Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"The White Buffalo"(1977)d/J. Lee Thompson

Tonight's entry is respectfully dedicated to Rikard,a bro with similar appreciation for the tits items in life.I'm finally getting around to this one well over a year later?Better late than never, haha.When I got dragged to see this one by my old man, a Bronson freak of great reknown the world over, I was mainly interested in seeing the titular pale bison trampling cowboys and indians alike under vengeful hooves.I didn't groove on Charlie's distinctive monotone action vibe 'til I hit double digits.For a skinny little Italian kid with a penchant for monstruous creature features like I was,producer Dino De Laurentiis' mid to late seventies stretch of bombastic animals gone awry movies was the emotional equivalent of missing Thursday and Friday from school with a fever,getting couch-based TLC from the em and pee,new toys,Nugent lps,and horror movie marathons(even though I just may have been technically healthy enough Thursday night for school on Friday,I may or may not have embellished the illness' seriousness for a few hours the next morning just to add on to the upcoming weekend.Parlaying sickness into accrued kid wealth and prolonged "me" time at age eight.And to think some skeptics have doubted my genius...).Just give me some sort of pissed off animal of significant size on a human-hating hullabaloo,and I'd eat it up with a fork,no questions asked.Tonight's entry was no different,at the time.
If there's one thing Bill Hickok(Charles Bronson) hates more than the top bunk, it's hard-charging mechanical buffalo puppets that haunt his dreams.
We meet Wild Bill Hickok(Charles Bronson) roused from the middle of his latest nightmare with guns a-blazin' towards a white bison of mythical proportions that frequently tramples through the legendary gunslinger's subconscious with the discretion of a diesel train.He's powerful opposed to such things, see, and ruinin' a feller's dreams like 'et is fixin' to get blasted, round these parts.Hickokski tracks the beast, pairing up with a cantankerous old geezer(Jack Warden) while pit stopped in a one cow town, while elsewhere, Crazy Horse(Will Sampson), the Indian, not the forty-ouncer, is having very real quandary of his own with the albino instigator, having selfishly trampled the Chief's entire village and murdered his own child just for the eff of it.Forced to repair his wounded pride and restore his tribal stature, Horse must hunt the animal himself, or forever be known as 'The Worm' to his peers, the first nation equivalent of being called a "Shirley", I'd wager.
When he's not trampling Hickok's dreams and destroying native villages under vengeful hooves, the white buffalo also enjoys long, impressionistic gallops in the snow and the music of  Lobo.
 When the men inevitably meet, they communicate through crazy sign language, despite speaking perfect English to each other at the same time, mind you, and after saving each other's lives in ambushes, respectively, they declare themselves 'blood brothers', even though both men are blindly determined to be the one to finally bag the achromatic fucker, singlehandedly.Hickok even turns down some choice western-style trim from the obligatory hooker with a heart o'gold(Kim Novak, in one of her final roles) while sharing a bed with her(!).Talk about dedication to the cause, baby.Stuart Whitman, Slim Pickens, and John Carradine all make their contrived genre cameos, while Clint Walker does a good job in a rare villainous turn.Though the beast is seemingly immortal, and powerful enough to barrel through mountainous snow and rock walls, the unlikely duo eventually fell it, with Crazy Horse riding atop and skinning it with a knife like a feathered Ahab of the West; the shabby plastic snow and less-than-believable sets pretty much serving as a final resting place, if not for the Hollywood western(Heaven's Gate would finish the job a few years later), then definitely for the horror/western/adventure.
Nevermind your healthy skepticism of my white skin.Lead me to your peyote, More-Ornate-Than-Wolves(Will Sampson).
Bronson was born Charles Buchinsky in the coal region of the Allegheny's in Pennsylvania to Polish and Lithuanian parents, changing his name to 'Bronson' during the McCarthy hearings because he thought his real name sounded 'too Russian'(!).Buffalo was his last picture for UA, a box-office dud that really signalled the end of his real creative ambitions in film, though he'd again work with director J. Lee Thompson on typical Bronson-fare titles like 10 To Midnight(1983) and The Evil That Men Do(1984), staying busy right up to his last feature, Death Wish V:The Face of Death(1994), before succumbing at the age of 81 in 2003.A real favorite of mine since my teens, Bronson's contribution to film, and the action genre in particular, is immeasurable, and really, he's great here as Hickok, a performance that's been brought to light since the film's recent re-evaluation by movie fans everywhere.On the scale, Buffalo earns two Wops, a very watchable exercise in exploitation.Check it out.
With the Great White Buffalo, they gonna make a final stand in the new, magic land.

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Repo Man"(1984)d/Alex Cox

 1984 was a pretty eventful year, looking back.Ethiopean famine, Bernie Goetz' vigilante subway shootings, James Huberty's shooting spree at a San Ysidro McDonalds, British comedian Tommy Cooper had a heart attack and died in the middle of a skit on live television, Michael Jackson burned his hair off while filming a Pepsi commercial, The "Nightstalker" murders, Vanessa Williams' Miss America/Penthouse scandal, Indira Gandhi's assassination, I.R.A. bombings in Brighton, Botha takes presidential office in South Africa...but most importantly, it was the year that filmmaker Alex Cox unveiled his film, Repo Man, a suburban punk/sci-fi/cold war comedy produced, in part, by former Monkee Mike Nesmith, and starring Martin Sheen's other son, Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton, on the unsuspecting planet.Another aspect of the cult classic nobody was ready for, was the amazing soundtrack, provided by punk icons Iggy Pop, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, FEAR, Suicidal Tendencies, and The Plugz.If you've seen it, and it isn't one of your favorite movies of the eighties, well, there's no real diplomatic way around telling you that I hope yours was one of the houses the boys and I regularly targeted for mindless vandalism during the era, and if it wasn't, it definitely should have been, you fucking drag, you.Now let's start a war...
