Wednesday, August 31, 2011
There were a few really good witch hunting/burning flicks from the 60's and 70's stuff like THE CONQUEROR WORM with Vincent Price and Ken Russell's THE DEVILS and I guess you could throw THE WICKER MAN in there too, but out of all those this one is the one I've gone back to and re-watched the most. I'm not exactly sure why I like this one over all the others except maybe just for the fact that it is so gratuitous in it's display of the insanity of religion. You get a tongue ripped out of a poor innocent rape-victims mouth by the roots, water-torture, branding, stretching, fingers lopped off, various more torture and a little more rape all in the wonderful name of organized religion. As a result this film appealed to me as a young gore-hound and I can still go back to it now and appreciate the message. Udo Kier is, as always, really good as the sympathetic withchfinders helper and this movie also stars a guy named Herbert Fux which sounds very porno-star-ish. The soundtrack on this sounds really similar to the slow music from CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. There were a bunch of movies re-titled as sequels, all the way up to MARK OF THE DEVIL PART 5:RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD which was just one of the blind dead movies, but unfortunately there never was an official sequel. I like to think if there was a sequel our large breasted heroine would get some nasty revenge on Herbert Loms evil Christ-crusader/witch-raper but maybe that's too happy of an ending to such a realistic portrayal of the dark side of human behavior.
Monday, August 22, 2011
I recall them airing this flick a few times back in the 80's on local TV as one of those special 3-D showings that you would get once or twice a year. It was also colorized in that crappy early way they used to colorize black and white stuff for added cheesiness. It is altogether a pretty pointless film, I mean THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON needs a sequel about as badly as a cow needs another pair of tits, but Hollywood being the greedy ass-hats that they are, and obviously were even back in 1955, this was thrown together a year after the original monster movie classic. The creature, even though he was clearly killed at the end of the first film, is somehow alive again and taken to an aquarium where he's put on display. Yeah, screw science and research and all that kind of thing, let's just charge people to see him swim around while we poke him with a stick, brilliant! The movie isn't a complete waste though since you get Clint Eastwood's first film role(he appears for about a minute as a lab assistant) and you get an awesome little monkey wearing clothes doing tricks who also should have gotten way more screen time! To top things off the end scene is just a replay from the first movie, where the monster dies again, to leave you with that completely ripped-off feeling as the movie closes. Of course the creature would be back once more in THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US but I don't recall anything very exciting from that one except that they completely changed the creature into a bulky, generic, air-breathing monster who wears clothes.
This movie is best know to me, and most movie nerds around my age, as the movie that George Lucas borrowed from for his basic outline of STAR WARS. While this movie does have some of the basic elements, a princess who's kingdom has been destroyed, an evil empire, sword-fights which are sorta like light-saber duels, two bumbling characters which you can see inspired C3PO and R2D2, it's also about as different from Lucas' film as GODZILLA is from JAWS and no one would ever call STAR WARS a remake of this. This movie is also really long which is not something I appreciate in most films but you get some beautiful shots(it was Kurosawa's first film shot in widescreen and he makes amazing use of this with some large scale scenes involving tons of people) and as usual with this director there's an interesting enough group of characters to keep you involved in the story without tuning out. Toshiro Mufune as always plays the bad-ass samurai hero who takes no shit which is great. Overall this one doesn't stand up to, and is even sort of dull, when compared to something like THE SEVEN SAMURAI for all-out samurai action but it's still worth checking out if you dig the Japanese classics that Hollywood rummaged through to get ideas for years to come.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
This turned out to be the last of the great Universal studios classic monster flicks and it's a pretty strong way to finish up. The creature is a sort-of proto-evolved, scaly man-beast who has the hots for the way more evolved Julie Adams(who shows as much skin in her bathing suit as mainstream 50's cinema would allow.) There's a bunch of questions that never get answered. Like, why does the creature kill people? If he's a one-of-a-kind creature, how old is he? Does he have genitals or does he drop his sperm on eggs like a fish? I suppose the 50's were the wrong era to ask such questions. I've been lucky enough to have seen this classic in 3-D in theaters twice now and it's definitely the preferable way to view it. In addition to the obvious things shoved in your face the underwater scenes look really sweet. The plot is super simplistic and has become the cliched "searching for a mysterious monster" blueprint but it was the one that made it a cliche so show a little respect you slob. They will inevitably end up remaking this one of these days with some shitty-looking CGI monster but they'll never top the simplicity and style of the original and as with most of these remakes it will be a forgotten footnote while the original will be remembered forever.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
