Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Sangue negli abisi" (1990) d/ Raf Donato, Joe D'Amato

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When you're dealing with Italian Jaws rip offs, things usually go one of two ways: a) The movie is laughably terrible and thus, a fucking blast to behold. b) The movie is Sangue negli abisi, or Deep Blood, an awful, sloppy, boring mess fumbled through for the most part, by Raf Donato, and completed by Roman porn king Joe D'Amato, our focus tonight as we kick off a month long selection of genre movies from Italy here at the Wop. As rotten as this thing is, and trust me, it's as rotten as the meat dumpster behind the slaughterhouse during a Texas heatwave, Italian trashmaster Bruno Mattei still somehow borrowed footage from it for his own pathetic Jaws rip-off, Fauci Crudelli/Cruel Jaws (1995).

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"What's the big idea...dumping your Strawberry Quik in here!"
So, we've got these four young boys roasting weenies over a fire on the beach in broad daylight, when they're suddenly interrupted by what looks to be the town drunk vaguely garbed to resemble some sort of Indian. He lays a tribal legend about a monster from the sea on them, and gives them some ornate piece of wood to bury in the loose sand, but only after they've taken a blood oath to be there for each other, you know, for always. Fast forward several years, and our boyhood chums have now matured into young preppie non-actors, each with their own clunky exposition and flair for flubbing dialog. One's the son of a mayor, who shouts his lines and wears his slacks just south of his nipples, the other's the son of a fisherman who no longer fishes, content to bang a hammer against a wooden coop in the garage rather than fish. He doesn't even clearly explain why he doesn't fish anymore, he just doesn't. The third gets eaten while researching spearfishing locales (I think he does, anyway, if splashing around in strawberry-colored water before disappearing with the edit constitutes a shark attack here) with the fourth, a pouty kid with an annoying accent who's always telling the sweaty sheriff, who later exclaims, "How many sharks could there be out there!",  how to do his job.

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"Of course I'm a shark expert. Can't you see me running water over these shark jaws in the sink?", queries Rob Reiner.
Loads of inappropriate synth instrumental, action dialog from a stationary helicopter,  footage of a dead shark being chain-dragged onto a pier by the mouth, a digested waitress, and one consumed mom on a pool float later (her mulleted little boy takes her passing like a champ, btw), the boys convince the fisherman to take them out to hunt the stock footage beast responsible for the deaths. The shark snaps the bait line and scares him into returning to land. Not much of an angler, this guy. Anyway, there's a rotten dramatic exchange between Pouty and his dad, and before you know it, the boys are joined by an eighties-tastic douchebag smartass who has a last second change of heart, they dig up the wooden artifact (and pocket knives, can't forget those), and set out to blow up the shark with crate upon crate of wooden planks painted to look like dynamite. Hell, they even recruit one of their mallrat pals to whip up an electronic shark attractor just for the occasion. Because sharks find yellow metal boxes with flashing lights on top irresistible, apparently. More synth, more stock footage, endless shots of nautical preppies wrapping wood together with electrical tape, and then there's the dollar store underwater explosion we've all been waiting for. Finally over.

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"This doesn't look like enough dynamite. I know where we can score a tactical nuke."
I'm not one hundred percent sure about the Florida locals claiming to be actors here, but if I was to make an educated guess, I'd say none of them ever made that same mistake again, save for credit as an extra in a crowd scene, maybe. For some of these mooks, even that'd be a fucking stretch. If any of the shark footage looks familiar to you, it's probably because it was purchased by D'Amato from National Geographic, and packs nearly as much tense thrills and excitement as one of their television specials. There's no nudity, there's no gore, no suspense, hell, there's barely even a shark to speak of, beyond an artificial dorsal fin that wobbles repeatedly as it cuts awkwardly through the surf. One wop is probably me at my most generous here, as there's hardly anything that would merit such a rating in this thing. If you haven't seen this one, you really aren't missing much.

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"Yaaaaaahhh! It's a Great White Stock (footage)!!!"
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        This month of Italian genre movie reviews is posthumously dedicated to my favorite aunt, Julia from Manhattan, my head scarved horror movie buddy with a perma-hack that sounded like a glasspack muffler coming up our sidewalk, with Chou-Chou San Juliet Monteforte, her abusive male poodle, always in tow. As far back as I can remember, Judy was always down for cinematic scares with her weird little nephew, and we'd always rap about whatever late night gem we'd caught the night before while she downed cups of java and chain smoked Mores at our kitchen table. Things like Jean Brismee's La plus longue nuite du diable aka/ The Devil's Nightmare (1971) and Emilio Miraglia's La notte che Evelyn usci dalla tomba aka/ The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971) scored big with her, and tv series like Dark Shadows, Kolchak the Night Stalker, and Night Gallery were always her favorites. She never shrank from the task of thumbing through the stack of horror mags and comic books I dragged around with me, from room to room, either.
         Over the years, my old man figured out that any horror flick that was too gruesome for his own tastes was right up his sister's alley, and he often sent her off to the movies with me, in his stead. She was there with me for Fulci's Zombi 2 aka/ Zombie (1980) at the American Theater, though I think she managed to see about twenty minutes of the movie in all, spending much of the running time smoking like a rubber burnout out in the lobby, back in the days when that sort of thing wasn't frowned upon at all. " Oooooooooh-hoo-hoo!! Crazy, man, cuh-razy!", she'd exclaim, as the foot long wood splinter entered Olga Karlatos' ocular orbit through the magic of Giannetto De Rossi and company. It was clear to anyone within earshot that she glaringly approved of such things. It was probably her encouragement that sent me off the deep end for those same things growing up, and why I still love seeing them forty years later. 
          So, it is to her gloriously eccentric memory, that the month of October be full of cult classics, exploitation oddities, and black gloved giallo goodness from the land of our heritage,  that seasons the blood pumping through my heart. Welcome to Italoween II...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"From Beyond the Grave" (1973) d/Kevin Connor

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We'll wrap up September with another one of those groovy early seventies British horror anthologies from the folks at Amicus, with segments based on four short stories from R. Chetwynd-Hayes, and featuring the likes of David Warner, Donald and Angela Pleasence, Diana Dors, Lesley-Anne Down, and Peter Cushing tying the whole thing together, as a creepy, old antiques dealer with a clientele of cheats, chumps, and burglars who all get more than they bargained for in the end. The first-time director, Kevin Connor, would move on to Doug McClure drive-in fodder like The Land That Time Forgot (1975) and At the Earth's Core (1976) before moving on to campy cult classics like 1980's Motel Hell and 1982's The House Where Evil Dwells, which, for those of you that happened to be wondering, also stars Doug McClure.

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"I seem to have stumbled out of my flat and onto a Mario Bava set..."
In "The Gate Crasher", we see an artsy know-it-all twat (David Warner) con The Proprietor (Peter Cushing) on the sale of an antique mirror, which after an obligatory seance, proves to contain a murderous spirit that resembles Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, leading the man down a dark path that surely can't end well for anyone involved, especially birds picked up on the fly at a dance club. Then, in "An Act of Kindness", an unfulfilled husband (Ian Bannen) pockets a wartime medal  from the shop without paying, thus becoming the focus of a down-and-out war vet named Underwood (Donald Pleasence) and his pin-happy lookalike daughter, Emily (Angela Pleasance). Diana Dors is in there, too, and she's delightfully abrasive, up until her untimely demise.

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"He's bad, bad Leeroy Broooown, baddest man in the whole damned tooooown..."
Next, a chap named Warren (Ian Carmichael) switches out the price tags in a pair of antique snuff boxes, and manages to get a troublesome, invisible titular "elemental",  burrowing psychically into his shoulder, strangling his wife in bed, and making a general nuisance of itself until he calls upon the services of  Madame Orloff (Margaret Leighton) who's apparently just the woman for the job. Then, a young fellow (Ian Ogilvy...shee, there's a lot of Ian's in this one) purchases a ornately decorated, bulky antique door for a linen closet in his flat, only to discover that it sometimes leads into a blue room from another era, belonging to an evil nobleman who dedicated his life to the pursuit of, as if you couldn't guess, more evil. Finally, an enterprising criminal enters the shop with designs on relieving it of any excess cash lying around, only to provide the final twist for the audience, whom the Proprietor addresses directly before closing his doors and end credits roll.

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For those about to rock, Donald salutes you.
Amicus Studios filled a genre niche with a fine run of pormanteau-style anthologies, starting in 1965 with Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, followed by Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1971), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Asylum (1972), Vault of Horror (1973), and this, which would turn out to be the final one they'd tackle. Nothing out of the ordinary going on here, but the whole production is handled so well by all involved, you'll be too entertained to notice. On the scale, Grave earns a solid score of three Wops, and should really be checked out, if you're on board with this style of film. Recommended.

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"No, you certainly may not have the freeze-dried crocodile for five quid."
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Paranoiac" (1963) d/Freddie Francis

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Tonight, we'll examine Freddie Francis' first effort in the director's chair for Hammer Studios, a tightly wrapped psychological thriller starring the always excellent Oliver Reed, as well as Janette Scott of Day of the Triffids (1963) fame. Closer in look and feel to the director's later film, The Elephant Man (1980), than the color-splashed genre romps the studio would come to be known for, Paranoiac wears a shroud of Hitchcock-esque deceit in weaving its potent parable of madness and money around Francis' richly framed black and white shots. They don't make 'em like this any more...

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"We're out of brandy, Williams. I should think that you'll order eighty-four more cases immediately..."
We meet the affluent Ashby family as they attend a memorial service at church for their deceased parents, when Eleanor (Janette Scott) is struck with a sudden vision of her dead brother, Tony, who may or may not have committed suicide some eight years prior. Her brother, Simon (Ollie Reed),  is a devil-may-care posh sot, who's taken to driving his E-type Jaguar through the estate's lush flower beds and drunkenly dart-fencing  poofs at the pub, when he isn't downing brandy's and/or Eleanor's busty nurse, Francoise (Liliane Brousse), that is. It seems that Eleanor's grip on reality has been steadily slipping since her brother's untimely demise, so much so, that she even tries to copy him, jumping blindly from a cliff out of misery, only to be saved by...her dead brother, Tony (Alexander Davion)? Well this certainly fucks Simon's chances for an inheritance pay out in three weeks' time, doesn't it?

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"The flights on these...I believe they're crooked."
Of course, as is usually the case when dealing with a taut British thriller like this, nothing is as it seems at first glance. Eleanor's condition improves with Tony's arrival, but Aunt Harriet (Sheila Burrell) and Simon aren't at all sold on the man's identity, calling in the family attorney Kossett (Maurice Denham) to test him with family trivia, which he passes with flying colors, thanks to a thorough prepping from Kossett's son, who's been skimming cash from the family funds for quite a while. It's a good thing that he's an impostor, too, as Eleanor seems to have fallen in love with him somewhere along the way, and incest is the kind of scandal that might ruin the family name. His extravagant, drunken lifestyle forever nipping at his heels in the form of debt collectors and magistrates, Simon cuts his returned brother's brake line, nearly removing his recovering sister in the process to narrow down the division of his inheritance, and drowns the nurse when she realizes too late who the real family mental case is. If you didn't know, seeing a mysterious depiction of Oliver Reed on the release poster as you walked into the theater might have tipped it off for you, I dunno, anyway,  it's  Simon. But the shocks don't stop there, no sirree.

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"Is that "Summer Holiday" by Cliff Richard and the Shadows? I bloody love that track!"
Scott went on to appear in The Old Dark House (1963) and Crack in the World (1965) while Sheila Burrell who had a long stage career, was Sir Laurence Olivier's cousin, no less. One of my favorite Hammer movies, hands down, and easily just as enjoyable as Christopher Lee leering with fangs displayed, at Veronica Carlson's technicolor tits, or a post-surgery Peter Cushing straining to wipe away brow sweat with a hand doused in bright stage blood. Sure, it's a British Psycho-clone like several others of the era, but one that's been masterfully handled by Francis and his crew, with solid performances from the cast, Reed's being the notable standout, of course, and thus, the sum of those excellent parts is full of enough suspense, mystery, and atmosphere to merit four Wops on the scale. A true classic. See it now.

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Would you look at the state of that... Impossible to hire good clean up staff these days, 'innit?
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Dead 'Til Dawn Bloodfest Sept 26th & 27th in Coxsackie, NY

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Here's the lineup for this weekend's killer show at the Hi-Way Drive-In, Coxsackie NY! All films in 35mm! Friday, September 26th (NIGHT #1 of 2!)
First Feature: NIGHTMARE

Saturday, September 27th (NIGHT #2 of 2!)
Sixth Feature: ?????
We end our weekend of gory, sleazy and just plain weird movies with movie number SIX, which is... a secret! Yes, as a reward to all our devoted fans, we are providing a bonus film that is sure to please lovers of destruction and mayhem. We actually debated showing a sixth film—we were afraid of pushing people over the edge of sanity. Well, we may Destroy way too many brain cells, but we probably won't kill All of them. We hope. We don't want any lawsuits on account of viewers suffering from an overdose of Monsters! (and oh, if you think you know what film this is, please don't spoil the surprise for others. Keep it to yourself, OK?
See you all at the drive-in!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"This Man is Dangerous" (1985) d/Wang Lung Wei

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Who's that heavily armed thug in a ski mask, mugging for the release poster for tonight's review, a 1985 HK crime drama of grim and bloody proportions, you ask? As if the mustache of ultimate villainy wasn't a dead giveaway. This Man is Dangerous aka/ Shandong Madman is the second Shaw Brothers feature directed by Wang Lung Wei, starring Chin Siu Ho and Fu Sheng's pipsqueak sibling, Chang Chan Peng, as well as a beardless Beardy (Liang Chia Jen), and a cameo from a very eighties-looking Lo Mang, of Venom Mob fame. There's plenty of execution-style murders, maggot-ridden corpses, Herpes jokes, dated eighties wear, and there's even an obligatory Western extra with zero screen presence, thrown in, for realism's sake, of course. Buckle up, me hearties, it's gonna be another wild one...
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"Fingerprint this?? Bullshit, Mr Han(dless) man!", exclaims Wei (Chang Chan Peng).
Hao and Wei (Chin Siu Ho, Chang Chan Peng) are roommates who aspire to be undercover policemen in Hong Kong, when Hao isn't undermining Wei's every secret desire, stealing his meticulously maintained roses and giving them to Zhi (Lai Yin Shan), a local girl that Wei fancies, but is either too shy or too short to make a move for. Hao even kicks him out of the apartment while convincing her to sleep with him. With friends like that, you almost don't even need Ku Lung (Wang Lung Wei), a ruthless bastard from the mainland who robs armored vehicles in broad daylight and stomps call girls in the labonza just for kicks. On the job, Wei and Hao are forced to pull fingerprints from a rotting, maggot-infested cadaver in a coffin at a morgue whose floor is nearly untraversable, thanks to a floor littered with sheet-covered bodies. They also roll, ridiculously garbed,  into a gay disco, while hunting for a marijuana dealer named Pink Lady (Elvis Tsui), a randy leatherman who digs Hao's Double Dragon-inspired disguise. Cue: obligatory fight scene.

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"Go take a shower, bitch...here's your l-OOFAHH!"
While Hao further strains his friendship with Wei by ducking out on a pregnant Zhi, Ku Lung is busy beating on drunken cops, stealing their service revolvers, and using them in a bullet-ridden bloodbath against a rival gang of Vietnamese, as a favor to Chin Lao Pa (Chang Chuang), a brothel owner and fellow evildoer. When he rubs out Sgt Chen (Phillip Ko Fei) and his favorite prostitute one afternoon, and demands that Chin support him in some upcoming major bank robberies, Chin then sells him out to Beast, the young men's immediate superior, earning himself a brass knuckle beatdown at Ku's ruthless hands,  in one of his own sauna rooms. With the cops, led by Officer Leung (Liang Chia Jen) and Police Chief Luo (Lo Mang), closing in, Ku's brother Biao gets picked off by Hao while trying to dog paddle to freedom in a pond near the gang hideout, and that's something that Ku takes very, very personally, judging by the Uzi he's got stashed away, for just such an occasion. All Hell then breaks the fuck loose, right up to the signature Shaw Brothers final freeze frame.

