That's right, fools! Mike White is on tour to promote his book Impossibly Funky and blow your minds with the blaxploitation classic, Black Shampoo(1976). Most of you genre-cinema blogging muthafuckahs know Mike from his expertise in blaxploitation knowledge and better yet Cashiers Du Cinemart. If you haven't the foggiest, not only do I feel sorry for you, but you should head over to Impossibly Funky immediately and check that shit out.
The best part about this event, besides the fact reRun has duck-fat for the popcorn, is the the movie screening is FREE! So all the money you would have spent seeing the film and buying the DVD (because it's so awesome)can be spent on the book.
A word from Leon Chase about Mike White and the Event -" know a lot of you don't know me. And the rest of you probably already get a lot of e-mails from me, asking you to come to a lot of things. But this is something very special that I’m doing for a very old friend, so please take a moment to hear me out…
Did you ever have a movie that, as a teenager, you and your friends got a little obsessed with? The one you watched together waaay too many times, until you knew all the dialogue and memorized every character’s name?
We did. The movie was 1976’s ridiculous blaxploitation classic "Black Shampoo."
The thing is, while the rest of us moved on, my friend Mike White never stopped believing. He went on to start his own obsessive film magazine called “Cashiers du Cinemart", in which he frequently sang the praises of "Black Shampoo". To make a long story short, he not only hunted down the director and most of the cast, but ended up being invited to write the goddamn liner notes for the film's DVD release.
Now, over a decade later, Mike has compiled his film articles into a book called Impossibly Funky. And on July 1st, to promote his book, he’ll be hosting a rare screening of "Black Shampoo" right here on Brooklyn.
Black Shampoo is the story of Mr. Jonathan, a studly, afro’d hairdresser who, among his clientele of lonely rich white ladies, is legendary for much more than just his wash ’n’ rinse. But when a foxy new receptionist named Brenda shows up, even a player like Jonathan has to look twice. And faster than you can say “slow-jam botanical-garden montage,” Jonathan and Brenda are feelin’ the love. Only problem is, Brenda’s got a past: Her jealous white mobster of an ex-boss just doesn’t understand that “there ain’t no slaves no more”, and he wants Brenda back, bad. But when he tries to mess with Jonathan—and his precious hair salon—shit gets real. As the tagline says, “He’s bad. He’s mean. He’s a lovin’ machine. When he’s mad, he’s mean. He’s a killing machine!”
Still not convinced? Check out the original trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYVyEoBkpUI
WARNING: If you are offended by racial stereotypes (both black and white), horrific gay caricatures, graphic violence, pool table sex, chainsaw fights, curling irons, awkward acting, uncomfortably long shots of close-up tongue kissing, infectious soundtracks soaked in vintage-‘70s wah-wah guitar, Western-style barbecues, and enough gratuitous barely-R interracial sex scenes to get this film censored in most Southern states when it came out (true story), then please DO NOT see this movie.
But if you are a fan of trashy 1970s Blaxploitation movies, and can appreciate all the crude awkward weirdness that comes with them, Black Shampoo is one of the best ones out there. And by “best”, I mean “so hilariously bad it’s good.”
If any of this sounds enticing to you, I invite you to please join Mike and I this Wednesday, June 1st at ReRun Gastropub at 147 Front St. in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Your attendance will go a long way toward supporting his unique (and entirely self-funded) labor of love.
And if that’s not enough incentive, please consider this: The artsy-fartsy types at ReRun are apparently worried that Mike won’t be able to get at least 20 people to show up for a movie like this. Needless to say, we are bound and determined to prove them wrong.
Oh, and did I mention that the whole thing is FREE?
Not only will you get to watch one of the strangest, funkiest movies ever made, but you'll be helping a fanboy's crazy dreams come true.
Won’t you please join us for this once-in-a-lifetime event?
