Sunday, July 29, 2012
GODZILLA came out in 1959 so you would think that some other company woulda came out with a rip-off movie before '65 and maybe they did but for whatever reason this is the most memorable of the Japanese giant radioactive monster-on-the-loose movies probably because it spawned a whole bunch of even sillier sequels. Gamera, as if anyone doesn't know this, is a ridiculous-looking giant flying fire-breathing prehistoric turtle and his films almost always add an annoying little kid to the monster thrills and there's a little turtle-obsessed weirdo in this too. This is, by far, the most boring of all of Gamera's films simply because he doesn't have a colorful monster enemy to fight and all he does is stomp around and break shit.
The American version of this titled GAMMERA THE INVINCIBLE, just like the original GODZILLA, featured scenes of badly acting American actors talking about how to fight the monster. The version called GAMERA is a newer dubbed version and is the one on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 which is really the only way to sit through this without falling asleep.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Bela Lugosi stars here as a crazy scientist-type who somehow or another is turned into a half-ape man and he's not too happy about it so he goes around killing folks and stealing their spinal-fluid with the help of his gorilla sidekick. This partner is obviously a guy in a suit since I guess they hadn't figured out how to film an actual gorilla at this point in time. The makeup job here makes Lugosi look very Amish or perhaps more like Alley Oop. Bela also has a security camera in his mad scientist lab with a little T.V. monitor to spy on intruders which I think woulda been pretty futuristic in 1943. Director William Beaudine amazingly made more movies than Jess Franco in his career including a bunch of those Bowery Boys pictures and other cheaply made stuff. This movie probably woulda been better if Satch or Mahoney showed up. Only really watchable to fans of Bela Lugosi and his over the top acting style since both are featured plenty here or fans of cheap DVD horror movie sets since it's on a few of those also.
I guess this was successful enough at the time since there was a RETURN OF THE APE MAN a year later but it has none of the characters from this one in it.
I've owned this Ringo Lam-directed Hong Kong action flick on an old VHS for many years now but thanks to it's super-generic title I just recently got around to watching it and that's too bad because I probably would've appreciated it more back in the 90's. It does veer towards the predictable action sequences, especially towards the second half of the film. You even get star Chow Yun Fat in the typical training-to-get-revenge montage popularized back in the 80's. It starts off pretty cool though with an interesting gang of bad guys, including a nymphomaniac lady named Virgin, a large Bolo Young-looking muscular fellow with a punk rock mohawk haircut and a flamboyantly gay leader, all robbing some golden Buddhas. From there we end up at a what might be the world's worst strip club where nobody gets naked and everyone does interpretive dance routines while the song "Get The Funk Out" by 80's hair metal band Extreme plays. The whole movie is packed with cheesy metal-sounding riffs which add unintentional laughs and drive home the point that Hong Kong was at least a few years behind when it came to popular culture at this point.
Probably the biggest plus this movie has is that our hero, Mr. Fat, is the most bad-ass that I can recall him being in anything. He wears denim and leather, has tattoos, is a biker and a criminal who doesn't mind shooting people. Also he shoots a guy in the neck and tells him to "masturbate in hell". I think that's pretty bad-ass myself. It's not until he gets the old double-cross that he becomes the guy we all know from those John Woo movies. Apparently this was a big flop in Hong Kong since people there didn't like the idea of Fat not being a super goody-goody which is a shame cuz he woulda made a great villain. Worth a look for the kung-fu, gun-fu, knife-fu and all around crazy action if you're into that kind of thing.
This American trailer makes this movie look super serious which it isn't:
Monday, July 23, 2012
This French Jean Rollin horror flick starts off with two lady clowns and some dude escaping from what I'm guessing is the law. The whole thing starts right out in the middle of the action without giving you any back-story and from there it unexpectedly becomes a vampire movie when the two young women(their friend was shot and killed) end up at an old dungeon in the middle of nowhere. There's whipping, bondage, blood drinking(of course), lesbian antics and plenty of female nudity to ogle and the main vampire fellow sorta reminds me of Udo Kier from BLOOD FOR DRACULA because they both seem kind of pathetic and feeble. It's wrapped up in a non-ending of an ending.
As with most of these Rollin-directed films the creepy atmosphere is the main draw even above the story. He's made better vamp movies including TWO ORPHAN VAMPIRES but this one is similar enough and recommended for hardcore Eurotrash aficionados.
The VHS tape I have of this calls it CAGED VIRGINS on the box but the film has the DUNGEON screen-card. There are a whole slew of other aliases including VIRGINS AND VAMPIRES and DUNGEON OF TERROR but I think the most common one is REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Canadian-made shot on video crap that really stretches the definition of what you can call a movie. The makers of this are going for the whole movie-within-a-movie thing except the wraparound movie is a pretty dull documentary about how they did all the not-so-great gore fx in the other movie which is some nonsense about post-apocalyptic, Amazonian, new-wave chicks killing and/or being killed by mutant fellows. A guy gets fucked to death here with his head exploding and it makes no sense. At least this section of the show has the decency to throw some completely nude very hot looking ladies into the scenes to liven things up but that's about the only positive point that can be made about this unless you are an FX guy planning on traveling back to the past and doing dodgy FX work. As a bonus it all plays out while grating synthesizer "music" drones on not even giving you the ability to sleep through this making it all go away. A good example of how anything could get a VHS release back in the 80's.
Monday, July 16, 2012
I hate to give away endings of movies but I'm not sure that it's possible to write about this movie without commenting on the sharp turn the film takes in it's final reel. Up until that point what you get here is a pretty lighthearted tale of two hot, young, free-spirited girls. There's some social messages here and there but nothing very heavy up until the climax. It's a full on sex comedy with tons of nudity and sexual hijinks, free-love communes, a guy in Kiss makeup constantly meditating and lots of brain-addled drug-addicts. It all ends up in a scene obviously inspired by stuff like LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT with a very 70's doom-filled sequence. It's this part that really makes this film memorable and standout from tons of similar sexy flicks from back in the day. There's also what can be viewed as either a strong feminist or anti-feminist message depending on what you bring to it and how you look at it. The closest thing I can think of in modern times might be something like HOSTEL which also switches from comedy to horror but that film pales in comparison and in that narrative you know something terrible is going to happen. This film really gives no hint to the darkness that will unfold and I think that's what makes it a way more powerful film and multiplies the shock aspect. There is a release of this that cuts out the downer ending and just makes it a regular old sex romp, which apparently was the most common version of this seen for many years, but that seems like a real big cop-out and destroys the whole point of this amazing slice of 70's uniqueness. The main problem with this movie is that it's very hard to recommend it to anyone though since for hardcore horror fans they aren't going to enjoy most of the film and for sexploitation fans the ending is going to be way over the top. You would just have to be a lover of exploitation in general to get the most out of this.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
The idea to get Jess Franco to direct a by-the-book version of DRACULA seems odd. I mean it's those odd quirky things that Franco adds to his films that make them so interesting in the first place. You do get the trademark zoom lens shots here and some other odd camera placements but that's about the only Franco touches present. The idea to get Klaus Kinski to play Renfield is a good one, since he seems bat-shit crazy in real life anyway, but he's kinda wasted here just hanging out in a jail cell and jumping out of a window. In fact the whole cast here is pretty awesome on paper with Christopher Lee in the tile role and Herbert Lom from MARK OF THE DEVIL as Van Helsing. It's too bad none of these stars were actually in any scenes together(although they do try to fool you with Lee & Lom) since ol' Jess seems to have had them all shoot their individual scenes on different days. This isn't the worst version of DRACULA out there but it's also not very good with very little blood on display and a pretty boring feeling to the whole thing. Franco would go on to make DRACULA, PRISONER OF FRANKENSTEIN a couple of years after this and that one's filled with his unique vision of what a monster movie should be and is way more entertaining as a result.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
