Friday, September 30, 2011

The Parallax View (1974)

Director: Alan J. Pakula

Starring: Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, William Daniels, Walter McGinn, Hume Cronyn, Kelly Thordsen, Jim Davis

More info: IMDb

Tagline: There is no conspiracy. Just twelve people dead.

Plot: Joe Frady is a determined reporter who often needs to defend his work from colleagues. After the assassination of a prominent U.S. senator, Frady begins to notice that reporters present during the assassination are dying mysteriously. After getting more involved in the case, Frady begins to realize that the assassination was part of a conspiracy somehow involving the Parallax Corporation, an enigmatic training institute. He then decides to enroll for the Parallax training himself to discover the truth.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah, once was fine.

I digs me some 70s political thrillers. They're so damn cynical (thanks, Watergate). Considering the team in behind and in front of the camera was so good, I was surprised at how un-amazing this was and I'm not sure where the fault was, if any. Michael Small's score was good. Beatty was good, the direction, writing, cinematography, it all seemed to fit into place but there wasn't much tension. Now that I'm thinking about way too hard it's that we needed more time before the final act dealing with the senator's speech. I would have preferred some more dealings with the Parallax Corporation and Beatty, real sneaky stuff. That last twenty minutes just sort of happened. Oh, well. Good movie, nonetheless, but it could and should have been better considering the talent.

Clegg (1969)

Director: Linsay Shonteff

Starring: Gilbert Wynne, Gary Hope, Gilly Grant, Norman Claridge, A.J. Brown, Margery Mason

More info: IMDb

Tagline: An Ex-Cop Tangles With an Ex-Hooker! It's One Big Kiss-Off!

Plot: Gilbert Wynne stars in this British programmer as Harry Clegg, detective. His mission: To track down the crazed prostitute responsible for a string of murders. When he catches up to his quarry, Clegg learns that a wicked man is truly responsible for the carnage. Gilly Grant costars as the killer hooker, who bears the risible moniker Suzy the Slag.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes!

#35 on 42nd Street Forever Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

NICE! Talk about a fun movie. This British crime picture has got so much going for it. The ladies...


Lollipop licking...

A groovy theme song...

And the star of the show, Gilbert Wynne as Harry Clegg!

This guy's a hoot. He's your happy go lucky detective who gets the ladies and gets his ass handed to him several times. Harry Clegg is good but not that good. Clegg gives us lots of information through a witty and fun voice over as he goes from one point to another. The story is nothing more than a reasonable framework to get Clegg in mini adventures with the ladies and the bad guys. I really enjoyed this picture. It's a great lighthearted British crime movie with lots of action, schmoozing, killing and laughs. Unfortunately the only way you can see it is from a VHS rip...if you can find it. It's definitely worth hunting down. If you should come across a widescreen copy, you're obligated to let me know about it. This movie screamed for a proper release. Finding gems like this is the reason why I sift through the shit in the trailer compilations.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Welcome Home Brother Charles (1975)

Director: Jamaa Fanaka

Starring: Mario Monte, Reatha Grey, Stan Kamber, Tiffany Peters, Ben Bigelow, Jake Carter

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He's done his time and now he's out - For revenge!

Plot: Charles is put behind bars thanks to some racist cops who tried to castrate him. After three years in jail he's back on the streets trying to adjust to a normal life...that is until he comes across one of the detectives that did him wrong. Now it's time for revenge with a most unusual murder weapon.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Sure.

#32 on 42nd Street Forever Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

Aka SOUL VENGEANCE, this is one unusual Blaxploitation picture. It's an hour and thirty-eight minutes and the first hour plays out like a low budget Blaxploitation flick but once Charles (Monte) sets his mind on revenge, it takes a turn toward a supernatural horror flick...and it's fun. The last third is much more fun than what came before it. Why is that? Well, he enters the homes of his victims, looks at their wives putting them in a hypnotic state and fucks them standing up without moving. Later, he comes back and...

How 'bout them apples, huh? Charles stands there shaking, his cock growing to about ten feet and strangles the bastards in their own bed. You won't see that kind of murder on CSI, that's for sure. That's some off the charts, fucked up awesome shit right there! Does he exact his revenge to the fullest? Can he live a normal life of peace? You'll need to watch it to find out. I dug the ending, too. It's kind of abrupt & WTF but it works. This isn't your typical urban drama, Blaxploitation picture. It was made on a very minuscule budget by a UCLA film student. It's not a shiny example of how to make a movie but it works. Is it so-bad-it's-good? Yes, but it's also entertaining beyond that. I can't understand why it has such a low rating on IMDb. It's not nearly that bad. Apparently there's a longer cut out there. Maybe someday it'll surface.

The Howling (1981)

Director: Joe Dante

Starring: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski, Kevin McCarthy, John Carradine, Slim Pickens, Dick Miller

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Imagine your worst fear a reality

Plot: There is a serial killer on the loose, Karen White is the only reporter he communicates with. After a near fatal encounter with him at an adult video store, she is ordered to take a vacation. Eddie was killed by Police, but Karen doesn't want to let it go and discovers that he came from a tiny community in the woods and that's where she decides to vacation with husband Bill. Big mistake, because Eddie was an outcast of a pack of Werewolves who is trying to keep a low profile and doesn't want any interviews.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Give it another 25 years.

