Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts

Friday, November 24, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - The Kids Aren't Alright

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 examine a few films featuring young folks who are operating outside the realm of accepted behavior. We have wines to pair with each. 

1981 was a good year for slasher movies. Stuff like Halloween II, Student Bodies and My Bloody Valentine still bring a nostalgic tear to my eye when I think of them. Which, to be honest, is not all that often. And it may have been my allergies, so never mind. 

Dead Kids is really an alias for Strange Behavior, the first New Zealand horror film. A small town's teens are being brutally slain while an undercover mind control experiment has some of them under the power of a control freak. The film was released to mixed reviews but it has acquired a bit of a cult following in the decades since.

The movie delivers what the title promises, and more. A medical procedure performed on a sensitive facial area is better than a stick in the eye in a horror film. Especially when it is a needle in the eye. That's almost as good as Marathon Man dental work. 

For Dead Kids, or Strange Behavior, or whatever you'd like to call it, let's have a bizarre wine. Not one made from snake venom, garlic, avocados or pumpkins. God no, not the pumpkin wine! I'm not drinking any @#$%& pumpkin wine!

Strange Family Vineyards is in the Sta. Rita Hills portion of Santa Barbara County. Besides having a, (ahem), strange name, they make some scary good Pinot Noir. 

In the 1967 British thriller, Our Mother's House, Mom dies and her brood of kids keep it a secret to avoid being parceled off to foster homes. They bury the dear old matriarch in the backyard and cash her monthly checks to keep what's left of the family afloat.

Does it sound far-fetched? Well, it happened in real life just recently when a San Diego woman decided to keep getting her dead mom's Social Security checks. Not to be a spoiler, but she is now celebrating Mother's Day in a federal penitentiary. 

The kids in Our Mother's House also have a deadbeat dad to contend with, but I'll tell you right now, that absentee father is in way over his head with these kids. If you want a nice, happy ending to this movie, sorry. That ship sailed early in the film. The children eventually do the only right thing left to them. Cheers!

Big House Wines gets its name from the nearby Soledad Correctional Facility. They are more attuned to bootlegging crimes, but you also might end up there if you bury mom in the backyard and keep cashing her checks. 

Children of the Damned is the 1964 followup to The Village of the Damned, which only stands to reason. The six young'uns in this one are definitely not alright. They all have highly advanced mental abilities, which separates them from all the other kids on Earth, as well as half of the adults. 

The "stare that will paralyze the will of the world," as the first movie's one-sheet called it, makes the kids do evil things. But are they really evil? The cavalry arrives just in time to spare the world from that stare.

How evil were the looks that kill? Evil enough to murder, evil enough to trick the authorities, evil enough to fill your fridge with White Zinfandel. Let's not go overboard on the evil thing, though. Evil Wine hails from Australia and is a $10 Cabernet Sauvignon. That certainly sounds evil, but the merchants claim it is actually a bargain.

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Monday, September 18, 2023

Why Is This Wine Mr. Pink?

This rosé wine comes from the Underground Wine Project, which began as a “collaboration between Washington winemakers Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery, Trey Busch and Jerry Solomon of Sleight of Hand Cellars. Their And Why Am I Mr. Pink? Is presented as a cult classic.

Mr. Pink is a 2021 Columbia Valley rosé wine which takes its name from Steve Buscemi's line in Reservoir Dogs. All the other criminals had a cool color name. The grapes are 58% Sangiovese and 42% Syrah.

Why is it pink? Because of skin contact in the winemaking process. A little less skin contact and it might have been Mr. White. A little more, Mr. Orange. A lot more, Mr. Purple. Alcohol resides at 12.5% abv and I paid $12 at Whole Foods Market.

This wine really shows more of a light copper color than pink. Its nose is full of ripe strawberries and an herbal note. On the palate, big time fruit again, this time featuring citrus. There is a strong mineral angle, too, and plenty of wonderful acidity. This will pair easily with the usual pink wine fare, but it will also be able to handle a pork chop or some sausage. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Post Apocalypse Follies

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 examine what our landscape might look like had something in the past gone terribly wrong.

The backstory behind 1998's Six-String Samurai is a Russian nuclear victory over the U.S. in 1957.  There aren't many places left that can support life, but one of them is a place called Lost Vegas.  Wouldn't it figure that post-apocalypse life in America would be centered in the remnants of Sin City?  The whirlwind story focuses on Buddy (Holly?) as he travels across the desert to try and become the new King of Rock and Roll, after the death of King Elvis.  

Like a topping on a dessert, the soundtrack is performed by the Red Elvises, a sort of Russian rockabilly outfit you may have seen in one small Los Angeles club or another back in the mid-'90s.  

Buddy's mission sees him hindered by car trouble, cannibals, a vicious bowling team and a rival guitarist named Death in a seemingly endless series of setbacks.  It's the bowling team that scares me the most.  For reasons I do not recall, I spent time in bowling alleys decades ago in southeast Texas - in the lanes, in the bars and even back where the pins were reset - and I remember the ladies league play during afternoon hours being particularly dicey times.

Anyway, no spoiler alert here - you’ll have to watch Six-String Samurai yourself to find out who claims the King's thorny crown.  

The wine pairing for Six-String Samurai could easily be the Austrian Rockabilly Riesling, but they probably haven't gotten their container ship back, so procuring it may be a problem.  Let's look at Canada's Nostalgia Wines and their Rockabilly Red - they also have Boogie Woogie White and Pink Cadillac, if you find yourself so taken by the marketing effort.  Rockabilly Red cannot possibly be worth the $27 it costs, but hey, it has a nice label.

