Thursday, February 26, 2009

Monster Dog(1985)d/Claudio Fragasso

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Let the record show that I'm a huge Alice Cooper fan from waaaaay back.Some of you out there may have already gathered that from the review I did of The Nightmare last October.His legendary career spanning some forty years is overbrimming with dizzying highs and nauseating lows.Unfortunately,tonight's entry definitely falls into the latter category.After two stints in rehab nearly pulverized his musical legacy,by 1984,hard hearted Alice found himself at the bottom of the bargain bin looking up.With his albums being panned,the shock rocker turned to genre writer/director Claudio Fragasso for a film vehicle that would draw the brakes on his plummeting skid towards mediocrity.Not a good move,Coop.Luckily his collaboration with the man responsible for such non-classics as Rats:Night of Terror,Zombie 3,Hell of the Living Dead,and Troll 2,wasn't the final nail in Alice's artistic coffin,as he bounced back the following year with a successful heavy metal reinvention of his musical persona,and even scoring soundtrack work and a few cameos in some genre films,while this Spanish production thankfully sank into a quagmire of forgotten z-grade celluloid trash.Drawing positives from this mess,the two songs "Identity Crises" and "See Me in the Mirror" he provided for the soundtrack,though unavailable on any albums(save for the superior boxset "The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper"),are excellent.Sadly,the rest isn't appetizing to even a mangy,starving mutt.
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Sometimes I'm...a dead ringer for Bob Cratchett?
Vince Raven is a top tier rockstar(played by rockstar-on-the-downswing,Alice Cooper,and badly dubbed by someone who is obviously NOT Alice Cooper)returning to his hometown to shoot a music video with a small crew in a conversion van,like so many of the biggest celebrity musicians were doing in the mid-eighties(cue eyeroll).Only,Raven's hometown holds few good memories for him since his father was afflicted with a rare heart disease that caused him to not only fly into a primal rage,but display characteristics of lycanthropy(!),ultimately getting him brutally eighty-sixed by the superstitious townfolk.After maneuvering the seventies vehicle through what seems like an eternity of atmospheric dry ice...err,umm...fog,Raven is stopped by the local sheriff and deputy who warn of a ravenous pack of wild dogs that have killed several times already,then break his balls about both his crazy rock n' roll,and his crazy daddy that they had to murder years ago.Further on down the soundstage...uhh,err...ominous night road,the van hits a dog,and when Raven's crew gets out to investigate,they stumble across a bloodied senile lunatic who's patterned himself a little too closely to Crazy Ralph from the Friday the 13th series.Dogs,wind,moon,death...whatever you say,claret chin.When they finally arrive at the mansion,it is barren,with no sign of Joss the caretaker to be found,save for some sandwiches he has made,and a "Welcome Home Vince" banner.Pull out all the stops for the rockstar.
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"¡Le todo condenan!" says Crazy Ralph's Spanish cousin,twice removed.
After some momentary visions of Vince in werewolf makeup that makes The Werewolf(1956)look like The Howling(1980),the crew's attempt at shooting a gothic video in the mansion is interrupted by Joss's lifeless body crashing through an upstairs window and onto the terrified leading lady.Raven,still decked out in his slightly embarrassing video duds and makeup sets off to look for whatever did in his shaky handed malt-maker.While he's gone,a carload of scruffy local rabble pull up outside the mansion,looking like extras in a Leone western rip-off,and vowing to plug the rock n' roller fulla holes,and free the town we never get to see from the grip of moon-based mayhem.At this point,the pack of wild dogs lay siege to the huge house,led by what looks to be nothing more than an oversized Mardi Gras-style papier mache' head,and brutalizing both vigilantes and video crew alike.When it looks like curtains for Sandra(Victoria Vera),Raven's girlfriend/video director,who's barricaded herself in a room,Vince shows up out of nowhere,and mysteriously the dogs cease their attack,and lie at the two survivors feet as they tip toe out to safety,where Vince is clawed by the titular giant head before blasting it,and revealing through off-screen metamorphosis that the werewolf was....drumroll...the bloody geryatric whackjob.Raven,now caught up in the throes of the curse,pleads for Sandra to shoot him before he transforms into something unintentionally silly,and luckily,she does just that,as he languishes in mid-sub-par,south of the border change-o-head transformation.Bloodied and exhausted,the female survivor stumbles off,almost looking like she's been raped(she's not the only one who feels violated,believe me),before a reprise of Raven's earlier video takes us to credits.Thankfully,it's all over.
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Have you seen yourself in the mirror lately,Alice?
If you can get past the fact that very little happens for long periods of time...arond ninety minutes worth,to be precise,and a hokey script full of corny speeches like:"Oh, bullshit,Vince!The year 2000 is just around the corner. I am a recognized expert in electronic videos and you are the hottest rock n' roll star... in the world! You're making records, videos, movies ... on high-tech electronic equipment of fantastic sophistication. You can get on a plane tonight and be in Australia tomorrow. And you're scared of werewolves.",you might just get a few kicks out of this.Alice Cooper treads dangerously close to wooden cigar store indian territory with this performance,and face it,if you're a rockstar in real life that can't convince people you're a rockstar on the big screen...you're pretty much effed,buddy.The effects are piss-weak,the supporting cast is relatively uninteresting,and the pacing is bound to have you yawning and looking at the clock on the wall repeatedly.I can't recommend this to anyone,save the hardest core Cooper completists.

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...More like papier mache' dog.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

B.W. Goes to the Movies:Friday the 13th(2009)d/Marcus Nispel

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"It's gonna be fuckin' stupid."I must've heard that twenty-five times since the first time I saw the teaser trailer and suggested to my roommate Doc that we should hit the theater for this new Friday the 13th remake.Well,no shit,Dr. Obvious.The whole series was never exactly renowned for any tangible integrity dating back thirty years now,and I had no notions this year's model was gonna be any different,especially after hearing Michael Bay's name was attached to it.If you've been living like the unabomber for the past ten years,Bay is the douchebag responsible for the reprehensible and unnecessary remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its even less necessary prequel,among others.What possessed this guy who once directed a Great White(the band,not the Italian Jaws rip-off)video to take an extended artistic leak all over a beloved,nearly flawless horror classic like TCM I'll never comprehend(I'll bet fellow douchebag Rob Zombie might have the answer to this one),but in this case,we're talking about a franchise that has sent its trademark hydrocephallic murderer into space,to Hell,and midtown Manhattan for twenty onscreen minutes in the worst of the series,ferchrissakes.How much worse could Michael Bay make it?
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Don't look now,there's a huge,deformed,homicidal mongoloid bent on blood vengeance directly behind you.
I'll lay the good news on you first.It doesn't outstink Jason Takes Manhattan.That said,it's still not a good movie.Sure all the trendy MTV camerawork and editing is in place(which I'm completely fucking tired of by now,thanks),the obligatory attractive twenty-something nymphomaniacs searching out a ganja cashcrop(didn't we see this sort of thing in the poop TCM remake?) that happens to have been planted..drumroll..not all that far from the notorious Camp Crystal Lake,where the horrible murders took place all those years ago,culminating in the lopping off of Mrs. Voorhees' screaming domepiece,and the now-commonplace horrible redneck-neighbors-in-the-know who let the revenge-minded retard dole out disturbing death from his packrat shack(oh yeah,now it's a house).Only now,he's got an underground mine he utilizes(hey,it works in My Bloody Valentine,right?Who needs the summer camp thing,anyways!).As for the protagonists,none of them possess an inkling of what could be lightly described as likeable personality.Not since Larry Zerner's Shelly in Pt.3 in 3D has there been a victim I've hated instantaneously as much as every single body that falls by the wayside in this disaster.The murders,which I've heard ravings about all over the place,are neither original,nor particularly gory.There's also only one instance of Harry Manfredini's signature incidental score in the whole film.Seriously,it doesn't even deserve this much written about it.German-born director Nispel should have stuck to Puff Daddy and Spice Girls videos.What harm would there have been in financing a Jason movie that takes the franchise off in a new and/or original direction a la Jason X,instead of forcefeeding rabid horror fans the same old pabulum repackaged and dumbed down a thousand times over the way this one was?Now for the scary part...This scheiße-fest is already doing extremely well at the boxoffice,so expect an assinine sequel in the near future.Ki,ki,ki,ma,ma,ma.
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Seriously,Sackhead Jason should hit Antique Roadshow.Look at all that junk!
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Curse of Frankenstein(1957)d/Terence Fisher

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In the late fifties,the British gothic horror giants at Hammer set out to remake several of the Universal classics,this entry being the first.Director Fisher commits to celluloid not only an entirely different motion picture than the 1931 Universal original,but in several brilliant twists,avoids following most of Mary Shelley's classic novel in the process.Though Peter Cushing establishes himself as the quintessential baron toying with life and death in the confines of his laboratory,studio mate Christopher Lee struggles as the patchwork creature,despite brilliant makeup from the late Phil Leakey,and doesn't bring much to the role,save for swinging his arms around and snarling menacingly.He did very well for himself, attaining megastardom,revered worldwide as a great actor anyway,and did not return for the sequel the next year.This film would catapult Hammer to the forefront of British cinema,panned by some critics,but overwhelmingly received by audiences of the day,and remains a true classic and essential viewing for any horror aficionado worth two disembodied hands wrapped in a hanky!
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That's right,Baron.The bowl of dry ice is firmly in place...
Baron Victor Frankenstein(Peter Cushing) awaits the punishment phase of his sentencing in a cell,when he is visited by a priest,who agrees to hear the condemned man's sordid tale.As a young man who has inherited his family fortune,he is mentored by Paul Krempe(Robert Urquhart),who later becomes the brilliant young scientist's assistant in successful experiments creatng life where there was once none.When the men reanimate a dead puppy,Paul's joy is overshadowed by Frankenstein's urge to take the experiment much further.The one time tutor reluctantly agrees to help the Baron,until after stealing a corpse from the gallows,he witnesses Victor sawing off the head,and realizes the world,science included,may not see the duo's experiments in the same positive light!When Frankenstein's first cousin,Elizabeth(Hazel Court) comes to stay at the castle,Victor neglects to inform Paul or the maid he's been sleeping with, in between their gruesome work, of the young girl's arrival or future living arrangements.Paul turns a blind eye to the Baron's nightly scavenger hunts for suitable body parts for his creation,instead trying to convince Elizabeth to find somewhere else to live,preferably someplace without a mad scientist!
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Horrible makeup,even more horribly miscast;the brilliant actor casts aside the bandages.
When Victor has assembled the creature,save for the brain,he stages a convenient accident at his home for a brilliant old scientist with no immediate family,later removing the genius' brain from the cadaver to complete his makeshift man.Once brought to life,the creature(Christopher Lee)escapes from the lab,killing a young boy and an old man in the process,before a well placed bullet from Paul's rifle sends the monster from whence it came.When the maid threatens the Baron over marriage promises he had made to her during their carnal liasons,he turns her over to the creature,which he has once again given life.Naturally,the creature frees itself from the chains Victor has shackled it in,and when it attacks Elizabeth,he destroys it once and for all with the flame from an oil lamp.When Paul visits the condemned Baron in his cell,he fails to corroborate the mad story Frankenstein has shared with the priest,effectively sealing his fate,as he leaves the jail with Elizabeth in tow.Was the whole thing a figment of Frankenstein's imagination?Or did Paul purposely avoid telling the truth to eliminate his rival for the hand of the young girl?Only the guillotine knows for sure...
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Elizabeth(Hazel Court)and her marvelously smashing twin corset-pedoes.
In the autumn and winter years of his career,Lee has gone on to become a sort of elder statesman of global cinema,enjoying several successful periods to this very day,though he'll always be one of my favorite on-screen baddies,and my top choice as a certain infamously undead,bloodsucking count!Cushing's career spanned nearly sixty years,up until his death in 1994,finding the actor reprising his role as Frankenstein several times,Van Helsing in Hammer's long running Dracula series,Sherlock Holmes,and even Dr. Who in the original films!Both men officially met on the set of this entry,though they had acted on earlier efforts together,and began a lifelong friendship,repeating phrases from Looney Tunes cartoons(!)in between takes.Terry Fisher continued to direct most of the major Hammer horror efforts(directing Lee twelve times!),his last being Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell(1974) before succumbing in 1980.This is a classy effort that makes for enjoyable repeat viewings,and as thus,it merits the very highest of ratings,and is highly recommended from your humble N.
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That's an awfully nice pea coat,Chistopher.Really.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Slumber Party Massacre(1982)d/Amy Jones

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All the...ahem...drilling... I was involved in this past weekend served as inspiration for tonight's entry.The screenplay for this longtime fan favorite was originally written by local poet/novelist Rita Mae Brown as a parody of slasher films,then shot as a serious film,and ironically plays as an unintentional comedy after all is said and done.Aren't flicks like this the best kind,kiddies?Yeah,I'm joking,by the way.Formulaic?You'll find more formula here than you could on Julius Sumner Miller's PBS blackboard back in the seventies.There are some uncredited Mark Shostrom gore effects on display here,an awful lot of twenty-something female nudists masquerading as teenaged high school chicks,meatcleaver-on-snail violence,would-be heroic voyeur-nerds,blatant sexual allegory involving the killer's enormous weapon and helpless female victims,a lot of the necessary elements to make this a thoroughly entertaining slasher flick,really.It might help if half your brain shuts down beforehand from a debilitating stroke,but then again,even that might not help you get through it.
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Scream Queen Brinke Stevens provides my favorite scene in the movie.
Since her parents are out of town,Trish decides it might be high time to invite all her high school friends to one of those slumber parties that you'd be lucky to find middle school aged girls at.After a painfully inept varsity girls' basketball practice,Coach Jana thankfully sends the scrubs to the showers,where they spend a lot of time catting at each other,which proved compelling viewing to your humble N,and not at all any prolonged shots of Linda(Brinke Stevens)soaping up perky on camera hammurabi's.Honest.Valerie(the late Robin Stille),the new girl in school who lives next door to Trish,is sooooooo totally not invited.Oh yeah,mass murderer Russ Thorn,an effeminate-looking hispanic in popped denim collar with a two foot long industrial cordless drill that never needs charging...ever,has escaped.From where,is simply not important.I'm just guessing he's looking for just the right slumber party to terrorize.He warms up by drilling through the bubblehead of a telephone repairwoman,just as our two heroes Neil and Jeff take a called third strike while trying to hit on her.Linda eats spinning steel drillbit death next,after an empty classroom cat and mouse game with Thorn proves tragic when an earlier drill wound's cascading claret leads the driller killer right to her.
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Meatsa,Meatsa.You'd better make sure Russ Thorn gets his pizza in thirty minutes or less.
Next door,Valerie has to make do by breaking her giant Shirley Temple-sized lollipop-licking sister in hot pants, Courtney's cazzies about doling out hand jobs while in fifth grade(which for Jennifer Meyers,must have been nearly two decades previous),then scolding her for reading her copy of Playgirl.At the decadent slumber party she wasn't invited to,the girls get their tits out directly in front of a window that our socially inept heroes happen to be peering through.Thorn quickly puts a damper on the wholesome festivites,drilling the neighbor,who's out cleaver-chopping snails(!),the pizza delivery guy,the basketball coach,the two poor male bastards,and several of the bubbleheads in attendance before the snubbed siblings decide to investigate the girls' gathering for themselves,which leads to a boffo showdown finale against the drill-wielding psychopath,who exclaims,"Takes a lot of love for a person to do this"(!!),before the sisters stab him in the back,chop off his hand with a machete,slash his belly open,and then skewer him on the aforementioned weed chopper before the credits roll,making the cinematic world safe once again for horny pot-smoking chicks to get together and disrobe in front of windows to the delight of nerds who plan their nights aound such gatherings.At least until Slumber Party Massacre 2 came out five years later...
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Is it the power drill or the popped collar that makes the girls scream? We may never know.
Brown achieved her success writing best-selling mysteries,the majority of which she credits her own cat as co-author(!!!),while director Jones moved on to the much scarier The Rich Man's Wife,starring Halle Berry.Robin Stille enjoyed cult favorite status due to this entry,and later,Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama,before committing suicide in 1996.Brinke remains busy,as always,between countless movie projects and convention appearances.This flick spawned three sequels,none of which I've ever bothered with,after having my intelligence insulted by the original.Besides the delightful Stevens,I really couldn't find much on either dramatic or parody level to maintain my interest beyond one or two viewings.Appropriately,this one's getting drilled on the rating scale with an unimpressive score of:
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Randy Courtney(Jennifer Meyers) gave grade five handys,yet finds this machete blade dandy.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

L'ultimo Squalo(1981)d/Enzo G.Castellari

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As the proudest of Italians,I honestly feel that we,as a people,never half-ass what we set out to do.Even when we're ripping off American blockbuster movies.So when Enzo Castellari's L'ultimo Squalo(Great White,U.S. title)was successfully sued by Universal Pictures and yanked shortly after release,Americans had little idea of what a bombastic trainwreck of a motion picture they were missing out on.With a four million dollar advertising budget,a cast of b-movie staple actors,an outta sight disco soundtrack by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis,a script that generously borrows from both Jaws(1975) and Jaws 2(1979),and a mechanical monster that looks to have cost no less than forty-six bucks to construct,Squalo is one of the finest pieces of exploitative garbage to have ever thread a movie projector.Seriously,this film is like Plan 9 From Outer Space with a dorsal fin.Steven Spielberg couldn't have topped this if Richard Dreyfuss looked directly at the camera fifty more times than he already did in the original screen adaption of Peter Benchley's(remember that name)novel.Though no region one dvd exists at this point,get your hands on a PAL format release,or a bootleg immediately.You won't believe your eyes.
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"He's down therrrre...waiting to attack.That's been his patterrrn...right before he makes an attack." says sometimes Irish shark fisherman,Ron Hamer(Vic Morrow).
When one of Jenny Benton's(acting-wise think Keanu Reeves with breasts)cool windsurfing buddies disappears one morning,she enlists her father,writer Peter Benton(not Peter Benchley)to track down the wayward watersporter.Benton(James Franciscus)calls in grizzled sea captain Ron Hamer(Vic Morrow),who's stumbled across a chunk of the boy's surfboard while floating around off the coast of Port Harbor(and floating in and out of a bad Irish accent),to help in the investigation.After Hamer deducts that only a great white shark is large enough to do the kind of damage seen in the piece of surf equipment,both men deliver the bad news to Mayor Wells(Joshus Sinclair),who slags them off,as he busily prepares for a re-election campaign AND an annual regatta/windsurfing competition that will boost the sleepy town's tourism immeasurably.After discovering a local fisherman's swamped boat,his severed arm floating below,the mayor agrees to put up safeguards against this rogue menace,in the form of a metal underwater gate,which the shark abruptly busts through anyway.During the windsurfing competition,the beast surfaces and sends the townspeople and surfers into a frenzied panic,before hitting a rowboat with the mayor's assistant on it,sending him twenty feet straight up into the air(!)and back down into the water,where the shark eats him in front of tv cameras(!!).
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Shark attack or dummy on a rowboat hitting a depth charge?You decide.
When the local media pressures the mayor to act,his son and friends take his father's boat out to hunt for the killer,which promptly bites off Benton's daughter's leg.Wells then takes a chopper out over the sea,hanging a rack of ribs on a towline over the water(the mere scent is all it takes,apparently),and when the shark pulls the winch directly off the helicopter,the politician falls into the surf,eventually getting both of his legs bitten off(!!!)trying to climb back into the chopper.The shark then sinks the chopper,as well.Later,Benton and Hamer,equipped with a singular dynamite belt(nothing like being prepared),take the sea captain's boat out to hunt the shark,but in the underwater melee,Hamer drowns.When the local newscrew ties off a chunk of meat to the pier as bait,the shark tears the entire dock loose,trapping a dozen or so people on it.As Benton drives Hamer's boat back into shore,he comes across what's left of the trapped citizens,and as he helps them onto the boat,he becomes trapped himself on the floating dock.As he fends off the shark's attacks with a plank of wood,Hamer's dead body comes to the surface(from miles away,mind you)and bumps into the edge of the dock.The writer pulls his lifeless buddy onto the floating deathtrap and takes the detonator from the deceased fisherman's still-intact dynamite belt,as the shark surfaces again,and promptly eats Hamer's corpse.At this point,Benton slo-mo jumps off the flotilla (for no apparent reason)and pushes the detonator,effectively blowing the 30-plus foot predator to smithereens.Back on dry land,the writer punches out a nosy television reporter and walks off with his wife,to try and pick up the pieces of his life.
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Peter Benton(James Franciscus),a writer in a wetsuit,clutching a lifeless chunk of prosciutto(Vic Morrow)to use as bait.
The late Morrow,a poor man's Quint, regularly flubs his lines,talking in nonsensical circles in spots(his slideshow speech and on-boat pep talk to Franciscus are particularly heinous/hilarious),while Franciscus,a poor man's Chief Brody,is left to improv through it as the camera rolls.The impossibly fat and conical mechanical shark(constructed by Giorgio Ferrari,but too clunky and awkward to draw comparison to the automobile of the same name!),which does an awful lot of bobbing in and out of the water,is about as menacing as swimming pool cramps.Castellari,who directed everything from westerns to post-apocalyptic set pieces,generously fills in here with ample stock footage of great whites of varying sizes,tiger sharks,nurse sharks,and bull sharks.What's-ah the difference,eh?!!The gore is plentiful and passable,albeit mostly amputated legs and poor bastards bitten in half at the waist,with a severed arm or two thrown in for good measure.It's been lumped in among the worst movies ever made in some circles,and though I really couldn't argue against that distinction here,it IS highly entertaining,and uproariously funny in the most unintentional of ways.Hunt yourself down a copy,even though on the scale it bobs to the surface flaccidly with a meager score of:
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Eh,squalo!Mangiate ed ingrassate!
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Entity(1981)d/Sidney Furie

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The fact that nothing much is going on in the one-sheet should tip you off...
I hadn't thought much about this entry since seeing it in its first run,only acquiring it at the request of my then-girlfriend who claimed it frightened the shit out of her when she last saw it,sometime in the early 90's(when she was probably like nine years old,mind you).I did not have such fond memories of it.Did we watch the same movie? After revisiting Furie's big screen take on the Frank deFelitta novel,the stale taste in my mouth had returned.I suddenly remembered why most of the movie had eluded me at first mention.It sucked.
I just don't buy it for a second.If I was in the same paranormal situation,being visited nightly by an unseen horny succubus...let's just say there'd be one bottomed out ectoplasmic bitch limping back to hell and asking the dark lord and master for an ice pack and a few nights off.Hell,most of the girls I know would make this otherworldly horndog blush in the first five minutes.I'm just skeptical as to whether an invisible main character makes for good cinematic copy these days.It doesn't help that there's little help elsewhere in the flick to back up the see-thru gent.Whatever scares the filmmakers try and ante up here seem invisible at times,but sadly,I think it's because they just aren't there in the first place.
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Women aren't naturally bad drivers,they might just have an invisible incubus trying to kill them while they're driving a vehicle,is all.
Carla Moran(Barbara Hershey)is a single mother of two,living a normal existence in Los Angeles,until one night,while innocently slapping some cream on her gams,she is given the forceful in-out by an unseen assailant.After post-coital investigation turns up no evidence to support this,she wrongly slags it off as a vivid nightmare,until her bedroom violently explodes all around her,causing the frazzled woman to spend the rest of the night at a friend's house.When she returns home,she's given the supernatural high hard one again,this time right as she's drawing herself a bath.The next morning in the car,the invisible force takes over once again,erratically swerving her through traffic and nearly killing her in the process.At this point she seeks out mental help from a psychiatrist named Sneiderman(Ron Silver),who believes the distraught dame is merely physically manifesting her own deep-rooted fear of sex instilled in her through her upbringing.Her harrowing polter-goosings drive her from the arms of her boyfriend Jerry(perrenial cinematic scuzbag Alex Rocco)and to the attention of a pair of nerdy investigative ghostbusters,who offer to try and lend her a hand she can actually see for a change.
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Carla(Barbara Hershey)shares some quality alone time with the netherworld's elbow-tittin' champeen.
After the two dorks set up their paranormal pots n' pans equipment at Carla's place,the ethereal incubus only manages to manifest electric energy from the ceiling.But when Jerry later returns,he finds his partner sprawled naked on the bed,her body being pawed by invisible hands,and when he tries to rescue her,her son misconstrues his attack on the ghostly being with a chair as an assault on his mother,when he clobbers the poor girl in the head with it instead,in mid-spirit fuck(!).At this point,the two ghostbusters call in reinforcements,who set up a roofless replica house in a high school gymnasium,arming it with huge tanks of liquid helium to freeze the spectral rapist in his tracks,since he can move physical objects,and therefore must have some semblance of physical mass himself.Sneiderman makes a mad dash to save Carla before their experiment plays out,but is taken into custody,and forced to watch the whole thing from the sidelines with the parapsychologists and the military.The incubus shows up and tries to do in his earthly squeeze with the helium spray nozzles,and ultimately exploding the tanks themselves in a vulgar display of power,emptyheadedly freezing himself in a mountain of solid helium,which he bursts out of in an even more impressive and vulgar display of power.At the tail end of a very long and drawn out two hours,Carla finally moves her family to another city,when titles roll,telling us that her attacking apparition still scores with her from time to time.
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"If we magnify this corner of the photograph,we might be able to make out something happening(but I doubt it)."
The perpetually plain Barbara Hershey breaks out her own real sweater puppies here,and also pops her head out of a hole in the bed with an unconvincing nude latex body designed by Stan Winston(!!) to move on its own,as it were being groped by invisi-mitts.Not his proudest FX moment,I'm sure.Hershey remains very busy on the acting circuit,though I only really dug her in Boxcar Bertha(1972) and Falling Down(1993).They could have cast a hotter chick,I'm saying.The whole story is allegedly based on the real-life ordeal of Carla Moran,who may or may not still get poked by a poltergeist.If so,at least one of us is scoring some regular sex.Good for you,sister.Personally,I felt the whole thing dragged along,clocking in at over two hours,with precious few hump-scares to mention.You may get an unintentional chuckle from the spectre boobs,or the Charles Bernstein-composed incidental rock guitar rape score,but you probably won't.Hideo Nakata plans to remake this mess,and that's really all it needs to be permanently cemented into dragsville:Japanese genital-fogging.The scale's rating this time around materializes as a disappointing:
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If you're looking for massive frozen helium mountains exploding in a gymnasium,then look no further.
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hands of the Ripper(1971)d/Peter Sadsy

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Involuntarily skipping out on the St. Valentine's weekend festivities,save for third wheeling it at the local Johnny Rocket's grease pit with my roommate and his girlfriend(You wanna know who pumped a pocketful of nickels into the jukebox and tortured the entire establishment with "Chantilly Lace" by the Big Bopper on an endless loop?Look no further,bastards.),I found myself reflecting upon which macabre movie morsels I was going to serve up to my virtual valentines here in the emperor's kingdom,and though I was unsure at first,I knew there oughta be a good deal o' red.
Not my favorite Hammer film of all time,though one would think it's possessing of enough classic elements to merit that much-coveted top spot;excellent setting in jolly old Victorian E',more red stuff than I ever remember seeing on the screen in any other Hammer movie off the top of my head(and they always upped the ante in the blood sweepstakes in those days to begin with),lippy east end whores in a cage(I live for such smashing visuals!)sterling performances by the late Shakespearian actor Eric Porter and the lovely Angharad Rees adding to the sombre tone of the film,but in the end,the whole family values of Saucy Jack the Ripper angle left me more than a little drained,no pun intended.
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Constable Crepewool,about to spring his adamantium claws into action.
The Whitechapel Ripper is a multitasker at heart,we find out,early on.When he's not out ripping whores,he's a family man,tending to his wife and young daughter,Anna.By tending to,I mean shanking his soulmate in the labonza and psychologically twisting his little girl's subconscious into mental taffy.More than a decade later,we find his daughter living with a phony medium-cum-madam,and when she's not faking voices from the ethereal afterlife,she's entertaining slimy cocksmiths like mr. Dysart(Derek Godfrey),who flashes gaudy baubles at the teenager so that she might allow him to get his bloody end away already.When Dr. Pritchard(Eric Porter)bursts in to investigate screams of terror from the medium's humble abode,he finds the psychic impaled on the bedroom door,and Anna staring off blankly as Dysart hastily exits stage left.The doctor,a self-proclaimed student of Freud,does not implicate the flesh hound during questioning by the old bill,deciding to take in the ubiquitously unhinged urchin to his own home,for something frightfully new to Victorian England, called psychoanalysis.He then blackmails Dysart to use his influence to discover anything he can about Anna's shadowy past,and rescues the girl from a jailcell full of unclean,mouthy slappers,planning to break the news to his son and his blind fiancee when they arrive from the train station.
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After being ripped,Dolly(Marjie Lawrence) makes folly of being able to swally,by golly.
Anna repays the good doctor's kindness by smashing a hand mirror and planting it in the neck of the physician's maid.It seems that the combination of reflective light and a kiss,whether amorous or platonic,sends Saucy Jack's daughter off in her famous father's footsteps,evacuating the life out of whoever's foolish enough to be that close in the first place,dammit.She then wanders out in her subconscious trance to the red light district,where the cliched "hooker with a heart of gold" takes her in,only to wind up dead on the cobblestone with multiple hatpins through her hand and into her neck and eye.Rather than turning the young murderess in to the authorities,Pritchard,still of the opinion that he can cure the girl's madness, takes her instead to Madame Bullard,another psychic,at the request of Dysart.The woman identifies the troubled young thing as the ripper's daughter,but when she kisses the girl,she ends up stabbed dead.Pritchard himself finds himself on the wrong end of a sword to the kidneys,but innovatively uses a door handle to un-skewer himself so that he can rush to stop Anna before she does any harm to his son's love interest at the whispering gallery inside St.Paul's Cathedral.Does the bleeding Brit save the day?Or is the blind belle to be brutally butchered by Pritchard's obtuse-of-mind-but-not-of-blade obsession?Get your hands on this ripper to find out.
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Prostitute Long Liz threads the eye of the needle on her night off.
The Hungarian-born director Sadsy was responsible for a myriad of Hammer-based horrors,such as Taste the Blood of Dracula(1970),Countess Dracula(1971),the rarely-seen Nothing But the Night(1973),as well as several episodes of Hammer House of Horror in 1980,any or all of which I enjoyed a great deal more than this entry,despite being anxious to see it as far back as I can remember after seeing the British marquee poster above in a hardcover tome on horror films as a child.Eh,whattayagonndo.The character of the pincushioned prostitute,Long Liz,was actually named after one of Jack the Ripper's real life victims.There's enough here to keep the average Hammer-head glued to the screen for just under an hour and a half,but of all the classic genre fare the studio churned out in the seventies,this one just seems to fade into obscurity in comparison.Definitely worth a look,despite my personal beefs.On the scale,I'll have to rate this ripper:
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Anna(Angherad Rees) doles out my kinda valentines,that's for sure.
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cursed(2005)d/Wes Craven

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Wes "Last House on the Left" Craven directs,Rick Baker and Greg Nicotero/KNB handle the creature and gore effects,and adorable cutie pie Christina Ricci is the female lead.That's a pretty good lineup on paper.So why is this not a better movie?It's certainly a passable ninety minutes worth of light entertainment,but it really should have been so much more.I've racked my brain on this perplexing puzzle quite a few times by now,and this is what your humble N comes up with.Ricci does an admirable job with her material,and is gorgeous,as usual.The werewolves look good,if not a bit CGI-heavy a la Underworld.Nicotero is criminally underused on the gore end thanks to the inevitable PG-13 chop,but his crimson contribution is enjoyable,as always.Besides the myriad of problems Craven had to wade through just to have the film released(three years after production began),the movie suffers from Kevin "I Know What You Did Last Summer" Williamson's goofy,airheaded script.It feels like a horror movie made by people who neither enjoy horror movies,nor understand what goes into making a good one,and a thinly-veiled vehicle for hot young stars of the moment to strut attractively across the big screen,like the "I Know" series was nothing more than.What a shame...
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That's nothing,Ricci,you should see the infernal thing when it's erect.Hahaha!
Two bubbleheads as shallow as a wading pool for kiddies enjoy a fair on the pier when they decide to pay the fortune teller(Portia de Rossi) a visit.The gypo sees moon-based danger in their palms,but the girls cluck disgustedly that the soothsayer fails to notice their Korean French-tipped manicures,or something equally vapid. Enter Ellie(Chistina Ricci) and her embarrassingly nerdy brother Jimmy(Jesse Eisenberg) driving home that night,only to hit some animal with their car on the winding mountain road,ploughing into another vehicle,causing it to flip over the guard rail and into the woods below.When the siblings try to rescue the airhead(Shannon Elizabeth)trapped upside down in the driver's seat,a werewolf snatches her up as prey and effectively puts the mark of the beast on both of them.Jimmy immediately believes they've been affected by a werewolf,trudging through his comic books and crypto websites to map out a course of action.Ellie works for the Craig Kilborn Show(!),and her increasingly wolfish traits become so apparent,she's soon catching Scott "Chachi" Baio's eye while scheduling his appearance on the show(!!).Meanwhile back in high school,it's the plight of the nerd for Jimmy.He's attracted to a girl,who dates the head of the wrestling team,Bo(Milo Ventimiglia),an abrasive sporto meathead who constantly accuses Jimmy of being a homosexual.Ellie is also having problems of the heart with her boyfriend,Jake(Joshua "Dawson's Creek" Jackson),who's opening a Hollywood club filled with horror movie-themed mannekins and a hall of mirrors right out of the New Scooby Doo Movies.
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Leaving your dinner half finished when there are werewolves starving in Romania?Come on!.
After defeating Bo and his jock buddies in a wrestling match in the gym,Jimmy is visited by the defeated meathead,who confesses his own gayness to him(!!!) as they escape the attacks of Zipper the dog,who was infected with lycanthropy when he bit Jimmy on the night of their car crash.You following this?Soon the other member of the bopsy twins from the pier turns her toes up after clashing with a ravenous werewolf in the parking garage.Jake tells Ellie that he's a werewolf,but before he can explain further,she speeds off.At Jake's club,the two boys try to rendezvous with Ellie,but are foiled by a werewolf in the hall of mirrors.At this point I expected to see Shaggy and Scooby disguise themselves as barbers and set the wolfman up for a shave in the chair.But I digress.It turns out this skinny,sassy bitch with massive Vince Vaughn-esque bags under her eyes that Ellie works with completes the were-puzzle,infected with the curse when she herself slept with Jake,killing off female competitors for the alpha male of the pack.In full transformation,she flips the bird to cops before they blow her brains out.Not even Landis would have went there.The shaggy denoument finds Ellie shovel-blading off Jake's head after plunging a silver cake server into his chest,breaking the curse for the siblings and their pooch.Jimmy gets his girl,Bo is the homoerotic third wheel,and Ellie is left to clean up their mess of a house.Cue trendy music as the end credits roll.
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So friggin' cute,even werewolves wanna smooch her.
Yeah,it's definitely the script.Personally,I don't think Craven's done much of anything merit-worthy since Last House on the Left(and that was a LONG TIME AGO,kids),and this furry Gilmore Girls episode didn't do anything to slow his artistic slide into the Hollywood septic tank.Overall,it succeeds as a Wednesday night time waster,if sandwiched between two movies you might have actually wanted to see.Chug several cautionary beers beforehand,and you may get your jollies from the always attractive Ricci and/or Nicotero's on-screen grue.A Wop each for those two factors alone is all I can award this yuk-fest in good conscience.The makers of this film should thank the heavens that the collective ghosts of Larry Talbot and Waldemar Daninsky haven't showed up during the lunar cycle and waffled them for this effort.
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Baker/KNB's upright lycanthropic vision ultimately unveiled.
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Wop's Premio Dardos Award Winners

The Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.

The Rules are: 1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog. 2) Pass the award to another five blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.

Samuel Wilson,of "MONDO 70: A Wild World of Cinema" blog fame, bestowed the honour upon me,so in turn,I'm doling out five Latin Dart Prizes of my own to fellow bloggers who do their jobs,and excellently,at that.Come get yer Dardos Stamp,you exquisite rascals,you!

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I Spit on Your Taste


Nigel's got champagne taste in both film and youth subcultures,a diamond geezer,he is.

Life and Death

Victoria is not only the hottest blogger I've come across,but she manages to do a bang up job blogging,doing special makeup effects,and graphic artwork and design.

Soiled Sinema

These two consistently post stellar reviews of interesting films,and push the envelope in an intelligent manner.

Final Girl

Stacie is just Stacie.I dare you not to love her for it.

The Drunken Severed Head

Let's hope this award moves ol' Head a step closer to finding the rest of his body.His blog is choice indeed.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Deathdream(1974)d/Benjamin "Bob" Clark

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Not a day goes by where I don't ponder how much I miss the late director of this entry,Benjamin "Bob" Clark,the man responsible for the original Black Christmas,Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things,and later on,Porky's and perrenial holiday masterpiece,A Christmas Story.The man was truly a gifted artist with a remarkable vision,and his take on "The Monkey's Paw",written by genre staple Alan Ormsby(who has a cameo and handles the brilliant special makeup effects with a young assistant by the name of Savini!),is a creepy atmospheric classic of seventies cinema,a seething social commentary of the Vietnam war,and one of my personal all-time favorites.The cast is tremendous,from The Godfather's John Marley to then-newcomer Richard Backus,and everyone in between.It used to be you couldn't have a horror movie conversation without this movie or Clark's other work getting namedropped multiple times.That's the way it always SHOULD be.Those of you who've never experienced it,really oughta pick up the Blue Underground dvd ASAP and do yourselves the favor.This is what horror is all about.
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If war isn't Hell,it's gotta be a close second.
Andy Brooks(Richard Backus)eats communist-administered hot lead death in Vietnam.When an army captain breaks the tragic news to Andy's family,his father(John "Horsehead" Marley)and sister(Alan's then-wife and "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things' uber-weirdo,Anya Ormsby)are devastated,consoling each others' tears with hugs,but his mother(Lynn Carlin)refuses to accept what she's heard,slipping into a state of repudiatory shock,clutching a candle and rocking back and forth into the blackness.Later that night on a darkened Florida highway,a truck driver picks up an unseen hitchhiking soldier,returning home from Vietnam.The next morning his corpse is discovered by the authorities,propped up in the driver's seat of his cab,throat savagely slit and drained of blood.When the Brooks are awakened from their sleep that night by a noise at the front door,they're shocked by the unexpected sight of their son's return from the war.Immediately Charles notices that the bloody conflict has changed Andy,who sits in the rocker at great lengths,staring off ominously,before disappearing when the sun goes down.The family throws a picnic for him in the backyard which goes horribly wrong when Andy abruptly grabs one of the neighborhood kids before turning his hateful violence on the family pooch,chucking it through the air towards an early dirt nap.Television news broadcasts about details surrounding the dead trucker spark Charles' curiosity,who schedules a surprise vist for Andy from Dr. Allman.
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An officer(director Clark himself!)examines the gruesome aftermath of Andy's return.
When Andy follows Allman back to his office,he allows the doctor to examine him,revealing that for all intents and purposes,he is a walking corpse(!).He thanks the physician for his efforts with several scalpel blows to the midsection,helping himself to Allman's blood via a hypodermic needle,momentarily quelling the perpetual rot of the dead flesh on his cadaver(!).Meanwhile,Andy's sister Cathy decides its high time that her brother reunite with his best girl,Joanne(Jane Daly,also of CSPWDT fame),setting up a romantic double date at the drive in.Andy spends the majority of the date void of emotion,hiding his increasing fleshrot behind a turtleneck,leather gloves,and sunglasses(!!!),and when Joanne notices her beau's decay,he kills her,sparking panic and chaos at the outdoor theater.He recklessly drives home,where Charles cannot bring himself to shoot his rapidly rotting namesake,and his mother hurries him out to the car,where he is shot with no effect by approaching policemen.A highspeed chase to the cemetery ensues,the desperate woman hauling her son to an open grave and headstone where he had primitively scratched his name and birth/death dates with a rock.The police arrive on the scene to find Christine weeping as Andy futilely tries to bury himself,finally dying for keeps this time.
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Everything doesn't look fine,Bob.
Also released as Dead of Night(not to be confused with the excellent Dan Curtis/Richard Matheson 1977 television anthology),and La Morte Dietro la Porta(The Death Behind the Door) in Italy.Christopher Walken was also considered for the role of Andy,but Backus nailed it with his soulless stare of hate,and was cast instead.Clark had planned to ressurect Children Shouldn't... as his career had taken a decidely goofy turn as of late,helming such forgettable fodder as Baby Geniuses and its sequel,and made-for-television fare like The Karate Dog and Maniac McGee,but an unfortunate car crash claimed his life in 2007.Ormsby took the directorial chair for Deranged,and later uncredited for Popcorn(1991),as well as writing the script for My Bodyguard(1980),and most recently,for television shows like Nash Bridges and The Substitute at the outset of the '00s.Backus scored himself a prolonged role on soap opera,Ryan's Children,before moving on to tv shows like Spenser:For Hire and Law & Order.This entry enjoyed a long run on late night horror shows,and deservedly so.Clark's powerful Vietnam allegory where Americans die in battle,and those that don't,return home as zombies,remains effective and somewhat poignant during our current crisis in the Middle East.Still one of the choicest horror movies of the 70's,I often find myself sitting down for a revisit.The highest possible scale rating,and a sincere recommendation is what I bestow upon it.
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Andy(Richard Backus)is just looking to find his way home.
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