Sunday, July 27, 2014
The original title of this is RICH AND FAMOUS 2 and I've never seen the first movie but I don't think that makes much difference since this feels fairly complete by itself. Chow Yun-Fat is the titular "hero" here and that title is a little bit off since he's not really all that heroic. He's basically just a gangster fighting with his insane and very cocky brother(Alex Man) for control of the mob. Watching this right after viewing Chow in HARDBOILED KILLERS was a slightly strange experience since both films couldn't be further apart in tone. That film is straight up slapstick/pratfall comedy and this one couldn't be any more serious. This does lead to it getting bogged down a bit in the heavy dramatics but there's enough gun-fu and other bloody action sequences that make it a bearable watch. There are better Hong Kong action flicks out there but you could also do worse.
Bizarrely enough this is called BLACK VENGEANCE in France even though there are no black faces to be seen anywhere in it:
This Youtube version has way bigger subtitles than my old crappy VHS!:
Saturday, July 26, 2014
This title, which combines 2 of star Chow Yun-Fat's best known movies, HARD BOILED and THE KILLER, into one is pretty misleading. For one thing it's pretty much a total comedy and there's not much action to be seen. Secondly it's not directed by John Woo so it doesn't have any of that stylishness going for it. Thirdly neither one of those movies had even been made when this was originally released. The only similarity to those films is that it features Chow. He looks very young here as a rookie cop who gets promoted to detective very quickly and ends up going up against a criminal mob. The leader of these mobsters has a little pet monkey which makes me think he can't be all bad. Basically all the action and kung-fu (including some very ridiculous toilet-plunger-fu) happens at the very end. The three main bad guys are introduced as The Knife Witch, The Ninja and The Fiery Gunman which sounds pretty awesome but unfortunately they turn out to be just your standard kung-fu baddies. Pretty bland overall as far as these Hong Kong action flicks go and the VHS copy I have of this has tiny subtitles for added frustration. Watching one of the Woo-directed flicks would be a better time.
Alternate titles include POLICE SIR and MODERN HEROES.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
This futuristic/apocalyptic sci-fi film is an American/Korean co-production. This gives the whole movie the oddball feeling of a perfectly decent Korean sorta-artsy environmentalist-message-film with a stupid American action movie shoe-horned into it. I would say overall it's probably worth checking out if you dig Korean films but there are quite a few stupid cringe-worthy elements here also. The plot, which is based on a French graphic-novel, is engaging enough but some of the characters are really annoyingly dumb and some of them don't make any sense at all. The sassy heavyset black lady, for one, has to be one of the most illogical things in the movie. How she could exist on a train full of people so desperate for food that they resort to cannibalism and yet remain an overweight stereotype is incredible. Besides her though the main character, played by some American Hollywood-type who's apparently not a very good actor, is pretty grating. Fortunately you get Kang-ho Song, who was also the star of the great SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, in a bad-ass role to make up for this shortcoming. Also this was directed by Joon-ho Bong, who previously did the cool giant-monster flick THE HOST, so it has a fairly cool style to it. Just don't expect everything to make perfect sense and you'll probably enjoy this a lot more. Or you could go the other way and just look at it all as a big metaphor for society where the illogical stuff is there because it's commenting on some aspect of humanity which I think is kind of a cop-out but whatever works for you.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
FIGHTING LIFE also known as CRIPPLED MASTERS 3 is the third movie about a couple of handi-capable kung-fu practitioners. One guy with little flipper-nubs for arms and the other with useless deformed legs. This third chapter(which isn't technically a sequel to the first or second movie since they're playing brothers here which they weren't in the first two films) is the worst of the lot with the first half hour concerned with the two guys looking for a job and getting discriminated against. The one stand-out scene has the no-legs guy getting involved in a fighting tournament where he somehow gains the ability to fly around and beats the crap out of a large Indian-looking fellow. Besides this though you could probably skip this one and just watch the first two for superior cripple-fu action.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
