Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"Martyrs" (2015) d/ The Goetz Brothers

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Remember how much you were affected the first time you watched Martyrs, the highly evocative, blood splashed 2008 French/Canadian cult classic from Pascal Laugier? Whatever feelings you might have encountered screening that particular piece of French New Extreme Cinema will be nowhere to be found should you choose to check out the 2015 American remake, as piloted by the Goetz Bro's, the guys responsible for 2013's Scenic Route, and starring Troian Bellisario and Bailey Noble. Of course, if you were anything like me, you wouldn't go into something like this expecting a return of much of anything, and I didn't, and what I expected, in the end, is what I got. In this, only the audience gets tortured...

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"That cloud looks like Roman Polanski..."
In this loose re-imagining, a ten year old Lucie (Troian Bellisario) escapes from the warehouse that has been her prison and ends up in an orphanage, a introverted shy mess, until she's befriended by fellow orphan Anna (Bailey Noble), who realizes that her deep-seated psychosis should be treated with freshly stolen chocolate chip cookies and cloud gazing at the playground. Ten years later, we see that Anna's homeopathic madness remedy has failed, as she abruptly interrupts a family's breakfast with a vengeful shotgun full of shells. She calls Anna to the crime scene, relieved that the buckshot-stuffed cadavers before them are the ones responsible for her childhood imprisonment and torture, but Anna isn't so sure. In fact she tries to help the dying mother escape in between Lucie's bouts of self-abuse, where she believes she's being punished by a feminine creature that represents a young girl that she couldn't rescue at the time of her escape, but Lucie manages to finish her off, before trying to finish herself off, aware that her best friend knows she's fucking mad as lorries,  free-falling from the top of a staircase.

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I now qualify as a martyr for sitting all the way through this one.
You might recall that Lucie slits her own throat, being faced with psychoses that refuse to disappear, despite having violently rid herself of her real-life boogymen in the original movie, well, that sort of downer has no place in the remake. She survives her suicidal tumble long enough to be set upon by the very similarly sadistic associates of the original family she's just fed lead-wiches to, and they reward Anna for returning their merchandise by burying her alive in the corpse-filled pit outside the house. While they get reacquainted with doing rotten off-camera things to Lucie, Anna digs herself out and dramatically bursts in to save her, with pistol in hand, only to find that they've put her on death's doorstep, and they've gathered around her with hopes of hearing transcendental secrets of the universe before she shuffles off her mortal coil. I'd share the finale with you, seeing how spoiling it has already been handled by the filmmakers themselves, but I'm left feeling angry with myself, having written too much about this thing already...

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"The preserves are all over the floor and the guests'll be here in less than an hour...."
The screenwriter has stated he wanted to move away from all the signature on-screen violence in the original, and the results are surprisingly tame, by anybody's standards, and I'm not just addressing ultra-gore hounds here; even a mainstream crowd would be hard pressed to flinch at anything in the remake.With no bloody edge, and a useless rewrite of major plot points in the final reel leaves viewers feeling like they've just spent an unjustified hour and a half watching yet another pointless remake. Because that's what it is, and what it would have been, even if the filmmakers paid due respect to the nihilistic 2008 film, which really didn't need a remake in the first place, especially not one with positive Hollywood twists. See the Laugier film, avoid this one altogether. One Wop.

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"There's so much happiness behind my tears, I pray you beat me for ten thousand yeaaaaaars(name that song lyric)!"
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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"Curse II: The Bite" (1989) d/ Federico Prosperi

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More snakes tonight, sort of. If by "snakes" we instead mean "eighties soap opera guy bitten by a radioactive snake after which his hand transforms into a giant, murderous snake head." As hard as it is to follow up a sentence of that reverse momentousness, I'm still gonna try, damn it. As you'd expect, tonight's review has fuck all to do with The Curse (1987), and is a sequel in name only. You still might want to endure the farcical plot, unremarkable acting, and uninspired direction, though, just to get a look at the vintage prosthetic effects action, as provided by the one and only Screaming Mad George.

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"Those strawberry preserves...I wished lunch would never end!", exclaims Doc Marder (Sandy Sexton).
Clark and Lisa (J Eddie Peck, Jill Schoelen) are young lovers taking a desert shortcut to Bakersfield, California, against the cautionary advice of a local gas station attendant. You should always listen to these guys, they know more than washing your windshield and checking your oil, it would seem. After haphazardly barreling over a roadblock of live snakes near a nuclear test site, they take on a poisonous hitchhiker in the form of a mutated Bushmaster, who stows away in Lisa's acoustic guitar, later chomping down on Clark's inquisitive mitt. Harry Morton (Jamie Farr), a travelling salesman with a penchant for CB radios and the mouth-breathing goobers that utilize them, administers an antidote, which soon turns out to be the wrong one, of course, sending the amateur herpetophile chasing after the couple, whose road trip takes a turn for the even worse when he develops a palate for flies in his beer, and his girlfriend's caged love birds. He's also taken to relate the conversation between the five fingers and the face to her, but she sticks around anyway. And what's going on under that neatly wrapped gauze?

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Jill Schoelen is beaucoup hot, even when juxtaposed against a backdrop of goopy drawers.
After Clark's mystery mitt proves to work independently from the rest of his body in pulling a yappy doctor's mandible from her face, and yanking a fellow's blood pumper from his chest through his mouth, he decides to isolate himself from the public and forego any further medical assistance by exorcising it from his body via amputation, all by himself. Meanwhile, Morton's driving around with his ears on, in fear of impending lawsuits to his company, and comically tumbling into the sack with a linebacker-sized CB trucker woman, for good measure. Clark's also set upon by a particularly mean-spirited sheriff (Bo Svenson) who offsets the normally level-headed constabulary we all know and love, and arrests him on suspicion that he's a tar addict. Reasonable. Eventually, we reach a bananas climax where we find Clark's mitt has miraculously grown back into a giant snake head, which causes his eye to fall out, and also makes him regurgitate live snakes. Will Lisa's rotten taste in men come back to lay fangs into that choice late eighties piece of celluloid tail or will it all turn out ambiguously with hopes of another uninspired, unrelated sequel on the horizon? I'll let you find out for yourselves.

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Sesame Street should have gone in this direction, and envenomated Elmo. Not Mr. Hooper though.
Besides stints on Young and the Restless and Days of our Lives, and numerous television roles over the years, J Eddie also has 1990's Lambada under his cinematic belt. How many of us can say that? How many of us would. Jill Schoelen has scored genre credits in movies like The Stepfather (1987), Cutting Class (1989), Phantom of the Opera (1989), and Popcorn (1991). Besides his turn as the crossdressing Corporal Klinger on M.A.S.H., Jamie Farr has appeared in things like The Gong Show Movie (1980), Arnold (1973), Heavy Traffic (1973), and Blackboard Jungle (1955). Sydney Lassick you'll remember from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Alligator (1980), The Unseen (1981), and Carrie (1976). Bo Svenson can be seen in things like Snowbeast (1976), Inglorious Bastards (1978), and Armour of God (1986). As I said before, if you go in on this one with floor-scraping expectations, looking for eye-popping special effects typical of the era, if not often coherently explained away, then you'll get a kick out if it. On a technical level, though,  it manages but a single Wop. Approach with caution.

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Somebody's doing some good blotter on the set.
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Sunday, February 14, 2016

"Long Weekend" (1978) d/ Colin Eggleston

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Despite the blatant "Last House"-ishness of the release poster for tonight's review, there are no unhinged sexual psychos prowling the Australian outback for victims here, no gang of grimy fuck-starved thugs terrorizing helpless innocents, leading to excruciating torture or premature violent death. It's more of a "Nature wants you to cool it, baby" movie, an ambiguous entry in the seventies eco-horror genre warning mankind to halt its transgressions against the creatures of earth, or it'll be sorry, indeed. And despite all of these things, we've got a pretty cool little movie on our hands.

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"I shot that tree all by myself. Let's get some of that bark on the barby."
Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets) are a couple going through a rough patch, when they decide to spend a weekend together camping out by a remote beach. Despite her protests, Peter stows away their mangy mutt in the back, and chain smokes and bickers throughout the all day and night drive to their destination, running over a kangaroo, in the process. Normally, that's ten points, but in this alternate universe, using a marsupial as a speed bump sets off all sorts of vague karmic implications upon the troubled duo. To further complicate matters, we find that Marcia's recently undergone an abortion, the botched result of Peter's attempted spicing up of things with another couple(it was the other fellow's baby), and she's yet to lie down again with her horny, frustrated mate. Eagle eggs, she's got no problem fiddling around with. Spraying invading ants with pesticide is another task she can accomplish with ease.

