Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ulzana's Raid (1972)

Director: Robert Aldrich

Starring: Burt Lancaster, Bruce Davison, Richard Jaeckel

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: To Defeat The Apaches, They Had to Be Just as Savage

Plot: Report reaches the US cavalry that the Apache leader Ulzana has left his reservation with a band of followers. A compassionate young officer, Lieutenant DeBuin (Davison), is given a small company to find him and bring him back; accompanying the troop is McIntosh (Lancaster), an experienced scout, and Ke-Ni-Tay, an Apache guide. Ulzana massacres, rapes and loots across the countryside; and as DeBuin encounters the remains of his victims, he is compelled to learn from McIntosh and to confront his own naivety and hidden prejudices.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? Yup

Burt Lancaster = Badass. Burt is one of the few people who've earned the title, "The Man" in my book. In the late 60s and early 70s he starred in some fantastic gritty westerns like THE PROFESSIONALS (1966), LAWMAN (1971), VALDEZ IS COMING (1971) and ULZANA'S RAID (1972). He also did THE SCALPHUNTERS (1968) but I haven't seen it YET. I'll have to make it a priority as the other four are outstanding and judging by the cast and plot of SCALP it's going to happen within days.

This flic is violent, violent, violent. It reminded me of a large series of EXTREMELY violent western paperback novels (started in the early 70s) by George G. Gillman about a man called EDGE (also the name of the series). You want violence? EDGE has got it and how. You're sure to find at least one at your local used book shop. I found about a dozen.
Well, in UR lots of people are killed and in grisly ways. There's a FANTASTIC scene in which a trooper is escorting a woman and her boy to the Fort when they are overtaken by Ulzana's men. Knowing what the Apaches will do them if captured, the trooper, without hesitation, shoots the woman between the eyes, takes the boy from the wagon and rides off. They get a few yards when their horse is shot and falls to the ground. Lying on his back, the trooper rolls a few feet to fetch his pistol, grabs it and immediately puts it in his mouth and pulls the trigger! BAM!!! Awesome. But it gets better. He's dead on his back now with smoke coming from his mouth!!!!!!!!! If that's not enough to run out and get this I don't know what is.

There are several in-your-face moments like this throughout the picture. It's refreshing to see such harsh images in older films. It just feels rare but certainly welcome.

Burt has lots of great lines and moments that are in his typical fashion.

Lt. Harry Garnett DeBuin: Well, what's the point, Mr. MacIntosh, if we can't close the gap. McIntosh: Remember the rules, Lieutenant. The first one to make a mistake gets to buryin' some people.


McIntosh: Lieutenant, a horse will run so far, so fast, for so long, and then it will lie down on ya. When a horse lies down on an Apache, he puts a fire under his belly and gets him back on his feet. When the horse dies, he gets off, eats a bit of it, and steals another. Ain't no way you can better that.


Lt. Harry Garnett DeBuin: So they are on foot!
McIntosh: That's a mighty fair description of men without horses, Lieutenant.

Great stuff. So what's not to like? The music, that's what. Frank De Vol (sometimes going by the name of simply De Vol) writes like this is a harmless jaunt in the desert with pretty scenery and Mormons in covered wagons and shit. This is a gritty film that deserved a difficult score. Alex North could've done it justice. Bernard Herrmann could have, too. Shit, Jerry Goldsmith was around then and working like a mo-fo. But Frank De Vol? Ugh. The score rarely works and, for me, detracted in several places that would have benefited with no score at all.
I'm a huge fan of Spaghetti Westerns, owning over 300 of them, largely because they were different. They were violent. They were fun. There was a lot of shit, too, like any genre but the good ones offer so much. ULZANA'S RAID was definitely influenced by them and so much the better for it. If you like westerns of the badass variety then you need to see this one as well as the others I mentioned. They're all fantastic. In a few more days I'll be able to dig into THE SCALPHUNTERS. Can't wait.

Beowulf (3D) (2007)

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Ray Winstone, Robin Wright Penn, Anthony Hopkins, and that hideous Angelina Jolie

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Face your demons

Plot: The warrior Beowulf must fight and defeat the monster Grendel who is terrorizing towns, and later, Grendel's mother, who begins killing out of revenge.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? Hell, yeah

WOW! I love 3-D and I'm so glad it's making a comeback and in a huge way. But I'm not going to get into that. I've got a lot to say about the film but even still, I'm going to hold back the gushing.

I loved it. The casting was great (except for Jolie), the animation was great (with the exception of the horses galloping which looked cartoonish), the music BLEW ME AWAY (I've been a fan of Alan Silvestri since the 80s and with this one he knocks it out of the park), the exterior shots were freaking amazing, the dragon was unbelievable and then ending...Nice!

I've been a huge fan of Ray Winstone since I saw him in SEXY BEAST (2000) a few years back. His voice was pitch perfect for Beowulf and he kicks all kinds of animated ass. Grendal, the troll, was a very nice creation but he did look a tad too sympathetic. I feel for the position he's been put into and for his story so I don't need to "see" it on screen. The emotion's there already.

OK, I can't stand Angelina Jolie. I think she's unattractive and has gotten by on her looks for far too long. Those lips have got to go. She's got a great body but the neck-up thing just weirds me out, man. When we and Beowulf get to see all of her for the first time she's either wearing high heel shoes or she's got a spike that juts out, pressing her heel 8 inches above her toes as if she's wearing high heels. That was just fucking retarded. She's a sea-nymph-ghost-lip-thing or something of the sort. I can't stand to relive it. Moving on...

