Monday, September 29, 2014
With this title you might assume this would be a very sleazy documentary about dirty-movie maker Joe Sarno. You would only be kinda right since just like many of Sarno's films this is actually a bit classier than that. It's really partly a love story about the relationship between Joe and his wife of many years, Peggy(who was in attendance when I viewed this theatrically). And it's also a view of the way adult movies changed from the sexploitation-filled 60's into the hardcore, show everything 70's. These later penetration-filled epics, which look like classic films in comparison to the overlong loops being churned out today were not what Sarno was all about though. His vision was more about turning on the audience by using a more subtle approach and it seems like he really wanted to make art films but ended up doing what he had to in order to survive the changing times. Swedish filmmaker Wiktor Ericsson really does a great job here presenting the whole story behind the filth including commentary by John Waters, Annie Sprinkle, Jamie Gillis and others and also sadly chronicling Mr. Sarno's last days to ultimately create a surprisingly touching tribute to one of the classier directors in a sleazy business.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
This kung-fu movie set in San Francisco manages to be completely wacky and totally boring all at the same time which I think is quite a feat to pull of. The story involves Bruce Lee-look-a-like, Bruce Li, playing a guy named Bob who attempts to teach some Chinese kung fu but runs afoul of those evil white-people, and also some dirty Asians, who don't like this idea. It's all loosely based on Bruce Lee's real-life story of setting up a school in the U.S. but I doubt the real Bruce spent all his time having martial-arts battles with gangsters in the streets. I mean guns did exist in the 1970's but apparently this film takes place in some alternate dimension where they were never invented. It's all really dumb, there's a little kung-fu boy who uses nunchucks and it all ends in a big orgy of violent chop sockey. Try any of the other hundred Brucesploitation flicks instead. AKA BRUCE LEE'S SECRET, STORY OF THE DRAGON, A DRAGON STORY and HE'S A LEGEND HE'S A HERO
Not to be confused with the 50's giant bug movie of the same name this is a Shaw Brothers kung fu flick also known as SHAOLIN MANTIS about a fellow who infiltrates his enemies clan and lots of drama and political intrigues ensue. He also eventually marries the daughter of the leader of these "bad guys" so there's even more drama going on there. Being more of a fan of far-out action sequences this one does drag quite a bit and feels a bit long at times. The fighting scenes though are typically good Shaw Brothers stuff and Gordon Liu shows up in a way-too-brief role as a monk who looks just like his character from MASTER KILLER. Another thing that drags this one down a lot for me is the confusing ending that seems to come out of left field where I was left not really too sure who the good guys and bad guys were supposed to be. While moral-ambiguity isn't always a bad thing in martial arts movies it sure made it hard to figure out who I was supposed to be rooting for to be successful throughout the movie.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Following up his disgusting classic epic CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST director Ruggero Deodato churned out this nasty little flick which is obviously an Italian riff on LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. It uses that film's star creep David Hess to full effect and is quite the ride. It also has it's own flow to it though and seems to comment on class issues and male-bonding. Of course these themes are enveloped in a rape-filled sadistic tale of two slightly unhinged mechanics who end up in a house full of upper-class types. Bloody violent antics ensue. The other psycho, who's really more of a slow-witted follower, is played by Giovanni Lombardo Radice of MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY and THE GATES OF HELL fame. Also from ..DIE SLOWLY Lorraine De Selle is here as a potential victim of our two malcontents. Throw in one big plot-twist for a finale and you have an uncomfortable but interesting watch for horror/violent-thriller fans.
Hess himself considers this the 2nd part in a sort-of trilogy with LAST HOUSE.. and HITCH HIKE making up parts 1 & 3 and although the stories aren't related in any way he is basically playing the same character in each film so I guess that makes sense.
This trailer may have been made by a slightly dyslexic person:
As far as swords n sandals flicks go this one is pretty decent. Of course these films are famous for their half-naked beefcake-men but this one is nice enough to also give us a whole bunch of scantily-clad Italian ladies to ogle. Many of which wear an outfit that has one of their boobs hanging out the whole movie! Of course this is 1960 so there's no actual nudity on view but it gets close, especially when our ladies are bathing in streams. The main hero here, played by appropriately named actor Ed Fury, is called Glaucus and not Colossus but if you kind of mumble his name enough it sounds pretty similar. He gets to wrestle a bear in one scene, so that's something. The other thing about this one that's different is it's clearly a comedy and not to be taken seriously. There's gay-parodies and of course women realizing they're better off with some muscley men around. Very 1960's! Also the soundtrack is a weird one for this genre and consists of jazzy swinging bachelor-pad kinda tunes. Definitely one of the campier HERCULES-knock-offs. AKA COLOSSUS AND THE AMAZONS
This poster seems way too good for this cheese-fest!:
This trailer is in black and white yet the movie itself isn't:
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
"To know death, Otto, you have to fuck life... in the gall bladder!"
