Monday, June 22, 2015
Back in the 90's pretty much everything made by Hollywood was a waste of time so I became obsessed with the works of underground filmmakers like Nick Zedd, Richard Kern and the whole Cinema of Transgression movement. Back then I did see the name Jon Moritsugu pop up in zines here and there but outside of a couple of shorts I somehow avoided seeing any of his stuff. Thanks to a recent retrospective put on here in New York I was able to catch a couple of his strange, punk-rock fueled masterpieces with a theater full of art-cinema weirdos and other assorted oddballs.
TERMINAL USA is a bizarre mix of Nick Zedd and John Waters told from the Asian-American perspective with a heavy emphasis on punk-nihilism. It tells the tale of a not-very typical Japanese-American family made up of two sons(both played by Moritsugu himself) one a drug-dealing "Live Fast Die Young", Sid Vicious-wannabe-sorta fella and the other a bookish nerd who masturbates by humping his rocking horse while perusing gay skinhead porn. There's also the slutty-cheerleader daughter who gives head to visitors in the bathroom, impotent dad, crazy mom and comatose grandpa whose life is constantly being threatened. Besides the Asian-stereotypes other stereotypical characters show up and get mocked including skinheads, jocks and a lawyer who runs a kiddie-porn ring. The dialogue is great and hilarious, which it kinda has to be in a film with a very low-budget, it all has that same kinda shock-value comedic effect that the classic John Waters movies have and everything ends in an insane sci-fi twist that you will not see coming.
I'm really glad I got woken up to the West Coast transgression master and will be seeking out whatever else is out there from Mr. Moritsugu. His greatest feat, to me, is that this film was somehow funded by PBS which boggles my mind that it played on Public Television Stations at some point because even in a censored form I can see this rubbing a lot of people the wrong way.
"Live Stupid, Die Dumb!":
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Why do movies with cutesy misspelled titles always suck so much? Maybe there's one out there that isn't awful but I can't think of it at the moment. It is nice that Fred "Herman Munster" Gwynne got some film work in the 80's and I did get a chuckle when he slams the table just like his Frankensteiny alter ego but there's not much else to like about this one. It's got a cat muppet that's supposed to be scary, terrible annoying kids and even when one of the little jerks gets run down by my personal hero of the film, a Ramones-loving truck-driving fella, we have to suffer through his return as a precocious little zombie asshole who spouts more annoying dialogue! It's got some of the worst acting I've seen in a Hollywood movie and the story, written by everyone's mom's favorite author Stephen King, is really dumb. King shows up for a minute which might give someone a thrill but I was more thrilled that it was all over and we got to hear some Ramones.
There was a sequel to this which I'm gonna assume is a piece of crap also because it stars Eddie Furlong and came out in the 90's.
At least The Ramones made a few dollars off of this:
Sunday, June 14, 2015
If you asked me what year this movie was from right after I watched it I probably would've said sometime in the 90's due to the stupid techno music in it but it is also filled with a bunch of retarded MATRIX-y style slow-mo fight scenes so I guess 2002 is about right. The plot here is pretty cool and classic exploitation-like involving a bunch of little girls being kidnapped and taken to an island where they're trained to be sexy assassins when they grow up. There's a lot of scenes of girl-on-girl violence and killing which I imagine will appeal to all the women-hating slobs out there. In that way it reminded me of that Zoe Bell movie RAZE which may have taken some inspiration from this although I have no idea how popular this was in Australia. I can't help but feel that this woulda been a better overall film if it was made back in the golden-age(the 1980's/90's) of Category-3 nastiness (I initially picked up this DVD because I mistook it for NAKED KILLER which is a great example of how to mix sleaze and a sexy lady-killer). As it is now it's not a terrible film but it all feels a bit too glossy and as if it's trying too hard to feel like a big modern Hollywood movie, and that music is extremely grating and sounds like I'm playing a video game, but maybe that's just me. If you want to see hot Asian ladies butchering each other, getting gang-raped and generally abused by the world in between jiggling their boobs and sorta acting like lesbians and also don't mind that crappy Jet Li-style wire-fu check it out.
This Danish DVD cover invokes a CHARLIE'S ANGELS comparison which is kinda interesting since this movie is like the complete inversion of that show where the Angels end up slaughtering each other FIGHT CLUB-style before ever going on a mission!:
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
One of the best old school Shaw Brothers kung fu classics. Blood, betrayals, crazy weapons(like a brass hat!) and almost nonstop fighting action! It starts out introducing all the villains like some kinda video game which is cool and makes things very easy for idiots like me. This is one of those movies that's ingrained in my mind as I watched it a bunch of times as a kid since it got much replay on New York's Saturday afternoon channel 5 Drive-In Movie show throughout the 70's and early 80's. It also has the best ending line ever with our victorious hero proclaiming "I'm gonna go get drunk!". Right on!
Director Chang Cheh is responsible for a ton of Hong Kong martial arts classics including ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN and FIVE DEADLY VENOMS and the actors who play the Venoms all star here also.
Not a sequel to THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, although they probably made a cool double-feature at some point, this is basically a drama about a love triangle that uses an end-of-the-world/sci-fi backdrop to set everything into motion. It's probably the least science-fictiony sci-fi movie I've ever seen and I'm sure that has to do with it being directed by Roger Corman and the budget and locations being kept to a bare minimum. It does start out in an arena where a cockfight is going on, which should piss off any animal lovers watching, and from there takes us around Puerto Rico where Corman made a handful of films around this time. In fact this movie was apparently made as an afterthought during the making of CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA and that's not hard to see although I think this is overall a more interesting movie to watch than that stupid monster on the loose crapfest. There's actually some social commentary on the family structure, manliness and society in general which I can't help but think only appears more clearly looking back through the lens of time. I can see why this one is rarely mentioned though since it's pretty atypical of Corman's films at the time and if you're only looking for something wacky to laugh at stick with his creature features.
The version I saw recently in a theater was colorized but it was originally in black & white which I think looks better:
Not entirely sure where to classify this movie. On the surface it's a horror film, especially if you're a man, since it features a demented mass-murdering, psychotic, castrating main character named Molly. It's also a psychological tale of a little girl that's repeatedly raped by her father who grows up to unsuccessfully deal with her childhood trauma and the way it's all filmed has some very art-house touches. Is it a commentary on feminism taken to an absurd extreme, ending in the destruction of all masculinity? Is it a meditation on the evils of male-dominated society? Taken at face value it's just the story of one very messed up lady and sort of the ultimate example of a rape-revenge tale where the revenge is manifested years after the rape against anyone with a penis who gets on the wrong side of Molly and just for that this one is highly re-watchable to me.
This has to be the best film that George "Buck" Flowers has a big part in, playing a pretty unlikable detective character. And speaking of unlikable characters all of the males presented here are not very lovable fellows. There is this one weirdo tattoo artist, complete with tattoos on the face, named Jack Dracula who, besides having the world's best name, seems to be the only adult male our protagonist seems very comfortable around. Maybe if ol' crazy Molly just hung around fringe artsy types and stayed away from those stupid jocks things woulda gone better for her. Interestingly she also gets along well with her two young nephews which I think shows her search for the innocence that was taken away from her at such a young age but I ain't no therapist.
To sum it up I'd say this is a great watch for horror fans as well as artsy film lovers and way better than a movie where a nutso bitch castrates men with a razor-blade should be.
Monday, June 8, 2015
This might be one of the roughest Shaw Brothers movies I've seen yet. In fact I didn't think they ever got this grimy. It's basically a pretty intense women-in-prison movie except there's also men in prison and they're not even really actual prisons but these shitty makeshift barns/hovels that they're being held captive in and they're all illegal immigrants. So I guess there's some kinda political message in here also about how shitty illegal immigrants were treated in Hong Kong. But regardless of all that what you get is a lot of beatings and raping with women being thrown around like rag dolls and then sold into a life of forced-prostitution, pissy cow dung thrown in the face, various tortures including some candle-wax to the privates and hanging people upside down from poles. And, so as not to leave the men out, there's even a pretty graphic man-on-man rape scene which doesn't end up very well for anyone involved. This sleazy film was directed by Mr. Ten Fei Mou who was also responsible for the depressing classics MEN BEHIND THE SUN and THE NANKING MASSACRE and that's not hard to see as this one gives off a similarly downbeat and hopeless vibe as those two. Check it out for some sleazy action but you will probably need a good shower afterwards.
That is one strange lobby card but it would certainly get me in the theater!:
Saturday, June 6, 2015
The East Side Kids(who later on became The Bowery Boys) star here as a gang of 40's street kid hoodlums as they always do. What gives this one a little different flavor is that Huntz Hall dresses in drag for a bunch of the movie trying to fool Mug's(Leo Gorcey's) rich Texan uncle into thinking he's a woman. Also there's some man on man kissing action and we find out Mugs real first name is Ethelbert. Besides that this is a pretty typical dumb 40's comedy with a little uncomfortable racial humor thrown in for added chuckles. The best thing though about these movies is they're all around an hour long and a good way to wake up on a hungover Saturday morning.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
As far as Italian 80's gore-drenched zombie flicks go this has always been one of my personal favorites. I mean it's got everything you could want in one of these things; flesh-ripping splattery goodness, boobs(thanks to a troop of TV aerobics dancers), lots of action(thanks to the running zombies, or "radiation vampires" as director Umberto Lenzi has insisted they are), a stupid action hero(thanks to Mexican acting favorite Hugo Stiglitz) and lots of inexplicably bizarre scenes. There's one scene where a ghoul breaks into an operating room mid-operation and the doctor without loosing a beat hurls his scalpel at him with highly-trained accuracy, there's the wanna-be SOLID GOLD dancers getting massacred and getting their tits cut off by these weapon-wielding monsters, there's the zombie/vampires who after having a drink of blood out of a neck wipe their faces clean like sweet gentlemen, and there's just about every scene with Mr. Stiglitz who makes for a real oddball hero figure. Also the zombies all just look like they have crud on their faces and use friggin' machine-guns! How absurd and unstoppable is that! It does all get wrapped up in a retarded ending but after viewing it enough times even that becomes another part of it's dumb charms.
My last viewing of this was at an actual drive-in which was a pretty awesome way to experience this spaghetti-gore fav.
Everyone nowadays knows this as NIGHTMARE CITY but back in the VHS days it was CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD and had this memorably bloody big-ass box!:
Monday, June 1, 2015
I guess this is the kind of movie you would rent if you were a kid back in the 80's and your parents didn't want ya watching those naughty R-rated movies. It's a real kiddie-oriented kinda thing with a stupid plot about silly monsters from hell coming out of a pit in the backyard. There's young Stephen Dorff, who went on to become Cecil B. Demented, and his best friend who is a nerd but listens to heavy metal and wears cool denim vests with Killer Dwarfs patches on them and they open this demonic portal due to some song lyrics. Was this thing written by the PMRC? Because it sure seems like one of there fever-dreams brought to cinematic life. While I find this whole film stupid I guess if you're in your 30's and really into 80's nostalgia you might at least get a thrill out of laughing at the haircuts or something so at least there's that. Me personally I'd rather go watch THE PIT again for some sleazier monsters-in-a-hole-in-the-ground thrills.
There was a GATE II in 1990 which was rated R so maybe it's better but I kinda doubt it.