1979's Mad Max began what was to become a popular and critically acclaimed franchise.  The movie spawned sequels, video games and comic books - er, graphic novels.  The setting is Australia, devastated by war and crippled by shortages of life's staples.  During the pandemic, some likely recalled this film as they stared at empty supermarket shelves, devoid of toilet paper, bottled water and good, moderately priced Champagne.

The story is a gritty one, detailing a former cop's life as he wanders the Outback after avenging his family's murder by a biker gang.  Mel Gibson used his role in this film (and two sequels) to springboard to stardom.

If it's Mad Max, you'll want a fortified wine, preferably one from Australia.  Harkham Wine sells a Mad Max vintage Port from Hunter Valley.  Of course, everyone knows that you don't call it Port unless it was made in Portugal - this is a Port-style wine.  The wine is not kosher, but neither is cultural appropriation.

The Road Warrior is the name given to Mad Max 2 in the U.S.  The setting stayed in the Outback, but the Western template showed our hero helping a community fight off the roving bands of bad guys.  If your nickname is Mad Max, it's a foregone conclusion that you are either a helpful road warrior or a person shouting at unseen entities on the street corner.  Sometimes both.

Since we were thinking of Port, let's have the genuine article.  Warre's Warrior Port has been in continuous production for some 270-odd years.  It is British by way of Portugal, it tastes really good, and the empty bottle could come in handy if any roving bands of bad guys show up at your viewing party.

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Friday, August 13, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Coppolacalypse

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week, a trio of films directed by the great Francis Ford Coppola.  The wine pairings are easy choices this time around, since Coppola also has a winery.  The director and vintner sold his Francis Ford Coppola winery recently but retained Inglenook, where he has a home.

Coppola wrote and directed the 1966 film, You're a Big Boy Now.  The story concerns a young man who, according to the movie poster, "wants no part of sex - he wants it all."  The boy in question - Big Boy - seems to do reasonably well with the ladies, but is not exactly a Cassanova and is certainly no Lothario.  He is just finding his way in the world of adult relationships.

It is fun to note that Big Boy was made as Coppola's thesis at UCLA film school.  How can you not love a movie with character names like Barbara Darling and Miss Thing?  The presence of Rip Torn and Geraldine Page are bonuses.  

Coppola's wines generally are made from grapes out of Napa or Sonoma, but here's one with SoCal roots.  The Francis Coppola Reserve Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay has the hallmark earthiness of Santa Barbara County's Santa Maria Valley, at a pretty decent price of just over $40.

1979's Apocalypse Now is generally considered to be Coppola's masterpiece, a film which resides in just about any cinematic "Best Of" list you can find.  Besides giving us a dark and soul-searching vision of the Vietnam War, it also injected several phrases into the popular lexicon.  Who among us hasn't paraphrased, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning," "the horror, the horror" or "never get out of the boat"?  (At least not until the boat has come to a full and complete stop.)

A movie about the movie calls the many production problems encountered by Coppola "A Filmmaker's Apocalypse."  Weather delays, temperamental actors and budget overruns look like small potatoes when set next to emotional breakdowns and a serious heart attack.  Just remember - if you don't get off the boat, you don't have a movie.

While we can't say that Coppola's Diamond Collection Malbec will smell like victory, it may well take you to your virtual heart of darkness.  As one of my favorite bartenders used to scream every time I walked through the door, "Schlagers!"

If you ever find yourself playing a "seven degrees of Coppola" game, this one might come in handy.  Dementia 13 was written and directed by Coppola in 1963 - and produced by Roger Corman.  The producer was looking to stamp out a cheap copy of Psycho with castles, and gave Coppola a shot at the director's chair after having worked with him on another film.  The two men found themselves in disagreement - didn't see that coming - and Corman eventually hired another director to shoot more footage.

The black-and-white horror film still stands as vintage Corman - if not vintage Coppola - and it features an axe murder, a decapitation, a drowning and the underwater disposal of a heart attack victim.  Scary stuff with a low-budget flair.

Coppola's Director's Cut Zinfandel brings the spice and everything nice to counter the snips and snails of Dementia 13.  

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Friday, December 11, 2020

Blood Of The Vines - Still Going Viral

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌  ‌You may have heard, they've got this pandemic going on.  Well, viral is as viral does, so hitch up that mask and delve into the ‌wine‌ ‌pairings‌ ‌for‌ ‌three‌ ‌films‌ ‌of a viral nature.‌ 

Space aliens try to take over the world in 1999's Virus.  They use, as a starting point, an ocean-going tugboat.  I don't get that either, but it probably contributes to the film's status as a cult attraction.  It was likely one of those celluloid aberrations that got mentioned every time friends gathered to watch the film - back when friends could gather to watch a film.

Big names like Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland are in Virus, which makes it seem that we'll be quarantined in good company.  Don't get your hopes up too high, though.  Critics decried everything about Virus, from the stupid script to the bad lighting.

Those ETs found that a tugboat could get them to any port in a storm, so let's pair a Port with Virus.  Real Port comes from Portugal, so wineries in other places should refer to their fortified wines as Port-style, not Port.  Try one of the great Ports from Warre's, a label of the Symington family.  They have one for every taste.

David Cronenberg wrote and directed Rabid in 1977.  This horror movie stars former porn star Marilyn Chambers, just a half decade after she burst into the public eye with Behind the Green Door.  She plays patient one in a breakout of a new strain of rabies which sweeps Canada.  She infects others by sucking their blood through an appendage that grew in her armpit after an experimental procedure in a hospital.  That will make you think twice about expecting a trip to the ER to fix anything.