This starts out with Bela Lugosi knocking off brides with special poisonous orchids and then stealing their bodies. From there, like many of these old Monogram pictures, it becomes one of those spooky old house movies. The most interesting thing about this to me was the menagerie of weirdo's Lugosi has at his place. This includes an old witchy/gypsy woman who has two sons one(Angelo Rossitto) who's a midget and the other one who's a creepy peeping-Tom hunchback. There's also Lugosi's wife who's an old lady that he keeps looking young with the spinal-fluid of these brides that he swipes. Also Bela and the Mrs. sleep in coffins for no reason at all. These characters put this one slightly above your average old creaky 40's horror flick. The only thing missing was the guy in the ape suit.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Though the title makes you think this might be a blaxploitation film in reality it's a spaghetti-western starring Klaus Kinski and doesn't have any black folks in it at all. There are quite a few Mexicans though(or at least dark-skinned Italians/Spaniards? playing Mexicans). For a lot of this film I couldn't help but feel that Mr. Kinski is wasted as a lawyer who hands out legal advice instead of some insane gunman running amuck. It's also unclear for parts of the film if Klaus is a hero or villian. He does get some law books with guns hidden in them that he uses from time to time. There are also some memorable bits including an Indian-gal getting gang-raped and some nudity which is rare in a lot of these old westerns(at least in the edited/censored versions floating around). Overall I think this coulda been way better with more Klaus insanity. Which is something I could also say about most westerns.
Mediocre movie but cool soundtrack:
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
This is an AIP version of a kung-fu flick. It's also produced by Cirio H. Santiago so it has that crappy Filipino action movie feel to it. Also the main couple in this are black so it has a blaxploitation feel. As you might suspect by all this it really feels like quite the mish-mosh of genres and overall it's a pretty standard unexceptional viewing experience. The one thing this has going for it is there's quite a bit of female nudity for a martial-arts movie. Outside of all the naked Asian ladies I'll probably forget most of this within a few days. One thing I'll probably not forget is that this might be the only movie that ends with the whole cast in black-face(even the black folks!).
The 70's, when people still listened to the radio:
Sunday, June 22, 2014
So this is the last movie Mario Bava directed and it really doesn't feel like a Bava movie for the most part. It's probably the grittiest and most realistic of his films with none of the colorful flourishes that he was most famously known for. The story concerns a group of savage killers(including the huge man-monster Luigi Montefiori aka George Eastman aka The Grim Reaper) who are trying to get away from the law and grab a few hostages along the way to torture and kill. Most of the action takes place inside of a car which really negates any of the fancy camerawork which was another Bava trademark. Besides lacking what you might expect of the master of Italian thrillers this is still one of my favorites of his films. There's a scene that's reminiscent of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT where a girl is forced to piss in front of her tormenters and a generally sleazy tension-filled atmosphere throughout the whole thing. The ending also throws a nice curve-ball that wraps it up in a fitting manner.
This movie was never totally completed by Bava before his death and wasn't released until 1996 when it was finished by Mario's son Lamberto and released in a different version with newly shot scenes under the title KIDNAPPED. I've never seen this version but from what I hear it's not as good as the original. The original cut, RABID DOGS, came out the following year.
While this is a pretty typical heist movie there's a few things that make it stand out to me. One is Klaus Kinski as a German criminal. Kinski can really make any movie he's in a little better just by being his insane self. The second is the ending. I'm not an expert on American heist films from this time I imagine the Italians(and in this case the Germans and the Spanish) get a little bleaker in their "crime doesn't pay" analogies, here being more of a "crime kills you dead" motif. There is at the same time also a bit of humor thrown in which I think really separates the European movies of the 60's from the darker tone the 70's brought on. This was also interesting to me since it's probably the oldest example of a Eurocrime film I've seen and while it does seem very old-timey and creaky in spots, and it's run time feels quite long at just over 2 hours, I think the pay off finale made it worth the watch. It also helped that I saw this in a theater on a 16mm print in scope as opposed to some crappy full-screen version. It should also be noted that the rest of the cast, including Janet Leigh and Edward G. Robinson, are pretty great here also.
