sábado, 27 de junio de 2009

Intikam Kadini

Boy, I love Turkish pop cinema. They take any popular movie and remake it without the budget, stealing music shamelessly and showing them exclusively in their home country. They’ve done it to everything from Star Wars to Casper, ET and the Wizard of Oz. So knowing of this family fare, I was quite surprised when I heard they did the same thing to that classic piece of rape sleaze, I Spit On Your Grave. Now you have to understand, I watched this without any subtitles since none were available, but if you know the original story, then you can follow this without a problem. Woman gets raped, woman gets revenge using her sexuality. Nothing much to say. However, this being a Turkish remake, it’s way sleazier than the original, thanks to it’s ridiculous low budget and bad, degraded 16mm cinematography. Not to miss, if you love trash.

The Devil You Know: Inside The Mind Of Todd McFarlane

I’m not very big on television documentaries, but this one really made me feel like I kid watching it. During the 90’s I was a huge comic book nerd, and one of my favorite comics was Spawn. I always loved the dark storyline and complex characters, plus the violent acts portrayed therein. Because of this love, Todd McFarlane seemed like a god among men, not only being a part of one of the biggest comic companies back then, Image Comics (which, looking back, most of their comics and artwork sucked), but also for his line of action figures featuring horror characters and famous celebrities. This documentary delves into his life and humanizes him, but I must now say that this is not exactly a good thing. He’s a failed jock who fell back on comics to make a living, and during the documentary he comes off as a prick. So this didn’t really make me enjoy this doc, but still I can’t deny his influence on me and my years growing up. So this is recommended but only if you’re a Spawn or McFarlane fan.

A History Of Violence

Based on an acclaimed graphic novel, the story deals with a schitzo with two personalities (played by Viggo Mortensen), one personality being Tom Stall, a mild-mannered father and businessman who is thrown into the spotlight after an act of violent self-defense. When this happens, psycho mob enforcer Carl Fogarty (played by a frightening Ed Harris) comes to town looking for Mortensen’s second personality, Joey Cusack, an expert killer. Having to expose himself to his family and admit his dark past, it’s up to Tom/Joey to set things right, sadly involving more violence, for better or worse. David Cronenberg has always been one of the most adult filmmakers in horror, and this could be classified as horror, make no mistake, but not your typical kind. The script is flawless, being both realistic, yet exciting and dynamic. Cronenberg is at the top of his game, this being his best film since Crash and Videodrome. The acting is genius in most parts, such as Viggo who downplays his role in both roles, but it’s Maria Bello who steals the film as his wife, who’s reality is shattered and is forced to question the love she has for her man after finding out about his lies. Bello is definitely one of the most talented actresses today, and it’s a shame she’s not used as often. Sadly William Hurt, as mob boss Richie Cusack, doesn’t fare so well, his acting being a little over-the-top and not in a good way. Still, excepting that small flaw this film is definitely excellent and quite underrated.
Did I mention Maria Bello is naked in it, too? If that doesn’t make you like the film, nothing else will.

Lovely But Deadly

Oh boy, here we go. A remake of Coffy, Lucinda Dooling plays “Lovely” a high school cheerleader who takes it upon herself to take down a high school drug cartel, after his younger brother gets hooked and drowns on the beach. Using her body to do so, she reaches the higher enchiladas until, like Coffy, that some of the people she loves are involved as well. This movie is hilarious from the opening on in, with it’s amateurish acting and badly choreographed kung fu scenes. Lucinda Dooling just can’t do either, and nobody in this film seems able to carry the picture. Still, it’s hard to hate because, with all it’s terrible filmmaking, it’s pretty damn entertaining. So this one in particular should be taken in with a warning.

Gran Torino

Mr. Kowalski (Eastwood) is an old, bitter war veteran who’s completely out of touch with what he calls ‘these damn kids today’. It all gets worse when he loses his wife, making him even more distant from his own family. Oddly enough, for reasons outside his control, he helps a young Hmong boy from a group of Hmong gangsters and slowly but surely befriends the Asian family. When the gangsters shoot up their house and rape/beat up their daughter, Clint goes onto Dirty Harry mode for vengeance. After seeing the dull Changeling, I wasn’t expecting much from this particular film. Hell, if it wasn’t Eastwood acting, I probably wouldn’t have seen it still. But as expected, he’s great! He’s believable and underplayed, and his best scenes come from his ritualistic process of getting ready for his revenge. The ending, although you see it coming, is very satisfying and pleasing. No Hollywood piece of shit mega-revenge-finish, but still effective as all hell This is Eastwood’s best film since Million Dollar Baby, and I hope he can pull them off again as good as this.

