Sunday, May 27, 2012

"The Dead"(2010)d/The Ford Brothers

Let the record show that tonight, another matchless evening of proto-metal, high grade disorientation smoke, and new horror flicks for the kid over here, I stand partially corrected about a movie sub-genre for probably the first time since Leonard Nimoy first fell in love with ugly polyester blazers and turtlenecks.Partially, I say, because despite going into the Ford 's foray into flesh-eating ghouls-on-film blind, and still zombie dyspepsic from Romero's last impecunious harvesting off an already depleted reanimated teat, with expectations lower than Prince Randian's ballbag, the British siblings still managed to deliver a pretty standard zed word effort that offers nothing particularly innovative about the subject, and yet somehow entertained the hell outta me, just the same.The filmmakers display solid technical prowess in soaking their frame with atmosphere and dread while showcasing the savage beauty of the dark continent of Africa, where voodoo, zombies, and the like seem right at home, though they wisely choose to avoid ever hanging the living dead plague within on the black arts, or any other hastily slung together expository roots, knowing full well that genius often lies in simplicity.Partially, I say, because despite such a pleasant suprise as 'The Dead' turned out be, I stand adamantly behind my prior assessment that the cinematic zombie needs reinterment for a period of no less than a decade or two(you guys can also hold off until after I'm unanimated myself, too, I won't complain, really.), unless we're talking about a movie like this...
Jam goes on the toast, not the chest.It isn't Vicks' Vapor Rub, ferchrissakes.
Lt. Brian Murphy(Rob Freeman) is a U.S. military engineer looking to reunite with his family, aboard the last evac flight out of an African continent that has become overrun with re-animated, flesh-eating corpses.When it fails to take off properly, the plane is forced to crash land just off the coast, with Murphy being one of two uninjured survivors in a mad scramble for the cover of the treeline as a beachload of ghouls shamblingly converge upon them, while an immobilized remnant is devoured alive.It's soon apparent that travelling on foot across the scorching plains is a near impossibility; though the silent zombies shuffle along aimlessly baby step by baby step, they are relentless in their pursuit of human food, which can be set upon by a magnitude of white-eyed flesh-eaters in a moment's time, as Murphy learns, getting himself surrounded, and ultimately saved by Sgt. Dembele(Prince David Osei), an African soldier who has absconded from his unit to rescue his wife and young son from a nearby village, only to find the aftermath of a bloodbath: his wife, dying, has been partially eaten by the zombies and his son has hitched a ride aboard a military transport headed north.Murphy and Dembele agree to travel together to the northern base in a hastily repaired Jeep, increasing their infinitessimal chances of survival with numbers.
"Medical aid? We're here for the free Philadelphia Yankees t-shirts."
The odds progressively stack on top of the unlikely duo, sacrificing much of their canteen water to keep the rickety radiator from overheating, and ultimately barrelling breakneck into a shuffling corpse along the way, leaving them no choice but to make the rest of the perilous journey on foot amidst a silent, growing army that's seemingly only moments away from wherever they choose to rest and collect themselves.After a lengthy, expository stay at a proud village determined to battle back the mortifying menaces, Murphy is forced to go it alone when Dembele gets himself bitten, chewed, and swallowed by a roving pack of ghouls one night, when neither man manages to awaken to the makeshift tin can/string/rock zombie alert they've set up around the encampment.Murphy close calls his way through miles of treacherous terrain, often packed with patrols of pustulent zombies that he's forced to hide in ditches and up trees from, dodging a gory demise one last time when soldiers from the nearby base give some surrounding shamblers a lead lunch.Murphy is united with Dembele's son and gives his father's pendant to him before they turn to face the approaching shadow of a zombie horde in the African sun.Credits.
"I found the problem!My femur is puncturing the gas tank..."
Apart from directing commericals and appearing in Pervirella(2002) as  the Statue of Liberty(!), Howard J. has also directed Mainline Run(1994) and 2000's Distant Shadow, while Jon served as cinematographer on both productions.Freeman, who portrayed Ryan's son in Saving Private Ryan(1998), also appeared on shows like X-Files and Millenium, while scoring another genre credit in the made-for-tv Pumpkinhead:Blood Feud(2007).Osei also turns in an effective performance here as Sgt. Dembele, and I look forward to seeing him in more things in the future.I like that the Fords' zombies move like the classic Romero variant rather than the Boyle sprinting variety, but more closely resemble an update on Fulci's, circa Paura nella città dei morti viventi(1980), to me.That the tension remains thicker than a lung fulla Sour Diesel throughout a slow zombie production at this stage of the supersaturated living dead ballgame is just one more tribute to the filmmakers' blatant abilities, and let's not forget they did it without relying on a silly titular prefix like "Continent of..." or some such shit, eh.I hope one or both of them choose to remain in the genre game for at least a few more movies, though it's apparent they're destined for bigger things in the industry, for sure.One or two KNB-style zombie chowdowns away from perfection, methinks.Still, it rates :
If you let this chap with the Farrah smile shamble into your personal space, you're a Ghana...errr, goner.Sorry.

"Des Morts"(1979)d/Jean-Paul Ferbus, Dominique Garny, Thierry Zeno

My earliest memory of tonight's movie dates back to the early eighties, where a trip to Gallery of Sound left me holding the fifty dollar Media VHS of Basket Case(1982) in my left hand and the pricey eighty dollar plastic Gorgon clamshell VHS of this in my right.Not yet the eager young real death/real gore-hund I'd blossom into a few years later, I passed on the impressively packaged/ridiculously priced Belgian deathumentary in favour of Henenlotter's legendary siamese brothers, and wouldn't come across it again until one of my regular mom and pop video store 'going out of business' sales haunts in the middle of nowhere years later, for a couple of bucks in a bin by the register.After a successful evening of carousing cooze and getting wasted like a Viking does, I blew through early morning red lights to get home for a chance to finally screen the critically acclaimed thing without passing the fuck out like a chump, the way I ended up doing afterall.Paced somewhere between a funeral procession and the time that'd have to elapse for your entire cadaver to rot down to fertilizer, the filmmakers, who comprise the avant-garde team that brought us the aptly-named Vase de Noces(1974), translated as 'The Wedding Trough', but globally notorious as 'The Pig-Fucking Movie'(uhh, yeah...we'll be skipping that one here, folks.), mix ethnographic art and exploitation in serving up  the poetry, spirituality, and absurdity of death, in graphic detail, for the camera.
Still a two liter of Mt Dew Voltage, a bag of sensi, and some Sabbath away from qualifying as a "ripper".
You groove on dead bodies, man?You're about to get more than a couple here, believe you me.Corpses in various states of decomposition all pass the lens, matter-of-factly, as they're graphically dissected like so many fetal pigs in a high school laboratory(porn for morticians, really), incinerated into charcoal(more or less), and entered into the ground for that lengthy, unpleasant dirt nap that nobody likes to think about while they're surrounding themselves with material wealth and acquisitions or partying their balls off constantly like some guys think they're entitled to do.Ahem.You should be able to execute an autopsy or effectively prep a cadaver for a funeral by the time you've sat through all the procedures depicted in lurid detail for the cameras here.Burial rites your bag?Nepalese, Thai, Belgian, South Korean, and even Yank rituals are examined at exhaustive mandible-numbing length here and segued by exploitative shock cuts.All these funerals and still no stiffie joke?With much respect to Terry Jones of the Pythons, I'll take the high road here and pay my respects to the bereaved within with a moment of silent dedication that won't translate worth a good goddamn to anybody following at home.We see a guy who makes a living dumping people's ash remains over the Golden Gate Bridge via airplane, with discount group rates.Oh, but that's not all...
Even Johnny Blaze needs a little breather sometimes.
...and just when you thought you might get through a mondo shockumentary without having to witness any senseless animal death, four oxen selflessly give their lives for the filmmakers' lens in obligatory gruesome fashion, in case you were feeling too positively about the whole dark affair thus far.Hey, at least they slumped dead on their left sides, allowing the dead Thai mom that they were sacrificed in the name of, a peaceful passage into a joyous afterlife without wreaking vengeance or sickness upon her living relatives.I'm still thinking the cows just might have gotten assfucked on this particular deal.More, you demand? There's Mexican bull-skewering and butcher shop hijinks with still-twitching severed calf heads. Interviews with handicapped individuals soon follow, resulting in some serious heavying of some already weighty eyelids on this end.A satirical look at cryogenics is taken via color still photography For those of you wondering where the hell all the executions in this damned documentary are, ponder no further, as you bear witness to a would-be Filipino guerilla-turned-informant's check getting cashed by his former comrades, his twitching corpse dumped into a shallow grave(a scene Zeno cut from later prints of the film as 'unneccessary').The camera pans a cemetery as the film comes to a close, perhaps leaving more questions for the viewer than it has ultimately answered...
"Dude, the buzzer went off, gimme those fuckin' tweezers, ya cheater!"
Though I probably woulda dug Morts had I picked it up way back when, I have to think I ultimately made the right choice in wicker basket freaks and grillsful o' scalpels.By the time I finally saw the damned thing, I was a different animal entirely, senses dulled against most real shockumentary violence and death by the mid-80s surge of Faces, Traces, Scenes deathumentary barrage me and the boys willingly endured back then, though there are still a few clips I have trouble wrapping my eyes around to this day.Morts is tame in comparison to most of those aforementioned vids, and I'd imagine any hardened gorenophile or death metaller worth his(or her) tits in grue would have the same end result that I did that first time around: riding the somnambulistic sky dragon to la-la land and chainsawing wood planks on the couch where I sit like I was named Jean-fucking-Pierre or something.On the other hand, Morts is a cerebral otherworldly journey that just might hit the spot for one of those rainy afternoons when you're piped outta yer gourd and fancy contemplating the end, which coincidentally, awaits us all, with its cold, final embrace.Worth a look, two Biggies.
Don't you wish they could stay like this forever?Oh, wait...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"M.D.C. Maschera di cera"(1997)d/Sergio Stivaletti

What might have been...I could spend multiple paragraphs exploring conjecture concerning what tonight's review might have been like had  genre maestro Lucio Fulci, for whom the legendary House of Wax remake was originally intended, not expired mere weeks before principal shooting had finally commenced.Fulci only provided the screenplay adaptation of  Gaston LaRoux short story "The Waxwork Museum", after meeting in 1995 with(or burying the hatchet with, depending on who you talk to, I'm sure) colleague and producer Dario Argento who had heard of Fulci's recent hardships, offering the big-budgeted re-imagining as a comeback opportunity for the legendary director.Delays to Argento's own Stendahl Syndrome(1996) at the time translated into several frustrating delays for the project, which would end up being inherited by long-time Italian FX wizard, Sergio Stivaletti, who had also done extensive work as a second unit director under Argento, Lamberto Bava, and even Michele Soavi, prior to this, his directorial debut.Screenwriter Daniele Stroppa, who had co-written some of Fulci's recent work, allegedly reworked the screenplay until any resemblance to Fulci's original script could only be considered a coincidence, sadly enough.Had the entire problematic production simply just crashed and burned in a forgettable blaze, Italophiles everywhere might have nodded approvingly, but, to Stivaletti's credit, he crafts a worthy update of the 3D Vincent Price classic, full of gothic Hammer-esque moodiness, an effective blend of classic scares, sexuality, and luridly realistic violence worthy of multiple viewings.Forwards.
"I fuckin' told you you couldn't handle one o' my 'Indian Burns', but your teeth kept a-joggin' in place..."
On a mortiferous evening in Paris in 1900, a terrified little girl hides under a bed as a mysterious black-cloaked fiend doles horrible finality to both her parents' lives with the aid of a skeletal metal claw, which effortlessly snaps off body parts and bursts through ribcages to pull out still-beating hearts.Twelve years later, we meet young cocksmith, Luca(Daniele Auber), as he bets some twenty lira against a fellow brothel client that he can spend the night at the wax museum without dying of fright.It's a bet he doesn't win, turning up scared to death on the museum floor the next morning, with the curator, Boris Volkoff(Robert Hussein), expecting the controversy to fill his gallery of ghastly imagery with patrons for the upcoming grand opening.The striking, young Sonia(Romina Mondello) soon applies as a costume maker for the effigies and instantly mesmerizes Volkoff with her innocent charms until he hires her, to the dismay of  his creepy Italo-mulleted assistant, Alex(Umberto Balli). It's not long before people(children, mostly) are disappearing from the streets of Rome and reappearing in Boris' narrow velvet-roped aisle of re-enacted murder scenes-in-parafin.Meanwhile, a local photographer/reporter named Andrea(Riccardo Serventi Longhi), who's no stranger to the concept of 'attività di fronte, ma festa dietro' himself, with romantic designs on Sonia, begins doing his own investigation into the deaths, questioning Luca's favorite whore, Giorgina(Valery Valmond), who's not long for this earth herself.Meanwhile, Sonia is repeatedly haunted by that fateful night twelve years ago, and spied on during her mid-day make out sessions with Andrea by the secretive Boris, who also peep-toms Alex as he's dominated by strap-wielding brothel sluts, through a peephole in the wall.Niiiice.
"Dove hai nascosto la vaselina cura intensiva?Sono più secca di quella borsa £ 20 di cibo per cani!"
When a twelve year old female victim revives on the autopsy table(might wanna skip the shot of creepy undeveloped naked kid boobs next time, Serg, just sayin', buddy.), it's soon apparent that Volkoff might also be Sonia's mother's cuckolded first husband, who did a bellyflopper into a vat of hot wax upon catching his wife's steamy afternoon extracurriculars all those years ago, and was believed dead.In fact, when Boris reveals his latest museum set piece, it's a to-the-letter recreation of her parents murder scene, including some details that Inspector Palazzi(Gianni Franco) had never revealed to the public.Palazzi is later attacked by his own spitting image, who abruptly crushes his face with a familiar metal hand and jabs his heart with a lengthy sharpened pin, but not before the detective can remove his assassin's wax mask.Some photos that Sonia helped Andrea obtain illegally reveal veiny roadmaps under the parafin of the statues' familiar faces, and after rescuing Sonia from an ignominious end, hogtied with open wrists near a sty full of hungry pigs, he's forced to again infiltrate the wax museum with authorities where a heartbroken Boris has designs on transforming Sonia into one of his lifelike figurines through alchemy and science.The ensuing struggle ignites a fire which quickly consumes Volkoff's creations and melts off his false wax face, revealing a Terminator-esque metal exoskeleton that's beheaded by the jilted Alex in the nick of time.As Andrea and Sonia depart the cgi-flame engulfed structure, we see Alex retreat to a secret room where he removes his disguise and re-dons the persona of Volkoff, slipping haughtily past the occupied on-lookers outside, as the credits roll.
"...prima che io ti libererò, lasciatemi dire che hai grandi tette, sorella mia."
Stivaletti would again see the director's chair on 2004's I tre volti del terrore anthology, while providing effects work on everything from Demoni(1985), La Chiesa(1990), Dellamorte, Dellamore(1994), to most recently, Argento's own Dracula 3D(2012), along the way.Mondello, a Lazio native and the prototype for my future ex-wife, is beyond splendid to look at, granted, but doesn't offer us very much insight into her acting skills here.She's gone on to do a lot of Italian television work since.Hossein, who got his start acting in Paris' Theatre Grand Guignol in Montmartre, went on to work opposite some of the biggest cinematic sex symbols of the era, like Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, and Marina Vlady, who would become one of his wives, as well as appearing in the films of  le due Sergio's, Leone and Gobbi, and directing 1969's Une corde, un Colt...(written by Dario Argento).Sure, a Fulci/Argento collaboration might have turned out to be one of the most amazing movies you'll never get a chance to see, but I think there's just as much chance that the two conflicting artists would have locked horns many more times before the film was finally in the can.At least it's fun to think so, no?Stivaletti's final product, on the other hand, is a lively, blood-drenched, good time that harkens back not only to the glorious Italian domination of the genre during the seventies and eighties, but also to the sophisticated Hammer look of the sixties, with beautiful women in various states of undress and under tremendous duress at the hands of a diabolical villain.I swear there were a few shots where I thought I was looking at Argento's or Fulci's handiwork on the screen afterall, and by the end credits, I stood well-satisfied.For that, Maschera earns three Big ones on the scale.Good stuff, indeed.
"Come-ah with me, if-ah you want cannoli."You know?Like the T-800, but Italian?Oh, forget it, dicks.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"La Novia Ensangrentada"(1972)d/Vicente Aranda

By 1972, genre filmmakers weren't only making your father's vampire movies anymore, with gothic scenery familiarly chewed by hammy actors with penciled-in widow's peaks and corny accents and women who were little more than busty fang candy or sexy bat-bait.Nowhere was this more obvious than in Spain, where writer/director Aranda had just wrapped this off-beat, surprisingly sexy, uber-violent update on the Sheridan LeFanu vampire short story, Carmilla.Don't let the exploitative international title, The Blood Spattered Bride, ruin your experience with false promise of shlocky fun(despite free 'up-chuck cups' given out at the box office for squeamish and faint-of-heart theatergoers!), this is some potent hardcore imagery here, hauntingly set against a dreary Spanish countryside, and further intensified by the striking beauty of female leads,  Maribel Martin and Alexandra Bastedo, who more than resembled a Spaniard version of Blondie front-chick, Debbie Harry in her prime, at certain angles and under certain lighting to me here, and that's always hot.The original Anchor Bay disc eventually replaced the hulking Gorgon clamshell VHS in my collection(always hard to say goodbye to those, ain't it?), and though it's a bare bones release apart from the uncut widescreen print and the excellent "Berserk at the Bijou" combo trailer, it's managed to satiate my desire to revisit all the graphic genital-hacking, shotgunned nuts, blood-sipping, man-slashing mayhem whenever it arises, which is pretty frequently, to be honest.One of the more timely, thought-provoking vampire movies of the early seventies, fer sure, and one of my favorites.Onward.
Heyyy, this is even better than that 1853 half-dime love token I unearthed with my metal detector last summer.
We meet a delicious young newlywed named Susan(Maribel Martin) and her husband(Simón Andreu) as they stop off at a hotel for the night during a honeymoon roadtrip to his affluent family's sizeable estate in the thickly wooded countryside.As he gathers and checks their bags, she fantasizes about being strangled and roughly taken right on the marriage bed by a stocking-headed rapist, and is unwilling to consumate their vows or evenspend the night there, by the time he gets upstairs.At the manor, her husband becomes little more than a cartoonishly exaggerated libido, constantly pawing his young bride, and pouting like a toddler in the toy aisle when she manages to resist his advances, even locking herself in a pigeon coop and sending the key off into the wild blue yonder around one of the bird's necks, to keep the wolf-in-groovy-euro-turtleneck at bay.Through his creepy young cousin Carol(Maria-Rosa Rodriguez ), Susan soon learns of her husband's family history and their long-standing hatred of the women, as evidenced by the removal of all female portraits from the estate walls as ordered by Grandfather, and stemming from backward ring-wearing newlywed Mircalla murdering her husband on their wedding night, so the legend goes, and probably a major factor in the excising by knife of the striking blonde's grillpiece from her painting in the basement.Susan's mixed feelings about her octo-partner aren't helped much when he begins to show a cruel, sadistic side(though young Carol comments that Susan likes when he hurts her!), and after discovering Mircalla's defaced painting, she begins to frequently dream about her, and butchering her own husband with the woman's dagger, even removing his blood-pouring jewels afterward.When she awakens hovering over her sleeping spouse, clutching the very same blade from her subconscious, the line between fantasy and reality blur, and she begins to question her own sanity.
Doth Lady Mircalla(Alexandra Bastedo) require the G.P.S. estimate for the center of Stefano's goatee, perhaps?
With Susan's husband engulfed in a hopeless game of keepaway with the dream dagger, he decides to bury it at the beach, where he spots a human hand protruding from the sand nearby, and after clearing it all away, he's shocked to discover Carmilla(Alexandra Bastedo) buried naked save for a snorkel and some swim goggles.Back at the estate, Susan immediately recognizes Carmilla as the woman from her brutal dreams and pencil sketches, but her husband is too diplomatic to listen to her warnings, and by then, it's already too late.A physician trails the women to some dilapidated ruins nearby one night and is shocked by their animalistic cries of passion and the psychedelically sapphic blood drinking that follows.She later demolishes a roll top desk to score the aforementioned dagger for to slash said medical practitioner to pieces, and repeatedly shotgun's Carol's father in the face and groin when he finds Carmilla caught by the ankle in one of his animal traps.Eventually, Susan's husband musters up the sac himself to venture out to the ruins, where he's met by Carol, who's already been bitten on the neck, and relates that the women will come back, no matter what he does.She kneels on the ground and parts her hair for him, and he obliges by blowing the back of her head off with his rifle.He then discovers Carmilla/Mircalla's coffin, where he finds both women sleeping nude like the homicidal lesbian bookends that they are.He closes the lid and pumps the corpse box full o' lead before carving into one of Mircalla's lifeless breasts with a dagger.A newspaper headline declares that a "man cuts out three women's hearts".
"What's the big idea?!I was still using those genitals!"
Apart from a lot of Spanish television work, Martin has also appeared in genre fare like The House that Screamed(1969), and 1973's Bell From Hell.Bastedo, who appeared opposite Sean Connery in 1967 Bond flick, Casino Royale, also turned up in 1975's The Ghoul next to Peter Cushing and John Hurt, as well as a recurring character in Jennifer Saunders' comedy series, Absolutely Fabulous, and even a cameo as a Gotham socialite in Batman Begins(2005).You'll find Andreu in everything from Luciano Ercoli's La morte cammina con i tacchi alti(1971), 1979 white fu flop, Jaguar Lives! with Joe Lewis, Donald Pleasance, and Christopher Lee, and even 2003's Beyond Re-Animator.Aranda remains one of Spain's most renowned filmmakers to this day, tackling complex social issues and filling his lens with love, eroticism, and sadism, frequent favorite themes of his.Novia certainly covers all of those with an artistic flair, breathtaking cinematography, women that are beautiful to witness but dangerous to know, and stylized ultraviolence enough for any gorehounds in the audience.On the scale, it merits three Big ones, and comes recommended.Check it out for yourselves!
"Make way, the meat for this sappho-sammy just cracked your crusted coffin lid, you dames, you!"

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Day of the Dead"(1985)d/George A. Romero

I have to admit that I'm a little perplexed at the fact that we've never covered tonight's review here at the Wop, remembering how thoroughly amped I was the first time I caught it, with a couple of buddies in my old man's '79 Impala on a double-bill with C.H.U.D.(1984) at the legendary West Side Drive-In that night in 1985.Having been a hardcore Romero-ite for something like eight years up to that point, I was salivating like Pavlov's dog at the concept of a wrap to his wildly successful zombie trilogy(remember when it was merely a 'trilogy', folks?), and thus, denying Chevy-entry to any backseat-inclined brawds that might have had amorous designs on this momentous event.They'd have to wait patiently for a less pivotal double feature, like Gremlins/Ghoulies the following weekend(keep your eyes peeled for that particular ripper of a yarn in future posts), if they expected to get busted out by the kid himself, on the spacious bucket seats of his father's schooner-on-wheels.Gore guru Tom Savini provides the finger-chompin', gut-splayin', Saturn Award-winning splatter effects(his first coming on 'DOTD') that splash across the screen in bloody spurts between Romero's ambitiously scripted mouth offs and philosophical whimsy that make up the film's dialogue, in attempt to shed some light on communication breakdown and the ensuing anarchy born out of it, perhaps.Forced to scale back his original epic vision when the budget was bissected to three and a half million from seven, Romero's Day also faced a limited theatrical run in the States and opened to mixed reviews before grossing nearly thirty million dollars on the international market and earning lucrative bank in video sales across the globe since.Make no mistakes, this is classic horror we're looking upon...
"Whoa! Shouldn'ta dropped both those blotters before lunch..."
Sarah(Lori Cardille) awakens from a nightmare in the day of the dead, as the only female in a subterranean enclave of scientists and military hopelessly surrounded on all sides by ravenous zombies in the Everglades as they desperately race towards a cure for the zombification process and search the east coast for any potential survivors in a helicopter, as helmed by John(Terry Alexander), a self-centered patois-spitting pilot and his partner, McDermott, a brandy-swilling radio expert.Also along for the ride is Sarah's romantic interest, Miguel(Tony DiLeo, Jr.), a girly soldier in the throes of a mental breakdown.Touching down in Ft Meyers only turns up a shambling army of the undead, and a perturbed alligator.Underground, things aren't much sexier, as Major Cooper has just passed on, leaving the impatient skeptic Rhodes(Joe Pilato) in charge of the operation, which is rapidly dissolving into insults and threats when the head scientist, Dr. Logan(Richard Liberty), whom they affectionately refer to as "Frankenstein", fails to show any discernible progress in his experiments with zombie subjects, haphazardly rounded up on a regular basis by Rhodes' men from the surrounding mines.Sarah holds faith that a cure or reversal of the zombification process can be discovered, while Logan sees learned behavior modification for the pus-fucks as the only feasible option, with his star pupil being a zombie named Bub(Sherman Howard), who displays excellent manners for Frankenstein's company, indeed.The reanimated corpse clumsily shaves his dead skin with a razor, goes through the motions of reading a copy of Stephen King Salem's Lot, and even salutes Rhodes, who's disgusted by the whole display, to say the least.
...and a special cameo appearance by Mickey Roarke.
The problem is, Frankenstein's been secretly rewarding Bub's good behavior with a bucketful of soldier meat-treats, which earns him a short, controlled machine gun burst to the belly and a trip to meet his maker.Miguel gets himself bitten on the arm during one round up, managing to get one of Rhodes' men's throats torn out in the process, but Sarah quickly amputates the infected arm, cauterizing the stump with a torch, as Rhodes and co. make the scene at John and McDermott's place just outside the complex, demanding revenge for the increasing number of dead comrades, and resulting in an intense standoff between all parties involved.In the melee Rhodes wastes Fisher(John Amplas) and locks McDermott and Sarah inside one of the zombie corrals, demanding that John flies he and his soldiers off to safety, while an unhinged Miguel sneaks off to let all the zombies surrounding the complex in, getting dined on for his troubles.Meanwhile, Bub has broken free of his restraints, and shambled upon Logan's dead body, causing the ghoul to groan out loud in a burst of emotion, before picking up a gun and setting off on a course of...revenge?John manages to snag a pair of six guns in knocking Rhodes and one of his men unconscious, and he makes off into the darkened mine passages to search for Sarah and McDermott.Quickly trapped by approaching zombies, Rhodes sells his men out while trying to escape himself, and they're rended limb from limb by the rotting hordes, while the commander's path is blocked by a bitter Bub who shows some serious marksmanship for a dead guy in plugging Rhodes with several rounds before he's set upon by the horde who tear him apart."Choke on 'em!" he spits, watching as his innards are pulled out by the hungry ghouls.After Sarah has a repeat nightmare in the race to the chopper, she awakens on a beach where John and his soused buddy are relaxedly fishing from the shore.She crosses another date off on a makeshift calendar...
"Hold still!Do you want that eyelash outta there or not?!!?"
Look for fellow FX men Taso Stavrakis and Greg Nicotero among the military ranks here, both suffering fittingly horrible on-camera deaths at the hands of their pal, Savini, here.What keeps Day outta the running for the title of Romero's apex zombie opus, for me, is the number of irksome personalities amongst the survivors, especially Miguel, and to a lesser degree, the fake Jamaican, John and his comical dipsomaniacal pal, McDermott.Lengthy discourse from the characters as the story progresses doesn't gain them any advocate in me, I'm patiently waiting for the effeminate hispanic to get chowed upon by zombies by the time Dr. Tongue famously shambles in front of Romero's lens in the opening credits, and bummed knowing that the other two make it okay in the end.Don't get me wrong, I highly dug the characters of Sarah, Logan, Fisher, and Rhodes, especially, it was just a strange experience hating on any of George's roles, a first, really, as much as I ended up doing over the years and repeated viewings.And as much personality and realism the zombies and gore effects here exude, I think Day still could have used more of both in the end for that final boost into legend.Still, it remains one of my favorite zombie movies of the era, with much nostalgia enshrouding it's every aspect for me, and for that, it earns a well-deserved three Wop score on the scale; a must-see for every horror fan.
Rhodes(Joe Pilato) gets treated like the Minnesota Vikings did, on any given Sunday last season.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Time After Time"(1979)d/Nicholas Meyer

Tonight's feature answers the second most nagging question on the collective 1979 conscience, "What if H.G. Wells unwittingly provided Jack the Ripper with an escape route throughout time via the time-travelling machine he'd only just constructed in his basement, forcing him to follow the murderer through the years, like some sort of impromptu time detective?".Number one, being: "You mind if I bang this hulking line of  fishscale Peruvian off of your ass quick?I hear "Night Fever" coming on out there, and I love that song.".These words I speak are true.Seriously, look it up.Malcolm McDowell had just premiered his controversial turn in Tinto Brass' Caligola(1979) seventeen days before tonight's release, a sharply dilineated departure from the nudity, urination and slo-mo vomiting he'd shared for Brass' lens in bringing the disturbed young Caesar to the big screen.Opposite McDowell here is genre vet David Warner as the infamous sex-selling slut-slicing surgeon he's in pursuit of, and he's sinister, as always, if not a bit underappreciated here.Mary Steenburgen plays Wells' modern love interest, Amy, and you can even spot former Andy Warhol discovery-turned-supporting-actress, Patti D'Arbanville, in here as one of Saucy Jack's vic's, and a young Corey Feldman as a boy at the museum.Revisiting it for probably the first time since the cable box days(or network telly, methinks), I found it to be an enjoyably fluffy romp, despite the lengthy running time(nearly two hours), and the film's general aversion to worthwhile action occurring within it's frames.It must be some sort of childhood nostalgia going down in me gulliver again.Forwards!
"Oi, that weren't me cunny, guv'nor...."
John Leslie Stevenson(David Warner) arrives late for his mate, H.G. Wells'(Malcolm McDowell) unveiling of his latest invention, a working time machine, due to an as-yet-undiscovered propensity to leave Whitechapel whores slumped dead in back alleys with their innards whistling in the wind.By the time Scotland Yard has policed the blood trail to Wells' flat, Saucy Jack has already deftly skirted past the commotion to the basement, somehow managing to transport himself forward through time into 1979.Wells, realizing his contraption has sprung Jack the Ripper on an unsuspecting future socialist Utopian society(Ha!), packs up the available folding money and shiny trinkets to trade with the natives(!) on a journey through the tapestry of time to catch a cold-blooded killer.Once in 1979, Wells finds himself hopelessly out of place, even in ordering fast food, while Stevenson has adapted to the future quite seamlessly, trading his antiquated garb for groovy denim action vests and polyester disco boogie suits.Wells traces the Ripper to his hotel room by monitoring his guinea exchange at a local  bank, where the surgeon/slasher illustrates the current society's violent-prone mindset with a television remote, leading to a mostly unthrilling chase on foot through the crowded streets of San Francisco.Losing his target, who's wrongly believed to be killed in a traffic accident, Wells is forced to retreat to the friendly face of a teller named Amy(Mary Steenburgen) who removes the sting of his wounds by showing him around the city and giving up the first date mogambo while she's at it.
"I don't see the promotional 'Caligula' soft drink glasses display anywhere, and I should very much like a word with your superior, young lady."
A newspaper headline declaring the discovery of another Ripper victim abruptly snaps Herbert from his recent liason, and forces him to reveal the whole unbelievably mad truth to her when offering tips to the police under the alias of 'Sherlock Holmes' proves rather fruitless, indeed.Wells sneaks Amy into his time machine, taking her forward a couple of days to prove his story, only to have her discover via future headline that she is to die at the hands of the ripper herself.The duo plot Stevenson's next moves using the future newspaper, but Herbert gets himself locked up hours beforehand, only to be released when the authorities mistake the mutilated body of Carol, one of Amy's friends for her, just in time to find Saucy Jack making off with his girl in tow, at knifepoint.Herbert tearfully pleads with Stevenson at the museum for Amy to be delivered over unharmed, but Stevenson is not satisfied by merely proving Wells wrong about man's instincts, and plans to take Amy with him in Wells' machine.In the melee, she manages to escape his clutches before Herbert can remove the 'vaporizing equalizer' from the side of the time craft, effectively sending Jack the Ripper screaming through the ages without the machine.Amy's emotional pleas influence Wells to take her with him back to his own age, vowing to change her name to Susan B. Anthony as part of the bargain.The credits that follow tell us the couple later married.
Jack the Ripper(David Warner) would rather spill your entrails on the concrete than shake his groove thang.
The real Amy Robbins was one of Wells' young real-life students that he fell in love with while already married to his own cousin,and married a year later in 1895.Free love, indeed, Herbert, free love, indeed.Steenburgen and McDowell tied the knot themselves the following year, and divorced in 1990.He's one of my favorite actors of all-time, whereas she's mostly appeared in the kind of movies I'd never watch unless there be pussy to be gained afterwards, and even then, prolly not, folks.Meyer, who also helmed the cult classic, Invasion of the Bee Girls(1975), is probably best known today for directing several of the Star Trek films, most notably 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.Insert your best over-dramatic William Shatner scream here.Warner, another long-time favorite of mine, can be seen in such diverse fare as 1970's Straw Dogs, From Beyond the Grave(1974), The Omen(1976), The Island(1980), The Man With Two Brains(1982), and even Titanic(1997).On the scale, Time stands the test of time for the most part, earning a respectable two Big ones.Worth a look...
Whore-ripping, time-space continuum-spitting, tron-gasm finales: One.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"Seul Contre Tous"(1998)d/Gaspar Noe

Argentinian-born, French-based director Gaspar Noe openly flirts with brilliance in his 1998 feature-length debut, shot in a combination of 16mm and CinemaScope and known internationally as 'I Stand Alone', a skeptical potrait of the futility and inner turmoils that an unemployed French horse butcher, portrayed by Phillipe Nahon, of "Haute Tension" fame, faces over several brutal days.Noe's lens captures a bleak northern French landscape wrought with poverty and desperation, while his abrupt cuts are like cinematic exclamation points for every statement he makes through the cynical, darkly humorous inner monologues of his lead's voice over.Some directors like to give you a punch in the guts while unveiling their vision to you, while others like Noe prefer to stomp you in the balls repeatedly, an especially effective method of purveying emotion.Though it may be all adrenaline rush and nostrils full o'victory when you're the one laying the boot, it's a humbling, reflexive experience when it's your bag getting pulverized, and a skillful artist like Noe gives you a bit of both here, while touching on sensitive issues like class warfare, immigration, incest, foot fetishes, knuckle-driven feticide, filicide, and suicide, and even giving you, the viewer, a William Castle-style warning card right before the shit hits the fan, so you can decide if that pipe cleaner you call a spinal column can handle what he's about to give you or if you're going to have to use that thirty seconds to flee to the concession stand like a weepy little mealy-mouthed girl with skinned knees.
"...I didn't pay ten francs just to get foot-titted, bitch."
Through some voice over narration and a montage of still photographs, we learn of our butcher's(Phillipe Nahon) disconsolate history, having been orphaned and turned out by a priest at an early age before landing in prison after having stabbed an innocent man for raping his autistic daughter, mistaking her first menstrual cycle for foul play, selling his butcher shop to a Muslim, and condemning her to a life in an institution in the same rueful swoop.While on lock down he engages in some man-on-man prison cellie action, and vows to maintain a selective memory of the experience once he's back on the outside.As if that didn't suck a big enough Hefty three-ply full o'dicks,  he inadvertently knocks up a highly unsexy barkeep upon gaining freedom, and is forced to move to the north of France with the expectant bo-hemoth and her mother on the promise that she'll buy him another butcher shop of his very own once they've relocated.Of course, she renegs on her word and sends him out on increasingly embarrassing job interviews, none of which pan out for our anti-hero.He eventually wigs out and wallops the parturient pig's pup-pouch repeatedly into a mitt-induced miscarriage before checking the fuck out like Keith Moon's Rolls in a Holiday Inn pool and getting his ass back to Paris, where his old buddies can help him out in ducking his criminal responsibility and getting back on his feet, while shacked up at the same flophouse where his institutionalized daughter was conceived years earlier.
Trente secondes? Sacre Bleu! Nous allons prendre nos cafés et cigarettes obtenir nos ânes dans le hall et le faire vite!
Of course, all of his former chums are currently more impoverished and destitute than he is, and he's forced to endure more fruitless interviews because of it, as the last of his money is wasted on drinks and junkie whores.His internal monologue becomes increasingly classist and racist, and after being denied work at a slaughterhouse he once did business with, he decides to kill the manager with a handgun he pilfered while fleeing the lethargic anchor he was married to.He plots the bourgeous boss' demise at the local watering hole, but gets kicked out after drunkenly puffing chests with the owner's son.Upon discovery that he's only got three bullets, he assigns each round to their respective recipient, one for the manager, one for his poor daughter, and the last for his own brainbox.After the whole nasty family reunion culminates in the father and daughter having sex in his room after lifting her from the home, him shooting her in the carotid artery and through the brain afterwards when the first bullet doesn't prove fatal quickly enough, finally shooting himself, before revealing that he'd been playing out the whole thing in his head, afterall.Overcome with the emotion of not committing a murder-suicide in a dirty room that he's behind on paying on, he begins to fondle his daughter and contemplates having sex with her her anyway, remarking to himself that the world only condemns their type of love because it is 'too pure'.Roll credits.
You've gone and spilled all the spaghetti sauce onto the shag carpet, you clumsy girl.
Definitely an impressive effort from Noe, and we'll certainly be checking out some of his other films here at the Wop as time passes on.From a technical standpoint, Alone would score one higher, with Noe's beautifully framed shots, dripping with despair, and inventive cuts, but I'm gonna go ahead and rate the film on enjoyability instead, and though I chuckled at some of the internal dialogue and grooved on the sporadic but shocking violence, it could have used a bit more of either or both to achieve glorious four Wop status.Kind of a polished-up, sleeker Combat Shock(1984) vibe going on, and that's not a bad thing to groove on once in a while, really, is it?Still, a depressingly nihilistic, incestuous, xenophobic, hateful, womb-wallopin' good time to be had by the whole effin' family, in my book.My kinda flick.See it, then watch it again once you've picked your mandible off the floor from the first screening.
Cancel 'The Ainsley Harriot Show' on me, will you, you bastards?!!?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Roller Boogie"(1979)d/Mark L. Lester

An hour and forty-three minutes later, to say that the prodigious section of my blood pump reserved unrequitedly for former child star Linda Blair had just been rigorously tested, would be more of an understatement than the following: Joseph Merrick, or 'The Elephant Man', was a curiously-shaped individual.After having scored nominations for an Academy Award and two Golden Globes(fittingly) for her portrayal of Regan MacNeill in The Exorcist(1973), Blair spent much of the rest of the seventies and early eighties assailing her once promising film career with lunkheaded decisions, bizarre romantic pairings, nude pictorials, and even narcotics possession and distribution charges at the tender age of eighteen,  but some things are just unabridgedly unpardonable, baby.Take this movie, for example.Whenever you see footage of the  boardwalk on Venice Beach, California in a movie or on television, there's a good chance you'll spot one or two jackasses rollerskating by, and much of the reason there aren't more of these goons-on-wheels lies sandwiched between the disco-fueled credits here.Together with Skatetown, U.S.A.(1979), and Xanadu(1980), which featured many of the same rollerskaters as tonight's production, Hollywood moved forward with it's next new craze as the once-popular disco scene had pretty much worn out it's national welcome by decade's end.Packed to the brim with nuthugger shorts, Mork suspenders, satin baseball jackets, and more feathered haircuts than Kristy McNicholl's fourteenth birthday party, Boogie plays like a longer, less likeable Annette Funicello beach movie from the sixties, with less Annette and more gay guys on wheels with their nuts hanging out.
Another ten or fifteen minutes just like this might have made it all worthwhile.
We open with what looks to be the entire population of Venice Beach boogieing about the boardwalk on rollerskates, as we're introduced to Bobby James(Jim Bray), the resident phenom on wheels, as he skates to work with his cartoonish pals, Phones, Hoppy, and Gordo(I'd name the actors here, but you really don't care who they are, trust me).Meanwhile on the other side of the tracks in Beverly Hills, we see Terry Barkley(Linda Blair) , the foxy, young concert flautist, decked out in her foxiest Danskin-wear for a ride to the beach in her convertible 1978 Excalibur Phaeton Series III with her  snobbish top-heavy pal, Lana(Kimberly Beck).Bobby spots Terry and is instantly smitten with the affluent rollerskater, who coldly spurns his romantic advances while hiring him to teach her how to skate well enough for the upcoming "roller boogie" contest.You know, I just bet these two are gonna end up terrific friends who thwart some local mobsters trying to close down the popular disco roller rink that everyone boogies at, just in time for the big contest, which they'll win in the end, despite their grossly different tax brackets.I dunno, call it a hunch.Back at the palatial estate, Mother(Beverly Garland) expresses her wishes that Terry skips the roller boogie contest, accepts the slapstick-heavy courtship of cooch-grabbin' upper-crust twit, Franklin(Christopher S. Nelson), and enrolls in Juilliard."But mother," she pouts, like the lost member of Alvin and the Chipmunks."I'm a musical genius...what a drag!What a bummer!"Mother simply doesn't comprehend how cool it is to rollerskate backwards on the boardwalk in a pair of short shorts that shows off your camel toe with a poor man's teenaged, metrosexual Eric Roberts by your side.Damn you, generation gap!
"But mother, I'm a musical genius...what a drag! What a bummer!"
Terry apologizes for having been a spoiled, manipulative cunt to Bobby over breakfast, cuing a lengthy outdoor montage of the duo refining(perfecting is a strong word when your dance partner keeps busting her ass on the pavement) their routine for the big contest.The club owner, Jammer Delany(Sean McClory), is leaned on to sell his place by unscrupulous businessman, Thatcher(Mark Goddard), who happens to be legally represented by Terry's father(Roger Perry).After Bobby's friends destroy a classical musical recital at the Barkley residence(All you rich fucks into the pool!) and Thatcher's henchmen chase Bobby and Terry all over the city in a thrilling, stunt-filled car v. rollerskate chase(wait, wasn't Terry a novice skater like, a minute ago?Oh, nevermind.) while Bobby's black buddy, Phones, momentarily joins the Hare Krishnas for whatever reason, Bobby finds a drunken Jammer passed out in the dj booth at the club, and decides the best medicine for the stressed-out owner, is an elaborate solo skate routine.Makes perfect sense.Phones records Thatcher threatening Jammer on his tape recorder, negating the roller rink sale, then it's roller-groovy, roller boogie contest time.Terry and Bobby win the trophy afterall, then share a bittersweet goodbye, as she gives him the trophy before setting off  for New York City, while he prepares for the coming Olympics, determined to win a Gold for the U.S. in, ummm, rollerskating, I guess?
I have no idea what the fuck's going on here, nor do I want to.
As the story goes, Canadian actor David Kennedy was replaced as the male lead when his real life romance with Blair fizzled during the production, leading the filmmakers to use a stunt double, amateur rollerskating champ, Jim Bray, instead.Besides the two or three months his Eric Roberts-esque grill was plastered all over candy fap for teenaged girls, like Tiger Beat, upon the film's release, you'll no doubt remember, nothing.Blair allegedly developed bursitis in her hip from all the Danskin-clad ass-busting she did on skates for the production, to which I say, we're still not even, Linda-baby.A sore hip simply doesn't compare to the grotesque imagery depicted on the screen and forever seared into my memory.I just hope you guys appreciate the lengths I go to keep you entertained here at the Wop, and the irreparable damage sitting through crap like this has, no doubt, caused me.Screening this one silently, with some Electric Wizard blaring through your speakers as you ogle the adorable Blair as she rolls groovily through inane dialogue and uninspired love scenes might get you all the way through this one, but I doubt it.One Wop.
Incendiary romance was never like this!Seriously, it never was.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"Guinea Pig 2:Flower of Flesh and Blood"(1985)d/Hideshi Hino

We're skipping right over the Satoru Ogura original 1985 short, Ginī Piggu: Akuma no Jikken, which is horrible enough in it's own right, tonight, crunching right through the humerus to the glenoid of the matter with a pair of hedge shears, a plastic samurai helmet, and some seriously cruddy-looking fronts.That's right, Hino's Gini piggu 2: Chinuku no hana, or Flower of Flesh and Blood, the notoriously nasty faux-snuff epic that fooled Charlie Sheen(like fucking with that guy's perception is any major accomplishment, huh) into thinking he was witnessing real murders, contacting the MPAA who, in turn, contacted the FBI who were already investigating the filmmakers with authorities in Japan, leading to a court decision that finally dismissed all criminal scrutiny.I've heard the tape was passed on to Sheen by either Chris Gore, of 'Film Threat' fame, or the late Chas Balun, of 'Deep Red' magazine, either way, a tip of my cabbie to the responsible party.Hino himself has claimed that the ultra-violent short is based on an actual 8mm snuff film sent to him by an unhinged fan of his horror manga and later turned over to authorities(how much later, you old dog), bypassing story and characters completely in serving up one of the goriest splatterfests to date, with UnEarthed Films releasing the definitive North American collector's dvd box of the series, the disc for tonight's entry containing a hidden easter egg that allows you to view the film in nth gen snuff-o-vision, cutting out the lead-in and getting right to the gruesome goodies for the sick fucks out there that break out the AstraGlide and aloe-laden tissues so they can crank a suzy right off during their fave dismemberments, Dahmer-style.Don't look at me, you dicks, I like my women intact(mostly) throughout our interludes, it's you creeps that worry me...
Where are your precious Sugarcubes to the rescue?We've got you now, Bjork, you odd bitch.
After a text disclaimer warns us that the tape we're about to bear witness to was sent anonymously to artist Hideshi Hino by an obsessed fan, who was paying tribute to Hino's own "The Flowers of Flesh and Blood" manga, we see a woman(Kirara Yûgao) being stalked and filmed from a car as she walks, then chased through a playground and finally subdued by a trusty ether-hanky.To her horror, she awakens in the personal abbatoir of a pasty-faced Japanese yukk-mouthed freak in a rubber apron and samurai helmet, eyeing her body, bound to a slab at the wrists and ankles, with bad intent, indeed.The freak taunts the girl with a live chicken, cutting off it's head, and remarking, "Look. This is your fate."He pumps his hostage fulla dope via syringe, commenting: "Now the woman is in a state of rapture.Due to the drug I injected into her, as can be seen, she is completely unable to feel pain.But, instead of feeling nothing, she feels only ecstacy."However you look at it, it's all downhill for this chick from here, as pale n' gruesome fixes to whittle her down like some sadistic carver with a women-for-wood whimsy.At least he's got the common decency to recite poetic Eastern verse that draws artistic parallel between blood-letting and botany both for his bound up n' banged out victim-to-be, and his soon-to-be repulsed audience following along at home...
There's something decidedly very Hemingway about this shot.
First, he allows the scarlet to billow forth by opening her wrists as she writhes about orgiastically, her naughty bits tastefully hidden behind a sheet that's about to need a good 'Shout'ing out, if you know what I'm sayin'.Naturally, he amputates her hands next, then her arms are chiseled out of her shoulder joints, and what the hell, after another poetic diatribe, why stop there?He chops off her feet and legs at the knee joint, before gutting her torso like a plump channel cat destined for the fry pan.Next, it's the girl's domepiece that's gotta go.If it wasn't bad enough to lose your head in such a way, her disembodied head gets smooched up by the serial killing-Samurai with questionable oral hygiene, an interlude it would have no doubt balked at were it still attached to shoulders and breathing, I'm willing to bet.In the boffo finale, we're forced to watch the fiend spoon one of the eyes out of the head, and swish it around in his mouth like a gross jawbreaker.The camera lovingly pans his crazy crib, which is adorned with multiple gruesome trophies of flesh and blood from his previous victims, before we see another girl being set up for a real bummer of an evening.Walking a little funny for awhile is the worst any girls come away from getting together with me, just sayin'...
Obviously, she hasn't been killed thoroughly enough, yet.
At one time, forty bucks would have gotten you the aforementioned box set, uncut, right off the shelves of Best freakin' Buy, ferchrissakes.Seriously.Think about that for a second.Just two aisles down from Grease(1978) and Xanadu(1980).Nothing compliments Olivia's wholesome, sweet charms like a mitt full o' pulsing, gory innards on movie night, huh.I used to groove a lot more heavily on stuff like this in years past, but as I've mentioned a few times before, I'm somewhat more indifferent towards it these days, unless there's a valid story around it, acted out by professionals, that's moved along by the violence, even centered around it for all I care, just don't try to shock me with gross-out tactics at this point in the game.Still, this is legendary stuff for it's disgusting ilk, with amazing splatter effects for the time period, especially considering the evaporating output of the West during that same time.I remember flinching once or twice the first time I bore witness to the damned thing, on a black bootlegged VHS sans labels back in the nineties, a rare occurence, believe me.The best/worst of its kind to this very day, an indelible black mark on the world of cult cinema that's required viewing for any and all self-respecting gorenophiles out there while the squeamish should steer well clear.On the scale, a well-deserved score of simple-yet-disturbing, visceral brilliance:
You are here, so am I. Maybe millions of people pass by, but they all disappear from vieeeeeeeeew...
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