Cartlidge and Brown made a Rabid Red blend, assembling Foothills Syrah, Monterey Cabernet and Napa Zinfandel in one easy-to-carry bottle.  It seems to be sold out at this time, possibly because it took only a $15 bite out of your wallet.

In 1971's The Andromeda Strain, it's an extraterrestrial organism - stowed away in a satellite that crashes to earth - that kills nearly everybody in a small town.  How small is it?  The mice are hunchbacked.  Every time a baby is born, someone else has to leave town.  The town doctor has time to poke around on crashed satellites in his office.  That small.  The special effects were masterminded by Douglas Trumball, whose work you may have gotten high with in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Andromeda Rare Wine and Whisky promises to track down anything that tickles your fancy, the rarer the better.  They are not a bargain option, but then there's always the corner liquor store if price or promptness are an issue.

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Friday, August 28, 2020

Blood Of The Vines - Sam's The Man


Pairing wine with movies!  See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies and many more at Trailers From Hell.  I awoke to news that some 70 million bottles of Italian wine are being turned into hand sanitizer.  This pandemic, before it's all over, may reduce me to pairing alcohol gel with movies.


This week’s offerings are three films by Samuel Fuller, with whom I share a last name.  There is no DNA trace here - about which I am aware - so I have no stories about ol' uncle Sammy misbehaving after downing too much Beaujolais Nouveau at Thanksgiving dinners.  We do, however, have a celluloid history of his penchant for making movies on topics many other filmmakers wouldn't touch.

In the 1959 noir classic The Crimson Kimono, Fuller takes on the relationship between race and romance.  Two L.A. cops both fall for the same girl in Little Tokyo, and she chooses the one who happens to be of Japanese descent.  That was Fuller's hallmark, the choice of material that made mainstream Hollywood - and mainstream America - uncomfortable.

The film's one-sheet leans into the titillation factor - "a beautiful American girl in the arms of a Japanese boy" - and wonders what his "strange appeal" is for American women.  The movie can only be seen in an anachronistic light now, possibly partly because of its impact.  The two cops are friends - roommates, even - but friction develops between them when the white cop doesn't like the idea of the girl going for the Asian guy.

Now, a wine pairing for The Crimson Kimono.  It's a shame that Open Kimono wines - a Washington Riesling and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - appear to be unavailable now.  You can try a sake - basically Japanese rice wine, but it's brewed - or something with more of a Los Angeles connection.  For years, the Wilson building on Wilshire at La Brea had a huge ad sign on its roof for Asahi beer.  It is a very film-friendly brew.

1952's Park Row has been mentioned as a low-budget Citizen Kane due to its newspaper-based storyline.  While its scale wasn't as grand as that of the Welles classic, it was about two competing newspapers, and it was in black and white.

The volume of booze which could be put away by those known back in the day as "newspapermen" is the stuff of legends.  I knew of an ink-slinger who used to get his liquor store bill at the newspaper office each month.  On the envelope, the merchant had written, "Pay me, mother****er" for all to see.  Rather than shaming him, it was a sort of badge of courage for the colorful writer, whose reputation was built on such instances.

Those bills were no doubt for hard liquor, so any readily available bourbon would go nicely with a movie about the newspaper business.  There is also a British company which packages in a gift box a vintage Bordeaux alongside an old newspaper.  I'm not kidding about that.  However, if you're looking to make headlines, there's Headline Wines.  The line is aimed at a younger age group - the kind who may not have ever actually read a newspaper, but know that wine comes in cans and boxes now.

1959's Verboten! is in Fuller's wheelhouse.  It's a war movie, dubya dubya two.  It's about as subtle as a fist in the face, and that is for the best when telling a story of Nazi Germany.  The title came from the pages of the U.S. Army code of conduct, which forbade the fraternization of U.S. soldiers and German women.  The story revolves around a love triangle involving a G.I., a German woman and a former German soldier who didn't quite get the memo that the war was over.

"Verboten" means "forbidden" in German.  In Spanish it’s "prohibito," "interdit" in French and "zakazana" in Polish.  Someone, somewhere, probably translates the title as "oh no you don’t, not with her."  Paul Anka croons the theme song from the movie: "Verboten, verboten, our love is verboten…"  I don’t recall hearing that on American Bandstand.

Colorado's Verboten Brewing takes its name from the "forbidden" ingredients rejected by the German Purity Law for beer.  As for a wine pairing, make it a Riesling, the German export that Angela Merkel is heavily involved in pushing right now.  Doctor Heidemanns "Blitz" Riesling translates as "lightning," by the way.

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Friday, May 8, 2020

Blood Of The Vines - Burt And Frankenheimer!

Pairing wine with movies!  See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies and many more at Trailers From Hell.  What else are you doing while stuck at home?

We have three films this week which were directed by John Frankenheimer and starred Burt Lancaster, starting with 1969's The Gypsy Moths

The movie in a nutshell: three skydivers go to the Midwest to put on a show, and only two come back.  People apparently go to aerial thrill performances for the same reason they go to car races - to see some carnage.  When the show ends with a splat, everybody in the first three rows of the grandstands gets a free souvenir. 

Gotta wonder how the cast and crew felt about shooting on location in Kansas.  Hollywood types might think, "Sure, it's a pretty town... but it's still in Kansas.  Where do they hide the liquor around here?"

Skydivers, eh?  Well, hello there Mr. Easy Wine Pairing!  Liquid Altitude is based somewhere around Poughkeepsie, where they make Freefall Sangria.  Yes, they're parachute buffs.  Please skydive responsibly.

