Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"Deathgasm" (2015) d/ Jason Lei Howden

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Horns up, woprophiles! Tonight in our cinematic cauldron, broom-stirred to perfection, we've got some Kiwi splatter comedy a la vintage Peter Jackson flavored with the brutally heavy axe riffs of the heavy metal genre. The end result is 2015's Deathgasm, the debut film for director Jason Lei Howden, and one mired in controversy when Walmart refused to carry it under it's original title, renaming it "Heavy Metal Apocalypse" instead, a title more palpable to grossly obese blonde bible-thumping strumpets whirring around the frozen dessert section, perhaps. I like the original a lot more, how about you? It's more brutal in capital letters, seeing how lower case are clearly for pussies. Let's check it out, oh and death to false metal...

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"How do I say 'I'm enjoying our ice cream date' in proto-Nordic?"
Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) is a teenage metalhead upon whom a rotten series of events does turn, when his father dies and his mother books a padded room at the squirrel farm, forcing him to move in with his ultra-Christian uncle, Albert and his family, which includes cousin David (who's a bullying dickhead jock/preppie/wigger), at their home in Greypoint. The young rocker doesn't fit in at school either, only connecting with a pair of D&D-crazed misfit dorks in Dion and Giles(Sam Berkley, Daniel Cresswell, respectively) . To further compound matters, the object of his teenage affection, a blonde dimepiece named Medina (Kimberley Crossman) who's neither funky nor cold, is romantically linked to David the dick. While temporarily escaping the madness of his life at a local record store that stocks all the best metal records, he meets fellow metal proponent Zakk (James Blake), and a brothers-in-metal blood oath is soon struck between the boys. The headbangers soon recruit the two dice-rolling dweebs as members of their brutal new band, DEATHGASM, because, you know, lower case letters are for pussies! Cue hilarious DIY black metal video shot in the forest nearby, for good effect.

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The Great Kat should probably think about moving over at this point.
Brodie and Medina eventually go out for ice cream (awwwwww), but he proves too shy to plant one on her in the end. When the two boys break into the seemingly abandoned home of metal legend Rikki Daggers, he hands them an album and sends them packing before a suit-clad assassin breaks in and slashes the singer's throat. Besides finding a Rick Astley (!) lp in the record sleeve, there's also the sheet music for "The Black Hymn", a devastating piece of music that can summon the king of demons, one Aeloth. Meanwhile, the snazzy hitman reports back to his employer, who becomes furious that the Hymn has yet eluded him, and orders some Satanic-looking henchmen to behead the killer, while avoiding making a bloody mess on his carpet, is an implied point. While Davey the Dick lays the sneakers in on his metalhead cousin for chatting up his girl, Zakk purposely withholds messages and notes from her to him, and muscles in on his friend's new territory with the help of alcohol and Cosby pills. Alright, no Cosby pills. Fed up, Brodie gets his bandmates to play the entire Black Hymn, and as they say, all Hell breaks loose from this point.

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Congratulations, you've moved onto the semifinal round of Norway's Got Brutality!
Packed with goopy gore and creature effects, hilariously sophomoric dialog peppered with sex toys and dick jokes, inventively animated transitional editing, and entertaining performances from it's young cast, Deathgasm harkens genre fans like myself to the first time I threw Bad Taste (1988) into a vcr lifetimes ago, and I've come away from the experience with a lot of the same feelings of positivity I had back then. I'm clearly not alone on this one either, as the movie has been nominated for nearly twenty awards in various film festivals, including but not limited to,  Best Kill (Death by sex toy). I think that says it all, really. A sequel may or may not be in the works. On the scale, Deathgasm earns three solid Wops. Check it out, you'll be glad you did.

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Get your lightning tits out for the dark lord and master, baby.
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

"Green Room" (2015) d/ Jeremy Saulnier

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Tonight, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise touches down on planet Valhalla, as we cover 2016's Green Room, a surprisingly nasty and effective independent slice of survival horror/thriller from director Jeremy Saulnier, that stars the late Anton "Chekov" Yelchin and Sir Pat Stew himself, in a one hundred-eighty degree dramatic departure from the "infinitely wise leader of humanity" roles he's been sopping up in recent years, the equivalent to Ben Kingsley's Don Logan role in Sexy Beast (2000) in a way.Despite heavy praise from seemingly most everyone who's seen it thus far, I approached with cautious interest, as the familiar subject matter has often been wincingly fumbled in Hollywood hands over the years. To add insult to injury, the vast number of uninteresting arthouse trailers that preceded the movie on the disc didn't ease my mind at all, but then like a lightning bolt (or two)...

