Sunday, July 25, 2010

Don't Go in the House (1980)

Director: Joseph Ellison

Starring: Dan Grimaldi

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: If you do...then don't say we didn't warn you.

Plot: A disturbed young man who was burned as a child by his sadistic mother stalks women with a flamethrower.

My Rating: 3/10

Would I watch it again? Uh-uh

#24 on Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-o-Rama Show Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

When the opening credits only list three actors before moving on to the behind the camera credits and that film isn't MOON (2009), you know you're in trouble.

DON'T expect more than ONE on-screen kill!

DON'T expect much nudity!

DON'T expect quality acting (the lead actor, Grimaldi, is the worst offender of the bunch)!

DON'T expect anything more than a shitty synth score!

DON'T watch this movie!

Gotta love that 70's burning bush!

Seriously. This is just boring. The first kill is fucking awesome but the others aren't even shown. I realize he kills them the same way each time and it's the thrill of the hunt and all but still. It's a one-way ticket to Yawnsville and your captain is the very dull, Dan Grimaldi. Fly this one into the side of a mountain and burn. It's a fantastic looking print, though.

The House That Vanished (1973)

Director: Jose Ramon Larraz

Starring: Andrea Allan

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: It's Terror With A Twist!

Plot: A young model, Valerie, and her petty thief, photographer boyfriend (Terry) find their way through the English fog to a backwoods manor in hopes of looting it. What they find instead is murder, and when the model attempts to find the house again, her efforts come to naught.

My Rating: 5/10

Would I watch it again? No

#22 on Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-o-Rama Show Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

Yes, it's what you think it is...a hot naked British hippie chick with a monkey.

It's been less than two weeks since I've seen this and I've talked about it so much to friends that I'd swear I wrote about it. I guess not. That sucks because now I have to revisit it once more if, for no other reason, to keep my future self from watching it again. As if anyone should give a shit, this is loaded with spoilers.

Meet Andrea Allan (Valerie), one of many women who need to have my babies.

The plot synopsis above is basically the first half hour. Her boyfriend doesn't show up until the end when she discovers he's dead. Strange shit happens like his car showing up outside of her flat the next morning and her portfolio is in the backseat missing a few shots. She's worried so she meets with her best friends who tell her not to go to the fuzz.

She surprisingly gets over her missing boyfriend and goes back to work. Through a photog pal she meets Paul, a young attractive artist in his own right. He makes ceramic masks. Well, he creates the original and his live-in Aunt duplicates them. Valerie and Paul hit it off (if you can call it that - this guy's a real dweeb) and some sort of boring-ass relationship starts. She decides to go to the Scotland Yard and talk about the crazy shit that's been going on and the very next day this creepy guy moves into the vacant flat below hers. He keeps pigeons in his apartment. Why? except that it makes him more strange.

After long walks in the park, Valerie and Paul are digging each other enough for him to take her out to a house in the foggy woods. If you're still awake you just figured it's the same house from the beginning. V&P have sex, she wakes up next to the fire in the darkness, Paul's jealous aunt shows up, he stabs her, Valerie runs for her life, hides in a closet with Terry's body and that broad from the beginning, runs out of the house screaming finding her way into the arms of the creepy downstairs guy who shows up with the coppers. It turns out he's a detective and it looks like he used her as bait to catch the killer. Paul is inside the house putting his black gloves on and the credits roll. He's still alive so I don't know what the fuck is going on. He must be preparing to get taken in by five-O.

Here's Paul's aunt (looking like Richard Dawkins in drag), Valerie and Paul.

This is a standard early 70s thriller that's more akin to the Italian giallo films. It's got the staples of one - black gloves and a surprise killer. They did do a decent job of making you think the creepy downstairs guy was the killer. By that point I didn't care enough to give it much thought. The strangest thing about the movie was Paul's sex scene with his aunt!!!

You see, because of this weird thing going on he's got a fucked up view of women so he kills them. Whatever. It seems to me that he's more likely banging his mother. My theory is it is actually his mother and he just tells Valerie she's his aunt because it would be a deal killer if Valerie thought this guy lived with his mom. Either way, it's creepy and the two of them having sex is just awkward, neither seeming knowing what they're doing. They both have that look and feel that they are really related and the director is forcing them to go at it. Ugh.

Overall, there's not anything worth watching except for Andrea Allan's (Valerie) exceptional body. Woof! The director would go on to do much, MUCH better the very next year with one of the best (if not the best) Euro lesbian vampire films ever, VAMPYRES (1974). Skip this one and watch VAMPYRES twice.

Pets (1974)

Director: Raphael Nussbaum

Starring: Candice Rialson, Joan Blackman, Teri Guzman & Ed Bishop

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: They're All Looking For A Master

Plot: Bonnie (Rialson), after narrowly escaping a gang rape, meets Pat (Guzman) who gets her involved with robbing a man at gunpoint. Wanting nothing to do with that shit, Bonnie splits and is caught stealing an apple from a market vendor by Geraldine (Blackman). Geraldine, an artist, has the hots for Bonnie so she covers for her and pays for the apple when she gets busted by the owner. Bonnie moves in with Geraldine, becoming her lover and muse. When she wants to go out and bag a man, Geraldine objects. Wouldn't you know it but a friend of Geraldine's visits, Victor (played by Bishop), and takes a liking to Bonnie.

But wait, there's more. A burglar breaks into the house and is caught by the two girls. When Geraldine thinks he's gone, Bonnie sneaks him up to her room and spends the night with him...and by spend the night I mean she fucks him. Geraldine, upon discovering this the next morning, kills the burglar and Bonnie runs away. Bonnie runs into Victor and moves in with him whom he now keeps as his pet.

My Rating: 3/10

Would I watch it again? NO

#19 on Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-o-Rama Show Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

So what's this fucking movie called? Pets, right? Bonnie doesn't actually become Victor's pet until 80 minutes into the film! That's just about 20 minutes before the picture is over. AND he doesn't even do any 'pet' things with her. She's just kept in a cage and let out to go to dinner or something. OK so maybe, JUST MAYBE, you could make a case that Geraldine was keeping her as a pet but without a leash or a cage and that Bonnie later becomes a literal pet. I'll buy that, but for an hour and 42 minutes it just sat there, boring the bejesus out of me. Most of the shit you see in the trailer comes from the last ten minutes! Don't be fooled into thinking this could be fun 'cause it ain't!

I recently saw Rialson in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD (1976) and she didn't impress me one bit with her performance. I'm not saying that she'd have to but shit it sure would have helped. She's topless in PETS a couple of times which is really about the only thing that's worth a spit in this thing. She does have some nice sweater meat, though.

There's a bit where Pat throws a Benji-dog look-alike of a cliff. That was fucking awesome. The ending was cool which had Bonnie pull a fast one and locked Geraldine and Victor in a cage with a loose tiger in the basement, then leaving the house grabbing some valuables on the way.

And to think that I waited a few weeks to watch this in the chance that I could have gotten my hands on a recently released widescreen print. After not being able to find it I caved in and watched this shitty vhs dub. Either way it sucked and it wasn't worth the wait or the time to watch it. This movie was so bad I considered giving away my dog...and he would have understood why.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Evil (1978)

Director: Gus Trikonis

Starring: Richard Crenna, Joanna Pettet, Andrew Pine

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Escape is just a nerve-shredding scream for salvation!

Plot: A psychologist buys an old mansion at a bargain price and asks a colleague and his students to help him fix it up. Things are fine until a cross is removed from a stone door in the basement and satan himself starts wreaking havoc on each person one by one. Their only hope of ever leaving alive or dead is the ghostly resident that built the house.

My Rating: 6/10

Would I watch it again? Maybe, just maybe, when that widescreen DVD comes out.

#23 on Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-o-Rama Show Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

#39 on 42nd Street Forever Vol. 2: The Deuce (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

For the most part this is a standard haunted house movie. THE haunted house movie of the 1970s was to come out a year later, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. At first I thought THE EVIL was a quickie response to TAH until I came to the imdb page to find that it pre-dates it. You can see by the plot that there's really nothing special. What is special, and this is important to the horror fans, are the kills. They're fantastic.

Remember that scene in the beginning of JAWS (1975) when the night swimmer is being jerked all over the place by the shark? Well, there's a scene in this one where the same thing is happening to this poor girl in a lighted room. The way it was shot and edited give the illusion that she's being tossed around by an invisible force. It's really well done and effective. Toward the end the evil spirit starts ripping her clothes off, stopping with her underwear. I guess he didn't have enough practice to take that bra off. Stupid ghost. It would have helped.

There's another great moment reminiscent of EVIL DEAD (1981) where Prine's character starts cutting his own hand off with a circular saw! Nice!!!

At one point their dog, Kaiser, gets possessed and attacks one of the girls. It's one of those 'jumps out of the darkness' kind of scares but the cool thing is that part of the sound effect for the dog includes the Tie Fighter scream from STAR WARS (1977). It's a little subtle but it's there and, for us SW nerds, it makes it that much cooler.

Oh, there's another kick ass scene where one of the kids is climbing down a cable from the 3rd or 4th floor at night during a severe thunderstorm. Crenna's up top waiting for the kid to make it to the ground but the wind picks up and starts flailing him all over the place ending with a lightning strike that sets the poor dumb bastard on fire!!! He doesn't hold on for long before he falls to his flaming death!!! Fucking AWESOME! It's shit like this that can really make a movie worth while.

The ending is kind of bizarre as they fall through the hole in the basement to come face to face with the devil, played fiendishly by Victor Buono. At first it seemed out of place but Buono's just too much fun hamming it up and I really dig the atmosphere. He's defeated and Crenna & Pettet make it out alive. There's a decent body count and every one of them met a lovely end. What more could you want?

I would have loved to have seen this in a big, dark theater. I'm sure it would have been more effective but the fullscreen overseas DVD is all that we've got for now. It's said to be coming out in Sept/Oct of this year in a widescreen release. It's definitely worth a rental if you dig that late 70s haunted house kind of thing.

Inception (2010)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine, Pete Postlethwaite, Lukas Hass, Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe.

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Your mind is the scene of the crime

Plot: In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a single idea within one's mind can be the most dangerous weapon or the most valuable asset.

My Rating: 9.1636/10

Would I watch it again? Oh, yeah!

DO NOT let anyone tell you any plot details. All you need to know is what you see above. It's an intricate story with many levels playing simultaneously and you don't need to know Jack shit going into it. It's a brain fuck, one I've been needing for a long time. I dig this kind of flick. I'm no super genius but I didn't find it difficult to follow at all. Just pay attention and try not to go to the bathroom, period! It's two and a half hours of great storytelling by a man who's proven himself time and time again.

The acting is fantastic. If I ever had doubts about DiCaprio's abilities, which I did some time ago, they're gone. His work of late has gotten better and better. Everyone else steps up to the plate including someone I've never heard of, Tom Hardy. He's a hoot. It looks like he's been tapped to be Mad Max in the 2012 movie. Nice. He'll be great. Another surprise was Cillian Murphy. I had issue with him in the recent Batman movies as The Scarecrow only because he looked way too young and pretty. Shit like that pisses me off but he's lost some of that youthful appearance and he's developing into a good actor.

And as much as I hate to say it, Hans Zimmer's score is very good and atmospheric. I only put it like that because after falling in love with his score for GLADIATOR (1999) I started listening to his back catalog of soundtracks only to find that he'd used those same themes and orchestrations before. Yeah, it sucked the wind out of those sails but it's still a fantastic score.

The final frame is batshit (no pun intended) awesome!!! I'd like to talk about it more but then I'd be here for longer than the film. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE IN THE THEATER!!!

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010)

Director: Sam Dunn & Scot McFadyen

Starring: Rush

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Beyond the lighted stage

Plot: An in-depth look at the Canadian rock band Rush, chronicling the band's musical evolution from their progressive rock sound of the '70s to their current heavy rock style.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? Sure

I never really knew much about the band, musically, except for their song, Tom Sawyer. But then that was probably the one of the few songs of theirs that got serious airplay nationwide. What I found most interesting is that this trio has been together recording and touring for more than 35 years and they're still the best of friends. Each one is a virtuoso on their instrument and none of them portray that typical rock star attitude - they're regular guys just like us. That was what I most admired about them.

Even if you know of their music less than I do, which is doubtful, you'll dig this film. It starts from the beginning and brings you to present day with tons of interviews and anecdotes. The only real 'drama' the band seemed to have had was when drummer Neal Peart lost his child and his wife within a year. Naturally distraught, he told the fellas he was going for a ride on his motorcycle and left from Canada and made it all the way down to South America. Five years later his soul-searching journey was over and they started touring again.

I really only have one complaint and that's Jack Black. He was interviewed about how Rush influenced his duo, Tenacious D. I have no problem with his inclusion but it's his showboating, face-making, eyebrow raising, clowning around "acting" that got in the way. Gene Simmons, of KISS, on the other hand is usually hamming it up but not here. He's got some great stories about their tours together. Billy Corgan, of The Smashing Pumpkins, tries to weave Rush's music into something far deeper and heady than it probably is. Matt Stone is great as always and there's even a South Park Rush bit which gets a few laughs.

For a rock group as grounded as these guys are, you can't help but want to start going through their back catalog and hearing what they've been about all these years. It's not too late.

The Ladykillers (1955)

Director: Alexander Mackendrick

Starring: Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green & Katie Johnson

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Meet "The Unholy Five"...The Most Befuddled Set of Assorted Thugs That Ever Fouled Up a Million Dollar Bank Robbery!!

Plot: Five diverse oddball criminal types planning a bank robbery rent rooms on a cul-de-sac from an octogenarian widow under the pretext that they are classical musicians.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? Yup

THE LADYKILLERS is nothing short of classic British comedy. Guinness proves once again his talent for comedy and completely hiding behind makeup, something his costar, Sellers, would strive for but not surpass. Guinness owns this category.

Katie Johnson as Mrs. Wilberforce is absolutely priceless as the clueless old lady that takes in the strange borders. She's a delight and perfect for the role. The supporting cast pulls together for a great bunch of misfit criminals. Lom is particularly sinister (Lom & Sellers would reunite 9 years later for the second Pink Panther film, A SHOT IN THE DARK).

But the biggest star of the film is most certainly Alec Guinness's choppers! WOW! One of the greatest props of all time. Despite the many flaws of the Coen Brothers 2004 remake, they did give Hanks a marvelous set of teeth and, for me, that was one thing they got right.

Back to's 91 minutes of rib-tickling British fun with a nice little bank caper thrown in. This film is part of a 5 disc Alec Guinness box set where every movie is a winner with this one being the crown jewel.