From 1964, The Train has Lancaster masterminding a ruse to keep the Germans from absconding with artwork looted from France during World War Two.  The movie makes the real-life story a lot more interesting than it actually was.  In reality, the art train was merely derailed by endless paperwork.  Life may imitate art, but art jazzes up life so we'll pay to see it.

As it happens, the Nazis also tried to make off with wine from the best French vineyards.  A similar ruse kept the wine safe in République française.  All this has me wondering why the war lasted as long as it did if Hitler's boys were so easily outsmarted.

All this spy-type activity points directly to Cloak and Dagger Wines and their Paso Robles red blend, Subterfuge.  It's a mix of grapes that would feel right at home in Bordeaux: Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.

Seven Days in May is a 1964 polit-boiler about a planned coup against the U.S. President.  Back then, that was considered a bad idea.  Lancaster plays a heavy, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who wants to wrest away the reins of the country in a week.  Promise that you won't have daily briefings about it, and we may be able to work out a deal.

Presidential intrigue calls for a Presidential Porto, straight outta the Douro Valley in Ruby, tawny, white and vintage.  There is not enough alcohol for the wine to also serve as a disinfectant, but a bottle or two will get you through this movie… or a COVID briefing.

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Friday, April 24, 2020

Blood Of The Vines: Bela Bela Kill A Fella

Pairing wine with movies!  See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies and many more at Trailers From Hell.  What else are you doing while stuck at home?

Bela Lugosi served as the mad scientist in 1940's The Devil Bat.  His Dr. Carruthers was tetched in the head by a previous bad business decision, an even worse decision than opening a restaurant just as the pandemic hit.  He gets his revenge by developing jumbo-sized bats - the mammals - to attack and kill his perceived enemies.  He also devises a special after shave and trains the bats to go after it.  Then, he manages to get his targets to wear the scent.  Jesus, I'm tired already.  Agatha Christie could have called it The Aqua Velva Murders. 

For pairing with a Bela Lugosi movie, you have to be ready for a Bela Lugosi wine.  His family makes vino and sells it under Bela's name - despite Dracula's insistence that "I don’t drink … wine."  I'll bet he'd go for a blood-red Argentine Malbec, though, with Bela Lugosi's name on the label.

In the 1935 talkie Mark of the Vampire, Lugosi plays another bloodsucker - Count Mora.  After extracting the life from Sir Karell Borotyn, the count wants to go after Borotyn's daughter, a girl who apparently has had to fight off vampires like flies at a picnic.  Maybe it's her perfume?  Pardon my spoiler, but Lugosi's Count Mora turns out to be an actor in a charade.  To no one's surprise, Lugosi is thrilled with the job he turned in and plans to make vampire roles his life's work.  Cue Ed Wood.

A vampire movie calls for Vampire Merlot.  The California wine runs about 15 bucks and comes in a regular bottle, cape not included.

Scared to Death, from 1947, has nothing to do with the prison-doc "Scared Straight." However, after watching the Gothic thriller you probably will have nothing to do with death masks, mental hospitals, medical experiments, Nazis, Bela Lugosi or dwarves, ever again. 

Before you die of fright, crack open a bottle of Nevermore Pinot Noir, from Oregon's Gothic Wines.  Personally, I think of Willamette Valley wine country as a bit sunnier than the word "gothic" connotes.  Is the tasting room at 1313 Mockingbird Lane?  The price tag isn’t very scary - just $24.

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Friday, April 10, 2020

Blood Of The Vines - Pandemic In The Streets

Pairing wine with movies!  See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies and many more at Trailers From Hell.  What else are you doing while stuck at home?

The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated self-isolation and quarantine measures have given many of us a lot of extra time.  I've been spending my extra time by drinking wine and watching movies.  So, no, my life hasn't changed much.  Grocery shopping has changed.  Who would have believed that when panic hit the streets, the toilet paper would run out before the wine and beer?

In 1950's The Killer That Stalked New York the heavy is not coronavirus, but smallpox.  In true film noir style, the disease is unleashed not through bioterrorism, but through an inept criminal returning from Cuba.  Had Trump been commenting on it at the time, he probably would have called it the Havaner Flu while insisting there was no cause for alarm.  Until polling showed that people were alarmed anyway.

Three Star Brewing in D.C. had a Pandemic Porter on its list, but it's not there now.  Hmm.  Some winemakers feel that putting "smallpox" on a wine label wouldn't hurt sales as much as putting "syrah" on it, but none have put it to the test.  Researchers are saying that compounds in red wine and chocolate may fight the smallpox virus.  It's not official, but what can it hurt?  Get your favorite red and a box of See's for this movie.

In Panic in the Streets, also from 1950, the bad germ is pneumonic plague.  New Orleans is the fictional petri dish here, just as it has been in the real life news of late.  It's too bad that Mardi Gras and physical distancing don't mix.  It's hard to assemble a good collection of cheap trinkets from way over there.

If red wine can kill bacteria tied to lung cancer, which some reports have touted over the past 15 years or so, why fight it?  *pop!*  Of course, there are other reports saying that drinking a bottle of wine is the equivalent of smoking ten cigarettes.  Nothing in there about pneumonic plague, though.

It sounds like we need a doctor in the house.  Dr. Ernst Loosen is known for his amazing Rieslings, not reds.  Still, a bottle of single-vineyard Riesling and a half a pack of Luckys would pair well with any film noir, panic or no panic.

