as his primary victim. The film also features Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jeffrey DeMunn. It was released in the United States on February 21, 1986. The film met with tepid critical response and grossed about $5.8 million.[2] 

Spoiler below

Jim Halsey, a young man delivering a car from Chicago to San Diego, spots a man hitchhiking in the West Texas desert and gives him a ride. The hitcher, John Ryder, is brooding and evasive. When Jim passes a stranded car, Ryder forces his leg down on the accelerator. Ryder states he murdered the driver and intends to do the same to Jim, threatening him with a switchblade. Terrified, Jim asks what Ryder wants. He replies, “I want you to stop me.” When Jim realizes that Ryder never put on his seat belt and the car’s passenger door is ajar, he shoves him out the door.

Relieved, Jim continues on his journey. When he sees Ryder in the back of a family car, Jim tries to warn them but becomes involved in an accident. He later comes across the family’s blood-soaked car and vomits. At an abandoned gas station, Ryder corners Jim but simply tosses him the keys he took from Jim’s car. After Ryder leaves with a trucker, Jim encounters him again at another gas station, where the truck nearly runs him down as it crashes into the pumps. As Jim flees, Ryder causes the station to explode.

At a roadside diner, Jim meets Nash, a waitress, and calls the police. He finds a severed finger in his food and realizes Ryder is present. The police arrest Jim, as Ryder has framed Jim for his murders. Though the police doubt his guilt, they lock him up overnight as protocol. When Jim wakes, he finds the cell door unlocked and all the officers dead. He panics and flees with a revolver. At a gas station, he sees two officers, takes them hostage, and speaks to Captain Esteridge, the officer in charge of the manhunt for Jim, on the radio. As Esteridge convinces Jim to surrender, Ryder pulls up and kills the two officers.

The patrol car crashes, and Ryder disappears again. After briefly considering suicide, Jim reaches a cafe, where Ryder confronts him. After pointing out Jim’s revolver is unloaded, Ryder leaves him several bullets and departs. Jim boards a bus, where he meets Nash and attempts to explain his situation. After a police car pulls over the bus, Jim surrenders, and the furious officers accuse him of killing their colleagues and attempt to kill him. Nash appears with Jim’s revolver, disarms the officers, and flees with Jim in their patrol car. As the police chase after them, Ryder joins the chase and murders the officers by causing a massive car accident.

Jim and Nash abandon the patrol car and hike to a motel. While Jim is in the shower, Ryder abducts Nash. Jim searches for her and is discovered by Esteridge, who takes Jim to two trucks with Nash tied between them with a gag in her mouth. Ryder is at the wheel of one truck and threatens to tear Nash apart. Esteridge tells Jim that his men cannot shoot Ryder as his foot will slip off the clutch, which would cause the truck to roll and kill Nash. Jim enters the cab with Ryder, who gives him a revolver and tells him to shoot, but Jim is unable to do so. Ryder, disappointed, releases the clutch, killing Nash. Ryder is taken into custody. Esteridge gives Jim a ride, but Jim, believing the police cannot hold Ryder, takes Esteridge’s revolver and vehicle to chase down Ryder’s prison bus. Ryder kills the deputies and leaps through Jim’s windshield as the bus crashes. Jim slams on his brakes, sending Ryder through the windshield and onto the road. Ryder challenges Jim to run him over, which he does. As Jim leaves his car to observe Ryder’s body, Ryder jumps up, and Jim shoots him repeatedly with a shotgun. Jim leans against Esteridge’s car and begins smoking as the sun sets.

Black Widow Movie Delayed

Disney has decided to delay the release of Marvel Studios’ Black Widow following the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Black Widow was originally scheduled to be released on May 1st. There is no new date for the movie. Black Widow follows New Mutants, Mulan, and Antlerswhich Disney delayed last week. Black Widow was supposed to kick off the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and was planned to be the first big film in the franchise following Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Inside Pink Floyd

Watched this Pink Floyd documentary. I thought it was well done and I enjoyed it.  The band members from Mostly Autumn, Pink Floyd supper fans,  are interviewed about each Album.  They movie also contains two performances by Mostly Autumn and they do incredible covers.  I give the movie 4 out of 5.
[From Prog Archives] This is one out of many “Critical Review / Inside” DVD collection. What is different here is that the members of the band do take part and provide interviews about their work their interaction. I believe that those hints are a definite plus to this particular document.

A long episode (almost 13 minutes) is dedicated to their debut album: “Piper”. Some fine documents can be seen as the promotional video for “Arnold Lane” and some shots of “Let’s All Make Love In London” with shots from “Interstellar Overdrive”.

I also picked up one funny quote from Roger: “I was demoted from lead guitar to rhythm guitar and finally bass. There was always this frightful fear I could end up as the drummer”!