In a lot of these Italian post-apocalypse flicks Fred "The Hammer" Williamson plays second fiddle to a more typical white action hero. Why couldn't they have made him the star in at least this one? I guess Italy wasn't ready for a tough black man to star in their films yet. In 1990 BRONX WARRIORS at least star Mark Gregory had a sort of dorky charm but this guy here, Timothy Brent, is pretty generic as far as leading men go. On the positive side you do get a lot more of George Eastman and that's always a good thing. Here he's the leader of a gang, that might be a bunch of angry homosexuals, called The Templars who are dedicated to wiping out humanity because they seem rather bitter about the whole holocaust thing. Eastman smokes futuristic weed and almost rapes our hero in the ass in a standout scene. Goofy cars with drills, saw-blades and bubble-domes on top of them get blown up and there's really not much of a plot to get in the way of the action. Also there's a really strange soundtrack by Claudio Simonetti of the group Goblin. Also for Lucio Fulci fans you get big-headed Bob from HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY as an unlikely action star and mechanic and the lady who gets a splinter in the eye from ZOMBIE as a member of some religious group of wussies. Worth checking out for a chuckle-inducing good time. A.K.A.- WARRIORS OF THE WASTELAND
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Overly stagey(cuz it's based on a play which was based on a book) but classic tale of a cute little murderous girl. The whole appeal of this film is the performance of Patty McCormack. She's quite convincing as a vengeful little demoness who gets rid of people who piss her off. The ending of this seems tacked on and deviates from the original story, it also seems almost Frankensteinian in it's convenience in wrapping everything up neatly. Then there's an epilogue which seems totally bizarre where our little brat gets a spanking which just adds to the campy qualities that run throughout the movie. A good watch but I'm not sure if this qualifies as a horror film, a drama, a psychological thriller or maybe all three wrapped up in what became a sorta template for a lot of killer kid movies over the years. There was a made for TV remake in the 80's but I've never heard anything good about it.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Sunday, July 8, 2012
If you took THE WARRIORS and mixed in some MAD MAX and made it extra campy and Italian exploitation-like this would be what you would get. Spaghetti-sploitation master Enzo G. Castellari here takes us on a journey into the future(which is technically now the past) where the Bronx is a no man's land ruled by bikers, pimps, roller-skating hockey players who look like they just rolled out of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, some sandpeople from STAR WARS and what looks like a Broadway dance troupe. They live a great life of rumbles and dance offs until the man sends the police in to rescue the presidents daughter(so with this plot point here we also get a touch of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK to spice things up).
This movie is probably my favorite of the 80's Italian post-nuke extravaganzas, though this isn't technically post-nuke but more of a post-violent criminals run wild and take over film. It's also the only one of this action sub-genre that I've ever seen in a theater in front of an audience and that really elevated it a lot in my opinion. You get a great cast with Fred "The Hammer" Williamson as Ogre, the leader of our pimpalicious gang that drive around in 50's hot rods, George "ANTHROPOPHAGOUS" Eastman, who I think is supposed to be Asian here, as the giant martial arts master and leader of our roller hockey fellows, Vic Morrow who plays a cop/hitman named Hammer which makes no sense since everyone knows Williamson is "The Hammer" and as our main hero a strangely cast, skinny, slightly effeminate fellow named Mark Gregory who I guess wins fights by the force of his earnest staring abilities. Crazy over-emoting acting ensues, ridiculous fight scenes with cool weapons happen, people get burned alive with flame-throwers, die overly dramatic deaths and it all ends in an absurd body-pile of ridiculousness.
There was a sort-of sequel to this in '83 called ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX A.K.A. BRONX WARRIORS 2 where Henry Silva takes over the Vic Morrow role and that one's equally fun for a stupid good time. There was also a planned BRONX WARRIORS 3: ESCAPE FROM THE EARTH that never happened since Gregory seems to have vanished from the public sometime around 1989.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
A.K.A. HOW I BECAME A NUDIST. The problem with most of these nudie-cutie films from the 60's is that they're filled with mostly unattractive naked people and they're also usually really boring. If you want to see chubby, flabby naked guys and gals play shuffleboard, jump rope, get married and generally frolic in the Florida sun this is the place to find your fix. There is one blonde lady here with massive breasts and another dark-haired chick who has an Elvira wig on in addition to her large chest so those are some things to look for. Besides that the dull voice-over narration, telling us all about the wonderful joys of a nude lifestyle, might put you into a coma. You're better off looking for the roughies from this same era since at least those had some violence to spice up the simplistic story-lines.
