Friday, February 16, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Creature Comforts

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌ ‌ This week we pair wines with three creature features, the stuff we stayed up late to watch on Friday nights. Maybe we still do.

Oh joy! Three monster movies are on the menu this week. Peeps who were old enough to go into theaters by themselves will remember sitting in the icy air conditioning, soaking up the scares from the likes of Gill-man. Younger folks *ahem* will remember the Friday night Fear Theater presentations on TV, or the double features on the Saturday kiddie show at the movie house down the street. The former always featured popcorn in a big bowl, while the latter always featured Raisinettes and M&Ms bouncing off our heads. 

Revenge of the Creature was surely one of the highlights of 1955, along with The Honeymooners and "Speedoo" by the Cadillacs. It was a three dimensional fright fest, which also went under the names Return of the Creature and for those who didn't get the connection, Return of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. You have to really spell it out for some people. If there had been any more rereleases, they would have had to put the title in all capital letters.

In Revenge, Gill-man has apparently recovered from the hail of bullets he suffered in the original film and is incarcerated in an oceanarium to be studied by scientists. They make the critical mistake of bringing in a beautiful female researcher, and Gill-man falls in lust again. He can't help it, he's a sucker for a pretty face. It's terror in the city this time around, as nobody wanted to go back to the Amazon to shoot this sequel. 

Look for a fresh-from-Central-Casting Clint Eastwood here, as a young scientist trying to explain why there's a missing rat in his labcoat pocket. "You were going to try and blame the cat. Well, weren't ya, punk?"

Here is the perfect wine for Gill-man: Gillman Vineyard Clairet. Okay, so there's no hyphen, and it's from New Zealand, and it's pink. Any other complaints before we move on? This blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot runs about $60.

From the previous year, Creature from the Black Lagoon got to the 3D party a little late. It was shown only in some theaters with that technology. It is the movie where the Gill-man got his start. When it comes to instinct-driven characters in the movies, that creature has primal motivation. Does Gill-man want to kill? No. Does he want to destroy? Not really. Does he want to find a way back home? Hell no. He wants the girl. And, as we just mentioned, he keeps jumping into Love Lagoon webbed feet first. 

Not only is Gill-man the ultimate man-in-a-suit movie monster, he has also inspired countless other creatures, a song, a casino slot machine and homoerotic literature. Pretty good for a creature who just crawled out of a river.

You've seen Black Lagoon Carignan in this space before. The wine comes from the south of France - Languedoc-Roussillon, to be precise - and has a depiction of the creature on the label. At least, I'm guessing it is the Gill-man. It looks like it could be a pair of frog's legs, which is not a bad idea for what to nibble on while watching and imbibing. 

1961's Creature from the Haunted Sea is a Roger Corman special that was shot in a week for probably only a little more than the money you have in your pockets right now. The horror genre gets played for laughs, with several other genres du jour thrown in. One of the stars of the picture was Robert Towne, who would later win an Oscar for writing Chinatown. Corman may have been the B-movie king, but he knew how to surround himself with talented people. 

The plot centers on a scheme to rob Cuba's national treasury, placing the blame on the mythical Creature from the Haunted Sea. But, guess what? The creature isn't mythical, it's real, and it doesn't like being used as a beard for robbery. Never mind that it looks like an overgrown muppet, payback is a puta. 

A wine from a haunted sea would be perfect here, but is the water off Santa Barbara haunted? Only the creature knows for sure. However, the folks at Ocean Fathoms Wine say they know that their bottles age better than others because they are underwater. At least they were underwater. The company never got the proper permits from the California Coastal Commission to sink those cases, and the agency made them pour out the wine. Every last drop. Will they have more? That depends on who is handling their paperwork, I suppose. Their website looks kinda haunted right now, but if they do start selling wine again, be ready to spend $500 for a bottle with barnacles on it.

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