A lot has been said about Beowulf's nude fight scene. I thought it was original and, knowing Beowulf's conceit I could buy into it. The only thing that bothered me was that after several minutes of objects conveniently blocking out his package I couldn't help but laugh every time it happened and that bothered me. It's a great fight sequence and I didn't like being removed from it for some cheap laughs.

About halfway through it seems our story is over as Beowulf has met his objective but it turns out there's a lot more. At first it was strange because it really felt like the movie was over but I soon got used to it and I really dug where the story went from that point on.

The big fight at the end with the dragon was shit-hot cool and that's that. And then there's the ending. I'm not going to spoil any of it. All I have to say is Zemeckis has giant brass-covered motion-captured animated balls. There's barely any sound and the camera just sits on a character's face for what felt like 10-15 seconds and maybe longer. What happens? I've got my strong suspicion but I'm not going to spill it. Just ask.

AND THEN THE BOTTOM DROPS OUT OF THE FUCKING SKY and some retarded pop song starts as the credits roll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are they that fucking desperate to sell god damned records? WTF? I will say this, as soon as I get my hands on the DVD I'm going to author my own DVD and substitute that song with something else. Here we have an absolutely beautiful quiet moment that you wouldn't expect in a Hollywood film, much less an animated Hollywood film, and they ruin it with noise!!! A fucking pop song at that!!! Oh, I'm so pissed. If not going for some of the quieter somber cues from the score they could have at least (and this is what I'm going to change the pop song with) used Penn's rendition of the song we heard earlier with just her and a lute. They hurt a beautiful scene and it's the last scene of the film. Morons.

Other than that, the film's fantastic. Treat yourself and see it in 3-D and be sure to take an extra pair of pants.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bare Behind Bars (1980)

Director: Oswaldo de Oliveira

Starring: Naked women and LOTS of them

More Info: IMDB

Plot: In a Brazilian prison, women rebel against the guards' sadism and sexual abuse and decide to run away. Some manage to escape and are chased by the Police.

My Rating: 5/10 and all of it for the sleaze factor alone

Would I watch it again?

This might be the first sleazy Women In Prison (WIP) film I've seen. I can't think of any offhand. I've got a few on DVD but I just haven't gotten around to them until now. I was over at the forum at one of my absolute favorite mondo movie websites,, reading a thread on "name your 3 favorite sleazy movies" or something like that. There were some great titles in there like:

ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS (this one has a jaw-dropping trailer you just HAVE to see)

So the other night when I was in the mood for something sleazy to go with my cocktail I just made I thought, "Hey, how about BARE BEHIND BARS?" I mean, it's got a reputation for being a classic WIP and it's on the unofficial sleaze movie list. What the hell.

Woof. Now I likes me some nudity and all but this takes it way past the point of anything fun and turns it into something natural as if we humans are naked in our everyday lives and we get aroused when we see someone WITH clothes on. There's A LOT of nudity in this. I'm not going to go back and take notes but I'd swear that every single character in this film until the final 20 minutes gets naked or stays naked. If you were to take a Super Wal-Mart, empty it and then fill it with just boobs, you'd see more in this picture. It's almost numbing how abundant they are.

Now wait just a minute. Again, I likes me some boobs but this is over the top. The screen shots I have here are about the few moments without the girls showing their "girls". I haven't seen this many lady lumps since I was backstage at an Aerosmith concert. I'm just sayin'.

This movie's got it all when it comes to the staples you find in a WIP. Like...a tough as nails warden (female here), lesbian guards, lesbian prisoners, showers, rape, and so on.

Despite all of that I was getting bored after the first half hour. There's so much repetition. For example, how many soaped-up shower scenes do you need? Apparently writer/director de Oliveira felt he needed at least 3. But it gets better.

For the kids, it's got girls concealing folding shaving razors all up in their vag, a vagina-sniffing nurse, more bush than in the White House (gotta love that 70s/80s Euro-bush), bra-less prison guards, a bra-less warden with her blouse unbuttoned most of the way, naked calisthenics, girls being sold into slavery to wealthy jet-setting lesbians, a PINEAPPLE (!) carved into the fattest dildo you've ever seen. And that's before three of the girls escape.

Once the escapees make their way to a poor family's house they cut off the father's cock and feed it to the dog, kill the mother, kill the father and then gang rape their 10-year-old son and it ain't pretty.

But wait, there's more? You betcha. They leave that house and go their separate ways and one girl starts prostituting herself out. With one of her Johns she cuts his crank off and stuff's it down his throat.

And the acting? What? There's acting? Everyone is acting so loud and over-the-top you'd think:

A) They're in a John Waters movie (and i LOVE me some JW movies)


B) This is the same cast from the hit Brazilian stage play, BARE BEHIND BARS where they couldn't afford sound amplification and had to project their voices farther on their own.

The music literally sounds like a child banging at random on a piano. Erroll Flynn, so it's told, used to get wasted at parties and play "You are My Sunshine" on the piano with his dick. Maybe that's what they were going for only it was Beethoven during his deaf years doing it instead but even that would have been better.

Damn, to write about this it seems like an awesome flick I wouldn't want to miss. It's got some truly great sleaze thrown about but it moves so slowly I was ready for it to end. I'll blame de Oliveira on that one. The pacing is terrible which isn't helped by the static camera just sitting there all the bloody time doing nothing. But then what am I asking for? An Orson Welles WIP flic?

Despite my less than enthusiastic experience with BARE BEHIND BARS, if they ever make a sequel...I wanna direct it. Viva la Sweater Meat!

Lady Killer (1933)

Director: Roy Del Ruth

Staring: James Cagney

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Is Hollywood howling at this inside story of The Screen Idol Who Threw -?- -?- -?- Out Of His -?- -?- -?- On Her -?- !

Plot: When a movie theater usher is fired, he takes up with criminals and finds himself quite adept at various illegal activities. Eventually though, the police catch up with him, and he runs to hide out in Los Angeles. There he stumbles into the movie business and soon rises to stardom. He has gone straight, but his new found success arouses the interest of his old criminal associates, who are not above blackmail...

My Rating: 9/10

Would I watch it again? It's Cagney, of course.

I could go on all day about Cagney but for the gist of it, read what I said about JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY (1984) just before this one. Cagney is THE MAN. No one can touch him on what he brings to his pictures. He adds little touches to his performances that elevate him to a greater level. His pictures are fun as hell and he's always fun to watch. I first saw him, as most people do, as Tom Powers in THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931). He's a badass through and through in this one and that final shot of him in the doorway gives me chills just thinking about it. From that point on, nearly twenty years ago, I was hooked. Over the years I would watch everything I came across of his but surprisingly it wasn't until about 5 years ago that I FINALLY watched YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942). I'd always loved his performances but in this one I was moved by how freaking talented he was. I was speechless. Here's a guy I'd only known as a gangster, apart from a few comedies I'd seen, and then here he his dancing his ass off all over the place. WOW!

I've idolized this guy since I first discovered him in my late teens. His first name is James. So is mine. He's 5'9", I'm 5'9". His first acting role was in a musical dressed in drag. My first acting role was in a musical dressed in drag (Mary Sunshine in Chicago). That's it but I'll take it.

See? I can go on all day. So I'm watching JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY and I've just GOT to watch a Cagney flic I hadn't see yet so I popped this one in. I found myself laughing so hard chocolate milk was flying out of my nose only I wasn't drinking chocolate milk. The power of the movies I guess.

It starts out innocently enough for Dan (Cagney) as he gets fired from his movie theater gig in a fashion that suits him - loudmouth smartass. He's duped into returning a lady's purse to her apartment where a back room card game is going on. He gets taken for all his dough but figures out he's been had and catches onto their scheme. Next thing you know his head of the gang and making money hand-over-fist running a nightclub. A robbery goes bad for him and his boys so they split up and he heads out West eventually making his way to California where, starting out as an extra in a film, he's on his way to movie stardom. He hooks up with a lovely actress and just when he thinks everything is peachy the old gang shows up looking to take advantage of their boss' new found influence whether they have to steal it or blackmail him for it.

One cool thing about this is not only is this a largely comedic roll for Cagney, he's also got a few scenes where he gets to be badass and roughhouse with the boys showing some great range. From wise-cracking funny man to badass in less than a second. Nice.

Remember that scene from THE PUBLIC ENEMY where Cagney smashes the grapefruit in Joan Blondell's face? He's got a great moment in this where he does something equally unexpected and shocking. Myra (Mae Clarke) has shown up at Dan's flat to attempt to blackmail him with his past that he's trying to hide. She says, "I think you'd better start bein' nice to Mama." "Umm, hmm" Dan laughs as he does this...

"Just look at that style!"

and drags her ass to the door, kicks her across the hallway onto a hall sofa and then throws her suitcase at her, missing her by inches, as it slams against the wall!!!

His criminal former-pals show up and cause a great deal of trouble for Dan. It looks like things are going downhill for Dan so fast and hard that he might not make it. But, naturally, being a comedy of the 30s, it ends happily and that's the way we want it because Dan's such a great guy. And why not? Cagney's THE MAN!

Johnny Dangerously (1984)

Director: Amy Heckerling

Starring: Michael Keaton, Joe Piscopo, Marilu Henner, Maureen Stapleton, Peter Boyle, Griffin Dunne, Danny DeVito, and on and on and on

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Organized crime has never been this disorganized

Plot: Set in the 1930's, an honest, goodhearted man is forced to turn to a life of crime to finance his neurotic mother's skyrocketing medical bills.

View Scene:

And here's another one...

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? Chyeah, you fargin' icehole

I'm crackin' up just thinking about it. The last time I saw this was in the 80s. 20 years later it's still killin' me with laughter. Back then it was the first time I saw Keaton and I could see the guy was funny but I didn't realize then how good of a job he does in this.

In those 20 or so years I've become a HUGE James Cagney fan. In fact, he's my favorite actor. Every film I've seen of his, and I've seen lots, he's been great and is always a joy to watch. He's got this energy and charisma that I've never seen in any actor - ever. He adds so much with his mannerisms that is pitch-perfect for every character he plays. If anyone else tried it they'd look like a cartoon but Cagney pulls it off. And he's just as smooth and natural in a comedy as he is as a badass gangster. He's quick, smart and light on his feet.

JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY is a send-up to the exact pictures that Cagney made in the 1930s so if you're going to get someone to embody Cagney, he'd better be good. Keaton nails it to the back wall. I'm not saying he could double for Cagney, no one can do that, but in this picture he doesn't have to. He just has to bring out the essence of a Cagney performance in a gangster comedy. It's a light, quick, smart, funny performance. Tops.

Keaton gets the most laughs, naturally, but everyone in this picture gets their share of jokes & gags. I've always liked Joe Piscopo and enjoyed what he brought to Saturday Night Live and I never understood why people bash him. He's funny in this despite his (and everyone else's) one-dimensional character.