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"Yer headlightin' norks have me wantin' a look at yer mappa Tassie."
Marcia's frigidity leads Peter to venture off with his dog, swimming and surfing the shore until his gal alerts him to a hulking dark shape behind him in the water. Once he's safely ashore, he fills the ominous shadow with lead from his rifle, only it's no shark, it's a dugong that he's just turned into a blubbery beach pizza. Things only get weirder from here, as he's attacked by a swooping eagle, then bitten by a possum, leading Marcia to strongly suggest that they vacate the premises, so strongly, in fact, that she pulverizes the eagle's egg she's been monkeying around with, to illustrate her point. Peter uses this incident as an opportunity to drop a sick burn about baby-killing on his partner, who now demands an immediate divorce. When Peter continues to drag his feet about leaving, wanting to investigate some people on the other end of the beach, Marcia splits on him, leaving him to face off against this recently ultra-aggressive fauna with only his mangy pooch by his side. What happens in the end? Get a copy and find out for yourselves.

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You've got a hubcap diamond star halo...dead dugong, dead dugong, dugong's gone...
If you go into tonight's review with an open mind, without meditating too much about the karmic lesson the film's producers wanted to teach our two protagonists, you'll have a good time with it. Personally, I couldn't wrap my mind around the goofy concept of nature rising collectively against them, when their sins seemed mostly accidental, or at the least evitable, had they not been at such preoccupied odds with each other throughout the movie, and never cruel or sadistic in nature. It just doesn't work that way, unless you're a smelly, tree-hugging eco-hippie screenwriter with a laughable agenda, in which case, your hokey story will only seem plausible to other smelly, tree-hugging eco-hippies, which I am not, as anybody will tell you. Still, I liked this one a lot, probably due to the filmmakers' inability to purvey their message clearly. Three Wops, and a recommendation, for sure. See it.

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Throat lozenge, perhaps?
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Friday, February 12, 2016

"Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby" (1976) d/ Sam O'Steen

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Few productions can boast of being worse than Paul Lynde in a musical trucker sketch with Tim Conway and Roz Kelly, but this nobody-asked-for-but-still-made-for-tv sequel to Polanski's 1969 shocker surely can. In fact, two days before Halloween in 1976, ABC Network rolled out both, as a seasonal double bill. At least Lynde's special had KISS. This scareless, boring mutt had Patty Duke Astin, Ray Milland, Ruth Gordon, Donna Mills, and Tina Louise, all trying to unsuccessfully conjure up safe-for-television holiday scares in successively less and less ominous chapters that start out like this...

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"I only enjoy the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights."
In "The Book of Rosemary", the titular Rosemary (now Patty Duke, not Mia Farrow) tries to flee the reach of the coven with her young son Andrew (the Satanists call him Adrian), taking refuge from their black magic in a synagogue, only to lose him to them after he pulls the red eye visuals Satan card on some bullies, forcing them to snap two of the boys' necks in psychokinetic fury. A nearby bewitched mesquite-flavored whore (Tina Louise) snatches the boy after luring Ro' onto a driverless phantom bus to eternity, where she can scream her fool head off in grease paint against the back window forever now, man. "The Book of Adrian" follows, and we see that the boy has grown into an adult (Stephen McHattie) that has yet to realize very much of his dark power, to the chagrin of Minnie and Roman Castevet (Ray Milland and Ruth Gordon), who've done all they can to turn the boy into a devil, Satan knows, why, they keep him in black robed hails, black sports cars, and  electric guitars. They've also influenced Guy (now George Maharis, not John Cassavetes) to do their evil bidding, like matter-of-factly electrocuting Adrian's do-goodnik buddy as he tries to interfere with their coming-of-age ceremony, which looks like this...

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You need bigger goggles, Granny, I need more phantom-Patty Duke reflection to offset mime rocker-Stephen McHattie in the foreground.
Adrian gets a pancake makeup mime face, and writhes around awkwardly on a slab, before venturing down into the club and grooving on the dance floor with the other patrons, when his surrogate father jolts his pal to death and spoils the Satanic event. "The Book of Andrew" finds Adrian (now Andrew) locked up in a mental institution for killing his friend, since everyone who participated in the party has disappeared and are believed dead, although a sympathetic nurse (Donna Mills) hears his mixed up plight and decides to help him escape. Ray Milland blathers on about new coven (now "tribe"?) plans since Adrian hasn't exactly lived up to sinister expectations, and leaves Guy hanging when Adrian vows to seek him out over the strange events that occurred that fateful night. Andrew lays down with his nurse, who gets hit by a car driven by Guy and meant for Andrew, but survives to give birth to a daughter, who'll clearly be more Satanically-inclined than her father. Roll credits.

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"Like it? Ray Milland did it for me while on S.T.P. at the last Satanic orgy..."
An incoherent phoned in tele-mess that matches it's variety/comedy pairing on number of laughs with scares (both are zero), combining for one of the weaker Halloween entertainment servings in my long, often photographic memory. I was a lot easier to please back then, too,  seeing how I was eight at the time and hadn't even seen the original yet, and probably had to manage a huge candy haul in my Ben Cooper Batman costume through two or three neighborhoods to effectively negate it a couple of nights later. Scary as a brushburned elbow and evil as a Sonny and Cher episode. One woppo.

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That's a rather perky-looking end credits devil-baby.
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Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Fangs" (1974) d/ Arthur Names

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Disregard the misleading sales pitch on the groovy one-sheet of tonight's movie, as it's instead packed with less bite than a fucking earthworm. If William Grefe's drive-in rattlesnake eco-opus Stanley (1972) was a bowl of Froot Loops, then Fangs, or Snakes, as it's alternately known, would be a see-thru generic bag of Silly Circles...if it were directed by the sound man from Ted Mikels' Corpse Grinders (1971), that is. My copy of the movie is the murkiest imaginable, from the old Video Gems vhs, as any clearer quality might only make it more obvious that there isn't a poisonous snake within miles of the camera, and not even Les Tremayne's estate would be pulling for a blu-ray release of it, at any point in time. It's like this...

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"Here, let this one wriggle around in your pants a spell.", offers Snakey (Les Tremayne).
Snakey Bender (Les Tremayne) is the local grizzled, old, snake-gathering coot who buys his beans from the general store, as run by a barrel-shaped lesbian named Sis (Alice Nunn) and her semi-retarded brother Bud, on credit. He also encourages the local fourth grade boys to supply him with mice and lizards for his snakes, which perturbs the local alcoholic preacher, Brother Joy (Marvin Kaplan), and enjoys listening to marching band records with his pal, Burt (Richard Kennedy), every Wednesday night. Wednesday nights also see a number of visits to the fourth grade teacher's place, where Cynthia (Bebe Kelly) sexually grooves on one of Snakey's scaly pets named Lucifer. Weird as it may all sound, this delicately balanced routine keeps ol' Snakey from abruptly losing his mind, and going on a vengeful snake-based kill-crazy rampage. Wouldn't you know it, the preacher convinces the teacher to disallow the boys to further deliver prey items to the old man, and the shopkeep's brother eagerly smashes Snakey's favorite pet on orders from the frumpy fish eater. To make matters worse, Burt runs off and marries a stripper named Ivy (Janet Wood), and puts an end to the duo's music appreciation during the week on her suggestion. Ol' Snakey ain't a-gonna stand for this sorta thing, no siree.

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"The Video Gems vhs print of "Fangs" is too shabby, we need a blu-ray remaster!" - Nobody
As it stands, they don't call Snakey "Snakey" for no good reason, and he's soon doling out fang-injected retribution on any no good feller what wronged 'im. First Burt eats a brick bludgeoning, and is dumped off a nearby cliff in his car, and Ivy is then taken prisoner, and forced to watch as Brother Joy is offed in his underwear by Snakey's serpents, his corpse-laden car also dumped off the same cliff. In fact, the cars pile up at the bottom of said cliff, and nobody seems to notice or care in these here parts. Bud fails to pop the heads off of incoming rattlers, and he joins the others at the base of the drop off. Sis flunks the "Is it a king snake or a coral snake at the bottom of the fifty-five gallon drum she's being lowered into via makeshift trapeze (they were all coral snakes, stupid!) and her pick up truck is soon added to the junkyard under the cliff. Snakey even schedules a reptile rendezvous with the herpetology-horny Cynthia, and while she's writhing orgiastically under the coils of several colubrids, ol' Snakey throws in a copperhead to the oblivious deviate. You can guess where her car is about to end up. What happens in the final reel, I leave for you to discover, though, in the odd chance you let your curiousity get the best of you, and snare a copy.

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"As I die here on this dirty floor in my drawers, I'm leaving my car to you, Snakey...never push it off a cliff..."
For a murky mutt of a drive-in movie such as this one, the cast is interesting enough. Les Tremayne was a busy actor, right up to his death in 2003; appearing in everything from Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959) and North by Northwest (1959) to King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), and working on popular soap operas like General Hospital and One Life to Live along the way. His portrayal of Snakey Bender here probably wouldn't make his lifetime highlight reel. Janet Wood, who you'll no doubt remember as Sweet Li'l Alice in Russ Meyer's Up (1976), also appeared in Terror House (1972) and The Centerfold Girls (1974). Alice Nunn, well, she was only "Large Marge" in Pee Wee's Big Adventure (1985), though she also scored genre credits in things like The Fury (1978), Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981), and Trick or Treat (1986). Richard Kennedy was a native Pennsylvanian who turned up in Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972), Delinquent School Girls (1975), Candy Tangerine Man (1975) and even Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975). On the scale, Fangs barely manages a bite with the potency of a single Wop. There are far better snake movies out there.

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"You're a dead ringer when I sting you with my stinger, 'cuz ev'ry queen needs a kiiiiing!", sings Snakey.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"The Beast Must Die " (1974) d/ Paul Annett

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Eleven years after British horror rival Hammer Studios produced their only werewolf movie, Curse of the Werewolf, Amicus Studios put out their own in tonight's review, though it's less a horror film than a groovily light seventies whodunit with a Castle-esque gimmick thrown in at the outset and three quarter mark for nostalgic effect. Utilizing Calvin Lockhart instead of originally slated  Robert "Count Yorga" Quarry in the lead role gives the film a dynamite blaxploitative flavor and elevates the production from the typical fear fodder it might have otherwise become. Along for the ride are Peter Cushing, Anton Diffring, Charles Gray, and Marlene Clark. Let's get into it.

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"Beyonce start the halftime show without me?", wonders Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart).
After being informed of an impending "werewolf break" (I shouldn't have to tell you that's a warning I can get behind),  we meet independently wealthy big game hunter Newcliffe (Calvin Lockhart) as he's being chased over every inch of his extensive property by armed men, who are aided by electronic surveillance/security he's only recently had installed, as evidenced by the video cameras robotically panning from the trees and microphones jutting from the earth below. His progress is being tracked by a man named Pavel (Anton Diffring), who questions the necessity of such equipment in the first place, as do his eight house guests, which include the likes of Dr. Lundgren (Peter Cushing), a self-proclaimed expert on lycanthropy, a pompous ass named Pennington (Charles Gray), a pianist named Jarmokowski (Michael Gambon) and his current piece of army candy, Davina (Ciarron Madden), a libertine named Foote (Tom Chadbon) who's previously tasted human flesh on a whimsy, and let's not exclude Tom's own sultry wife, Caroline (Marlene Clark). Over dinner, he divulges the reasoning behind the equipment, and why he's gathered them there in the first place. You see, one of these cats is a werewolf, the one beast Tom hasn't had the pleasure of hunting down and killing,  as of yet.

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"Like, groovy disguise, Scoob! Come down from there, and we can, like,  make some tasty sandwiches before that spooky pterodactyl ghost comes back."
 We're given the full moon's glorious arrival, signalling moving Radio Shack-esque blips on a dated grid map the likes of which I haven't seen since little boys in polyester checked slacks sunk each other's Battleships, and it's not long before Tom is running around in the day-for-night with a high powered rifle, looking for the optimum shot at the ferocious beast. And it's even sooner that he's got his guests all taking turns holding a solid silver candle holder, their inability to do so surely signifying werewolfery. Lundgren introduces some fake lycanthropic science involving wolf's bane pollen with a poker face, while Pavel gets himself chewed up and spit out by the titular beast, who doesn't forget to destroy all of Tom's high tech equipment, in the process. With no leg up from his groovy gadgetry, Newcliffe naturally points more than one accusatory finger at each of his guests, with all the zeal and twice the paranoia of the Twilight Zone's "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" episode. Discovery of the werewolf's secret identity is given to you, the viewer, and late in the final reel, the aforementioned "Werewolf Break" occurs, providing you with the opportunity to solve the murderous mystery before you. I won't do your detective work for you here, either, as you'll have to score a copy to handle it yourselves. You'll be glad you did.

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Seinen hals ist verwundet und sein auge ist weg.
Despite the film's lo-fi werewolf being little more than a common German Shepard with some extra fur glued on, I applaud the film's producers for envisioning a four-legged beast a la/ Landis' An American Werewolf in London (1981), instead of the usual Wile E. Coyote two-legged standard we've come to expect. It's an appreciated change of pace, despite the obvious budgetary restrictions. It's that same change of pace that makes this one so refreshing and entertaining for just about anybody who'd give it a look, and thus, well worthy of the solid three Wops I've gotta bestow upon it here. Recommended, for sure.

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This is just his Facebook profile pic, he's really a Jack Russell terrier.
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Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Sledgehammer" (1984) d/ David A. Prior

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As somebody who experienced the eighties firsthand, let me state that tonight's review, a no budget shot-on-video slasher movie called Sledgehammer, is a beautifully inept example of everything that was right and wrong with that decade. The entire cast is comprised of meatheads with Chachi haircuts and zero acting ability or screen presence, who wouldn't look out of place in a Chams De Baron clothing commercial getting hugged on by some Brooke Shields-looking hooker. I'd be willing to wager that the director, one David A. Prior, likes slow motion a lot. He's also pretty fond of lingering on the exact same establishing shot of a house that he uses over and over again throughout this thing. This golden turd that must have been whipped up over a weekend full of bad decisions. Some people might have gotten pissed while choosing this one off the shelves at the local video store back then, but I wouldn't have been one of those cats by a long shot. Had it been born out of my own personal Sony Betamovie camcorder, I would have recorded over the takes with kung fu movies and porn, granted, but it's also exactly the movie that my friends and I would have had a blast tearing the shit out of and laughing our balls off at. So, let's finally have at it...

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"Shirts are for fags.", says Chuck (Ted Prior).
A horny Puerto Rican in a silk nightie locks her hysterical son in a closet, so she can slink downstairs for some strange dick, only someone with a sledgehammer serves cock blocking, smashed skull death before it can progress past awkward shoulder rubbing and flubbed dialog. Fast forward to the present day, where a gaggle of Chachullets and their C grade steady big haired trim have decided to party down in the very house where the dome flattening occurred years ago. Names aren't important here, there's a blond muscle prep who goes for romantic shirtless slo-mo strolls with his squeeze, romantically balancing an open beer on the top of her head, along the way. There's also a guy who looks like the retarded steroid-blasted variant of Louis CK who stuffs food in his mouth and spits chewed food on the blonde dude's girlfriend's head. The blonde dude consoles his girlfriend by squirting mustard on her head. There's also a guy who looks like the result of Geraldo Rivera and Tony Orlando, sans Dawn, dumped into a giant blender. The mustard incident kicks off a gross food fight that lasts a long time, and a subsequent food fight clean up scene that's even longer. The blonde guy plays a melody on his acoustic guitar on the porch, to offset how abusive he is to his girlfriend the rest of the time, I guess.

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"And then the Swamp Witch and the Zombie chased the kids around and Scooby and Shaggy put on disguises and made a giant sandwich..."
Once they're seemingly finished drinking cheap beer from the can and shouting stupid things at each other (and over each other), it's seance time, seance being a word that Muscle Louie comically cannot pronounce correctly. Ha ha. An unconvincing campfire story follows, along with a replay of the intro murders, and then more murders finally start happening, when a flannel-wearing goon in an expressionless clear mask materializes on the steps and skewers one of the lads through the neck, dragging him off. Geraldo, reluctant to bed his companion to this point, caves in and takes her upstairs for some awkwardly blatant non-sex. Sledge makes the scene and bashes them both in, leading Muscle Louie to issue a slo-mo beatdown to the killer. The bodies of Geraldo and his girl are laid out in an underfurnished white room (they pretty much all are) with a sloppy blood pentagram drawn on the corner of a wall. The killer pops up, courtesy of a video dissolve effect. He's the goon. He's the kid from the intro. He's the goon again. Louie takes a knife to the back. Blonde guy fights the goon, and his shirt disappears during the scrap. Mustard Head is forced to fend off the goon alone, and electrocutes him with a charged doorknob. Blonde guy reappears and clobbers him with a sledgehammer for good measure. As the couple is walking out of the house, the goon is watching from an upstairs window. Joke credits follow (I.C. Knun, Mike Hunt, Jac Meough, Nick Gnoes, etc.).

