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A mad journey into the mind of the depraved!

A mad journey into the mind of the depraved!
Recommended for devolved primates only!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

THE SMILING MANIACS (1975)


 I've seen 1971's CONFESSIONS OF A POLICE CAPTAIN a couple of times now and it's slowly become one of my favorite Eurotrash mafia/crime dramas. This effort from a couple of years later stars two of the same fellows from that epic, Franco Nero and Martin Balsam, and some of the synopsis' I've read of this make it sound awfully similar. In some ways it is, Nero plays a very similar character though Balsam this time trades in his police chief role for that of the head of a crime family and really isn't in the movie a whole lot. The movie mostly focuses on corruption within the justice system and unfortunately is mostly filled with endless talky-talk scenes with very little of anything exciting happening. There is one scene, that I guess gave the English-dubbers their title, where a gal is raped by a couple of goofy fellas or "smiling maniacs" if you will but in the version I've seen even that bit isn't all that graphic or crazy. The original Italian title of this translates as  CORRUPTION IN A PALACE OF JUSTICE and that is way more fitting since this is really a way more dull version of Nero & Franco's later excellent team-up and that other name is super misleading.

The soundtrack is sometimes the best thing about these Eurocrime flicks:







Sunday, January 25, 2015

WILD RIDERS (1971)


 This movie starts out being a biker flick but then turns more into a hostage movies kinda situation. It also starts right out, even before the title, with a woman getting stripped and murdered by a couple of bikers so that's something. Great character actor Alex Rocco plays the extra-nutty homicidal sidekick of our main character(Arell Blanton) who is also not much of a saint. If there's one big drawback to me with this film it's that I didn't find the main character all that interesting and when he gets kicked out of the gang I kinda wanted to go with the other members and see what crazy shit they get up to. The other downfall is that after it becomes a kidnap/rape movie with a couple of gals it seems like these ladies have little to no ability to fight back against their attackers. I know this was made way back in 1971 but I can't imagine women were as helpless and defenseless as they're portrayed here. Maybe if it was made in 1951 I would understand but not the 70's. It all does end up with an amazing climax which includes some unexpected eye violence and bloody gore! I would probably rate this as slightly better than average even though it's barely a biker movie. AKA ANGELS FOR KICKS



COWARDS DON'T PRAY(1969)


 Whereas many of these spaghetti-westerns have a pretty simple plot of someone being wronged and then seeking vengeance this one takes a slightly different approach and throws a couple of curves into that formula. It starts out like your standard tale of a guy(Gianni Garko, credited as John Garko) whose woman is abused and murdered, he's shot and left for dead and then manages to live on seeking revenge. So he's a pretty sympathetic person to start out with. Unfortunately on his quest he starts to become a bit unhinged and by the end the "hero" role has been swapped to an entirely different character. It's interesting that initially he is wronged by a group representing the law and this seems to brand the idea that anyone who represents the forces of justice are corrupt. You can kinda see where he's coming from up until a point where he crosses a line. So I give this one extra points for making me think about these things. AKA TASTE OF VENGEANCE, In France this was dubbed a Django film with the title DJANGO DOES NOT PRAY and in Germany it got the sweet title of BASTARDS DO NOT PRAY



Saturday, January 24, 2015

URSUS IN THE LAND OF FIRE (1963)


 Ed Fury plays our Hercules-like hero, called Ursus here, and that might be the best name for an actor in this role. Mr. Fury was in a couple of these strongman films but I guess never became a really big name.
 If you watch enough of these 60's swords n' sandals flicks you notice a couple of recurring scenes. One is where they try and rip our hero(usually Hercules but in this case Ursus) apart by tying him to some horses going in different directions and the other is where he has to lift something really heavy or get squished under it. This movie gives you both of those and of course the evil leader and a beautiful princess to fight over so it's pretty standard. There's a tiny bit of a supernatural element in the God of fire who makes volcanos shower flaming boulders onto naughty soldiers and stuff like that but it's not all that significant to the plot. An OK time-waster at 3am if you're an insomniac but ultimately forgettable in the sea of Hercules cinema.
 AKA THE SON OF HERCULES IN THE LAND OF FIRE(TV-showing title)





Thursday, January 22, 2015

WATERSHIP DOWN (1978)