 "Maybe I will stack the peaches into a can-pyramid, Otto(Emilio Estevez).GOSH."
Otto(Emilio Estevez) is a disillusioned white suburban punk who's tired of endlessly stocking shelves with generic product at the supermarket and his anarchically cramped lifestyle where fetching a beer for his mohawked girlfriend, Debbie(Jennifer Balgobin)  means losing his spot in bed to Duke(Cox's pal, the aptly-named Dick Rude) during a wild debacle.His life of circle pits in the alleyway, work boots, and dangling earrings changes drastically when he meets Bud(Harry Dean Stanton), a shabby-looking middle aged speed freak who tricks him into helping repossess a car, a profession he despises until he gets slipped a pile of Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation cash for his efforts.As an added bonus, he takes a shine to Leila(Olivia Borash), an oddball broad(who's carrying around a Polaroid of condoms in grass shirts) who's been chasing a 1964 Chevy Malibu as driven by a mad government scientist(Fox Harris) and containing four dead aliens in the trunk, that vaporizes anyone instantly into radioactive debris if they dare to peer inside.Elsewhere, Duke and Debbie inevitably turn to a life of crime; stealing cars, robbing liquor stores, and eating sushi, and not paying afterwards, the fiends.
 "Is that a Class of '74 gold ring?!!?AAAAAGGGGRRRRAAAAAHHH!!!"
Soon, hilarity ensues as Otto's imposing on kindly little old ladies whose grandsons are scoot mods in a third generation ska band(legendary LA outfit The Untouchables in a nice cameo) earns him some nifty trombone-born facial contusions.There are some lines of speed blown, rival low riding Hispanics, a lot worker touching upon cosmic unconsciousness, pine tree air fresheners, allusions to Burroughs, Mike Nesmith in a cameo as a rabbi, reckless driving, vaporized punk rockers, government agents with tin foil gloves, or robotic arms, if we're to overlook budgetary confines just this once, and when a twenty thousand dollar repo bounty turns up on the aforementioned antique Chevy, all hell really breaks loose.In case you've been living in your mother's basement the past few decades, only coming up for pie and live polkas on public television, and haven't had the chance to see this one yet, I'll refrain from spoiling the dramatic climax for you, as it's one you'll have to experience to believe.
 Sorry, honey, I can only hear you when you speak from the backseat.
Nap Dynamite-predecessor Zander Schloss ended up joining the Circle Jerks after production of the movie wrapped.I would have liked to see what Dennis Hopper could have brought to Fox Harris' role as was intended, but at the time, Hopper was apparently too busy playing Hopper, man.I can dig it.Cox followed this one up with the much-ballyhooed Sid and Nancy in 1986, which may or may not contain an excellent Gary Oldman performance, I just can't get past Chloe fucking Webb's eardrum-grating voice in the damned thing to find out.He also tackled the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas screenplay in 1998(and whiffed, apart from the credit), and directed Repo Chick in '09, something I've yet to check out.Yeah, a few things slip under the radar from time to time, but I'm a mostly thorough em-effer, wouldn't you say?For me, 1984 was mostly long hair, frag-stache, kung fu, and chicks from other high schools, kind of lost in an awkward blur in the mad dash towards growth into adulthood, but anytime I sit down to Repo, it's all right there again like yesterday, ripped to the tits with hilarious dialogue, tunes, and visuals.Cult classic.Three Wops.
 Aurora's full-sized glow-in-the-dark 1964 Chevy Malibu didn't generate as much interest as originally projected...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Necromancy"(1972)d/Bert I. Gordon

Here's another rarely-seen late oddity from Mr. B.I.G. himself  that turned up a decade later during the video tape era, a lethargic low budget Orson Welles occult effort reworked with added nudity and blood-letting and repackaged as 'The Witching' by the folks at Paragon, the updated trailer with repetitive takes of Orson's portly facepiece hogging the lens while clutching multiple chalices and inimitably burping corny sorcery-based dialogue remains one of my fondest memories of the time, and always pulled some laughs out of me when I saw it, regardless of how miserable I may have been, prior to.For you new boots on the block, Orson Welles ran the gamut in film, having directed and starred in R.K.O.'s Citizen Kane(1941), a movie that many consider the greatest the art form has offered to date(Not I, says I), and then, thirty years later, he's waddling around in a house-sized ceremonial robe with nude Satanites n' Satanettes flanking him(Brinke Stevens is in there, in an early cameo), toiling in a witchy B-movie for the guy responsible for drive-in gold like War of the Colossal Beast(1958), Food of the Gods(1976), and Empire of the Ants(1977).Providing petite brunette eye candy for your humble N in this one, is the waifish Pamela Franklin, an actress unafraid to break 'em out for the dark lord and master in the name of artistic integrity and plot continuity.Ahem.Also on board are Twin Peaks' Sheriff Harry S. Truman, Michael Ontkean, and fiery Lee Purcell, a redhead I'll never forget thanks to her Valley Girl(1983) cougar.Grrrrrrrr, baby, grrrrrrrrr.
This could be a snapshot from my old place back in the mid to late nineties, I tell you.
The Brandons(Pam Franklin, Michael Ontkean) look to put a painful miscarriage, caused by a group of naked Satanists ritually shanking a doll elsewhere, in the rearview mirror and take to the road, where Frank's reckless juggling of an argument and navigating a winding mountain road leaves a carload of innocents in a flaming wreck that Lori manages to snare a weird doll with fingernail clippings in its pocket from.Hmmm, if that's awful peculiar to you, then Frank's hiring in the small town of Lilith as a toymaker for the shadowy kid-denouncing Mr. Cato(Orson Welles) will seem equally right off the bat fishy to you.And with good reason, too, because her husband and the rotund employer are indeed cultmates of the old religion, with designs on harnessing Lori's yet-unknown-but-highly-groovy psychic powers of necromancy to resurrect Cato's son from the grave, after willingly becoming a witch in their sexy coven, of course.Cato mumbles...incessantly...at...great lengths... at a party...mumble...mumble.Frames repeat again and again.Meanwhile, hallucinatory premonitions warn Lori to refrain from ever using her powers or she will perish.You should probably listen to your hallucinations when they tell you you're going to die, Lor'...
If she had a cigarette dangling from her lip, this'd be the "Sexy" card.
It seems that the wide-waisted warlock has spent several years trying to bring his son back to life, and disallowed all Lilith residents from having children until he finally succeeds.Goat heads.Outta sight dancing naked chicks.Gobletsful of Paul Masson.Human sacrifices, he's tried it all, Satan knows he has.Now, Lori alone, holds the key to unlocking the gateway between life and death, the infernal rite only stoppable by Lori's revulsion to the black arts and witcher-huh, she's okay with it?Oh well, I guess that's cool, too.Lori's inducted into the circle of black magicians, she raises Cato's son from the dead, and gets herself buried alive in his place.Oh, those muted screams will soon be replaced by the laughter and merriment of father-son cultist sack races and barbeques and fishing trips.An ending that could only be interpreted as a 'downer' if you're a square that's got no love for Lucifer.
Orson just wants to be happy, and by 'happy' he means roughly the size of a Buick.
Gordon followed this one up with The Mad Bomber(1973), before putting a B-movie spin on H.G. Wells' Food of the Gods three years later, while Big Orson, who really doesn't bag enough screen time here to merit a starring credit if you ask me, would continue acting right up until his death in 1985, lending his unmistakable voice to things like Shogun(1980), Slapstick(of Another Kind)(1982), with Jerry Lewis and Madeline Kahn, and The Transformers:The Movie(1986). Pamela Franklin wasn't nearly finished with genre movies after this effort, appearing in Legend of Hell House(1973), telefilm Satan's School for Girls(1973), and Gordon's own Food of the Gods in '76. Lee Purcell would later turn up in Stir Crazy(1980), Airplane II:The Sequel(1982), and Homework(1982), her only genre credit since being The Unknown/Clawed:The Legend of Sasquatch in 2005.As for tonight's entry, the PG of the Necromancy cut is misleading, when you look at the amount of nudity and blood that the Witching cut brings to the table.As muddled an affair this turned out to be, it's worth a look for the curious and fans of dated cinema witchery.Two Wops.
Well that knackers the Herman's Hermits comeback tour, 'duddnit?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"The Pom Pom Girls"(1976)d/Joseph Ruben

 As summer approaches fast in the rearview mirror, we'll take a look at another seventies-tastic Crown International drive-in hit from Joseph Ruben, reminding us just how unforgettable those girls that turned us on really were, in another teen sex comedy starring a cast of familiar genre actors including Robert Carradine, Bill Adler, Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith, and Jennifer Ashley; centered around high school hijinks between rival football squads, and peppered with genre staples of the day like make out vans, dope-smoking, beer-chugging, littering, drive-in restaurant sex(never gets old, just wish they'd stop serving it up with ugly-looking fast food), tits n' asses, stolen fire engines, limp fistfights, games of 'Suicide Chicken', and a total disregard for all things education and authority in the country's bicentennial year, man.Probably the wrong flick to get into if you're looking for logic and cohesion, but a helluva good-often raunchy,  time capsule of reckless youth of the happening seventies.Let's get this started, now who's rollin' the hog's leg to pass around...
 Wood(would) times five.
 School is in for the senior class at Rosedale High, and for Johnnie(Robert Carradine), a loose wire that ain't afraid to take a piss out a classroom window,  with a cherry '55 Chevy and goofy overbite,  it's an opportunity to show off to Sally(Lisa Reeves), Duane(Bill Adler)'s sweet blonde arm decoration, and best his rival in the process in a series of chest-puffing feats of bravado and stupidity.Johnnie's pal, Jesse(Michael Mullins) has designs on getting this happening brunette named Laurie(Jennifer Ashley) onto the air mattress in the back of his love machine, but fellow promiscuous Pom Pommer, Roxanne(Rainbeaux Smith) and drive-in waitress Sue Ann(Susan Player) will do, if that frigid bitch won't put out.With "the big game" with rivals Hardin High approaching fast on the horizon, a prank war has commenced between the schools, and harmless mascot effigies hung burning from nooses and car vandalism soon escalate into sloppily choreographed Western saloon-level fistfights and hosing down rival players and pursuant officers of the law from a stolen fire truck Johnnie and Co. end up in(big deal, they didn't do it naked.).To these fun-loving young tearaways, quadratic equations are for squares.Did I just make a fucking mathematics joke?Where's that cyanide capsule...
 The one and only Rainbeaux I'd ever be interested in chasing, thankyouverymuch.
 Of course, we get to see lots of reckless driving, an obligatory gross cafeteria food fight, pop-top beer-chugging(Johnnie's shirt ends up drinking more beer than he does, if you're keeping score the way I was, the way grizzled veterans often do), beach frolicking, some amusing soul sistahs trying out for the cheer squad, Jesse slugging the cocky football coach in the mush, some spirited joint passing, Laurie obliviously failing to notice Jesse and Sue Ann backseat boogieing right in front of her classroom window, then giving him her own goodies under her sleeping parents' noses, followed by a chuckle-worthy breakfast table sequence in it's own right.The football game degenerates into a battle royale after a single play, and Duane channels Brando in challenging Johnnie to a dangerous game of suicide chicken near an oceanside cliff.Johnnie drives Duane's car off the edge, jumping out at the last possible moment to live and torture him about bagging his girl yet another day.All's well that ends well, I guess.
 Sheesh, he's outta position on the MLB blitz, and he's a jibber bogart.
 Though I was never much for cheerleaders growing up(they always seemed a bit too shallow and saccharine-flavored for my 'refined tastes', apart from one or two rare birds that really layed it on me), I could watch the drive-in movie variety all day long.Especially when one's Rainbeaux Smith, one of my all-time favorite chicks, at her sweet n' sensual peak here, despite being mostly overshadowed by her co-stars, the wholesome brunette, Jennifer Ashley, who you'll remember from stuff like Phantom of the Paradise(1974), Tintorera(1977), and Horror Planet, aka/Inseminoid(1981), and leggy blonde, Lisa Reeves, who you probably won't remember from You Light Up My Life(1977) and the 1977 San Pedro Beach Bums tv series.Robert Carradine has been in everything from the iconic cult classic, Massacre at Central High(1976) and Orca(1976), to Revenge of the Nerds(1985) and the Humanoids from the Deep made-for-tv remake(1996).Hell, he even played a skinhead in Carpenter's Escape from LA(1996).Adler, who we just saw in Van Nuys Blvd.(1976), also featured prominently in genre fare like The Van(1977), Blue Sunshine and Malibu Beach( both 1978).On the scale, Pom Pom scores an average two Wops for technical skill, which doesn't make itself very apparent here, though entertainment-wise, it would easily earn another, a cult classic, perfect for the impending hot weather and hot babes that go hand-in-hand with it.See it.
Stealing a fire engine for a joyride?Oh, you crazy high school kids.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Van Nuys Blvd."(1979)d/William Sachs


Raven-tressed dames o' the world, take solace in knowing you'll forever occupy my top spot, and I'll always do whatever's in my power to remind you of that undeniable fact.It's just that, every once in awhile, a blonde'll come along from which the vibe that emanates forth is very pleasurable, indeed.Tonight's review has just such a butterscotch goddess, but we'll touch more on that later on.For now, let's return to the groovy seventies once again, and the days of disco, customized vans, cruising the boulevard for some mogambo, and  quease-inducing fast food delivered to your car by a gum-chewing bimbo in see-thru plastic pants who may or may not feel compelled to climb in the back of your '72 Chevy Van 30 and make it with you after your meal.Or during, depending on what scene she's into, man.It's a world where a sensitive Jeff Foxworthy lookalike with a gaudy porn stache and smokes rolled into the sleeve of his t-shirt could rule the boulevard, despite having the nickname "Chooch".On the drive-in exploitation set, Van Nuys is a potent blend of drunken disco dancing, feathered hair, amusement park montages, vans dragging, fatty spleefs, boobs, and dumb dick cops, everything that summer's all about really.It'd take a real antediluvian to not have a good time with this one.
 "Anticipay-ay-tion is making me wait! Come on, already, Heinz!"
Bobby(Bill Adler) is fed up with his small-town existence of lying around with horny nude chicks smoking grass all day(wait...what?), and decides to blow the scene for the outta sights happenings of the legendary Van Nuys Boulevard, a cruising Mecca for hot rodders and together chicks, alike.In fact, at the first drive-in restaurant he pulls into, he parlays a gross-looking burger into food sex in the back of his van with hot waitress, Wanda(Tara Strohmeier).Meanwhile, Greg(Dennis Bowen) gets into a demolish-off with a possessive hothead over his girl, Camille(Melissa Prophet), who ends up splitting on both of them and hitching a ride with sexy blonde van dragger, Moon(Cynthia Wood), who's got romantic designs on a busy Bobby in the drive-in space next to hers.We see resident blvd vet and phony cool guy, 'Chooch'(David Hayward) land in central holding after the usual weekly confrontation with Officer Zass(Dana Gladstone), a childhood rival of his.Eventually, everybody ends up in the same cell together and they all become the best of friends before the night is through.Wanda ends up getting pawed on the beach in Zass' cruiser, before handcuffing him outside the car door in his drawers and breaking camp on him.That'll learn ya, ya cockbag.Bobby, Greg, Moon, and Camille go disco dancing.For a really long time.Both couples hit it off, though Moon and Bobby still have a drag race to hold, to like, see who's van is the choicest, obviously.
 "You soooo cannot take me on 'Galaxian', bitch !"
All three couples hit Six Flags Magic Mountain for a lengthy amusement park montage, during which many cheap Asian sweatshop stuffed animals are won in games of chance and Chooch blows his cool and tosses his cookies.I always wondered why so many movies incorporated sequences like this, being the kind of fun you like to experience first-hand, rather than vicariously through characters getting paid to look like they're having a blast together.Anyway, Zass gets his stuff jacked by a biker, the cuff keys buried in the sand by a real ballbuster of a doggie, and is finally rescued days later by his mommy.Chooch undergoes a spiritual transformation and sells his hot rod, choosing Hawaiian shirts and a life with Wanda over failing miserably at being 'hip'.Bobby spends all night modding his engine for the big race with Moon, who's turned off by her lover's immaturity and drives off angrily.Meanwhile, we see Chooch's rod getting pulled over again, only Zass is driving now.A-Ha! That explains everything! To show her his newfound maturity, Bobby drives his van off a cliff(!).It works, she drives back and runs to embrace him while their friends do donuts around them and the credits begin to roll.How fucking Nuge is that?
 Move along, folks, nothing to see here: It's all fun and games until the jerkoff cop(Dana Gladstone) gets handcuffed to the door of his cruiser in his drawers on the beach.
Where were we again?Oh yeaaaaah, Cynthia Wood. If you don't click the hyperlink, you've got no one to blame but yourselves, for serious.You brunettes are gonna wanna cover your eyes for a minute now.Were I in possession of a mint honolulu blue metallic flake custom '73 Chevy sin bin with a fasces-shaped bubble window, quadrophonic eight track blaring Ursa Major's "Sinner" while hanging out on the faux waterbed in the back with a two foot glass lungbuster full of goodies and a scenic overlook at dusk ahead, I can't think of any chick that'd decorate that dream scenario any prettier than Ms. Wood.Like I said before, you won't enjoy this one if you hate shit that rules.Three big ones.
"Winner has the Jordache Look! On your marks..."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Roadie"(1980)d/Alan Rudolph

Tonight we'll examine director Alan Rudolph's 1980 silly-but-sweet kitchen sink rock n' roll/romantic comedy starring the plus-sized crooner Meat Loaf as an unlikely leading man playing a handy beer truck-driving Texan named Travis, who's never left his county and is suddenly thrust into the sex, drugs, and concussion-inducing headbutts that come with being a roadie for rock bands, when he falls in love with a sixteen year old would-be groupie with dreams of losing her virginity to Alice Cooper.I'll let you re-read that premise, as written by a guy named "Big Boy"(Medlin)(sounds more like a Ted Nugent script to me...ba dum bum) and let it sink in properly.I never cared too much for Meat Loaf's theatrical brand of eight track pop music(apart from the tracks that he did vocals for on Nugent's 1976 "Free for All" album , and even then, ehhh...) and I wasn't a big fan of Rocky Horror, either, but I still must've seen this one twenty-five times or more on pay cable in the early eighties.Fleshing out the dated cinematic corny-copia are Kaki "Porky's" Hunter as Travis' underage love interest, Lola, Art "Honeymooners" Carney as Travis' slovenly southern paw, Don "Soul Train" Cornelius as a memorable record company bigwig, and performances by the likes of Blondie, Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Jr.(my least favorite of the III, by far), and ol' Hard-Hearted Alice before the end credits roll.Throw in some quease-worthy BBQ rib-smackin', a redneck wedding, car chase/wrecks, and midgets in satin baseball jackets and you've almost got the complete picture.The story goes like this...
There's more than 17 g of fat on a serving of this Meat Loaf.
We meet electrical whiz-cum-beer truck driver, Travis W. Redfish(Meat Loaf), as he's picked up for work by his best friend, B.B.(Gailard Sartain), amidst some heavy duty comedic gooberage from his father, Corpus(Art Carney) and sister, Alice Poo(Rhonda Bates). During the ride, the good ol' boys encounter music mogul Mohammed Johnson's(Don Cornelius) broken down tour bus on the side of the highway, where Travis spots Lola Bouilliabase(Kaki Hunter), a teenaged beanpole groupie along for the ride, for the first time, and readily agrees to help them get roadworthy with some MacGuyver-esque tweaks.Lola turns on her Olive Oyl charm and convinces Travis to drive them to a Hank Williams, Jr. gig in Houston that night, while B.B. covers for him with the beer delivery route.At the gig, Travis sets up the equipment in record time, gives an angry hayseed a charging headbutt, develops 'brainlock', a condition where he mindlessly spouts gibberish until he gets beer in him, and causes a highway pileup after taking the wheel of Mohammed's limo and spurring on a police chase and roadblock.The mogul touts the hefty young long-haired redneck as the "world's greatest roadie", using his growing affection for the underaged groupie to con him into working for Johnson on tour.Back home, Corpus, Alice, and B.B. receive a postcard from Travis, in the middle of sloppily chowing down on some BBQ ribs.One of the grossest things I've ever had to watch, sauce-faced Art Carney smacking his lips like a backwoods glutton next to a trout-mouthed broad like Rhonda Bates, whose yap is equally saucy.
C'mon, where else are you gonna see Don Cornelius doing the 'Funky Chicken' in a cowboy hat?
Lola confesses to Travis that she plans to lose her virginity to Alice Cooper when the tour lands in New York, while he harnesses electricity from manure to power a Blondie gig where Debbie Harry belts out a Johnny Cash cover.He goes to dinner with the band, but when Lola cockblocks with a band of midgets in satin baseball jackets, it's a food fight, alright.Debbie leaves with a black midget, and Travis vows to get Lola to New York to make her groupie dreams come true.In the Big Apple, Travis barges in on an Alice Cooper soundcheck, fixes the band's sound, and earns a tour bus to drive back to Texas for B.B. and Alice Poo's wedding in, while Lola gets the royal treatment she's been dreaming of, eating a posh dinner with Alice and his constrictor, and watching him perform "Pain" front row and center.Of course, after the obligatory hootenanny at the Redfish wedding, Travis and Lola reconcile and take to the road together in the tour bus, their romantic interlude abruptly interrupted by a damaged spaceship in need of Redfish's technical ingenuity.Hurr-hurr.Cue:Cheap Trick "Everything Works(If You Let It)".Roll credits.
Debbie Harry plays the beer bottles as Travis(Meat Loaf) gets his stationary 'Swim' on.
Of course, I've got roadie tales of my own, having taken to the road with The Business and Dropkick Murphys on their '96-'97 tour, rich with wild nights of drink, drugs, football thugs, acoustic hospital bedside serenades, and ample groupie-hopping to boot.Snorkels were brung, full sacs were emptied, but that's another story for another time, kiddies.Scale-wise, Roadie earns two Wops, and hey, two outta four(ain't bad).Okay, I think I've exhausted all my Meat Loaf-related jokes for the time being, at least until I start covering the Masters of Horror series here.Some day, I'm sure.A light, enjoyable late seventies time capsule that's worth a look now and then.Check it out.
She asked me why the singer's name was Alice, I said, "Baby, you just wouldn't understand..."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

"Prometheus"(2012)d/Ridley Scott
Since my Mediterranean ass got dragged yesterday afternoon from a glass slider full o' berry-scented Sativage to an IMAX 3D screening of the much-anticipated prequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi/horror cult classic, Alien, by my roommate, Doc, the resident sci-fi guy, I thought I'd offer a few, brief opinions on the film for you Woprophiles considering throwing down twenty-plus samoleans to bear witness to the late spring blockbuster yourselves in the near future.After donning the enormous RealD 3D goggles(Dub ain't shittin' ya, folks, these puppies wouldn't look out of place on George A. or Darryl Mac.) necessary to view the damned thing and a brief 3D re-boot delay, my official tallies for the two and a half hour long spectacle began.Just beneath the breathtakingly composed space and planet exteriors lurks a storyline holier than Saints Abreha and Atzbeha combined, a lunkheaded script full of unnecessary exposition(Having a character lifelessly explain plot points I'd understood...Hell, predicted outright, an hour earlier isn't a tribute to mine own intellect less than it is to your laziness, Hollywood.) as delivered by a cast of characters that ranges from forgettable-at-best(any number of motherfuckers decked out in Planet of the Vampires-esque gear and taking up frame space while not looking scared by any of the sleek cg horrors unfolding before their very eyes, to say the least) to instantly despisable(interstellar research jagoff seeking to tame formerly unknown species of transparent alien cobra/eel that rises out of black muck puddle by extending a friggin' hand to it?).Though the effects are admittedly pretty groove-worthy(especially if you've just ripped on some nugs), whether removing a troublesome Cthulhu-ish tentacled beastie from a birth canal by laser or watching a statuesque alien architect crumble like so much coffee cake as he plummets into cascading falls, I was overcome by the feeling that I've seen all of it before in other movies that tied it in more effectively, without having to explain it away in cliche'd dialogue to the cheap seat mannekins with the popped collared pink polos and orange-hued hair pig hussies on their arms.Regardless of Scott's obvious talents in the medium, the resources for this franchise were pretty exhausted two movies in, resulting in the mindless exercise(and to hang the promise of yet another movie on the end of this mess is pretty ballsy...what you guys gonna call that one? A pre-sequel or a fucking se-prequel?) that most of the civilized world will end up going to see, if the opening weekend receipts are any prognosticative measure.To be honest, I wasn't expecting too much, just the light IMAX fluff that I received, and the accompanying promo poster was a tits bonus that lightened the sting, certainly, but scalewise, Prometheus is a pretty pedestrian two Wops, all the way.
Trust me, sister, I was yawning, too.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"The Wind"(1987)d/Nico Mastorakis

When last we examined one of Greek filmmaker Nico Mastorakis' movies nearly five hundred reviews ago(the very first post on Wopsploitation, some useless trivia for you there) back in ought-seven, naturally, it was his wildly controversial, widely banned 1975 pioneer effort, Island of Death that we scrutinized.Some five years later, we find another Mastorakis film to focus upon, this time, one of his low-budget American productions from the mid to late eighties, a direct-to-video cat n' mouse pot boiler set in Greece and starring a surprisingly good cast that includes Meg Foster, Robert Morley, Steve Railsback, David McCallum, and none other than Wings Hauser as the unhinged American psychopath.Sure, I just named the killer in the opening paragraph, but you're probably not gonna cast an apex antagonist like Hauser in your film as anything else but, really, are you.Besides, apart from a few moments of enveloping paranoia, Mastorakis, who wrote, produced, and directed here(as he often does), plays the whole thing decidedly straightforward and un-giallo, despite some mounting comparison of this particular work to Argento's over the years, crafting methodical suspense out of the isolation of his main character, and anthropomorphising the island's foreboding, seasonal night winds, instead.Despite the film's mostly lethargic pace and seeming aversion to the plot twists, gore, or nudity required of a slasher or giallo, Wind manages to weave some real tension and atmosphere around the lush cinematography and solid performances from it's two leads throughout.
"Would you mind terribly if I pulverized my poultry in the lavvy briefly?"
Sian Anderson(Meg Foster) is an American mystery novelist vacationing for several weeks in the remote Greek villa of Monemvassia, as rented to her by elderly-but-opinionated British chatterbox, Elias Appleby(Robert Morley), who tells her:"When I first saw this place, I nearly had an orgasm!", before warning her not to venture out in the brutal night winds, reminding her that she isn't in Chicago.While her overprotective beau, John(David McCallum), worries poolside(with a plexiglas window, no less) in America, the seasonal isolation allows for her to get to work on her latest novel, as she fleshes out an imagined argument between Appleby and his hired help, a gum-chewing American ne'er-do-well named Phil(Wings Hauser) who seems to appear and disappear with the sudden wind gusts, and who helpfully offers:"If you need to know about death, I'm right next door..."(!).Mighty neighborly of you, Phil.That night, she thinks she sees him burying a body out back, and after investigating further, discovers that the partially unearthed hand contains Elias' signature ring.While she struggles to determine whether the threat is real or imagined, and unable to maintain a phone connection long enough to relate her dilemma to her stateside lover(who can't get through to the Greek authorities on his end, either), she calls Elias' Greek wife with her suspicions, and when the woman comes looking for her husband in the blustery night, Phil feeds her sickle-fueled death, throwing her lifeless corpse into a pantry next to Elias, whose body he's moved to further complicate things.
Nevermind those limpid blue pools of hers, get a look at that delicious cigarette.
It isn't long before the peninsula's brutal winds usher in a prolonged game of cat and mouse between the homicidal handyman and the isolated writer, who barricades herself in, alternately pouring a pot of steaming hot water into his mush, stabbing his shoulder with a butcher knife, and repeatedly firing off a tactical shotgun in his general direction.John eventually gets through to the police, who send a landlocked sailor named Kesner(Steve Railsback) to check on Sian, but after much skepticism and precious little investigation, he's impaled through a door by Phil's sickle.Unwavered by his mounting injuries, Phil cracks a few poppers and harrasses the author with nursery rhymes and Humphrey Bogart impersonations over the phone, adding, matter-of-factly:"Do me a favor. Don't die quietly, okay. Talk to me." Sian boobytraps the door with some rope, and when Phil tries to break in, the door slams his sickle into his midsection, apparently killing him.As the writer tries desperately to flag down a couple of indecisive newlyweds outside the castle, Phil pops up again, chasing the hysterical girl to a lofty ledge, where he takes one of the more memorable slo-mo missteps in cinema history, and plummets, screaming, several thousand feet to the jagged rocks below, or at least an unreasonable dummy facsimile does.Roll credits.
"I don't usually terrorize women vacationing in Greece with a sickle, but when I do, I make sure I'm hopped up on Amyl Nitrite first." 
Ironically, the cover art depicted above would find itself on a Turkish poster for Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning(!), with Robert Morley's familiar face painted over with a goalie mask, but Wings Hauser chasing Meg Foster down the length of the sickle inexplicably remains.Turks are fucking weird, aren't they?
Hauser would again appear in front of Mastorakis' lens the following year in 'Nightmare at Noon', most recently scoring a credit in Rubber(2010).Foster is a Reading, Pa. native who's appeared in everything from Welcome to Arrow Beach/ aka Tender Flesh(1974), and They Live(1988), to Leviathan(1989) and 1994's Shrunken Heads, and will be appearing in Rob Zombie's latest effort, Lords of Salem.With those glow-in-the-dark blue eyes, I can't hold it against her.During his long career, McCallum has scored genre credits in television shows like Outer Limits, Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, while you'll most likely remember Morley as the rotund theater critic forced to eat his poodles by Vincent Price in 1973's Theater of Blood.After giving a critically acclaimed performance as Charlie Manson in 1976 tele-pic Helter Skelter, Steve Railsback has turned up in everything from Lifeforce(1985) to Ed Gein(2000), and even Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects(2005).On the scale, Wind merits a solid two Wops, and is well worth a look.
Now that's what I call: κολύμπι στο ποτάμι του λάσπη νέον σε Έλληνες πουλόβερ, or 'Swimming in the river of Neon Slime in a Greek sweater'.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury

August 22, 1920 — June 6, 2012

"Up From the Depths"(1979)d/Charles Griffith

Tonight's review is proof that by the end of the seventies, Italians weren't the only ones trying to cash in at the box office with cheaply produced 'Jaws' rip-offs, as if the misleadingly ambitious one-sheet above wasn't enough evidence for a conviction on it's own.The alternate one-sheet for Piranha(1978) called, and it wants it's terrified female swimmer back, guys.Helmed by Charles B. Griffith, the screenwriter behind such cult classics as It Conquered the World(1956), Attack of the Crab Monsters(1957), and Death Race 2000(1975), and produced by prolific Filipino filmmaker Cirio(Savage!, T.N.T. Jackson) Santiago, Depths is a mostly boring mix of the fiberglass, tits, wooden acting, and stage blood necessary to encapsulate the average Roger Corman movie experience, barely covering it's end of a double feature disc, as paired with Santiago's own rip-off of the same movie, 1987's Demon of Paradise, but let's not get ahead of ourselves, folks.One shitty Jaws rip-off at a time.The Phillipines-as-Hawaii backdrop is used here to weave the all too familiar "Resort-goers repeatedly dined upon by large aquatic predatory animal that's ignored by the authorities until they're forced to blow the thing up with explosives after the body count turns the ocean's tide blood red" premise, the frame dressed with the likes of Sam Bottoms, who'd just come off the success of Coppola's Apocalypse Now(1979), and lovely television actress Susanne Reed, and minimal creature/gore effects provided by none other than The Fly II(1989) director Chris Walas, fresh from his stint on Piranha(1978), another popular Corman production that unapologetically apes the earlier Spielberg adventure/thriller hit itself.
"Human entrails?Everytime I get in the goddamned ocean...Every goddamned time!" 
After an unusual oceanic current frees up a prehistoric man-eating fish, that either resembles a pilot whale with Eric Roberts' mouth, or an oversized lower intestine with a mean face on the end, depending on the positioning of the camera in the water, the hateful surfboard-with-teeth stakes a peckish claim off the remote beaches of Mahu(or the Philippines, whichever works best for you) where unsuspecting vacationers, which include bickering out-of-shape bathers, kids who take drinking glasses into the ocean while swimming(nothing beats a tall, midday glass of saltwater, eh, kids?), gangly British playmates named Iris Lee(Denise Hayes), a Japanese Samurai, and a scientist named Whiting(Charles Howerton) who happens to be researching deep sea fish.Add to the mix a gorgeous young public relations rep named Rachel(Susanne Reed) and her sideburn-heavy love interest, Greg(Sam Bottoms), and even an alcoholic beercan-chucking fisherman named Earl(Virgil Frye) and the lanky lightbulb-headed hotel manager named Forbes(Kedric Wolfe) he's eternally at odds with.Ol' Forbesy alternates between shirtless in a palm leaf hat and a groovy pink action suit while ignorantly denying the impending danger to all with hokey overacting zeal that Billy Shatner might be envious of.Whenever the predator strikes, it's a muddled mishmosh of shots of oncoming teeth, hunks of meat being shaken back and forth underwater, and the obligatory red dye emptying into the deep, 'whenever' in this instance meaning 'every single goddamned time'.
"This shark must've survived solely on Spielberg's '1941' box-office receipts..."
The fiendish fish eats a photographer(only after he's set his expensive camera down on the rocks in front of him, mind you) in about three feet of water, while Forbes stubbornly exclaims that there are no sharks in the Hawaiian Archipelago.Add 'marine biology' to Forbes' growing list of inadequacies.Several forgettable attacks later, the haughty Chrome Dome offers a case of rum bounty for any tourist willing to tangle ass with the hateful halibut, leading to a mad scramble of eager vacationers grabbing decorative spears off the hotel walls, somehow forgetting that the aqua-beast has been seemingly impervious to shotgun slugs and even 5.56mm rifle ammo up to this point.A wisecracking R. Lee Ermey(!) even shows up in Hawaiian shirt with homemade flamethrower, but to no avail.Earl loads his boat up with ammunition and beer, and joins the good fight himself.The beast rams into Dr. Whiting, who pleads, dying from internal injuries, with the others:" Don't throw me back in! Don't let it get me!", which his associates interpret as: "Please strap my lifeless corpse with explosives and heave it into the water as boobytrapped fishbait!", and do just that.Judging by the circle of red dye in the water, post-off-camera explosion(explosions are expensive to film, you dicks), the fish is effectively slain and life returns to normal for the survivors, even the comic relief Samurai who's been unable to get his canoe off the rocks for the past twenty-five minutes.Insert rimshot, roll credits.
Red Snapper for dinner tonight again??Eh, twist my arm.
Corman would follow tonight's review up with the equally Jaws-ish Humanoids from the Deep(1980), a much more polished and enjoyable movie, in your humble narrator's eyes, anyway.Griffith went on to helm the rarely-seen  Ollie Reed vehicle, Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype(1980), Smokey Bites the Dust(1981), and Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II(1989).After providing the effects for the U.S.-shot sequences on Sergio Martino's Isle of the Fishmen(1980), Walas would go on to score makeup credits in everything from Cronenburg's Scanners(1981), Caveman(1981), and Joe Dante's Gremlins(1984), while providing effects for Humanoids from the Deep(1980), Dragonslayer(1981), and Cronenburg's Naked Lunch(1991).Though you'll no doubt remember Sam Bottoms as Cpl. Lance Johnson in Coppola's war epic, he also turns in solid performances in Eastwood pics The Outlaw Josey Wales(1976) and Bronco Billy(1979), getting his debut in Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show(1971), and dying prematurely at the age of 53 in 2008, while his striking co-star Reed returned to television, turning up on shows like Baywatch, Airwolf, and Knight Rider.On the scale, Depths rarely rises from said murky expanses, meriting a single Wop.It could've used a bigger boat, indeed.
"You're right, my balls do stretch out to here for expecting to be taken seriously while wearing this pink get up in public."
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