JD feels like a 70s Mel Brooks picture. The film opens up with a street scene and the year "1935" at the bottom of the screen and then...

Great stuff. The laughs are fairly consistent with barely a dull moment. Not all of the gags work and that's OK because the ones that do work feel original and fresh, like the one above. There's some great cameos by Dom DeLuise as the Pope, Ray Walston (Mr. Hand from FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH) has a very funny recurring gag, Alan Hale Jr. (Skipper from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND) has a handful of scenes as a desk sergeant, Taylor Negron, Vincent Schiavelli and on and on.

Maureen Stapleton is HYSTERICAL and has some of the best lines in the picture. And then there's Merilu Henner as Johnny's Moll!!! HUBBA HUBBA! Just give me 2 hours in an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town with her and...

I could keep going but you get the point. It's not a laugh-a-minute ride like I'd want it to be but it's got plenty of great old-fashioned genuine belly laughs and a truly wonderful make-or-break performance by Michael Keaton that makes me want to watch a Cagney picture. And I did just that.

Oh, yeah, and kids? So ya think crime pays?

Avenger of the Seven Seas (1961)

Director: Domenico Paolella

Starring: Richard Harrison, Roldano Lupi

More Info: IMDB

Plot: It's 1790 and British Naval Commander Redway is driven by greed for money and will stop at nothing to get it. His second in command, David Robinson, questions his allegiance when Redway kills his father and takes his brother prisoner. In order to save his brother and avenge his father's death David must join forces with a band of pirates, led by Captain Bernard, hunt down and kill Redway. Along the way we are treated to sea battles, blood-thirsty cannibals, and wall-to-wall action.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? Hell, yeah.

Oh, man, where do I start? I had such low expectations going into this one such as:

- There are far too few really good pirate movies, most of which are pre-1950
- The last two pirate movies I saw, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2 & 3 slurped ass
- I have a VHS dub, albeit in widescreen, with an English dub and Dutch subtitles burned into it
- I'm watching that VHS dub on my 60" HDTV so the picture is blown up considerably

I couldn't have been more wrong. The picture quality was surprisingly good considering the source, even after enlarging it to fill the screen appropriately. Hell, it looked fantastic. It's certainly the best any video tape dub has ever looked on that TV. AND THE MOVIE KICKED ASS!!! For a complete synopsis, see the link above for where I wrote one for the site. For the record, as you can see from above, the print I have is titled, THE EXECUTIONER ON THE SEAS.

This movie is wall-to-wall action. We barely get to breathe for five minutes when there's more fighting. The acting is much better than I expected. I've seen lots of Italian pulp films of that period and the quality all around is rarely great but usually adequate to bad. The acting is quite good but there is a standout performance from the Pirate Captain Bernard (in pic below to the right of star, Richard Harrison) but I don't see a credit for that character on imdb so I don't know who played him. He was great. I'm guessing it's Walter Barnes listed as "Van Artz" as I don't recall anyone in the film by that name. Regardless, he's having a blast in his role.

Captain Redway's hoochie mama on the side, Nike (see pic below), is supposed to be a native island girl but she's so obviously played by an Italian in black face that it's laughable. I never quite got used to it because it's so damn obvious. It gets a few laughs.

The first time, and there are several, we get treated to a battle at sea between two ships I thought they were going to skimp on the effects since it looked like a moderately budgeted film but they didn't. It was awesome with some great effects (despite knowing they're models - I can overlook that if it's entertaining, and it is) and fight scenes. There's even a fun scene with the pirate ship attacking the British soldiers on land, lobbing cannonballs all over the place. Cool.

I can't say enough about this film. The music's great, the pacing's great, there's a little bit of romance and a shit load of action. There was more action and fun packed into the film's 90 minutes than I found in both of the PotC 2&3 films which have a total time of 318 (that's over 5 hours for TWO films, people!!!). Keep your special effects and convoluted story plots and twists. All I ask for in a pirate movie is a story WORTH following, actors WORTH watching, locations WORTH visiting and action WORTH staying awake for. AVENGER OF THE SEVEN SEAS gave me that and in spades.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Killer (1989)

Director: John Woo

Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Danny Lee, Sally Yeh

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: One Vicious Killer. One Relentless Cop... ...Ten Thousand Bullets.

Plot: A violent Hong Kong action film, this is the story of an assassin, Jeffrey Chow (Yun-Fat) who takes one last job so he can retire and care for his girlfriend Jenny. When his employers betray him, he reluctantly joins forces with Inspector Lee (aka Dumbo), the cop who is pursuing him. Together, the new friends face the final confrontation of the gangsters out to kill them.

My Rating: 8/10
Would I watch it again? Sure

I first saw this back in college in the early 90s. I worked at a mom & pop video store at the time and it looked like fun. It was then and still is now. What stuck in my mind for those 15 years was the final 20 minute shoot-out in a church complete with doves and enough slow-motion to make another movie. John Woo knows action and that's where this movie shines.

Yun-Fat is great as the killer-with-a-heart-of-gold. Equally as fun is his police adversary, Lee. When there's drama it gets a bit too sappy at times but when there's action it's balls-out, fucked-up fury like you've never seen. Well, if you've watched a lot of action/crime movies in the past 18 years you will have seen A TON of it since Woo has been one of the most imitated directors ever. If you've ever seen someone flying sideways firing two guns in slow-motion then you've seen his influence. His action scenes will have your jaw dropping to the floor with giddy glee. His use of slow-motion is as good as, if not better than, Sam Peckinpah! I only like slow-motion when it's done well and I dread it when it's not. Woo uses it a lot and it somehow doesn't seem wrong.