John Carpenter's first feature-length film is more of an oddity than a very entertaining film. This one started out as just a short and then it got morphed later on into something longer. Plot-wise it's basically a mostly pretty boring spoof of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. It's supposed to be funny but really doesn't get much above the slightly humorous point. In addition to seeing Carpenter's debut it's also weird seeing writer Dan O'Bannon as one of the goofy astronauts who gets to run around chasing a beach ball with feet that's supposed to be an alien creature and get into slapsticky fights with his crew-mates. A few years after this O'Bannon would go on to write ALIEN with a much different looking creature running around a spaceship. Only interesting as a curiosity for hardcore Carpenter fans.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
The Shaw brothers made the original THE FLYING GUILLOTINE back in '72 and then came the amazingly awesome MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE in '75 and then this one which might be the worst out of them all but it does feature a flying decapitating weapon which is always fun to watch. Unlike the other movies these flying guillotines seem to have some kinda electric motors on them which make them buzz around and seem like the most absurd unbelievable weapons that don't belong in a movie set in old-time China. Unfortunately most of the numerous scenes without the killer hatbox are pretty generic and boring. The plot is about a guy trying to get a cure for his dying mom from some old kung-fu-crazy Shaolin monks who aren't very helpful and make him go through all sorts of trials. What a bunch of selfish pricks! Then the rest of the movie is about monks vs. some douche-bag prince. Only worth a look if you're super bored on a Saturday afternoon and dig some old-school kung fu silliness and like watching heads roll.
A desolate cabin in the middle of nowhere and strange demonic possessions? Where have I seen that before? Yes, in another shining example of why the 90's were a vast cultural void barely worth remembering, what we have here is a shitty rip-off of THE EVIL DEAD moved to a snowy locale. The acting is painfully bad and all the characters are super bland and forgettable. There's also voice-over narration from an old lady like we're watching THE TITANIC or something. If you dig action-packed scenes of snowmobiles racing around maybe this one is for you. You also get a stupid death by ceiling fan and a giant ice-sickle in the eye but unfortunately no rape by trees. Probably the most exciting thing about this movie is the cover of the VHS which promises us a way sexier movie than we get.
From AIP, but not the good Roger Corman AIP:
Friday, August 12, 2011
1977 was heading towards the very end of spaghetti-westerns being produced in Italy. This one, subtitled A MAN CALLED BLADE, is sorta unique just for having its hero use a hatchet which he throws at people that fuck with him and of course a whole bunch of people fuck with him. The movie starts off with a bang as our typically blonde-haired/blue-eyed hero is tracking down a wanted man(played by Donald O'Brien who is best known, to me anyway, as DR. BUTCHER from the zombie gore classic DR. BUTCHER M.D.) and we get a hand chopped off graphically. This falsely makes you think you're in for a pretty bloody ride but the movie kinda lets you down from there. I still enjoy the film even if it does end up being way more of a typical revengey sort of tale than you would have hoped for and I think Maurizio Merli does a pretty amazing Franco Nero impression throughout the film and the whole thing does remind the viewer of Nero's earlier spag KEOMA which was a hit in Italy so I guess it makes sense that they would wanna copy that formula.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
While it might be hard to believe today, at one time Hollywood didn't just remake every single movie that had ever been made and done so with no creativity. That started sometime around the 90's and I believe it was that piece of shit PSYCHO remake that kicked all that nonsense off. So anyway, back in 1978 remakes were still sorta novel and they would usually try to put some sorta different spin on things. That being said this one isn't all that different from it's 50's original except for some updated effects work which show more of the actual transformations from a regular person to one of them pod people and you also get to see where the evil spores come from. The film also replaces the Communist-scare paranoia of the original with a more general societal paranoia. You get the classic 70's downer ending and even some total nudity by one of our main actresses thrown in towards the end which is nice. Also Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, shows up as a psychiatrist and Jeff Goldblum plays a smart-ass type character which he does a lot. While this one never matches the quality of the '56 version it's still an interesting update and is way better than the Abel Ferrara '93 remake and though I've never seen it I'm also willing to bet it beats the 2007 Nicole Kidman version also since I've never heard anything good about that one.
