Thursday, November 27, 2014
The only reason I've seen this film is because it's an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and I think without viewing it being made fun of it's a pretty crappy kid's fantasy movie. There's puppets and a bird with a ladies head on it and honestly for special fx from 1953 they are pretty decent. There's also an added weird element in that this is a movie made in The Soviet Union that purportedly features a Russian version of Sinbad who's usually depicted as being Persian. Upon doing more research though I've found out that the hero here is actually named Sadko, which is also the original title, who's a character from Russian fairy tales and not supposed to be Sinbad at all.
This was released by AIP in the U.S. in a cut version, and there's supposedly also a black & white version, which Francis Ford Coppola had something to do with and the original uncut release is simply called SADKO, which according to those that have seen it is the only way to watch this. I'm not sure if I ever need to do this, I think I'll stick to those Ray Harryhausen movies if I ever find myself needing a Sinbad-fix, but it's good to know it's not actually as terrible a film as I thought.
I've avoided watching this for a long time because it just looked so very stupid, and while it certainly is very stupid it's also got a couple of cool things(at least to me) about it despite it's terrible stars that should really only star on the cover of cheesy hallmark birthday cards. For one thing it was directed by Ruggero Deodato, best known for his Italian cannibal flicks, so it at least has a smidgen of bloodletting even if it's no CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, secondly it features roles by Michael "HILLS HAVE EYES" Berryman and George "ANTHROPOPHAGOUS" Eastman which is cool to see and Richard Lynch as the main bad-guy who seems to be acting his ass off in a movie that doesn't really deserve that kinda conviction, and thirdly there's a couple of bare boobs on display. Besides all this though it's basically a semi-comedic rip-off of CONAN THE BARBARIAN with some annoying "funny"-bits and one large fake-looking dragon who bleeds green goopy blood. Probably only watchable by hardcore bad-movie appreciators.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
I have no idea what the actual title of this one is, or even exactly where it was made or when it was released, but I'm sure it's not KUNG FU COCKFIGHTER. That's the title they slapped on it in more recent times though so I guess I'll go with it. Most kung fu movies don't even have any nudity in them but this one features hardcore sex scenes which makes it a real oddity for this genre. The story concerns a wizard guy who has super powers that make his cock able to deflect swords, break boulders and shoot smoke out of his dick. There's also his evil master who's a sex-crazy rapey sort of fellow and a lady who can break poles with her pussy and shoot out pieces of wood like bullets. The film itself is packed with nudity, there's a torture scene where a gal gets here vag roasted and by the end it becomes a ghost movie. Needless to say this is a real bizarre watch and despite the title there's not really all that much kung fu'ing that goes on but still worth a look for admirers of the weird and might be the only actual graphic Asian-made kung-fu-porn I've seen so far.
This is listed everywhere as having come out in 1976 but the musical cues seem to be taken from 80's films so this is probably wrong.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
DEATH GAME is a strange psycho-sexual thriller/horror flick about an innocent man who's thrust into a horrible situation involving a couple of nutso gals (Sondra Locke who I know from dating Clint Eastwood and being in a bunch of his films and Colleen Camp who was one of the Playmates in APOCALYPSE NOW and featured in THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS) who seem to enjoy creating chaos and fear. The strange inclusion of kiddie music intercut with some maudlin dirge-like tunes makes for a pretty uncomfortable atmosphere throughout the whole thing. It also reverses the usual 70's rape theme and makes the females the aggressors in just about every way. I'm not sure if the film is as terrifying if you're not a man and if, like myself, you've not had your share of psychotic ex-girlfriend experiences but I can only speak for myself when I say this works to a pretty big degree in being unsettling. One of the things I was trying to figure out though is how the two crazy girls knew so much about the fellow who's house they were invading. I guess, as with many works of fiction that are more about exploring a theme than telling a detailed story, it's more about just going with what you're shown and not thinking too deeply about such questions. AKA THE SEDUCERS
Monday, November 17, 2014
I've never seen the first EXECUTIONER(except for the bits they show in the opening here) but I'm not sure if it matters very much since from what I've read this sequel is pretty different from the first movie. Apparently the first film has lots of sex and violence in it while this one goes for a really slapstick comedy vibe for a lot of the film. When I think of Sonny Chiba screwball antics and fart jokes are not what I would normally associate with him and they seem really odd here. Towards the end there is some pretty graphic fight scenes including Chiba ripping out what I think is a guy's liver and also knocking some teeth and eyeballs out which is more in line with what you would expect from Mr. STREET FIGHTER. It's hard to fully recommend this one unless you want to see what it would be like if The Three Stooges made a Japanese action/kung-fu movie in the 70's. AKA KARATE INFERNO
Sunday, November 16, 2014
When I think of heist movies I generally think of American and European movies of the 60's and 70's. I never associate them with the Shaw Brothers studio or kung fu at all but what you get here is a melding of a kung fu and a heist film. The obvious moral, which is hammered home constantly in this film, is that greed is bad. We see back-stabbing, double-crossing and various treachery amongst a group of basically four main characters who are all trying to become very wealthy after a carefully planned robbery. While this isn't my favorite Shaw film ever it plays pretty well and you get an arm and a leg chopped off in a bloody fashion towards the end so that's something. Also it has what is always my favorite ending where just about everyone dies. Not a bad watch for a cold Sunday afternoon.