With my only slight gripe being the sugary dramatic scenes I hear Woo's HARD BOILED (1992 - also with Yun-Fat) is the one for me. Apparently he toned down the drama and delivered more action. I'll have to make that one a priority.

Bloody Mama (1970)

Director: Roger Corman

Starring: Shelley Winters, Robert De Niro, Don Stroud, Bruce Dern, Pat Hingle

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Say it with bullets!

Plot: Machine gun totin' Ma Barker (Winters) takes her gang of four sons (including Stroud and De Niro) on the road for a mid-west depression-era crime spree that included bank robbing, kidnapping and murder. She just wants what's best for her boys, wouldn't you?

My Rating: 6/10
Would I watch it again? Not likely

Say, kids. Do you want to see Shelley Winters bare-ass naked showing her goods off for the world to see? No? Well then hows about a hungry Robert De Niro as a low life dim-witted doper?

Well, thankfully Winters is fully clothed throughout (I'd have to take away a few points of my score if she weren't) so you can rest easy as you read on.

Roger Corman should've stuck to producing instead of directing. I absolutely loved his LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960) and A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1960). But this one, in an obvious attempt to capitalize on the recent hit BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967), makes one too many pit stops in Dullsville. Don't get me wrong, it's got a lot going for it like Winters her usual over-the-top style. She hams it up with the best of 'em (though she was more fun in POOR PRETTY EDDIE (1975)). And then the other big draw for this is seeing a young and hungry De Niro as a hopped-up idiot junkie. When he's not sniffin' glue he's raping recreational swimmers. One of my favorites, Bruce Dern, is barely in it but when he's on screen he owns it. Pat Hingle is great but it's his scenes with Mama that could have been trimmed. It's not him that brings it down but the unnecessary dialogue that adds to the, seemingly over long, 90 minute run time. It's overkill and it needs to be squelched. This film could have been trimmed by about 15 minutes and you'd have a much better experience.

You've also got Mama having sex (implied) with her sons. Her eldest son takes on a hooker for a wife which he shares with his brothers only until they're married and then it's off limits! And once again, Bruce Dern steals every scene he's in. He's acting circles around EVERYONE!

The best line? When Winters is leaving her loser husband she says to him, "Ya never did mount me proper." Classic.

There's a lot to like here but the overall lack of action and long, drawn-out drama scenes bring the film to a screeching halt too many times. And I put the responsibility on Corman for that one. Four years later he got this genre right when he produced BIG BAD MAMA (1974) and let Steve Carver direct. THAT is what BLOODY MAMA should have been. It's a much better film with more action AND a TOTALLY NUDE ANGIE DICKENSON!!! Hold off judgement until you've seen her. I chi wawa! Plus you've got a hammy Bill Shatner thrown into the mix.

So how do you watch BLOODY MAMA? Easy, just follow it up with BIG BAD MAMA and you've got yourself one hell of a drive-in double feature - just like Mama used to make.

Rescue Dawn (2006)

Director: Werner Herzog

Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: A true story of survival... declassified.

Plot: In the early days of what would become the Vietnam War, a US fighter pilot (Dieter Dengler (Bale)) is shot down on a secret mission over Laos. He is captured and placed in a make-shift POW camp where he relentlessly plots the escape of his fellow inmates from day one.

My Rating: 7/10
Would I watch it again? No. Once was fine.

I love me some war movies. Even those of the POW variety. One of my favorite films is STALAG 17 (1953) and TV shows is HOGAN'S HEROES. Obviously this is much different.

Besides the cinematography (which is outstanding) the star of the show is Steve Zahn. Zahn usually plays comedic roles, my favorite being HAPPY, TEXAS (1999). Here I barely recognized him. He's really into the role so much so that you lose the actor and see the character. Bale is great, as always, as is Davies (who plays a Manson-esque POW). According to imdb everyone lost a few pounds to lend authenticity to their parts.
Here's the score:

Davies: lost 33 pounds
Zahn: lost 40 pounds
Bale: lost 55 pounds

Hell, the director, Herzog, even lost 30 pounds. The most noticeable weight loss comes from Davies (see pic above). But he's been pretty trim all along. Bale gains/loses weight as fast as Oprah and Zahn is fully clothed with a full beard so you don't see the results as much.

The film is based on the true story of Dengler which Herzog brought to the screen in the documentary, LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY (1997). I'm looking forward to seeing it as I could end up liking it more than RD. Rescue Dawn is good but my big gripe about it is that I was never pulled into the story. It's a good story with beautiful location shooting, very good performances and, not knowing the outcome, some suspense and drama. I wasn't moved/touched by it and, considering the type of film it is, I wanted to be. Nothing. Maybe it was me or the moment. I don't know. All I know is it wasn't happening and I felt that detracted from the film. I'm keen to see the documentary, though. Maybe there I'll find what I'm looking for.

So what do I do to fix that? I watch BLOODY MAMA (1970), that's what.

Apocalypto (2006)

Director: Mel Gibson

Starring: Rudy Youngblood

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: When the end comes, not everyone is ready to go

Plot: Set in the Mayan civilization, when a man's idyllic presence is brutally disrupted by a violent invading force, he is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression where a harrowing end awaits him. Through a twist of fate and spurred by the power of his love for his woman and his family he will make a desperate break to return home and to ultimately save his way of life.

