miércoles, 30 de diciembre de 2009
I think the main attraction for me was the animation. It seemed very realistic and life-like, and my suspicions were correct, since they did use real actors as references. Still, there are animated sequences in this film that have not been equalled in anything since. Sequences such as when the Evil Queen turns into a witch, and the creation of the poisonous apple are incredibly done. I also fell in love with the characters pretty quickly. Although both Snow White and the Prince are pretty boring and one-dimensional, the Seven Dwarves were really well-written characters, particularly Grumpy, who is full of contradictions and acts like an asshole all the time. The music is also pretty good too, particularly the three main songs done by the Seven Dwarves. Whistle While You Work and Heigh-Ho is a classic, although I think more of the Gremlins singing along every time I hear it. More interesting for me was The Silly Song, which is hilarious and the animation that goes with it is excellent.
The American connection is definitely shown in the movie’s actors. Robert Horton and Richard Jaeckel play our leads, and try in vain to upstage each other in showing which one of them is more heroic. It’s too bad since both actors have very impressive resumes, particularly in the acting department, appearing in many westerns and genre efforts. However, neither of them are very credible and are not very good at being able to come off as intimidating or heroic. Italian beauty Luciana Paluzzi is very good eye candy, but can’t really act here either, which is too bad since she’s very good in exploitation movies like 99 Women and Tragic Ceremony.
domingo, 20 de diciembre de 2009
The Nanking Massacre is based on the taking of the city of Nanking in China by Japan in the late 30’s, and the wholesale slaughter and rape of the city. What makes this movie so powerful is the fact that it’s completely grounded in reality. Every fact in the film is backed up by documentary footage and even photos of the massacres going on while it happens on the screen. We are previewed to crazy Japanese soldiers raping women and children (yes, children), families being slaughtered, a pregnant woman having her stomach ripped open and her fetus extracted with a bayonet, a kid thrown into a boiling cooking pot, and a grandma who sacrifices every member of her family to the fire, killing two soldiers in the process. The most disturbing aspect to me, however, were the competitions between the soldiers to cut off the heads of the Chinese people, each ranking themselves as heroes depending on how many heads they had cut with their Samurai swords. The biggest hero had taken 300. Most of the violence is done from the point of view of children, something Sam Peckinpah used to do with his films, and in the end we see two children walking through deserted Nanking streets with nobody in sight.
There’s really not a lot more I can say about this film. Like every good war film, it’s a movie that can really upset you or even ruin your mood if you watch it in the wrong state of mind, as you are previewed to things that really happened. In it’s defense however, I will say that this movie does more in showing what real war and slaughter is all about without resorting to cartoonish patriotism of a Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Dawn or other pro-Military propaganda of the sort. It’s a great film that should be discovered not just by exploitation enthusiasts, as it’s a legitimate work of art.
Just like the first one, the sequel is hilarious, mostly thanks to the dialogue. I don’t know whether it was scripted or not, but it sure has an air of improvisational material that just makes it sound better than it could have, particularly coming from El Sargento who steals most of the scenes away from Manny, who sometimes seems like he’s just tagging along for no other reason than to stay alive. There are a lot of new characters but only a few of them really stand out: the “Hijos De Puta”, a Mad Max-style gang of post-Apocalyptic warriors, will bring a smile to anyone who has a passion for post-Apocalyptic movies like After The Fall Of New York and The Bronx Warriors, since they’re cut out of the same mold. I hope the director Franco someday releases action figures based on these three. The other character that really stood out was called Korintio, I believe. I’m not sure who played this person (remember, I just got back from the premiere), but he basically stole the show from EVERYONE in the film. His line delivery and improvisation is incredible and made him to be the best and funniest character in the whole movie. I could watch a whole film based on this guy! Too bad he’s in only one scene. I also have to give Franco credit for doing beautiful work of the slower scenes in the film, the stuff where we get to see the beautiful passages of Puerto Rico. Franco, you got a real eye for beauty and these are without a doubt the best scenes in the film. I’d love to see what you’d make with a slower-paced movie.
Now for some flaws. I’m not going to talk about the technical aspects such as image and sound since Franco knows they’re flawed as well. My main complaint is that the film doesn’t have the appropriate pacing the original had. Some scenes go on for far too long, and for the most part give out information that is not really necessary, the most obvious being the sequence in the car after they pick up the young woman from the religious fanatic. The scene felt like an eternity and could have used some trims. Also, what’s the logic in dropping a nuke in PR and the bomb not taking over neighboring island, Vieques? I mean, I know it’s a comedy and it’s not supposed to be realistic, but the characters look as if they don’t even feel the shockwave when they get to our little neighboring island. I dunno why but that really bothered me.