The 1965 sci-fi The Satan Bug brings bio-terror to the front row.  The complicated story line is full of scientific intrigue, double- and triple-crosses, test tubes to end the world and some daredevil helicopter footage.  Who said laboratory work was boring?  Are these guys handling the coronavirus blood tests?  Wash your hands!  Wear a mask!  Get the hell back home and stay there!

Any film which uses devil imagery in its title deserves a pairing with Velvet Devil Merlot from Charles Smith Wines.  It's from Washington state, by the way, one of the early hotspots for COVID-19.

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Friday, April 3, 2020

Blood Of The Vines: Crooks And Lawyers

Crooks and lawyers this week on Trailers From Hell.  What's the difference, you may ask?  Lawyers drink better wine.  Let’s see if we can find a good match for this week's featured flicks.

2007's Michael Clayton was nominated for seven Oscars, and it would have been eight had there been a category for Worst Title.  Lawyer Clayton cleans up his clients' messes, referring to himself as a janitor.  He is played by George Clooney, who looks like he knows his way around a wine list but does not look anything like a janitor.  In the wine biz, a lawyer would handle permits, labels, sales and acquisitions - not exactly the stuff of cinematic legend.

Since it takes so much scratch to buy a winery, mostly lawyers and doctors retire to vineyards.  Let's drink to Law Estate Winery of Paso Robles, owned by Don and Susie Law.  Their $77 Audacious Grenache-Cab-Carignan-Syrah blend sounds good for a lawyer.  For the crook, the Rhône rosé.  However, at $33 he might need to have his lawyer buy it for him.

Pierrepoint - The Last Hangman has its own niche.  Neither a lawyer nor a crook, Albert Pierrepoint was Britain's "last hangman" of the title.  It is reported that he actually was not the last to hold that grim job, but why let facts get in the way of a good story?   He no doubt saw plenty of crooks during his decades as executioner.  I wonder how many of them ordered wine with their last meal?
Keplinger Hangman's Syrah comes from a Carneros vineyard located next to an old hangman's tree.  Workers there had better keep busy, lest they find themselves just hangin' around.

Let Him Have It is a 1991 Britfilm about a couple of young goofs who try to look tough and end up killing a cop.  Well, that's one way to look tough.  The older of the pair tries to prove his innocence, such as it is, to avoid Ol' Sparky.  Can we hear Bessie Smith doing a few verses of "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair?"

Christopher Blake Electric Chair wine is 90% Petit Verdot and 10% who cares when the rest is PV.  This wine did solitary in an oak barrel for nearly two years before being imprisoned in 750 ml bottles, only to be set free when uncorked for a screening of this movie.

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Blood Of The Vines: Frails, Floozies And Dames

It's time to pair wine with movies again, in conjunction with the movie-mad Trailers From Hell

Wife vs. Secretary is a comedy-drama from the 1930s, before they started calling such things "dramedies," and well before people started saying, "they forgot the funny."  I'd say the wife and the secretary are both dames, certainly not frails and probably not floozies.  The salacious trailer asks, tantalizingly, whether Clark Gable would choose wife Myrna Loy or secretary Jean Harlow.  Gable had already done films with Harlow four times and Loy three. "Which one would he choose"... to work with again?  I can safely say that I'VE never had any trouble telling a wife from a secretary.   Of course, I've never had a secretary. 

It's not a case of mistaken identity here, that Gable simply kept his eyes closed and couldn't tell the two apart.  The situation is actually quite a bit tamer than advertised, but when isn't that true? 

This movie can best pair with a wine called The Secretary Bird, from South Africa's Western Cape.  The Merlot is good, unless you've ever heard your secretary - or wife - scream, "I'm not drinking any #$@&%* Merlot!."  In that case, opt for the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or rosé.  They're all cheap, but they're no floozies, either. 

Sexless movies?  What do you think, there's a Production Code or something?  That 1934 document put the nix on overt sexuality, like married couples sleeping in the same bed.  While it stifled artsy little semi-nude shots, it did force more emphasis to be placed on double entendres, giving Cary Grant a career.  Baby Face is a pre-Code movie - in fact it is one of the handful of films credited with prompting the Code to be written in the first place.  Starring Barbara Stanwyck - aah, you can stop right there.  A dame's dame, a dude's dame, certainly no frail.  In this film, she's a dame who doesn't mind using what she's got to get what she wants.  In other words, she's a floozie.  With just the turn of a phrase - "Can't we talk this over?"  she floozes her way to the top.  If you're going to flooze, flooze big, I always say.

Wouldn't you know, there's a wine that pairs perfectly with the subject matter.  The Floozie, from Australia's Hugh Hamilton, is a Sangiovese-based rosé.  Sangiovese means you can drink it while watching The Godfather, if you dare to drink a rosé while watching The Godfather.  It's sweet, but not too cheap.

Only women grace the screen in The Women, even though it's "all about men" - so says the one-sheet.  Frails, floozies and dames abound.  There's even a lesbian, maybe, possibly, at least it is hinted at as strongly as the damned Production Code would allow.  Which is not very.

I'm told by a close associate that the one-sheet got it all wrong.  It's not all about men, it's all about the women.  And that's from the greatest dame I know, my wife.  The Women is one of her favorite movies, and if you disparage it she can claw your eyes out with her Jungle Red fingernails.

As long as the sisters are doin' it for themselves, let's get a wine from a state with a girl's name, Georgia.  The Three Sisters Vineyard.  And since we're going all-in on the female thing, how about their Cynthiana wine?  That's also known as the Norton grape, all-American and tasty as hell, killed by Prohibition.  Georgia is not letting it rest in peace.