 I originally saw this movie in grade school at a pretty young age. I don't remember much about it except that it had some slightly upsetting imagery which might explain my later love of splatter and gore movies. This is an animated kid's movie, but it's a kid's movie from 1978 so this entails scenes of cute little bunnies meeting their demise by getting their little fuzzy necks ripped out, being eaten by various predatory animals and being buried alive by those evil old human-beings. Also they fight amongst themselves against Nazi-like fascistic rabbits. The one reminder that we are actually watching a movie made for children is the presence of a comic-relief bird ridiculously voiced by Zero Mostel. This bird does at one point tell a bunny to "piss-off" so that's a bit redeeming. Overall it's pretty amazing to think that at one time something like this could have gotten produced and shown without overly sensitive moronic people having heart-attacks and protesting it over it's rougher bits. Maybe because this was made in England and all the characters have delightful British accents it gets a pass. I'm sure there's a bunch of deeper subtext in this one including metaphors for the evils of government and an obvious warning about dictatorships but I think it works as entertaining art even without thinking too hard about politics. The one negative thing is a terrible song by Art Garfunkel but besides that it's a good watch.
 I got the chance to see this in a theater full of surprisingly well-behaved little kids and from what I saw none of them seemed very traumatised by it. Then again kids these days have the internet so I imagine they're a lot tougher to make cry.
 This was remade as a series in 1999 but from what little bit I've seen of that it looks a little bit too Disney-fied to me.

Friday, January 9, 2015

SHORT EYES (1977)


"I'm a hope-to-die dope-fiend!""not because I'm black!""because I like being a dope-fiend! You hear me nigger?"

 I'm a big fan of the PENITENTIARY series so it was pretty cool to be introduced to a film that is sorta similar to those but done in a way more serious dramatic way. SHORT EYES deals with men in prison, racism, homosexuality and how child-molesters are treated in the slammer. Spoiler-alert!: it's not very nice! While I wouldn't put this over the PENITENTIARY flicks for pure enjoyment value since I'm an exploitation movie fan, it's still a good watch though and it's neat to see Curtis Mayfield in an acting role. I wasn't aware the dude acted in anything. Of course it's an acting role where he gets to sing which brings up an odd aspect about this film; for the most part it's a super-serious ride through New York's tombs but then in one part there's a musical number?? It's a weird jarring moment that really stands out. Luckily I dig Mr. Mayfield so it's all good.
 Apparently this was originally a stage play so I guess that explains the one overly-theatrical moment.

Monday, January 5, 2015

THE HELLCATS (1967)


 The title and poster and even the trailer make it seem like we might be in for a female-biker-gang flick ala SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS but that isn't what goes down. The film starts out with a cool 'Hellcats' theme song that sounds like it might belong in a 60's Hanna-Barbera cartoon about hippie cats or something then as with many biker flicks we get a couple of undercover rats working for the police and infiltrating a biker-gang. The one scene that stands out from a bunch of dull drama is where they have a test of machismo by having guys try to hold on to two bikes for as long as they can while that are trying to drive away in different directions, almost like that old drawn and quartered gag from medieval times but this movie doesn't ever go the gore-route and things never get that crazy. It's all kind of a meandering mess with a few neat 60's tunes thrown in by bands with names like  Davy Jones & The Dolphins and Somebody's Chyldren. Probably a good one to skip anyways though. AKA BIKER BABES


Thursday, January 1, 2015

ANGEL OF FURY (1992)



 This Cynthia Rothrock kung-fu/action flick starts out with a guy getting tortured. He gets something chopped off(a finger?) and almost gets a drill jammed into his mouth and then they bring in his young daughter to watch the good times. Then they threaten to do bad stuff to his little girl and I think they end up killing them both but this happens offscreen. It's quite the unsettling way to start out a kung-fu flick out. Also later on they shoot a different little girl. This movie isn't healthy for little girls!
 Rothrock here sports a new-wavey haircut and might look the hottest in anything I've seen her in. She does have a sex scene but it's very dark and/or sheets get in the way of actually seeing anything too gratuitous. As far as action goes this movie is jammed packed with ass-kicking and stuff (helicopters, cars, etc.) blowing up and the stunts all have that look like the stuntmen may have been seriously hurt while performing them. The main bad guy here is Peter O'Brian who was the hero in that Turkish RAMBO movie and THE STABILIZER which are both very absurd action films but he's appropriately menacing in this. AKA TRIPLE CROSS
 There is another Rothrock film known as ANGEL OF FURY from 1993 where Billy Drago is the bad guy that I haven't seen yet.

