On VHS under the snazzier title of IRON HORSEMEN:
Sunday, July 31, 2016
On VHS under the snazzier title of IRON HORSEMEN:
Friday, July 29, 2016
I've been a big fan of the last Cramps album FIENDS OF DOPE ISLAND ever since it came out back in 2003 but for some reason up until now I never got a chance to watch the film that it was based on. Well like everything the Cramps ever referenced it is an awesome thing! The story concerns itself with a drug-smuggling douchebag named Charlie who's in control of this tropical island. He uses a whip to keep all his underlings in line or just for fun since he's a real dickhead. A hottie dancer/stripper with a euro-accent shows up for entertainment purposes, one of Charlie's employees decides to play the hero and a revolution gets underway. It all plays out like some ridiculous over-the-top pulp novel and ends with some shark-attack action, gunfights and whippings galore!
This film was a bit controversial back in '61 and apparently some of the spicier scenes were trimmed. There is a brief shot of our dancin' gal's(Tania Velia from Yugoslavia and also from Playboy magazine!) ample bazooms which I guess musta slipped by the censors. Pretty crazy stuff for the early 60s. Thanks Lux & Ivy.
Truckersploitation with Chuck Norris as a trucker who ends up karate-ing his way through a whole town full of rednecks and retards after they kidnap his little brother brother, who's also a trucker and steal his truck. There's also a big climax where a whole convoy of 18-wheelers go apeshit and totally demolish a town and a helicopter. Pretty decent time-waster that gives you exactly what you would think with that truck-driving twist that was so popular in the late 70s. Hard to imagine any sort of mainstream movie today glorifying the working class but the 70s were pretty big on that concept and that's another reason they were a much better decade. The big end fight with Mr. Norris is shot very much to look and sound like a spaghetti-western with fists and kicks substituting for bullets which was a little unexpected. The big bad guy here is the guy(George Murdock) who was great as the fat Mafioso fellow in THE MACK. Coulda maybe used a little nudity and maybe some bloodshed but I guess Chuck was a little too classy for that even back in the good ol' days.
Monday, July 25, 2016
Charlie Chan(Sidney Toler) ends up on a ship with someone pretending to be the ghost of a peg-legged, hooked-handed pirate. This fellow whacks a couple of people and Charlie's on the case. Also his #2 son(played by an actual Asian!) falls into the water a lot like a dumbass. This Chan flick, the 28th one in the series, has some horror elements with it's atmosphere to balance out the silly comedy bits. Everyone ends up being a suspect including 'Superman' George Reeves. Not the best or worst of the Chan flicks but a pretty typical one and as a bonus it has a nice short running time. AKA CHARLIE CHAN IN DEAD MEN TELL
A gang of bikers who are smuggling heroin and on the run from the law end up hiding out at a monastery and kidnapping a nun. There's shootouts with the cops and a helicopter and lots of insufferably slow-moving parts where not much happens except much bad reading of lines by the actors. There's also the required downer ending from this era. Billy 'Green' Bush, who I know mostly from his role in FIVE EASY PIECES and who plays the main "bad" guy here, might be the only actor in this that does a decent job. There are some unintentionally comical/dumb moments in this but for the most part this is easily skippable. Go watch THE GLORY STOMPERS or THE PEACE KILLERS instead for higher-quality biker movie thrills.
AKA THE RAVAGED:
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Historically important because this is the one that kicked off the whole "mondo" genre of shocking documentary-style films. This of course eventually led to stuff like the FACES OF DEATH series and VHS comps like DEATH SCENES and that type of snuff-esque material. While these latter efforts focused entirely on death and gore for the sake of shock alone this one is a way more artistic piece of work that at it's core is about the differences between so-called civilized society of the modern-day(modern-day 1962 anyway) and the primitive world of more native peoples(mostly in New Guinea). It transitions between these two places and leaves it up to the viewer to decide who the real "savages" are.
I was grateful to get a chance to view an actual film print of this last night on the big screen and after viewing it many times on old crappy VHS or cheap-o DVD versions this is really an amazing upgrade that gave me a new appreciation of the power of this film in all it's bug-eating, pig-bashing glory.
There are 3 directors credited on this. Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi being the two that everyone remembers and Paolo Cavara being the third fellow who after this came out with information that many of the sequences here were not as authentic as they are presented. He even made a satirical condemnation of the whole mondo genre with THE WILD EYE in 1967 which I really need to check out soon.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
So most of this movie is one of those creepy old houses kind of deals which at least has some good atmosphere and you get Boris Karloff(even if he's confined to a wheelchair for almost all of his screentime) which is always good. Then they throw in some radioactive monsters caged up in a greenhouse including a big octopus-looking creature(which I guess makes sense since this was supposed to be based on an old HP Lovecraft story called THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE). These are not your main monsters though since those turn out to be an ugly radioactive melting lady, who crows like a bird, and finally a clunky(also radioactive) metal man(funny how radiation has such different reactions on certain people). Nick Adams, who I only really know from that Godzilla movie in space, is our hero and he certainly seems like he came from a Godzilla movie with his acting style. This one is pretty dull outside of the few oddball elements that pop up from time to time and is easily skippable except for horror-completists who need to see everything Karloff ever did. AKA MONSTER OF TERROR and THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Originally released on a double-bill with this Mario Bava classic sci-fi epic!:
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
AKA IT'S A REVOLUTION MOTHER Similar to the other similarly-titled rambling mess of a documentary from this era; REVOLUTION this film goes back and forth between hanging out with a biker gang, some hippie protests and a music festival in Florida that we never get to see any of the bands playing at. The most interesting parts, to me anyway, were the bikers who do some pretty wacky stuff like drinking each others piss, having crisco parties and generally acting like sleazy bikers. The narration is pretty off-the-wall with it's earnest attempt to understand this wild youth movement. Sadly, watching this in 2016 it's hard not to think about how these revolutionary hooligans are most likely boring old grandmas and grandpas nowadays (if they managed to survive the 60s that is). On the plus side the music is pretty sweet even if most of it is played over some boring scenes.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
One of the weirdest kids movies ever! Especially as far as 50s kids movies go. This one really stands out. The plot basically concerns a kid whose dad is dead and his widowed mom insists on him taking piano lessons to learn some discipline. From there it veers off into a nightmarish landscape where our protagonist dreams of his fascistic piano-teacher, the titular Dr. Terwilliker, who has built this gargantuan piano and enslaved busloads of children to play it for him. There's also a plumber who serves as a substitute father-figure, a bunch of songs and dancing(yes, this technically is a musical but unlike most musicals it does not make me want to vomit due to lameness). The strangest and most memorable scene, to me, is a song about the different levels of torture-dungeons sung by a muscular, hooded, executioner-creep with demonic eyeballs who appears to be covered with bronze skin as he takes our hero down to his cell on what appears to be the lowest level of Dante's Inferno.
Dr. Seuss wrote this thing, including the tunes, and you can really tell with some of the far-out characters that appear. I'm not sure how successful this was when it was originally released but it's too bad the wacky Doctor didn't do more stuff like this, but I guess the world needed that Green Eggs book. Check it out if you're into the old-timey bizarre stuff. AKA DR. SEUSS' 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T
DR. T around the world!:
Monday, July 11, 2016
The main thing this movie has going for it is a really cool giant-brained, bug-like, slacks-wearing monster. Besides this it's a bit of a slow drag with a lot of over-explaining things or as a friend of mine stated it "this is all too sciency!". I did get a chance to view this in a theater recently but for some reason they decided to show a digitally-projected full-screen version which was clearly not the optimal way to view this 50s widescreen sci-fi epic. Visually it's all pretty impressive for the era in which it was made, there's some jerky Brainiac-looking aliens and that Metaluna Mutant will give ya such a pinch!
Laffs and Thrills!!:
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
The title made me think this might be some sorta crime-drama or maybe a film-noir type situation but it's actually a vampire movie trying to capitalize on the success of DRACULA from a few years earlier and the other similar vampire movies that came in its wake. It was re-released as DEMON OF DOOM which is a better title for a monster movie. This one's a little different than usual because the vampire in it(Ralph Morgan) is a monster because his mom was bitten by a gigantic vampire bat and only turns into a monster at night and doesn't remember what murderin' he gets up to. Of course this all seems more like the activity of a werewolf than a vampire but hey it was the 1930s and I guess these things weren't all figured out yet. There's also a hunchback that the townsfolk seem to despise. It's all kinda dull and you could easily skip this one unless you really dig the old creaky classics and have run out of classic ones.
There is some interesting nerd trivia though: They used some of the same sets from THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933) and some costumes were borrowed from THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.
Monday, July 4, 2016
Not quite the all-time classic that the previous years DEEP THROAT is, this similarly-titled 70s porn is a Dear Abby-themed story of a lady named Miss Throat who answers people's sex questions while giving head. Of course this is all just a thin excuse to string together a bunch of standard sex scenes and that's about all you get from this. Carol Connors, who also appeared in DEEP THROAT, returns in this but plays a secretary who takes dictation from Miss Throat and never has a sex scene which seems like a big waste.
Not to be confused with that crazy-ass Shaw Brothers movie, this BLACK MAGIC is actually the 33rd Charlie Chan movie(there were still 14 more to go) and features one of my favorite actors, the great Mantan Moreland(from SPIDER BABY and a bunch more of these Chan films) as the nervous butler character Birmingham Brown. The plot concerns a phony seance where this dude gets shot. You get a skeleton on a wire, a bullet made out of frozen blood, a lady walking right off a building to her death and Mantan doing his eye-poppin' comedic best! AKA MEETING AT MIDNIGHT and CHARLIE CHAN IN BLACK MAGIC
This is a pretty ridiculous one. A guy buys a used motorcycle that was imbued with the spirit of this demonic vampire dude. Then the bike goes around slaughtering people and drinking their blood using these two fang-like protuberances that stick out of it. It also shoots spikes into people's asses and does all kindsa wack shit. There's a quite memorable dream sequence where a piece of shit comes to life and jumps into a guys mouth. There's also a good amount of gore with body parts flying everywhere with decapitations and dismemberments a-plenty. You also get some crappy fight scenes, a real lame biker gang and some very weak "rock n roll". This is also the only movie I've ever seen C3PO(Anthony Daniels) in outside of the STAR WARS. Here he plays a silly motorcycle riding priest who kicks bottoms for the lord(ala DEAD ALIVE). The whole thing is obviously really dumb but for a horror movie from 1990, which is a pretty low-point for horror in general there are worse things you could see.
This is the 7th Charlie Chan movie starring Sidney Toler. There were already 17 before that starring Warner Oland and all the ones I've ever seen are pretty similar. They used to play these in the 2am time-slot, in between biker movies, monster flicks and The Bowery Boys, on the local New York channel back in the 80s when TV didn't suck yet and I caught quite a few, although telling them apart is sometimes very difficult. This one uses a wax museum setting which I assume was kinda popular with the couple of 30s "Wax Museum" movies that came out before this and a crazy guy who runs said museum(isn't that always the case?). There's also some gangsters a little gunplay(and blowdart-play) and a guy who wears bandages on his head like The Invisible Man.
Nowadays I'm guessing many people hate these films for having a white-man play the role of an Asian detective but then again many people nowadays vehemently hate everything that doesn't align perfectly with their particular world-view, so who cares? I always found it strange that they did have an actual Asian fella playing Charlie's #1 son Jimmy Chan which to me made ol' Charlie stand out even more as not being authentically Chinese but they cranked out so many of these things that I'd say nobody back then gave a crap either way.
These are great movies to put on late at night if you want something light, comedic and instantly forgettable to fall asleep to and also they are usually only about an hour long which is a good thing.
Friday, July 1, 2016
If you thought 1932's THE MUMMY with Boris Karloff was too exciting of a movie here's a similar even slower film from '33 with ol' Boris playing a guy who comes back from the dead thanks to an Egyptian curse. Mr. Karloff does a good enough job as the ugly-faced monster but just like with THE MUMMY I had a hard time getting into this one mostly due to its snail-like pace. You do get a chance to watch the great Ernest Thesinger(Dr. Pretorius from FRANKENSTEIN) as a butler so that's something to see if you can stay awake.
Known in Argentina as EL VAMPIRO(not to be confused with the Mexican EL VAMPIRO):
Even though they put Poe's name in the title this movie is actually sort-of based on an H.P. Lovecraft story(THE STRANGE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD). And even though it stars Vincent Price and has Lon Chaney, Jr. in a big role, it's probably one of my least favorite in the Roger Corman Poe series. Price is great as usual as a guy who gets burned at the stake for feeding girls to a demon that he keeps in his castle/"haunted palace"-pit and then gets revenge a hundred years later through his descendant. It's all pretty basic from horror films of this era and there isn't really anything all that unique about this one except for, of course, seeing Chaney and Price together in their only team-up so at least that's something for old horror star fans. If that doesn't seem exciting to you then skipping this one is probably a good idea.