Before I knew shit about Romero and the original Dead trilogy, there was only one sequel I knew to Night of the Living Dead, and that was Return of the Living Dead(1985). As I would come to find out further down the road, Return wasn't a real sequel as much as an homage or a piggybacking off of Romero's earlier zombie works, much like most of the Italian zombies works from the 70's and 80's. Even after hearing this news I still didn't give a fuck. Return of the Living Dead is still one of my favorite horror movies of all time, despite the camp, no matter how many horror purists chastise me for loving it.
It also has one of the best soundtracks of all time. Sure, it's not composed by Goblin and Morricone, but there aren't that many OST's out there that have such a great line-up of 80's "punk" royalty. The Cramps. TSOL. 45 Grave. Throw in some goth/death rock and a little weirdness from Roky Erickson and your good to go. You can't deny this is classic shit. And thanks to the power of Youtube, I am able to provide you, the general public, with the kick ass soundtrack to drown out an hour of work day sorrows.
(Bear with me.I'm trying to put this in the correct order as seen on the OST but I'm getting different listings from different sources)
1. Take a Walk - Tall Boys
2. Dead Beat Dance - The Damned
3. Burn the Flames - Roky Erickson(for some reason, Youtube doesn't have this song in it's entirety, dammit!!)
It's not very often I hear about action movies featuring Korea's national art, Taekwondo, especially in this day and age. I know they are out there, but considering the Asian action cinema world has been dickhard over Thailand and Malaysia, it's not suprising they slip under my radar. Well The Kick(2011) didn't, and with good reason. It's made and Thailand and directed by Ong Bak's Prachya Pinkaew, so technically Korea still isn't getting their day in the martial arts sun. Fuck it, they still have the horror market.
As far as I can tell, The Kick plays out out something like a Taekwondo Family Robinson. A family of Taekwondo experts moves to Bangkok for..um....bluer skies in hopes of setting up a gym. Some kind of treasured piece of art is stolen and it's up to "Robinsons" to solve the mystery and kick ass along the way. Exactly what I would expect from a Pinkaew film, just like the plot lines of his previous works. Seriously though, I don't usually watch martial arts films for storylines and plot devices any more than anybody else does. I watch them for the ass kicking and stunt work, something Pinkaew does well. And from what this trailer tells me, he is doing again.
Sunnyside, Queens is one of the few NYC neighborhoods, outside of Brooklyn, I would probably live in. That is, of course, if I wasn't financially strapped to Bushwick for FSM knows how long. Unlike most of the fauxhemian Brooklyn snobs, like myself, who make up a great portion of the outlander population flooding northern BK, I have no qualms with living outside of the cool zone. My girl's sister lives there, so I have a plenty of time to explore the nabe on my own. It has so many more amenities than Bushwick for one, the melting pot is so large that the local cuisine is so much more diversified than any hood in Hipsterville. Cheaper rents, safety, yada-yada...I could probably go on for quite some time. Truth be told, if I'm not staying in Bushwick or moving out to the Northwest in the next year, I'll probably end up in Sunnyside.
Sunnyside(1979) also happens to be the name, as well as the setting, of the 70's street gang movie I watched this morning, starring one Joey Stallone. Stallone plays Nicky, leader of the Nightcrawlers, one of three of the biggest gangs in Sunnyside. Unlike the other gangs, Nick's boys are more community organizers than career criminal. Sure they involve themselves in illegal activity, but nobody seems to get hurt but rival gangs. Nick happens to get fed up with the carny folk coming into his hood and ripping off the community so he plans on robbing them blind to teach a lesson. Unfortunately, the Nightcrawlers can't do it on their own, so they arrange a summit with the 2 other rival gangs to discuss a large group activity. Three rival gangs working together, what can possibly go wrong? Well, Nicky's bright idea ends up killing three, two being leadership of an opposing gang, all thanks to our friendly neighborhood, coked-out sociopath, Eddie Reaper. Now that Sunnyside is down a street gang, Reaper wants to make sure he can eliminate all the competition, especially the Nightcrawlers.
New York City is probably my favorite setting for genre films from 70's, bar none. There is just something about the grittiness of both the backdrop and the characters that you will find in no other city setting during this era of American film. I know it's been said time and time again, but NYC circa 70's is just a backdrop, it's actually a character. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten the same kick out of Sunnyside if it was filmed in LA or Detroit. There is just something about the Best City in the World that automatically adds points to any film I watch, an example being Joe's Apartment(pure garbage).
It was also nice to see that the movie was actually filmed on location in Sunnyside and not in Jersey City or Brooklyn(see Bronx Warrior). There is just something about seeing that Greenpoint Avenue sign that got me excited. Being a 32 year old movie, the street signs were the most recognizable things. If I ever watch it again, I will be sure that it's with someone who actually grew up in the area so I can get a better idea of the filming locations.
As I said before, I probably wouldn't have liked this film as much if NYC wasn't the setting. It wasn't a bad movie per se, but you can tell that this was a start out role for most of the actors. It was also a bit too serious for my taste. I like my street gang movies to be quite a bit less believable, Like the Warriors or Class of 1984. The trashier and more ridiculous the better.
For those of you who love 70's films set in NYC, or are actually born and raised in the Big Apple, this is something you might want to check out. For those of you who know nothing of the gritty character of 70's New York, you're probably not going to enjoy it as much.
Over the years my tolerance for low-budget indie horror has risen to epic proportions. There used to be a time when even newer Troma releases bugged the shit out of me. But over time, I have become a heluva lot more excepting of the new kids on the block working with a video camera. It probably has something to do with working programming on film festival a couple years back. Since then, I have actually had the desire to see amateur films, no matter how low the budget.
VS(2011) makes it's big screen debut October 26th at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival . If you take the time to watch the trailer, you can see what I mean by part Saw/Part Kick Ass, but that's the first impression I got. I have made it known time-and-time again about how much I'm not a fan of the Saw films, but I also grew up a rabid collector of all things X-Men. So all you have to do is throw the protagonists in some capes and tights and I'm good to go. Wait....the didn't sound so good.
Besides that, the Director, Jason Trost, wears an eye patch and developed his own martial art. That information alone is enough for me to want to see every movie he's ever made, no matter how low the budget.
Soccer season. Though I am a new found fan of the world's most popular sport, having discovered my love during the 2010 World Cup, coupled with Fall it makes for the most perfect of moods. It has also given me the excuse to ignore my movie-watching process, and a piss-poor excuse at that. Years before I was a fan of the sport, I found myself drawn to some of the folklore surrounding it. By this I speak of Football Hooliganism, an area of interest I've had for a long time stemming from my obsession with British subcultures of the past. It's not behavior I support, mind you, but the Ultra subculture behind The English Disease is something I have always found somewhat fascinating. It's because of this that I've taken come to enjoy such films Green Street Hooligans and I.D. in the past, and as of this morning, The Firm(1989), starring one Gary Oldman.
Oldman plays the slightly yuppy-ish Bix Bissell, real estate agent by day, mustached gang leader by night. Bix and his crew, Inter City Crew, are rabid supporters of West Ham United, one of London's most popular Football Clubs who's real-life supporters happen to be notorious. The England National Team is about to head to mainland Europe for the European Championship, and Bix has big plans of leading a team of hooligans comprised of several other firms. Unfortunately, the other firm bigwigs aren't fond of this idea unless the ICC can beat the other gangs fair and square the only way they know how..through sheer brutality. Just how far is Bix willing to go to lead his envisioned super crew in Europe?
At a very short 67 minutes, it's no surprise that The Firm is a made-for-tv movie. What is surprising though, is how much of a full- length event the director was able to fit into a little over an hour. I'm guessing it had a lot do do with the quality of the actors present, something most of the movies I review don't really have. Even though most of the actors, with the exception of Oldman are no-names in the USA, there is definitely something to be said for the quality you get on the BBC.
I can honestly say I was expecting more a gang of skinheads than one of ultra-violent yuppies before I started this movie, knowing both the history of the director and similar roles Oldman had played during this time period. It was a pleasant surprise though that was tied up in a 10-second news blurb while the gang were watching the telly, a scene I'm sure was purposely thrown in the mix because I probably wasn't the only one thinking these thoughts. Again my obsession with British subculture getting ahead of me. It makes sense though, seeing as the hooligan movement starting taking a more "casual" approach to dress in 70's to avoid altercations with the authorities.
Thanks to The Firm, I will be spending the next couple of days, or weeks even, indulging my obsessions with all things football and skinhead related, so don't be surprised if the next couple of reviews are related. At that, if you're able to procure a copy of the Firm, covet it, because it will in no way be a wasted expense.
Not wanting to cut this short, but I've got a 2:00 Shamrock Rovers match to watch.
Since Futbol(one of many pretentious ways of saying soccer)and primetime season are both in full effect, I haven't really spent much time watching movies over the last couple of weeks. Trust me, it will pass once the new TV shows get weeded out and/or I get bored with re-workings of old favorites, So it shouldn't be very much longer before I'm back in the swing of reviewing trashy movies once again.
Since I still want contribute something to my recently neglected trash cinema blog, I'm going to leave this entry with the just-released trailer of Tsui Hark's epic wuxia The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate(2011) starring Jet Li. Scheduled for a Winter release in China, word on the streets is that Flying Swords is going to be given the 3-D treatment. Typically I could give to shit about modern cinema's most overused technology, but this guy loves him some wire-fu and Chinese fantasy, which can only be made better with the use of 3-D tech. Since IMDB isn't really telling me much of what the film is about, I'm going to have to revisit in a couple of weeks. Until then, feast your eyes on the action-porn.
Yay!! Fall is finally here!!! After NYC's record breaking sweatbox of a Summer, I can finally get back to feeling comfortable in my own skin....and blog on a more regular basis. Case in point, the fact that I've only committed to 10 or less entries a month since the weather started getting warm. It's not like I didn't hermit myself inside for most of the summer, because I did. I think it's just the psychology of the situation. Still though, I've managed to almost triple my outcome of blog entries than any previous year, so I'm not that big of a slack ass. Now that Fall is here, I think it is officially time for me to concentrate on the importance of cinema blog maintenance....and watching soccer! Lots and lots of soccer!
I'm not ashamed to admit that I watch the Youtube sensation Epic Meal Time, although I probably should be. In fact, I watch it pretty religiously when the new episodes are released every Tuesday. Yeah, I know that hype has died down over the last year since the blew up the internet with horrible eating habits and obscene cooking practices, but the shit still makes me laugh. I'm also the type of guy that will watch the same episodes of the Office and How I Met Your Mother over and over again, so it's no surprise.
This weeks episode deals with the preparation and gourging of one's self on what I'm guessing is beef brains, so it's no surprise that those Gluttonous Ballers from Montreal would step it up with a zombie episode. I know what your thinking. "Urghh...zombies." I've ranted time and time again about how sick I am of zombies so I'll spare the page another paragraph of bitchery. You guys know how I feel, because you probably feel the same way. But when the I see EMT crew in full make-up(a decent job I might add) eating cow brains in huge portions, I don't get pissed off about it. I think it had something to do with the gurgles and clicks....but the eating of cows brains more importantly. The guys at Epic Meal Time usually play pretty safely with what food items they play with, so it was nice to see them step out of the safe meat bubble and work with organ meat. Especially brains.
And as I said, the make-up job is actually pretty good.
I've been on a small Diane Franklin kick as of late. Who is this Franklin girl you ask? All it takes is two words and you will know who I'm talking about..International Language. If you guessed "cute French girl from Better Off Dead, the greatest comedy ever made" then you guess correct, my friend. This was the girl that was the archetype for my vision of feminine perfection when I was a teenager, and probably still exists somewhere in the complex mind of Steve the Adult to this day. She was a bit of a teenage crush, but it wasn't the actress herself as much as the character she portrsyed. If it were the other way, I would probably hold Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure to the same light as Better Off Dead.
So after seeing The Last American Virgin a couple weeks back, I spent a little time perusing Franklin's IMDB entry and discovered the entry for Terrorvision(1986). Seeing that it was executive produced by one Charles Band, I knew it was something I had to see. Ten minutes into the film and it was an instant favorite, or at least somewhere in the top 100 or 200(I watch a lot of movies).
The Planet Pluton dispenses it's garbage much like scientists have been telling us we should do it for years..by shooting it as far into space as possible. Much like humans, the "Plutonians" believe if you can't see it, it must not exist anymore. As an advanced species, the Plutonians just don't launch garbage piles into space via rockets. Instead, garbage matter is converted into energy and shot into that deepest and darkest depths of the Final Frontier. Unfortunately, one such "garbage beam" headed towards Earth ends up bouncing off a couple of satellites, causing the trash beam to be directed into the home of the Puttermans. Unfortunetly, one Plutonian's trash is not necessarily another man's treasure, unless you consider a man-eating, mutant space fido your idea of gold doubloons.
Sounds pretty awesome so far, doesn't it? I don't really think the summary I gave will really do it as much justice as Terrorvision is deserved because the characters are what really make this cheese factory of a flick shine.
Stanley and Raquel Putterman - The parental units. Not exactly Ozzie and Harriet, but it'd the 80's so it's totally okay for a middle-aged yuppie couple to openly swing in front of there kids and hang x-rated bondage art all over the common areas of the house.
Grampa - a veteran survivalist who has a dream of one day marketing lizard tails as a renewal food resource.
Sherman Putterman - When is the last time you say a 10 year old kid who looked natural carrying an automatic weapon?
Suzy Putterman - Played by Franklin herself. The oldest child and a punk rock princess, she has a taste for metalheads and the brains of a piece of plywood.
O.D. - Suzy's boyfriend. Doesn't have much going in the brains department, but he rocks a WASP tee and studded leather gauntlets. By far, the best character in the film.
Throw in horribly written dialogue, PG-13 comedy, R-rated gore, and a decently designed puppet mutt and you have yourself a keeper. Did I mention that Charles Band was not only the executive producer, but he also wrote the music? What can't that fuckin' guy do?!?
Unless you a fan of other 80's horror/comedy classics like House and Critters, you might not get as much of a kick out of Terrorvision as I did. It is definitely more for the Killer Klowns crowd than the slasher and gore purists out there. I would never try to sell Terrorvision to my horror aficionado roommate for fear of a straight 90 minutes of whining. But if you're more Freddie Kreuger than Michael Myers, this could be right up your alley.
What's a small, University's Cheering Squad to do when the school's top football players are planning on switching to an opposing college in the next semester? According to Cheerleaders Beach Party(1978), the best plan of action is to follow the boys to their summer retreat and screw up there plans. Better yet, just "screw" their plans, literally.
And that's really all there is to this film as far as a plot is concerned. Throw in a couple of boob shots, bad acting, and jokes written by a 5th grader and you have Cheerleaders Beach Party. When I say bad acting I don't mean the standards which a great deal of the cheesy movies I write about follow. I'm talking You-Will-Never-Work-In-This-Town-Again level of acting skills, or lack there of. I'm serious. If you check out the IMDB entry you'll see that many of the actors only ever acted in this film and the director's previous cinematic masterpiece Cherry Hill. If this is his sophomore film I'm kind of scared to watch Cherry Hill for fear I might never want to watch a movie again, but I'll probably do it anyway.
Beach Party might have been extremely difficult to watch, but the film did have a couple of good qualities besides top naked girls every 10 or 15 minutes, which wasn't even that gratifying. Topless shots in this movie make films like Porky's and Meatballs look like hardcore pornography. Get what I'm saying?
I would have to say the best part of this movie were a couple of one-liners. Even though they were written to appeal to the comedic sensibility of an 11 year old, there were a couple of lines that made the eternal child in me chuckle just a bit.
"As much fun as an autopsy." - This one didn't make me chuckle over the humor but more over the sheer stupidity of the line.
"Humpum for wumpum" - Best line of the entire film. Seriously it is.
There were a few more, but I really didn't have the enough of a will to actually write them down, so two is all you get. That's all, folks. I could probably write a couple more paragraphs about such inane topics as "Why are they wearing cheering uniforms all the time" or " how does a person have sex without removing the pants" but Beach Party is not even worth the number of words I've already put into it. it was that much of a piece of shit. Do I regret watching it? Not really. Will you regret it if after reading this review? Probably. Don't say I didn't warn you.
This shitbox doesn't even have an available trailer. Boo Hoo!!!
I have been praising the Midnite selections over at Williamsburg's Spectacle Theater for months now. Who ever is doing the programming over there obviously knows what the fuck is up, and there is usually something good going on at least once a week for fans of cult trash. Even though budget and social restrictions typically prevent me from going, there have several movies on their roster that I had never heard of but made it a point to seek out. The Death Wheelers(1973) was one of these films I knew I had to see even if I couldn't make the screening. Biker Gangs, Devil Worship and the Living Dead all rolled into one little British package. What more could a man want?
After months of having a copy, I was finally able to sit down and watch it with friends and loved ones. Movies like this I like sharing with the Girlfriend. It also helped that we had a guest and there is currently nothing available on primetime for the next couple of weeks, so the evening's entertainment totally ended up in my favor.
And it was completely worth it.
Granted, it didn't go exactly as described. There was a biker gang, The Living Dead, and they aren't the friendliest bunch. Antisocial is a bit tame of a word to describe their actions. The Devil Worship wasn't really "worship" per se. It was more of a "Deal with the Devil", or a "Deal with the Toad Demon". That's right, I said Toad Demon. In fact, in Death Wheelers toads are the reason for the season. How very odd, but I know I've seen stranger storylines in movies from the 70's.
Then we get to The Living Dead. To most people, "living dead" refers to mindless, rotting husks of humanity who sustain themselves on the brains of the living. Not so much here. To be "living dead" in the Death Wheelers pretty means having all the benefits of higher undead, like a vampire, but without many of the drawbacks (I think there is something bad with crucifixes). To become the "living dead" all one must do is want to die to live. Sounds confusing, doesn't it? Well I can't give everything away.
I had fun watching this film, although there were a couple lowpoints. Namely, the lack of gore. I'm assuming it had more to do with British censors than artistic direction, but I could have used more blood and guts. It also felt slow at parts, which could have been considered a good set-up for all the road action, which I thought was nicely filmed and proper. I was also a huge fan of the music, from the cheesy little acoustic numbers to the psych/mod/soul rock that made up most of the background even if it was pretty repetitive.
If you like Hammer Horror with a higher budget and JD/biker movies, you would probably get a kick out of the Death Wheelers. Even if you don't, but are still a horror and action fan, it's still worth at least one watch.
Coming of Age film or softcore pornography? To me, there is a definitive line, if not several levels separating the two genres. Coming Of Age films tackle topics of entering early adulthood. Topics like first kiss, first love, breaking out of ones shell, and all that other being a teenager happy horseshit are the standard subject matter. You might see the occasional booby shot or bathroom shower scene, but the nudity and sexual innuendo are typically pretty tame. Coming of Age movies are more driven by character development.
Softcore films, on the other hand, are less about the characters and more about the display of sexuality. Sure, many of these European films were character and/or story driven, but they had to be because hardcore sex on film wasn't yet socially acceptable throughout Europe(except possibly Sweden). I've also found that many of the 70's softies were directed and filmed with artistic vision. Focusing less on the sheer rawness of sexuality and more on the beauty of the female creature.
Strangely, to some, the two genres can be one in the same. Mixing both the drama of being a teenager and overdone sexuality, Bilitis(1977) is proof of this. Bilitis is the story of a young schoolgirl who has never known the kiss of a boy, but frequently fools around with her female classmate. In fact, it seems as if the whole private school she attends does. Not only do they all go on group skinny-dipping adventures, but they have teacher monitoring their activity. Kinda creepy and weird. Anyhoo, it's the end of the school year and Bili is spending her summer with a an unknown guardian who happens to be a family friend I'm guessing. Bili's guardian happens to be married to a scumbag, who happens to forcibly take his wife whenever he's not cheating on her. Bili, being the sensitive type, develops a deep hatred for the man, at the same time lusting after her much older "guardian". Things start to get a bit strange when scumbag takes a trip with his mistress, Leaving Bilitis a chance to act on her growing impulses.
I would like to pass the creepiness that is Bilitis off as just a "French" thing and me being 'Merican I couldn't possibly understand, but it's not that at all. David Hamilton, the director, although sought out as a visionary photographer, is well known for being quite a bit of a creep. If you check out the links at the top, you'll see what I mean. He may be an artist, but all his films have to do with teenagers and sex, and not like Porky's or American Pie. He really has a thing for schoolgirls between the ages of 14 and 16, who happen to have the hormonal drives of a sexual predator. I don't care how innovative the guy was by smearing vaseline on a camera lens, He obviously had some issues with attraction that aren't necessarily natural by modern standards, especially mine.
I'll admit that the photography was spot on and artistically pleasing as it was intended, although I wouldn't ever describe it as "visionary" or "cutting edge". The two lead actresses were also very nice on the eyes, and thankfully of age as actresses, so I was not offended by watching the two of them nakedly embrace and kiss each other. I am a straight man, after all. Other than a couple of beautiful filmed vanilla sex scenes and the creepiness of the direction, Bilitis had very little else to offer besides boredom, and lots of it. I won't be watching this again, or probably any other Hamilton production for that matter. Just plain creepy!!!!
It's been a long time since I've covered Mexican cinema. Specifically the broke-ass, Universal monster rip-offs that were prevalent during the 50's and 60's. Sure, I would rather watch a luchador movie, anytime and anywhere, but sitting down with microbudget monster movies is always worth the 90 minutes or less out of my day.
Today, I took some afternoon time to watch The Rider of the Skulls(1965), a film that not only has c-grade rip-off monsters, but also incorporates Mexican cinemas favorite element, A masked hero. Unlike Zorro, El Charro de las Calaveras wears a mask that is more akin to a burka and chooses to use his "fight" for justice to fight supernatural creatures instead of banditos. I know now the real scourge of the Mexican countryside are plaid-wearing werewolves. The movie brings us through three distinct stories that easily could have been the pilot episodes for a television show, albeit a really bad one. The werewolf I previously mentioned, Charro also ends up going head to head with a vampire and a headless horsemen. Throw in a crazy witch and a prophesizing zombie for good measure, and there you have it, a classic Mesoamerican western.
Does it sound ridiculous enough for you yet? If not, let me telll you about Charro's rather unorthodox approach to fighting beasties. In most movies, we see monster hunters use the conventional weapons such as silver bullets and wooden stakes. Not Charro, nosiree!! Charro carries a gun, and a machete as well, sometimes using them. But his preferred means of eliminating the forces of evil is punching the shit outta them,with the occasional judo throw tossed in. Who fucking knew that would work? Let's add in that he keeps the company of an alcoholic retard and two young, orphan boys and the weirdness just hits astronomical proportions.
Despite the really, really bad special effects and completely ridiculous storyline, I found myself loving this film. Partly for the very reasons I just mentioned. Okay..it's for most of it. Charro is nonstop laughs and something that should never be contained. Show it at parties, bars, wedding funerals, it is good for all occassions and everyone should see it.
For those of us fans of the Giallo, there are certain elements that we expect in the pre-slasher italian classics, no matter whether the movie is good or bad. In fact, those of us that are fans of the Giallo genre usually don't care whether it's good or not, we will typically watch it regardless. While there are many gialli that are considered by cinematic and horror classics, for every good one you can count are there being at least three bad. But even if the film is considered a masterpiece by fans of the genre, there are still going to be many out there who consider it pure garbage. So goes the plight of the genre-film nerd, as is the rule for all of nerdom.
Eyeball(1975) is not a giallo I would consider a genre masterpiece. In fact, if you read through the comments section of IMDB, you'll find that many people don't consider it as such. As a giallo fan, I don't really give two fucks what people had to say about it, I enjoyed watching it. It had everything I expect out of the giallo genre, and then some.
Premise....A busload of "American" tourists land in Madrid for a group tour. Little do they know is that there is a killer among them. Almost upon arrival, buddies start stacking up wherever the bus lands, turning everybody into a supsect. Not only are the murders quick and brutal, but the victims are all found with there left eye removed in the most hideous fashion.
As with most gialli, most of the main characters are considered suspects at one point or another. Obviously. It is of course, a step above your typical murder mystery, but it is still a "whodunit". Unlike the stereotypical black leather gloves and trenchcoat, our killer wears red gloves with a red plastic raincoat, and not a slicker either. I'm talking about the throwaway types that are given to bus ride tourists in NYC when the weather is shitty. Such a cheap and gawdy disguise really adds to the comedic element of the movie, even if it wasn't the directors intention. But this is a Lenzi film, and those of us familiar with his works also know this type of unplanned comedy appears often. I also found the attempt to make the actual murders seem believable also added to the unintentional comedy. I've seen off-off Broadway scenes that have more believable murder scenes. The gore was there, but the speed at which the dagger was coming toward the victim could have been escaped by a person in a wheelchair.
As with many giallo's, some of the old standards were present. We got a fairly healthy dose of lesbianism, jazzy music, and even a discotheque scene. I don't know what it was that made Italian directors in the 70's obsessed with girl-on-girl action, but it's a pretty prevalent theme... and it sell movies to a mostly male audience. I just answered my own question.
Despite Eyeball not being one of the best of the genre, I really enjoyed the film. Lenzi might not be the best writer, but he definitely has mad skills with the camera, as well as knowing how to film in some excellent locations. Not only did Eyeball provide me with 90 minutes of non-stop thrills and laughs, but it also made me add Madrid to my destination map of places I'm going to eventually see in Europe if I'm ever able to save up money to do so.
For those of you who were eagerly awaiting my NYC happenings last week, I'm sorry to disappoint. I spent the weekend in New England with friends and family. Yes, there are actaully things in life that come before Grindhouse cinema. Thankfully, Spectacle has so much shit going on this weekend, and can't be contained in one blog entry.
I should really try to write this sooner, because tonight kicks down the door to the weekend with Dr. Caligari(1989), an 80's adaption to the classic silent horror from almost a century ago.
Spectacle says -"Meet the surrealistic psychiatrist with the camp couch. She's totally twisted and continuing the mind bending experiments of her grandfather, the original Dr. Caligari. She treats her patients like human lab rats as she swaps their psychoses with cross cranial conulations. Witness the sexual fantasies of a lovely, lust-crazed Dr. Caligari -- an eroto-maniac! You'll be shocked by her high voltage therapy for a 'juiced-up' cannibal. Sigmund Freud is turning somersaults in his mausoleum over this doctor's demented diagnosis. Fall victim to the captivating Dr. Caligari! "I can't possibly make it sound as good as it is by describing it. I'm afraid I must demand that you see this for yourself with your analyst! Dr. Caligari is the biggest explosion of eclectic erotica in years, and it can sizzle your brain!"
IMDB says -"Two cannibals/health food diner owners are on a wacky quest to restore life to the five million year old goddess Shitaar. Aided by their uncle's brain and penis, the two set about getting the required parts - virgins, assorted body parts from whores, and the ingredients for a "blood buffet". Their adversaries are the police: the chief with a Russian accent, the "player" detective, and the new Yorker with an Australian accent."
On Saturday, August 13th, we get the cherry on top of the cheese-flavored cake, because Spectacle is showing THE crowning achievement in Turkish cinema, The Man Who Saves the World, known affectionately worldwide as Turkish Star Wars(1982). A film of my own heart, I reviewed this film years ago when I first started this blog (review here). This is the film that was made for people who read this blog. People erect monuments and devote websites to it's greatness. If you have not seen it this is the weekend to finally feel what it's like to be touched by God aka Turkish action hero, Cüneyt Arkin.
Spectacle says -"
Presenting the no-budget, schlocky, shamelessly poor and shockingly inept sci-fi curio Turkish Star Wars (aka Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam/ dir. Çetin Inanç/ 1982/ 91min) a hilarious and gloriously bad movie for the ages that borrows liberally from LucasFilm (pirated effects shots from “A New Hope” and, oddly, John Williams’ theme from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” repeated over and over) and barely bothers to make the slightest bit of sense.
"The film follows the adventures of Murat and Ali, whose spaceships crash on a desert planet following a battle, depicted by using footage from SW as well as Soviet and American space program newsreel clips. While hiking across the desert, they speculate that the planet is inhabited only by women. Murat does his "wolf whistle", which he uses on attractive women. However, he blows the wrong whistle and they are attacked by skeletons on horseback, which they defeat in hand-to-hand combat. The villain soon shows up and captures the heroes, bringing them to his gladiatorial arena so they can fight. The villain tells them he is actually from Earth and is in a 1,000 year old wizard. He tried to defeat Earth, but was always repelled by a shield of concentrated human brain molecules, which looks a lot like the Death Star..."
Check link below: Film Threat on the peculiar Turkish tradition of appropriating Hollywood blockbusters and “remaking them on a budget roughly equivalent to the price of lunch at a neighborhood kebab shop.” (contains spoilers.) After the screening we’ll drink and discuss which was more uncalled for: this lunacy or Lucas' ill-advised prequels."
Spectacle 124 S. 3rd St., (at Bedford Ave.)Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Out of all the sub-genres of sexploitation, Nudie-Cuties are one that I'm pretty unfamiliar with. I am well aware that access to titles is not very hard, a great deal have been available through the Something Weird catalog for decades at this point. The couple that I have seen I just haven't found all that interesting. "Yay, topless women running around to go-go music! How exciting!"....Not really. Not that I'm some kind of pervert, because I'm not(too much). I find these films quite boring and hardly sexy, but being a grindhouse guy I feel it is my duty to screen and review as many of them as I can, no matter how uninterested I am.
Suburban Pagans(1968) was a bit different than most of the few Nudie-Cuties I've laid my eyes upon. Keep in mind that I was still bored. Not as bored as I have been, but still felt an hour and 15 minutes was a bit excruciating. Unlike other early titflicks, Suburban Pagans didn't take place at a nudist camp. In fact, like many mondo films, Suburban Pagans is presented to be something of a "faux-documentary". The film starts of with a radio show host interviewing a Detective on the Los Angeles Police force who has spent a considerable amount of time investigating the "swingers" movement, which was apparently against the law at the time this film was made. Between short sections of "interview", we get to see different aspects of what is supposed to be the happenings of a secret "key Party" between a group of "immoral" adults.
Besides the key party motif, many of the subjects of a typical pornographic/sexploitation movie are touched upon. Not only does the viewer get to see wife swapping, but there are also elements that make or break even modern fuck flicks. Threesomes, orgies, lesbianism, and strip poker are all prevalent themes throughout the film.The major difference is there is nothing really boner-inducing, or even sexy with this film. So much ,in fact, it was actually quite laughable. Nudity was all topless, with the exception of a few ass shots and a split second of bush in the shower scene. That must have driven the censors crazy. I've watched plent y of softcore in my time, and I know that there are definitively ways to make a film such as this sexy. Intimate, soft contact for one. Most of the scenes in this movie consisted a spasmatic kissing of every inch of the body, with the exception of the sexy parts. The few times there was actual making out. The actors looked like a bunch of eleventeen year old meth-heads. It was all so crazily erratic, that a person couldn't help but chuckle throughout the film. But it wasn't really a fun type of chuckling. The only way I can actually see it being fun is if I were stoned, which I wasn't.
I don't want to go into the overdubbing, but I really have to, Not only do we here all the sounds of the sex party softly though out the film while "sexy" jazz is playing in the background. But the genius director also thought it would be a good idea to loudly overdub dialogue. There was no need for dubbed dialogue and grunts. In fact, it only made the flick that much more ridiculous because it didn't even come close to syncing up with mouth movement, kind of like a kung-fu flick. This just adds to the laughability, and not in a good way.
As much as I was bored with Suburban Pagans, i can actually say that the copy I watched was pretty pristine and must commend Something Weird for a job well done. As bad as the acting and dubbing was, the editing and camera shots were actually pretty decent, but that doesn't mean you should go out and watch it. This film has very little value in the private home viewing department, either alone or with company. Pagans is best watched with a large group of drunk people, in a bar or party, with no volume. Watching it any other day would just cause a person to shut it off within minutes. Me being who I am, I'm still going to sit through so many more of these flicks. Hopefully somewhere along the way I'll find some that are redeeming.
It's been a long time since I've seen a film from Turkey, even longer since I've written a review. Granted, I know nothing about modern Turkish cinema. I, of course, speak of the trash classics that put Turkish cinema on the cult film map. Films like Turkish Star Wars and Three Supermen are the kinds of international films that made me look into the deepest darkest depths of film history to find the classic gold I fucking adore. Reading this, it should come as no to surprise to you that I am a pretty big fan of the Eurospy comic and film anti-hero popular in the 60's know in Italy as Kriminal. More the film part of him than the comic since I have no access to Italian comics or can even speak the language. The Big Screen version of Europe's most famous fictional jewel thief and womanizer was first adapted by the one and only Umberto Lenzi, an Italian director I deeply admire. Other European nations, such as Sadistik and Diabolik, so it should come to no surprise that Turkey had their own version, known as Kilink.
I have known about the existence of Kilink Istanbul'da(1967) since I first became obsessed with the Kriminal character, so it was only a matter of time before I took the to sit back and watch the Turkish version. It took me a couple of years, but I finally got around to watching the first film yesterday. Being a veteran of the classic character, I thought I knew what I was getting into. But, as with most of the films from Turkey I've screened, I was given quite the surprise kick in the ass.
First of all, the character of Kilink is so different from his European counterpart, it's almost night and day. Whereas Kriminal is a suave, master-of-disguise with a James Bond likability, Kilink is more more of a ruthless, sociopathic megalomaniac bent on the destruction of the human race for vengeful purposes. I was completely baffled. There was nothing "antihero" about the Turkish version of Italy's sophisticated and romantic jewel thief. Kilink is just straight up "anti". This threw me for a whirl. How can the title character of the film be such a straight-up antagonist? I would have been a tad dismayed if it wasn't for the true hero of the movie, or should I say "Superhero". You see, unlike it's European counterparts, Turkish films sometimes throw in a twist that wouldn't not only wouldn't belong in the original, but are a straight up mindfuck to the foreign audience. In this case, the addition of "Superman", who happens to be a Turkish amalgamation of both DC Comic's Superman and Shazam, right down to the Muslim Merlin who praises Allah for the power he bestows on Orhan, our hero. As outlandish as this twist is compared to Kriminal and Danger, Diabolik, it worked and made my disappointment at how malevolent Kilink was disappear.
Kilink in Istanbul was a very short 70 minutes, and for good reason. Like the Batman and Flash Gordon serials from the earlier part of the 20th century, it was meant to be viewed more as a series, and less of a single movie. Because of this, you haven't heard the last word on Kilink from me. There is no way reviewing the one movie can actually do it justice. It's either all or nothing. Next time I'll spend some time on the actual plot, which is about a complex as popping a pimple. Even though the quality of the film was horrid and the subtitles were written like English-As-A-Third Language, I enjoyed this first of three and will be covering the second sometime next week.
It's another Grindhouse three-day weekend at Spectacle this week. Rather than write separate entries for each feature screening at Brooklyn's best theater, Spectacle, I decided to throw all three films in one big blog entry. Not only does it make it easier for all of you with interest in the theater itself, it makes it easier for me because I don't have to keep up the "now showing" entries at Spectacle for the rest of the weekend, which is something I've been slipping with lately.
IMDB says -"The year 3000, after a nuclear war turned the earth into a desert. A group of survivors in a cave runs out of water and desperately needs new supply. The last guy they sent out didn't return. His 10 years old son Timmy wants to join the next team. They know where they'll find a well, but the problem it the way there, which is controlled by a savage gang of motorcyclists under the bloodthirsty Crazy Bull. A lonesome stranger who Timmy meets on the way may help. "
Now this is the only movie of the three I have not seen, but since it's an Italian genre movie AND Post-Apoc I feel that no matter what the ratings are on IMDB (4.5 out of 10)it's still going to be awesome. I'm not at all familiar with the director, Giuliano Carnimeo, but going over his IMDB entry I see he was actually a pretty prolific director and directed movies I've heard of like The Case of The Bloody Iris(1972). Going to see this tonight can only be a great start to the weekend.
I have not only seen tomorrow's slice-of-awesome They Call Her One Eye(1974) but I've actually written a review for it(here). Out of all the rape-victim-goes-revenge films I've watched over the last few months, this is by far my favorite, and it has nothing to do with the XXX shots. You can always count on Swedish filmmakers of the 70's to go above and beyond the call of duty when making a proper revenge flick.
Spectacle says -"Swedish sexploitation star, Christina Lindberg, stars in this brutal rape-revenge classic directed by Bo Arne Vibenius (who had previously worked with Ingmar Bergman as an assistant director on Persona and unit director on Hour of the Wolf). After being abducted on her way to school one morning, Frigga/Madeleine is held hostage by a scumbag who gets her hooked on heroin and prostitutes her ass to various clients. She eventually ventures out to do some firearm and martial arts training so she can avenge all the sleazy Swedes who raped her and took out one of her eyes. The ultra-ultra slo-mo sequences of Frigga/Madeleine blasting away her prey is both chilling and hilarious.
The film has been referenced by both Abel Ferrara in Ms. 45 and by Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill Vol. 1. Lindberg has gone on to make numerous eurosleaze flicks as well as become a prominent journalist in Sweden."
And last but not least we have the giallo Torso(1973), a film I first became familiar with after seeing the poster numerous times when I practically used to pay rent at Brooklyn's infamous metal bar, Duff's. I tried to make it a goal to watch every single movie Jimmy had posters for. As far as I know, I got pretty far. Again, this is one of those movies I am very familiar with and have reviewed(here).
Spectacle says - "One Day She Met A Man Who Loved Beautiful Women...
BUT NOT ALL IN ONE PIECE!
A series of sex murders shock a college campus, and four beautiful young girlfriends head for the safety of an isolated country villa. But as they succumb to their own erotic desires, their weekend of pleasure becomes a vacation to dismember at the hands - and blade - of the lecherous maniac.
Starring Suzy Kendall (THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE) and Tina Aumont (SALON KITTY), this Euro Horror chiller was originally released in America with much of its controversial violence removed by censors.
Presented in its Uncensored English Version."
Spectacle 124 S. 3rd St., (at Bedford Ave.)Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Looks like Spectacle Theater is going balls out this weekend with the Italian genre cinema. Poliziotteschi Saturday and Spaghetti Western Sunday along with their Midnite grindhouse spectaculars. I'll tell you this...if I were single, I would probably be there all weekend, especially for the Poliziotteschi films. I understand some of you readers might not be as familiar with this high action Italian genre I am. Just in case, here's a brief definition lifted from the pages of CG, "Poliziotteschi is a sub-genre of crime and action film that emerged in Italy in the late 1960s and became popular in the 1970s. Poliziotteschi films are also known as poliziottesco, Italo-crime, Euro-crime or simply Italian crime films."
Got it? I that wasn't enough think about this: a whole genre of film influenced by crime classics like Dirty Harry, but being that they are produced in Italy, are extremely over the top like a great deal of Italian genre cinema from the 70's. Lot's of revenge, mob hits, shoot outs, car chases and explosions. Everything a guy could ever want in a movie.
IMDB says -"Duccio Tessari's superb Italian crime film stars Alain Delon as hit man Tony Arzenta who decides that it's time to retire from the game. After a brutal attack on his family he sets out for revenge. Also stars genre regulars Richard Conte, Anton Diffring, Marc Porel & Erika Blanc with a great soundtrack by Gianni Ferrio."
Spectacle says -"In this stylish and moody revenge-driven bloodbath, an icy and lethal hit man who wants to quit the game but the Mob doesn’t want to let him go."
and at 9:30 PM High Crime(1973)aka La polizia incrimina la legge assolve starring the superbly wonderful Franco Nero.
IMDB says -"f you have never seen an Italian crime movie, this is a great place to start. unlike many other films of this type, it actually works on an emotional level as well as being very entertaining, simular to the films of Scorsese. it's a very violent film, but none of the violence is gratuitous. lots of stylish slow motion shootings, car explosions, and people run over by various moter vehicles, and the excellent musical score by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis captures the emotion of these scenes perfectly. the cast is also very good, especialy Italian Star Franco Nero. highly recommended."
Spectacle says - "A fast paced, violent, gritty, and innovative crime thriller about a tough cop going hard after an international drug ring. One of the best crime thrillers ever made, this film is relentless and brutal, and filled with a constantly shifting storyline, and a mesmerizing score by Guido De Angelis & Maurizio De Angelis."
Spectacle 124 S. 3rd St., (at Bedford Ave.)Williamsburg, Brooklyn
I knew nothing about the movie Samurai Cop(1989), which is going to be screening at Spectacle this evening, but from watching the trailer all I have to say is HOLY SHIT. I don't really know how I passed this straight-to-VHS spectacular up, but it looks like an amazing piece of work. Bad dialogue, martial arts, and triumphant hair. You really can't go wrong with triumphant hair. I can't believe a mane that glorious is actually going to be shown on the big screen. Williamsburg is going to be jealous.
Spectacle says -"You have the right to remain silent … dead silent! Joe Marshal, nickname “The Samurai,” is an expert in Japanese culture and martial arts and if it takes a blood drenched street brawl to bring the mobster’s to their knees, then Samurai Joe is ready to RUMBLE!”"
Not enough for ya? An IMDB user has this to say -"Samurai Cop is sure to please all fans of B-cinema. There are many scenes in this gem that will have you doubled over with laughter. From the initial car chase, to the slow motion katana duel between Matt Hannon and Robert Z'Dar, this movie screams cheese. Its aborted plot revolves around the titular character, Joe Marshall, the "samurai" cop (played by Matt Hannon), who has been transferred from San Diego to Los Angeles in order to assist the LAPD in taking down the troublesome Katana gang. Marshall, so we are told, has trained with the masters in Japan, and so ostensibly has some greater insight into the inner-culture of the Katana. What his expertise is exactly is hard to say, however, because he sneeringly mumbles Japanese names as if they were utterly foreign to him. Indeed, the only thing Marshall does do effectively is hitting on every woman he meets in the most sleazy and tactless manner conceivable. With far more brawn than brain, it is pretty clear from the get-go that Marshall won't be thinking his way through this flick."
Friday, July 15th at Midnight @ Spectacle 124 S. 3rd St., (at Bedford Ave.)Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Personally the Spectacle blurb was enough for me, but if you need more to go on, the trailer will have you sold.