Thanks for your time, Leon Chase"
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1 a 6pm ReRun Gastropub Theater(Next to ReBar) 147 Front St. at Jay St. Dumbo, Brooklyn
These days, there aren't a lot of docs that catch my, even fewer that are worth writing about. Being of the first generation of Americans bombarded with cable television from a very early age, I can honestly say at this point in my life I've seen most of what I need to see in the world of educational programming. When I was younger my inquisitive mind couldn't get enough of Discovery and TLC, especially when the topic discussed had anything to do with the paranormal. After 30 years of documentaries, I can honestly say I'm not learning anything new from 80% of the programs these days. Unless it has to do with crime or ancient civilization, I rarely have an interest. Unless, of course, the doc has to do with genre cinema, and then I'm all over it like a fly on shit.
Grindhouse and Exploitation docs are always worth a watch because, not only do I learn something about the object of my obsession, but I also get a whole new list of movies that I didn't know about and need to see. When I watch Not Quite Hollywood a couple months ago(review here)I practically got a boner over the tons of hours I would spend watching ozploitation films I knew nothing about. It's the same feeling I get when I've watched the handful of docs on Netflix the deal with Grindhouse and exploitation films. When Machete Maidens! becomes available to me, I'm probably not leaving the house for a couple days.
So you can see why I got excited over watching this trailer for a French documentary about Tarantino and the Kung-Fu movies that inspired him. Two of my favorite subjects rolled into one learning experience. I've seen a lot of kung-fu action cinema in my day, but I guarantee there is so much more missing. Not only does this doc give me the ability to know of what films influenced QT (even though I know many of them), but I also get to see interviews with the business itself. Kung-fu cinema being a genre that has been my favorite's for close to 30 years. Awesomesauce!
Unfortunately, the doc is made for French TV so the possibilities of seeing it on Netflix or on the festival circuit are few and far between. Hopefully there are those in the private BT community who can record and translate for those of us who are incapable of getting a hold of an understandable copy.
Many people will think that zombies and porn go hand-in-hand, but I'm not one of those people. I've expressed my anger at the over-saturation of zombies in modern pop culture time and time again, so taking the time to watch a zombie-related movies these days just does not happen. When you mix it with porn the idea becomes 10 times more appealing, just not appealing enough for me to sit through. For those of you that get a boner at the mere mention of such a genre mix, heading over to Spectacle tonight to see L.A Zombie will probably be your bag.
Spectacle says -"“He came to fuck the dead back to life” Porn-art director LaBruce describes his wordless portrait of a Fulci-esque zombie/alien hunk (porn star and model François Sagat), fucking the body cavities of dead men in order to resurrect them with his regenerative black semen-goo, as “a movie that reaffirms life.” And though a hybrid, with more then enough blood, guts and dismemberment to satisfy gore aficionados, this disarmingly gentle twist on the undead, ultimately involves a hunger for flesh motivated more by need for human contact then cannibalistic craving.
Slated for the 2010 Melbourne International Film Festival, the film was pulled from competition after being banned by the Australian Government. The subsequent screening, in defiance of the censors, at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, resulted in a police raid of the festival’s director home in search of the illegal print.
Released initially as a truncated, soft-core art film, we are screening the director’s controversial original cut - the extended, hardcore version of this queer-zombie-porn cinematic milestone."
Friday, May 20th Midnight @ Spectacle 124 S. 3rd St., (at Bedford Ave.)Williamsburg, Brooklyn
It's nice to see Spectacle Theater add an extra night of cult cinema to there already heavy roster. I don't know if WTF!?!? Thursday is going to be a regularly scheduled occurrence, and if it is I'll be the last one complaining. This week's WTF, The Visitor(1984), which I understand is an Italian rip-off of The Omen with sci-fi replacing the satanic. I had never heard of it until this morning, but it sounds like a reason to head into Williamsburg on Thursday night.