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Blood Of The Vines: Low Budget Slashers

Aah, low-budget slashers this week on Trailers From Hell.  There is nothing like pairing wine with a film that drips with Burgundy-red blood.  Are those Bordeaux stains on your smock?  Tell Chuckie to go to hell, and take his trailer with him.  Leave the bottle.

Alice, Sweet Alice got the director not only charged with obscenity but excommunicated, both in the state of New Jersey.  Who knew Jersians would be so upset over a little blood?  Brooke Shields debuts here, before gliding into a career in film’n’fashion, where the wine, bubbles and sometimes tequila flow like a fire hydrant.  Brooke now says she has a glass of water for every drink.  I knew a guy who claimed to "run a mile for every one of these," as he held up a Rob Roy.  I always imagined him running a marathon before work each day.  This film had several different titles - which is the hallmark of quality - one of which was Communion.  Is Alice, Sweet Alice an indictment of the church, child abuse, the death of the family or psychiatry?  Have fun guessing, while I focus on the wine. 

Fat Bastard's Bloody Red is a French GSM that’s really marketed for Halloween, but it works here as well.  The Spanish Alice Crianza has a slasher-style font on the label and pours up just as red.

Everyone has different hot-button phobias - clowns, spiders, Mr. Peanut.  For me it's mannequins.  Mannequins are creepy.  So are people who trespass in a room filled with mannequins.  So are people who go skinny dipping when their car breaks down after their friend was killed by mannequins.  Tourist Trap has enough "Don't go in there" moments to fuel a spoof.  Maybe there should be someone yelling that phrase outside the theater.  Forget about pairing a wine.  Just gimme a drink.  Orin Swift makes a Chardonnay called Mannequin, which comes complete with a label depicting a multitude of showroom dummies.  Creepy.

Spider Baby ups the ante on creepiness.  It reminds me that children eating spiders is one of my hot-button phobias.  The movie stars Lon Chaney, Jr., and to quote Warren Zevon, "his hair was perfect."  Not so perfect was his decision to leave a houseful of mentally defective creatures alone for a bit.  When he warns them to "behave" while he's gone, you can see the good ship U.S.S. Trouble steaming into port.  A guy in Bristol, UK had the perfect pairing when he bought a bottle of plonk that had a spider in it.  You really can't depend on getting a bug in your wine these days, so let's look for one on the label.  Australia's Spitting Spider Shiraz works for me.  Just don't have me look up any wines for clowns.  Or Mr. Peanut.

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Friday, March 13, 2020

Blood Of The Vines: More Movies You Never Heard Of

Trailers From Hell is featuring more movies you never heard of this week, so my wine selections should be easy pairings - more wines you never heard of.  Wine aficionados and movie buffs say those are the best ones, anyway.  Everybody likes to think they are a cult of one.  In my younger days, music at my place was like "stump the band."  If you had ever heard it anywhere else, it wouldn't find my turntable.  My fondness for Bruce Springsteen's music knew no limits in those years, but diminished with each of my friends who signed on as believers.  Oh, I still liked him as a superstar, it just wasn't the same with everyone else on board. 

Admiral is a 2014 South Korean film, one of the many which did not receive an Academy Award for Best Picture.  The South Korean director who did win mentioned that he would proceed to drink until dawn.  That is something, I am told, directors are sometimes given to do - whether they win an Oscar or not.

Admiral Yi Sun-sin has just 13 battleships against a 300-ship Japanese fleet in the Battle of Myeongryang.  So this is a movie you've never heard of, as well as a movie the details of which you cannot pronounce.  Perhaps it pairs with a Scotch whisky, most of which no one can pronounce, either, like Bunnahabhain.  Or an ornery beer, like Westvleteren 12.  Let's get sweet with a German Riesling classified as Trockenbeerenauslese. 

From 2004, 800 Bullets is a Spanish film by director Álex de la Iglesias.  He is listed further down in the Iglesias Google search than Enrique, Julio and Gabriel combined.  Much further.  A film which is a tip of the Pale Rider hat to Spaghetti westerns should be an easy Italian choice, but hold on, amico.  Those films were shot in Almería, Spain, as was 800 Bullets, just across the Alboran Sea from Morocco.  A wine from the southern reaches of the Iberian peninsula? Sherry, perhaps!  Not unless granny was a stunt double.  Those daredevils deserve a strong, spicy, peppery red wine that lives it up and ages fast.  Break out a cheap Garnacha from anywhere in Spain.  Screwcap!  Action!

Documentaries often appear on lists of movies you haven't seen, and that goes double for non-narrative documentaries like 1992's Baraka.  Maybe you also didn't see the 2012 sequel, Samsara.  Filmed in 23 different countries, Baraka shows image after image after striking image, without many words.  As a wine writer, I am always looking for words to describe what I taste.  Pictures are for marketers, so they can grab your attention on a crowded wine store shelf with kittens and kangaroos and such. 

If you are adventurous enough to watch Baraka, you are probably adventurous enough to seek out the namesake Croatian wine, produced across the Adriatic Sea from Italy.  The Baraka Prisbus Riserva is a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend that's been in the cellar for three years and sports a very conservative label, sans critters.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Blood Of The Vines - Carquake!

This week's Trailers From Hell movies are about cars, in one fashion or another.  We do not recommend drinking and driving - of course - but, once you are home, unscrew the cap on something mechanical for your viewing pleasure.  You can take it out of the brown paper bag first, but don't bother with a glass.