To finish it off though, this is a great comedy. It made me laugh a lot and even my sister, who hates DIY cinema, loved it. Those are my two cents, Franco, now do your part and review El Viaje! You owe it!
Wow, where to start with this movie? I mean, I was not expecting this to be nothing more than a sick piece of shit, the type that I’m accustomed to when watching ultra-sleazy European horror flicks. And for the most part, it seems to deliver. For starters we have body parts and viscera flying all over the place in graphic, almost anatomical detail. But most of the sick stuff is of a sexual nature. I mean, the stuff they do to this poor Shamus is beyond anything I’d be able to take, from masturbating with food, forcing them to eat vomit, and even erotic regurgitation. Yummy.
But thankfully, this not only is a sick movie, it’s also a very beautiful film. Greek filmmaker Nikos Nikolaidis films it on 35mm black and white, and everything looks much more artistic and classy than a film like this normally aspires to. The rain looks beautiful, the dresses and set design look like something out of a period movie, and the blood and guts look black and dark, almost like motor oil. The performances from the actors involved are all great, particularly the two women, played by Meredith Herold and Michele Valley, add a strong dose of delirium, sex appeal and insanity to the proceedings. Their weird monologues about each other, switching between love and hatred, and weird flashbacks make most of the movie work. The ending will remind everyone of the classic Cannibal Corpse song, “Fucked With A Knife”, in one of the most what-the-fuck moments in the whole film.
Granted, there are a lot of ridiculous moments in the film. When the daughter reminisces about her incestual encounters with her father, the father is represented by a mummy, like the ones that came out of the Universal series. Seeing a mummy fucking Meredith Herold just looks weird. Still, this movie is one of the best films to come out of the underground, with it’s strong mix of perverse sexuality, dark humor, intense horror and the visuals of film noir, it comes highly recommended.
Jacinto Molina, aka Paul Naschy, passed away on November 30, 2009. He was a guy I grew up with, with his ultra bloody and erotic horror films. He was the most important figure of the Spanish horror film industry, and his most recent films, like Rojo Sangre, showed that the man still had it.
Dan O'Bannon sadly passed away as well, more recently on December 17, 2009. His influence is also huge on my life, being the screenwriter of classics like John Carpenter's Dark Star, Blue Thunder, Heavy Metal, Dead & Buried and Lifeforce, and with Donald Shusett, would bring life to films like Alien and Total Recall. He will always be known to me, however, as the man who gave us Return of the Living Dead.
miércoles, 16 de diciembre de 2009
Ah, what a perfect movie to start off the list. The late great Bob Clark directed one of the original slasher films, and it's one of the best. The story features a sorority in the middle of Christmas break, with a killer butchering the girls one by one. There isn't a lot of gore in this picture, but there's a whole lot of atmosphere and some very creative and hallucinogenic death sequences, from the girl choked on the bag, to the hook impaling of the drunken headmother, all with the psychotic POV shot of the killer giggling and crying and doing who-the-fuck-knows-what-else, all to the tune of Canadian snow-filled locations. Clark would go on to make another Christmas classic called A Christmas Story. Meh.
Now here's a movie that spells Christmas all over the place. I know it's a cliche to mention this film, but sometimes people forget how good this movie really is. For starters, it starts off as a really bleak and depressing film, dealing with a man who wants to kill himself, and he is about to, until he's visited by an Angel who teaches him how much of a difference one man can mean to an entire town. It was Frank Capra's last masterpiece, and a bomb in it's day. Today it's an undisputed masterpiece, and a beautiful film that never gets old.
This isn't a very good movie, not as a horror or Christmas flick. I'm not here to praise it or call it a classic, but since it's a movie I watch EVERY Christmas, I had to include it. The imagery throughout is all Christmassy, and the fact that the killer dresses in a Santa Claus outfit only adds to the atmosphere, chopping people for being naughty and screaming "Punish!" every chance he gets. We also get a topless Linnea Quigley getting impaled on reindeer horns. A topless Linnea Quigley is always welcome in my book.
6. Bad Santa
A comedy for people who hate Christmas and it's rampant consumerism, it's also a pretty hilarious movie filled with Christmas cheer and lots of ridiculously offensive, politically incorrect humor. I love it. I think it's Billy Bob Thornton's best performance, and the late Bernie Mac is surprisingly hilarious in his role as police chief for the mall. His scenes with John Ritter (two dead people, eech) are comedy gold. This one is not for the kiddies, but it will make you laugh like a little kid for sure.