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Looks like The Toad isn't impervious to half-off sales at Chess King, either.
"The Mayor" himself, Johnny Wang, who wrote, directed, starred in, and choreographed fights for tonight's feature, would go on to direct The Innocent Interloper for Shaw Brothers the following year. You've probably caught Chin Siu Ho in things like Ten Tigers of Kwantung (1979), Masked Avengers (1981), and House of Traps (1982), though he's appeared in over a hundred films by now. Less prolific, by far, is Chang Chan Peng, who made his final film appearance here, after roles in Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984), Treasure Hunters (1981), and Wits of the Brats (1984), before retiring from acting altogether. Wang may have caught some slack for his downbeat endings and brutal portrayals of violence as a director over the years, but Dangerous did Top Ten business at the HK box office in 1985, and I was well entertained throughout, as always, by Asian cinema's greatest bad guy of all-time. Perhaps he could have changed out some of the weird comedy for longer, more elaborate fight scenes (the choreography tends to favor Wei's love of kickboxing over a traditional style here), but overall, I'd have to lay three Wops on it, regardless. Seek it out, at once.

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 Ku Lung (Johnny Wang) never met someone he couldn't call a "dirty scumbag".
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Craze" (1974) d/Freddie Francis

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Hearing  Jack Palance repeatedly say "Chuku", the name of the African idol he worships and murders for in tonight's review, in his inimitable breathy Anthracite coal country whisper through nicotine-stained teeth, is probably reason enough to give this, director Freddie Francis' second 1974 effort (the other being a comedy called Son of Dracula, with Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr), a viddy, for any fans of the late actor's work. For those that do seek out this groovy British tale of witchery and human sacrifice, there's a mixed bag of actresses/victims that ranges from Miss Nroway 1962, Julie Ege and Italian genre favorite, Suzy Kendall, to former British sex symbol and femme fatale, Diana Dors, as well as cameos from Trevor Howard and Hugh Griffith. There's also a wooden fork-holdin' bruh in the basement you're gonna wanna check out for yourselves...

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"After you finish your zany interpretive nude dance for Chuku, we could go out...for pierogies..."
Neal Mottram (Jack Palance) runs a quaint little curio shop in London, with the help of his young protege', a former rent boy,  named Ronnie (Martin Potter). He's also the head of a groovy coven of witches who worship a wooden statue of an African god named Chuku in the shop's basement. When an ousted spellcaster shows up claiming ownership of the idol, Neal goes loud and aggro, shoving her onto the large sharpened fork the yellow-eyed statue holds. After dumping the corpse in a nearby river, he finds a hidden drawer full of gold coins in an old desk he's about to sell off, and naturally attributes the sudden good fortune to Chuku and his impromptu sacrifice to the wooden brother. He burns a bit of sacrificial crumpet (Julie Ege) that he picks up in a club,  in the furnace downstairs,  after she refuses to dance for Chuku, and sells a pair of Ming vases he previously couldn't give away, prompting more weird alone time in front of the statue. Empowered with the belief that the god is protecting him and making him wealthy, he concocts an elaborate alibi involving broken down vehicles, drugging an old flame named Dolly (Diana Dors), throwing on tennis sneakers, and tube hopping, all to provide his idol with another sacrifice, this time, his elderly aunt, who he stakes in the neck in her front lawn after scaring the shit out of her with a rubber Halloween mask.

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"Nevahmind dese boolshit-ass sacrifices...put some honey barbecued pig ribs on dis fork heah!"
With the Bill convinced that the antiques dealer is the main suspect in the growing list of ritualistic murders, but unable to make the collar, due to Neal's attention to intricate detail, the detectives lean on Dolly and Ronnie for information, resorting to gay bashing the young associate, who descends into a mire of double scotches at the pub while being tailed. Meanwhile, Neal's set up another sacrifice to Chuku (take a dramatic pause...then whisper along...Chuku) in the form of a call girl named Sally (Suzy Kendall), who he pays twenty quid to choke the fuck out. With the cops closing in, Ronnie tries to take an axe to the idol, earning himself a bloody grill from a furious Neal, who promptly lifts him over his head and chucks him out the shop window in broad daylight (!). If you thought Palance was unhinged before, wait 'til you catch him in the film's finale, spinning around like an axe-wielding top, screaming at the top of his lungs at oncoming policemen, before finally offering Chuku (...Chuku...) one last sacrifice. Roll 'em...

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Off to Bedfordshire wiv 'yer: "I choke you for Chuku...he's cuckoo for cheeky muff..."
Francis would follow this one up with things like 1975's Legend of the Werewolf and The Ghoul, while Kendall appeared in such genre fare of the day as Psycho-Circus (1966), The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970), Torso (1973),  and Spasmo (1974), among others. Venicia Day was an actress whose roles ascended from "2nd African girl", to "2nd Black girl", to "African Girl", to "Dancer",  here. Former Bond girl Ege would also appear in Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires and The Mutations,  the same year. Diana Dors had to be one of the most beautiful blondes of the 40's and early 50's in my estimation, but she'd come a long way from that era by the time of this movie. Still always great to see. Craze is packed with Palance, pretty girls, painful seventies gear, and bright red stage blood and makes for a pretty good time if you're into it. Three wops.

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"I couldn't find your... ribs... a slab of Ukranian ham, seasoned in Lattimer Mines...will have to do..."
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

"Sweet Prudence & the Erotic Adventure of Bigfoot" (2011) d/ William Burke

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Then, on the other hand, you've got this one, a softcore SOV throwback to obscure Bigfoot porn of the seventies, from the guy who previously brought you a couple of episodes of Creepy Canada. With delectable dishes like Angie Bates, Albina Nahar, and Lynzey Patterson among others, all willing to get out of those cumbersome clothes and right down to the softcore nitty gritty for the camera lens with men, each other, and monsters, all in high def, mind you,  you may be willing to overlook the production values, wonky CGI, and acting that's often stiffer than the wild man of the woods' interminable wood, which you'll also get to see here, in case you happened to be wondering.

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"Do you think Audrey Hepburn started like this?"
After a late night lesbo lake tryst is interrupted by a peep tommin' cryptid, Prudence (Angie Bates) decides that snapping the definitive Momo photo will land her the degree in Cryptozoology (ha!) she's been striving for. Then it's off to the ...ahem... nudist colony where the mythical beast has been spotted for Prudence and her friends Veruca (Albina Nahar) and Mike (Michael Slade) for some sex-soaked squatchin' of the frequent order, which lo and behold, seems to draw the horny hominid out of hiding more effectively than, say, banging a drum and calling out, "Ook! Old buck friend, Ook!" or hanging salmon from fishing line up a tree, or some such shit. The titular, sorry, Prudence is as sweet, as promised, afterall, as evidenced by her mid-day diddle on a blanket under the warming rays of the sun, with a small vibrator she keeps in her thermos(!), sweet enough to keep a pair of avid monster hunters from noticing the low rent lake monster momentarily relieving itself of its inherent shyness behind them. That's sweet, alright.
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"Ohhh baby, pretend to give it to me...just like that!"
At the Cottontail resort, a hippie named Flower (Heather O'Donnell) who runs the joint/someone's backyard,  aids our aspiring adventurers by pairing them up with her assistant Ginger (Lynzey Patterson), the dame we'd already seen all of when she saw the 'squatch at the outset, which leads to several more pairings, these of a more personal flesh-slappin' nature. While the amorous almasty looks on from the wings/treeline, he heists electronic equipment from the group while they grope, and eventually develops a connection with our lead heroine, who comes to an understanding about the hairy brute and his origins. But mainly she just comes. A lot. With guys, with other girls, by herself. It doesn't matter. By the time the end credits roll, you'll appreciate her obsession with involuntary pelvic contractions nearly as much as she does. Is it that time already?

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Somewhere, just off-camera, the fluff girl had a heart attack.
Sure, the suit is half a step up from the expensive wall at Party City in October and none of the jokes or gags could pull a snicker out of me while twin brunettes tickled my ass with a feather , but if you're going into this one looking for realism or comedy, you're barking up the wrong tree, Fido. It's all about the naked nubiles on display, and maybe I was just zooted balls, but these ladies' natural assets looked especially good to me, God damn. A refreshing change of pace from the plastic, artificial Barbie look the adult industry seems to favor these days. If they had the courage to bypass the softie crowd and make a hardcore feature, I'd have been hard pressed to slap another Wop upon this puppy, for sure (and head for the nearest box of tissues, knowing my appetites). As it stands, though, Prudence earns a deuce for its eye candy, and it's worth a look just for that.

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"Yeah, I see your tits. What about those wimpies you promised to make me?"
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Friday, September 12, 2014

"Willow Creek" (2013) d/ Bobcat Goldthwait

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Remember the first time you saw a "found footage" style horror movie? Most folks can recall their fiftieth at this point in the copycat sweepstakes we used to call a horror genre. Found footage cannibals. Found footage zombies. Found footage daikaiju. Found footage demonic possession. Found footage Leatherface. Uncle, already.  Tonight's review is a Bigfoot twist on the style, though not even the first one, as I believe 2012's Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes owns that dubious distinction, if I'm not too A.M-delirious to say for sure. One thing Willow Creek can boast of, is being the only Bigfoot-based found footage film directed by Shakes the Clown. From the first time I read about this one, I was already well curious to see it, being a long time proponent of hairy hominid-based horror flicks, but the driving force behind my desire was the fact that I'd never laughed at anything I'd ever seen Bobcat Goldthwait in, as far as I can remember. The high pitched screech thing he always seemed to be doing only ever got on my nerves. So, if comedy isn't the guy's strong suit, maybe he's a natural for horror? Open-minded I try to remain at all times.

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Look, it's a couple of goofy tourists documenting their dinner for posterity, my favorite...
We meet Jim (Bryce Johnson) and his girlfriend Kelly (Alexie Gilmore) as they embark on a road trip to Bluff Creek in California, the secluded location off of the Klamath River where would be adventurers Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin bumped into and briefly filmed an adult female Sasquatch that's been dubbed "Patty" over the years, or Bob Hieronimus in a monkey suit that was intricate for it's time, depending on who you talk to. Either way, Jim is thoroughly convinced that several local disappearances can be attributed to angry wood boogers, while Kelly is merely along for the ride to provide skeptical smartassery and generally break his balls as he attempts to document the entire experience for a personal film project, a life long dream he's had. Women. If you weren't so damned adorable and delicious...

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"Pete, hand Sasquatch the level, would ya, fer cryin' out loud?!!?"
At first, like a pair of hit-starved YouTubers they film on the side of winding mountain roads, providing documentary-style narration and in-camera edits as they question local Indian women about personal encounters, hear portly cryptozoologists cackle Bigfoot songs as they fumble over acoustic guitars, eat massive Bigfoot burgers at a tourist trap in Willow Creek, but as Kelly's teasing drives Jim to take the project further in seeking out the Bluff Creek river bed where the 1967 film was shot, they encounter interference in the form of angry country folk who tell 'em to g'wan an' git while they still can. Refusing to am-scray in the face of backwoods adversity, Jim hikes his girlfriend into the deep forest anyway and it isn't long before the signature wood knocks and high-pitched screams join the clueless campers, clearly in over their fool-heads already. While trying to vacate the premises in haste, Jim manages to get them lost, even stumbling upon the historic river bed, complete with giant footprints in the mud that look awfully fresh. Men. You gotta love us. It all wraps up much like one might predict it would, at least I know I called it during the coming attractions. Actually, as the cashier was handing me the bag with the disc inside and my change, but hey...

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The Yacumos have the tent surrounded but we're gonna keep film-...sorry, wrong movie.
I dunno, maybe I'm tougher to please than I originally thought, but if you're gonna do a Bigfoot movie in my estimation, the opportunity arises these days to hire stellar FX artists to whip you up the most realistic, believable suit you can afford, for the film's big money shot, if there is a big money shot, that is. Bobcat felt the movie didn't need one, for whatever reason, probably in sticking as close as possible to the wildly popular Blair Witch bargain mold. With no real pay off to speak of after building admirable levels of tension in the tent sequence (unless the nekkid hillbilly chick turns you on, of course), the ending seems a little flat and cheap for a horror movie. Mainstream chimps might be satisfied with the fifteen minutes of general concern that preceded, but like I said, I'm probably tougher to please than the average cymbal smasher that Hollywood targets with these things. The potential was definitely there, but unrealized in the end, unfortunately. Overall, it's still worth seeing. On the scale, two Wops will have to do for Zed from the Police Academy gang's directorial debut.

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"Look over in the treeline...I think I see Egg Stork from 'One Crazy Summer'..."
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

"The Boxer's Omen" (1983) d/ Kueh Chih Hung

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If you thought last night's review sounded slightly weird, just wait 'til you wrap your minds around tonight's movie, a 1983 Shaw Brothers tale of kickboxing and mysticism as directed by Asian horror king Kueh Chih Hung, of puppets and wind up toys passed off as special effects, a soundtrack that borrows directly from Flash Gordon (1980) and Phantasm (1979) among others,  and then there's Johnny Wang Lung Wei as a paraplegic with extraordinary range of motion in his limbs...look,  I'd never be able to document all the lunacy within Sze To On's bizarre screenplay in a mere intro paragraph, nor would I ever attempt such a blatant impossibility,  without first undertaking my own introspective spiritual journey, involving lots of early 70's era Amboy Dukes, a gas mask full of Dutch Treat nuggies, and a special lady I know who does this thing I'm especially fond of,  without ever using her hands. Sidetracked again...

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In this episode of Black Magician vs Food, we'll hear Somjai Boomsong query, "Are you gonna eat that?"
After brutal Thai boxer Bu Bo ("Bolo" Yang Sze) leaves his brother Chan Wing (Wang Lung Wei) permanently crippled in a kickboxing match, Chan Hung (Phillip Ko Fei) is visited by the spirit of his twin brother (Elvis Tsui), who just so happens to be a dead Taoist Abbot striving to attain immortality despite the witchcraftian interference of a pesky Black Wizard (that looks like an Asian mash up of magician Doug Henning and eighties wrestler Ultimate Warrior), who's highly salty and vengeful over the murder of one of his disciples/ pet bat, who's been reduced to a hopping wind up bat skeleton by the monk's gung fu magic. When Hung  (who pukes a live eel into the bathroom sink one evening, mind you) decides to assist the Abbot, who's been poisoned by eye needles, manages to dispatch the responsible Wiz in a dizzying, often nauseating hail of WTF,  three of his students take up the cause.

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"This egg could use a Glade Air Wick. For real, it smells in there."
From here on out, it's colored lights, detached floating heads strangling folks with dangling veins and muscle sinews, pillowy Asian bobblers squashed up against glass, cyclopean lo-fi laser-shooting poodle demons, hydrocephalic monster puppets hatching out of goopy Alien rip-off eggs, wind up spiders that might have left even Fulci himself snickering, gaudy-yet-mystical locales in Thailand and Nepal, troops of attacking crocodile skulls, Saran wrapped suicide by kukri knife, and nude sorceresses reanimated by the sewing of corpses into dead crocodile carcasses and group eating/regurgitating/re-eating of rotten fruit, 'nanner peels,  maggot-ridden chickens, entrails and assholes, with the gross blend all stuffed into the woman's mouth. The final magical showdown sees Hung's ears and nose infiltrated by fuzzy demon caterpillars while he's held down by a pair of skeletal arms, but he somehow manages to strip the sorceress of her flesh, causing her to melt into a blue puddle full of maggots. I could elaborate further, but you get the idea. Hung defeats Bu Bo somewhere in there, too, but with everything else going on, you probably won't notice.

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"I'm alive!!! That last chewed up chicken shitter you put in my mouth must've done the trick..."
You'll recognize Ko Fei from things like Seven Man Army (1976),  The Killer Meteors (1976), Bandits, Prostitutes and Silver (1977), and The Dragon, The Hero (1979), though he dates back to the studio's early days with roles in The Deadly Duo (1971) and The Water Margin (1972) as well. The muscle-bound Bolo/Yang Sze has had a long career in action films, squaring up against everyone from Bruce Lee to Jean Claude Van Damme over the years. Be forewarned, if you've got a working gag reflex, this movie will test it often. And if you're getting zooted while viewing (couldn't blame ya), you're probably gonna wanna skip the munchies phase afterwards. In a sub-genre known for its propensity to turn gross in a moment's notice... Seriously, this movie is like the Star Wars of gross Asian shit. Not for everybody, Boxer's Omen scores a WTF deuce on the rating scale.

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"At least my good fashion sense remains intact!", notes Wing (Johnny Wang).
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