Monday, June 16, 2014
This is an adult feature made by a couple of gay brothers(The Amero Brothers). This might explain why there are drag-queens, leather-daddies and big flashy Broadway-style set-pieces in the middle of a straight porno about two gals(Dory Devon and Suzy Mandel) looking for stardom. The movie starts out seemingly set in the past on a farm but then clearly zooms right on into the 70's when our two leading ladies make the trek to New York to make it big. I don't think I've ever seen these two gals in anything before but they do a good job, one(Suzy) portraying the dumb-blonde stereotype and the other(Dory) the older wiser lady, though I very possibly have seen Miss Mandel before since she started off as a Benny Hill-gal back in England. In fact she was a big enough star when this was filmed that she had a body-double do all of the sex scenes her character is involved in. Much more familiar to me are the male stars including R. Bolla, Eric Edwards and Jamie Gillis who has a short but memorable scene as a flamboyantly gay director shooting a reenactment of GONE WITH THE WIND as a group orgy. Overall this is a pretty fun flick which looks like it had a bigger budget than it actually did. I was lucky enough to see a 35mm print of this last night at a local showing and am glad I didn't pass it up. This is probably the only porno that ends with a police-raid and riot in a gay club and I think it would be fabulous if more movies ended on this note.
The censored trailer:
The whole movie!:
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Director Alex de la Iglesia is a fairly popular name amongst cult/horror film fans. Having only seen a couple of his movies I can't say I'm a huge fan and after watching this one that hasn't changed much. This film isn't totally terrible. You get a bunch of witches who jump around like those running cgi-zombies and walk on ceilings, including a very hot one played by Carolina Bang(who surprisingly isn't a porn star despite her name) who enjoys humping broomsticks dressed only in bra and panties, a little cgi blood & gore, a silly feminist message and a giant-boobed naked earth-mother goddess/monster(who's also a dreadful cgi-creation of course). My main problem with this, besides all the modern-day crappy computer FX, is the abundance of dumb humor thrown in every 2 seconds which gives the whole thing an extra cartoony feel. The English title, WITCHING AND BITCHING, gives you an even clearer indication of how dumb the whole thing is. Although this wasn't really my thing if you do dig your horror films with humor that runs the gamut from very black to Three Stooges-style slapstick maybe give this a watch.
This Italian crime film concerns a doctor and his wife who get some unwelcome guests in the form of a group of murderous jewel thieves. Rape, murder, lesbianism, cuckolding and double-crossing ensues. The first bit of this film is actually sorta reminiscent of RESERVOIR DOGS where one of the bandits gets shot and thrown in the backseat of a getaway car which then necessitates the need for a doctor. Luigi Pistilli plays the main cop on the trail of our gang and he looks about as bad-ass as I've ever seen him with some Wolverine-sideburn/mutton-chops. The film ends up with some crazy plot-twists which are always my favorite parts in Eurocrime movies like this. I see this is labeled as a giallo in a few places and although it does have a sorta-giallo-esque title and possibly a similar atmosphere in a few places from the way it was shot, it's totally not that kind of thriller.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
If you took the story of TARZAN, threw in a pinch of THE WOLFMAN and topped it all off with 70's INCREDIBLE HULK story-lines you might end up with something a lot like LUCAN. This was a made-for-TV pilot movie that would go on to be a short-lived series about a boy raised by wolves who goes on to get all civilized(a la TARZAN) and then wander from town to town searching for his human parents(kinda sorta like how David Banner does on THE HULK). The movie has a sorta 70's superhero show feel and is pretty hokey but it did make me want to search out the rest of the series just to see what absurd adventures ol' wolfboy gets into. This would definitely make a good pairing with BIGFOOT & WILDBOY(which came out the same year) for a night of 70's TV insanity.
This is the opening to the TV show which looks like it changed some of the story from the movie:
A nice Friday night double feature: