Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Godzilla" (2014) d/ Gareth Edwards

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Remember Hollywood's last attempt at tapping Toho's rich Gojira-vein back in '98? You know, the one with Ferris Bueller and the computer-generated iguana that sent the schiziest hardcore traditional Goji fans into a frothing rage? Naturally, the backlash of angry fans still shitting on that particular take would offset Tinseltown's desperation for revenue and warrant no further attempts in the future, one would think,  right? Riiiight. Here's the latest big budgeted cash grab from Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers, a repetitive, lobotomized re-imagining of Tokyo's greatest menace that easy-to-please mainstream audiences will (continue to) devour barehandedly at the box office, while leaving those hardcore G fans I mentioned earlier, feeling pretty ripped off in the end.

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"Spock, are you out of your Vulcan mind? No human can tolerate the radiation loose in there!"
For what seems like two hours or so, we're treated to recycled human drama concerning a physicist named Brody (Bryan Cranston), who watches helplessly as his wife dies like Spock in The Wrath of Khan, and obsesses for fifteen years over the true cause of the nuclear tragedy only to get squashed in the aftermath of an improbable-looking winged M.U.T.O., or Massive Unknown Terrestrial Organism, even though it's more of a M.U.F(lying).O., when you really think about it. The thing hatches out of an enormous chrysalis that's discovered when a mine in the Philippines collapses to reveal the fossilized skeleton of something massive. Meanwhile, there's the hint of impressive back spikes breaking the surf, and a few bird's eye views of the destruction wake left by colossal animate objects (okay, there's a lot more than a few), but no Godzilla, though.

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"Don't skydive directly into a giant kaiju battle, whatever you do, son.", warns Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston).
After ten or fifteen lengthy snooze-worthy chunks (I must've caught myself dozing off about that many times along the way) of exposition involving Joe's son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a Naval Officer whose family is separated from him amid all the creature-based chaos, and the back story of Gojira, an ancient god among prehistoric predators, etc. , etc., Big G finally makes the scene, and sixty years of dormancy haven't been kind to everyone's favorite atomic breathed lizard, as his latest incarnation is grossly overweight with stumpy legs and arms and a boxy head with no great abundance of teeth. It's no surprise then, that Tokubetsu-Goji (my own prefix, I confess)  gets manhandled at great lengths by two M.U.T.O.s, the larger female noticeably pregnant with eggs, before finally tail-swatting the pesky winged male against a skyscraper and decapitating the female with an atomic blast down her throat. In the end, Godzilla, thought to be dead, revives suddenly and makes for the ocean, with the people of the world declaring him a savior, despite the massive destruction and death he's been responsible for, of course, and young Ford is reunited with his family. Grab your popcorn, we're outta here.

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"Me? Godzilla? Naaaaaah, I'm just a harmless islet over here."
On the positive side, the cast handles the material pretty well, and the cg kaiju scrap in the final reel, but it takes forever for the viewer to get there, after miles worth of unnecessary jibber-jabber and a painfully slow reveal of a creature that the audience already has a pretty good idea of (thirty plus movies worth, by my count), unless they've been living down an abandoned mine shaft for the last sixty years. Aesthetically, I hated all of the kaiju designs, with most contempt saved for Godzilla, himself. He hasn't looked this goofy since he was seen with Minya riding on his tail back in 1967, in my opinion. I'm done talking about it, for now. A half-step up from Bueller-zilla. One Wop.

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"Tokubetsu-Goji want potato!"
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Friday, May 30, 2014

"Revenge of the Creature" (1955) d/ Jack Arnold

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Tonight, we'll cover the 1955 3D sequel to the 1954 3D original (Revenge was also the only 3D feature released that year, coincidentally), the only time in cinema history that's ever occurred, and the first of two sequels spawned by the frenetic enthusiasm that audiences displayed for the Gill-Man at the box office. Jack Arnold returned to the director's chair here, and B-movie hero, Mr. Shirley Temple, John Agar himself, takes the lead, with cerebral blonde, Lori Nelson, appearing as his romantic interest/ Gill-Man bait. Ricou Browning also returns as the Creature, who's undergone a few noticeable cosmetic alterations, but remains ever ready to face palm the nearest unlucky devil with webbed authority.

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"You feel lucky enough to light that Bunsen burner...well, do ya...punk?"
Despite the previous year's expedition to the Amazon ending in tragic failure, Lucas (Nestor Paiva) is back in the Green Inferno with a new boat, and a new crew of scientists determined to capture the fabled amphibious monster that dwells in the Black Lagoon, for obvious research purposes, but more so, for lucrative ticket sales at Ocean Harbor, an early Sea World-esque water park, where tourists will pay long green to gawk at the fishy fella from behind protective aquarium glass. The capture in question, takes all of fifteen minutes, thanks to an environmentally sound technique called "dynamite fishing", that leaves the titular Creature in a comatose dead man's float amid hundreds of belly up fish, ready to be exploited, errr, studied in far off,  sunny Florida. Once the experts have walked him back to consciousness, shark-style, with only one meathead casualty (John Bromfield), it's chains and shackle, feeder fish out of metal cages, and Pavlovian conditioning with a nifty cattle prod to the midsection for the new specimen. Ah, those early days of science...

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"I hope you've brought your snorkel tonight, darling...", quips Clete (John Agar).
Tired of being labonza-prodded with 'behave yourself' voltage, and being chained to the bottom of the fish tank like an amphibious Kunta Kinte, Gill-Man finally busts the fuck loose like Richard Pryor, amid screaming, terrified tourists, tipping over cars, and generally exacting rampaging Devonian era revenge, before diving into the ocean and swimming home...well, not exactly. Instead, the scaly fiend swims towards St. Augustine, where he does some peep-tomming on Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson) in the shower, but respectfully waits until she's decently clothed again (laying the whack on her improbably-named dog, Chris(!), in the meantime) at a nearby Lobster House bandstand party, before carrying her off, screaming, into the night. Helen's colleague/beau, Professor Clete Ferguson (John Agar), is totes jelly(fish) at the notion of an inter-species interloper, filling him full of lead, and forcing him to repeat his half-dead float from the original picture, in the end.

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The Gill-Man(Ricou Browning) can totally see you in your new underthings. And he doesn't much hate it.
Look for the first screen appearance of Clint Eastwood in a cameo as a scatterbrained lab assistant with mice in his pockets. I vividly recall New York station WPIX broadcasting this one in 3D in the early eighties, and being front row and center of the big floor model tv in our parlor, in red and blue glasses, with one hand on the pause button of my Panasonic top loader, to remove the commercials in between. Like many sequels before and since, Revenge doesn't nearly hold up in comparison with it's groundbreaking predecessor, but remains packed with enough nostalgic 50's B-movie monster mayhem to stay entertainingly buoyant on a cinematic ocean of also-ran's. A recommended cult classic that amasses an impressive three Wops, in review, and demands a spot on the shelves of every self-respecting horror dvd/BR enthusiast.

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"Only youuuuuu...can make this world seem riiiiight..."
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Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Autumn Born" (1979) d/ Lloyd Simandl

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A rarely seen, late seventies S & M-fueled endurance test from our pals up north that stars the lusciously voluptuous body of beautiful murdered Playboy Playmate of the Year, Dorothy Stratten. I'm forced to objectify the late actress here, as the bobbery concerning her untapped, unrealized acting skill everyone's always on about when she comes up in conversation, which is definitely not on display in this, her starring debut, of sorts {a full year before the spectacle that wasn't Galaxina (1980)}, seems like, well... bobbery. What remains has the feel of a Swedish Erotica loop minus the wah-wah guitar, Seka's red scarf, or the woolly penetration close ups. What fun is that, you ask? Not much at all, sez I. Not much at all.

