This month we take a look at acclaimed Portland filmmaker Gus Van Sant’s biopic about Portland’s own famous artist resident, Willamette Week’s cartoonist John Callahan. Join us as we discuss our mixed reactions about this 2018 film starring Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill, and an extended cast full of musician cameos.
This past weekend we were live at the 2019 Wizard World Comic Con, where we took a look back on our favorite Portland movie moments from the past few years of the podcast. From “Deafula” to Tonya to Chuck Norris, we celebrate the good, bad, and worse of the films we’ve covered so far.
*note* – The audio recording quality is pretty rough, but is still listenable. There are a few sections where I have taken out the movie clips we played during the show due to abysmal quality I couldn’t save – Todd *
It’s our first foray into legendary Portland filmmaker Tom Shaw, whose presence looms large over the Portland movie making world. Gus VanSant and Penny Allen, among many others, used Shaw’s equipment to make their first films throughout the 70s and 80s.
So how does Shaw rate as a filmmaker himself? Let’s just say he’s a glorious treasure of breathtaking cinema — but for all the wrong reasons. “Courier of Death” is Shaw’s second attempt at a film, and it’s a bonkers, insane mess that is as incompetently made as it is hilarious and fun to watch.
Join us as we take a deep dive not only into the movie, but into Shaw and his incomparable mark on the Portland cinema scene.
On this special holiday edition of Portland at the Movies, we dive into “How Sarah Got Her Wings” – a 2015, made-for-IonTV-movie starring the store brand versions of Kristin Bell and Chris Pratt. The good news is that this movie features some of the nicest shots of Portland we’ve seen in a movie yet. The bad news is….well, everything else. Including one very sneaky secret. Strap on your sleigh bells for this hilarious episode as we unwrap “How Sarah Got Her Wings.” (Movie available streaming on Netflix.)
Live from the 2018 Portland Podcast Festival, it’s time for “Deafula”! The only movie to ever be made completely in American Sign Language, “Deafula” is an amazing treat. As Brian “The Unipiper” noted: “It’s like ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ meets ‘The Room.'” Made in 1975 and only sold on 16mm film (it was a few years too early for VHS), “Deafula” was almost lost to time, and not even available at Portland’s venerable Movie Madness — until now, because we’ve donated our personal copy to them. It truly is an amazing cult classic, and it was filmed in our very own city of Portland. Special thanks to Jason Lamb, Greg Nibler, and Sarah X. Dylan for putting on another great podcast festival, and thanks to everyone who came out!
“Homewrecker” was the first World Premier Movie for the then-new “Sci-Fi” cable channel, and a surprisingly decent movie about a “smart home” AI system that goes rogue. While the movie features very little of Portland (one exterior shot, plus a cabin in the woods), it’s actually a competent, well-acted, well-directed movie — quite the difference from the normal Portland at the Movies fare. You can watch it for free on YouTube, so have a watch, and then settle in for our review!
The one glorious shot of Portland in the movie. Way in the background is the 405/Freemont Bridge interchange.
Astoria, Oregon stands in for feudal Japan (really) as well as the NYC sewer system in this third installment of the original Turtles trilogy. Watch as time-traveling, anthropomorphized, martial artist reptiles spout tired catchphrases (although, oddly, they never say “cowabunga!”) and give mouth-to-mouth to a small boy! Thankfully our discussion of the movie is much, much more entertaining than sitting through the movie itself.
The Portland at the Movies summer road trip starts in Vernonia, a picturesque little town just northwest of Portland. In 1989, the community came together to make the low-budget, homegrown movie “The Vernonia Incident” (aka “Redneck Revenge,” aka “Revenge of the Rednecks” aka “Country Justice in Oregon”), featuring all local actors, and a local director/writer/producer/editor/everything else who was the driving force behind this b-movie undertaking. So ride along with us to this small Northwest town, where all the cars are made of explosives and all the dialogue needed to be re-recorded months later in Los Angeles.
Ed Harris stars in this 1987 HBO-made courtroom drama about a hot-shot lawyer who is having an affair with the wife of his accused murderer client. It’s certainly not the *worst* movie we’ve seen on this podcast, but is it actually *good*? Find out on this month’s hilarious episode, starring Brian “The Unipiper” Kidd, Mark Middleton, and Todd Werkhoven.
In 1996, a 21-year-old Angelina Jolie came to Portland to film a movie called “Foxfire.” With many sweeping, beautiful shots from above and below the Broadway Bridge, Portland looks great — but how is the movie? Join Brian “The Unipiper Kidd, Mark Middleton, and Todd Werkhoven as they discuss this beloved and/or forgotten (depending on where you grew up, probably) Grrl Power film. Come for the 90’s fashion, stay for the amazing 3-minute helicopter shot of the bridge and the city during the closing credits! Enjoy!