TWISTER'S REVENGE! (1987)


 So director Bill Rebane made the super silly GIANT SPIDER INVASION and a few other craptacular cinematic atrocities but I'm gonna have to say this is probably the worst I've seen. I think the idea was to remake the TV show KNIGHT RIDER but instead of a fancy gay sports car they use a computerized/sentient monster-truck and instead of actual actors they just use a bunch of annoying people from Wisconsin and make it a comedy. Most of the running time consists of three bungling bad guys doing stupid things that are supposed to be funny but never are and Mr. Twister, the titular monster-truck running over stuff like cars and houses. Also later on a tank gets involved and runs over and through stuff as well. There's also a scene at a biker bar where a gal who looks like Queen Kong from Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling sings for one of the worst bands I've ever seen in a film and an alien is the bartender. There's also a little bit of nudity sprinkled in but not enough to make up for for how mind-achingly dumb everything is.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

WILD REBELS (1967)


 This stock car driver becomes a rat for the police and goes undercover to stop a gang of bank robbing bikers called The Satan's Angels. The movie starts out wit a cool theme song but then the rest of the music they throw in it is disappointing in comparison. Although there is a pretty cool bassline that provides some groovy background music in places and the band that plays in the bar scene, The Birdwatchers, are pretty decent. The whole movie is kinda disappointing though since this bike gang consist of only four people(there are more bikers on the poster than ever appear in the film) and things go along in a pretty usual way for these types of exploitation flicks with very few surprises. So overall it's a pretty lightweight disposable sort of experience. I did dig that 'Wild Rebels' theme song though!


PACIFIC RIM (2013)


 Do people consider a movie live-action if half the movie is computer-animated? I guess if you consider WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? live-action then this would qualify also. I can't help but feel while I watch this that I've seen the exact same plot in a bunch of different Japanime back when I used to watch that stuff in the 90's. Back then stuff like this was relegated solely to nerds and now nerds are the majority and apparently run Hollywood. What a silly world we live in. I'm sure there were better Japanese cartoons from the past but since this is a modern movie and I try to put the 90's out of my mind as much as possible I'll stick to comparing it with the few similar modern things I've seen. This was clearly better than THE TRANSFORMERS since I could mostly tell what was happening during the computerized/video-game action sequences and also better than that new GODZILLA movie/cgi-thing since you at least slightly care about the human characters unlike in that one. Of course the main problem like every other modern big Hollywood-ized action-film is that you're watching what appears to be a game but not given any controllers which seems like a strange form of entertainment for me to enjoy. This would be an interesting spectacle to remake with guys in rubber-suits and cool robot costumes or I could just go watch some old ULTRAMAN or MACH-BARON episodes for that kind of grooviness.



Robots fighting monsters was way cooler in 70's Japanese cartoons:  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

ABRAXAS, GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE (1990)


 Abraxas was the name of some ancient god or force who was a combination of all good and evil, or something like that, and having nothing to do with any of that mystical shit it's also the name of this crappy Jesse "The Body" Ventura sci-fi/action flick. The main problem with this is that the action scenes are really badly shot and that's never a good thing when it's your main selling point. That's not the only downfall though since the plot is convoluted and dumb at the same time, the acting is terrible and the whole thing is really dull and hard to get through. Also it's got a shitty TERMINATOR rip-off thing going on with an indestructible alien running around doing a Schwarzenegger impression. James Belushi shows up as a principal but I was never a fan of his anyway and I'm pretty sure this isn't supposed to be a comedy. You would think Ventura would be better in this having been good in PREDATOR and THE RUNNING MAN and having all those years of playing "The Body" in his wrasslin' persona but he doesn't get to wear a feather-boa or any psychedelic outfits in this and that's the way I prefer to remember him.
 The one cool thing about this is there's this half-alien kid who makes bullies piss their pants and that's a pretty cool super-power.  

I would be pretty pissed if I paid $90 for this, I'm even a little annoyed at the 50 cents I blew on the DVD:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

THE SONS OF HERCULES: LAND OF DARKNESS (1964)


 OK, so the son of Hercules here is a guy named Argolese and he wrestles a lion, a bear(guy in a bear suit) and slays a dragon who looks more like a regular old dinosaur before ending up in the titular land of darkness which is a place ruled by an evil Queen and a bunch of servants who practice cannibalism. He also gets a stupid sidekick. This is the 2nd one of these swords n' sandals movies I've viewed where elephants are responsible for executing people. Here it's a couple of them that are supposed to rip our hero apart. Now the version I watched of this was an edited-for-television cut, that was cut into 2 parts for some reason, so it's obviously missing some bloodletting scenes which sucks. The original version is known as HERCULES THE INVINCIBLE and it also goes under the title of HERCULES AGAINST THE ELEPHANTS' EMPIRE but whatever you call it this one is strictly by-the-numbers without much of interest going on but it works as a good antidote for insomnia at 3a.m. or so.



 Pretty snazzy themesong!: