Friday, September 27, 2013

"Virgin Witch" (1971) d/ Ray Austin

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Tonight we examine another genre pic from Tigon Studios, a dated little witchcraft-fueled number that stars Ann and Vicki Michelle, and whose title promises all sorts of sordidly fleshy goodness in the name of the supernatural arts, but mostly ineffectual as anything but a showcase for the sisters' bodies, whether packed tightly into ultra-mini skirts or traipsing around, Air Supply-style, in absolutely nothing at all. Needless to say, this is a pretty light viewing experience; the only tension present here being the upper middle class prudish aversion to lesbianism ( "She fancies BIRDS!!"), which plays pretty strangely against the permissive seventies backdrop and the sexually open paganism within.
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"Oh I dunno, somefink 'bout sprawlin' atop a Citroen gets me randy..."
After much maniacal cackling and flames, ominous loungey-sounding jazz, and bare bobblers, we see Betty and Christine (Vicki and Ann Michelle) catching a lift in Johnny's (Keith Buckley) Mustang to London, where they squabble over men, window shop, and get goosed in the street while trying to score decent modeling gigs, until Christine picks up the latest ish of Nova (the haute couture fashion mag, not the highbrow Carl Sagan scientificky business on PBS, you donkeys) and sets up an interview with Sybil Waite (Patricia Haines), a haughty lesbian who takes her nude measurements, personally. Sybil drives the sisters to a country estate for what looks like a weekend photo shoot on the surface, then gives Christine a tour of the place, pointing out several historic witchy sites, in the process. I'm sure it's just quaint local history, and not virginal sacrifices or indoctrination into a coven of modern witches, or anything like that, darlin'. She assures her new sour-pussed employer that she's a career girl, and that there isn't a man living who could divert her focus, also finding the supernatural to be a fascinating subject. Peter (James Chase), the photographer who's allergic to shirt buttons, snaps some phoned-in nudes of Christine around the estate, while Betty discovers a curiously decorated chamber with devil masks and daggers in the basement, is spooked by an upper-class twit with a rifle, and spied upon in the tub by Dr. Amberley (Neil Hallett).
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"Maybe you left your rubber johnnies with your shirt buttons..."
Amberley comes clean over a splendidly marvelous dinner with candles and wine(just like Christmas!), that he is, indeed, a witch, but of the good, suburban seventies white swinger variety, using his powers of witchery for friendship and giving pleasure, and other such rot. He tells a receptive Ann she was born to be a witch, and warns Sybil to keep her black magic out of his coven. Meanwhile back in London, Johnny investigates Betty's whereabouts while the aptly named lounge singer that he's been linked to, Abby Darke (Helen Downing), belts out a melancholy tune. Then there's a groovy oiled-up naked bit where everybody strips out of their ceremonial terrycloth numbers and sways back and forth while the old warlock ferrets up in the witch-to-be's privates, all ceremonial-like, innit? Sybil pitches a sapphic alliance with the new spellcaster while Amberley volunteers himself as her tutor-in-hocus pocus, but Christine's more interested in the power of the black arts. Johnny makes the scene and outs Sybil as a "bird fancier" to Betty, while Christine sets fire to an 8" x 10" of the current high priestess out in the woods with her mind, giving her quite a migraine, indeed. The action climaxes in Betty's witch initiation, with orgiastic cultists reduced to animals writhing in the grass, while Christine influences Sybil to a sayonara swan dive from the roof. Who's coven? Christiiiiine's coven, bitches...

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"This new Englebert Humperdinck long player really sends me!"
Ann Michelle would go on to appear in things like The Death Wheelers(1973) and House of Whipcord(1974), while Vicki, who doesn't seem to have taken very many positives away from her experience on the set of tonight's review, would appear in Queen Kong(1976) before a long, memorable run on BBC's 'Allo 'Allo, among others. Keith Buckley,  you'll no doubt recall as Uryens in Boorman's Excalibur(1981)...ahem. Or maybe not. Austin would helm the South African House of the Living Dead(1974) before returning to the small screen. The initial shock of the film's gratuitous levels of nudity wears off after roughly ten minutes, and little else remains to keep the viewer's attention afterwards. Still, the Michelle's (Vicki more than Ann, for this guy, personally), nude or otherwise, aren't the most awful thing you could spend an hour and a half ogling like a flesh-mad pervert. For them, and the groovy magic ceremonies, Virgin gets it's cherry Wopped, twice over. Worth a look.

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The dark lord and master requests a private, nude, interpretive frug over by the sofa, darlin'.  photo nu2w_zps47906b42.jpg

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Antichrist" (2009) d/ Lars von Trier

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Danish director Lars von Trier has never been a stranger to controversy, be it some badly misinterpreted attempts at humor at Cannes in 2011, or the frightening and often strikingly beautiful subject matter in front of his poetic lens, as is the case with this, his 2009 effort, starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Antichrist masterfully combines von Trier's trademark haunting dreamscape visuals within horrible events, equating to an effective tone of general unease throughout the film. The director proclaimed himself the best in the world at his craft after a screening of tonight's review in Cannes, and proclaimed that everyone was his guest, and not the other way around, after being asked to justify the film's existence. Though I'm in no position to confirm or deny his admirably boastful claims at this point in time,  I will say this: Love or hate his movies, they have a knack for sticking around in your head long after you've walked away from the screen, and if that isn't great film making, I'm not sure what classifies as such.

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...Like combining to form a Voltron made of ugly.
We begin with a voyeuristic explicit shower fuck between he(Dafoe) and she(Gainsbourg), with both lust-ravaged fornicators so thoroughly engulfed in each other's fuck that they fail to notice her toddler son climbing out of his crib, unlatching the child gate, and doing a window swan dive into the snowy winter night to his untimely end. Nothing kills a guy's hard on like accidental death, and he, in true therapist fashion, volunteers to see her through her immense, crippling grief, offering his professional analysis along the way, as he's unsure of her current psychoanalyst's merit. A guy'll go the extra mile for dimepiece. When open discussion and prescription drugs prove mostly fruitless in her recovery, he suggests therapy through exposure, where she returns to the cabin where she'd worked on her thesis on the killing of women throughout history the previous summer, a gloomy place called "Eden", to identify and face her innermost fears, head on. On the trip, he encounters a fearless doe with a stillborn fawn hanging out of it's womb. Then he awakens to a hand full of blood-engorged ticks, and watches a fox eat it's own entrails before stating to him, matter-of-factly, that "Chaos reigns." Not a good sign, as Nancy Loomis used to say.

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Even as a child, Campbell had difficulty recognizing the ledge(regional joke).
Once he discovers her thesis notes hidden away in the attic, he begins to see the entire picture, briefly quelling his suspicions long enough for a surreal nature-quickie among massive tree roots and reaching hands. Her extensive study of misogynistic violence through the ages lead her to the unhinged conclusion that all women are inherently evil (!), while he finds multiple snapshots of her son with his shoes on the wrong feet, explaining the deformity noted in the boy's autopsy report. I dunno, seems like the kinda gal that probably saw her son go out the window, and said nothing, grooving on the evil of the moment, instead. She makes the scene and pulverizes his egg bag with a block of wood, masturbates him until he ejaculates blood, then bolts a grindstone to his leg to prevent his escape. They play hide and seek in a foxhole, and she removes her own clitoris with a large pair of shears, while a fox, crow, and deer look on. She stabs him in the back with the scissors, earning herself hot strangulation death and a viking's funeral just outside the cabin.While making his way out of the forest, subsisting on berries, he is overcome by a vision of a multitude of faceless women climbing a hill, towards him...

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"Yeah well, I haven't been feeling so hot lately..."
Dafoe and Gainsbourg are both riveting on the screen, and von Trier's lens revels in their mutual unattractive-ish quality, giving us long uncomfortable nude stretches with both, as well as the explicit sex scene that had to be near the bottom of the unwritten list of things I'd secretly hoped I'd never see in a movie. Like, bleeeech, man. Definitely neck-and-neck with Dafoe-in-drag, tongue kissing fat guys in Troy Duffy's Boondock Saints (1999) on the "Things That Cannot be Unseen" chart. Needless to say, like all else I've seen of the director's work dating back to 1994's The Kingdom, I naturally loved it, and if you're in for a disturbingly good time, majestically shot and powerfully acted, then you'll do well to queue this one up for yourselves, with all speed. Four Wops, and very highly recommended, indeed...

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The woodland creatures gathered in silent vigil around Snow White while the dwarves scoured the forest floor for her clitoris.
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Filmgore" (1983) d/ Ken Dixon

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Growing up as an avid horror nut in the pre-Blu ray eighties, few things rivaled a glorious big box VHS tape glaring out at you from your shelves of video-based mania, and by the time tonight's review was released, I was already familiar with the Force Video label from the big boxed 2,000 Maniacs(1965) that'd I'd mail ordered off of the back of an ish of Fangoria. Force also distributed stuff like Jess Franco's Female Vampire (1973) and 1986's Zombiethon compilation, both of which we'll eventually get around to looking at here, I'm sure.  That this was a compilation of clips from various effective (and not so effective) genre hits of the day, hosted by the screamiest of dreamy brunette scream queens, Elvira (who I'd always preferred to look at over schlocky hosts of the era like Commander U.S.A. and Zacherle for reasons that should be obvious to anybody that's male and alive), only hastened the time between fumbling with the video tape and popping it into the ol' Panasonic top loader in the parlor...

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Elvira's(Cassandra Peterson) always been a top log in my pile of "Would."
After several rapid fire miss and miss Forry-styled puns from the Mistress of the Dark, with her trademark neckline that dips like Dallas Cowboy Walt Garrison used to in chewing tobacco commercials of the seventies, we're treated to a twenty minute edit of H.G. Lewis' Blood Feast (1963), from Ancient Weird Religious Rites to a fitting death for garbage. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) follows, with twenty minutes of grainy VHS glory, then Elvie graciously googly eyes us into Abel Ferrara's Driller Killer (1979) before 1976's Drive-In Massacre is inventively edited around Elvira's flirty cut ups. Ted V. Mikels' Astro Zombies (1968) comes next, with machete-wieling Astro-men, John Carradine filling laboratory beakers with dry ice, and Tura Satana filling a cocktail gown with...well, Tura, naturally. And we're only halfway home.

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"So...what do you want to do on our next date?" asks Fuad Ramses (Mal Arnold).
Next comes 1970's Carnival of Blood, with it's H.G. Lewis-styled eye gougings on the ultra-cheap, and Rocky Balboa's brother-in-law. Even a twenty minute edit is too long for this. The murky Dr. Jekyll's Dungeon of Death (1979) follows, with it's basement of martial arts cat fights-in-velour jogging pants and then it's the micro-budgeted charm of Don Dohler's Fiend(1980) which segues into H.G. Lewis' 2,000 Maniacs!(1964), and finally, we see the lowlights of Snuff(1980), which include the updated inserted mutilation ending that's really the only reason anybody'd ever wanna see the movie in the first place. Hasty video titles scroll over a shot of Elvira holding a candle in front of an oversized demonic prop. Two hours?? Where does the time go.

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Tura firma: Dig the peerless pins on that deliciously dangerous dish.
Director Dixon would churn out a handful of these clip compilations (thinly disguised as documentaries) throughout the early eighties, like Wizard Video's big box The Best of Sex and Violence (1981), Famous T & A (1982), and the aforementioned Zombiethon (1986), before helming Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity the following year. Cassandra Peterson would score big with Movie Macabre, which ran from 1981 to 1984 and showcased her Elvira character doing much of the same; cracking jokes, and flashing cleavage, between commercial breaks in B-movie action. The series would be resurrected for one season in 2010-'11. She would also star in her own cult movie vehicles, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark in 1988, and Elvira's Haunted Hills (2001).  Tonight's review could have used a whole lot more Elvira, and a lot less B-sleaze, most of which hardcore fans have seen multiple times before, and in my opinion, the reason it merits a lone Wop on the ratings scale.

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Another victim falls prey to Orange Cruel-lious.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

"Gorgasm" (1990) d/ Hugh Gallagher

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I think that I shall never see a sight as lovely as stage blood splashed upon a cup, sized D. If boobs n' blood are your bag, Draculina editor Hugh Gallagher serves up plenty of both in his 1990 directorial debut, which I passed on the first time around, after seeing an advertisement for it in Film Threat Video Guide, despite the impressive pair of nineties-styled buh-hubbas on the cover art. I attribute my snub to P.V.S.S., or Porn Video Sleeve Syndrome, when the cover girl is perfection personified, nearly bringing a guy to half mast in the video store, then you take the tape home and the girls all look like they oughta be cackling over a big black cauldron, bubbling over with vaporous gunk over a fire in the blackness of a forest somewhere. That, and I'd pretty much outgrown the cheap softcore thrills of nudity on film once I'd seen my first Swedish Erotica (Oh, Vol. 6, how I adored you) waaay back in Junior High.

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"No, wait, don't strip in front of me ! I don't particularly groove on the misogynist exploitation of women..."
After some all-too-familiar video tracking problems across the bottom of the screen, we see a cigarette-tuggin' rascal waxing philosophically about life and death, followed by a particularly awful metal song with female vocals over a title montage of the layout of a candid personal ad in a sleazy d.i.y. sex zine called Xciting, which is then printed up on a vintage sheet-fed press. Then it's a pedestrian white guy, bound and gagged in a kitchen chair, while the pillowy good Tara (Gabriela, who would later appear in things like Anal-Sperm Power and Willenlos Anal...obviously broad physical comedies, those.), a rather fetching brunette with Love Hewitt-esque bobblers, cuts her way out of a sheer negligee with a butcher knife to an even worse hair metal track, before lazily spinning around him in her knicks and cutting his throat, halfheartedly licking the bloody blade afterwards. Then it's our bad metal-loving detective from the intro and his "Sarge", a middle-aged woman who looks like she's just walked out of a Sears portrait, artificially fumbling through lines of dialog in front of some wood paneling. While laughing at the deviant sexual want ads in the zine he discovers at the crime scene, his eyes transfix upon one, in particular, that promises the "ultimate climax"...

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"What's the big idea?? I wanted Black Flag bars!"
There's domestic violence in the form of comical kicks in the nuts that send another mook looking for a titular gorgasm, while our badged hero browses a depressingly barren porno shop to the sounds of another band that wasn't any good, before road-tripping to "Gore-ville, Ill." to grill Xciting's publisher about you know, how one goes about setting up a gorgasm. A dumpy blonde in bondage gear intrudes on Tara electric weed whacking her boyfriend's eye out in the sack, leading to a lazy catfight on the rug/extension cord asphyxiation. The publisher is a balding, nearsighted basement dweller in a Hawaiian shirt who wags his arms in the air every time he delivers a line, and sounds a lot like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons with a hokey Brooklyn accent. There's a garage door opener-decapitation, and more bad metal, leading up to the inevitable showdown between topless machete-wielding Tara and the badge, which ends in severed hands and shot up vadges, green slime skeletons concealed in hanging dummies, forced maniacal laughter, and end titles that feature more clips of Gabriela with her hams out, and a title track that's probably worse than all the rest in the movie. Fittingly.

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Topless at the sight of a Ted Bundy's body t-shirt. My kinda gal.
Gallagher would follow this one up, with not one, but two more, in the form of 1993's Gorotica and Gore Whore, the following year. As easy as Gabriela is on the eyes, her sputteringly lifeless delivery of lines had my ears prepared to geyser blood like a vein-strike. In her defense, the rest of the cast is equally bad,  and their bad is augmented, in turn, by a perfectly atrocious compliment of  odious soundtrack cuts by bands I never want to hear again. All of that bad combined very nearly translates to good, in some cases. But not this one, by a long shot. Still, besides the obviously choice sweater bombs of the lead, there's some interesting editing here, and a strong retro-'80s amateurish S.O.V. slasher vibe going on too, and for that, it earns a single nostalgic Wop.

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His weeds she whacked, while bloody and stacked, then it all went black...
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Boarding House" (1982) d/ John Wintergate

Who could ever forget the laughably inept trailer for tonight's review amongst the coming attractions on Paragon video tapes back at the outset of the eighties? That's where John Wintergate's 1982 shot-on-video feature and I first crossed paths, heading my VHS of Gates of Hell aka/ Paura nella città dei morti viventi with a ludicrous coming attraction worth of embarrassing video effects, cheap computer titles,  unintentional laughs, and ten cent splatter shoveled up in a way that's been done thousands of times since, but holds special memory, for me at least, and perhaps a sparse handful of others, for being a pioneer in the d.i.y. shot-on-video ass pie sweepstakes, unapologetic in it's delivery of inept lo-fi insanity that defies explanation and begs for position among the greatest/worst movies of its time, somewhere in front of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984), but well behind Garbage Pail Kids:The Movie(1987), if it were up to me, I tell ya. Thirty years later, magnanimous fellow that I've matured into ( kinda disappointed about that, but at least I'm still pretty hot ),  I've decided to give it another look in the spirit of the coming holiday season, for your reading enjoyment. Here we go...

Blackie Lawless appreciates your dedication to metal, sister.
After a disclaimer tells us that a black glove in front of some pixelated tv screen and some ominous synth are the signals for the audience to make like Mr. Chicken, and some eighteen hundred dollar 8-bit titles (roughly the cost of the IBM computer to generate them, at the time) over some more synthesizer that sounds like the Knight Rider theme on salvia divinorum, we learn that the Hoffman family, leading experts on the occult and telekinesis, are found mutilated at their sixteenth anniversary party in 1972, leaving behind one child, who's committed to a sanitarium shortly afterwards, having just witnessed a double suicide. Then an old guy does a flopper off of his pool lounger and drowns amid some mean looking wavy video shapes and piped-in screams. A woman ignores some out-of-place wolf howls and loses her arm down the trash compactor,  and we're treated to more scrolling computer data about subsequent owners having mysterious strokes and whatnot, until the keys to the infamous Hoffman House are handed to the lone surviving heir, Jim Royce ( Hawk Adly, or director Wintergate, either way, the guy needs to put some friggin' pants on). At the sanitarium, a black gloved hand compels a nurse to strip down to a negligee and hang herself with a pantyhose rope, while orchestrating an orderly pulling his own entrails out. Naturally, Royce moves into his new ten bedroom digs and turns the troubled old place into a boarding house for girls between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five.