In 1989, a movie so so abysmal was made in Oregon that writer and film critic David Walked dubbed it “The Curse of ‘Homer and Eddie.'” Essentially he said that “Homer and Eddie” was the point where Portland cinema went from 80’s independent cool to Hollywood tax shelter garbage. So does it deserve that criticism? Join us as we finally sit down to experience this pile of cinematic nonsense, starring Jim (oops…I mean “James”) Belushi as a mentally enfeebled man and Whoopi Goldberg as a mentally ill woman (?) on a cross-country trip to our very own Oregon City. “A chore to watch!” – some Amazon reviewer
Fresh off the heels of the Portland Tonya Harding Film Festival, we invited John-Ryan Griggs (the director of the festival) to talk about the two movies shown: a 1986 documentary about a then 15-year-old Harding working toward her first Nationals, and then a 1996 “action/thriller” called “Breakaway,” which features Tonya in a smaller role. One of these movies was really good; the other was a flaming pile of garbage. Can you guess which is which? Let’s do a triple axle into the cinematic world of Portland’s own Tonya Harding.
Going into this podcast about movies made in Portland, we knew that there would be more bad than good. But never could we imagine just how bad it could be. Insulting, joyless, trite, inexplicable, nonsensical, indefensible, and a slap in the face to art and humanity. Siskel & Ebert called it the worst comedy they had ever seen. So what happened? What’s going on? Who is this movie even for? Join us as we demand answers.
Don’t forget to check out our map, where I’ve added 7 locations from this movie, and a bunch more from “The Hunted.”
We had high hopes for this kung-fu action movie, from the same director as Bruce Lee’s classic “Enter the Dragon” and the so-bad-it’s-good classic “Gymkata,” and starring Bruce Lee’s cousin Britton Lee and martial arts movie hall-of-famer Bolo Yeung. So did we discover a cult classic diamond in the rough? Or is it another victim of the “Portland Movie Curse”? Join us as we get to the heart of this filmed-in-Portland movie.
Portland locations in the movie (see their locations on the master map):
Recorded live at the Hawthorne Theater at the First Annual Portland Podcast Festival, we take a mini-look at the 1996 Chuck Norris masterpiece “Forest Warrior,” filmed around Mt. Hood and Hood River. It’s a crazy movie in which Chuck Norris is a literal, eternal shape-shifting forest spirit protecting Native American land. It’s Goonies meets Animorphs meets Captain Planet meets Chuck Norris stopping a chainsaw with his bare hands, and it’s pretty amazing. (The whole movie is up on YouTube), and it’s definitely worth a watch!” Thanks to Jason Lamb and Greg & Sarah of Funemployment Radio for putting on the festival. It was amazing, and the crowd was fantastic. Enjoy!
“The Devil’s Keep” is writer/director Don Gronquist’s 1995 follow up to “Unhinged” (see previous episode), and if you love real-time YouTube how-to videos, mixed with mute, albino, geriatric, female Nazis, then this is the movie for you. Filmed in Portland, it’s the story of two high schoolers following a series of puzzles leading to “The Devil’s Keep” — hidden Nazi gold. So is this movie gold? Find out on this episode of “Portland at the Movies.”
Portland location screen caps. See full intereactive map at PortlandAtTheMovies.com/map.
It’s a Halloween Double Feature as we sit down to watch two horror movies filmed entirely on location at Portland’s Pittock Mansion. “Unhinged” is a D-Grade 1982 slasher flick (with very little slashing, and a lot of people taking naps), and the 1989 made-for-TV-movie “The Haunting of Sarah Hardy,” starring Sela Ward and Morgan Fairchild, and Morgan Fairchild’s shoulder pads. Join us as we dissect these would-be thrillers.
Red Snow Love at Large Bad Samaritan American Taboo (1984) Zero Effect The Sasquatch Gang (2006) Brain Smasher: A Love Story The Competition (2018) Mr. Holland’s Opus Captain Fantastic Untraceable Body of Evidence The Music…
To celebrate the one-year anniversary of “Portland at the Movies,” we watched all 3 sequels to the movie that started it all: “Halloweentown.” Join us as we slog through these terrible Disney Channel movies. Join Todd, Mark, and Brian “The Unipiper” Kidd as we try to make sense out of 3 movies that make no sense. Trick or treat!
Travel back to a time when men were wiseguys, women were “B-girls,” and vice came in the form of flipperless pinball machines. In the mostly forgotten noir film “Portland Exposé,” based on a pictorial spread about true-life vice in Portland’s in a 1957 issue of LIFE Magazine, you get all of that, plus Frank Gorshin (“The Riddler” in the 60s Batman TV series) as a child predator, and some amazing shots of Portland in the late 1950s. Don’t be a hophead – take a listen.
