Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell"(1974)d/Terence Fisher

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We'll close out November tonight by taking a closer look at director Terence Fisher's final effort, the sixth in Hammer's Frankenstein series and fifth and final appearance by the iconic Peter Cushing as the Baron.As such, it's a steadfast effort from a studio on the wane from its former genre success, so long as you can get around the absolutely lamentable creature makeup work from Eddie Knight, which kinda resembles an old Sicilian woman's grill slapped on top of a rubbery caveman jumpsuit.You gotta feel bad for poor David "Darth Vader" Prowse under all that bad latex, his second go as Frankenstein's monster for Hammer, 1970's Horror of, being his initial appearance.On the positive side, you've got the rare beauty of a mostly silent Madeline Smith to dress up your frame, and an emasciated-looking Peter Cushing rocking one of the more embarrassing dandy wigs ever committed to celluloid, truly a rupture-inducing blow to cinematic masculinity if ever there was such a thing.Watching him leap on Prowse's back the first time, I was pretty sure the wind might have taken him before he touched down.All joking aside, apart from the unfortunate makeup effects, the movie is actually pretty estimable, unique and atypical from the other series entries, with solid performances from Cushing, BBC staple John Stratton, Smith, Patrick "Second Doctor" Troughton as a bodysnatcher(!) with a taste for schnapps, and Shane Briant as Victor's unscrupulous young understudy.Fisher, who helmed all but two of the Frankenstein series for the studio, shrouds the film in a gothic and lugubrious tone, with more claret-splatter than the earlier productions(and even a few laughably out-of-scale miniatures).All-in-all, a fitting send off for Hammer(who would barely produce a genre ripple in the pond from here on out), the franchise(despite the painfully miserable pittance afforded to the budget), and the director, whose stringent framing and vigorous edits are on display for the last time.Onward!
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I'd need hosing down, too, if I had to share the nuthouse with Madeline Smith.
A constable investigating the criminal enterprises of a shaky graverobber(Patrick Troughton) is lead to the quarters of one Simon Helder(Shane Briant), a young surgeon who's been unsuccessfully recreating the ungodly experiments of Baron Frankenstein.When the court sentences him to five years in the same insane asylum that once housed his mad inspiration, he's not exactly troubled by the concept.And when the asylum director's(John Stratton) two thuggish orderlies welcome him with continuous blasts from a power hose, he's rescued by Doctor Victor(Peter Cushing), the resident surgeon, who Helder immediately recognizes as Frankenstein himself.It seems the Baron has been blackmailing the perfidious director for a priviledged stay that includes the same uninterrupted forays into the scientific unknown that bought him the imprisonment in the first place.When Victor hears of Helder's admiration and surgical skills, the young man is quickly implanted as his personal assistant, making rounds to all the resident lunatics and even lending his steady hand in surgery, due to Frankenstein's burn-scarred mitts, replacing Sarah(Madeline Smith), the beautiful mute girl that most of the inmates are enamored with, and refer to as "The Angel".Helder doesn't take long to uncover the Baron's secret work, a pet project involving a homicidal prisoner named Schneider(David Prowse) who fancies jabbing people in the face with shards of broken glass(!), and whose bone-breaking suicide jump from a high window was thwarted by Frankenstein, who's been adding body parts to the hulking eyeless psychopath while subtracting them from previously living inmates, like a harmless old sculptor's(Bernard "M from the Bond movies" Lee) hands.The understudy improves upon Sarah's amateur stitch-job, unaware of the lengths Victor has gone and will go to see his work to come to fruition.
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"Does Victor Frankenstein(Peter Cushing) have to look directly into the camera, Richard Dreyfuss-style, while wearing a dandy wig...well, does he?!!"
Before too long, the men are giving the brutish creature new eyes, and after Victor drives the resident mathematical genius/violinist,Professor Durendel(Charles Lloyd-Pack), to hang himself in his cell with his own violin strings, a new brain.Frankenstein coldly discards Herr Schneider's old grey matter, clumsily kicking it across the floor after stepping on it(!!).The creature, implanted with a new intellect, has little use for his fiddle and abruptly smashes it to pieces, but instantly recognizes his Angel, who's been assisting all along.The Baron becomes increasingly frustrated by the disdain his patchwork creation shows for the lessons he imposes upon it, treating it less like a human being than a disobedient pet, rushing to tranquilize the thing the instant it trashes equipment or picks up a broken glass container, lapsing into the original fiend it was built from.Victor tells Helder the unfortunate incidents surrounding Durendel's violent outbursts, which stemmed from bursting in on the director as he molested Sarah, the knowledge of such events the foundation for Frankenstein's blackmail plot.With Durendel's brain inside the bulky neanderthal frame, the creature turns again to bloody vengeance, wounding Victor during his escape, and finally throat-shanking the perverted director with a broken bottle the way he always wanted to.With the entire asylum in an uproar as the misshapen monster digs up the fresh graves in the graveyard outside, Sarah breaks her film-long silence as the orderlies fill the thing's belly with hot lead before the other inmates tear it asunder amidst screams and laughter.Though Helder is shaken by the turn of events and the duo's failure, Frankenstein optimistically suggests that they will persevere and carry on their experiments, regardless of this blood-soaked setback.I love happy endings.
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Mitt-less in a pine box, too ignominious of an end for me, personally.
To Fisher's credentials, you'll find his name in the directorial credits of all the finest Hammer genre movies ever produced:Horror of Dracula(1958), Curse of Frankenstein(1957), Revenge of Frankenstein(1958), The Mummy(1959), The Hound of the Baskervilles(1959), The Brides of Dracula(1960), Curse of the Werewolf(1961), Phantom of the Opera(1962), The Gorgon(1964), Dracula:Prince of Darkness(1966), Frankenstein Created Woman(1967), The Devil Rides Out(1967), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed(1969), and tonight's entry.Cushing, who worked with Fisher no less than fourteen times(a distant second place to Tim Burton and Johnny Depp...why don't you guys marry each other already) in his long and prestigious acting career that dated back to 1939(!), has to be firmly cemented into any self-respecting horror nut's all-time top five actors, period.Smith, who you might remember as Sean Connery's Italian bed decoration in Live and Let Die(1973), has an impressive genre resume herself, appearing in movies like Taste the Blood of Dracula(1970), The Vampire Lovers(1970), and Theater of Blood(1973).On the scale, Monster From Hell checks in with two respectable bigguns, an entertaining epitaph, indeed.Recommended.
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"Does the Frankenstein monster(David Prowse) have to shank a loonie in the labonza with a broken bottle...Does he?!!"
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"The 9 Lives of Fritz the Cat"(1974)d/Robert Taylor

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A year ago to the day(Damn, I'm good.) we tackled the first feature focusing on R. Crumb's perverted, pot-smoking fornicatory feline as directed by the legendary Ralph Bakshi, a wildly popular counterculture hit worldwide; it only stands to reason that tonight we oughta take a gander at the sequel that followed two years later.This time around, Bakshi had nothing to do with the production, busy on his own Heavy Traffic(1973) at the time, with the director's chair taken by Robert Taylor, who had worked with Bakshi in the sixties on his superhero cartoon spoof, The Mighty Heroes, and a problematic Crumb-less script that has Fritz reminiscing over his previous incarnations throughout the years, rather than focusing on the seventies the way the prior film dealt with the sixties, as the decade was only four years old at the time(so was your humble narrator, for those keeping score at home).Instead of sex, the sequel is more political(yaaaaawn) in nature this time around, as the filmmakers were looking for an R rating over the X the original earned itself.The result is a critically-panned dud that failed to generate much box office interest and whose very existence is denounced altogether by the character's eccentric bespectacled creator.Though this thing tends to drag a bit, despite the brisk seventy-nine minute running time, I'm here to tell you it still holds a few classic moments of raunchy ethno-humor from bygone days of racial insensitivity, just like yo' mammy used to make.9 Lives is an equal opportunity offender, and several vintage stereotypes are on display here, even my own hippopotami(Italians), though I'm no damned water horse, you dicks, I'm only hung like one.You gotta be able to laugh at yourself every once in a while, kids.
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Sitting around high as balls in your own filth never gets old.
As we jump back, baby, into the 1970's, we find Fritz obliviously blowing reefer in his slovenly mess of an apartment to escape the monotony of domestic life, under a constant deluge of New Yawk-flavored verbal abuse and torment from his wife(could this fat-assed feline frau be what became of his girlfriend Winston from the original flick?!!Ee-gads.), whose existence consists of breastfeeding his infant son, Ralphie, and scolding him for the constant masturbation that he learned from observing his deadbeat welfare dad in action.While she's busy belittling our jaded hero, he hazily reminisces about his prior lives, ignoring her barbs and threats...(insert failed marriage joke here)before he has an out-of-body experience on the street below, mercilessly ripping ass on his Puerto Rican friend Juan then relating a cannabis-based sexual liason he had with his amigo's sister, Chita(Louisa Moritz), while two pot-smoking crows case the funky joint for a robbery outside, before her pig father shows up and blows Fritz's ass away with a shotgun.He then bumps into a stumblebum dog that claims to be, among other things, a black belt in karate and God.Fritz turns up next in Nazi Germany(!), where, after being caught in a mother-daughter sammy by his commanding officer, he ends up nearly taking one in the shorts from the fuhrer himself(!!), as he confesses a repressed desire to be a ballet dancer, before incoming artillery blows his last remaining testicle off, and he's smooshed under a tank, from which a Patton-lookalike emerges and shoots a retreating Fritz in his ass, before shooting himself accidentally.After trying to sell a used rubber to Niki, the Italian hippo who runs the liquor store, Fritz reminisces about the thirties.An overlong mixture of live-action nightclub footage from the era and Fritz in top hat n' tails ensues over a musical number that goes on for like, days, man.
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If the American military looks like this to you, you might be a pinko commie.
When Morris, the pickle-chomping Jewish parrot who runs the pawn shop, refuses to cash Fritz's welfare check, he hoodwinks the cat into accepting a space helmet in trade for a toilet he'd brought in, reminding him of the time he was an astronaut on a mission to Mars.Fritz sneaks a female black crow reporter aboard the rocket for an exclusive story, as payback "for what my people did to your people", and they end up fucking their way out of Earth's atmosphere, where the capsule explodes.Then he bumps into the ghost of his old crow friend, Duke, leading to a flashback to when all the crows were given New Jersey(!), which they renamed "New Africa"(!!), a separate country from the rest of the United States.Fritz is a courier given a message to deliver to the black president from the white one, an oppossum that resembles Kissinger(!!!), and gets caught in the middle of a power coup and executed by a firing squad for his troubles.Cue another musical cartoon montage where a pig(white) and crow(black) declare war on each other until both are reduced to uncivilized savages, and when the crow basketball-dribbles a boulder onto the head of the pig, killing him, a rat with Nixon's head appears and declares him the winner.We then find Fritz hanging out in the sewers, where a Hindu rabbit floats by on a raft, and a gay Satan emerges from the filth, looking for a misplaced earring.Fritz snaps out of it to find himself still sitting in his crummy living room, getting chewed out by his wife, who follows through on her threat of throwing his good-for-nothing ass out.He briefly(and unnecessarily, we've just watched it all happen once, we haven't forgotten it yet) re-examines each of his past lives before remarking that this current one has to be the worst one he's ever had, boogieing down the street and changing colors to strains of the Tom Scott title track.
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"Yo momma so black, dat bitch be leavin' fingerprints on charcoal!"
You might remember Louisa Moritz as the Latin nympho with the jealous boyfriend from Last American Virgin(1982), but she's also worked on a number of other interesting movies like The Man from O.R.G.Y.(1970), Up in Smoke(1979), New Year's Evil(1980), and Chained Heat(1983).It should also be noted that Robert Ridgely who voiced Satan among others in tonight's entry was also responsible for bringing Thundarr the Barbarian to life.Bob Holt, who voiced the wino/God also provided the demon voice in William Girdler's Abby(1974).Glynn Turman, who provides several black voices here, not only chalked up roles in quality blaxploitation classics like J.D.'s Revenge(1976), Five on the Black Hand Side(1973), and Cooley High(1975), but also was husband to "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin for six years towards the end of that decade.I grew up seeing Skip Hinnant on television just about every single day during his six year stint on Electric Company, so you can imagine what it was like instantly recognizing his voice the first time I sat down to watch Fritz(Electric Company was a children's show that followed Sesame Street on PBS back in the seventies) smoke grass and partake in orgies.Hot diggetty.On the scale, 9 Lives merits two solid Wops, and is definitely worth a look if you're into R. Crumb(who isn't?) or seventies adult animation features like this minor cult classic.
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On any given day, you can catch a cat like me jumpin' back in similar fashion, baby.
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Friday, November 25, 2011

"Frankenstein:The True Story"(1973)d/Jack Smight

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Tonight's entry is another plate of clammy made-for-tv leftovers one might mistake for a twenty-eight hundred dollar Wagyu ribeye at first glance, due to the ensemble cast assembled for the production.The venerable James Mason heads the list that includes a pre-Sir John Gielgud, the always lovely Jane Seymour, Ralph Richardson, Agnes Moorehead, and even Tom "Dr. Who" Baker, and all are game faced for this interesting variation(in the most politcally correct of terms) on the Shelley novel that has more in common with the modern Hammer Frankenstein series than the classic book.In fact, the special makeups are even provided by Hammer vet Roy Ashton, and to his credit, they're appropriately Hammer-y-looking, if that makes any sense at all to you.Originally broadcast in ninety minute-long halves, the production begins with an introduction sequence that features Mason stepping through the tombstones in St. John's Wood cemetery in London, incorrectly whiffing on the suggestion that Shelley was buried there, despite standing in front of a headstone that might lead you to think he was actually telling the truth.The author is actually buried in Dorset, where rumor has it, her remains can be heard ever-spinning on a flaming spit since Hollywood had the moose balls to market this long-winded take a 'true story'.Michael Sarrazin plays the monster, who starts off looking dandy then decays into what looks like a late stage terminal AIDS patient more than a superhuman creature assembled from parts of various corpses as the plot unravels(slowly.).Definitely worth a look if hearing Mason speaking Chinese or seeing some gratuitous dummy violence(and one fuck of a rotten severed head) sounds like a good time to you.
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Hope you were ambidexterous...
Enter Victor Frankenstein(Leonard Whiting), an affluent, and brilliant, young surgeon-to-be who's engaged to Elizabeth Fanshawe(Nicola Pagett), studying anatomy from an unorthodox, spastic scientist named Clerval(David McCallum) in London after having lost his younger brother to a tragic boat accident and vowing that he'd work with the devil himself if he could restore life to his perished sibling.When Clerval isn't dramatically grasping at his heart, he's working on logic-defying experiments that preserve human tissue long after death, using electricity and the sun as a catalyst for ushering in a new super-race of indestructible beings from the body parts of cadavers.After constructing a nifty, isolated 40's style mad scientist laboratory in an abandoned chateau, the two scientific groundbreakers luck upon a local mine collapse which provides peasant parts a' plenty for their weird experiments, but on the night before their historic attempt to resurrect the dead, Clerval discovers that a disembodied arm he'd been keeping alive has begun to "reverse the process", or "turns hella ugly" as the screenwriters must have meant.The unsightly mitt causes Clerval's heart to cash its chips in, before he can complete the entry in his diary.Frankenstein, oblivious to the reversal, not only carries on without his partner, but also lends the dead man's grey matter for the final ingredient in their voltage-driven god-play.Lo and behold, when the cheap visual effects subside, a flawless, handsome, and articulate creature(Michael Sarrazin) has been created, with nary a mismatched section or even a stitching scar, ferchrissakes.After grooming the monster for entry into English high society and passing him off as a foreign relative of few words, Frankenstein discovers the ugly-arm-in-the-cupboard, realizing that his new patchwork pal is probably doomed to suffer the same fate, judging by the sudden appearance of sores behind his ears(yeah, bleech.).The monster, being something of an attention whore, has issues dealing with his sudden unpopularity, and after his brutal puss scares the landlady(Agnes Moorehead) to death, he repeatedly shanks himself in the labonza and swan dives off of the white cliffs of Dover to a watery end...of part one.
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Get out from under those carriage wheels, you fuckin' dummy.
The resilient creature wanders off into the woods only to befriend a blind violinist, but in true Herman Munster fashion, manages to kill the old man's grandson and drive his granddaughter into the path of an oncoming carriage.Darn!Darn!Darn!The monster, smitten with the dead granddaughter's beauty, carries her broken frame back to the laboratory, only to find it currently occupied by Dr. Polidori(James Mason), Clerval's former mentor, who's whipped up some ressurrection experiments of his own, sans electricity(which he's frightened of...pussy.), but with far more colored liquids, sparklers, and Chinese coolie assistants.Polidori convinces Frankenstein, who's been trying to get the bitter taste of his prior failure out of his mouth through hum drum domestic tedium with his new bride, to assist him in creating a perfect woman(he needs the young surgeon since an earlier lab accident has left both of his paws looking like beef jerky)during the young man's honeymoon(!!)."I'll be back in a few short months, baby, and you're in for it then..."Of course, the experiment is successful, with the result, a stunningly beautiful female that Polidori has dubbed "Prima"(Jane Seymour), a decorative choker camoflaging the creature's lone stitching scar upon her throat.Polidori then looks to Frankenstein's wife's family to educate and prepare his ward for entry into high society, and here she proves mischievous and amorous towards Victor whenever his suspicious wife has her head turned.On the eve of Polidori's successful unveiling, the male creature drops into a splendid ball uninvited and proceeds to pull Prima's head from her shoulders in front of a throng of screaming partygoers.Victor and Elizabeth leave the police inquiry behind for American shores, unaware that not only is Polidori on board, but the murderous creature has stowed away, as well.The creature rips Polidori's gloves off revealing his meaty claw before hanging his screaming ass up from the crow's nest during a violent electrical storm.The mittless old fool soon eats lightning-singed death, while the creature does away with the ship's crew and Victor's pregnant wife, setting a new course for the North Pole.Victor awakens to find his bride frozen solid on the deck and his creation standing in a nearby ice cavern, where Victor shouts for forgiveness from the makeshift man, and causes an avalanche to abruptly bury both sorry bastards.Roll credits.
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There's something sexy about Jane's elegant neck so close to such a dirty pair of chick-chokers.
Though I remember being a pissed-off little kid having to invest three sugar-driven hours in tonight's review(remember, I was never all that big a Frankie fan to begin with), I'd always give it a look these days, if just for Mason, Gielgud, and Seymour, who's especially young and delicious here, all favorites of mine.Still, it's an interesting idea, adding Polidori, a real-life acquaintance of Shelley's who partook in the famous literary competition that Frankenstein was born out of in the first place, as a character to the story, utilized Hammer-style as an older scientist that the younger Frankenstein reluctantly works with.Most modern viewers will find the gaps between the sparse thrills wider than a three finger Aerosmith 'Walk This Way' gap, I think.If Frankie's your bag, or you're a relic like me who's into impressive acting performances, you'll wanna queue this one up on your 'to see' list of movies.On the scale, it merits two Wops.Check it out.
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Skip the Valtrex, homepiss.You're gonna need to spackle that facepiece once.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Philosophy of a Knife"(2008)d/Andrey Iskanov

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Friends, I ask you: Why bother wasting your holiday exchanging petty, inane niceties with relatives you most likely hate three hundred plus days a year(and who never shrink from tirelessly airing every last one of your failures out to the whole family around the dinner table on an annual basis) when you can enjoy an unpalatably dry Russian turkey right here with your favorite Wop?The quicker woprophile wits who invest the nearly four and a half hours necessary to endure the whole of tonight's entry will be drawing infinite parallels between the rubbery chunks of white meat on their plate and the phony latex excess lying just as dead on the screen before them.Not that revisiting the war-driven atrocities that took place inside Japanese Unit 731 is a particularly bad idea, especially when you've got a treasure trove of rare archival footage and photographs to reinforce your own cine-vision and drive the gut-punched reality home, but of course, the hands of an amateur never once sculpted a masterpiece, superlative chisels notwithstanding.If you're somehow unfamiliar with the aforementioned Imperial Japanese experimental unit's horrendous crimes against humanity in keeping up with the Russians and Germans in the chemical and biological weapon race during the second world war, that's because the Russians went out of their way to forever erase that horrific location from the pages of history.Chinese director Tun Fei Mou tackled the controversial subject with his notoriously nasty Men Behind the Sun(1988), a far superior and more effective effort than Iskanov's in every way, if you're asking me.The Russian has produced a mostly cheap-looking, longwinded, self-indulgent fap-fest that could have been a powerful, moving film with at least three hours worth of edits, methinketh.
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"...in Soviet Russia, movie edits you."
At the outset, we see Iskanov in black and white, as flanked by two fellow countrymen who blow several minutes worth of flowery smoke directly up the filmmaker's ass.Iskanov foresees an unreceptive audience for his cinematic vision, unsure of whether it is based on historic fact or his own interpretation of said truth, though he's fairly sure his film isn't a horror movie, and that the two most important ideas to take away from it are simply, 'death' and 'war'.Fair enough, Andrey, I'll keep that in mind.In between exhaustingly boring interview footage of one withered old geezer who figured prominently in the Khabarosk war crimes trials that would follow, actual film and photographs of the camp and its unfortunate human guinea pigs of all nations is slapped haphazardly together with unedited-esque amateur video recreations of the experiments themselves, as acted out by a mostly silent cast of what looks to be three Asians and a handful of male and female Russian fashion model-types, and treated to closely match the grainy black and white vintage clips(doesn't work very well, either) that they're wrapped around.The withered old geezer animatedly relates his ever-changing version of the events surrounding the construction and operations of Unit 731 from his modest apartment, where he keeps his personal copier(!) under his television set.First, he's stumbling upon the camp while picking mushrooms and conversing with the guard in Japanese(apparently, being a medical student in Harbin also somehow means you're fluent in Japanese), and threateningly told by the guard to never return if he knew what was good for him, yet he later relates having casually strolled into the courtyard where victims were tied to scattered poles with no promised retribution from the security force.How's that done, eh.Oh wait, nevermind, you're a liar, you liar, you.Back to overlong segments of cheap video snow effects and expressionless closeups.And lots of 'em, by God.
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Next week on "So Two-thirds of You Thinks You Can Dance?"...
In between the tedium, as described above, for those of you into cheaply orchestrated, mostly fake-looking debased cruelty as applied by one or more actors, uninterested-looking, upon one or more Russian model-types, disrobed more often than not, and equally unconcerned by the rubbery goings on being inflicted upon them, is cinematic paydirt, indeed.Unmatched scream tracks are piped in over cutaways to embarrassingly phony prop mouths, where teeth are clumsily extricated one....by....one, over...and...over...and over.Hot nude eastern bloc blondes are strapped into a chair and giant hissing cockroaches are shoved into their open vadge.Metrosexual could-be Gap models are splashed with h2o while tied nude to a pole amidst the frostbite-inducing elements outside.A prisoner is zapped with x-rays until he's deformed by the radiation.Not entirely unwilling-looking dames are given the infectious in-out by waterheaded walking std's at gunpoint(the barrel ends up getting sucked on by the victim, mid-rape, as shots of bacteria under a microscope classily flash on by).You looking for abortions, chum?Knife has abortions, abortions, abortions.Voiceover narration for a 731 nurse is provided by Dutch-German actress Manoush, who, after minutes-long pro-Imperialist dialogue with an echo attached to it, starts to sound like the mincey bastard son of Joey Grey and Udo Kier.It should also be noted, that several members of the infamous unit went on to enjoy careers in Japanese medicine and health industry, heading U.S. funded schools, or in the case of notorious camp commander, Shirō Ishii, moving to Maryland to further research bio-weaponry.Moral of the story?In some cases, people are willing to let scientific progress trump humanity and the systematic raping of said ideal.Enjoy that Thanksgiving dinner, kiddies...
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"You sleep with Wop, stupid girl, we stitch you up.How many times you are told this?"
There's some good cinematography in Knife, and Iskanov knows it, too.Why else would he repeat the same shots n' sequences over and over ad nauseum?I'm just not sure he knows where they are, so he chooses to draw them all out by leaving it all in there.Trying to hang a complex arthouse label on cheap exploitative H.G. Lewis-ish shenannigans is like calling said exploitation king a master of the modern horror film.Some creative editing(more of the powerful vintage imagery, less of everything else, though, I must admit the soundtrack is tits) might have warranted the film the pretentious airs it vainly tries to surround itself with.Four and a half hours is a long time, folks.And after watching an hour and a half's worth of goodies agonizingly stretched out to that blood-vessel bursting length for the sake of the website and you readers, I'm putting myself in for a Purple fucking Heart.You know how many cigarettes I could have smoked?Do you know how much sex I could have had?Do you know how many post-coital cigarettes I could have...okay, I'll stop there, but you get my point.Cut down to a reasonable running time, this could be thought-provoking four Wop territory, but as it stands, it's more boring than a Coldplay album.Or a Nickelback halftime performance.Whichever's funnier.One wop.
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I was thinking about doing the same thing after the four hour mark.
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Friday the 13th Pt. VII:The New Blood"(1988)d/John Carl Buechler

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When last we left the lucrative-but-erratic Friday the 13th series and their indestructible murder-minded mongo in the iconic goalie mask, they'd just laid the time-tested tongue-in-cheek sixth installment on us, turning Mr. Voorhees into a homicidal zombie via lightning rod to the uproarious rapture of Jason-junkies worldwide.With renewed popularity abound, they handed the next installment over to John Carl Buechler, the man in the director's chair on movies like The Dungeonmaster(1984), Troll(1986), and Cellar Dweller(1988), as well as special effects technician on Ghoulies(1985), Troll(1986), and The Garbage Pail Kids Movie(1987), who'll probably be remembered for putting stuntman/actor/juggalo(!) Kane Hodder behind the mask for the first time after working with him on Prison a year earlier, a role he'd reprise four times to date.Hodder, in turn, would allow himself to burn controlledly on camera for something like forty seconds straight in the production, setting an impressive stunt record that stood for years in the industry.As was the case with most of the movies in the series, the censors were merciless to Buechler's entry, excising much of the gut-busting, eye-piercing, head-pulping effects that the director had lined up for audiences in part seven, leaving a mostly bloodless, incoherent mess in their wake.To any discombobulating fans inexplicably championing this entry out there, rest easy.I'm not gonna call Pt. VII the worst movie of the series(Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan) or even the second worst(Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday), but third worst isn't at all outside the realm of distinct possibility here, while respectfully recognizing the epic levels of suck generated by Friday the 13th Part III in 3D, of which I've still got the original special goggles you can still catch a whiff off of.Onward.
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See the senseless siren somniferously slain and shivved to a sapling.
We meet ten year old Tina as she bears audio witness to her alcoholic father slapping her mother up like a favorite smack vein, as the psychological damage of said dysfunctional event proves to be a catalyst for the young girl's intrinsic psychokinetic powers, also sending her mother-denting dad to an icy death at the bottom of the Crystal Lake drink in the process.Four years later, with her mother(Susan Blu) and doctor(Terry Kiser) springing her teenaged guilt-laden ass from the nut house and revisiting the scene of the crime, Dr. Crews secretly hopes to harness Tina(Lar Park Lincoln)'s mental abilities and exploit them by keeping the teen's stress levels through the friggin' roof.On vacation right next door is an eighties Benetton ad's worth of stupid kids:There's the glasses-grilled wallflower Maddy(Diana Barrows), blonde sex kitten Robin, Eddie the sci-fi dork, David the burnout, Russell the prep and his girlfriend Sandra, Ben and Kate, the token pair o' dark skins, Melissa(Susan Jennifer Sullivan) the upper crust snotbag, Michael the birthday boy and Nick, his cousin-who's-got-the-hots-for-Tina-next-door.Ya know, while an emotionally overwrought psychic is focusing her powerful mind on the lake in attempt to ressurrect her dead father, I hope she doesn't inadvertently free Jason Voorhees, who's been chained to a boulder in the murky depths, instead.Wouldn't you know it?Tina tries to explain her mentalist faux pas to her mother and doctor, but naturally, neither of those motherfuckers are buying a yarn like that.Making up for lost time, Jason's folly quickly turns to homicide.Michael and his girl get tent spiked the fuck up, while nearby campers Dan and Judy get neck snapped/ beaten repeatedly against a tree in a sleeping bag, respectively.Carrie Wh-, uhhh, Tina doubts her own sanity after having bloody visions of the murders when she sends Dr. Crews to investigate, unaware that the shrink is busy covering up evidence, concerned only with his coming fame and fortune.
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"Wake up!WAKE UP!You're gonna miss out on my flapjacks n' scrapple breakfast!"
Meanwhile Jason feeds Russell an axe, drowns Sandra naked, and when Maddy gussies herself up for some of David's attention, she gains Jason's instead, and he nails her wrists to a tree and gives her an extra mouth with a sickle for her troubles.Ben gets his domepiece smooshed, while Kate gets a noisemaker shoved headlong into her skull via the eyesocket.David gets shanked in the labonza and is relieved of his dome while Hockey-puss chucks Robin out an upstairs window.Tina and Nick are busy doing 'couple things', discovering bodies in the woods together, while Crews is bravely using the girl's mother as a human shield, eating tree saw-administered gut-splatter death himself, for his treachery.Tina stumbles upon her mother's lifeless form, then the neighbors' remains, and, to add insult to injury, Jason himself.The zombified mongoloid gets himself well clobbered by Tina's mind-driven items, including a porch(!!), but the net-minding psycho proves more difficult to dispatch than that, axing Melissa in her snobby mush, before the girl can mentally hurl the brute into the cellar, where she redirects furnace flame to ignite the gasoline she's just doused him with and set him ablaze like so many shut-off notices in Smith-tips' Bonfire of Irresponsibility.Of course to a reanimated maniac like Voorhees, this is a mere momentary setback, and he proceeds to KTFO Nick when Tina somehow manages to resurrect her dead father from the lake(!!!), and the waterlogged drunken wifebeater binds Jason in his chains and pulls him back into watery slumber, just in the nick of time.Tina later boasts of her latest quality Dad-time to Nick as they're both sped off in an ambulance.A hockey mask, broken in half, is found at the crime scene...
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Lar Park Lincoln!Audiences loved her in this and House II:The Second Story(1987) aaaand uh...
This was the first Friday the 13th that I skipped out on seeing in the theaters, probably due to the impending waves of pleasure my teenaged lungs would have gotten out of the three packs of smokes I could have gotten with the ticket price, had I not gone.No-brainer, really, even back then.This would be Buechler's only Friday, as he moved on to helm Ghoulies III:Ghoulies Go To College(1991) next, seriously.Terry Kiser would follow his effort here with his career-defining turn as a partying cadaver in Weekend at Bernie's(not to be confused with the later Queers album) a year later.You may not have known that he also lent his image to Mannequin Two:On the Move(1991), but you do now.Most of the rest of the cast you could probably shell out mere sawbucks for signed 8" x 10"s and insincere Polaroids with, at the nearest obligatory horror con, if you wanted to.Hodder would portray Jason in the eighth, ninth, and tenth movies in the series, as well as roles in 2007's limp Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield and Hatchet(2006)/Hatchet II(2011)'s Victor Crowley character(I've only seen the first thus far, with no great desire to catch the sequel in the near future, though Danielle Harris sure is swell to gander at).As far as Part VII goes, it's not likely to convert you into a Friday nut, but it probably won't send you running for: a)bucket b)box of tissues or c)nearest handgun with a clip fulla vengeance either.Sure, it sucks, but you knew that going in.It gets stamped with a single Wop of indifference.Flip a Wednesday evening coin.
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"Whattaya mean you want your three fifty back?!!?"
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Kiss of the Vampire"(1962)d/Don Sharp

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It's been a hot minute since we've sunken our pronounced canines into a decent vampire flick here at the Wop, and where better to stop our horse-drawn carriage than a gothic Hammer classic like Don Sharp's Kiss of the Vampire, chronologically the third in the studio's long line of fang-fare after 1958's Horror of Dracula and 1960's Brides of Dracula, and indeed, originally intended to be a Dracula sequel(the second without Christopher Lee) with a wild ending borrowed directly from the novelization of Brides(and one that Peter Cushing felt was out of character for his Van Helsing, as he would never resort to using the black arts of the occult to battle blood drinkers, regardless of its effectiveness) that was left out of that production due to the effects team's inability to pull it off believably for audiences at the time.Two short years later, with no Lee or Cushing in the credits, Sharp would give it the old schoolboy try anyway, and the result is an atmospheric and original ride, with lavish colors, impressive set pieces, and beautiful period costumes, that tackles vampirism as a social disease contracted by those who surround themselves with decadence.It stumbles slightly at the climax with laughable rubber bats on wires(Hammer had problems depicting the winged mammals on camera throughout their history, if you ask me), but stands as an entirely watchable cult classic from the legendary studio none-the-less, with a coherent script reminiscent of Hitchcock at times, innovative ideas concerning the vampire mythology, and haunting sequences that would influence later genre productions by accomplished directors like Roman Polanski.Forward!
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"Scoff at the strike branded liquor bottle on my forearm all you want, the bitches love this shit!"
In the midst of a bleak funeral in an isolated European burg, a priest's Latin incantations are interrupted by a grief-stricken drunk who plunges a spade through the coffin lid, bringing unearthly screams and fresh claret bubbling to the surface, much to the horror of the mourners, who scatter like roaches in the light from the surreal and somber scene.Elsewhere,newlyweds Marianne and Gerald Harcourt(Jennifer Daniel, Edward de Souza)have broken down on a windy and desolate mountain road in the Carpathians, as their state-of-the-art jalopy sputters to a halt, the petrol tank bone dry.As Gerald hoofs it for some turn-of-the-centry roadside assistance, his delicious new bride is telescoped through the woods by the regal Dr. Ravna(Noel Willman) from his nearby manor.The young couple soon find themselves shacked up at a derelict inn in town, where the innkeeper's wife's constant mood swings from indifference to misery should be a harbinger of the terrible events that would soon transpire.It's not long before Ravna sends a personal carriage to the inn for the stranded lovers, who are lulled into false momentary bliss by the doctor's ornately decorated mansion and son Carl's(Barry Warren) hypnotic piano composition.Meanwhile, Professor Zimmer(Clifford Evans) watches from the wings as Tania(Isobel Black), a beautiful teenaged vampire, inspects the fresh grave of one of her latest victims only to find the drunken vampire hunter's spade protruding from the earth as he briefly captures her, allowing the undead lass to puncture his wrist with a fanged kiss in the process.Back at the inn, some impromptu detective work by Marianne reveals that Bruno has a beautiful teenaged daughter of his own, that has disappeared under mysterious circumstances...
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"Use the body, now you want my sooooul, Oooh, forget about it, now say no gooo..."
The newlyweds are invited to a posh masquerade ball held at Ravna's estate, and while Sabena(Jacquie Wallis) administers a roofie-laden cocktail to George, his wife Marianne is initiated into the doctor's blood cult, stripped of her breathtaking red party gown for a see-thru white ceremonial gown and neck-bitten by the effetely sadistic fiend while cheered on by her accepting new undead kinfolk.George awakens hungover and alone, told that the gathering ruined by his uncouth drunkenness was one he attended alone, as he's roughly shown the door.Back at the inn, all traces of Marianne have disappeared from the Harcourt's room as the well-to-do groom's sudden panic is interrupted by a decidedly more sober Zimmer, who relates the similar fate that befell his own teenaged daughter and threw him on the righteous path of vampire destruction in the first place to the groggy and desperate husband.George attempts to break into the Ravna's digs, but is led forcibly to the doctor, who reveals the man's wife to be entrancedly enamored to him to the point that she spits a defiant loogie in his grill(Ptooey!) to prove her loyalty to the cult leader.Zimmer shows up in the nick of time and rescues the couple, while sealing the cult into the manor with crosses drawn in garlic upon all the entrances.While Zimmer begins a black magic ritual to return all the vampires to the dark lord, Ravna uses his hypnotic influence to try and draw Marianne back to the estate before the professor can punish the monsters with their own dark arts, but George manages to save her once again as she's sleepwalking through the forest.With the ceremony completed, the skies become black with a sea of bloodthirsty vampire bats that swoop down upon Ravna and his screaming followers, overwhelming them in a biting orgy of blood and rubber bats on wires.
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"I say, old beast, would it be terribly forward of me to plant these eye teeth in the nape of your neck? Jolly good show, eh wot?"
Sharp would go on to helm such memorable Chris Lee vehicles as Rasputin the Mad Monk(1965), The Face of Fu Manchu(1965), and 1966's The Brides of Fu Manchu, as well as such genre favorites as Witchcraft(1964), with one of the last acting roles of Lon Chaney, Jr., The Curse of the Fly(1965), 1973's Dark Places with Lee, Joan Collins, and Herbert Lom, and the cult classic Psychomania(1973). I jumped all over the Image disc years back, before it went out of print, though the film has once again become available to the masses as one of the titles in the two disc region one Hammer Horrors boxset, in its original aspect ratio with no extras.Rumor has it that this is the best print available to date of Hammer's gothic classic, so you'd probably do well to snag yourself this collection the next time it makes itself readily available to you, and with all speed, at that.Gotta dole out props to Kiss for its innovation and lush watchability, as it manages to secure itself an impressive three Wops on the scale and comes recommended for all.Track it down!
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"...When the cartoon bats return to Carpathia, that's the night you promised to bury meeee..."
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"Way of the Dragon"(1972)d/Bruce Lee

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We haven't even gotten to the big yearly day of L-tryptophan intake, and I've already irresponsibly slacked most of the month away, but I assure you, folks, it's only because I'm busy beating on your mother's uvula with me yahzick.And so we come to the very first Bruce Lee review here at the Wop, skipping over Big Boss(1971) and Fists of Fury(1972) just to get to his third film; the global box office record breaking 'fish out of water' martial epic as written, co-produced, overdubbed, directed by, and starring the Little Dragon himself.Hell, he even helped compose the soundtrack with Joseph Koo.Is there anything that Lee, the single most familiar martial arts icon in the world(don't listen to these 98 pound weakling sand-grilled nerds with their played out Chuck Norris crap on the interwebs tubes), born Lee Jun Fan in San Francisco on November 27th, 1940, couldn't have accomplished, had he not suddenly perished on that fateful July 20th in 1973?From a martial artist's perspective, few things get the adrenaline flowing like one of Bruce's cat-like kiais that accompany his powerful techniques, almost too fast to be caught on camera, if you can believe that, and though kung fu movies have long since evolved into a more intricately choreographed ballet of brutality, Lee remains no less impressive with age, some forty years down the line.For his directorial debut, which was released in the U.S. as Return of the Dragon in 1974 to cash in on the success of his Enter the Dragon(1973) effort, Bruce enlisted the skills of Hapkido grandmaster Whang Ing-Sik, heavyweight kickboxing champion Bob Wall, and his sensei, eighth degree Tang Soo Do black belt and middleweight karate champion, Chuck Norris, in his acting(ahem) debut.Rounding out the cast here are Lee regulars, Nora Miao, Wei Ping Ao, and Bruce's lifelong friend, Unicorn Chan.
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Insert risotto allo zafferano con petto d'anatra here.
Tang Lung(Bruce Lee) arrives in Rome(I swear this had no bearing on the Wopsploitation rating) to aid his friend's niece, Chen Ching Hua(Nora Miao), whose restaurant has been singled out by local mafiosi who've been using intimidation to try and force her to sell out to them.Chen, expecting one of her uncle's lawyers instead, is initially unimpressed by the naive bumpkin from the country, who's wary of banks and having difficulty with expressing himself in Italian and English to the point that he can barely order food or resist the advances of local prostitutes.At the restaurant, the workers clumsily practice karate out back to pass the time, since the gangsters continually frighten off potential customers, and even they don't think too much of Tang at first, or see how this small yokel could possibly improve their predicament.That is, until the thugs show up to do some more bullying in his presence, forcing him to take them out back, and humble them with his Chinese boxing.All comers are quickly immobilized by the the little man's fists, feet, bo staff, and dual nunchaku, from the obligatory soul brother to the Roman version of Wolfman Jack, amidst the cheers of his former detractors and skepticism of the unfortunately named Uncle Wang(Wang Chung-Hsin).The mob boss(Jon Benn), not a man easily swayed by speed-of-light spinning hook kicks, gets his flamboyantly garbed, effeminate lieutenant, Ho(Wei Ping-Ao), to send a gunman to dispatch the restaurant's new hero, but Tang nullifies his gun with wooden throwing darts and breaks his neck for his efforts.Tang warns the boss that he'll get serious if the thugs don't leave his friends alone, to which the boss responds by sending a message that he'll have Tang killed if he doesn't leave Rome pronto.Tang is unwavered by the criminal's empty threats, of course.
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When wielding nunchaku in Rome, Tang Lung(Bruce Lee) knows the importance of malocchio.A good wifebeater doesn't hurt either.
The earlier gunman, now sporting a nifty neckbrace, is sent to Chen's apartment to snipe Tang, but receives more comeuppance from the proud Chinese.Chen gets kidnapped by the goons, but Tang and the boys quickly arrive on the scene to rescue her, with Tang jump kicking a ceiling light(!) and cracking his massive knuckles in the boss' face to illustrate his previous point.Ho calls on two of his friends, an American(Bob Wall) and a Japanese(Whang Ing-Sik), both of whom are martial experts, to handle the syndicate's problems, but their language barrier escalates into a fight that's only broken up by the arrival of Colt(Chuck Norris), the karate champ from America that happens to be the other American's sensei.Tang and company are lured to the country nearby to the Roman colosseum by Ho, where they are set upon by the two foreign experts, neither of which proves much of a match for Tang.While Ho goads him to give chase, the other workers exhaustedly fight the two karatekas until Uncle Wang surprises them with a knife to the kidneys, explaining that the boss had paid him well for his treachery.At the ancient arena, Tang encounters Colt instead of Ho, and the two men warm up together, achknowledging that they will battle to the death, with a small feral kitten watching in the wings.At the outset, Colt's powerful strikes overwhelm the small fighter, who increases his own quickness and fluidity to best the American, breaking his arm and one of his legs in the process.When Colt refuses to give up, Tang snaps his neck, sadly draping his gi over his battered, lifeless body out of respect, turning, and once again giving chase to Ho, who tries to sneakily escape.Meanwhile, Uncle Wang, who's shanked up all his nephews for cash, tries to shiv Tang, but gets shot along with Ho by the angry don, who arrives by car, only to see that his latest plan is another failure.Before he can shoot the tiny Chinese bane of his criminal existence, the authorities arrive and take him into custody.At the graveyard, Tang and Chen pay their last respects to their dead friends before the young man bids her adieu, finally returning home.Waaaaaaaassssssssaaaaaa!!!
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"Your-ah Chinese Boxing is ah-squashing the ravioli!", says Chef Boi Ahr Di(Wang Chung-hsin).
It should also be noted that Yuen Biao also makes an early cameo here as one of Bruce Lee's whipping boys.Lee would go on to star in Enter the Dragon with Nora Miao again, ironically, his last completed motion picture before dying the same year.Unicorn Chan, who also appeared in Fists of Fury with Lee, would also meet a tragic end in a 1987 car accident in Malaysia, while Chuck Norris would again play a villain in his next movie, 1973's awful Slaughter in San Francisco, which is often packaged as a starring role for the wooden Irish/Cherokee actor of little renown, instead of the terrible Don Wong vehicle it really is.Norris wouldn't get his marquee turn until four years later with Breaker! Breaker!(1977).Lee's only directorial effort is an even-handed affair, with nice cinematography and excellent pacing that leave one pondering what he would have gone on to do should he have lived a longer life.On the scale, Way earns three solid Wops, and deserves its place on woprophiles' shelves as an exciting kung fu exercise and cult classic.Recommended.
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...And with four rapid-fire kicks to the facepiece, Bruce Lee makes a Chuck Norris joke out of Chuck Norris.
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Friday, November 4, 2011

"It's Alive"(2008)d/Josef Rusnak

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To the the wake that includes the two sequels that followed Larry Cohen's minor horror hit, It's Alive(1974), you can now add one pretty bad remake, courtesy of the man who was a second unit director on the legendarily pungent 1998 American Godzilla.Cohen himself gave the Rusnak production a seething review, saying, "It's a terrible picture. It's just beyond awful.".He ain't just whistlin' Dixie, either.Besides the little homicidal mutant, there's little discernible common ground between the movies save for the inconsistency that plagues both productions, with this one played completely straight with no comedy...or at least no intentional comedy therein.The imdb listing for Bijou Phillips, who's the female lead here in case you were wondering, calls the actress "multi-talented" and I'm gonna go out on a limb here in guessing her equestrienne, singing, and modeling skills far outweigh her acting chops.I honestly can't remember her in her other genre roles in Hostel:Part II(2007) or the Wizard of Gore remake(2007)(Okay, I haven't bothered with the latter one to date, sue me).Director Rusnak doesn't do much to hoist the production out of the gutter, generating no suspense whatsoever with his pedestrian style, further hindered by a mutt of a script that chucks logic and reasoning out the nearest open window.As much as I openly despise the vast majority of horror remakes the industry has been otiosely churning out in recent years, I really wanted to dig this one, but everything about it sucks like getting arrested the day after Christmas, and uh, yeah, I've experienced that, too, for those of you out there keeping score.Downward.
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Safe to say, Shane MacGowan wasn't suckling at this particular teat.
Somewhere in New Mexico(or Bulgaria, if you happen to be paying attention), pregnant collegiate Lenore Harker(Bijou Phillips) skips out of her classes before the semester's end to have her baby with architect/beau Frank Davis(James Murray) and his invalid brother(Raphaël Coleman) at his disjunct little bungalow in Larkspur(again, Bulgaria, for anyone with eyes), amidst the protests of her bestie, who figures she's just gonna drop out of school once she's immersed in child rearing.After an abnormally rapid prenatal growth spurt and one strawberry preserves-splattered delivery room full of mutilated neonatologists, obstetricians, and nurses later, the unsuspecting parents take their new bundle of joy(deformed monster in some shots, completely normal looking toddler in others) home amidst the bustle of clueless investigators and police dogs.When the snaggletoothed little bastard isn't perforating his mammy's tits while breastfeeding, he's sneaking out of his crib off-camera to hungrily hunt, kill, and devour a pigeon.Even after Lenore catches him feeding on a cat, she throws the battered carcass into the trash and reprimands the baby for his predatory bloodlust like he's crayoned up a wall or something.It's only a matter of time before little Daniel re-expands his food chain to include eastern bloc extras with names that end in "ova" and "eva" who've had their voices ADR'ed to sound more American.The wheelchair-bound Chris returns books to the school library and interacts with classmates in head-scratching subplot sequences that look to have been mostly excised and left on the cutting room floor.What purpose does he serve in this movie, again?
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Then the buggy-eyed rubber baby bumped her...
After growing increasingly concerned about Lenore when all her attempts to call her go unreturned, Marnie decides to pay her old friend a visit, earning her a CGI-baby fist punch through her facepiece after she discovers her boyfriend's remains in the back of a pickup truck full of Christmas trees(He eats hot baby-powered CGI death just off-camera during a smoke break).When Lenore stumbles upon the carnage, she merely hides the corpses in the basement before her husband, who seems disinterested in any of the goings on(or maybe he's just not a good actor), gets home.After Sgt. Perkins'(Owen Teale) investigation leads him to take a deputy out to the Davis place, getting to meet the pint-sized purveyor of polishing off face-to-face while in his unofficial-looking squad car.Not only equipped with a ravenous propensity for flesh n' blood, Daniel can also apparently shrink to the size of a pea, saving the effects team a lot of unnecessary headaches in trying to depict the child's fiendish murders, which greatly resemble a Tazmanian Devil cartoon whirlwind.Somewhere along the line here, Lenore confesses to Frank that she took an abortion pill upon becoming pregnant, but the guilt of her actions led her to pray that the baby somehow survived, despite it.Some acting would have helped here.After a tensionless square off in the darkened basement, Frank manages to trap Daniel in a garbage can(!), but after dragging it off into the woods, he can't bring himself to shoot the infernal thing, and when he pulls the lid off, his son makes minced meat out of his labonza for the effort.Lenore fetches her child and returns to their burning house with it, as Frank and Chris marvel at the horrendous CGI flame effects from outside.Eighty minutes?Felt like two eighty, ferchrissakes.
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CG-Ay yai yai.
As you may remember, we stamped a single Wop upon the Larry Cohen original, while the remake with the 'advantage' of all the advances in technology and filmmaking techniques that have come in the past thirty-four years still somehow manages to earn the same marks as its predecessor.Deceiving really, since the Cohen movie is infinitely more entertaining with its grindhouse charms and muddled effects than this recent puddle of abysmally-paced sludge, showcasing some unapologetically lazy cgi(whether you're talking the continuity-defying creature effects or greenscreened scenery outside moving vehicle windows, it's all pretty rotten) and lifeless acting performances whose 'suck' is intensified by some flaccid dubbing that rivals an early eighties Godfrey Ho production.It's a pity, too, because, in the right hands this one could've improved upon the original, instead of existing as yet one more crappy remake that insults the intelligence of horror fans worldwide.As promising as monster babies may seem for genre freaks, you're gonna wanna abort this one in the first trimester, folks, trust me.
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"I warned you about building a diversified portfolio, but you didn't listen to me!"
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Female Trouble"(1974)d/John Waters

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Tonight we'll focus on the 1974 cult classic from the filthiest people alive, as directed by he of the pencil moustache and Kleenex box shoes clan, John Waters.After forcing audiences to leave the theater ranting and raving about his prior movie, Pink Flamingos, which ends as Waters' reverse sex symbol, Divine, scoops up a steaming dog turd and pops it into his/her/its mouth.Hard to top that kind of climax, I'm guessing, but somehow, he did just that a mere two years later with another salaciously uproarious excursion into the bowels of poor taste that he originally titled "Rotten Mind, Rotten Face", and dedicated to imprisoned Manson family member, Charles "Tex" Watson, who made a wooden helicopter(!) for the director that appears in the opening credits.As is always the case with a Waters movie, the dialogue is a fucking scream(Waters wrote, edited, produced, directed, and handled the cinematography himself) and the meretricious set pieces and makeups ably handled by Dreamlanders Vincent and Ed Peranio, Van Smith, Chris Mason, and David Lochary, respectively.Speaking of Dreamlanders, this would be the last time that all of the original coterie of Baltimore-based creeps would be assembled for a non compos mentis Waters production, as male lead David Lochary would overdose on PCP(!!), allegedly falling on a glass and bleeding to death(!!!) in his New York apartment just three years later at the age of 32.Oh God, how heartwarming.The original 89 minute 35 mm print was later restored to include an extra eight minutes, as the film had been seen in Europe all along, with a remixed stereo surround soundtrack, for release as a double feature dvd, paired with 'Pink Flamingos', though this package has long since gone out-of-print and isn't easy to find.Onward!
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"Won't you join us in a carol before we open our gifts?""Oh, Mother..."
We're introduced to Dawn Davenport(Divine), an overweight juvenile delinquent and shit-kicker with dreams of fame, as she receives failing marks in Geography at an all girls' school in 1960's Baltimore.The rotund troublemaker passes notes, lies, cheats, and fights in class, when a decent girl who's only looking for a good education(!) rats her out for eating a twelve inch meatball sandwich right in front of her terrified classmates.When she receives the wrong pair of shoes for Christmas("What are THESE?!!!"), she throws her own mother into the Christmas tree and sobbingly runs off to hitch a ride from a balding, overweight scumbag named Earl Peterson(also Divine) in an Edsel, who proceeds to fuck her out on a skeevy mattress on the side of the road(!!).After Peterson tells her to get the hook, Dawn is forced to give birth to her daughter alone in a fleabag motel, severing the umbilical cord with her teeth(!!!).We follow Dawn in a late sixties montage through her career choices: waitress, go-go dancer, streetwalker, petty thief.Her daughter, Taffy(!), is an eight year old brat who incessantly repeats nursery rhymes while jumping rope in the house.Dawn does what any good mother would do, first beating her with a car aerial, then chaining her in the attic with the help of her two cohorts, Chiclet and Concetta(Susan Walsh, Cookie Mueller).She soon finds herself amorously bound to a hairdresser named Gator, who's Aunt Ida(Edith Massey) is an obese old fag hag that dresses like a dominatrix and pleads for him to be a homosexual("Oh honey, I'd be so happy if you'd turn nellie.").Gator works for the Lipstick Beauty Salon, as owned by the Dashers, Donald(David Lochary) and Donna(Mary Vivian Pierce), a haute couture couple who inject liquid eyeliner for kicks; Donald pays a fortune for his wife's clothes, while Donna rarely eats any form of noodle.It's not long before the flamboyant pair enlists the criminal mind of Davenport for an artistic venture that begins when their flashbulbs bathe Davenport as she breaks a chair over her daughter's back in a fit of dysfunctional rage and poses atop her unconscious frame like a victorious big game hunter.
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Dawn Davenport(Divine)-1, umbilical cord-0.
When Dawn divorces Gator and has him fired from the salon after catching a young hippie chick riding his face, he goes to Detroit to be close to the auto industry(!), sending Ida into a vengeful tizzy, as she splashes our heroine in the face with disfiguring hydrochloric acid.The Dashers convince Dawn her hideous face is the embodiment of true beauty, abducting Ida and imprisoning her in a giant birdcage in Dawn's new digs.As Davenport chops off the elderly woman's hand, the Dashers feverishly snap away, paparazzi-style.Meanwhile, Taffy(Mink Stole), not content to spend her mother's money playing car crash with bloodied mannekins in the living room anymore, has grown into an annoying Hare Krishna after avoiding both Gator's and Earl Peterson's sexual advances(she stabs the slobbish perv/birth father to death with a condiment-stained steak knife), and selflessly giving Ida a hook for her bloody stump.Dawn strangles the shit out of her until she's dead for her spiritual awakening.With exhibitionism flowing through her veins, Dawn puts on a filthy stage show for a cheering seedy backalley crowd where she deep throats a fish, and flops clumsily around in a playpen before exclaiming excitedly, "I blew Richard Speck!" then opening fire on the crowd and killing her fans for art.On trial for murder, she soon finds all of her former entourage willing to testify against her to save their own skins.Finally, she's walked to the electric chair, delusional to the very end, treating her own execution as the ultimate press opportunity.Bzzzzt.The end.
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"Let me out of this cage, little Taffy...and I'll give you a cookie!"
Waters, who almost smokes as much as this guy over here, would follow this one up with 1976's Desperate Living, a deliriously twisted fairy tale, before moving on to more mainstream friendly fare like the Odorama epic, Polyester(1979) and Cry Baby(1990).For those who've championed the Earl of Puke from his humble 8 mm backyard beginnings in the mid-sixties, his current Hollywood acceptance is especially satisfying, and though his newer films may not revel and frolic in bad taste as they once did, you can usually catch a quirky line of dialogue or two that reminds you that he hasn't forgotten where he came from, either.Personally, I think tonight's review might be my favorite John Waters movie of them all, at the very least, an excellent introduction for novice filth mongers looking to get acquainted with his disturbed, side-splittingly hilarious cinematic visions.On the scale, Trouble scores a perfect four Wops as it proudly strangles its viewers in a finely-woven noose of filth, for art's sake.Highest recommendation.
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"They say I'm a skank, But I don't care... Go ahead, put me In your el-e-ectric chair!"
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