Spectacle says - "The holiest of all Holyfuckingshits, The Visitor has the highest JDPM (Jaw Drops Per Minute) ratio of any film of its era, Italian ripoff or not. It's a wonderful mishmash of The Omen and Close Encounters, but that barely hints at the whacked fervor with which director Michael J. Paradise hurls his hastily assembled "all-star" cast (John Huston, Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters, and, yes, Lance Henriksen) into the cinematic void, sh...owering them with what Austin, TX's revival cinema gem The Alamo Drafthouse has called "a blackhearted blowout of interplanetary possession, telekinetic avian assault, exploding basketballs and ecclesiastical laserstorms". Just when you think you've nailed down which direction the film is heading in, it completely shatters your notion of the time-space continuum with enough force to rival a thousand screenings of Zabriskie Point. If you miss out on this one, then you have as much regard for cinema as you do for a discarded toenail clipping. (Bret Berg - Cinefamily)"
After the main feature, feel free to stick around for Brain Bludgeon, which has no IMDB entry, so there isn't much I can tell you about it besides the one paragraph description I have found on a few different websites: "Sewn together from hundreds of forgotten horror films, BRAIN BLUDGEON is a transcendental fusion of trash exposing the willing to everything curious, bizarre, hilarious and awful about no-budget genre films. Hot penny torture, exploding 3d skulls, brutal "de-fetusing", raping zombies, and much more collide in this blissfully IQ-withering amalgamation of exploitation hell."
Thursday, May 19th at 9:30 PM Midnight @ Spectacle 124 S. 3rd St., (at Bedford Ave.)Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Hicksploitation isn't really my thing, but sometimes a trailer or poster catches your my eye and I have to do everything in my power to watch said film. Okay...using sometimes might be underplaying it a bit. This kind of thing happens to me all the time. If it wasn't for the catchy poster and DVD/VHS covers of my days trolling through the video stores, I probably ever would have rented half of the trashy garbage that has been burned onto my memory forever. I still do, although there are less trips to the video store and more time spent on social media. I just happen to use Facebook and the blogospere as my introduction to movies I should see. Gator Bait(1984) happened to be one of those movies I was inspired to see due to my time spent gawking at my Facebook wall. If I remember correctly, I might have Mike White(of Impossibly Funky fame) to thank for posting a picture of the poster art. This blog entry is for you, buddy.
Foxy swamp rat Desiree Thibodeau lives deep within the Louisiana Bayou, taking care of her younger sister and mute brother. Understand that the Thibodeau family are existing a couple of steps below the poverty line, as in minimal property ownership and no running water. I wouldn't be surprised if they had never seen a crisp dollar bill in all their life. So poor that Desiree spends her spare time poaching gator to feed her family. Keep in mind this film takes place during a time when hunting alligators had just recently been made illegal, so Desiree has no understanding of the crime that is being committed. For the most part the Local Authority doesn't really care, but it doesn't stop a couple of ignorant, young cops from harassing Desiree(mostly due to their rapey tendencies). After a wild goose chase via boats through the swamps, the young misogynists in uniform are able to catch up with our buck-skinned heroine, but things don't go as planned. Thankfully, Desiree's swampy cunning, and bag of poisonous snakes, are able to get of what could potentially be a deadly situation. Unfortunately, the sheriff's son isn't so good with the responsibility that comes from gun ownership, and instead of taking down his white-trash wonderwomen, he accidently damages his dad's boat and shoots his partner. Unable to take responsibility for his irresponsibility, Billy Boy heads back into town to let his dad, and the Bracken family, know but instead twisting the story around to place the blame on Desiree. These leads to the cops and Bracken's forming of a lynch mob, hellbent on the capture or death of our sweet, swampy princess. Desiree isn't found but her little sister and brother are. Though the original plan was supposed to be something of hostage situation, the younger men of the group can't get passed there rapey tendencies, which unfortunately leads to the violent death of Desiree's little sister. Thankfully her mute brother was able to escape. As with many of these cinematic sketches in souther culture, messin' with kin is the worst thing you can do. When Desiree learns of her sister's untimely demise, the sheriff and his posse better think again about who's bodies are actually going to be used for Gator Bait.
I actually felt that Gator Bait was more tame than I expected. Usually the exploitation movies of this era are chock full of nudity and violence to make up for the lack of a properly written storyline and poor dialogue. With Gator Bait the expected amount of nudity wasn't present, which is only a slight disappointment. The violence was there, but I think the most of the sexuality consisted of a couple boob shots and rape-like behavior. If you are interested in seeing a film that follows by the typical 70's exploitation standards, Gator Bait will possibly disappoint you. Even though the lead actress is a former playmate, she isn't playing an overly sexual character. With that being said, there were other elements to the film that I enjoyed like the filming location. I've lived in Florida before, and know for a fact that the swamp is no person's ideal location for a film shoot, especially for something so low budget. So not only did I feel for the production team, I also felt they did a really good job of capturing the beauty of the natural shooting location. I'm assuming that as expansive as they made they filming location appear, it was probably shot in a 10 acre area, because this is what usually happens. I was also a fan of the soundtrack, at least country music portion of it. I'm assuming the score was original, but I could be wrong due to my unfamiliarity. Shit happens.
If you aren't an exploitation snob, and don't my taking the 90 minutes out to watch a bad movie that's really fun, Gator Bait is good watch. It borders closer to the PG-13 side of exploitation, but it hardly ever get's boring.
With the exception of seeing The Exorcist at a very early age, my most prominent memory of Linda Blair was playing a young vigilante bent on her sister's revenge in the movie Savage Streets(1984). Now understand that this was close to 30 years ago since it was released on cable/VHS. I can't really recall the medium it was released on, because I wasn't even old enough to get funny feelings in my points. I do remember that it probably wasn't a movie I should have been watching at the age of ten, and it was the first example of rape/revenge film I had ever seen, and it kind of shook me up for years to come. Over the last several years, I had wanted to see if the film still gave me the same feelings of "disgust" I had experienced decades back, the only problem is I couldn't remember the title. It was only recently that I discovered the name of this lost memory, unfortunately there is only so many movies I can watch with the current levels of cinema obsession my life currently works with. Judging by the trailer, I don't even understand why this possible piece of garbage shook me up, but it sure looks like a bunch of fun to watch.
This week there is no reason for me to put off seeing Savage Streets because Spectacle Theater is going to be screening it Midnite on Friday. I've put off lots of movies I write about before, but I don't really know if I can in this case. The best part of it is the cost is only a 5 spot.
Spectacle says -"Los Angeles circa 1984, B-movie scream queen, Linnea Quigley, plays the sacrificial virgin that spawns big sis, played by pea-soup spewing veteran, Linda Blair, to seek revenge on a posse of scumlords called The Scars. Get ready for a very anti-PC, camp-romp of Reagan-era trash fodder. An outrageous depiction of high school life via BIG HAIR, BIG BREASTS and BIG FIST-PUMPING ROCK SCORE! You’ll be certain to chant out “Justice For One” while exiting the theater. Not to be missed!"
Friday, May 13th at Midnight @ Spectacle 124 S. 3rd St., (at Bedford Ave.)Williamsburg, Brooklyn
As a genre movie buff, I am always game to watch a film that doesn't stay within the confines of a single style. Who wouldn't be, it's not like being a trash cinema purist is going to get you anywhere in life besides negative Twitter feedback, if that. So when I first heard of the film Shanghai Joe, a mixed bag kung-fu/spaghetti western, there were no if-ands-or buts that it was something I had to get my hands on. To tell you the truth, if you throw martial arts into any type of film I will probably want to watch it. Unfortunately the copy I procured of Shanghai Joe had a one or two minute delay in the sound, and there is no way in Hell I can watch something like that. So I threw it in the garbage, annoyed and defeated.
Not too long ago I came across yet another cross-genre film of the same variety. Since I am easy to please I figured I might as well give it a shot. Besides the lead actor looks like an Asian Charles Bronson, so I figured it had to be awesome, Right?