There are also three members from “Mostly Autumn” who are being interviewed. While Heather Findley and Bryan Josh are talking about the band, the influences and the music in general; Ian Jennings (their keyboards player) has a more technical angle which is one of the less interesting aspect of this collection (in general).

The images used to illustrate “See Emily Play” were shot in Brussels in 67 by the Belgian television. I once saw the whole stuff (about twenty minutes of play back in the surroundings of the Atomium). This long section about “ASOS” (over eleven minutes) is mostly dedicated to Syd and the growing problems that the band was experiencing with him (till his replacement by David).

After a short interlude about “More”, the stress is mainly put on the live record from “Ummagumma” and the importance of their live sets. Another quote from Roger about it: “Ummagumma, yeah. What a disaster!”?(five minutes are spent on this double album).

About “Atom Heart Mother”, the interview of Nick shows how difficult is was to record this album with the orchestra and I quote again Roger “I wouldn’t dream of performing anything that embarrassing?I’m not playing that rubbish.” What’s valuable here are some footage of the track being played by the band only in a live representation. David’s view about the album is the following: “ATM now strikes me as absolute crap”. This chapter lasts for about eight minutes. 41

I particularly like the sequence about “Meddle” for several reasons: first, it was my first Floyd album that I purchased (back in 71) and second two of my fave tracks are featured (I guess that I don’t need to tell you which ones, right)? David is more enthusiast about “Echoes” than previous songs from the band. He said: “At the end of Echoes is this kind of guitar orchestra going on?I still think this is wonderful”. I bet you it is!!! A mere six minutes for these two fabulous songs (none of the others from this album are covered). 47

The next part is the best known visually since it uses footage from “Live At Pompei” namely “ASOS”, “One Of These Days”, “Echoes”. The problem at this stage is that the length of the sequences are shorter and shorter. Only three minutes for this huge “live” album (and two for “Obscured by Clouds”).

This DVD ends up on their first masterpiece: DSOTM (ten minutes). Footage to illustrate this section are taken from a Dutch TV programme broadcasted in 1989 and offer little interest therefore. I like the interview form David who says: “With DSOTM we were moving in a quite different league”. Nick, on the contrary, says : “It’s easy to see DSOTM as a turning point now, but we just considered it was just the next album we were working on”.

Clare Tory’s opinion about the superb “Great Gig In The Sky” is also of value. She had basically no clue at all before the recording of what was expected from her, nor did the band. “It was just an experiment”. But a great one!

My version is the second issue and holds some 62 minutes of footage plus a seventeen minutes version of “Echoes” played live by “Mostly Autumn”. A nice bonus should I say.

In all, this document is informative for the casual fan; not too much for the Floyd maniac. Three stars.

The Pharmacist

I watched The 2020 documentary The Pharmacist on Netflix.  It is 4 episodes and I enjoyed it.  I give it 4 of 5 stars. 
[From Wikipedia]  The Pharmacist is an American true crime documentary series produced by The Cinemart. The series relates the efforts of Dan Schneider, a small town pharmacist in Poydras, Louisiana, to identify his son’s killer and how this led to his gathering evidence against a prolific “pill mill” doctor in New Orleans.[1][2] 

Why Soap Works

[From New York Times] By 

It probably began with an accident thousands of years ago. According to one legend, rain washed the fat and ash from frequent animal sacrifices into a nearby river, where they formed a lather with a remarkable ability to clean skin and clothes. Perhaps the inspiration had a vegetal origin in the frothy solutions produced by boiling or mashing certain plants. However it happened, the ancient discovery of soap altered human history. Although our ancestors could not have foreseen it, soap would ultimately become one of our most effective defenses against invisible pathogens.
People typically think of soap as gentle and soothing, but from the perspective of microorganisms, it is often extremely destructive. A drop of ordinary soap diluted in water is sufficient to rupture and kill many types of bacteria and viruses, including the new coronavirus that is currently circling the globe. The secret to soap’s impressive might is its hybrid structure.
Soap is made of pin-shaped molecules, each of which has a hydrophilic head — it readily bonds with water — and a hydrophobic tail, which shuns water and prefers to link up with oils and fats. These molecules, when suspended in water, alternately float about as solitary units, interact with other molecules in the solution and assemble themselves into little bubbles called micelles, with heads pointing outward and tails tucked inside.
Some bacteria and viruses have lipid membranes that resemble double-layered micelles with two bands of hydrophobic tails sandwiched between two rings of hydrophilic heads. These membranes are studded with important proteins that allow viruses to infect cells and perform vital tasks that keep bacteria alive. Pathogens wrapped in lipid membranes include coronaviruses, H.I.V., the viruses that cause hepatitis B and C, herpes, Ebola, Zika, dengue, and numerous bacteria that attack the intestines and respiratory tract. When you wash your hands with soap and water, you surround any microorganisms on your skin with soap molecules. The hydrophobic tails of the free-floating soap molecules attempt to evade water; in the process, they wedge themselves into the lipid envelopes of certain microbes and viruses, prying them apart. “They act like crowbars and destabilize the whole system,” said Prof. Pall Thordarson, acting head of chemistry at the University of New South Wales. Essential proteins spill from the ruptured membranes into the surrounding water, killing the bacteria and rendering the viruses useless.

