Saturday, January 31, 2015
I know there was a big stupid Hollywood movie that used this title with Vin Diesel and a whole string of dumb sequels to that in recent times but since I couldn't care less about any of that I figured I would watch the original 50's exploitation version. Produced by the legendary Roger Corman I always envisioned this film being about racing cars and while that's a big part of the ending most of the film deals with a kidnapping/hostage situation. For a movie shot in 9 days it tells a decent enough story and works well for a super low-budget 50's drama. The stock-footage action/racing scenes are integrated pretty good and the acting by John Ireland and Dorothy Malone is way better than you would expect from a film like this. Also historically this is the first movie by the company that would go on to become AIP so if you're a real exploitation cinema fan it's hard not to give this one at least one viewing.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
This movie was a described to me as a sci-fi/giallo which bumped it right to the top of my to-watch list since I had never seen such a thing and could hardly comprehend what that would entail. There's a couple of problems with that description though. For one thing as far as I can tell all the sci-fi elements happen only in our main character's(Florinda Balkan's) mind and the for a second thing as far as giallos go this one has a similar atmosphere but sadly a body count of one person and really no other elements that would place it in that genre except maybe for it's alternate title of FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON. In addition to Balkan that redheaded little girl from a few Lucio Fulci flicks(Nicoletta Elmi) has a big role in this and Klaus Kinski has a small but fitting role as an astronaut who haunts Florinda's nightmares. Unfortunately most of the movie is pretty forgettable and goes more of the gloomy arthouse movie route than anything very exciting. I'll have to keep looking for a true sci-fi/giallo if such a thing even exists. AKA PRIMAL IMPULSE (VHS title)
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
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
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
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
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
"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 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
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.
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.