John McClaine is trapped in a building with a group of thieves, and he's kicking ass all over the place. It's violent, bloody, funny and full of kick-ass action. It also takes place during Christmas, which makes it even cooler. The use of holiday songs like Run DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" just adds to the proceedings. Is this the greatest action movie of the 80's? Why yes, yes it is.
It's hard to imagine a movie filled with psychotic little monsters and a sad sequence that made us all realize that there was no Santa could represent a big part of our Christmas-watching tendencies, but it does! The place is full of snow, decorations and Christmas music abounds, although for the most part it's all going to get destroyed. Highlights for me include when the little bastards sing Christmas carols before sending Ms. Deagle to her flying death, and the creatures going nuts in a bar. Phoebe Cates is in this too, she's hot!
and finally, my favorite Christmas film is...
Oh I can already smell the cheese! George Lucas really, really wishes this piece of shit didn't exist, but if you thought the prequels were bad, boy, hold on tight! You haven't lived until you see a bunch of wookies groaning and talking for minutes without subtitles, Han Solo and Chewbacca talking about the Christmas spirit, bad comedy from Art Carney, Bea Arthur as the manliest bartender in the galaxy, and, perhaps more disturbing than anything else, Carrie Fisher singing a Christmas song to the tune of the Star Wars theme. This random parade of WTF was obviously done for the check, but people like me watch this shit over and over instead of smoking pot, as it gets you high just from listening to it. Come on George, hurry up and release an official DVD or Blu-Ray! We're sick of having to rely on bootlegs!
miércoles, 25 de noviembre de 2009
The film’s storyline is similar to Evil Dead, although this is nowhere near as good. It is however a pretty sleazy and slutty affair. Basically a horror porn, it features hardcore pornography and realistic sex scenes, only covered up by a blur thanks to Japan’s tendency of covering up the private areas downstairs on their performers. The sex can sometimes be very disgusting, and more than once the women spit out and choke on huge wads of semen. These long sex scenes are basically filler, and the movie could easily last half an hour if you trimmed them down. The deaths are all pretty gory however, so it makes up for it. We get a beheading by broken glass, a guy impaled by a lance, a dude who’s eye pops out after getting a hammer to the head, and my favorite, a woman who’s gone insane with sex, and after receiving a cumshot that looks more like a hose than anything else, gets the ‘ultimate fisting’, as the killer rams his arm up her joytrail and it ends up coming out of her stomach. Sam Raimi was never this ballsy!
The film is very well directed and the lighting is truly impressive, featuring a lot of good backyard shots. These are the ones that remind you the most of Evil Dead. Oddly enough, this movie is known more around the world as Guts Of A Virgin, and the director would make two more films in the series, both featuring the title of Entrails Of A Beautiful Woman. I have to review that one in the future. Anyway, this movie is gross and violent and pretty damn fun, just don’t watch it with your girlfriend unless she has an unusually strong stomach.
The movie is a juggernaut when it comes to the acting. Vincent Price is excellent in his role, bringing the same class and talent that he was known for. His scenes with Peter Cushing and Robert Quarry are an actor’s dream, and his solo monologue before commiting his ‘suicide by fire’ is nothing short of amazing. Peter Cushing is also excellent, although I felt that in the end he was over-acting quite a bit. It’s still really fun to see them both go at it in the final fight scene. There are a lot of beautiful women, the standout being Linda Hayden, famous for her naked role in Blood From Satan’s Claw and Taste The Blood Of Dracula, and she looks exactly the same here as she did on those movies. No nudity, sadly. Adrienne Curry (Clockwork Orange, Vampire Circus) is beautiful too, and for some reason she also looks beautiful to me after her deforming accident, looking like a New Waver long before there was such a thing. The murders are sadly nowhere near as entertaining as they were in Phibes and Theatre Of Blood, but they’re still pretty fun to watch, particularly the director who gets himself crushed by a mechanical bed.
The movie was done by AIP and Amicus, although it looks like something out of a Roger Corman picture, with the same kinds of lights and tinting cinematography. We get to see a lot of stock footage from old Price films, the best being the stuff from The Haunted Palace which features Dr. Death spliced in to look like he was a part of the movie. The ending’s burning finale is also a staple of Corman/Price’s adaptations. This is a very memorable and entertaining 70’s horror film that, although riddled with clichés, sports a good cast and is very entertaining.
That would have been a great story, but sadly we are only previewed to the first part of the storyline. It’s a low-budget effort, and it shows. The acting is typical of Television at the time. Cornel Wilde and Jennifer Salt are neither very memorable as the two leads, and William Stephens isn’t very threatening as a gun-toting police officer. More interesting is Scott Glenn (Silence of the Lambs) as the biker/hippie stereotype. The best acting comes from the leader of the Gargoyles, played by Bernie Casey, but sadly his dialogue is so cheesy and distorted that you can’t really take him seriously.
The film’s directing of the typical sedate style that plagues many of these made-for-tv films, never really having any energy or life, although there are some intentionally funny moments, such as the Gargoyle Butt Slap (if you’ve seen it, you know what I mean). The film’s most famous characteristic was the fact that the makeup effects were done by Stan Winston, and for the most part they’re very good, although to be fair the monsters remind me of the Japanese kappa turtle monsters. So yes the film has historical importance, and I understand a lot of people love it, but this movie can’t compare itself to better TV horror movies like Salem’s Lot, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, The Night Stalker and Dark Night Of The Scarecrow. To me, this was neither frightening, nor motivating.
The sex in this movie is pretty explicit for a softcore movie, but I have to admit, I loved it. Corinne Clery is one of the bravest actresses of the 70’s, showing everything but the rainbow and at the same time being able to give a strong, emotive performance. I love the fact that she really gives herself completely to her masters, particularly to Rene’s friend, Sir Stephen (Anthony Steel), who ends up falling in love with her, a no-no in this type of situations. But of course, Rene then becomes secondary to O’s story and Stephen becomes the priority. She gets herself whipped, has group sex with women at his request, and even brands herself, first with a clitoris piercing and then with your typical cow branding. Ouch! Now that’s commitment.
Just Jaeckin directs this film in the same way he did his more famous film, Emmanuelle, featuring beautiful production design and an abundance of gold colors. The film isn’t as sexually explicit as Emmanuelle, but it really doesn’t need to be. This movie is good enough and erotic enough that it doesn’t need an Asian woman smoking through her vagina, although to be fair, that is always a fun thing to watch. It’s a great film and comes highly recommended.
The main drive of the movie is the performance by Isabelle Adjani, who’s performance caused a lot of controversy when the film came out. She’s intense and almost psychotic, but always with a hint of sadness. Such instances as when she’s cutting herself in the kitchen or arguing repeatedly with Sam Neill make you want to grab her and shake her, especially since Sam’s acting is making things even loonier. The most memorable sequence, however, is the famous ‘birth’ sequence, when Adjani starts having what looks like an epileptic seizure, akin to being in a one-woman moshpit, in the middle of the train station, all ending in the floor with many bodily fluids coming out of her body. It’s rather gross and hard to watch but very compelling at the same time. The rest of the performances are harder to stomach, but I blame this more on the surreal nature of the film. Sam Neill and Heinz Bennett are very good actors, but their performances are so over the top, particularly Bennett’s drugged moments, that make you wonder whether it’s part of the weird nature of the film or bad direction.
As a horror film, this is almost like a weird supernatural slasher, with Adjani bringing in men into her apartment to become victims of Adjani’s new ‘lovechild’. And what a lovechild it is, looking like a tentacled squid creature, oozing and pussing with it’s tiny eyes. It was created by Carlo Rombaldi, who made mechanical special effects for Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, ET (the real one not the porno one) and Alien, and ranks up there with these more popular creations. I dare you not to flinch when watching Adjani having sex with her monstruous creation. The ending is one of the most confusing I’ve ever seen, violent and weird, just like the rest of this film. It’s the kind of movie that takes more than one watching to truly appreciate, but when you get it, you’ll see it’s an excellent and different film that should be seen to be believed.
Here, the movie takes a more romantic step, with Sarli falling in love with the painter’s brother, who is an archeologist or a tour guide, I’m not sure which. While the two fall in love, the painter is trying to create the perfect image of Sarli. These scenes are by far the most demented, with the guy taking pills and mushrooms to become crazier, and imagining Sarli nude. These are the only scenes that feature Sarli in the nude, by the way, and it’s actually pretty artistic and nowhere near as exploitative as in the more famous work like Fuego, Carne and Insaciable. She’s got a better figure, too, a beautiful hourglass figure. I wonder why Russ Meyer never used her.
Eventually the mobsters show up but Sarli and her husband are able to get married and get some pity out of the criminals (only in the movies, folks). But she can’t help but be tragic, and after making love, what follows is the most epic suicide scene in the history of the cinema. Our heroine walks off into the beach and walks into the water to drown herself, all to the tune of the famous last song from the Tannhauser opera by Richard Wagner, more famous for being used in the Looney Tunes cartoon What’s Opera, Doc (“Retuuuurn, my loooove”). So yes, it features some of the typical melodramatic elements featured in the Sarli/Bo films, but the film is also better scripted and better produced, with every intention of making Sarli a powerful superstar, and she did. Only love can do that, folks, only love.