My Rating: 9/10
Would I watch it again? Yes!

Mel Gibson's got balls. Big ones and they're on display in this film from start to finish. To make an action revenge picture set more than 500 years ago in a society most people don't know dick about AND film it entirely in an ancient language with subtitles takes big ones.

I saw this in the theater during it's opening run and, not knowing what to expect, I was blown away. Watching it again a few days ago was just as fresh and amazing as it was last year. WOW! The camera work/location shooting is absolutely beautiful. I could see myself living there as they did. Well, without the human sacrifice stuff and all. Most of the actors in the film have never acted before and, surprisingly, it doesn't show. Top-notch all the way.

The story takes its time to unfold giving us plenty of time to soak up a day in the life of a particular tribe. When they are abruptly awaken to their attackers that's when things start rolling and fast. It's brutal. It's in your face. It's AWESOME! Mel doesn't hold back and nor should he. There's plenty of suspense on the trek of the captives from their jungle home to the Mayan city where they'll be sacrificed. The city is fantastic and huge. I want Mel to make a movie just about THIS civilization.

"Blue Moon on Monday"

We get plenty of eye candy in the city all the way through the sacrificing. Shortly after that our hero, Jaguar Paw (Youngblood), escapes and then it's ON. It's at this point you realize you're watching a good old fashioned revenge pic as JP is hunted down by the same family of thugs that brought him and his tribe there. He picks them off one by one and each kill is better than the previous. Oh, Man, this is fun.

The end gives us hope but there's a parting shot of the Spaniard Conquistidors showing up and you know what's going to happen then...THAT'S another movie I want Mel to shoot. And I thought that was pretty damn cool that he gives us so much that it leaves you wanting more and more. Oh, I was satisfied alright, but I did want much more. Kind of like a great rock concert. Always leave 'em wanting more...

3 Dev Adam (3 Mighty Men)(1973)

Director: T. Fikret Ucak

Starring: Turks

More Info: IMDB

Plot: Istanbul is being terrorized by a crime wave let by an evil Spider-Man, and the police call in American superhero Captain America and Mexican wrestler Santo to put a stop to it.

My Rating: 5/10

Would I watch it again? Not unless I edited it down to 45 minutes.

I love me some kooky world cinema. This is only my second taste of Turkish cinema, the first being a kabob western based on Lucky Luke (it was bad). In the 1970s the Turks were really bad (or good?) at a total disregard of copyright laws stealing everywhere they could. By the end of the decade there was a Turkish Star Wars, Star Trek, Superman - you name it, they were ripping it off. They even had the balls to use actual footage from the films they were ripping off as well as the music score from popular films.

So I was excited about this one. I'd heard about how nuts it was with having these three main characters - especially with Spider-Man in green with monstrous eye brows as a bad guy. I'm all over it. It's bad, sure, but in a fun way. It's got some really bad/campy fight scenes. There are two that go on forever and that's too long. At 81 minutes you'd think that'd be just right. Right? Seriously, it's one of those, "Let's get everybody together tonight, drink heavily and watch a fucked-up movie" kind of flick. But it does have some fat that needs to be trimmed; about 30 minutes worth.

At least it's got English subtitles which is more than that kabob western I watched had or the copy of the Turkish Star Wars that I'm waiting to watch. Music-wise they're blatantly using cues from the Bond film, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. I could easily think of better Bond scores to hijack than that one. Not knocking John Barry but his score to the previous Bond picture, OHMSS is better and more exciting. But what the fuck do I know?

This movie is gloriously bad. It only ranks lower than normal because of the painfully dull slow spots AND the ending has Captain American (NOT in his costume but in street clothes) fighting Spider-Man only to kill him and then another Spider-Man shows up to fight him. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you there are probably 8 or 9 Spider-Man guys that show up one at a time as each one is destroyed. It lasted a good 10 to 15 minutes and I actually found myself yelling, "Come the fuck on already. Christ on crutches!" getting really frustrated. And THEN when he's defeated the last one you see yet another Spider-Man get into a sedan and drive away leaving our two heroes and their woman standing there laughing like the end of a LOVE BOAT episode. Other than that it was great. Where else are you going to get to see a man attacked by a guinea pig comin' at him through a giant tube? Well, besides Richard Gere's apartment. OH!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Black Sunday (1977)

Director: John Frankenheimer

Starring, Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern, Marthe Keller

More Info: IMDB

Taglline: There has never been a motion picture adventure like...

Plot: An Israeli anti-terrorist agent (Shaw) must stop a disgruntled Vietnam vet (Dern) cooperating in a plot to commit a terrorist plot at the Super Bowl.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? Yes

There are many reasons to watch this. Robert Shaw, one of the greatest actors of the 70s, turns in another wonderful performance. He's convincing as a man who will stop at nothing to do what has to be done. Another is Bruce Dern. No one, and I mean no one, can go from zero to psycho in less than two seconds like Dern. He gets lots of screen time to show a tremendous amount of range - more than anyone else in the film by a long shot. He's brilliant. Keller's good but she pretty much delivers a one-note performance since all she has to do is act worried and bitchy.

Then you've got Frankenheimer's direction. He keeps thinks moving along, giving us a lot of ground to cover.. At times we're following the three main characters in three locations around the world. He's got a good script (based on a Thomas "Hannibal Lector" Harris novel) with some very good actors. It's suspenseful and effective. You probably feel you know how it's going to end but even so, you are on the edge of your seat during the final 20 minutes. It gets down to the wire and you just don't know how it's going to turn out. Very nice.