Manchurian Avenger(1985) kicks off with Joe, a Chinese "immigrant" heading back to the land of his upbringing. Not that we actually know where Joe is headed back from. Is it China? Is it Frisco? Nobody really knows, probably not even Joe himself. All we know is that he looks like Bronson and doesn't really use his mouth to talk much. He says it all with fists and feet. After a couple of skirmishes with racist whites and Mexican bandits, the latter which results in Joe making a friend, Joe comes back home to find out that the uncle who raised him has been killed, and his "cousin" is bedridden after an improper stomping by a gang of racist white thugs. Despite the crackerness of these dirty thugs, it just so happens they happened to be employed by a local Chinese "Warlord" who happens to go by the name Cheng. Not only does Cheng have most of the townsfolk living in fear, but he is also responsible for the death of Joe's uncle in a quest for hidden gold. By the time Cheng is introduced, Joe has already fought his way, mustache and all, through dozens of crackers and bandidos. How hard can an old Chinese guy be to destroy. You see, Cheng has a secret weapon, and it's magic. Not only is he a wizard but he also employs "The Four Winds", who I can only guess are supposed to be ancient Chinese spirits who live in a western cave. Chinese Spirits who also happen to be multicultural. Apparently the Heavenly Dynasty is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Yay affirmative action!!
I didn't hate Manchurian Avenger but I didn't exactly love it. Let's just say I'm not going to pressure anybody into watching it in the near future, if at all. It is what it is, which is a low-budget, American-made martial arts flick. I'm pretty sure the only reason that it wasn't a full on kung-fu/wuxia movie is probably due to a lack of Asian actors in that part of Colorado during the early 80's. Through in a bunch of whites and latinos while filming in the Western US, and you got yourself a cross-genre spectacular, even if it wasn't. The effort was made, but I don't think there really was any pay-off to Avenger, at least from what I can see on the IMDB page. From the looks of it, the director and writer never made another attempt at filmmaking, which is kind of sad, because this movie wasn't horrible. Sure it takes a special kind of person to find enjoyment in this shit, but it could have been worse. The action was a bit lagging and could have been a lot more prevalent to make up for the lack of acting ability present. The martial arts scenes were actually pretty solid, unfortunately only a couple of the actors possessed actual skills, which probably accounts for the lack of enough fight sequences.
But again, what do you expect out of a kung-fu flick directed and produced by a couple of whiteboys from Colorado? It may not have been perfect for a martial arts connoisseur such as my self, but I can honestly say a good attempt was made. It's just too damn bad the filmmakers gave up after there first try.
Spectacle Theater, Williamsburg's finest purveyors of weekend Midnite Movie entertainment, are going balls out with the Bollywood movies this weekend. So, as you would expect it, tomorrow night's Midnite Movie is going to fall in line with the standard presentations, but with an Indian Twist. So if the Southern Asian cinema is your cream of the crop, take the time out of your busy Friday night drinking schedule to check out Purana Mandir(1984), which is "widely regarded as the greatest Bollywood horror movie of all time".
IMDB says -"Suman lives a wealthy lifestyle along with her widower dad, Thakur Ranvir Singh, and an unmarried aunt, Damyanti, in a palatial house in Bombay. They are direct descendants of Raja Hariman Singh of Bijapur. When Ranvir finds out that Suman is in love with a middle-classed male, Sanjay, he expresses displeasure and forbids her to ever see him again. When she persists, he tells her that there is a curse on the entire family - a curse that was inflicted 200 years ago by a blood-thirsty, flesh-eating demon named Samri. This curse impacts only women in their family, who are hideously transformed after giving birth to their firstborn, and die a painful death. Treating this as mere superstitious, Suman and Sanjay, along with Sanjay's friend, Anand and his wife, Sapna, set out to Bijapur to unearth and put an end to this rumor - not knowing that soon they will resurrect a virtually indestructible Samri."
Friday, May 6th at Midnight @ Spectacle 124 S. 3rd St., (at Bedford Ave.)Williamsburg, Brooklyn
If the description can't convince you check out the trailer below. Singing, martial arts, hindi-wolfmen, and blood showers....what's not to love?
Charlie's Angels, like much of the primetime program of the 70's, is a memory for me, but to a degree where I can't remember a single episode. Like the Incredible Hulk and Welcome Back, Kotter, I can remember watching the show religiously, but there is very little I remember about any single episode. I can remember the love I had for these shows, but haven't the foggiest why. Many times I've wanted to obtain all the shows I remember loving on DVD, but if I went and bought everything television program I thought was magical from the 70's, I would never have time for movies and modern programming. This, in part, would make this blog entirely useless, and we can't have that.