"...we've got an accumulation of cheesy low budget 80's video effects down near Upper Darby and the surrounding areas..."
Debbie (Lindsay Freeman) joins a bevvy of airhead babes renting from Jim, and it's not long before mind-controlled ice picks are injuring lovely lodgers, and bathing blondes imagine they've got old pig faces and dead mice in their mouths. The sketchy gardener (also Wintergate) looks like one of the Ramones on a Carbona bender, with a dog chain arm sling, for some unknown reason. There's a hair dryer in the tub electrocution, and a nightmare chase sequence through a graveyard that begins with a half minute of black screen. When Jim isn't cocking down his tenants in the shower (the first time I've seen a chick climax while a fake cat gets the stage blood hammered out of it, I've gotta say), he's teaching them how to harness their own telekinetic powers. There's a party, and one of the dames (named Kalassu, mind you) sings a terrible, un-catchy song with the band out by the pool, while a black dude with a 'fro is willed to shoot his date, then himself. A metalhead chick rips her own eyes out in the kitchen, as Debbie reveals herself as the last Hoffman, which leads to an inevitably underwhelming finale huff and puff brain-off between she, Jim, and his mental understudy/dime piece, on a fog machined up sound stage. Cue up those fancy computer data readouts one more time, Wintergate, 'cuz we're outta here!

Leif Garrett reacts to seeing himself on Solid Gold for the first time...
Personally, I ran a boardinghouse for wayward teenage nymphettes in the eighties and nineties in Northeastern Pa ( and again in the 'oughts in A-Town, against my better judgment ) to the disgruntlement of all my Cherry Street neighbors, who, upon nightly weed smoke exhaust from the bedroom window, accompanied by all manner of devil's racket, and robust chesty young female climaxes amid Nugent's familiar hollow-bodied Byrdland sex-twang, must have been envious, to say the least. My mother never took much to topless tattooed chelsea girls padding into the bathroom in the early hours of the morning in leopard print knicks, but then, they weren't in town for anybody's benefit but my own, can you dig it? Some review sites serve you dirtweed off the brick, but at the Wop, you can always expect nothing but the choicest HG nugs of genre film for discussion and dissection for your mind to groove on. Put that in your bubbler and reef on it. On the scale, Boarding House earns but one wop, with it's out of place sound effects, blaring synth score (that thankfully drowns out much of the non-acting taking place), and aforementioned rotten gore effects. Hell, I even counted a few times where the "warning signals" preceded absolutely nothing at all. Can you believe people are paying fifty bucks a pop for the OOP Code Red dvd on eBay?? Insanity.

An old-pig-face-in-a-shower-cap-with-a-dead-mouse-in-the-mouth looks like the perfect opportunity to take a crack at some fading 80's movie or pop star here, but I'm too high to eff with karma right now, man.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"duBEAT-e-o" (1984) d/Alan Sacks

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From a half-completed "Day in the Life"  musical comedy about Joan Jett's former band, The Runaways, comes this rarely seen hodgepodge of video clips and Polaroids that stars Ray Sharkey and Derf Scratch, bassist/founder of L.A. punk band, FEAR, was co-written by Marc Sheffler (or "Junior" Stilo from Wes Craven's Last House on the Left), and boasts of a soundtrack that features some early tracks by Social Distortion, topped off with narration by director Sacks, Scratch, and El Duce of the Mentors. I'm pretty sure you could put the Three Stooges in a room full of aristocrats and banana cream pies, and the result would be less of a friggin' mess. The adrenaline rush of finally nailing down a copy after twenty-plus years of hunting was long over even before the opening credit sequence, truth be told.

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SEE! Sleazy photographs! Uhr-HURRR!
duBEAT-e-o(Sharkey) is an underground filmmaker with just thirty-one hours to complete his latest project, a documentary about the next big thing in the music scene, Joanie Jett(!), or face the possibility of getting another clip-on earring torn off by Hendricks' (Len Lesser) hefty henchman, Wolfgang (Joe Herrera), or worse. Sharon (Nora Gaye) stumbles in on her way to a Weight Watchers meeting, and is double-talked into duBEAT-e-o's entourage, then later given a punk makeover and subsequent horizontal bop by the ambitious and abrasive would-be director. He rescues his editor, Benny (Scratch), from a homeless squat, and soon the trio is desperately scrutinizing lip-synched footage of Joan on stage with a fake backing band (The actual Runaways called it quits long before the original movie was dreamed up), running around the crummier-looking parts of Los Angeles, and squaring off in a moving school bus against a gang of butch lesbians.

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"Duce suggested that I ask you to be my stupid, air-headed girlfriend..."
Many black and white montages of back alleys, roadkill animals, passed out winos, and chicks booting heroin, set to narrated bickering and horribly mixed music tracks, later, we see a clip of Duce (with hair!) rambling down the boulevard, sickened by the advent of new wave/glam rock faggots, then suddenly sloppily twirling drumsticks for the Mentors (yeeeaaash), while rotten things happen, montage-style, to women: the face of a chick on a leash is booted repeatedly into a bowl of dog food, as another sucks a dildo full of prop-spunk, and yet another gets her fingers chopped off. Ultimately, duBEAT-e-o completes his movie just in the nick of time, as Hendricks joins a small crowd packed into theater seats to watch another fake performance clip of Jett and company, demanding another film from the director, who rejects the offer, unveiling a clip of the low-life producer making out with a guy on a mattress, while Duce and Scratch add their own coarsely colorful commentary in voice-over. Roll credits.

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"Joan, did anyone ever tell you that your drummer bears a striking resemblance to Cinderella?"
You'll remember Ray Sharkey from The Idolmaker (1980), Wise Guys (1986), or his legendary coke/heroin habit, whose dirty, shared needles would result in the actor contracting AIDS and dying prematurely at the tender age of forty, just nine years later. You'll remember Eldon "El Duce" Hoke as the frontman/drummer for hooded rape rock trio, The Mentors, or perhaps, from his premature alcohol-soaked death on the railroad tracks at the ripe old age of thirty-eight. Yeeeaaash. Derf Scratch would also pass away in 2010 from liver disease, only fifty-eight. Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith lost her life to complications from hepatitis in 2002, at the age of forty-seven. This wrap up is turning out to be one helluva bummer, huh. Joan Jett's still alive, though, so put anothah daaaahhhhme in the jukebox, baybuh! Worth a look if you're into drug abuse, the eighties L.A. punk scene, or a big fan of Joan Jett, I suppose, but otherwise, you'll probably just come away from this wreckage with a killer migraine. Solo woppo.

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"Actually fucking", as a title card informs us, amidst drunken cackles from a hooded narrator. 
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Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Scared To Death" (1981) d/ William Malone

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The only science fiction element in tonight's review, the directorial debut from the man who gave you the "House on Haunted Hill" (1999) remake and "FeardotCom" (2002), is the H.R. Giger...inspired, coughcough, SynGenOr, which stands for Completely-Bloody-Fake-Looking-Alien-Rip-Off, in this case. The movie itself is otherwise pretty standard z-grade slasher fare with the fifties-style monster twist also provided by Malone himself, a special makeup/mask artist in his own right, having provided the makeup work for Dan Curtis' The Norliss Tapes (1973) and the original sculpt for the Michael Myers mask in Carpenter's Halloween five years later. Rick Springfield wasn't impressed enough, apparently, and backed out of tonight's movie, which Malone threw together for roughly seventy grand or so, claiming he'd miss too many acting lessons if he took the role. Looking back, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief at never having to live in an alternate reality where Rick Springfield couldn't act...

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"...and after dinner I've got us two tickets to Sister Sledge."
When former badge-turned-pulp best seller author Ted Lonergan (John Stinson) isn't recklessly backing his car into Jennifer Stanton's(Diana Davidson) vintage Rolls-Royce, he's helping his homeboy Det. Capell (Jonathan David Moses) solve murder cases, like the current homicidal misogynist stalking the streets of Los Angeles, leaving a growing pile of female cadavers in his wake, but Ted's not interested this time. Jennifer isn't interested in Ted, either, until he flashes the cash to pay her vehicle repairs, but a new rear quarter panel later, and it's powder blue eye shadow time, big boy. Paint rollers full. One vadge-pounding later, she's his unofficial secretary off-the-books doing his leg work, investigating a lead on the current murder case in the form of leggy geneticist's assistant, Sherry Carpenter (Toni Jannotta), only instead of witness testimony she's on the receiving end of hot French/monster kisses from the SynGenOr, which leave her more than breathless, indeed...

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"I don't care if you can pop n' lock on skates, if you don't wear your socks above your knees, you're outta the gang, baby."
With Ted's girlfriend in a coma just like that emo-billy Grinch used to sing back in the eighties, he turns to Sherri for the specs on the new life form in question, and though she's a little foggy on some details, it all involves a rubbery tongue that juts out between some even more rubbery teeth into the victim's mouth onto somewhere just inside the spine, where fluid is collected for the creature's neurological nourishment. Meanwhile, the Syngenor dispatches an entire rogue crew of roller skaters out on the roll for kicks inside a parking garage, and Ted discovers that the murder case has since been mysteriously closed from higher up from his soulful detective pal. Naturally, Ted and Sherri are going to have to infiltrate the creature's sewer-lair themselves, and they might just find cocooned victims there, too, stockpiled for their spinal fluid in a vaguely similar manner to that other movie we were talking about earlier. I'll leave the finale for you to experience, if you haven't nodded off, drooling on the seat cushion like a post-lobotomy R.P. McMurphy, by then, that is.

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I never saw the Xenomorph lying down on the job, Syngenor. Just sayin'.
Malone would next tackle Creature (1985) with Klaus Kinski, who you'll be seeing more of here in the coming themed holiday month of reviews that I'll either be giving you a sneak peak at along the way, or just dropping on you, all sudden-like. You never know what I'm gonna do, really (and neither do I, half of the time). Stinson would turn up in Oliver Stone's The Hand the same year, and also in Malone's Creature. I'm not sure if any of the other cast members did anything of note and I'm also pretty sure nobody cares.Though there's some nostalgic eighties-style synth-based tension in some of the shots, and pretty victims a' plenty, ultimately the budgetary limitations prove too steep to uplift this one from one Wop status. Some may get a kick or two out of it, but most probably won't.

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"Yeah, I've got a pretty big nose...this is also big."
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Thursday, September 5, 2013

"Schizoid" (1980) d/David Paulsen

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Sorry about the delay between reviews lately, I'm sure you probably feel like that forgotten anole lizard in the barren aquarium in the corner of some irresponsible little bastard's bedroom by now, your sunken eyes frantically scanning the dirty glass for a mere wax worm or micro cricket worth of sustenance. Hang tight, my woprophiles, I've got an impressively opulent stack of genre movies we'll be looking at this month, and leading it all off, is a surprisingly engaging American pseudo-giallo disguised as typical slasher fare of the era (the one sheet is a dead giveaway, I dunno), that you might otherwise slag off if you're searching for the blade-generated tomato paste so often promised in knifer flicks. If you did that, you'd be missing out on a rare subdued Kinski (save for some creepy incestual tension in one spot), Marianna Hill, who you might remember in "High Plains Drifter" as Ghost Eastwood's objet d'viol, Donna (Jaws 2) Wilkes, Craig (Body Double) Wasson, and hell, throw Jim from Taxi in there, and slap a silly mustache on him, to boot. Let's roll...

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"Uv corss I'm not vatching you get undresst. Don't be silly."
When Julie (Hill), a newspaper advice columnist who's going through a sensitive divorce with her sweaty husband (Wasson), starts receiving increasingly unnerving anonymous cut-n-paste letters with murder as the subject, it just so happens to coincide with a mounting body count; comprised mostly of her fellow therapy group members, all of whom seemingly had been secretly lovers of Pieter (Kinski), the therapist himself, before learning the fatal mistake of playing with a big-assed pair of scissors, or more importantly, playing with a shadowy figure in foppish hat and leather gloves that happens to be wielding said sizeable, sharpened snips.Whether Pieter is the culprit or not, he still manages to peep-tom his own daughter Alizzin,errr..Alison (Wilkes) in the buff to score magnificently on the creep-o-meter, regardless. But the creeps to choose from in this lousy burg are many, as we soon find out.

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The Chooper got her, and we knew it.
Besides the polyamorous shrink (who's also taken to having his sexual way wiss,errr...with Julie by now) and Julie's clammy ex, there's Gilbert the lonely maintenance man (Lloyd), there's the boys in blue who treat the psychotic letters like a big joke(, and little Alizzin, err...Allison's not without suspicion herself, with that incendiary jealousy of Julie, and the drawer full of cut-out letters, and all. When Julie finds out it's Pieter's daughter behind the letters, she draws her out into a gun-frontation with her husband and the therapist, who's soon on the scene. It was the sweat-drenched Doug, afterall, who kidnaps Allison and Julie (who hates hairbrushes, apparently) and duels with Pieter in the dark (you haven't lived until you've seen a hammer-wielding Kinski square off against Wasson) until an untied Allie plunges his own trademark scissors into his back as he's beating the therapist and accusing him of stealing his wife, and, of being a nazi, as well. You're thinking of Eroi all'inferno (1974), Craig...err, Doug. As Doug slumps lifelessly over a piece of overturned furniture, the cops finally come in.