Udo Kier might be the most incredible actor to ever overact his way through a film based solely on his performance here. In addition to his insane portrayal of monster-building Baron Frankenstein you get Joe Dallesandro portraying, I think, a Serbian villager who, along with his friend who supplies his head to the monster, gets mixed up with the whole Frankenstein family. It's a bit hard to believe he's Serbian or even a villager from anywhere in Europe since he speaks in a strong Brooklyn accent throughout the movie but this just adds to the amazing insanity on display.
Filmed back-to-back, and sharing the same sets, with BLOOD FOR DRACULA this movie might be as close to being a perfect film as I can imagine. It has everything; blood, gore, laughs, nudity, ridiculousness, creepy incest, over-the-top acting by everyone and there's even a couple of little kids who by some miracle manage not to be annoying(this is most likely due to the fact that they have almost no lines). It's also highly re-watchable. I've seen it a bunch of times and even got a chance to watch a print in the theater a few nights ago which made me love the film even more. Originally released in 3-D(you can tell this by how everything is shoved right out at the audience), I've yet to see it presented anywhere in that version. Hopefully a print still exists somewhere out there. AKA ANDY WARHOL'S FRANKENSTEIN(Warhol was a producer), FRANKENSTEIN, THE DEVIL AND DR. FRANKENSTEIN and UP FRANKENSTEIN
Friday, September 5, 2014
Director Werner Herzog is one of my all-time favorite humans to ever make a movie. He might also be one of my all-around favorite humans to exist. His visual style is amazing and blows away so many other so-called film-makers in this regard. Here he remakes the 1920's classic vampire tale in color and with Klaus Kinski in the starring role. It trades the abstract expressionism of the original for more typical artsy flairs. Kinski adds that special extra kookiness that he always does and actual shows some range here playing a role outside of the usual insane sort that he would become known for and he also looks radically different then anything else I've seen him in. I can't say that there aren't some stretches in this movie that go one for too long where not much happens because there are a few super slow points where I feel like nodding off but luckily I'm always pulled back into the film enough to never want to give up on it. This film proves that remakes can be a worthwhile endeavor if you have the imagination to make them work. Unfortunately after the 70's/80's were over remakes seem to just be repackaged garbage designed to squeeze a few dollars out of the most gullible robotic viewers. AKA NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE
Monday, September 1, 2014
It was an almost surreal night watching this on the big screen from a last-minute/hobbled together 35mm print last night. Star Sharon Mitchell and director Harley Mansfield were in attendance to speak about the making of the film which was cool but the weirdest part for me was sitting in a row between legendary actor Richard Bolla on one side and 80's porn director Larry Revene on the other.
The movie itself is kinda strange also. It's basically a comedy, albeit a comedy that basically uses the plot of DEATH WISH, including a couple of nasty rapes, as it's main inspiration. Instead of following down the typical rape-revenge path this one veers off into male-fantasy-land where our innocent virgin Joy(Mitchell) decides in the middle of being raped that she really likes it and instantly becomes a nymphomaniac who stalks the streets in search of more men to vanquish. "I want more!" is her battle cry as she goes from "victim" to "victim"(including Mr. Bolla) satisfying her desires. Strangely(well not really since these movies were made primarily for men) she seems to get off mostly by just giving blowjobs to random strangers. Besides probably being totally offensive to modern social-justice warrior-types I found a screwy message of female empowerment buried under all the male-wish-fulfillment. Then again I doubt many feminists will site a film where the star is penetrated by a handgun when looking for positive examples of girl-power. Luckily I'm not a feminist so I thought the movie moved along really quickly and was alternately funny and dark where it was supposed to be. AKA SEX CRAZY
Fear City U.S.A.!:
Saturday, August 30, 2014
So yeah, everyone and their grandma is familiar with this movie. It, along with STAR WARS, basically led to there being terrible big-budget summer blockbusters forever more and changed the way Hollywood modeled it's business plan and all that but one a way more positive note, for me anyway, it led to a bunch of awesome and ridiculous JAWS-rip-offs from Italy and elsewhere. Also I'm pretty sure it was responsible for the popularity of all the animals-run-amuck movies in general that happened throughout the rest of the 70's.
