Tuesday, August 25, 2015
This was definitely a favorite of mine back in the days when it played a bunch on Creature Feature Saturday mornings or late nights hosted by various horror hosts. Watching it now it's a super silly giant monster movie about a couple of huge ugly ape/bigfoot-like creatures named Sanda and Gaira romping and stomping around Japan and it works good as some wacky background imagery. There is a great/terrible scene of a lounge singer warbling through a horrible tune appropriately titled "The words get stuck in my throat" before getting mauled by a monster which was always a personal favorite of mine. WEST SIDE STORY's Russ Tamblyn provides the token white-faced character and main hero and a giant octopus shows up for no reason at all.
This is technically a sequel to the previous year's Toho-produced monster-bash FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD and it's original title was FRANKESTEIN'S MONSTERS: SANDA VS. GAIRA but I don't think the English-dub of this ever makes the connection between the two films very clear.
Green Gargantua(Gaira) does not dig crappy lounge music!:
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
This is one crappy spaghetti-western directed by Bruno Corbucci. Bruno is the brother of Sergio Corbucci who was the guy responsible for a bunch of great Italian westerns like DJANGO, THE GREAT SILENCE etc. Judging by this film, Bruno was not quite the director that his brother was but Bruno did co-write most of his brother's better known euro-classics so he deserves credit for that at least.
This whole film is really dull with not much in the way of shootouts or violence for a large chunk of it's run-time which makes for a not-very exciting viewing experience. It mostly just gets bogged down in endless dialogue about a guy who is accused of being a traitor and then our main character(Robert Woods) tries to clear his name. There's also a love triangle thing going on. It's all very hard to stay awake or get invested enough in the characters to care about the outcome. I have this as part of a 12 Italian-westerns DVD box-set and this is certainly the worst movie on there. Also the title is really dumb. I mean was $4 ever all that much money even back in the old west days? AKA 4 DOLLARS OF REVENGE
As far as action movies go there's not much better than 80's/90's Hong Kong. Kind of like how Italy reinvigorated the western back in the 60's Hong Kong took the standard American action flick and added a certain style and level of violence that reshaped the genre. This one here, directed by the master of these sorts of movie, John Woo, is a gangster/action movie containing tons of gun-fu and graphic bloodshed. Chow Yun Fat is featured, although he's actually not the main star here since 70's kung-fu mainstay Ti Lung has the main role. I think it's great to see Mr. Fat in a slightly lesser role and he gets to be a real bad-ass as the sidekick character. The story concerns two brothers who end up on the opposite sides of the law, one being a cop and the other a criminal. It all ends with lots of bullet holes, exploding barrels and lots of people dead. There are a couple of segments that lay a little heavy on the drama but I think the kick-ass action more than makes up for these slight slow overly-dramatic spots.
There was A BETTER TOMORROW II the following year and A BETTER TOMORROW III: LOVE AND DEATH IN SAIGON in '89. I think I have seen both of these but I should probably re-watch them since I'm not 100 % certain. There was also a South Korean remake in 2011 that I have definitely not seen.
This was billed as Jayne Mansfield's last movie(though technically there were a couple released after this, she did die before completing this) and that's a pretty big shame because it's so terrible. The whole thing seems like it could be a play with every character droning on endlessly about stupid crap while performing their mandatory monologue about how they feel about life. There's really no plot, just little stories about people in relationships. Most of the acting is laughable, though I guess Miss Mansfield was not actually famous for being a great actress. There's one part where she tries to pull off a Brooklyn accent which is particularly cringe-inducing. Probably the highlight of this was when Jayne calls a fellow with a shitty haircut "monkey" a bunch of times. While perhaps in 1966 some of the topics discussed might have been considered risque, i.e. abortion, prostitution, being a generally slutty lady etc., this being 2015 it doesn't pack much in the way of shock value anymore. The only other Mansfield films I've seen, so far, are THE WILD, WILD WORLD OF JAYNE MANSFIELD and FEMALE JUNGLE and those were only mildly amusing from what I recall. One of these days I should probably watch THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT since that seems to be the film she's best remembered for.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
I've seen quite a few artsy-fartsy movies where nothing happens but usually 70's softcore sexploitation/porn flicks at least have some kinda thin-plot to hold everything together. This one does not and chooses instead to just be a slice-of-life kinda deal looking at the experiences of young innocent Cindy as she is exposed to some sexual action thanks to her older sluttier sister Donna and her cheating incest-happy dad as well as other various fellas and ladies she meets along the way to her sexual awakening. The film seems to go on forever and ever despite the wall-to-wall nudity, lesbianism and exposed ugly underpants. Somehow they manage to sneak that 70's downer ending in there out of the blue so that's something. To make things a bit creepy I'm pretty sure most of the naked gals we see are supposed to be portraying ladies under the age of 18.
Because the film is so dull I found myself focusing more on incidental details like that sweet Frank Zappa poster Cindy has on her bedroom wall and some of the great 70's "can you dig it?" and "it's a groove" dialogue which hardly makes this worth sitting through.
Apparently a screening of this film in Kentucky in 1970 got a few people busted by the police for showing obscenity in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court which is pretty shocking looking back at how fairly innocent it all is in comparison to the filth that was to come.
Even the title music is dull!:
Saturday, August 8, 2015
So the first hour of this movie is a basic soft-core sleaze tale of a nutty photographer who likes to yell at his models. This sleazy wacko is played by Ross Hagen, who is a guy I remember from being in a few 70's biker and exploitation flicks so by 1990 he's a bit on the old side to be playing the cool trendy artistic photographer, but whatever. He surrounds himself with sexy ladies with big hair and I'm guessing this is because he was also the co-director. Then in the last 30 minutes or so it turns into a slasher flick where we get to see Hagen cross-dress in a wig as a female nurse and run amuck. It's all really dumb and I can't imagine this played in theaters anywhere but there are some boobs on display and a little bit of blood with a neck slashing. Also a lady gets tied to a cross for no reason. Troy Donahue who was a star in the 50's also shows up once in a while to act like a big creep which I don't think had anything to do with the story at all. This came on a DVD set of 12 movies with boobs in them or I'm sure I would never bother watching it. AKA CLICK: THE CALENDAR GIRL KILLER
The complete wackjob ending which is the highlight!:
Monday, August 3, 2015
This was the last of the goofy-looking 70's Godzilla films and it was directed by Ishiro Honda who was the guy who directed the very first GODZILLA back in the 50's. I saw pretty much all of these films as a kid growing up on TV in full-screen cropped versions but you can really tell now by looking at some of the great prints out there how this one really stands out as having been beautifully shot, especially when compared to some of the other lower-budgeted entries that came before it. Also the music cues(bringing back the original Godzilla-theme among them) really help set the tone. The plot is pretty standard with some aliens and a mad doctor using Mechagodzilla and a dinosaur/dragon with a little head named Titanosaurus to kill Godzilla and take over the Earth but there are some downer touches like a suicidal android lady and people actually getting killed by these terrorist ape-aliens. There are two different cuts of this(Japanese and English) with some small differences between the two. Also the Japanese version has some quick nudity which clearly Americans couldn't handle at the time. Check it out if you're either old and nostalgic like me and want to get sad, silly and nostalgic while watching your childhood end or if you're just a cool kid who digs watching giant monsters fight and break shit. AKA THE TERROR OF GODZILLA
90's slasher movies are mostly horrible, terrible things and this one is no exception to that rule. While on the surface it's a mix of a THE INVISIBLE MAN rip-off, a sex comedy and a slasher flick it pretty much fails at being a good example of any of those things. You do get some nudity and, thanks to the not-really-trying acting method employed by everyone in this, the whole thing feels like you're watching a porn flick that someone cut all of the hardcore scenes out of. To further enhance the porn aesthetic 90's porn-star Savannah has a fairly large role here, acting as well/poorly as she does in her fuck movies. There's also disappointingly not really anything much in the way of blood and gore except for a couple of instances towards the end. Pretty much a waste of time as the majority of horror films from the 90's were unless you really wanna see a guy get killed by a sub-sandwich and hear exceptionally lame one-liners from an annoying stupid killer(sort-of like a retarded invisible Freddy Kreuger).
Sunday, July 26, 2015
This one is right up there with some of the Japanese STRAY CAT ROCK movies and HG Lewis' SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS as one of my favorite girl gang flicks ever! What makes this one so sweet is the amazing drama that draws you into the story, the over-the-top acting styles of everyone, the slick 70's outfits, Farrah Fawcett-hairstyles, overall retro feel of everything, awesome fights and an ending that looks like it might fit in a war movie better. Originally released under the not-as-exciting title of THE JEZEBELS and then switched to SWITCHBLADE SISTERS this somehow wasn't a big hit at the time and was way later on in the 90's re-released in theaters by Quentin Tarantino which is where I first encountered it's brilliance. A movie that moves along briskly, mixes in some women-in-prison, blaxploitation, sexploitation and seems like a comic-book for adults that can handle nudity and rape in their entertainment without passing out from how offended they are. A 100% all-time trash classic. AKA MAGGIE'S STILETTO SISTERS and PLAYGIRL GANG
Bad-ass Italian poster!!:
While CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is clearly the high-point and most well known of the jungle cannibals sub-genre this obvious rip-off by Umberto Lenzi has it's own gory disgusting appeal and on certain days I even prefer watching it to it's inspiration. It borrows so much from HOLOCAUST that it gets pretty ridiculous; Robert Kerman appears in both(though a much smaller role here), a big-ass turtle gets hacked up in both, a giant anaconda gets to squash a cute little fury animal and of course intestines get ripped out of people dumb enough to travel into the heart of the Amazon. Everything in this one is dumbed down a bit though and if you think too hard about it all it doesn't make much sense. It also, for the most part, foregoes the moralizing and just focuses on how much grossness can be put on screen in it's 90 minute run-time. It does seem like there was a competition between director Lenzi and HOLOCAUST's creator Ruggero Deodato as to who could make the bigger gross-out with Deodato starting out with JUNGLE HOLOCAUST in '77 which is comparatively tame compared to these two and then Lenzi responding with EATEN ALIVE in '80 which is a bit gory and rapey but not super extreme. Then it's all topped by the extremity of HOLOCAUST and finally ends up with FEROX which features a couple of castrations, heads lopped off, limbs lopped off, giant grub-worm eating, severed dick-eating, giant hooks through tits in an "homage?" to that A MAN CALLED HORSE movie, etc, etc. John Morgen stands out as the best actor in this whole thing (besides Kerman who isn't really used all that much) as he portrays a sleazy murdering, native-torturing bad-ass while most of the other acting is pretty clunky but who cares since it's all about how many entrails can be munched and how much blood can be spilled and this movie delivers like a greatest hits package of depraved spectacle. AKA MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Available as part of a Walt Davis triple-feature disc from the fine people at Vinegar Syndrome:
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
A giant caterpillar, that I think is also supposed to be a big snail of some sort, rips the heads off of 1950's military personnel, The great thing about 50's monster movies is that they're usually pretty short. The bad news here is this thing drags on for almost 90 minutes which is way too long for this kind of deal. Luckily heads do get chomped off with big pincers every once in a while so that's nice. Also the monster has super dumb-looking googly eyes so that's something to laugh at. Besides that though there's lots of boring dialogue and science chit-chat. Probably woulda been cooler if this caterpillar-thing turned into a giant butterfly but we have to wait for 60's Japan to give us MOTHRA for that spectacle.
Sunday, July 5, 2015
While I was expecting more of a CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST-type of a situation with this movie what you actually get is not quite that but an almost equally downbeat sort-of a movie experience. This French/Belgian/Australian/English film deals with a couple of parents who are searching for their lost child and end up in Burma dealing with all kinds of rip-off artists and scumbags in their journey. It's a totally somber view and not something to put on if you want to be in any sort of happy mood (and most likely even more of a downer if you actually do have kids, unlike myself). While I'm not sure if this qualifies as a true horror film or just a really intense drama and I'm also not sure if I would even recommend this to anyone it is better made and more interesting than pretty much any modern horror that's been made in the U.S. in the last 20 years. Also it does deliver on it's cannibals in the jungle premise so I wasn't mislead. I guess ultimately this feels too drama heavy for gore fans and too gory for people who enjoy made-for-Lifetime dramas so I guess it will appeal to that slim group that just wants to see something different. Just don't expect to feel very jolly afterwards.