Normally I don't care for overly long films and this thing runs for a little less than 4 hours! Despite this girthy runtime I did enjoy this whole thing. It's hard for me not to be a fan of a guy like Boyd Rice who's basically taken his obsessions with underground and bizarre popular culture and created a life for himself on his own terms. If I could figure out how to do even a 10th of the things Boyd has accomplished and make a career out of any of them I think I would be a happy camper. The people who call Boyd a Nazi or a racist or any other convenient term just don't get it and seem like the most simple-minded morons I can imagine. Unfortunately these people seem to compose the mass of humans roaming the planet today. Of course the other great thing about Boyd is his ability and proclivity to prank and anger these lemmings making them appear even more brainless than they already do. As shown here Mr. Rice also helped create noise rock and industrial music which aren't musical genres I listen to much these days but they were things that spoke to me back in the 90's. Also if one goes back to the early days of the punk movement before everything became codified and the rules were written about what's considered punk and what isn't, Boyd seems like more true to the original spirit of punk than anyone I can think of. This is an essential watch for anyone interested in the true history of underground art in America for the last few decades.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Outside of some of Brian De Palma's films this might be the most giallo-esque American film. This is, no doubt, due to it taking place in Venice and having to do with a mysterious killer that isn't revealed until the final shocking moments. In contrast to the somewhat standard plot it's filmed in a very unique style for a Hollywood film with lots of strange editing techniques with short cuts and interjecting different time sequences into certain scenes. The only thing really missing is the blood and gore you'd expect from a giallo but everything else from the haunting soundtrack to the look of the film is present. Of course the acting is a bit better with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie and there's a long-standing rumour that their sex scene here wasn't simulated. Not that it really matters much.
Director Nicolas Roeg is kind of hit or miss for me since his next film after this THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH I didn't care for much at all except for an a basic visual level, but based on this one I might have to check out at least a couple of other flicks from his filmography. The one thing about Roeg I find hard to wrap my head around is the way he presents themes in such an oblique manner that it makes it difficult to easily pick out what his message is. I've seen readings of this movie that call it a super conservative film and I'm not sure I get that at all. I know there's a religious message in there somewhere but what it exactly is I'm not exactly certain. His style does make for a film that you think about for a while though and that's usually a plus.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Besides something like EL TOPO this might be the weirdest spaghetti-western I've seen. It's so strange because it seems to have all the elements of your standard western but then put in a blender and all mixed about. Here's a few things that feel off-kilter about it: It starts out with a character who we would assume is the hero but he's not, the hero doesn't show up until about halfway through the film, people who seem to be main characters disappear at random times throughout the film, one of the bad guys(who I thought they referred to as Matalo while watching this but I'm probably wrong) looks like Joe Walsh, there's a crazy 70's classic acid rock soundtrack which goes really well with many of the 70's-looking hippie outfits many people are wearing, the camera shots at times are dizzying and there's moments when I feel like a ghost is getting ready to show up but maybe that's just cuz I watch too many horror films. Also the hero in this uses boomerangs but I don't think he's supposed to be from Australia.