This one's right up there alongside THE MACK at the top of the blaxploitation heap as one of my favs from that genre. Blows away the much better known SHAFT by a long shot and besides the line about the 8-track stereo seen above SUPER FLY never gets as goofy as a lot of the other 70's urban classics. There's also an actual message in there about bettering yourself and not getting caught up in the man's system. Even if you are a gangster and a pusher and see yourself outside the law and mainstream society you're still perpetuating a cycle that ultimately destroys everything. Another unique aspect of this film is our main man Priest, played brilliantly by Ron O'Neal, isn't a pimp but a pusherman and the head of a network and although he will throw your girlfriend out on whore's row if you come up short with his drug money, as another character points out, Priest really doesn't have the heart to be a cold-blooded pimp. O'Neal plays Priest as a very sympathetic character and that's why the movie works so well. Priest or Youngblood as he's sometimes referred to knows that he will end up dead or in jail and is smart enough to devise an alternate plan for himself. Unfortunately for O'Neal his acting was so good that many people really thought he was a criminal and he wasn't offered many leading roles after this which is a shame. The city on view here is a gritty and bleak one and you get a view of 70's New York streets that's as far removed from today as possible. The whole city just looks slummy and dangerous and many parts of it were just like that. This one also gets added points for being a movie about the black experience actually directed by a black man which wasn't as common as you would think back in the 70's. You also get an amazing soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield who also plays in a nightclub scene. Definitely something that to me always seemed deeper than the typical black exploitation movie from this era. There were a couple of inferior sequels, SUPER FLY T.N.T. in '73 with O'Neal which I don't recall anything special about and THE RETURN OF SUPER FLY in '90 with some guy with a horrible 90's buzzcut playing SUPER FLY which I've never seen and from everything I've heard about it don't really want to. Stick with the original.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
The cool thing about this is it's a spaghetti-western that stars the patron saint of insanity Mr. Klaus Kinski and he gets to play a hero which is something I haven't seen him do before. A man wrongly sent to prison for ten years and then released to seek vengeance on those who wronged him. Yes, it's about as simple of a plot as you can get and of course he's a bit of an unhinged brooding hero cuz that's what Klaus does best although in this he's nowhere near as crazy as in most of his other roles. The bad part is that Kinski is dubbed(at least in the English print I saw) so he doesn't have his lovely German accent. Also the action scenes mostly consist of our hero hiding and picking people off sniper style which, although very smart and a good plan(realistically who the hell would choose a showdown in the street when hiding works so much better?) isn't very cinematic or exciting. Unfortunately the rest of the film isn't really all that good overall either but has a few neat Gothic touches (wind-blowing, perpetual darkness, organ playing and a church-bell ringing constantly) and is probably only of interest to hardcore Klaus Kinski fans.
Monday, August 8, 2011
This spaghetti-western has lots of problems. For one the plot is a convoluted mess. To figure out who all the characters are and what the hell is going on never feels like it's worth the trouble since the movie is also completely unengaging right from the start. The music also sucks and consists of some kinda easy-listening horn-blowing throughout the film. Another thing is the way the movie drags along at a snails pace. The only positive thing I can say is the movie was well shot by sleazemeister Joe D'Amato and scenes at least looked good even if you didn't care who was gunning who down. Also the title kinda sounds cool but is actually pretty stupid since if you prop up a dead guy he's gonna make a shadow. I would say skip this one unless, like me, you are some kind of sick self-hating masochist who bought a DVD box set of 44 spaghetti-western flicks and feel compelled to sit through all of them no matter how bad.