I got a chance to watch the blu-ray(whatever that is?) version of this in a bar/theater last night while free 1975-style cans of Narragansett beer(just like ol' Quint drinks in the movie!) were given out for free. This might be the way to watch this movie(except preferably on film the way you're supposed to watch movies).
I have friends who despise this film solely because it was directed by Steven Spielberg and while I can appreciate that hatred of mainstream cinema it's hard to find any actual fault with this as a movie. It's an awesome monster movie that's, of course, totally scientifically inaccurate, but who cares? Spielberg would go on to make some kiddie movies and become part of the system. I guess scaring people wasn't what he was into in the long run and that's too bad but thanks for this anyway Hollywood-man.
There were 3 official sequels and countless rip-offs that are still being cranked out even today.
This movie always reminds me of MAD magazine since I read this before actually getting to see the film(in it's TV-censored version most likely):
Friday, August 29, 2014
Eyeballs roll! Historically this has to be one of the most important kung-fu movies, at least here in America, since it was released even before Bruce Lee's FISTS OF FURY. This, of course, helped set off the kung-fu craze which went on throughout the 70's. Looking at it from that aspect it's a pretty violent thing to see. Sure there were gorier things to come in later martial arts flicks but here you get the super bright red blood flowing pretty frequently and the standard fu-plot of a student getting revenge for his murdered teacher. Helped out by his glowing iron-fist technique Lo Lieh makes a pretty good "ordinary guy pushed too far"-sorta hero. A great start to a decade full of insane fight movies.
Quentin Tarantino pays homage to this in KILL BILL by using the same synthesizer sting they use here(which was originally taken from the IRONSIDE TV program). AKA FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH, INVINCIBLE BOXER and HAND OF DEATH
Super Chopsockey Double-Feature!:
Sunday, August 24, 2014
I hate to spoil the endings of movies but it's hard to write about this film without saying my favorite thing about it is that a creepy obscene-phone-caller in a wheelchair turns out to be the hero. I don't know if that's ever happened before in all of cinematic history. If it did it was probably in one of those Japanese pinkie-violence films.
Lamberto Bava may not be quite the director that his father Mario was but I find most of the stuff that I've seen of his is pretty entertaining on a slightly lower-tier of Eurotrash excellence. In this he has the good sense to fill the movie, right from the start, with tons of boobs, mostly from very busty star Serena Grandi but also from almost every other gal who shows up thanks to a nudie-magazine office being a main ingredient in the story. Daria 'DEEP RED' Nicolodi is spared this nudity clause but does a good job of being a potential murderer by acting a little bit creepy throughout her performance. George 'ANTHROPOHAGUS' Eastman shows up just to get naked and sexy and the killer sees people with giant eyeball faces which always reminds me of that band The Residents. While this is clearly no Argento-like classic and it does drag in spots the giallo aspects are OK and things are shot really beautifully so at least you always have something nice to look at. Another neat thing is the rocking 80's soundtrack during some action sequences which might give you a chuckle or two.
AKA PHOTO OF GIOIA, PHOTOS OF JOY and GIOIA'S PHOTOGRAPH
Germany don't mind some full frontal in their trailers! Bless them!:
Saturday, August 23, 2014
THE BROOD, directed by the great David Cronenberg, was never my favorite film of his because it dwelled so much in the land of drama. There are long psychological bits when characters cry about their past, the main couple Samantha Eggar and Art Hindle try to work out their marriage dilemma and this sort of thing. Luckily Cronenberg fills out the rest of the film with some truly unique bizarre elements including murderous dwarves/children/little deformed monsters, psychoplasmically-induced body-modifications and Eggar munching down on her newborn's fresh afterbirth that just popped out of a distended external-uterus growing out of her. Also you get the legendary Oliver Reed in a somewhat subdued state as the psychologist who sets all this strangeness into motion. I was lucky enough to view this on the big screen from a 35mm print last night and would say it's totally worth a watch or a re-watch for lovers of weirdness.
When I was a teen I had a poster from Fangoria magazine depicting the little girl here, Cindy Hinds, getting grabbed through the wall by the little murdering munchkins and although I had not seen the movie itself at that point that was enough to freak me out. Not all that many horror flicks can weird you out from just one still image.
Weird European title: