Wednesday, February 10, 2016
A giant cyclops who looks like he's walking on high-heels(who gets spoofed in FLESH GORDON), a snake-lady, a giant man-eating two-headed bird, a fire-spewing dragon, a teeny-tiny little shrunken down lady, and most famously a sword-fighting skeleton. All these great-looking fx were created by Ray Harryhausen, without any cgi(imagine that!), and to me are really the stars of this classic. This used to play on TV quite a bit back in the 70s so it has a lot of sentimental value for me. I also recall viewing the second sequel to this, SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER, down at the drive-in when I was 7 years old or so, which I probably actually saw first, and became a big fan at that moment. An evil bald wizard takes on Sinbad and he gets some help by a weird-voiced little boy genie and a bunch of disposable slaves and sailors(yes, people used to die in family movies back in the 50s before society got so sensitive about everything) which lays the groundwork for lots of cool action set-pieces (in DYNAMATION and DYNARAMA!!) that even your grandma can appreciate.
Although it took 14 years this was eventually followed by 2 sequels in the 70s:
THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD - 1973
SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER- 1977
I can see where this one is an influence on directors like Gaspar Noe with its artful-style, beautifully shot sequences, haunting soundtrack and grim sledgehammer realities but it's a pretty basic film that is just the account of a home-invasion by a psychopath who slaughters a family. Based on a real mass murderer from Austria the thing that makes the movie a bit more interesting than your average slasher flick from this time is the voice-over narration that takes us into the head of our leading madman and offers us a glimpse into the insanity. This kinda reminds me of 1980's MANIAC except that one feels way sleazier and exploitation-y and I don't think anyone would mistake that for an art film whereas this one leans more in that direction despite some pervy moments and one particularly bloody stabbing. It's almost like a European version of HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER except that would be released three years after this. An interesting worthwhile one-time watch that I don't think I'll ever feel the need to revisit but this may appeal more to certain folks with more artistic tastes.
There is an additional prologue sequence on the DVD I have of this which seems really unnecessary and out of place and is the only bit where we are getting narration by someone other than our stab-happy protagonist so skip that if you can. AKA SCHIZOPHRENIA
Monday, February 8, 2016
This starts out like a documentary about Bourbon Street in New Orleans, then it becomes a monster movie about some hairy dude(or "The Swamp Thing" as he's called, portrayed amazingly by rockabilly singer Sleepy LaBeef) grabbing people out of boats in the swamp and killing their asses. This happens all before we even get to the title card! After that it transforms itself into a nudie-cutie flick about a strip-club holding auditions and the owner of the club, allegedly played by director Ron Ormond?, who here looks like he's channeling Tony Clifton, gets the idea to go catch the monster and charge people to gawk at him. That part reminded me of KING KONG and just like with KONG our monster naturally gets loose and starts wreaking havok. The best, surprisingly-gory-for-1968, example of this is a dude getting his arm ripped right off and beaten to death with his own dismembered appendage. Sprinkle in a little mobster action with a disgusting scene of a guy being forced to drink from a tobacco-chew spit-filled spitoon while he's being roughed up, catfights, a goofball French painter, a head crushing, a boob ripped off and some other blood and guts which may remind you of an old HG Lewis opus and this one is a good time for schlock-lovers(If you can get past the one old-lady burlesque dancer, played my Mrs. Ormond, that is).
Ormond would go on to direct more weirdness but all of his later films have a strong religious/Jesus-y slant to them.
The "evil" stripper in this, Titania, looks like an early prototype for John Waters' Divine character.
AKA THE EXOTIC ONES
As the Shaw Brothers studio got deeper into the 1980's many of their films got goofier and goofier. This one is only a little on the ridiculous side and still manages to straddle the line making for a good kung fu epic with enough silliness to please lovers of the 80s. Some of the more silly aspects include kung fu masters who shoot laser beams, people getting totally wrapped up in silk cocoons like caterpillars and a guy who can use his heart to puff his body up(similar to BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA which hadn't been made yet) and cause his opponents to puke up their heart. In addition to this there's lots of flying wire-work-type of martial arts, a bunch of ninjas and a fair amount of bloodshed including a couple of ninjas that get cut right in half.
This is technically a sequel to BASTARD SWORDSMAN from the year before but I don't think I've ever seen that one and it's not at all necessary to have seen it to enjoy this film.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
I wanted to like this movie being a Rutger Hauer fan and all but I shoulda known better since this is basically a remake of the Japanes Zatoichi films all American-ized for big round eyed people to enjoy. It starts out OK with some Vietnam-flashbacks and the story of how our hero gets blinded and then trained to be a superhero-like swordsman. Somewhere along the way though it turns very comedic and stupid like many 80's movie do and this is where I realized this would not be the classic I had hope it might be. Also there's an annoying kid character which is another big minus. technically these elements may exist in some of the original Zatoichi films but I guess I'm able to overlook them there since they seem like much better-made movies to me whereas this seems just like so many other dumb 80's action movies. Still looking for another Rutger Hauer movie besides BLADE RUNNER where his acting talents are not wasted.
For ninja fans you do get Sho Kosugi showing up for the big finale although he does not don his ninja outfit here.
Cheap Canadian POLICE ACADEMY-rip-off flick. This probably wouldn't be anything special to me if it didn't feature Canadian Rock God Jon Mikl Thor as a biker named Thunderhead who signs on to this group of misfit police wannabees. How they don't feature Thor on the poster or cover of the VHS for this I haven't the foggiest but this seems like very bad advertising. I haven't actually watched POLICE ACADEMY in a very long time so my foggy recollection says this is probably just about as stupid/funny as that. Also I believe P.A. was filmed in Canada also so they're pretty similar. There aren't any black men making special FX noises with their mouths here just lots of boobs, weird-looking Canadian beaches, a Clint Eastwood-rip-off character, hooker humor, a slapsticky goofball Nazi lady and Thor getting to kick biker's asses in a ridiculous fight scene. Pretty much everything in this is ridiculous but if you put this on you know exactly what to expect. Have a few beers and enjoy the ride.
How this did not end up on the Troma label I'm not exactly sure since it seems like that would be a natural fit for something like this.
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Morgan Fairchild(whose name I only know because she was the star of one of those mom shows in the 80's called FALCON CREST) plays a TV news anchor who gets stalked by a koo-koo nutjob of a fan who apparently falls in love with people he sees on his TV and lives in a fantasy land where he believes everyone is just like they are on the little screen. With a little tweeking to the script and a couple of more deaths this could be a horror film but the way it was filmed now it's closer to one of those Lifetime made-for-TV cautionary tales about how deranged men can be and gets the 'thriller' label that many bigger-budgeted horror flicks get.There are some exploitation elements, mostly lots of nudity from Miss Fairchild and one scene where she turns into a shotgun-wielding badass! You're gonna have to look elsewhere for real horror but if ya don't mind something that's more of just a scary drama give it a watch on Valentine's Day.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
I have this movie on DVD as part of a blaxploitation box set and even though it features Mario Van Peebles(and his sister Megan) in featured parts it isn't a blaxploitation film at all. It's actually more of a drama with some action bits tossed in. That's not to say it doesn't have some very exploitative elements. In fact the film starts out with a little boy being forced to participate in the making of a kiddie-porn-shoot, which is one hell of a memorable way to kick off your movie!! From there we follow the adventures of a couple of white foster-kids(with super-thick New Yawk accents!) as they run-away from their extremely pervy and physically-abusive step-dad and end up in the 1980's Bronx. From here we get roaming gangs of interracial hooligans looking for trouble to pad things out until we get to the big unlikely sting-operation of a climax. This film is bizarre enough, thanks to it's horrific villainous character, break-dancing interlude and a talking? ferret that I've had to re-watch it a couple of times now just to make sure I actually saw what I thought I did. The only big minus is that most of the music in this thing is headache-inducingly awful with lyrics that tell the story as they ramble along. The break-dancing rap(which sounded very Grandmaster Flash-like) is the only tune that's at all listenable. If your ears can overlook this you're in for a very strange trip through 80's New York. AKA REVENGE OF THE INNOCENTS
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Director Seijun Suzuki would get himself fired from Nikkatsu studios for making this film and not make another movie for 10 years. Why they thought this film was so terrible and unreleasable I'm not exactly sure. It does deliver on the sex and violence stuff that Nikkatsu films usually contain although it does get a bit unnecessarily weird and artsy in parts which I guess set them off.
Having started out watching Suzuki's GATE OF FLESH film which centered around Japanese prostitutes I find that his gangster films don't measure up to how entertaining that one was but I can clearly see the influence this movie has had on some more modern directors including Tarantino(this is sorta like RESERVOIR DOGS but with way more action and film-making skill shown) and Jim Jarmusch who copied one of the kills here where a guy gets shot right through a sink-pipe.
Overall worth a look for cinematic snobs who don't mind a lot of weirdness(boiled-rice used as an aphrodisiac! suicidal Asian goth chick! bizarre snuff movie! main character with big chipmunk cheeks!) mixed with their actiony/gangster flick.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
If, like the person I recently viewed this with, you have an intense aversion to needles this may be the most terrifying film you could watch. I personally do not share this phobia so to me this isn't scary but more of a depressing movie that chronicles a downward spiral of a couple living in NYC in the early 70's and their similarly gritty associates. This film could really only have been made in this decade because the pace with which it tells it's tale is really leisurely and moviegoers today are way too fucking jittery to watch something like this and get anything out of it except probably a long nap. I will say the movie is not my favorite due to the plot being pretty non-existent but I do really appreciate the realistic way you see the female lead, Kitty Winn, get pretty ragged by the end of this and Al Pacino, who was still in the beginning phase of his career when he actually acted unlike everything he's done in the last 30 years or so, does a great job of making you care about a pretty lowlife type of character. It's a pretty hard-hitting drama that you should pick up if you dig serious 70's pieces or just want to see a view of New York back when it could be pretty ugly.
Monday, January 18, 2016
I got really excited at the start of this movie because our star, Calvin Lockhart, drives up in a beautiful looking vehicle and I figured this would be another sweet 70's pimp film. Sadly we find out this is just a scene in a movie and Mr. Lockhart is only an actor playing the part of a race-car driver called "The Baron". It takes a while for this one to get going but it does manage to, about 30 minutes in, tell a somewhat interesting tale of a couple of black fellas involved with the mob and their attempts to keep from becoming corpses. Richard Lynch is the main bad guy here and as he always does in these type of roles he really makes you hate him as he degrades our two main characters and shows how ignorant and racist he can be. Overall this is a bit slow in parts but worth a watch for hardcore blaxploitation aficionados.
AKA BLACK CUE and BARON WOLFGANG VON TRIPPS
In this strange scene we get The Baron successfully asking for a loan by very loudly calling his friend a nigger!?:
This is a very bizarre film. It's also one of my favs! This one's great because it features a gal who chops and slices up people and you're on her side the whole movie. It's also nice that it's only a couple of minutes over an hour long so things get right down to action. It starts out like a gangster film showing some pretty scummy criminals doing some not very nice things. Then it switches gears into what's basically a rape-revenge film except it's shot more like a horror movie especially with the wonky creepy soundtrack. It's also very similar to a slasher film except those weren't invented yet. For added weirdness they throw in a paralyzed grandfather character who always makes me think of ol' grandpa from THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE which this would actually make a pretty good double feature with(one of the alternate titles for this is CALIFORNIA AXE MASSACRE so there ya go). Check it out for some real grindhouse/drive-in thrills! AKA LISA, LISA and THE VIRGIN SLAUGHTER
Friday, January 15, 2016
After you watch all of the classic films Rudy Ray Moore starred in, and you need more of his greatness in your life, you get to this one. Sadly Rudy is not the main character here, that is portrayed by Yaphet Kotto(aka the black guy from ALIEN) who does a good job even if he isn't anywhere near as flamboyant or outrageous as Mr. DOLEMITE. Overall this is an entertaining look at what the Chicago ghettos may have been like back in the days before rap music and gangster-chic became the only things many black youths emulated and you could get away with running scams on people because there weren't cameras recording everything you do all day long like there are today. Afetr about a half hour or so Rudy Rau finally shows up after what feels like a long time and is sporting some of his sweetest outfits here. He plays a pimp named Goldie who initially you think may be the bad guy but the idea of hating Rudy Ray is just absurd so they turn him into a not-so bad guy who ends up helping out our heroes who include a group of young people trying to save the town from having a highway built through it. So basically this has the same plot as 90% of the comedies made in the 80's. There's also a similar coming-of-age vibe as stuff like COOLEY HIGH and that WHAT'S HAPPENING show so that's cool for some retro 70's thrills. Though if you're looking for action-packed blaxploitation full of nudity and violence you will need to look elsewhere.