Director Cesare Canevari went on to make the nazisploitation flick THE GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY and I give him props for making something so different in a genre that can sometimes be pretty by-the-numbers. AKA KILL HIM!
Monday, November 10, 2014
Off the top of my head I can't think of another movie where Richard Kiel plays a hero role. He's just so awesome as a giant menacing monster and, of course, that's what he's remembered for. But even in this Italian STAR WARS-rip-off flick where he's the hero for a majority of his screentime there is a big section of the film where he gets hit by a mutating bomb and becomes an evil rampaging monster(the titular humanoid). On the flip side I can't think of anything else where Barbara Bach is a villain and you get that here also. The movie itself is pretty standard for these 70's Italo-sci-fi things. This one steers so closely to the STAR WARS formula that they even start the film off with a very familiar underneath shot of a giant spaceship, that's looks very similar to an Imperial Star Destroyer, flying by and I guess they liked this shot so much they decided to show it twice. Also the main bad guy wears a Darth Vader-ish helmet and uniform, his minions look like stormtroopers who were painted black, there's a goofy little robot(though this one is a dog which reminded me more of the 70's BATTLESTAR GALACTICA show), and all the battles in space seem quite familiar. There's also a mysterious "force" that controls things but this seems to only be used by a strange little Asian boy who spouts groaningly pretentious feel-good slogans throughout the film.
It's hard to rank these spaghetti-space operas since they all kinda melt together in my mind and are only distinguished by their occasional stars. This one is definitely better than WAR OF THE ROBOTS but probably not as enjoyable as STARCRASH just because of all the unlikely stars that show up in that one including the great Joe Spinell as the main baddie.
The director here, Aldo lado, I know mostly for his giallos, like SHORT NIGHT OF THE GLASS DOLLS, and this is about as different from those as you can get and still be an Italian film.
Space is a noisy place!
Sunday, November 9, 2014
This old Satanist dude makes a pact with the devil, whose hand even shows up for one scene, then kills a goat which allows him to die and return as a handsome young fellow. Then he does bad things and turns into various animals although he never actually turns into a minotaur or gets ridden by an almost-naked lady as the poster promises. Most of the movie plays more like a drama then a horror film with a love-triangle sub-plot but you do get a WOLF-MAN-esque ending and some spooky music. This was actually shot in 1958 but not released for 3 years. It not great but also not the worst low-budget thing I've seen and plays like some kinda weird marriage of THE TWILIGHT ZONE and THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Amazingly back in the 70's big Hollywood studios made crazy monster movies. This is undoubtedly due to the success of JAWS. This one also has a little of that nature-run-amuck thing going on where some evil paper-mill is dumping chemicals into lakes causing some mutations to take place in animals including a big slimy mutant bear. There's also Native-American-exploitation going on with Armand Assante playing a militant Indian fellow. Oh and the monster also coincides with some myth(or prophecy!) about a protective spirit of the woods or something that the local natives are into. Probably my favorite scene here though involves Talia Shire, best known as Adrian from ROCKY, wrestling for her life against a rabid raccoon. It's also pretty humorous how our bear-monster swats people across the forest with a single blow a couple of times throughout this epic. Pretty good flick for a big-budget mainstream PG-rated movie. And speaking of the rating it's gotta be one of the few PG films with multiple decapitation scenes.
The closest thing to a nightmare that has ever been put on film. The perfect mix of soundtrack(The Goblins), amazing visuals and the closest thing a gory Italian horror film has come to being an art movie. The weakest thing about SUSPIRIA, as is the case with many of director Dario Argento's films, is the plot. Basically this is a tale of a gal who's sent to a dance academy that is run by witches. On paper it's the kind of movie that I should hate since nothing makes much sense when you think about it very hard but it's impossible to deny this film's power and catching a 35mm print of it last night just reaffirmed the ability this movie has to convey dread and horror as well as anything I've ever seen.
There are two sequels about some other witches. One of them, INFERNO, isn't terrible and the final one, MOTHER OF TEARS, is pretty awful.