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"Zose frozen peas in zere are turnink me on, baby..."
After completing Savage Weekend(1979) and tonight's review, Paulsen went on to direct episodes of Dallas, Dynasty, and even Knots Landing, ferchrissakes. Though Schizoid might be a little too dry for the modern slasher crowd, especially those of the 80's camp, fans of Kinski will do well to add this one to their "to see" queue's in the near future. It's nothing too exceptional, but highly watchable, anyway. Two big ones.

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"Playing Twister at her age, she shoulda known better..."
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"Bronson" (2008) d/ Nicolas Winding Refn

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My introduction to the film work of Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn came a few short weeks ago at the suggestion of one of my more cinema-minded affiliates in the form of his 2011 film, Drive, which I enjoyed greatly, but didn't cover here, as it doesn't really fit the qualifying genre conditions to merit an entry. His 2008 effort, on the other hand, documenting the life story of the most violent prisoner in the history of her Majesty's nick, Michael Peterson aka/ "Charlie Bronson", as portrayed by Tom "Bane" Hardy, fits our cult criteria consummately enough, alright. By the time the end credits rolled, I'd noticed both of my hands had naturally balled into fists from all the pugilistic commotion on the screen I'd just bore witness to. Refn masterfully frames each shot of this bare-knuckle, blood-spattered tough guy bonanza with delicate precision, lending arthouse insight into the complexities of the mind of our mustachioed anti-hero, peppered with punches to the face, and plenty of them.

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"Straitjacket? Fuck. I got into the strawberry preserves anyway, didn't I."
That Michael Peterson (Tom Hardy) is not a singer or actor, is irrelevant to his desire for greatness, as we first see him in a naked scrap with prison guards. From an early age, Peterson shows a propensity to mix it up with all comers, from schoolmates to teachers, who's he's not opposed to smashing with school desks. He blags some cash from a chip shop he works at, in an attempt to impress one of his female co-workers, who ends up becoming his wife and bearing him a child. When domestic life proves too burdensome for him, he robs a post office, earning a seven year prison sentence for himself in the process. Here, he flourishes, a star to the other inmates, for his unpredictably violent episodes that no prison seems capable of quelling. He's eventually sent to Rampton, a mental hospital where his brutal outbursts are met with heavy sedation, but after a seemingly sympathetic paedo suggests that the two men rape a nine year old girl together sometime, he feigns compliance long enough to nearly strangle the fellow patient to death, earning him a trip to Broadmoor, another mental hospital where he instigates a full-scale riot and is seen atop the establishment's smoldering rooftop flashing his trademark double peace signs on the evening news.

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"Ohhhh, my sciatica. Attica! Attica!"
On parole(!) in Luton, he reconnects with an uncle, who gets his feet wet in unlicensed bare-knucle boxing and human-baiting (man vs. vicious dogs, in case you were wondering) and adopts the nickname "Charlie Bronson", before robbing a jeweler to impress another more disinterested young woman this time, earning him a return trip to prison just sixty-nine days after his initial release. Back in the nick, he returns to his greased up, prison guard-throttling, ultra-violent ways and gets his sentence extended. The governor tells Charlie that he can foresee the inmate's death inside if no changes are made, leading him to take up art as a prison hobby, but when his efforts are met with indifference from the officials, he takes it upon himself to kidnap his art teacher, tying him to a post, painting him up like a sculpture complete with an apple in his mouth(!!), before greasing up for the familiar throwdown with the guards once he's had his bit of fun. Finally, we see Bronson, forced to stand bloody and naked in a coffin-shaped cage in solitary, as we're told the inmate hasn't been granted a release date. He seems okay with that...

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"If you continue will die here."
The real life Bronson got over the initial reservation he had towards Hardy in the lead role, meeting with him in prison, even shaving off his trademark handlebar for the actor to use on his own face in the film, and eventually calling him "Britain's number one actor" after finally getting to see the film for himself some three years later. Would you argue with this guy?? Me, neither. The critics were similarly fond of this one, which won Best Film at the 2009 Sydney Film Festival, and was also nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance the same year. I'm not sure one director has ever made it to my list of current favorites any faster than Refn. If this sort of thing is your speed, too, you'll do well to hunt down a copy and check it out immediately. Three wops on the rating scale and a recommendation. See it!

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"You mind closely examining this deep transverse metacarpal ligament for me, gov?"
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