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"You here to see Lou Rawls? That's twenty-five each, no flash photography..."
After an ignominious start to their latest tour of the Pacific Northwest, punk outfit "The Ain't Rights" find themselves booked to a club off the beaten path near Portland that's frequented by a lot of skins, some of the sieg heiling, red laced variety. After throwing a ballsy cover at the mostly bald patrons (Dead Kennedy's "Nazi Punks Fuck Off", of course) to kick off the festivities, the rest of the band's heavy set wins over most of the close cropped crowd. When Sam (Alia Shawkat) forgets her phone inside the green room, Pat (Anton Yelchin) heads back in to retrieve it, only to stumble across a dead chick with a knife protruding from her domepiece on the floor, and her friend, a skinhead girl named Amber (Imogen Poots) being held in the room against her will at gunpoint, much like the punk band is about to be. With their phones confiscated, our heroes are left at the mercy of a guy named Big Justin (Eric Edelstein), while the other bouncer, Gabe (Macon Blair), consults with the club owner on what to do with all of these pesky eye-witnesses. I'm sure he's a reasonable guy and he'll chalk it up to a misunderstanding and let them all go, in the end. Or maybe not...

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"There I was, swinging down the high street, yeah.", croons Amber (Imogen Poots) the skinchick.
The club owner, Darcy (Patrick Stewart), has a continuing mission to raise racial consciousness among the local bootboy population (can I get a "Hail Victory!"?), to explore the manufacturing of strange new drugs, like heroin, in the club's basement bunker, to snuff out lesser lives while issuing red laces in the process, and to boldly kill like no man has killed before. In keeping with his mantra, Darcy calls for the elimination of the pesky punks, who've overpowered Big Justin, taken his gun, and slapped an MMA-style arm bar on the big galoot, by now. When Reese's (Joe Cole) chokehold proves less effective than planned, Amber serves up a Stanley knife disemboweling for Darcy's employee. There's a struggle at the door that leaves Pat with a diced arm, hanging by the sinews in several places, and forces Darcy to call in his bigger guns, in the form of a white power dog trainer whose pit bulls throat rip at attack commands issued in German, and a small army of skinheads with shotguns and machetes who've already earned their red laces and are eager to spill more blood for their admired leader. You can bet what transpires from here on out is going to be packed with tension, deep-seated gore splattered murders, and bellicose bovver boys. My opinion may be slightly biased concerning these proceedings, but that's a recipe for success in my book. Check it out!

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" This is a white bastion. No smelly Ferengi admitted.", exclaims Darcy (Patrick Stewart) and his Star Trek bootboys.
Make no mistake about it, the film's soundtrack, which includes such scene luminaries as FEAR, Poison Idea, Bad Brains, Slayer, Napalm Death, and Obituary, to name a few, is authentic and satisfying. Patrick Stewart has been a favorite of mine since his portrayal of Sejanus in BBC's I, Claudius miniseries put him on my radar decades ago, and this movie only reinforces that sentiment. Hearing Jean-Luc Picard talk about "earning red laces", "boot parties", and "nigger dope" is especially hilarious and surreal, and keeps the film from becoming bogged down by the apex levels of tension and on-screen brutality that it taps into in order to bring it's audience some genuine scares. As a long-time proponent of villainy, I confess that I may or may not have been cheering on the bad guys the whole time or most of it. I was certainly grooving heavily on the ultra-realistic violence, at the very least. On the scale, I've got to bestow the full Monte, four Wops, on this potent little indie thriller, and strongly recommend that you score a copy and see it for yourselves. See if it doesn't stick with you well after the end credits roll.

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Go ahead and keep those tattooed Neanderthals at bay, mister Chekov, I'll be up here entertaining some blue and green women. Kirk out.
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Monday, July 11, 2016

"Revenge of Frankenstein" (1958) d/ Terence Fisher

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Following up their successful adaption of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Hammer Studios reassembled director Terence Fisher, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, and lead actor Peter Cushing, who'd all only just completed the studio's legendary take on Dracula together, for this interesting and entertaining direct sequel. Sure, there's no Christopher Lee this time around, as he was otherwise occupied with things like Corridors of Blood, Missiles From Hell, and the aforementioned Drac, but the movie doesn't suffer much from his absence, so you won't hear too much bellyaching from the peanut gallery where this one's concerned. It all starts like this...

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"We British have never hesitated to take up arms. Take this one."
At the outset, we see Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) awaiting his appointment with the guillotine for his prior crimes against humanity, only to cheat the blade with the help of his assistant, and the priest who gives him last rites ends up a full head shorter, and buried in his place, for his troubles. Years later, we note that the Baron has become a successful and highly popular physician/ surgeon in Carlsbruck, working under the alias, Dr. Stein, much to the dismay of the local medical council, save one member, one Dr. Kleve (Francis Matthews), who recognizes him to be Frankenstein, but only wants to assist him in his controversial experimentation with life and death. He agrees to take the savvy young doctor under his wing, and those outrageous experiments are soon underway, with assistance also provided by Karl (Oscar Quitak), a disfigured hunchback the Baron has promised to provide a new, healthy body for in exchange for his years of unflinching loyalty. Among the first things on Karl's "to do once I'm no longer a pitiful gimp" list, is Margaret (Eunice Gayson), the comely new brunette assistant at the hospital, who's only seen the pitiful gimp variant, thus far. I think you can figure out where this is all leading...

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"I'm sorry, Karl, the hunchback turned me on more. Just saying.," says Margaret (Eunice Gayson).
Karl's brain is soon transplanted into a healthy bod (Michael Gwynn), and he's immediately struck with wanderlust, despite the Baron's orders that he remain strapped to a bed in a locked hospital room. Meanwhile, there's the issue of Frankenstein's chimpanzee, his first successful brain transplant, that seems to have developed cannibalistic traits, having eaten his mate after being fitted with an orangutan's brain. That's gonna come back to haunt these guys, I think. Karl hears of his savior's plans to tour the world with him as a medical wonder and attraction for the crowds, and convinces Margaret to spring him from his binds. What's the worst that could happen? Karl's new frame starts to show signs of rapidly reverting back to the gimpy hunchbacked one, leading him to commit several homicides before slumping dead at Frankenstein's feet in the middle of a social function, even calling the doctor out by his former name for all ears in attendance to hear. What transpires from here, I believe I'll leave for you eager Hammerheads out there to discover on your own. You'll appreciate it, alright.

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The eyes have it. Especially this particular pair.
Eunice Gayson, you'll remember, was the first Bond girl, appearing opposite Sean Connery in Dr. No and From Russia With Love. She's acceptable lens candy here, too. Francis Matthews scored roles in Dracula: Prince of Darkness and Rasputin the Mad Monk, for the studio in 1966. As for Gwynne, he showed up later on in things like 1966's The Deadly Bees and Scars of Dracula in 1970. Everything about this iconic offering from Hammer is top shelf: from Cushing's performance (as always) and his surrounding cast, to Fisher's ever-exemplary direction, to the gothic sets (that you'll remember parts of from Horror of Dracula, also shot at Bray), to Leonard Salzedo's score, often considered his finest work. Popular among critics and fans alike, it's efforts like this that established Hammer as one of the premier studios for genre cinema of the era. On the scale, anything less than Three big ones would be beyond criminal, and I'd never have that where this one is concerned. So, three Wops it is. Snare yourselves a copy immediately!

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"After we're found out here, I'll be Franin Kenste in the next city." 
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Saturday, July 9, 2016

"The Shallows" (2016) d/ Jaume Collet-Serra

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I don't bother going to see movies in the theater very much these days, with the paltry horror offerings Hollywood's been serving up, I've usually got a sort of cinematic sixth sense when something's gonna suck eggs just by perusing the trailer once or twice. That said, I was pretty stoked to see tonight's review from the comfort of a reclining theater seat, a perfectly timed shark-based thriller to accentuate the choking heat of long summer days. I was there when Jaws was released in 1975, and I suppose I was optimistic of director Jaume Collet-Serra's chances to recreate at least some of that fear that I walked out of the theater hand-in-hand with all those years ago. As an added bonus, the theater was packed with kids on a summer camp outing, just days after I screened Ivan Reitman's Meatballs (1979) over here to usher in the season, as usual. They were probably there to help find Ellen Degeneres. All the elements necessary for a choice experience at the movies were in place. So was it that? Let's see...

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I feel compelled to take a bite outta this myself, to be honest.
After we see a Mexican boy discover a bitten up GoPro helmet with intact camera in the surf, we see through rushes that whatever unlucky sumbitch was wearing it got up close and unpleasantly personal with a sizable Great White shark. Some time earlier, Nancy (Blake Lively) is a surf-crazy gringo on her way to a secret, nameless beach forever immortalized by her late mother, as driven by Charlie (Oscar Jaenada), a nice enough local fellow. Finding herself all alone when her surfing partner is too hungover to make the trip doesn't sway Nancy's enthusiasm one iota, and she's soon hanging ten with a couple of local blokes to some accompanying electronic music that seems out of place somehow. It's when she decides to paddle out for one more wave, as the sun rapidly fades, and without the company of her two acquaintances, that the otherwise idyllic afternoon quickly turns into a real shit show. As she lets the tide carry her, she stumbles upon a floating, bloated dead whale carcass that happens to be being scavenged by a massive Great White shark, who gives Nancy a painful kiss on the leg before returning to it's whale dinner. Bleeding profusely, she manages to climb onto a series of rocks only two hundred yards from shore, where she can better assess the damage and the harrowing pickle she's gotten herself into.

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"Abba-abba-abba!" screamed Clamhead as Jabberjaw momentarily allowed normal Great White shark urges to overtake him.
On the tentative rock formation that she shares with a wounded seagull (Steven, as we find out in the credits, haha), she performs a DIY suturing of her shark bite with pieces of jewelry and passes out, battling shock and hypothermia all night long. When she tries to signal to a sleeping drunkie on the beach, he chooses to rob her of her belongings instead. When he spots her expensive surfboard floating limply in the shallows, he tries to swim out and retrieve that, too, for himself, only to get bitten in half for his greed. Later, the two surfers from the previous day return for more, but get treated like brown fur seals for their zeal. Left to her own devices, Nancy begins timing the shark's systematic circling to allow for escape routes, and to recover the floating GoPro helmet nearby (remember this?) for an impromptu video message to her kid sister and father back home, just in case she ends up getting Robert Shaw'ed by the impulsively ever-hungry predator. I won't say much about the final reel here, leaving it for you to experience on your own, in the theater, as I did, as it fits the summer movie role rather glove-ly. Just don't expect much variation from the current Hollywood ending pattern that they've leaned on far too often of late...

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"I'd gladly not bite you in half on Tuesday, for a brown fur seal today..."
If Collet-Serra sounds familiar to you, it's probably because he directed things like Orphan (2009), Unknown (2011) with Liam Neeson, and the notorious House of Wax remake back in 2005. Blake Lively, who you may recognize from the Gossip Girl tv series, or even Saturday Night Live circa 2008-10 (I haven't watched that show with any regularity, since Piscopo was Sinatra. Let's leave my age out of this, eh?) does an admirable job delicately balancing being a choice Cali dimepiece and a hotter upgrade on Ripley from the Alien series here. I dug her contributions, man. Overall, this one's got some effective and realistic shark cg that you'll pick out in certain instances, and be fooled by in others. There's also some decent blood and a few vicious attack sequences for gorehounds in attendance. Still, it reeks of dark horse summer blockbuster more than a future indie cult classic, and it falls short in the final reel, because of it, to the tune of a one Wop deduction. Nevertheless, you're gonna want to see it anyway, and if the ending doesn't rub you as wrongly as it did me, you might even want to throw that subtracted Wop back on. For me, two Wops on the scale is what it's going to have to be. A good movie that failed to capitalize on it's potential to be a great one. Recommended.

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From the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants to the Sisterhood of the Shitty Bikini Bottoms.
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Monday, July 4, 2016

R.I.P. Robin Hardy

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                          10/02/29 - 07/01/16

"Blood From The Mummy's Tomb" (1971) d/ Seth Holt

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Normally, I'm not much for mummy movies with gauze-wrapped chaps dragging that one foot across the floor after their reincarnated love, who happens to be too terrified to remember to sprint their ass from the premises before Kharis can slip her a Cosby cocktail, etc., etc. Leave it to Hammer to change all of that with one film, tonight's review, a groovy horrorshow that dusted off archaeological horror with open veins and sex appeal and doubled with the studio's Stevenson gender-bender, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde,  at the theaters. It would stand as Seth Holt's last directorial credit, dying from a heart attack during the shooting schedule. What this picture really delivers on, is its statuesque brunette star,  the breathtaking Valerie Leon,  who you'll recall from the Carry On films and things like Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978) and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), in a dual role of sorts. Not like it's the first time Hammer rolled out some delectable lens candy to help pitch one of their films though, is it? And more importantly, who's complaining? Not I, sez I.

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 Demonoid (1981) was never like this! If anyone's looking for me, I'll be dusting those bombers for hidden hieroglyphics.
It would seem that some time during the roaring '20s, Professor Fuchs (Andrew Keir) and his British archaeologist chums are on a quest to uncover the lost tomb of an evil Egyptian queen, who we learn through ancient flashback, doesn't appreciate being laid out in a sarcophagus by her assassins, or her hand chopped off and thrown to the local pack of mangy jackals, as a magical, throat-ripping wind whips up and does in the responsible bastards. Wouldn't you know it, Queen Tera's final resting place is infringed upon by these limey bone-dusters, and sure enough, she hasn't aged a day in several lifetimes. Fuchs takes the entire chamber and its contents back to his flat in London, as part of a creepy basement shrine to the princess, with various priceless artifacts (a skull, a cobra statue, being looked after by other members of the expedition. Wouldn't you know it, Fuchs' daughter, Margaret (Valerie Leon) happens to be a dead ringer for the deceased royalty, and it isn't long before she's being haunted by vivid dreams...or are they lost memories?

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Yeah, that's the plums next, baby.
Across the street lurks a mysterious gent who spies on the young woman's every move, and rightfully so, as he's Corbeck (James Villiers), another expedition member looking to resurrect the Queen through Egyptian hoodoo rituals, helping her to retrieve each of her artifacts from the other tomb defilers, and leaving in their stead, many a torn out throat. It turns out Fuchs himself is also pushing for the resurrection, but is unaware that the princess may be as evil as legend would have it, putting his lovely, banana-eating daughter in terrible peril, giving her the queen's own ring from her severed hand, complete with a massive red gemstone that today's hip hoppers might even find a bit too gaudy to display (yeah, right). Even her boyfriend, Tod Browning (!) (Mark Edwards) seems uninterested in her colossal cleavage, ever on display, and more in tune with the nefarious Egyptian plans. Does Tera rise from the world of the dead to once again spread terror among London's posh set? Does Tod not see those earth-shattering bobblers or what? Will Margaret survive to peel another banana, or will her ancestor win out in the end? It's all there for you to discover when you see this one for yourselves.

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Oof-ah. This guy's just been E-gypped.
Peter Cushing, originally signed to do the picture, but bowed out after one day when his beloved wife was diagnosed with emphysema. I'm sure Ms. Leon delivers some dialog along the way here, to varying levels of effectiveness, it's just that my attention could well have been drawn to her expressive eyes (while taking a picturesque stroll through Bristol City, mind you, guv' ) the whole damned time. Any repeat viewings will probably go the same way, I'm not ashamed to report, much like my experience when I throw some Lindberg on. Italian tunnel vision, I'm afraid. Don't cry for me, I'll make it somehow. Tonight's movie combines some meaty murders, righteous reincarnation, and ancient weird religious rites a' plenty to good genre effect. It's probably a two Wop interpretation of Bram Stoker's less famous novel overall, but I'll add one for Valerie just the same, in the name of red-blooded males/ true feminists everywhere. Any third wavers that wanna chew me out over that particular opinion can find my e-mail addy on the right side of the page, but go easy on the bikini pics. Have a heart.

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I'd unwrap this like it was Big Jim's Laser-vette with flip up hood cannons under the X-mas tree.
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