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I had the same expression watching this.
I should probably mention that the director didn't stop here, going on to helm thirty-four movies, including gems like 1987's Killer Workout, Deadly Prey (1987), Future Force (1989), Future Zone (1990), and Invasion Force (1990). It's also worth mentioning that the lead actor here, Ted Prior, is his brother, and has appeared in things like Nudes in Limbo (1983), Surf Nazis Must Die (1987) and Karate Warrior 2 (1988). Needless to say, this one is a one Wopper all the way, but most definitely one of those legendarily rotten one Woppers that you're bound to get a massive kick out of, under the proper circumstances. If you revel in the rotten, this one's for you.

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"You'll be tiptoeing through traction if you don't give me back my fucking ukelele!", demands Tiny Tim.
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"13 Frightened Girls" (1963) d/ William Castle

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Contrary to popular belief, this one isn't about what's on Bill Cosby's voicemail. Instead, it's another offering from the schlock king, William Castle, some extremely light espionage fare that saw the filmmaker put out a worldwide casting call for the prettiest girls from thirteen countries for the production, filming slightly different versions showcasing each girl for their respective homeland. Personally, I would have rathered a plastic skeleton on a wire or a cheap joy buzzer under my theater seat, but that's just me. On board for this cold war Gidget Goes Mata Hari, are the likes of Murray Hamilton, who you'll remember as the mayor of Shark City in Jaws (1975), and Emil Sitka, who you may recall catching a custard pie or two in the mush throughout many Three Stooges shorts. In the lead is Kathy Dunn, who would go on to appear on Days of Our Lives in 1965. The story goes like this...

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"Think of it as payback for the days of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force..."
Candy (Kathy Dunn) is the teenage daughter of an American ambassador, who's home on vacation from a prestigious finishing school with thirteen (fifteen, if you're actually paying attention) other international beauties. She's hopelessly in love with a C.I.A. agent named Wally (Murray Hamilton), a friend of her father's  who's already engaged to one of his colleagues nicknamed "Soldier" (Joyce Taylor) and old enough to be her Uncle Vaughn, the mayor of Amity Island...alright, alright,  no more Jaws jokes. Anyway, Wally's been slacking with his spying, and Candy eavesdrops on her old man (Hugh Marlowe) chewing him a new one during the chauffeured family ride, and if he doesn't provide some valuable information on a cat named Kagenescu pron-fuckin'-to, he'll be forced to seek employment elsewhere. I hear Amity Island is electing a new mayor soon, buddy. Candy vetoes the haughty tennis matches,  formal parties, and hours endlessly yapping on the phone to boys that normally comprises the vacation of a diplomat's daughter, and decides to help her unrequited love keep his job by becoming a secret agent named "Kitten". She dips her pet cat's paw in ink and signs her anonymous tip notes with its paw, too. What an adorable little coquette.

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"...but Alex Kintner was supposed to be my prom date!", sobs Candy (Kathy Dunn).
Naturally, nobody in the entire American embassy can figure out who "Kitten" is, as she gathers more secret information than any agent under employment by the country. She's visiting Mai-Ling (Lynne Sue Moon), the Chinese communist friend she ought not have, when she stumbles upon Kagenescu's body hung on a meat hook in the basement, with her father's letter opener sunk into his bread basket, gathers the murder weapon, avoids detection by crawling on all fours (apparently, the Chinese are incapable of looking down when they're searching for someone), and delivers the vital evidence to dad anonymously through Wally. She courageously thwarts a planned student uprising by vamping it up for a Russian fellow masquerading as a Swede at his apartment, even sending him plummeting from the balcony to his death just as he's about to do the same to her. I can't see Sandra Dee pulling that one off. Things eventually heat up to where those sneaky Chinese kidnap "Soldier", demanding "Kitten" in exchange, hiring a super secret agent named "The Spider" to remove the pesky operative from the Asian equation. Does Candy get eighty-sixed on the job? See this one for yourselves and find out.