Then there's a wonderfully tense score by John Williams, who, that same year, cranked out his landmark scores for STAR WARS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND!!! This was just two years into his amazingly prolific and brilliant period of scores from 1975 to 1984. Everything he cranked out during this time (with one exception - HEARTBEEPS) is utterly fantastic. BLACK SUNDAY is no exception. His music along with Frankenheimer's direction & editing build this thing to the intense finale that just won't let up. It held me to the end of it's 2 hour and 23 minute run time and that's no small feat.

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Director: Richard Donner

Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Tom Atkins

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: If these two can learn to stand each other... the bad guys don't stand a chance.

Plot: A veteran detective is partnered with a young detective with a suicidal death wish. You know the rest.

My Rating: 9/10

Would I watch it again? Hell, yeah!

It's been at least 15 years since I've seen this. I remember liking it (then having seen it a couple of times or better) but not this much. I watched the Director's Cut, which for all I could tell included a cut scene of Riggs taking out an idiot sniper, and it just kicked all kinds of ass. What a fun fun movie. Great mix of action and comedy.

It starts out with some hot half-naked chick getting hopped-up on coke and then does what everybody would do and that's make a swan dive off the 20th floor onto a limo. A little something for the fellas...

"Nice credit placement, huh?"

And then throw in a little something for the ladies...

We also get treated to a half-naked Danny Glover in the bathtub when his wife and KIDS (!) barge in with the whole Happy Birthday business and he's all cool about it. So much so that he looked like he'd be equally cool standing up out of the tub in front of his kids.

I really don't need to say much about this since I can't imagine that there's anyone left who hasn't seen it. The ONLY thing I didn't like about this movie was Busey. I normally dig this guy but he's just really bad in this. Check out THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (1978) - he's good. He was even nominated for an Oscar! But not for this. Woof. The big fight at the end tends to go on too long and, even after all of the insane stuff that's led up to it, I just couldn't sit there believing none of the cops are going to get involved. Other than that it's a solid action/comedy that kicks the shit out most other action flicks to to this day. Nice.

Telefon (1977)

Director: Don Siegel

Starring: Charles Bronson, Lee Remick, Donald Pleasence

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: They'll do anything to stop Telefon. The operation that can trigger 51 human time bombs.

Plot: Nicolai Dalchimski (Pleasence), a mad KGB agent, steals a notebook full of names of "sleeping" undercover KGB agents sent to the U.S. in the 1960's. These agents got their assignments under hypnosis, so they can't remember their missions until they're told a line of a Robert Frost poem. Dalchimski flees to the U.S. and starts phoning these agents who perform sabotage acts against military targets. Since the Soviets can't disclose the crisis to the U.S. government, they send Colonel Borzov (Badass Bronson), a military intelligence officer, to find and eliminate Dalchimsky before his actions trigger a war. Badassness ensues.

My Rating: 7/10
Would I watch it again? Yup.

Bronson = Badass! He doesn't say much...he doesn't have to.

There are few actors whose films I will gladly watch everything they did. James Cagney is at the top, then Edward G. Robinson and then there's Bronson. I've enjoyed every film I've seen of theirs so far, and I've seen a lot. All of these men have a commanding presence unlike the other. When Bronson shows up it's ass-kicking time. He doesn't say much...he doesn't have to.

The great news about Telefon is Bronson's in it. The bad news is he doesn't show up until 20 minutes after the start of the film. There's some stupid crap involving the Ruskies, typical stuff, some funny bits with Tyne Daly, lots of faces you'll recognize, Donald Pleasence (WITH A TOUPE (but only as a disguise) - see below), and then we FINALLY get to Col. Badass and he's teaching a kid's hockey team?!?! That's just to show that he's got a gentler more tender side to him. He could easily take that whole frozen lake of kids if he wanted to. Maybe he does but he's just waiting for the right moment to strike. We'll never know because his stoic face won't show it. I'd like to think that after his mission is done he came back to settle unfinished business. But that's my movie and not this one.

Anyway, Badass Bronson hops a plane to the States to find/kill Pleasence and to help him he's teamed with Lee Remick (as Barbara). She's a talker and not the kind of person you want in the same state with BB. He literally says one word to her 20. She fun and bouncy but a bit too bouncy for me. Cute though. We soon find out she's not all she seems to be and has an agenda of her own. BB doesn't take shit from this broad and lays it down reeaaaal thick (see pic below). In this scene she's yapping away asking questions and when he just can't take it anymore he lunges forward and grabs her head and tells her how it's going to be. From that point more problems. He's got a job to do and she's only there to help him in anyway he needs. What a badass.

Stuff happens, some intrigue and suspense, then there's the big confrontation that has to happen when BB finds Pleasence at a roadside restaurant. BB does the inevitable (in a pretty cool fashion, too) and then it ends and rather abruptly. Feeling something was amiss I went to did some reading to find out the book takes the action one more scene further in a nail-biting climax that this movie could have used. I still dig it but having that one last action set piece would have elevated this to an 8 or a 9. VERY good Bronson flick.

Sadly, it's not on DVD but I snagged a widescreen copy from TCM when it aired some time ago. Keep an eye out for it. It's worth it.

Matalo! (1970)

Director: Cesare Canevari

Starring: Lou Castel, Corrado Pani

More Info: IMDB

Plot: A gang of outlaws rob a U.S. Government stagecoach of its gold and then hide out in a nearby ghost town until they can dispose of the gold and turn it into usable cash with the help of a rich banker. In the meantime a stranger named Ray and (separately) a widow ride into town seeking refuge from the heat but instead become victims of the sadistic gang.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? Oh, yeah.