Sunrise: Song Of Two Humans

F. W. Murnau had quite a reputation in the film world, thanks to his German masterpieces like Nosferatu, The Last Laugh and Faust. So it’s no surprise that Hollywood came calling for his expertise and technical brilliance, but sadly, like many independent filmmakers of the era (like Stronheim and Keaton), the factory-like world of the Hollywood studio system ate him up. Still, he was able to make one brilliant masterpiece, and that was Sunrise. The story deals with A Man, a country simpleton who is in a failing marriage. He is lured to the pleasures of the single life by The Woman Of The City, who suggests he should kill his wife so the two can run together. What is it with today’s reviews and the many murderous wives? So he tries to carry out his plan, but fails, and in the process both arrive in the city and re-discover why they fell in love in the first place. It’s a very beautiful film in every sense, from the acting to the direction. Much like Citizen Kane would do in 1941, Sunrise is famous for basically using every technical trick known in the book at the time, especially with it’s brilliant use of dissolves, like when The Woman In The City is dissolved over The Man who remind him of her temptation. The sets are great too, looking like locations more than anything else. A really great picture and one of the few films that can be considered a work of art.

Double Indemnity

Another murder noir where the woman’s a bitch! Thankfully, this movie is truly excellent, unlike The Postman Always Rings Twice.
It deals with insurance salesman Walter Neff, played brilliantly by underrated actor Fred MacMurray, who gets involved with ultra-bitch Phyllis Dietrichson, played by Barbara Stanwyck, who convinces Walter to take out a huge insurance with a double indemnity clause so they can kill her husband and live ‘happily ever after’. The murder occurs, and as Walter discovers that her lovely Phyllis isn’t as in love with him as he thought, things go haywire pretty quickly. The photography John Seitz and direction by Billy Wilder are pretty damn flawless, keeping the suspense and reflecting the grittiness of the story full-time. It laid the foundation of what would come in the future, in the genre of film noir. The acting is great too, with MacMurray and tough-guy extraordinaire Edward G. Robinson kicking ass in both their roles as insurance workers. But it’s Barbara Stanwyck who steals the show, playing one of the meanest, seductive cunts I’ve ever seen on the screen. Seriously, every time she was on, I wanted to slap her. This movie is not to be missed, and is one of the best crime stories ever.
On a side note, did you know the film was based on a real life case involving a bitch named Ruth Snyder? Here’s the last picture she ever took.

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Very over-rated film might have packed a punch when it first came out, but time has not been that kind to it. You know the story: John Garfield is your typical working class dude who is lured into the sexual web of married femme fatale Lana Turner, as she convinces Garfield to kill her husband so both can get in on their diner business and live happily ever after. The photography is pretty damn good, there’s no denying it, but I have to admit that this just didn’t hold my attention. I’m not a fan of Garfield and always considered Lana Turner to be rather boring, and I was never drawn into the suspense of the movie. I looked indiferent every time there was a cop or a District Attorney to give you shudders. The character I really liked was Hume Cronyn as Arthur Keats, who is a sleazy but hilarious lawyer with gay tendencies. I wish they made a movie about him.

miércoles, 24 de junio de 2009

Cafe Flesh

It’s the post-apocalypse future, and 99% of the world is filled with sexual defectives who get their kicks out of going to a nightclub named Café Flesh, where they watch in suffering as fertile fiends have sex in different performance art pieces.
I saw this movie two years ago, after I heard this was one of the few films scream queen Michelle Bauer had appeared in (under the name Pia Snow). I was very surprised at how incredibly excellent the film was on pretty much every level. The film is framed and directed excellently, almost shocking when you realize this is a pornographic film. The set design is very artsy, with long interruptions of the story for long art-house pornographic sessions and crazy monologues. Speaking of monologues, Andy Nichols as Max Melodramatic, MC of Café Flesh, steals the show every time he’s on, the camera focusing on him and your eyes unable to move away, with his wild eyes, obscene gestures and crazy dialogue. The rest of the cast fare well, but it’s definitely Andy who steals the show, although Michelle Bauer is very beautiful and believable as Lana, a girl pretending to be unfertile until she’s discovered and forced to participate on the show with super-lover Johnny Rico.
The sex scenes are great as well, although when I heard Michelle used a body double for her fuck scenes, I felt a little cheated. Still, that’s her naked before the boob job, masturbating, and eating pussy, and eating it well, so it’s not all bad. Anyway, if you’re interested in watching something truly unique and different, very entertaining, and excellently filmed, check out Café Flesh. It’s one of the greatest movies of all time. Look out for a cameo by Richard Beltzer as a sex negative who looks like a bad Peter Murphy impersonator.