Filming locations for the movies covered on “Portland at the Movies.” Continually updated with each new episode. Click each marker to see a photo of that location from the movie, and expand the map to…
In 1972, Raquel Welch came to Portland and made a movie in which she played a “Jammer” on the Portland Loggers Roller Derby Team. So naturally they called the film “Kansas City Bomber.” Anyway, join us as we take a look at the first major motion picture filmed completely in Portland. Spoilers: there’s a reason you’ve probably never heard of this movie.
How did the city look? Here are some screen shots:
“Extraordinary Measures,” the 2010 Portland-filmed movie starring Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, and Keri Russell, works on several levels: a dull one, a tedious one, and a crotchety one. “Inspired by true events,” this movie is like overhearing someone mumbling a conversation about the exiting world of bringing a new drug to market. That being said, talking about the movie is infinitely more funny and interesting than actually watching it, so join us as we discuss just what “Extraordinary Measures” measures up to.
Be sure to visit www.PortlandAtTheMovies.com for the visuals of how Portland looks in the movie.
“Total Reality” is a bottom-shelf cocktail made from the discarded parts of a SyFy channel movie, Back to the Future, Terminator, and clown makeup. Written, produced, and directed by the same guy who did last month’s movie (the bonkers “Fatal Revenge”), “Total Reality” has some great parts (the space battles looked good; the lead actress was great!), but in the end, it feels like a slapdash and incomprehensible slurry of ideas from other, better movies.
You can watch the trailer and full movie for free on YouTube (link after visual aids).
“Fatal Revenge” is a wonderfully terrible action/taekwando/b-movie wonder filmed in 1989 in Portland. Never released in the US (for good reason), we tracked down a copy in German, and it was well worth the effort. The film also features Portland writer/author David Walker (find his fantastic comics and novels here), who gave us lots of behind-the-scenes info about this gloriously terrible romp through the seemingly unregulated world of making movies in Portland in the 1980s. The 5-minute promotional clip below is a great start, and if you want more, you can search for “Fatal Revenge German” on YouTube. It is 100% worth it.
“Breaking In,” a 1989 filmed-in-Portland movie starring Burt Reynolds, is technically about robbery, but in reality it’s just a complete mystery. Siskel & Ebert loved it. So did “Rolling Stone.” And it currently has an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. All of which is completely befuddling, considering that this is a movie in which nothing happens, the characters don’t learn or grow, and there is a seemingly purposeful deflation of any and all tension throughout the entire movie. It’s also the reason that nobody has ever heard of this movie, filmed in various parts of Portland. Join us as we search laughter, larceny, and loot in this 1989 movie starring Reynolds and Casey Seizmesko.
Ah, the early 1990s: when foster children roamed free, Michael Jackson still inspired us, and a whale named Keiko swam into our collective consciousness and became a temporary resident of the Northwest (before we kicked him out to sea and he died, but that’s a different story). Join us as we dive deep into 1993’s “Free Willy,” a surprising amount of which was filmed in Portland proper, as well as Astoria, Oregon, and starring Michael Madsen’s furrowed brow. [insert Willy’s crying noise here]
And don’t forget – Portland at the Movies is now a part of the fantastic Funemployment Radio Network, featuring such great podcasts as Funemployment Radio (voted Best Podcast in Portland in 2016), Geek in the City, and more. Check them out – they’re awesome!
Is it possible to write a movie whose dialogue consists solely of ham-fisted doctor puns? Is it necessary to film an entire movie in a tiny park in unincorporated SW Portland even though it mostly takes place indoors, and Oregon is never even mentioned or seen? Why does this movie even exist? Join us as we demand answers from the 1992 horror/slasher film “Dr. Giggles,” the first movie production of Portland’s own Dark Horse Comics. [Insert medical pun here]
What do you get when you mix 3 respected Oscar winners and one of the most beautiful cities in America? In the case of “The Hunted,” sadly, you get crap. But boy was the crap fun to talk about! Join us as we discuss this 2003 made-in-Portland movie, starring two main characters who hate to talk, emote, or follow the rules of actual time. Come for the stick smelling, stay for the smelting! Enjoy!
Portland at the Movies is a hilarious new podcast that takes an in-depth look at some of the questionable movies made in and around Portland (think How Did This Get Made with movies filmed in Portland). Our first episode centers on the made-for-TV Disney Channel movie Halloweentown, filmed in St. Helens, Oregon. Join us for a funny look at a deeply confusing Halloween classic, where we discuss everything from a little town’s inherent cruelty towards children to the nonsensical monsters and characters that inhabit Halloweentown.