Irving Klaw, who's best know for his films with Betty Page, is credited as a co-director of this but basically they just took footage from his earlier more wholesome nudie film NATURE'S SWEETHEARTS and spliced it into this film.
Roman Polanski, with a beard, shows up in a small role in a tavern.
Great double feature:
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
While this doesn't compare to the classic HELTER SKELTER TV movie in terms of clear storytelling and amazing performance by Steve Railsback as Charlie it does excel in it's sheer brutality and stream of consciousness narrative. A film that took 15 years to complete and shows the famous deaths of some celebrity types in their most brutal and realistic fashion ever. Of course the rest of the "reality" presented here is debatable but that seems besides the point as this works more as a collage of anarchic thoughts thrown together into a blender of artistic excess. The "truth" of these events lost in an acid-trip to hell. The death of the hippie ideals of the 60's and it's disgusting goth/industrial 90's descendants are all tied together in what is an awesome underground mind-fuck of a film experience. A film that holds no appeal for the masses of cattle that blissfully chew on their mass-produced garbage "entertainment" and is about as anti-Hollywood as you can find in this boredom-apocalypse known as the zeroes. A zillion stab wounds, a dog gets it's throat slashed, hippies roll around in mud and have LSD-fueled orgies and this is interspersed with some weirdo kids in the 90's who are into sexual torture, bondage and watching Richard Kern films(good choice there!). They end up gleefully assassinating a Geraldo Rivera-type and stomping a guy's head in who wears a Manson T-shirt. Overall a fine film for the whole family and Jim Van Bebber remains one of the only directors worth paying attention to in the last 20 years.
Monday, July 2, 2012
This made for TV movie starring Martin Landau is an edited together version of 2 episodes of the old SPACE: 1999 TV series. The main bad guy here looks a hell of a lot like an old fat Marlon Brando with a funky hairdo and beard and he was the highlight for me.
As a STAR WARS-obsessed kid in the late 70's I regularly tuned into sci-fi TV shows like STAR TREK, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and SPACE:1999 just hoping for some outer space action and adventure. I was almost always let down though since these shows were obviously shot on way lower budgets than Lucas' epic and also filled with endless boring scenes of talking heads only occasionally interrupted by a silly looking monster/alien or cheap spaceship effect. Not exactly the stuff that was gonna blow an 8 year old kid's mind back in the day. Out of these three shows SPACE:1999 was probably my least favorite since even back then it seemed dated and more similar to something like the 60's LOST IN SPACE show than anything fresh and exciting. Watching this movie now it seems extra silly with cheap-ass monster outfits and a dumb plot. Also the editing doesn't always make much sense since you can clearly see where the 2 parts end and begin. This is really only watchable to anyone who has a strong nostalgic connection to this show and even though it was something I did watch as a kid I don't think it's gotten any better over the years.
In some less fortunate countries they would release our TV movies theatrically. I feel really bad for those places.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Jim Van Bebber is probably one of my favorite American directors. The man hasn't made a ton of movies but everything he has done is true underground transgressive cinema at it's best. It also helps that his movies are almost all full of blood and gore which appeals to the horror ghouls out there. Even this film, which is basically an action movie, features a finger bitten off, a throat ripped out, a woman beaten to bloody death with golf clubs and various other unsavory horrific elements. It also appears to have been filmed in some post-holocaust garbage strewn hellhole. If Dayton, Ohio is anything like it's depicted here I don't think I ever want to go there. Almost all of the characters here, just like in real life, are all morally offensive. Even our hero, played by Van Bebber, is a drug-dealing, gang-leader lowlife but compared to guys named Bonecrusher who spouts lines like "I hate people and I just don't fucking care!" he seems like a sweet guy. In my book this is a great gritty masterpiece that will appeal to fans of classic exploitation. The director/star does all his own stunts putting his body on the line for his art unlike most anyone making films today. The only thing I can think of that tops it in that department is Hong Kong action cinema where those guys just about kill themselves for a stunt. It's too bad Van Bebber wasn't making films 10 years earlier in this style when there were still plenty of places to show this stuff and he could have actually made some money and gone on to bigger budgets and more epic action and/or horror flicks.