Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Sweet Sickness (1968)

Director: Jon Martin

Writer: G. Foy

Composer: ???

Starring: Vincene Wallace, Art T. Romans, Vicki Carbe, Poochie Norton, Victor Izay, Dick Osmun, Raul and the Revelations, Marguerite Zalud, Sharon Wells, Yuki Tani

More info: IMDb

Tagline: a RAG and a BONE and a hank of HAIR

Plot: A young woman gets sexually used and abused by every man she meets while on her way to rising to the top of Hollywood's entertainment industry.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

This is exploitation for exploitation's sake.  Hollywood has a casting couch.  Get it?  Girls get naked and learn that if you want to succeed in Tinseltown then you've gotta start at the bottom. Girls continue to get naked.  Not a bad racket, eh?

It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.

Harry Knuckles and the Treasure of the Aztec Mummy (1999)

Director: Lee Demarbre

Writer: Ian Driscoll

Composers: Graham Collins, Josh Grace

Starring: Phil Caracas, Jeff Moffet, Feisal Mohamed, Alexandra Fattah, Isabelle Arnedo, Josh Grace, Ian Driscoll, Tim Devries, Bill 'Big Willy' Furlongen, Jacob Richardson, Veronique Robert, Jocelyn Patten, Nancy Riehle

More info: IMDb


Plot: Harry Knuckles (code name Spanish Fly) must stop his nemesis who has kidnapped his daughter and poisoned her. Harry and his partner, Santo must find the serum that can save her and stop the ancient Aztec Mummy and it's evil zombies that pursue.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

Watch this first...

That's the first film directed by Lee Demarbre and the first with this team that would later bring us a fun little flick, JESUS CHRIST VAMPIRE HUNTER (2001).  That's a fun picture but it suffered from going feature length.  What works about AZTEC is it's just under a half hour. That gives it more of a replay value. It's funny, often well shot and edited and it's creative.  How about those awesome Bond-esqe opening titles?  On one hand I like that the voices are dubbed but on the other, I would have preferred them dubbed but done so that it sounds like it might have been recorded on location.  It's obvious the dub was done in a studio.  It's too smooth.  Roughing it up a bit would have fit the video and vibe of the picture better.  But, hey, this is what it is and it's entertaining with some really goofy, off the wall stuff thrown into the mix.  And it's only 26 minutes long.  It's not going to hurt you.  I just ordered the Blu-ray of JESUS CHRIST and the DVD of this film's sequel, HARRY KNUCKLES AND THE PEARL NECKLACE (2004).  They were both inexpensive and so far I've enjoyed what this team has produced.  What the hell.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Powder Keg (2001)

In 2001, BMW produced a series of 8 short films starring Clive Owen as The Driver.  They were made with the top action directors and various famous actors to showcase the performance aspects of various BMW cars.

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Writers: David Carter, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Guillermo Arriaga

Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams

Starring: Clive Owen, Stellan Skarsgard, Lois Smith

More info: IMDb

Plot: January 13, 2001. Times war photographer Harvey Jacobs is wounded while witnessing a massacre at Nuevo Colon by terrorists. In a desperate effort, the United Nations sends a vehicle to get him out, a BMW driven by the mysterious Driver.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.

Wow.  The bit at the checkpoint was intense.  The film is only 11 minutes but it packs an emotional punch.  This is the extended version (about 3 minutes longer, I think) that's on the DVD with the other 7 short BMW films.  It rounds out the disc and it's a great one to go out on.  Highly recommended.  Good score, too, by Harry Gregson-Williams.

Sweet Jesus, Preacherman (1973)

Director: Henning Schellerup

Writers: John Cerullo, M. Stuart Madden, Abbey Leitch

Composer: Horace Tapscott

Starring: Roger E. Mosley, William Smith, Michael Pataki, Tom Johnigarn, Joe Tornatore, Damu King, Marla Gibbs, Sam Laws, Phil Hoover, Paul Silliman, Chuck Lyles, Norman Fields, Della Thomas

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Amen, Brother!

Plot: A Black hit man poses as a Baptist preacher in a ghetto church. He decides to take over the local rackets.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

Roger E. Mosley is great as the Preacherman.  His best moment is when he's delivering his first sermon and he goes from a horribly dry read from his notes to going off the cuff and unloading all of the charisma and passion he's got in a great sequence.  He nailed it.  And I loved that the camera slowly moved up the middle of the aisle toward the pulpit as he's struggling and near the end it pulls back, from where it began. 

It's pretty much a given that if you've got the great Williams Smith, he's going to be the villain, ESPECIALLY in a Blaxploitation flick.

He's fun but he doesn't have much to do and his scenes are mostly confined to that office and the back seat of a car.  Still, I'll take any William Smith over no William Smith any day.

SWEET!!! It didn't further the plot but it sure helped the film to have some groovy dancing!

I have no idea what the budget was but it had to be be fairly low.  It's not so much that the budget hurt the film, it didn't actually.  It's the amateurish film making that hurts it (or helps, depending on how much fun you want out of it).  For example...

What a difference a day makes, huh?  There are other things, too, like the items on a desk changing places from scene to scene.  Personally, shit like this made it more fun but then I watched it with a bunch of friends.  That helps.  Ooh, I almost forgot.  Marla (the maid from THE JEFFERSONS) Gibbs is in it.  She freshened up the picture. This is almost good enough for me to say I'll watch it again but there are far too many Blaxploitation pictures I haven't seen yet that I'll need to until I get back around to this one.  It's definitely worth seeking out, though. I dug it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Star (2001)

In 2001, BMW produced a series of 8 short films starring Clive Owen as The Driver.  They were made with the top action directors and various famous actors to showcase the performance aspects of various BMW cars.

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Joe Sweet, Guy Ritchie

Composer: No score, just Song 2 by Blur and Wagner's The Ride of the Valkyries theme

Starring: Clive Owen, Michael Beattie, Toru Tanaka Jr., DTeflon, Troy Aguayo, Madonna, Woon Young Park

More info: IMDb

Plot: The Driver now carries an arrogant rock star who is visiting a major city (not Pittsburgh as earlier believed). Played by Madonna, this title character wants to get away from her bodyguards in the Driver's BMW. He soon gets tired of her and decides to have a bit of fun.

My rating: 9.5/10

Will I watch it again? YES!!!

Hilarious.  Would you believe that Madonna could be so convincing as a royal cunt?  I know, right?  Clive Owen looks like he's having a blast with that smirk on his face.  As soon as he left the parking garage I just knew it was going to be insanely fun and it was.  I also really dig who put him up to it.  This and the Tony Scott one, BEAT THE DEVIL (2002) with James Brown, are my two favorites and they're both going to get repeat viewings at parties.  Great fun.

Speed (1994)

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Graham Yost

Composer: Mark Mancina

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton, Jeff Daniels, Alan Ruck, Glenn Plummer, Richard Lineback, Beth Grant, Hawthorne James, Carlos Carrasco

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Get ready for rush hour.

Plot: A young cop must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

Dumbest line: Jack (Reeves): "Harry, there's enough C4 on this thing to put a hole in the world!"

Well it only took me 20 damn years to get around to watching this one for the first time.  Let's see, some other movies from 1994 I haven't seen yet are THE LION KING, THE FLINTSTONES, D2: THE MIGHTY DUCKS, NELL, WALKER TEXAS RANGER 3: DEADLY REUNION, ERNEST GOES TO SCHOOL, DEBBIE DOES DALLAS AGAIN or any number of the 3,000+ movies that came out that year.  So how was it?  I liked it.  It's dumb as shit but it's fully aware of itself.  There are so many leaps of logic that it was pretty obvious after a few minutes that I was supposed to sit back and enjoy this nonsense.  The whole idea is ludicrous but it was fun...except the last twenty minutes.  Dude, the movie's almost two hours long (I'm watching BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY (1991) while I write this).  For most of the film I thought de Bont & pals did a great job with the pacing but that was until the subway sequence at the end.  By that point I was checking out and that bit feels like it goes on forever.  But I'll give 'em this, for a premise that sounded weak as shit, they made a fun, rousing movie (except for the last bit, of course).  I often found myself laughing out loud ad the ridiculousness of it all.  I would love to have seen this in the theater 20 years ago on opening weekend with a rowdy crowd.  That would have been something.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Follow (2001)

In 2001, BMW produced a series of 8 short films starring Clive Owen as The Driver.  They were made with the top action directors and various famous actors to showcase the performance aspects of various BMW cars.

Director: Kar Wai Wong

Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker

Composers: Joel Goodman, Jeff Rona

Starring: Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Adriana Lima, Forest Whitaker

More info: IMDb

Plot: The Driver is now spying on a celebrity's wife suspected of adultery.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.

This is the most relaxing and hypnotic of all of the short films so far.  It's really soothing visually and aurally.  It's rather touching, too.  All else I can say is very, very nice.