How Soap Works

Washing with soap and water is an effective way to destroy and dislodge many microbes, including the new coronavirus. For more about the virus, see How Coronavirus Hijacks Your Cells.

THE CORONAVIRUS has a membrane of oily lipid molecules, which is studded with proteins that help the virus infect cells.
  • Spike protein
  • Genetic material
  • Lipid membrane and other proteins
SOAP MOLECULES have a hybrid structure, with a head that bonds to water and a tail that avoids it.
Hydrophilic head (bonds with water)
Hydrophobic tail (avoids water, bonds with oil and fat)
SOAP DESTROYS THE VIRUS when the water-shunning tails of the soap molecules wedge themselves into the lipid membrane and pry it apart.
SOAP TRAPS DIRT and fragments of the destroyed virus in tiny bubbles called micelles, which wash away in water.
By Jonathan Corum and Ferris Jabr
In tandem, some soap molecules disrupt the chemical bonds that allow bacteria, viruses and grime to stick to surfaces, lifting them off the skin. Micelles can also form around particles of dirt and fragments of viruses and bacteria, suspending them in floating cages. When you rinse your hands, all the microorganisms that have been damaged, trapped and killed by soap molecules are washed away.
On the whole, hand sanitizers are not as reliable as soap. Sanitizers with at least 60 percent ethanol do act similarly, defeating bacteria and viruses by destabilizing their lipid membranes. But they cannot easily remove microorganisms from the skin. There are also viruses that do not depend on lipid membranes to infect cells, as well as bacteria that protect their delicate membranes with sturdy shields of protein and sugar. Examples include bacteria that can cause meningitis, pneumonia, diarrhea and skin infections, as well as the hepatitis A virus, poliovirus, rhinoviruses and adenoviruses (frequent causes of the common cold).
These more resilient microbes are generally less susceptible to the chemical onslaught of ethanol and soap. But vigorous scrubbing with soap and water can still expunge these microbes from the skin, which is partly why hand-washing is more effective than sanitizer. Alcohol-based sanitizer is a good backup when soap and water are not accessible. In an age of robotic surgery and gene therapy, it is all the more wondrous that a bit of soap in water, an ancient and fundamentally unaltered recipe, remains one of our most valuable medical interventions. Throughout the course of a day, we pick up all sorts of viruses and microorganisms from the objects and people in the environment. When we absentmindedly touch our eyes, nose and mouth — a habit, one study suggests, that recurs as often as every two and a half minutes — we offer potentially dangerous microbes a portal to our internal organs. As a foundation of everyday hygiene, hand-washing was broadly adopted relatively recently. In the 1840s Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician, discovered that if doctors washed their hands, far fewer women died after childbirth. At the time, microbes were not widely recognized as vectors of disease, and many doctors ridiculed the notion that a lack of personal cleanliness could be responsible for their patients’ deaths. Ostracized by his colleagues, Dr. Semmelweis was eventually committed to an asylum, where he was severely beaten by guards and died from infected wounds.
Florence Nightingale, the English nurse and statistician, also promoted hand-washing in the mid-1800s, but it was not until the 1980s that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the world’s first nationally endorsed hand hygiene guidelines.
Washing with soap and water is one of the key public health practices that can significantly slow the rate of a pandemic and limit the number of infections, preventing a disastrous overburdening of hospitals and clinics. But the technique works only if everyone washes their hands frequently and thoroughly: Work up a good lather, scrub your palms and the back of your hands, interlace your fingers, rub your fingertips against your palms, and twist a soapy fist around your thumbs.
Or as the Canadian health officer Bonnie Henry said recently, “Wash your hands like you’ve been chopping jalapeños and you need to change your contacts.” Even people who are relatively young and healthy should regularly wash their hands, especially during a pandemic, because they can spread the disease to those who are more vulnerable.
Soap is more than a personal protectant; when used properly, it becomes part of a communal safety net. At the molecular level, soap works by breaking things apart, but at the level of society, it helps hold everything together. Remember this the next time you have the impulse to bypass the sink: Other people’s lives are in your hands.