1976's Car Wash was reportedly filmed at an actual car wash in L.A.'s Westlake neighborhood, at Rampart and 6th, a street corner now populated by strip malls, laundromats and a HoHo Chicken.  There's a 7-Eleven nearby, where you can probably find a suitable "bum wine" to go with the impoverished motif of the film.  However, if you are trying to steer clear of pop bottles, here's a wine for your dirty car.  Dirty and Rowdy Wines makes a Petite Sirah - a powerful grape which is strong enough to make a great bum wine, by the way, if it weren't so expensive.

The 1977 horror film, The Car, made a villain of a '71 Lincoln Continental - six years before Stephen King would do the same with a '58 Plymouth Fury.  The Car is a mean and murderous machine, but what really sets off the CHP is that it has no plates and the windows are tinted too dark.  The seemingly driverless car, for some reason, has it in for the little hick town that apparently makes dust for export to the rest of the world.  In the trailer, the car does more horn honking than the second person in line when the light turns green.  In the end, the car gets its comeuppance from a ruse that would make Wyle E. Coyote green with envy.  Continental Wines is a New York liquor store, and the many Lincoln wines are all midwestern bottles with a log cabin on the label.  To get the proper classic car connection for this film, Los Angeles car buff Peter Mullin makes wines from his family vineyard in Italy.  The bottles are adorned with vintage automobiles that look a lot less dangerous than the '71 Lincoln.

The star car in 1977's Grand Theft Auto is a Rolls Royce, which takes the sort of beating throughout the film that is usually reserved for a demolition derby.  Uh, spoiler alert … there is a demolition derby.  The Rolls carries a young couple as they elope to Las Vegas, where there will be plenty of time for wine.  There are now more Master Sommeliers in Sin City than in any other city in the world, so getting a recommendation shouldn't be a problem.  Ordering that wine in a restaurant, as someone who looks a lot like Opie, means you'd better have your ID with you.  For the Rolls Royce, only a Dom Perignon Champagne will do.  At least at first.  As the wear and tear on the vehicle mounts, you'll be looking for something cheap, in a box.  Nowadays people know GTA as a game, and in the recent edition, GTA V, there is a virtual wine called Costa Del Perro - coast of the dog - but you can only have that wine virtually, as a player in the game.  There is a Spanish Rueda wine called El Perro Verde - the green dog - but that seems like straying too far away.  A tip of the headset to the late L.A. legend The Real Don Steele, who has a role in the movie as - wait for it - a radio DJ.

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Friday, February 28, 2020

Blood Of The Vines: Krazy Kidz

Kids have it tough.  Grouchy old mom and dad to deal with, school, endless soccer practice … all with no wine to help take off the edge.  They must find it terribly unfair that Mommy gets her medicine, but all they get is vaping and Tide Pods.

The Krazy Kidz in the movies featured this week on Trailers From Hell certainly didn't take any perceived injustices sitting down.  They, as the old expression goes, hit back hard.

The Children is a 1980 chiller which was caused critics to take their jobs at face value, criticizing nearly everything about the movie. From the writing to the acting to the special effects, scribes had a field day, using words like "nasty," "despicable" and "ugly" in their descriptions.  It was enough to drive a movie critic to drink. A yellow cloud of gas turns these Krazy Kidz into zombies for the new year, which might be where the idea for Dry February originated.  It's a whole different franchise, but some Walking Dead Red might make those zombies move a little quicker, to get to the bottle before it runs dry.

The poster for 1960's Village of the Damned states "Beware the stare that will paralyze the will of the world."  My only concern is that the stare will make Bronco wines even cheaper and more prolific than they already are.  By the way, the vomiting is supposed to happen AFTER you drink the Bronco wine.  These Krazy Kids use their glowing-eye superpowers to make other folks do horrible things - like stock up on white Zinfandel.

The Innocents made 1961 a little darker, with movie goers wondering if Deborah Kerr's character was scared, mental or just in need of a glass of wine or six.  One of the Krazy Kidz tells the governess early on, "Oh, we will have fun together, won't we?"  Not so fast, innocent breath.  Borrowing from another film, "Lady, you need a lot of drinks."  The lady worries that the estate is haunted by ghosts which have taken over the children.  That's right, she thinks they've been ghosted.

The easy pairing choice is for a ghost wine - a winery founded in the late 19th century and still operating in refurbished fashion.  And no, they do not operate with a skeleton crew.  That's reserved for Halloween.

Virginia's Gray Ghost Winery has a few white wines to uncork here, since faces are said to turn pale in the presence of ghosts.  Or after consuming a little too much wine.  The Innocents is an hour and a half long - pace yourself.

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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Blood Of The Vines: Russ Meyer

The late Russ Meyer's films are the epitome of excess.  Pairing a wine with them seems unfair to the wine.  It couldn't possibly keep up.  Whiskey might be more appropriate, or a shot of tequila or three, or a bottle of Captain Morgan and a liter of Coke.  However, I am sure we will stumble across a wine that leans into life like Meyer did.

Russ Meyer's IMDB page nicknames him "The Fellini of the Sex Industry" and "King Leer."  The sultan of sexploitation liked big breasts better than anything else.  His stint as a Playboy centerfold photographer in the 1950s may have steered him in that direction.  Playboy wine, direct from their recently launched wine club?  Why not?  For starters, anyway.

Meyer rued the day he started working on The Seven Minutes.  He later called the film "boring and tedious" - like a life of nothing but Chardonnay.  He said, "What the public wants are big laughs and big tits and lots of 'em. Lucky for me that’s what I like, too."  And who are we to argue with a cinematic genius?  This movie is mainly a talky courtroom drama - think Perry Mason with references to women's orgasms thrown in.  Spicy Zinfandel is a good grape for a spicy director, so try this movie with The 7 Deadly Zins.