#125 on Drive-In Delirium Volume 2 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

I'm so pissed. I've had this for a few years, gotten from a guy in Switzerland. It's a DVD dubbed from a Greek VHS (widescreen but with hard-coded Greek subs). It's watchable but there are some quality issues. At least it's widescreen, right? After watching it I see that the AWESOME DVD company, Wild East, put out a fantastic DVD here in the U.S. last year. I'll have to get this one. I support WE with every opportunity. They're doing something different and they deserve it.

This movie, despite the somewhat slow mid-section in the ghost town, rocks. Watch the trailer. I've seen it probably a dozen times and last week, after seeing it yet again, I decided that just HAD to be next. It's not as psychedelic as I had hoped for but it's close enough. The music is outstanding in it's psychedelic goodness. The camera work is sooooo 60s. It rocks. Corrado Pani (Bart) rocks. He's a badass.

The following is essentially all you need to know to whet your appetite enough to seek this out:

The film opens with an out-of-focus shot of what we will soon read as the sheriff's office. Two men escort a prisoner to the hanging platform just a few yards in front on the street. Bart, whose name we'll find out later, eagerly puts his head into the noose. He looks around and spots some men with rifles hidden about. Their his men and he smiles. Suddenly guns are blazing and the 60s rock score kicks in full throttle. Slo-mo as the lawmen are picked off one by one as well as the innocent bystanders. Bart's free and runs down the steps, across the street and into the sheriff's office. He gets his guns, and proceeds to steal the gold from the safe when he's confronted by a pistol-totin' widow (presumably the wife of the man he killed). He turns to her, seduces her briefly with his eyes, leans forward and kisses her passionately. As he does so he reaches into the safe, takes the pouch of gold, and walks away while she's still pointing the gun at him. He mounts his horse and you hear a gunshot. She's killed herself! HOW FREAKING COOL IS THAT? All this with that wild rock vocal you hear in the trailer.

Grandma's dead tired

Unfortunately the film doesn't maintain that cool but it's got it scattered enough throughout that you feel pretty damn satisfied by the end. And the end is nuts with Ray, whose spent most of his screen time getting his ass kicked and tortured in the ghost town, breaking free and saving the day with his big-ass pouch of boomerangs!?! This is a fucked up Spaghetti Western and in a good way. I'm sure I'll watch this one again as soon as I get the Wild East DVD. A better print usually makes for a better experience.

Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (1970)

Director: Yasuharu Hasebe

Staring: Meiko Kaji (hubba hubba)

More Info: IMDB

Plot: Mako and her girl friends enter a dispute with rival street gangsters The Eagles, a band of racist macho pigs led by the evil Baron, who hates half-breeds (descendants of American and Japanese couples). When one of the girls start dating a half-breed, they start a terror campaign to take all of them out of town. Mako and her gang fight back, helping their new friend Kazuma find his long lost sister. Kazuma gets hurt...a lot.

My Rating: 6/10
Would I watch it again? Nope.

I love the Pinky Violence genre of films. They're so different. There's the PV variety like this one that features strong female characters kicking all kinds of ass which permeated the late 60s and early 70s. Then there's the harsher PV films that dominated the genre in the mid-70s through the 80s which dealt almost exclusively with violent rape and there's usually plenty of it. I've seen a small handful of the latter that were quite good, violent and unique.

But SCR:SH (the third in a series of five SCR films) is in the former category and is somewhat fun. We're treated to some truly outrageous and fun only-in-a-Japanese-film songs. For the most part they sound weird and silly but damn it if they aren't catchy as hell. You've read the plot and that's pretty much it. There's lots of little crazy action set pieces that are fun. Kazuma, who is looking for his sister he hasn't seen since they were separated many years ago - WHO just happens to be in the gang of girls led by Mako (2nd from the right in the above pic - badass), the girl HE'S dating, but Kazuma (and his sister) doesn't find out until the last few minutes of the film !?! - gets his ass kicked by the male gang, The Eagles, several times AND HE JUST TAKES IT !?! Mako is angry with him because he's such a pussy but she continues to dig him because he plays guitar and sings to her.

Eventually Mako decides enough is enough and she, along with Kazuma, have a showdown with The Eagles. Together they kill them but take some serious bullets during the shootout. Kazuma, with all of his might, stands up with the sniper rifle in hand and stumbles to the edge of the platform overlooking the field below where his sister (just discovering he's her bro) runs toward him.


So what does he do with his dying breaths upon discovering that's his sister running toward him in tears? Sure, he fills her full of lead! WTF? She drops lifeless followed by Kaz who's just proven without a doubt how fucking worthless as a human he turned out to be. End of story. Cue music.


There's a few bar/lounge scenes that feature these beauties:

They belt out a couple of the catchy tunes we get the privilege of hearing. Damn, I love the Japanese. Hum-able tunes and ass-kicking broads...awesome! I'd give it a higher score but this film suffers from the same problem many of these types of films have and that's repetition. The film's pacing is fine it's just that there's so much information that keeps getting re-hashed you just wish they'd go with a 70 minute run time to cut to the chase. Overall, though, they're still fun and unique rides that really separate themselves from the rest of the world's cinema and for that I'm grateful to companies like Home Vision (who put this one out) and Panik House (who've put out a TON of great looking Pinky Violence films) for bringing these films to us.