The Gateway Meat

Wow, what a movie. This is the kind of flick that reminds me that the independent horror scene is alive and well. The story deals with the assassination of President Bush in 2006. When this happens, a family of Satanists take this as a sign as they start to attack, rape, murder and mutilate people as their family activity.
Props have to go to Ron DeCaro for making a film that is genuinely upsetting and confrontational. If this movie had been released in the early 1970’s it would be as notorious as Last House On The Left. The real clinger is the sequence where two of the members rape and kill a beautiful nude blonde who has a huge wound on her back. There is also some black humour involved, when the killer visits a group of redneck assholes playing pool and incapacitates the leader. Maybe it was just me, but I found it weirdly humorous. Probably the most upsetting part of the film is the involvement of a little girl, the family’s younger daughter, who is sort of “introduced” into the mayhem like it was a game. This film is much better than the August Underground films. Now I have to go check out their previous film Eating Razors, and I’ll be looking forward to what For The Better Of Mankind productions releases in the future.

The Host

A mutant monster that’s a cross between a shark and a tadpole wreaks havoc on Korea’s Han River, where it kills and kidnaps many unsuspecting tourists and hanger-ons during a daylight attack. One of those kidnapped souls is Hyun-seo, a schoolgirl belonging to a family of food merchants. His family tries to go after the monster, but they realize there’s a lot more behind it all, including a conspiracy involving the US government.
Who knew one of the greatest monster movies of all time would come from Korea of all places, who’s last monster movie was the underrated Pulgasari way back in the 70’s? Everything about this movie is great, from the acting to the fast paced direction Bong Joon-ho, who’s already being hailed as the Korean Speilberg. I hope he doesn’t go as bad as that particular director. But what makes the movie great is definitely the monster, who is scary and kick-ass at the same time. The third act’s ending is definitely one of the most exciting of all time. Sadly it should have ended there, since the movie does have a really uninspiring second climax. I also admire the balls the movie had to be so anti-American, showing the US government as the corrupt money-loving power hungry fiends that they are, willing to kill and keep quiet about it in order to go ahead. In the end, this movie is excellent and very recommended. Long live The Host!

Santo vs. El Estrangulador

This one was definitely set for the teeny bopper crowd. A Phantom of the Opera-style killer is strangling the women working in a theatre, and it’s up to Santo to find him out. This is definitely one of the weakest entries in the Santo series, lacking the energy of Operacion 67 and the insanity of Santo y Blue Demon Vs. Dracula y el Hombre Lobo. Plus, half the movie is plagued by really bad musical performances from the leading acts, from a Spanish version of Fever to a really hilarious rendition of Sixteen Tons. Still it’s Santo, so there is something of a halucinatory feel to it. Either way, you could do worse. By the way, you ever notice that Santo has a Batcave-like house?

Jason and the Argonauts

Jason and his army of athletes board a ship to find the legendary golden fleece, so they can gain the power to take over a corrupt emperor’s reign. On the way, they receive help from the Goddess Hera and fight all sorts of enemies in search of the fleece.

This is definitely one of Harryhausen’s best films, featuring some of his best animation. The Talos has always been a favorite monster of mine, I have many memories of childhood watching this movie and staring in awe at the gigantic statue. Other creatures, such as the Hydra and the Harpies, are very impressive as well, but it’s the army of skeletons at the end of the movie that really make this memorable.
Harryhausen first used a skeleton warrior in the 7th Voyage Of Sinbad, but using a gang this time made it a step-up. He’s called it his best piece of animation, and I’d find it difficult to disagree. There are some shots that I even forgot I was watching a piece of animation and felt I was watching something real. Then I laughed like an idiot at the thought of the skeletons taking direction and hitting on script girls during breaks. I need a life. The only thing I didn’t like about this film was the ending. Jason left for the fleece to take over a kingdom, but in the ending he seems to forget about it while he’s making out. The conversation between the Gods in the end gives info that there will be a sequel which never came, so that’s probably the reason for that. Still, it doesn’t affect the greatness that is this film.

Anyone But My Husband

Nora is your typical bored housewife, dedicating herself completely to her deadbeat unfaithful husband who doesn’t like her because she’s “not young enough”. After hitting rock bottom by masturbating with a champagne bottle, she goes to a psychiatrist who tells her the best way to get even is to have affairs. With help of her friend Sylvia, she goes about having sex with some pretty weird dudes. This is definitely one of the most entertaining porno movies from the 70’s, being very well acted and in some cases, genuinely funny. The best scene has to be the one in the fortune teller’s home, where Nora experiences her first lesbian experience with the fortune teller, while Sylvia receives some deep 13-inch fucking from The Hook, a latino with a very big dick, as you know already. After having sex with Sylvia, The Hook gives Nora some deep-throat action. In the end, Silvia is walking like she was split open, while Nora has a hoarse voice thanks to the oral antics. This was C. J. Laing’s first porno film after making some loops in NY, and she owns it from the beginning, showing both a housewife’s boredom believably and her change into a nymphomaniac. She gets everything done to her, from whipping to fisting to deep-throating and fucking the afore-mentioned bottle. She’ll go on to show off more of her talents in great pornos like Waterpower, Sex Wish, The Taking Of Christina and Unwilling Lovers.

Isle of the Damned

Thirty years ago, the great horror film director Antonello Giallo was forced to disappear when rumours of abuse toward the natives started circulating during his film, Isle of the Damned. He already had controversy with his previous one, Pleasures of the Damned, so this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
This movie, the most perverted of perverted, deals with a group of adventurers in search of treasure on the remote Cannibal Island. There, it’s cannibal time as the group succumbs to the native tribe. I do not want to reveal anything else because I still need 99 showers after watching this macabre mostrosity. Fuck you, Antonello. Fuck you, wherever you are, for submitting myself into watching this film. Good god man! Cannibalism, murder, pedofilia, bad moustaches! I have never sank into watching a movie this depraved in my life. For that I show you both hatred and respect. I hope I can soon see other of your lost films, but in the meantime, fuck you, you spaghetti-eating guido for ruining my retinas with such depravity. Good depravity, but depravity anyway!

Gold Diggers of 1933

This is your typical early 30’s musical, featuring a cast that was common during the time for musicals, such as Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and the Goddess, Ginger Rogers.
It deals with producer Barney Hopkins, suffering from the Depression, who’s trying to make the best show on Earth. With help of Dick and a gang of showgirls, he’s able to make the show possible, especially thanks to the money donated by Dick. But Dick doesn’t want to perform for personal reasons, until he is forced to. That’s when we discover he’s a trust-fund baby, and his older brother (played by Warren Williams) comes down to make sure he’s not associating their good name with the floozy showgirls. This is a truly excellent film, and it’s aged pretty well. The numbers choreographed by Busby Berkeley are very memorable, and the songs are catchy, like We’re In The Money and My Forgotten Man. A great film and recommended for those who enjoy musicals.

domingo, 21 de junio de 2009

Looking Back At The Ninja Turtles franchise

When I was a kid, I was a huge Turtles fan. I worshipped the cartoon series and saw it daily on reruns in channel 11, bought all sorts of merchandise and had a lot of the action figures. So imagine how happy I was when a Turtles movie first came out.

The first movie is still a classic film. It’ll always hold a great place in my heart, as it was one of the earliest movies I ever saw as a kid in the theatre. Watching it today, the film still holds up. It’s dark, has lots of action, and the special effects are awesome. The acting is pretty damn good, especially the voice acting with the turtles and Splinter. I also found the crime elements in the city to be pretty damn realistic, with the foot leading an Army of teens robbing and shoplifting. Also, the men who played the turtles were pretty damn good, and moved very well under those damn costumes. So was there anything I didn’t like? Well, to be honest, I found Shredder to be too damn cartoony, even more than in the animated series. He seemed like a bad Darth Vader wannabe and didn’t seem very menacing. Also, the ending is very anti-climactic, but I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it.

Part two came out right about a year after the first one, and a lot of stuff has changed. The tone was more light and comical, and the action scenes were more fist-oriented than weapon-oriented. Shredder shows up again and he’s as cheesy as ever. But still I have a special place in my heart for this film as well, since I pretty much used to watch this almost every day from when I was 8-13. I completely wore that VHS out. The acting is pretty good again, and the effects are great as well. But the best part is that we got to watch the Turtles fight mutant enemies, with Tokka and Rahzar taking the place of cartoon enemies Rocksteady and Bebop. I always wondered why they didn’t use these two. Like the first one, the ending is really terrible. The movie really falls apart in it’s third act, with it’s random appearance by Vanilla Ice, but even worse the ending in which The Shredder (now Super-Shredder) basically kills himself. If there’s a golden rule in these kinds of movies, is that the villains must not kill themselves. It’s boring and uninspired. Besides, Super-Shredder was awesome! Anyway, nothing in this movie is as bad as…

Oh boy. Yeah, this movie is pretty much hated by everyone in the world, although personally I find it to be okay if you play it for the kiddies, but yes this is definitely a step down in the worst way. First off, what’s with the production values? I’ve seen better cinematography in direct to video DV features. And the effects? Horrible. The turtles looks like leather sock poppets, and their over-bite really bothered me. The enemies are really bad as well. No Shredder or foot clan, and no villains from the cartoon! I mean, imagine who they could have used: Krang, Baxter Stockman and the Mousers, Leatherhead, The Rat King… but no, we get some samurai lord and a gay Englishman with a gun fetish called Walker. One thing that is good about this movie however, is the THIRD ACT! It’s actually better than the whole movie, with the turtles fighting together and using their weapons the way they should! It’s all good until that infamous moment when Walker falls down to the ocean and implodes into the waves. I hope whoever edited this never worked again. Bah, I’m all turtled-out, I’ll leave the animated one for a future review. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go dance Tarzan Boy…

Beneath The Valley of the Ultra Vixens

While not as good as Faster Pussycat Kill Kill (but then again, few things are), this is definitely Russ Meyer’s wildest film.
It deals with Stuart Lancaster, as The Man From Small Town USA, a poor simpleton who suffers from an addiction to anal sex. It’s up to his wife, played by hot piece of ass Kitten Natividad, to try and stop his freakish sexual preferences. In the way Kitten is unfaithful as hell, trying to settle down her lack of vaginal sex, while The Man continues his anal escapades with other women, like the huge black-woman Junkyard Sal. It’s up to religious babe Eufaula Roop to teach the man the joys of vaginal intercourse.
Like I said, this is one of Russ’ wildest films, the sex is completely exaggerated, the movie starting with Martin Boorman having a wild sex romp of the necrophiliac nature with Ms. Eufaula, who interrupts her game of Pong to fulfill those desires. It all goes up from there, with lesbian nurses, gay doctors and more. Very recommended.

Super Vixens

Poor Clint Ramsey, he’s married to the hottest bitch in the world who nags and nags till no end. She’s SuperAngel, a hot ass babe but too annoying for keeps. While on a bar, and getting hit on by Haji aka SuperHaji from Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, Clint is framed by policeman Harry Sledge, who brutally murders his wife after being seduced by her and proving he’s quite a dead fuck, to say the least. And so, Clint goes around the country trying to start a new life, meeting new and crazier women like Super Soul (a mail-order nymphomaniac played by Uschi Digart) and the mute but horny SuperEulah. He finally falls in love with SuperVixen, who has SuperAngel’s body but an actual nice personality, and everything seems to go happily every after until Sledge comes back to fuck things up.
This movie is one of Meyer’s best, featuring insane editing and the over-the-top acting he’s most famous for. The women are incredible as ever, with Shari Eubank stealing the show as both SuperAngel and SuperVixen. Then ending is explosive.

They Eat Scum

Ah, the No-Wave scene from the 1980’s, what a great time for underground films. I’ve already talked about Richard Kern, so now it’s time to review me some Nick Zedd. This was his first film, and one of the first in the movement. It deals with a punk rocker bitch named Suzie Putrid, who leads an army of punk rockers to murder and mayhem until they cause a nuclear meltdown and Suzie takes over the world. Her reign of power is on hold, however, thanks to an army of disco-dancing mutants.
This film is ugly in every sense of the word, from the 8mm cinematography to the bad sound (which sometimes is way too speeded up). However, the movie is very enjoyable, with tons of violence, body mutilation, sex and nudity, and animal-fucking drag queens. There’s just no way to get bored.

Ugetsu Monogatare

Kenji Mizoguchi’s most famous film is also his best. Based on the famous Japanese tales, it deals with two peasant couples: Genjuro and his wife Miyagi, and Tobei and his wife Ohama. Genjuro is humble but greedy, wanting to sell pots at the market and make himself a fortune, while Tobei dreams of being a samurai even if he doesn’t exactly have what it takes to be one. When their village is destroyed by an army, they leave their wives to make some money in the city. They are blinded by their greed and ambition, Tobei becoming a great samurai by pure luck and Genjuro being lured away from his family by a ghostly seductress played by the beautiful Machiko Kyō, the legendary, beautiful actress of Rashomon and Gate of Hell. Sadly, their wives pay for their actions. I won’t say how, but if you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly what I mean. The film is one of the greatest of all time, mixing romance, drama, comedy and even horror and directed to perfection. There are literally no flaws in this film, and I’d be surprised if anyone doesn’t like this film. Criterion released it on dvd a few years ago and gave it a perfect presentation, including a full-length documentary on the life of Kenji Mizoguchi directed by Kaneto Shindo (Onibaba). A must-buy.