As far as zombie movies are concerned, I'm just as burned out as the rest of y'all motherfuckers. Truth be told, with the market oversaturation since the release of Land of the Dead several years back, I could go years before entertaining the idea of watching a new zombie movie. The exception being, of course, The Walking Dead, but that doesn't really count because it's a television show. As of today, I have found a new exception: A zombie movie from Cuba. Never before have I seen a movie from Cuba, much less a horror movie. I feel like I'm committing a federal crime just by talking about it.
According to Slashfilm and Dread Central, Juan of the Dead(2011) takes place 50 years after the Revolution. Cuba has become overrun with zombies, a blame which is being placed on the US Goverment(go figure!). Our hero Juan, decides the best way to use this lemon is to make lemonade, and takes it upon himself to start slaughtering animated corpses, but for a price. As far as I can tell from the trailer, Juan of the Dead could be compared to Sean of the Dead(duh) but with the social commentary of a dying totalitarian regime. I can live with that, despite the politics. I'm just glad to see Cuba finally become a productive member of film society, at least film that I'm in to.
The only unfortunate thing about the NYAFF, besides the fact that it doesn't happen year round, is the fact that it is split between two different venues over it's 12 day run. Okay...maybe that's not so bad considering several of the films have multiple runs. Regardless, there aren't many times of year, with the exception of Halloween, when NYC residents get exposed to so many fantastic genre films over such a short period of time. Unfortunately, due to a mild case of the Summer lazies and several professional and social engagements, I completely forgot that the NYAFF was upon us. Thankfully, I still have time to "report" on the rest of this years screenings without losing too much respect from the asian film community(like I ever had it to begin with).
NYAFF says -"Gantz is a phenomena. A wildly popular manga and anime by Hiroya Oku, the manga has sold over 15 million copies in Japan alone, and in the USA it’s wound up on the New York Times bestseller list. Critically acclaimed, the anime has sparked a global cult. We’re proud to present, back-to-back, the two live action GANTZ movies, subtitled and with their original soundtracks, for the very first time.
In GANTZ, it doesn’t pay to be a good samaritan. Salaryman-in-training Kei (Arashi boy-band superstar Kazunari Ninomiya) learned that a long time ago, but old classmate Kato (Kenichi Matsuyama, best known as “L” from the blockbuster Death Note series) didn’t get the message, and when he tries to save a drunk, passed out on the subway track during rush hour, they both end up meeting the business end of a bullet train. Instead of getting turned into human Sloppy Joes, Kei and Kato open their eyes and find themselves in a posh apartment near Tokyo Tower with a gaggle of total strangers who are all equally freaked out. An ominous black sphere toots a chipper worksong, sprouts high-tech weaponry, and announces that their old lives are over – that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Now, pop into these high tech gimp suits and go kill some aliens. Play til you win, win til you die. The first one to reach 100 points, wins. Whatever that means. This is the law of GANTZ and its sequel, GANTZ: PERFECT ANSWER, the double-headed death tool that has been devouring audiences in an orgy of squibs, body horror and beautiful Japanese pop idols getting vivisected.
The battle-slaves of Gantz live their normal lives by day, but every night they’re summoned back to the apartment. Every night the weird, alien orb puts twenty minutes on the clock and sends them out to kill another fearsome alien or die trying. Every contestant gets points based on their performance, and even grandma and the kids are possible targets in this inexplicable deathsport. As the few survivors grow battle-hardened and amoral, their alliance breaks down and they begin to chase each other for glory, but what Gantz really is remains a mystery. And what happens when you get 100 points?
Like “The Twilight Zone” on PCP, GANTZ is a funhouse reflection of modern 9-to-5 ennui, where all your dime-store motivational platitudes get warped into twisted mantras of survivalism. GANTZ is a celebration of the savage suicide wish inside all of us – so pump up your PVC, wipe the viscera off your face, and get in the game."
Fucking A' has Miike been on a roll lately, and hopefully he can keep this momentum going. It seems like the age of the Miike snoozefest might actually be over.
NYAFF says -"Last year, Japan’s wild man, Takashi Miike, made the majestically posh samurai movie, 13 Assassins, which went on to win several prestigious awards. This year, his stately, well-appointed samurai movie, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai was an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival. That’s all very nice, but we’ve got the best new movie from him since YATTERMAN and it’s got all the crazy Miike left out of his other two films, and then some. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another totally messed up kids’s film from Takashi Miike, a demolition derby of good taste….NINJA KIDS!!!
Exchanging noble samurai for kid ninjas has let Miike get back in touch with his wild side. This big budget, big screen version of popular Japanese kid’s show Rantaro the Ninja Boy (running for 1,437 episodes and counting!) this is like Harry Potter if Harry Potter was a ninja who hid underground and killed people with bamboo darts and ninja bombs. Young Rantaro is from a family of low class ninjas and he’s sent off to first grade at Ninja School by his parents who hope that one day he’ll grow up to be a respectable middle class ninja. But he’s hardly at school for five minutes when a classmate – literally – has the snot beaten out of him, the headmaster starts exploding and more wild and wooly ninja tricks than you can hit with a throwing star are zipping off the screen.
With the strangest, most deadpan sense of humor of any movie all year, this is a big budget kids film in the vein of Miike’s THE GREAT YOKAI WAR, possessing the same sense of fantastical freakery and goopy monster-based humanity except this time the monsters are wild, mutated, freaked-out ninjas with enormous, super-deformo skulls. With a subplot involving gangster hairdressers, constant interruptions form Mr. Konnamon, your friendly ninja trivia commentator, characters who can’t stop talking to the camera, and an ode on the favorite foods of the ninja, this is a high pressure blast of everything weird about Takashi Miike that we’ve all been missing from his new, mainstream, “respectable” motion pictures. Long live the ninja!!!"
NYAFF says -"In MACHINE GIRL (2008), madman Noboru Iguchi famously slapped a machine gun onto a schoolgirl’s arm. How do you top that? Easy! Just slap a machine gun onto the arm of a vicious Yakuza thug, and then give him a rocket launcher for a leg. World, allow us to introduce you to Sushi Typhoon’s latest assault on sanity…YAKUZA WEAPON!!!
After four years of Rambo-esque jungle antics, Shozo Iwaki (co-director and star, Tak Sakaguchi, the hard-hitting action maverick) returns to Tokyo, only to discover his Yakuza father murdered, his family headquarters turned into a shady loan shop, and a powerful gang leader attempting to overthrow the entire criminal underworld! With rival gangs jacked up on “hyperdrug,” Shozo must becomes a one-man, butt-kicking army – and things only get wilder when he loses an arm and a leg, only to have them replaced with more firepower than the entire Japanese military.
Equal parts action, splatter, and slapstick – YAKUZA WEAPON is based on an adult comic co-created by Ken Ishikawa (of Cutie Honey fame). Just wait for Shozo’s scorned girlfriend to welcome him back to Tokyo by throwing a BOAT at him. Find yourself laughing too hard? Watch out for the film’s breathtaking, expertly choreographed four-minute fight scene – shot in a single take. Need both at the same time? How about a naked fembot (NYAFF 2010 guest Cay Izumi) who fires rockets from her crotch and whose head pops off to reveal a gatling gun?