As a young man renting this odd little mash-up of genres back in the VHS days this movie crushed my hopes and dreams of seeing all-out werewolves on wheels action and I really should hate this movie just based on the fact that the title lies to me but deep down I have slowly forgiven this movie over the years and really don't. While it's true that there isn't really the promised scenes of werewolves riding around on choppers chompin' on folks this still isn't that terrible of a movie overall. They probably shoulda found a better title though but since exploitation films are more often than not about getting your ass to buy a ticket than delivering the goods this one is a perfect example of a true exploitation flick that exploits it's audience as well as the biker genre. What you actually get besides a gang of biker wolf-people is a gang of typical hairy 70's bikers who are pretty much complete assholes to everyone they run across until they run into a gang of Satanic monks who drug them and pull all kind of Satany shenanigans on our gang of dirtbags. The best word to describe this movie is probably "meandering" since this movie just pads it's short run time with the expected scenes of bikers, including folk-singer Barry "Eve Of Destruction" McGuire, riding around to generic music intertwined with scenes of devil rituals. The gang is called The Devil's Advocates so fooling around with the devil, and stupidly eating bread and wine offered by creeps in hoods and robes, somehow doesn't seem all that strange to the group. If you make it to the last ten minutes you finally get one lone werewolf on a motorcycle and while that does seem like a lot of crap to wade through to get to anything resembling what the awesome movie poster promises us there's something about this flick that I find enjoyable and very re-watchable. It's probably just because I really love most biker movies and the concept of melding one with a horror flick is just too good to pass up. Also until someone comes along and tops this, which is pretty unlikely since the 70's are long gone, by default this one will remain the world's greatest werewolf/biker flick.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
1950's cinema was full of giant bugs, everything from spiders to ants to grasshoppers, and as far as those types of movies go this one is pretty generic. It's filled with plenty of talking and military strategy scenes which drag it down and a romantic subplot with a not very attractive couple you don't care about. If that's not bad enough there's also generic stock-footage to wade through. Also praying mantis' aren't all that scary-looking and I'm pretty sure they don't roar like monsters. One unintentionally homosexual scene has a bunch of military men dancing with each other on a base. I guess the only positive thing I can say is the mantis looked realistic enough through most of the film but you would be better off watching 1954's THEM for some superior giant insect action.
This title is a little bit misleading. There is a black biker gang but they're not really the main gang we follow through the movie and they're not called The Black Angels but The Choppers. The Black Angel is actually a cop who wears the fakest looking cop uniform in the history of cinema(just a pair of black slacks and a black buttoned-up shirt with some military stripes on it) and he basically just stands around wearing dark glasses throughout the film. The main biker gang, Satan's Serpents, are a bunch of white guys who are rivals of The Choppers. Although there aren't any black members of the Serpents they claim to not be racists and just like fighting black guys!? The whole movie is very morally ambiguous like that and I think that's why I liked it so much. I also loved how most of the bikers had ultra-stupid names like Chainer who carries a chain and Fixer who fixes stuff and Knifer who knifes people etc. It's like they all just stepped out of a comic book. Another odd thing is that the Serpents have in addition to their pet snake, a pet raccoon and a pet mountain lion! Those crazy dirtbags! Also featuring a black on white rape scene and a downbeat pointless ending where almost everyone dies which is just lovely. A.K.A. BLACK BIKERS FROM HELL
Most of the music in this is pretty forgettable but I dig this cigarette munchin' tune!:
Monday, August 1, 2011
As far as I know this was the world's first biker movie about a gang of hairy chopper-ridin' fellows who are also blatant homosexuals. In fact I can't think of any other gay biker movies that came after it either. The most memorable actor in this is Dan Haggerty who did that GRIZZLY ADDAMS show in the 70's about a man who lived in the wilderness with his pet bear. Unfortunately he's not part of the gay gang but there is a scene where he has his hair done up in ribbons which is just precious. This movie is clearly supposed to be a comedy and it is funny but not always in the parts where it's supposed to be. It's designed for an era where gays were completely stereotyped and most of the laughs are derived watching it today by thinking about how ridiculous peoples views were in these times and at all the over the top reactions to our swishy heroes. The whole thing really comes off as a sort of strange parody of biker flicks which was also probably a bit shocking in its time. It's oddness is really what I like most about this grungy little tale. Another unexpected aspect is the typical downer 70's ending which comes completely out of nowhere. The director of this was allegedly an insane person, who only made one other movie about a psychopathic kid's TV show host. I don't find any of that very hard to believe after seeing this a couple of times.