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Try on those satin rollerskate shorts next. All of Pomeroy's is belongings to you, baby.
Tara Dawson (Dorothy Stratten)'s compulsion to purchase polyester discoey looking outfits en masse not only serves as a lengthy opening montage for the high maintenance teenager to show off her adult curves while trying the dresses on, as the camera records them for perverted posterity (her pubic mound features prominently here), but also as a springboard for her unsavory, controlling uncle, Grant (Nate Macintosh) to vent repetitiously about, filling the frame with enough wood to keep Grizzly Adams' fireplace lit all winter long. Of course, it's not just the nineteen hundred dollar clothes bill that has her unc on the schiz, it's also the fact that she's about to turn eighteen and inherit her father's assets, all of which he's currently in control of. What's a guy to do, besides hire an icy dominatrix to torture his niece into signing everything over to him, obviously.

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Never realized that you Canucks liked your camels filtered.
With Monica (Jocelyn Fournier) on board to adjust Tara's obnoxious sense of entitlement, and also horsewhip Tara's supple buttocks into submission, the spoiled teen is soon taught the value of clumsily-acted out discipline, and also not to paint her toenails in detestable rustic shades(seriously...). At one point, her captors introduce a wind up mouse to her, then sing the Three Blind Mice rhyme where the farmer's wife chops off the rodents' tails from the next room, forcing the distraught, hysterical girl to try to hide her new prized possession from tail surgery, in the walls. But that's not all. There's also flat dialog shouted at walls, humiliating assisted baths in tiny washtubs, sparkless sapphic hints that fizzle out at the Eskimo level, spirit-shattering rape and degradation. Something for nobody, really.

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As far as sideboob goes, this marvel produces more tears than 'Send in the Clowns' .
Speaking of missed opportunities, I could easily see Dorothy Stratten in a vintage Svetlana or de Renzy porno, among the busty ranks of Desiree Cousteau, Seka, or Anna Ventura, instantly becoming a favorite of porn proponents everywhere(as if she wasn't already, to a lesser degree). After bearing witness to this, one can see where Bob Fosse drew his inspiration from in creating Dorothy/Mariel's flubbed blood pellet scene in his Stratten biopic, Star 80. The acting rots like the teeth of a diabetic moonshiner after his third two liter of generic Mountain Dew of the night, while the direction is flatter than his fourth, after being left open on the counter overnight. If you're so bewitched by Dorothy's physical assets that you're going to sit down to this one, any got-damned way, despite my best efforts to steer you in the other direction, I suggest you mute the sound, and keep a ready thumb on the fast-forward button. O solo Wop-o.

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Can't make jokes here either. Her ass was definitely not one.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"The Legend of Hell House" (1973) d/ John Hough

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In the late sixties and early seventies,  lots of folks were tuned in on the far out, such as witchcraft, ghosts, the occult, and paranormal investigation. Tonight's movie, for example, is a classic haunted house movie, full of creepy atmosphere, shadows and whispers turning to screams at midnight, and spectral, otherworldly presences up to no good, indeed,  in the gothic locale of Blenheim Palace, with familiar genre faces like Roddy MacDowall and Pamela Franklin among the ranks of the mortals setting out to endure a week inside the estate investigating the malevolent spirits who call it home. What really elevates this one above it's standard plot, besides several gripping performances from the cast,  is an engaging screenplay full of tense moments by the one and only Richard Matheson, based upon his own novel, Hell House.

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Keep your hundred grand, I'd live here for free.
Mr. Deutsch hires a team of experts to spend an entire week inside the fog-enshrouded Belasco House, which has come to be known as "Hell House", and "the Mt. Everest of haunted houses", thanks to the previous failed attempts to do the same that resulted in death, disfigurement, and loss of sanity in all takers save for one: Ben Fischer (Roddy MacDowall), a physical medium who's willing to give it another try for the hundred thousand dollars that Deutsch promises anyone who survives. Also along for the ride are a young spiritual medium named Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin), and a haughty disbeliever of a psychologist named Dr. Barrett (Clive Revill), who plans to use the seven day experience to disprove the existence of life after death with a bulky machine that will negate rogue electromagnetic energy, which he surmises is the true culprit behind the house's phenomena, and finally, his sexually frustrated wife, Ann (Gayle Hunnicutt), who's thumbing a ride to planet Orgasmo.

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Somebody pack Dr. Barrett (Clive Revill) a bibbity, he's having a rough week.
Instantly, Florence believes she's made contact with the restless spirit of Belasco's illegitimate son, Daniel, and the medium is used during readings to manifest physical phenomena like objects moving on their own and as a lightning rod for materializing ethereal presences that float in the air around her hands and face. Fischer, who's seen it all before, remains tight lipped save for several desperate warnings to everybody to vacate the premises at once, while they're still able, as evidenced by the skeptical Barrett's getting beat down with every dangerous object in the room as it hurls at him, unexplainedly. While Mrs. B repeatedly throws herself at Ben, her husband hurls accusations at Florence, while malevolently misleading poltergeists serve her up the roughest invisi-rape this side of The Entity, while hurling huge, deadly crucifixes down upon her. After Barrett runs his machine, Ben declares the house is clean, but the psychologist succumbs directly to another psychic attack, leaving only the medium and the new widow to solve the mystery of the homicidal home before they're added to its legendary body count...

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"...and the music was soothing, and they all started grooving...yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!"
Whether you're talking about genre classics like William Castle's House on Haunted Hill(1959), The Haunting (1963), or tonight's entry, or even later things like Rose Red (2002) or John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness (1987), the haunted house premise remains pretty interchangeable. Experts risk life and limb to prove or disprove the existence of ghosts for a great reward. Like I mentioned earlier, it's Matheson's meaty dialog as acted out here by the late great MacDowall, who purveyed fear in his eyes like few actors before or since, in my opinion, and even Franklin, who's always had a beautiful scream for horror movies, I think, that really sets the production apart from the rest. Director Hough, no stranger to the genre himself (Twins of Evil, Escape to Witch Mountain, The Watcher in the Woods, The Incubus, to name just a few),  handles the eerie material well, as always. Hell House earns Three Wops, and comes very highly recommended. See it if you dare...

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"I'm so excited that I'm experiencing great difficulty in trying to hide it," notes Emeric Belasco (Michael Gough).
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Monday, May 26, 2014

"Creature From The Black Lagoon" (1954) d/ Jack Arnold

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Can't believe I hadn't covered this one over the past eight years. You can thank the Doctor for my finally getting around to reviewing it,  having thrown me his copy earlier and sparking my interest in revisiting the legendary Universal trilogy, and of course, I'll be reviewing them all here, just for you, because I think youse guys are just swell. If I had a dollar for every time I'd seen or heard rumors of a Hollywood remake of this groundbreaking fifties horror/sci-fi classic dating back to the seventies (and every damned time it's always with names like Landis, Carpenter, Jackson, and Del Toro being thrown around and getting guys like me amped up for nothing), I could probably buy KFC for a family of six in South Africa and get change back for smokes.

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"There's some rear-projected trouble ahead, fellas..."
While sifting through the jungle sediments, Dr. Maia (Antonio Moreno) stumbles upon the mummified mer-mitt of a man-monster from the Devonian Age, and while he dashes back to civilization for financial backing and to assemble an archaeological team for the forthcoming dig, something similarly scaly and sinister is seen tearing through the tent and two of Maia's Moe-wigged hired hands back in the Amazon. With a team that includes David (Richard Carlson), his inspirational squeeze Kay (Julie Adams), their unscrupulous boss Mark (Richard Denning) and native river boat captain, Lucas (Nestor Paiva) among its ranks, Maia returns to the green inferno where the previous camp yields the mangled bodies of the Indio men.

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Clearly, sometimes, it's good to be a Gill-man (Rico Browning).
Watching from the murky depths of the nearby Black Lagoon, the Gill-man sets out to fatally face palm the adventurers one by one, only occasionally pausing to take a fishy gill-breather or to admire Kay's leggy figure as she cools off in the river against the advice of everyone, just like a dizzy dame. When David suggests that they vacate the premises on the threat of a steadily growing body count, Mark throws caution to the wind on the hopes that he can cash in on the prehistoric predator, even briefly trapping it in a makeshift cage after drugging the tributary with poison, before receiving a fatal underwater C.T.F.O. from Gilly for his reckless transgressions against nature and the environment. It's when the amphibian tries to make off with Kay to his secret lagoon cave that David and company adjust his amorous attitude with a barrage of bullets that send him floating lifelessly to the bottom, in the end.

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"I nearly broke my leg climbing on board, you guys got another bump of that rotenone stuff to take the edge off?"
Creature's 3D release in 1954 was confined to a run of metropolitan theater venues, with the polarized light-based gimmick having pretty much run its course a year earlier(I've got a copy of the anaglyph style red and blue method from an eighties release of the film, and it's not amazing to watch, unless you're gunning for a headache in the first place), as the small town cinemas often chose to show the movie two-dimensionally instead. The Gill-Man or Creature itself, stands as the last of the meritorious class of Universal Monsters, and arguably the finest, with its elaborate makeup, designed by Disney's Millicent Patrick and brought to horrific life by Bud Westmore, that was truly revolutionary to the genre. Whenever this one turned up on television as a kid, I could count on my dad assuming the position on the couch perpendicular to mine in the living room to watch it with me, though it pales in comparison to the Wolfman in his eyes, all-time favorite to this very day. Sixty years have left some of its minor flaws more obvious to the modern eye, but a classic monster movie like this, perpetual and iconic, surely merits four Wops, anyway.

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"I kiss like a horny gourami, Kay, so lay some lip on me... How about it."
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

"Head" (1968) d/ Bob Rafelson

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By 1968, The Monkees, a prefabricated television pop quartet that parodied earlier Brit rockers, The Beatles, had taken their sitcom shtick as far as it was going to go, and with the inevitable cancellation of their show after two seasons (ironically enough,  in 1967 The Monkees records outsold both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones), the boys sat down with director Bob Rafelson and producer Jack Nicholson (who penned the screenplay over a weekend on L.S.D), blew some pot, and the movie, Head, was born.

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Never saw Ringo Starr plummet off of a bridge and get rescued by psychedelic mermaids. Just sayin'.
After we see Mickey Dolenz  interrupt a bridge dedication ceremony by abruptly hopping off the handrail into a  muy trippy color filtered rendition of The Porpoise Song (the band's finest moment, IMO) and his suicide attempt is thwarted by a pair of humanitarian aqua-tarts, a groupie kisses each member of the band and declares them "even" before walking out. A Nicholson-penned chant parodies their tv show theme, declaring that the boys are in on the big joke, and as each dramatic vignette unfolds (caught in the middle of a war in a fox hole with no ammunition, wandering aimlessly through the desert, getting pummeled in the ring by Sonny Liston,  being ridiculed by a transvestite waitress...) they manage to break through the manufactured film reality in one way or another, only to be thrust into the next, usually more far out than the last.

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Marcia Brady's pink lacy underthings just got slightly moist...
Along the way, they're depicted as dandruff sucked out of the hair of a giant Victor Mature by a vacuum cleaner, they enjoy a hookah party with groovy go-go chicks, get hassled by recurring cops (Logan Ramsey) and caped heavies (Timothy Carey), and after screaming teenagers overwhelm them after a live performance on stage and literally tear them apart, it is revealed that they are only mannekins. Davey Jones does a lively song and dance number with Toni Basil about a son abandoned by his father, and then gets criticized by Frank Zappa with a bovine pal. Michael Nesmith rants about surprise parties and Peter Tork sucker punches women, against his better judgment, of course. In the end, they're unable to escape the trappings of the script and be truly free, so they all jump off the bridge... only to end up in an aquarium tank that's driven off the barren set into storage by the director, Rafelson, himself.

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"Atta boy, Mike!!!", sputters Lord High n' Low (Timothy Carey).
You'll see the likes of Dennis Hopper, Annette Funicello, stripper Carol Doda, and Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke among the film's many cameos. Though The Monkees heyday was before my time (a female cousin of mine from Easton, Pa was one of their hysterical screaming teen proponents of the day, or so I've been told), I discovered their quirky show through syndicated reruns, like many others my age did. Interestingly, I met Peter Tork at an acoustic gig he did at Vintage Vinyl in New Jersey back in the nineties, while I was recovering from yet another case of alcohol poisoning and numbly thumbing through the punk and oi section. Nice guy. A bubbler packed with h.g. frodis (Like the lingo, Dolenz) and this one on the ol' plasma screen makes for a solid experience, serving as irrefutable proof that these guys had evolved into something much deeper than their saccharine prefab origins. Three Wops.

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"Hey guys, what are we doin' tryin' to drown, we should be on that train and gone..."
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Godzilla's Revenge" (1969) d/ Ishiro Honda

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Don't get excited, I'm only covering the top, less fantastic half of this sci-fi double bill here tonight. The tenth Showa era Godzilla film, far and away the worst of the lot (at least until Hollywood got involved), thanks, in part, to Kaiju FX God Eiji Tsubaraya being busy with other projects, forcing director Honda to handle the sparse new suitmation sequences himself and resulting in the most heinous overuse of stock footage from previous films in the entire series. But that's not the half of it...

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In those shorts, kid? You'll never make it.
Ichiro (Tomonoro Yazaki) is a latchkey kid with a pair of working parents who are obviously too wrapped up in their respective careers to buy the poor kid a pair of shorts that fit him. To make matters worse, he's bullied by a gang of toddlers, led by a Japanese chunkster named Gabara (Junichi Ito). I'm pretty sure one of 'em's a girl in there, too. He compensates by dreaming about visiting Monster Island by plane, where he witnesses stock footage of his hero, Godzilla, battling a triple threat of Kamacuras and Ebirah, the giant crawdaddy. After being chased by one of the monstrous mantids and free falling into a cave, the boy is rescued by Godzilla's mentally challenged offspring, Minya, who tells of his own monster-bully, who also happens to be named Gabara, only this one is a tailless, bump-ridden, saggy-assed blue cat monster with an asthmatic snicker and claws that conduct electricity through a lightning rod-spiked horn in the center of his toupee. You read that correctly.

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See how long you can stare at this screencap without feeling shame for everybody involved.
With his parents working late hours, Ichiro is forced to pal around with a bent old toy maker named Shinpei (Eisei Amamoto) who sends the boy out to get bullied some more and seek refuge in an abandoned factory where he finds the wallet of one of two bumbling knife-point(really??) bank robbers who then kidnap him. In the custody of the criminals, Ichiro returns to his Monster Island dreams, seeing Godzilla put a stock whooping on Kumonga before having to teach his doughy offspring how to defend himself against his saggy-assed assailant. Ichiro applies his newly acquired kaiju fighting knowledge on the pair of bandits with a fire extinguisher, and they're arrested soon afterwards. The next day, he follows suit by doling out a beating to his own human foe Gabara, before gaining the gang's friendship in the end by pranking a clumsy billboard painter. An hour nine never seemed so goddamned long.

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"Did Gabara scratch up my favorite recliner? Bad Gabara...bad Gabara."
Eisei Amamoto, who you'll remember as the yukkmouthed Dr. Who from King Kong Escapes two years earlier, should have said no to this. I might have had less problem with the gratuitous stock usage, had they filled the running time with footage from better movies. I've got no problem with Gorosaurus or Ebirah, per se, but did we really need to see Goji roast the phony buzzard on a string from Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster again? Also, Minya sucks...hard. If this thing is worth a single Wop at all, and that's a highly arguable case, indeed...  it's for the zany "March of the Monsters" theme song and title montage. Therefore, a single Wop it is. Barely.

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"Bully this charging skull butt, bitches!", exclaims Ichiro (Tomonoro Yazaki).
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

"Mortuary" (1983) d/ Howard Avedis

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From exploitation king Howard Avedis, the man responsible for drive-in gems like The Teacher (1974) and Sybill Danning boob-nanza, They're Playing With Fire (1984), comes tonight's review, a golden era slasher that features the likes of a scene-chewing Bill Paxton along with Lynda Day George and her husband Christopher in what would be his final role, and let's not exclude a memorable trailer that featured cult legend Michael Berryman, who's interestingly nowhere to be found in the final cut of the film. Though it's pretty standard stuff, borrowing from a handful of earlier genre movies, it can boast of nude scenes from bonny auburn lass Mary Beth McDonough, who you'll remember played Erin on The Waltons. A foine ting, that.

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"What a last movie to remember me by!", ponders Hank (Christopher George).
Christie (Mary Beth McDonough) suspects that her father's pre-credit chlorinated pool-death was no accident, her suspicions only strengthened by the onset of nightmares, sleepwalking into the pool in a nightie, and the feeling that she's being tailed by a hooded freak in a morgue wagon. Her goofy boyfriend Greg (David Wallace) doesn't help matters, spying on local undertaker Hank Andrews (Christopher George) as he leads a candlelit ceremony at his warehouse, decked out in red robes, with Christie's mom, Eve (Lynda Day George), in attendance, and getting a tire-heisting pal skewered on an embalming tool in the process. In the meantime, pay no mind to Hank's creepy son, Paul (Bill Paxton), who's got a slightly unhealthy crush on Christie, himself, and is taken to lurking about like a weirdo when he isn't slamming embalming tools into cadavers under dad's militant supervision. Hey, nobody ever mistook this for a murder mystery...

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She must be watching dailies from her performance in "Pieces"(1983).
Just as Greg and Christie's investigative spying rules out Hank and Eve, who've been using secret seances to get to the bottom of the girl's father's untimely death, her stalker turns out to be Paul to nobody's surprise, decked out in gothy corpsepaint and hood, eager to terrorize the girl and her mother at the house during a power outage, after Christie wisely interrupts a screw on the living room floor to tell Greg she doesn't want to see him for a while, leaving nobody to protect the women later when Paul gets murderously pokey with his tool again. Hank interrupts Paul's impromptu Happy Birthday to Me (1981)-style wedding at the mortuary, with slumped corpses all seated around the groom and his naked bride-to-be(embalmed), and eats bossy father-type death for his troubles. Greg saves the day with a loaded M-16 he found stashed in a coffin earlier (I would have thrown the top hat at him, but that's just me), only to have the mother's corpse-in-attendance spring to life for a final attack a la Buio Omega (1980) or Pieces (1982). Take your pick.

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"You bring up that Fish Heads video again, and I'll embalm ya, brah!", warns Paul (Bill Paxton).
David Wallace, who you may have seen in Humongous(1982), went on to a career in television and soap operas. After Christopher's death, Lynda Day George would appear solely in tv roles, with Mortuary serving as her last horror movie appearance to date, as well. Paxton shows up in everything from The Terminator (1984) to Aliens (1986) to Brain Dead (1990) and The Dark Backward (1991), before famously scoring roles in major studio flicks like Titanic, Twister, and Tombstone. On the scale, a mostly predictable cookie cutter slasher with more boobs than blood and more chuckles than atmosphere, and as such, it merits a single Wop. Mehhhh...

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Dead chicks can't feel it when you insert the tool. Mortician/necrophiliac jokes make the world go around.
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"Bikini Beach" (1964) d/ William Asher

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Once upon a time, something like a hundred years ago or so, people flocked to the theater to see a string of cheapie, gimmicky beach movies that starred a couple of Italian kids: Frank Avallone from Philly, and former Disney Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello of Utica. This one, followed on the heels of the success of 1963's Beach Party and the followup, Muscle Beach Party, the following year. The words 'sex' and 'carnality' get thrown around an awful lot for a movie that features zero boobs, unless you count the recurring appearances of C.P.O. Sharkey himself, Don Rickles. You could still have a wholesome blast, according to these cats.

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"These studio waves sure are the most, Deadhead!",  notes The Frankie (Frankie Avalon).
Out of school (for something like eight years at this point, by my count), a zany entourage of "kids" drive to Bikini Beach, where girls perpetually turn heads and cause accidents with their revealing swimsuit bottoms, besides the busty Dee-Dee (Annette Funicello), whose full jutting bosoms while contracted under the watchful eye of Walt Disney, remain fully and tastefully wrapped at all times. Thanks Walt, you dick. Keenan Wynn spies on the surfers from his limo, then sends out his chimpanzee, Clyde (Janos Prohaska), to surf among them, as part of his scheme to eliminate nuisance teenagers on the beach, since they function at a monkey's level. Well, Deadhead (Jody McCrea) does, anyway. Anyway, Frankie (Franke Avalon) seemingly loses Dee-Dee to obnoxious British import, "Potato Bug" (also Frankie Avalon, in disguise, with joke Brit accent), who lip synchs Beatle-esque numbers to the adoring screaming bikinis, when he's not drag racing at Big Drag's (Don Rickles) track. Big Drag dabbles in modern art and has a pet hawk that talks like a parrot. The monkey-suit guy also drag races.

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Open you, my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things: Janos Prohaska in a monkey suit on a surfboard in front of some projected waves. But there's more...
Meanwhile, "The Rats" are a bumbling gang of delinquent forty-somethings (The Ladies Auxiliary are called "The Mice" btw) headed by one Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck), an illiterate dope who continually knocks himself out with a karate finger. The Rats also hate the surfers, while idolizing Hitler, Mussolini, and Harvey Huntington Honeywagon (Wynn's character). They hang out with teenage werewolves and shoot pool at South Dakota Slim's (Timothy Carey). At Big Drag's place, the bald-headed Pyramids play surf rock and the guy in the monkey suit twists with blondes in frilly red go-go dresses. Frankie and Potato Bug have a drag race that the Rats try to sabotage, but they louse it up, just like everything else. There's a big gag punch up with flying paint, Little Steve Wonder joins the band on stage, Boris Karloff pops his head in for a cameo, and Frankie reunites with Dee-Dee. One kiss in front of a projected night tide, some corny love songs, and summer's over already. Cue the blonde go-go dancer and roll the credits.

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South Dakota Slim (Timothy Carey) is just trying to get a game of pool, daddies.
The story is nonsense, the flat dialog and hokey jokes couldn't raise a sincere snicker out of me if I was hooked to a tank of nitrous, but somewhere deep inside the Nebraska-level corny wholesomeness of this slapdash affair, it works, somehow. As a time capsule, maybe, of an impossibly exaggerated American ideal that Hollywood once tried to pitch to a generation of kids that was hopefully already having loads more fun getting drunk, getting high, and getting laid by this time. If it wasn't successful, then there wouldn't have been Pajama Party (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), Ski Party (1965), How To Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), and let's not forget those Dr. Goldfoot movies either. On the scale, a deuce for historic significance and entertainment sake. Worth a look, daddies.

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"Dee-Dee's beach torpedoes are wayyy frightening, like... hold me!"
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