Rest assured, cinephiles, this ain’t your granddad’s action-comedy. This is high-octane insanity, with the madmen at Sushi Typhoon at the controls. Co-director Yudai Yamaguchi (Battlefield Baseball, Cromartie High School) pays tribute to the choicest cuts from his previous efforts, delivering a smoldering hand-cannon of a film that was born in Japan – but kicks ass worldwide."
Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, at 47th Street and First Avenue
Weekend two of the NYAFF has already arrived and Saturday the Walter Reade Theater is going to be screening some serious excitement folks. keep in mind that I don't list everything that's playing. I'm sure the movie about the autistic kid is great, but that's not really what this blogs about. We like shit that kicks ass and blows shit up.
NYFF says -"Understanding ZU is impossible. This is a cinematic experience, a journey into the essence of wu xia and a mad whirl of glorious chaos, savage speed and eye-bursting fantasy. The impact of ZU is hard to over-estimate. Imagine if lightning suddenly struck Hollywood and overnight and teleported it 20 years into the future. That’s what ZU did to the Hong Kong film industry. Determined to give martial arts movies Hollywood-calibre special effects and production values, young director Tsui Hark rounded up a massive budget, built huge sets and shanghaied Hollywood effects technicians from just-completed Star Trek: the Motion Picture and Star Wars and made a movie that dragged stuffy kung fu cinema kicking and screaming into the future with this frenetic whirlwind of special effects and screaming martial arts madness. Moving faster than the eye can follow, ZU is the silk to The Blade’s steel. It gracefully crams in 60 volumes of Lee Sau-man’s 1920′s martial arts novels about the Zu Mountains (“First to revolt, last to surrender.”) where it’s eternally night and the forces of good and evil clash in its abandoned temples and forgotten mountains. Starting with a blast of Saturday matinee music, armies clash pointlessly on dusty plains. Desperate to make it home alive, a hapless scout (Yuen Biao, Jackie Chan’s “younger brother”) seeks refuge in a ruined shrine where he’s attacked by flying zombies. Saved by a powerful swordsman (wu xia stalwart, Adam Cheng) the two of them wind up locked in an eternal battle in which the forces of evil are organized and efficient and the noble martial schools that oppose them are hobbled by moribund rules and dusty regulations.
With its delirious cutting, funky optical effects and breathless action, no wu xia is more surreal, more baroque or more totally bonkers than this one. The first movie to feature true flying swordsmen, it’s packed with cadres of heavily armed handmaidens, killer eyebrows, Blood Devils, Ten-Day Heart Venom, arcane Sky Mirrors, trippy celestial forts and characters who have no use for the laws of gravity. But it’s all used to tell the story of the kids who have to step up and save the world when all their old heroes have given in to despair. A call to revolution, a psychedelic fantasy film, an adrenaline-pumping wu xia movie…ZU: there’s nothing else quite like it."
NYAFF says -"Lady assassin Drizzle (Kelly Lin, Written By) knows better than anyone that it’s a jungle out there in the Ming Dynasty – every friend a traitor-in-waiting, every child ready to shank you. But when Drizzle and her fantastic-elastic “water-shedding” sword steal the sacred remains of a powerful monk whose kung-fu mastery was encoded in his rotting bones, she makes herself a target, and must go under the knife to become…Michelle Yeoh. Sure, why not? That karmic “face/off” is just the first twenty minutes of REIGN OF ASSASSINS, one of the crown jewels of NYAFF 2011 and a wu xia that gives Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon a run for its money.
Reborn as mild-mannered “Zeng Jing,” Drizzle forsakes her murderous past, settles down with a humble messenger (Korean superstar, Jung Woo-Sung) and embraces her existence as the most blade-happy housewife you’ve ever seen (“You really know how to use a knife! I’ve never seen such perfectly cut tofu!”). It’s all going swimmingly until one morning at the bank, when Drizzle’s old pals from the nefarious Dark Stone gang suddenly appear, threatening to drag her secret past screaming into the light.
REIGN OF ASSASSINS was a labor of love for Su Chao-Pin, whose wild-and-woolly career is being spotlit during this year’s festival. Working alongside Hong Kong master John Woo, who served as a close advisor on-set, Su eventually credited Woo as his “co-director,” and their cross-generational collaboration yields an eye-popping, emotionally compelling spectacle. The grotesques of the Dark Stone gang – from Barbie Hsu’s nymphomaniac bride, to Leon Dai’s “Magician” with his Technicolor dreamcoat of death, to soulful daddy-to-be Shawn Yue with his deadly acupressure needles – are a fearsome yet somehow pathetic lot. Every vicious swordsman leads a domestic double life, past sins dog their fleet feet and the shriek of sharp steel being drawn from its scabbard is their eternal soundtrack. Enjoy the action, but stay for the emotions: REIGN OF ASSASSINS is a wuxia with a heavy human heart."
Writer and co-director, Su Chao-pin, will be at the screening.
NYFF says -"50% horror movie, 50% superhero film and 100% Korean thriller, this is one dark, super-powered ride that became a big hit when it was released. Seoul, 1991: A little boy with a prosthetic leg is blindfolded, stumbling through the rain, clinging to his mother’s wrist. She orders him not to remove the blindfold, but when they reach home his abusive father begins beating his mother. In response, the boy removes the blindfold and uses his strange, glittering gaze to make Dad snap his own neck. When his mother fails to kill her telepathic spawn in his sleep, he wanders off into the night, a white-suited phantom lurking on the fringes of humanity, with only his model city to keep him company. From his vantage point, the rest of the world simply looks like…toys.
Seoul, 2010: Kyu-Nam (TV star Koo So) is an out-of-work laborer looking for a new gig. He answers an ad from the local pawn shop and everything seems to be going well until, on his first day of work, the silver-haired mystery man (Korean heartthrob, Gang Dong-Won, of Secret Reunion and M fame) walks in and begins robbing the till. Everyone in the store is helpless against his omnipotent glittering eyes – everyone except Kyu-Nam. So begins a mind-bending game of cat and mouse, with an entire city set against our working-class hero, who must band together with his screwed-up, foreign pals to take down an evil, psychic god who uses every single soul in Seoul as his pawns in a deadly hunt to eradicate the one man who can stand against him.
The directorial debut of Kim Min-Suk, the screenwriter behind The Good, The Bad and the Weird, HAUNTERS is the dizzying lovechild of Unbreakable and The Fugitive, a genre beast that mixes pulse-pounding thrills with gut-wrenching moments like a woman forced to toss her helpless baby in front of a speeding train. This box office hit from Korea shows the dark side of the X-men, portraying a world where the only people with superpowers are psychopaths and it’s up the normal folks to step up and shut them down."
This is the kind of shit Midnite was invented for, and the best part about it is you can still wallow in post-work drunkiness for a couple of hours before the film starts. It would actually probably make it that much more exciting.
Time Out New York says -“Somebody was smoking something when they came up with this endearingly goofy Thai action film in which a group of movie stuntpeople are unwittingly recruited for a Survivor-esque competition. The movie begins like a manic Eastern parody of The Hangover, but then the martial-arts goodies come fast and furious: cage fights, dirt-bike fu, men in iron masks wielding flaming swords. There’s even a hospital musical number”
Walter Reade Theater, West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave, on the upper level, Upper West Side