The one-sheet for Mudhoney describes it as "a film of ribaldry and violence made from the juice of life."  That’s great, but we're looking for the juice of grapes here.  Mudhoney is the second of Meyer's mid-'60s B&W quartet - a Depression-era tale of loners, wife beaters, whorehouses and an insane preacher man.  Isn't it ironic that America banned alcohol just when it needed it most?  Get Mudhoney going with a wine from L.A.'s own San Antonio Winery, which was able to remain open for business during Prohibition by making sacramental wine.  Peace be with you.

Let's say you want to make a movie about an all-girl rock band whose members go to Hollywood to make it big.  They sink into sex, drugs and decadence even before they catch the Uber out of LAX.  Hello?  Mr. Meyer?  Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was tailor made for Russ Meyer's special brand of sex kitten sadism.  As their album cover claims, they're "looking up at the bottom," so we want to pair a wine that makes us feel all rich and safe and WHERE THE HELL ARE MY PILLS??  No bum wine here, we've got to keep up appearances.  Maybe a Ménage à Trois, Decadence, would go well with the general vibe here.  Cabernet with a splash of Merlot.  Groovy, man.

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Blood Of The Vines: Kirk Douglas

Blood of the Vines is a tongue-in-cheek wine and movie pairing done in association with

The life of Kirk Douglas took him from a childhood dominated by a hard-drinking junkman father to adult years in which he lived in a Beverly Hills home with a wine cellar.  He was one of the world's biggest movie stars and most noted actors, and Trailers From Hell remembers him this week after his passing on February 5, 2020.

In the classic Spartacus, we find wine playing at least a supporting role since nobody wanted to drink the foul water in the century before Christ.  Even though the Roman Empire's plumbing system was a miracle of its day, the lead pipes that carried the water to citizens would much later be shown as a bigger health hazard that gladiating.

Douglas, as Spartacus, worries that he and his men "look for wine when we should be hunting bread."  Nick Dennis, as Dionysius, replies that, "When you've got wine, you don't need bread," which is an interesting take on what may have been the earliest recorded drinking problem.  Eat something, Dionysius!

Australia's Karrawatta Wines makes a red blend called Spartacus, apparently just because the name is catchy.  Also, as a tip of the hat to the notion that Spartacus hailed from what is now Bulgaria, there's a Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon named for him.  It appears to be such a great bargain that it is out of stock on the website.

What is the best wine to pair with a movie night featuring Spartacus?  Let him tell it.  When his men were arguing over which region produced the best wine, Spartacus ended the squabble by telling them, "You’re all wrong; the best wine comes from home, wherever it is."  Spartacus said it, I believe it.

For Ace in the Hole, Douglas plays a New York newspaperman whose life comes apart, prompting him to quit drinking and move to Albuquerque.  He might have paraphrased Bugs Bunny to say that he made a wrong turn at Wichita Falls, but his sobriety seems to have robbed him of his sense of humor.  Anyway, he goes on to become Albuquerque's number one media whore, showing enough heartless conniving to qualify him for a MAGA hat.  He blew into town blustering that he was a $250 newspaperman who could be had for $50.  Here’s a $50 Champagne you can have for $250 - Armand de Brignac's Ace of Spades.  Not a great bargain, but if you need to bribe an elected official in Albuquerque, this might do the trick.

Paths of Glory has Douglas heading up a suicide mission in WWI.  French foot soldiers in the Great War were given a daily ration of a half-liter of wine per day - Pinard, according to the label.  Nowadays pinard is still a French synonym for plonk, or bad wine.

French soldiers attacking the German "Anthill" position make for some lovely pairing possibilities.  Rhône and Riesling?  Bordeaux and Blaufrankisch?  Beaujolais Nouveau and Blue Nun?  Or, anything from Sonoma County's Anthill Farms could suffice.

Douglas was directed by Stanley Kubrick in Paths of Glory (and in Spartacus) and the actor told Variety just before his 100th birthday that Kubrick was a bastard, albeit a talented one.  Lift a glass of Fat Bastard wine or a flute of sparkling plonk for this screening.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Wine Goes To The Movies: Blood Of The Vines

Now And Zin Wine is pleased to announce a new series of wine articles in conjunction with

The series is called "Blood Of The Vines," and will appear each week on the Trailers From Hell blog and Now And Zin Wine.  Randy Fuller presents wine and movie pairings - in tongue-in-cheek fashion.  Here is the Blood of the Vines for Kirk Douglas week.

In case you don't know about Trailers From Hell, it's the brainchild of film director Joe Dante.  On the site, Joe and other movie "gurus" screen movie trailers and add some personal comments about the films in question.  It's highly entertaining, and highly addictive.  Browse the library of titles and see for yourself - betcha can’t watch just one!

Many of the movie gurus are wine lovers as well as film lovers, so this pairing of two different parts of the blogosphere came easily.  We hope you find the pairings entertaining, too.

Trailers From Hell began as a haven for horror movie fans, hence the hellish blood references and preponderance of horror movie titles in the trailer library.  Over time, the site has broadened to include other types of Hollywood offerings besides the horror genre.  It is there, though - in monsters and mayhem - where the roots of Trailers From Hell remain.

Now And Zin has dabbled in mixing wine and movies before - "never mix, never worry" - and we're starting to get a taste for it.  We'd love for you to check out "Blood Of The Vines" on Now And Zin Wine or the Trailers From Hell blog, From Hell It Came, as wine goes to the movies.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Wine With Movies: "All The King's Men"

From the Blood of the Vines series of movie and wine pairings I did about 6 years ago with  Fun stuff.  It fits well with this week's Louisiana theme.