Recently I learned that the Father of Old Horseface, Aaron Spelling, was actually accused of being a premise thief by one Ted V. Mikels. You might remember Mikels as being the director of such golden Z-Grade classics as Astrozombies(1968) and The Corpse Grinders(1971). The Auteur of Trash Cinema claimed that Spelling stole idea for Charlie's Angels from a film he wrote and directed back in the early 70's called The Doll Squad(1973). Naturally, after hearing this, I felt this would be a perfect film for me to substitute my desire to one day watch the Charlie's Angel's series in full.
As one who has a pretty in-depth knowledge of exploitation cinema of the 70's, it is really hard for me to believe that The Doll Squad was the soul inspiration for Charlie's Angels. Sixties and Seventies grindhouse/drive-in culture is littered with James Bond/Mod Squad exploitation rip-offs that were less about cool gadgets and more about cashing in on sexual innuendo and showing as much skin as possible(The Girl From S.I.N. being one of the first that comes to mind). I don't feel that Mikel was doing anything original with this idea, besides working his aging "cash cow"(albeit fare from being a cow), Tura Satana, into another craptacular trash film. I have no problem with this either. Any early movie with Tura Satana moonlighting as a burlesque dancer, pasties and all, is always going to be worth the watch. At this point she was in her mid-thirties and really was approaching the end of her "base emotion" sexy.
I am assuming that most of you reading this review know the stipulation behind these types of movies and shows. If you don't, IMDB has a great description, no matter how brief - "An elite army of female assassins...in a race against time and death to save the world from a hideously diabolical mass destruction at the hands of a madman no one had ever seen!"...now doesn't that make you want to run out and buy a copy ASAP?
Despite what can be misconstrued as a lack of enthusiasm for The Doll Squad, there were elements that brought me joy in watching it, besides Tura Satana. For one, the action sequences were steps-above-decent and completely supported by a non-stop funky soundtrack. Based on the fashion and hair-style, I was assuming more of a go-go soundtrack, but instead got surprised with "wanka-wanka" bass grooves and bongo drums. Good thing Mikel had an decent understanding of popular music at this juncture. As I just said, the action sequences were just how I like them....over the fuckin' top. There wasn't a gunfire in the flick the wasn't accompanied by liberal usage of blood pellets, and there was more than enough gunfire. Sure, the Japanese cinema of this time were steps ahead in the gore department, but I wasn't expecting a movie as great as Lady Snowblood. It was enough to keep my eyes open and on the screen.
I enjoyed The Doll Squad and would have no problem watching over and over again, as long as I had crew and the drinks were flowing like a waterfall. This would be the perfect background movie for a loud-as-fuck dive bar, and I'm sure it exists in several bar collections, especially here in NYC. If you are more interested in viewing it on based on it's history in the era of exploitation or supposed inspiration for a certain popular 70's show, it's also going to be a fun watch if you chose to see it solo, sober, or both.
For the first couple of decades of my life, I could honestly say the scariest movie I had ever seen was The Shining(1980). Many people I've met over my life would agree, and if not it is most definitely considered one of the best horror movies of all time. From beginning to end, with creepy twins, blood waves down hallways, and ghosts dressed up in dog suits, I had nightmares based on the movie for most of my childhood.
Speaking of beginning to end, Spectacle Theater in Williamsburg is going to screening it as such, and vice versa. By this, I mean that a special version of the film will be shown forwards and backwards simultaneously. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Did I mention this was going to screened in a Williamsburg theater? This is why I'm not really surprised. Some of you might find the idea interest, I on the other hand, am a purist when it comes to the scariest movie of my childhood. For those of you unsure, check out the sample at the bottom of this entry. It looks like it could be fun, to say the least, especially under the influence of hallucinogenics.
Thursday, May 5th at Midnight @ Spectacle 124 S. 3rd St., (at Bedford Ave.)Williamsburg, Brooklyn