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"Steam rice extra unless you buy combo!", exclaims Mai-Ling (Lynne Sue Moon).
Even by Castle's usually pretty tame standards, this one is torentially drippy and twice as bathetic as an hour and a half of Gidget reruns on Antenna TV, save for a few moments where Candy discovers the hanging corpse. Unless you've taken a fancy to Ms. Dunn, who resembles an early sixties version of Miley Cyrus, this is rough terrain for most genre folks to tread, I'd imagine. Castle completists will want to check it out, certainly, but speaking as one, myself, and somebody who's not entirely opposed to watching goofy shit now and again (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as an example...), I didn't draw much from it. Two Wops seems like a good fit for this baker's dozen of chicks, none of which seemed all that frightened by anything that transpired throughout the movie. Unfortunately, that's something we had in common.

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"Cry all you want. I'm taking you to Cleveland."
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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"Baby Blood" (1990) d/ Alain Robak

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I missed this twisted and darkly humorous piece of French horror from Alain Robak the first time around, and I admittedly regret it, as it fits quite nicely into the indie genre mindset (Frank Henenlotter, Peter Jackson, Jorg Buttgereit, etc) that I was immersed in and constantly seeking out, at the time. Far out shit like tonight's review remains high on my list of favorite things, and when a film is packed to the gills with splattery grue, lots of nudity involving massive breasts, murderous Teuthida-esque parasites, and an unusual, often very funny story tying it all together, who could step up to the podium and point the judgmental finger of blame at ol' Wop over here? That was a hypothetical question, don't break my cazzies.

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Voici deux raisons d'enormes pourquois J'aime les francais.
A miserable French circus takes on a new leopard that's hosting an evolutionary parasite that ultimately results in the big cat exploding in a shower of gutty-wuts and thick slime in its cage one night. While the circus performers are searching for the responsible varmint, it slithers into Lohman's (Christian Sinniger) trailer where his top heavy, gap toothed, pregnant squeeze lies sleeping. Naturally, it shimmies into her body via the panty purse, and instantly begins influencing her life decisions, which had previously been less than optimal, as evidenced by her abrasive, abusive asshole boyfriend who thinks nothing of throwing her into the cage while animal trainers are working with tigers and lions. She jacks a pile of scratch from the till box and takes a taxi ride to a remote crack house, until Lohman tracks her down and earns himself a midsection shiv for his troubles. The parasite then tells her to slit the corpse's throat and drink the blood, which will provide nourishment for the creature now growing inside her. You see where this one is going?

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Parkour isn't for everyone.
Pretty soon, Yanka (Emmanuelle Escourrou) is having public debates with her own swollen stomach, which has developed a fondness for her, despite being spawned from the sea, and destined to replace humans on the evolutionary ladder in a few million years. There are also several spirited arguments between them over which skeevy male perverts it wants her to murder, and there's no shortage of those here. See ugly, lecherous, misogynist bastards get scissored to death, get their heads crushed by oxygen tanks, get mowed down by cars, et cetera, at every juncture. Heavy splatter, dad. When she isn't traipsing about in front of the camera in her birthday suit, she's packing her meager belongings and rapidly vacating the premises, with her alien advisor calling the shots. Further complicating the duo's love-hate relationship are the horrific childbirth nightmares she's been experiencing. It all comes to a head as she nears her monstrous delivery, which I won't further spoil for you here, just in case this sounds like it might run directly up your genre alley (I'm guessing it does, in most cases).

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"Pass the ball to my fetus, he's wide open for the slam dunk!"
Eighteen years later, a sequel entitled Lady Blood was produced. Needless to say, you should probably keep your eyes out for an upcoming review of that one, right here at the Wop. I'm forced to advise you to hunt down the Anchor Bay dvd release, as I'm blissfully ignorant concerning most Blu-ray releases, and this grainy arthouse gore movie is one whose impact would probably only be lessened by the concept of a high definition transfer. That's about it. On the scale, it's three Wops all the way, and comes with a strong recommendation from your genre guide and nutty pal over here. I love it, and you might, too. See, with all speed!

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"Singing in the sunshine, laughing in the rain, hitting on the moonshine, rocking in the grain..."
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