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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dr. Giggles......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


When I saw this on the vhs rack at Value Village I was initially excited for some reason. I remember seeing the trailer for this when it came out back in 1992 and was admittedly curious to see it at least once start to finish. Little did I know I would have been better off taking a nap, doing some knitting, washing my bed linens, or pretty much anything else that didn't involve this cinematic bit of sick. Roughly 18-20 minutes in (this includes watching the two trailers at the beginning of the tape as well as the leader tape on the cassette) I was already starting to get bored, which is a really bad sign when a movie is only 96 minutes long (or as I should put it mercilessly 96 minutes long). I guess I will try and tell you about the plot next, at least as much of the 30 seconds of it I managed to remember. While I recall as much of that as I can how about you go and view the trailer at your own risk:


WHAT THE FUCK WAS I EXPECTING!?! I mean really? I'm glad this vhs release trailer is in especially poor quality, it matches the quality of the film pound for pound. The tag line for this movie was "A New Prescription For Terror". I think they meant Terrible for the last part, it surely must have been a typo. That or the terror you experienced realizing you just wasted several dollars on going to see this. Anyways the plot has something to do with some bullshit that happened in 1957. The town doctor goes nuts after his wife dies from a heart defect making him go raving mad mutilating people (there is some vague notion that he wished to do a heart transplant, but as none of you know the first one was not done until 1967) along with his young son until the town killed his ass leaving the fate of the also to be killed but never found son up in the air. This would have made a way better movie, but instead we are stuck with a cockamamey bullshit plot involving his son escaping from a mental ward that apparently failed to put out an all points bulletin upon immediately realizing he was gone so that he can escape back to his hometown of Moorehigh (huhu, get it? GET IT? more high, huh huhuh...FUCK) to begin his murderous reign of terror upon unsuspecting teens and a couple of adults.

I can't really remember more than that besides Holly Marie Combs being the main (ish...kinda...sorta...not...aw fuck it dude) character who happens to have a heart condition just like her mum did *gasp* just like the mad doctors mum had too! He then becomes devoted to giving her a heart transplant...*yawn*. I can't really remember shit about this movie. There's a lot of awful medical related one liners before and/or after someone dies and a score done by an obviously synthesized orchestra by some dude probably sitting in a studio with an E-mu Proteus feeling very proud of himself for his lazy and uninspiring musical achievement. There's real bad early 90's CGI during the opening credits. WHAT THE FUCK WAS WRONG WITH THE EARLY 90'S!!?? Seriously, I think this movie represents many of the things I hate about Generation X- lousy fashion, mostly horrible music, you fill in the blanks.

This is a slasher movie, so we need douchebags (we do get a pretty supreme one in Lennon shades with a flannel shirt with the sleeves cut off and a gross mop like hairdon't), and thankfully there's a few of those in there but my complaint comes with the lack of cuties. Really, Holly Marie Combs was the best you could do? She's just so plain looking. The 90's is full of notbabes cast in shouldbebabe roles such as (not a complete list): Laurie Petty, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Love Hewitt- ah fuck it you know what I'm getting at here. I don't know, but they could have at least picked somebody who's not super mundane  looking and at least was unique in some aspect couldn't they (and by that I mean someone remarkable for their notplainness)? Like somebody with a weird nose or unique coif? Slasher movies are supposed to have a few cute girls running about to get slashed and thankfully there's one in the mix who has a what would be a cool death... if this movie had the balls to show any decent gore. This has a (bo)R(ing) rating so I'm lost as to why they didn't bother to give the audience something to cheer about for at least 1/4 of a second. Come to think of it "hot" guys in the early 90's were also really boring looking and dully dressed, and this movie is absolutely full of them. BOO! Its probably a good thing that none of these concessions were made in the making of this film otherwise I would run the risk of caring about it.

You might have guessed by now that I found this shit pile to be BORING. It takes the idea of the tried and true late 70's/early 80's slasher but waters it down (as had been happening over time) into an insipid romp that frankly is worth well less than the cost to manufacture it. I'm not really a very big fan of comedy horror when it bloats itself to such proportions. Yes we all need a laugh but try and be classy about it because weak ass one liners simply aren't going to cut it. This is the lamest $1.99 I have spent on a horror horrible movie. That's what I get for wanting to satisfy my curiosity. Apparently there was a time where the dvd of this was selling on ebay for 90 dollars plus. What the hell were those people thinking? I honestly feel this movie could have easily been 78 minutes long if modern production standards didn't exist to cause movies like this to happen in the first place. Talk about a cure for insomnia...


Anybody want this vhs copy I reviewed? Email me for info and pay the shipping because you can have it. Serious- please get this thing out of my life.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CRUISING


I first saw this movie on Encore Movie Channel was I was 10 or 11 years old. A lot of people have a hard time believing this fact, but my parents were/are fucking clueless so they paid zero attention to the amazing shit I watched during this period. Back then Encore could only afford gritty low brow 70's/80's movies for the most part, and Cruising is in no way an exception. When the IMDB listed this DVD release in an ad on their frontpage I went out the same day and bought it. Its a peculiar film documenting a pre AIDS facet of gay culture, and I steadfastly believe its an important time capsule of a very strange time and place. Watch the trailer below:


This movie is off the hook, would I lie to you? Watching that gives you a rough idea of what this film is about, but I will give you a little more in depth plot summary anyhow. A serial killer targeting gay men is prowling New York's heavy leather scene. Enter Steve Burns (Pacino), an ambitious and charismatic rookie cop who matches the appearance of all the deceased making him a shoe in to lure the killer in an undercover operation. Offered a straight promotion to Detective once the assignment is complete, he jumps on board. The assignment leads him on a spiral of discovery into a strange and seedy world of cruising and bars where any fetish imaginable is played out in front of your eyes. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that Steve Burns is diving into a world that he begins to find more and more appealing...

During a conversation with his girlfriend (played very well by Karen Allen) about his new job hints are given that Burns might be a closeted homosexual. This makes his leather bar journey more interesting for me as he goes from being a nice "average" guy with a girlfriend into the most extreme scene of gay underground culture possible and simply can't contain himself any longer. While this film is today considered an important document to a time where AIDS was just about to become a horrific epidemic, it was not always held to such esteem by people. The modern gay rights movement was finally gaining steam around the time this film was being produced, and there were many in the movement who tried to routinely sabotage the production any time filming was in progress. Everything from picketing to standing on top of building with mirrors and reflecting light into shots to fuck them up were a regular occurrence. See the documentary on the DVD for more info on this portion of the film's history, its pretty interesting stuff.

This is one of those movies everybody knows about or heard about somewhere along the way but has never seen. I'm really glad this finally got a DVD release as the VHS was long gone and its presented here in widescreen format (not sure if any of the old laserdisc releases were widescreen, chime in if you know, or don't as nobody really comments on here anyway) along with a feature length commentary by director Friedkin giving various (and sometimes hilarious) insights into the production of the film.

One thing I cannot comment on is how this film differs from the novel of the same title (authored by Gerald Walker in 1970) on which this film is reportedly rather loosely based. Highlights of the film include the fact that all of the leather bar sequences were filmed in REAL leather bars with REAL leather bar patrons, a very early cameo by Powers Boothe, the film debut of Ed O'Neil (better known to us as Al Bundy from the tv series Married With Children), an unusual appearance of a song by LA punk band The Germs playing outside of a jerk off booth right before one of the murder sequences, and the fact that this is a movie that Al Pacino REFUSES to speak about whatsoever which is too bad because its one of his better movies I think. All that and a little Joe Spinell mixed in for good measure.

Oh yeah, and this scene:


WHO IS THAT GUY!?!


WARNING: A DISCUSSION INVOLVING A PLOT SPOILER IS ABOUT TO TAKE PLACE BELOW, SO SKIP TO THE BIT WHERE IT SAYS IT IS SAFE IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE.

One thing the plot is never quite clear on is whether or not the dude Al Pacino subdues is in fact the wanted man. If one simply follows the plot as is then yes, however with repeated viewings this unravels somewhat. How is this so you ask? I will try explain as best I can. If you look closely you will notice that the killer is played by a different person every time. Sure they have the same voice, same murder weapon, and of course the same outfit, but let me break it down to you: The voice doesn't matter so much. It could be anyone's voice. The murder weapon was a steak knife from practically any restaurant in New York City, and they all had the same outfit. What does that all add up to? The leather scene depicted in the film is a scene that is all about anonymity. One leather daddy looks much like another in a sea of motorcycle jackets and blue jeans. The so called "gay clone" look is in full swing in the cruising circuit at the time and who's to say who really murdered who? Political pressure forced an arrest at any cost so in actuality the cops grabbed the first man they caught with evidence and pinned all the other killings on him while who the hell knows how many random psychos were still killing in the scene. See what I'm getting at?



OKAY DISCUSSION OVER, BELOW IS THE SAFE AND SPOILER FREE ZONE I SO DUTIFULLY PROMISED YOU.





There now that wasn't so bad now was it? No I thought not. Cruising is a strange and dark cop thriller when it all comes down to it. Its one of Friedkin's stranger film outings before he started making super 80's cheese. Some of you won't like it at all, some of you will think its okay, and some of you will think its great. That's all I can really say about it. Now because I love you all so very very much, I have added a special treat to this post: THE SOUNDTRACK! I hope to convert other vinyl only soundtrack tidbits for you in the future so have no fear. It was released in 1980 by Lorimar Records but only featured 10 tracks. This one features a wallopping 16, which include the other five songs The Germs recorded for the film (of which only the song Lions Share was used out of the six) and a suite of Jack Nizsche's film score lifted off the movie itself as none of it was included on the lp. The track order is completely wrong despite my best efforts to correct it which really pisses me off, but this ost is not awfully common and if you really want the proper running order that bad you can do it yourself. Oh, and whoever made this file decided to put dialogue samples before many of the tracks, these are not present on my original lp copy but you're getting it free so who cares. Enjoy yourself by clicking here

Monday, July 18, 2011

Payday


Here is a true underrated 70's sleeper hit if there ever was one. Everything I am about to say about it could simply be put in two words: SEE IT. Unless of course you are one of the following:
                                                                   
                                    A) Boring
                                    B) Don't like road movies
                                    C) All of the above

Its the only film I have seen that I can think of that has Rip Torn in a STARRING role and not a schlocky supporting character instead. Its not (overly) comedic either (sure he's hilarious, but he's more versatile that that folks) which shows the true range of his acting ability. Oh, and Shel Silverstein wrote the lyrics for some of the songs in the movie too! Watch the trailer, but ignore the note before it that says something about a bad trip down memory lane because the douche bag who uploaded it obviously never bothered to watch it or would have picked choice C on my anti road movie lover test:


Yes! See what you're in for!? What this trailer does not touch on is how Rip Torn's character Maury Dan is an alcoholic and a drug addict and frankly a fucking asshole. He uses abuses and throws away anyone who is either no longer useful to him or is useful to get him out of a scrape with the cops. What a piece of shit! This is what I love about road movies, living on the road the way he does (and any main character in a road movie for that matter) requires a very strange/disconnected/or seedy person. It also means there's obviously quite a of driving which means questionable things happening in the confines of an automobile (usually while its still driving).

Basically this film shows us the tail end and ultimate decline of Maury Dan's rather pitiful career. It all takes place over a span of three days and if you stop to think about it you realize that this characters life has been this way probably since the beginning. He's constantly driving from one gig to the next in search of a pay out that will keep him going just one more day. His shortsightedness and desperation is beyond tragic but he has been going on a downward spiral for too long to ever escape the event horizon and he knows it- and you the viewer know it too. There is no pretty sugar coating here, no fairy tale ending. You are seeing the man smolder from the opening until he bursts into flames by the time the credits roll. Just look at how he dumps his girlfriend:


Yikes! If that isn't cold blooded as hell I don't know what is. So I don't run the risk of giving the whole movie away in a fit of enthusiasm lets talk about the box art. The Thorn EMI version I used for this review has the best cover art for this release. If a bottle of whiskey, a guitar, a bunch of pills and piles of money don't sum the movie up to a tee then I will eat my shoe. The 1999 vhs and later dvd release is markedly inferior. Have a look/see:


See what I mean? Even the tag line is off (The Thorne EMI tape on the other hand has the proper theatrical release tagline intact!). There is no sign of Maury Dan being a mad man like the dvd cover says. From what I can tell he's just a boozer/junkie/alcoholic/womanizing/loser. But no matter what the cover looks like, the contents are pure cinematic gold make no mistake about that dear readers. This is a good case study for the lack of imagination that often accompanies dvd case artwork when compared to older vhs releases don't you agree? If you're half as smart and film savvy as I think all of you are you'll seek this one out post haste.

How did I come across such a diamond in the rough you ask? I found out about it because my older brother found it on DVD at a Big Lots and immediately told me I needed to see it. Considering we're basically the same person with five and a half years difference between us I knew I would like it no questions asked. When I see a film this good, I can only liken it to the difference between playing checkers and Russian roulette. I'm not going to explain what that means as those already in the know will find its meanings obvious if you are in tune with my way of thinking. Now that you are armed with the scant information you require, do yourself a favor and take in this mostly (and unfortunately) forgotten masterpiece.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Girly (aka Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, and Girly)


This movie is a bizzarre anomaly. If you're the type of person who hates English accents and/or figures of speech you will probably want to skip this one as you'll prove yourself an absolute nonce in the end. My initial viewing didn't grab me very much to be perfectly honest, and it had to simmer for a while in the recesses of the brain before I decided to watch it again. The satire is oppressive, thick, and dry. Once you get past that you find a disturbing film full of childish naivete laced with murder and brutality all set within the confines of a lovely English mansion's large estate. Do yourself a favor and peep the trailer for a hot couple of minutes will you:


The trailer gives you a decent idea of the almost annoying level of cutsey pootsey dialogue (even the score is grossly cute and sarcastic) this film has throughout. The basic plot revolves around the four characters named quite appropriately Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny, and the titular (and titillating) Girly. Each filling their own place in a bizarre scheme involving Girly and Sonny luring strangers into coming to stay and forcing them to play a sadistic game designed to make them the "perfect family". Of course if one fails to observe the vague and varied rules death comes swiftly and viciously.

The film starts with Sonny and Girly picking up a bum off a park bench after running about through a zoo before opening. This includes an uncomfortable incestuous/erotic bit between the two when Sonny feeds Girly a piece of candy (what the fuck!?!) which can be seen in the Spanish trailer at around the 40 second mark. Don't say I didn't try to warn you:


Finding their scheme of picking up bums nobody will miss to be lacking in the fun rich British scumbags feel they do so very much deserve, they manage to cop a man and his girlfriend (via Girly's sex appeal over the man) from a drunken party, killing the girlfriend and taking the very soused and grief stricken man now dubbed "New Friend" off to their home play the game. Little does anyone suspect but New Friend is just as manipulative of a player as them and the begins starts to slant in his favor...

Note: I condensed the plot in order to tantalize you into watching this. Netflix has it, just sayin'...

This movie also has a handy DVD release for those no longer transfixed by images and sound encoded on magnetic tape making it available to a wider audience for the first time (I'd have never seen it otherwise). Unfortunately the company who released it called it by its better known in the US title of Girly but failed to provide the full title on the front cover (I'm anal like that, but you probably realized this by now). See it below:


However when one watches the DVD it features the full British title in the same font as the rest of the credits (I find this a good thing). Here is what the British title screen looks like:


And here is how it appears on the US home video release (and assumedly theatrical runs too):


Sure the title looks okay for this one pictured above, but the rest of the titles are in the curly pink and heart emblazoned font of the British title screen. Its a very minor thing to pick at, but I think the original title screen helps invoke the overly cute but deadly atmosphere this film rests its cred on. Obviously the idea of satire mixed with horror completely escaped whoever marketed this movie in America. It of course had an all too short theatrical run in both the US and Britain and was practically all but forgotten. In 1987 Prism released this VHS of it that became just as forgotten in the rental shops so it would seem.

Films like this don't come around very often. While there is likely a reason for that (1. they are hard to make and get right 2. do we really need a glut of them?), I have come of the opinion that this film needs a bit more credit than it gets. Like I said before in this review my initial viewing left me a bit unimpressed but once I gave it a decent mental chew and saw it again it started to grow on me a little. While this movie undoubtedly won't prick some of your collective ears, maybe a handful of you lot will watch it and see what I see now.

I've read that this film is a commentary on the breakdown of the nuclear family in the late 60's amongst other things. While I'm not quite sure about that (it makes some sense, perhaps I am not yet wise/learned enough?) I am quite sure this film left me very unsettled and frankly amused in a rather cheeky way. A serious complaint I have is that there are good portions of this film that totally fucking PLOD. I could have made a sandwich for a bit and missed very little. Even a review of it from the time of its original release complained of some of it lack of pace. Sure we can't all have our cake and eat it too, but it easily could easily have been at least ten minutes shorter. Speaking of shorter, Girly (played by Vanessa Howard) wears awfully short skirts in most of the movie. Its kind of disturbing because sure she has hot legs/etcetera, but you are never really certain of how old she is supposed to be...

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Killer Elite


We love us some Sam Peckinpah. Unfortunately this one is from the waning period of his career. It features an unlikely combination of Peckinpah, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and ninjas. Yes, that's right- a Peckinpah movie with ninjas. Many of you no doubt recall ninjas being mentioned on this blog before, but this time these are real Asian ones not muscle bound 80's white guy ones.
See the trailer below:


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((UPDATE July 7th, 2011- Note that at around 00:45 of the trailer as the supporting cast is being announced, the girl kicking ninjas is listed under the name Mako. Mako is in this film but as those of you who know who he is know Mako is a man and also Japanese. The person actually shown is Vietnamese actress Tiana Alexandra.))
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Sure this film has its rough portions, but fuck it- its not terrible like his very last film The Osterman Weekend (gag me with a spoon!). Let's take a break from licking its asshole and talk about the movie and what its about a teensy bit shall we? Basically, its about James Caan and Robert Duvall's work with a company called COMTEG. They are an "independent contractor" who may or may not have a connection to a government organization know as the CIA. Duvall gets bought out by a foreign nation for a better price and not only kills the German national they were to transfer over to the CIA, but also shoots up Caan and cripples him.

Caan vows to return to duty and get revenge against his former partner, rehabilitating himself and learning martial arts. When the opportunity comes to get vengeance and the agency wants him back so he can make good on his promise, he can only say yes. This is all we will tell you about the movie, as we are sure you're familiar with rather cookie cutter espionage plots already. There's some semi interesting element involving Japanese assassins, but this also goes right in with the christmas tree shape that will be left in the dough once you move the form. Much like our review of Steele Justice some weeks back, we can't figure out why on earth we like it. If it weren't a Peckinpah movie full of macho bullshit and misogynist dialogue, we don't think we would.

Espionage movies are BORING. There's usually scenes of old dudes sitting around in offices talking about shit we as an audience don't care about because they aren't delivering information in any semblance of a compelling way and there's low level wheeling, dealing, and scheming in there too somewhere. Old people staring at each other smugly in a wood paneled office because they each know something the other doesn't does very little to catch the collective goat as it were. If it weren't for the AMAZING Peckinpah trademark slow-mo shootout at the end between guns and ninjas we probably wouldn't give a damn at all.

All of this being said, upon viewing it for what is now the fifth time at least, one cannot help but be engrossed beyond reason even though this is definitely one of his weaker efforts overall. How do you do this Sam Peckinpah? You're a real son of a bitch sometimes Sam. I guess his macho film formula is simply too much to resist... That or it was the super dude dialogue dismissing various prides and practices of Asian culture- wait maybe it was Robert Duvall's laugh in this scene:


One thing I honestly did not like was the use here and there of unnecessary voice overs to add comic relief during the first big shootout of the movie and during the climactic end fight sequence. I have quite a bit of difficulty believing this was Peckinpah's doing as it does not add anything to the proceedings and only comes across as stunted, awkward, and ultimately out of place in what is already a rather strange outing. That being said, its really anyone's guess as his alcoholism and rampant cocaine abuse (which landed him in hospital during production) severely limited his once bright genius. Despite all its drawbacks and shortcomings (not many of which are covered, I want you to see for yourself and make your own judgements) I still think its not too shabby and well worth a viewing for the Peckinpah completist.