#69 on Drive-In Delirium Volume 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

Man, I haven't seen this since the early-to-mid 80s. It's not as good as I remembered it but it's still got plenty of fun. Joe Dante's films tend to do that. It's a pretty good story with a different take on werewolves with tons of wolf references (my favorite is Slim Pickens eating Wolf brand chili) and it's not without some good suspense (the climactic battle at the barn is great). And don't forget about the coda back at the TV station. There's lots of famous faces in the cast. It's always fun seeing Dick Miller and Slim Pickens. Can't get enough of those guys and I loved Roger Corman's cameo which is an identical homage to William Castle's cameo in ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968). While it's not the home run I remembered as a kid, it's still a much better than average werewolf movie that's worth your time. It's not enough to get me to watch the 6 sequels it spawned but it's still a good time at the movies.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chappaqua (1966)

Director: Conrad Rooks

Starring: Conrad Rooks, Jean-Louis Barrault, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Ravi Shankar, Paula Pritchett, Ornette Coleman

More info: IMDb

Plot: A heroin addict moves to Paris to undergo a sleep cure and begins to suffer a series of strange hallucinations as a result of the drug withdrawal. Scenes from reality alternate with the addict's surreal memories of his childhood in Chappaqua, New York in this chaotic experimental drama.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? Noop.

#31 on 42nd Street Forever Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

I don't know what to say except the only way I would truly love this film would be to saunter into a theater, take a seat square in the center, take a hit of acid and enjoy 80 minutes of some trippy shit. I'm sure there's a point to this movie but after about 15 minutes I stopped caring. It's a long string of crazy images, music and sound that often don't make any sense unless they were in the mind of someone tripping and maybe that's what this whole thing is. I'm just not going to meditate on it until get the answer nor will I look online for it. I just don't care. One of my friends is about to inherit this flick from me. Hopefully they'll know how to watch it.

Capone (1975)

Director: Steve Carver

Starring: Ben Gazzara, Harry Guardino, Susan Blakely, Sylvester Stallone, John Cassavetes, Frank Campanella, John Orchard, Dick Miller, Martin Kove

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The man who made the twenties roar! Now, after 45 years, his true story can be told!

Plot: The story of the rise and fall of the infamous Chicago gangster Al Capone and the control he exhibited over the city during the prohibition years.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

I digs me some Great Depression era gangster pictures or ones that take place during that time. I'd never seen this one before so why not. It's got a great cast. Cassavetes is in it for a few minutes in the beginning. Gazzara does a good job but he looks too thin but then Roger Corman produced this so there you go. Sometimes he looks like Bob Hoskins as Al Capone...

Sometimes he looks like Robert De Niro as Al Capone...

and sometimes he looks like Ben Gazzara as Al Capone...

One neat thing about his picture is an very early and prominent performance by Sylvester Stallone as Capone's enforcer, Frank Nitti.

CAPONE isn't as accurate as I'd like but there's plenty of action and a little bit of nudity.

There's so much action that it gets old after a while. Somebody shoots someone in Capone's crew so he has to retaliate and so on and so on. It's one drive-by shooting after another. There are so many that they lose their impact and become almost laughable. By the time it was over I was about ready to make my own bathtub gin so I could get liquored up and fall asleep. It's not that bad but you get the point. There are better pictures out there on the subject which doesn't mean skip this one but if it sounds like your cup of tea, you'll probably enjoy it for what it is - cheap entertainment. Netflix didn't have it so I had to watch a bootleg (ahahahahahahaha). I'm now going to give it back.

The Legend of Nigger Charley (1972)

Director: Martin Goldman

Starring: Fred Williamson, D'Urville Martin, Don Pedro Colley, Thomas Anderson, Jerry Gatlin, Alan Gifford, Will Hussing, Gertrude Jeannette

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Somebody warn the West. Nigger Charley ain't running no more.

Plot: Set in the pre-Civil War South, this western adventure follows three escaped Virginia slaves on their journey into the West. The already arduous journey is made worse by the dogged bounty hunter who pursues them. Along the way the fugitive trio add others to their group, doing good wherever they go.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah, but only if a good, widescreen print surfaces.

#33 on 42nd Street Forever Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

This has never been released on any video format other than VHS and I'm guess it won't be for a very long time. It's too bad because it's actually pretty good and one of the better Fred Williamson performances I've seen. It's nice not seeing him as the forever grinning and hamming it up hotshot. Here he's just a regular guy who does what a man in his position needs to do and that's right the wrongs. I'm pretty sure a clean widescreen print would improve this picture considerably but it does have its flaws. The music is very much modern and it feels out of place. The story is fine but I would have liked to have seen more character development. It would have been nice for Charley (Williamson) to have had a moment or two soaking up his newly found freedom once the dust settled. I really dug his unflinching manner in which he dispenses of the final bad guy. That was cool.

There's a fantastic scene where Charley and his two pals are in a saloon, waiting for the bounty hunter and his posse. The sheriff calmly walks in, has a nice discussion with them about how their being there is putting the townspeople in danger and asks them to leave. Race never figures into the conversation. Charley's skeptical at first but realizes he's just doing his job and he's right to do it but that doesn't change Charley's mind. He's got to make a stand. I was really surprised by that and it showed some maturity on behalf of the script. It's nice when you get scenes like this.

There is a sequel, THE SOUL OF NIGGER CHARLEY that came out the following year. I'll have to check that one out. I suppose a reason why these two films haven't been released on DVD is the titles have the word, nigger, in them. It's a shame that rather than take the opportunity to educate, the powers that be feel the need to suppress and censor. BOSS NIGGER (1975) was released a few short years ago on DVD but the title was changed to simply BOSS. That's one bonehead move.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Behind Convent Walls (1978)

Director: Walerian Borowczyk

Starring: Ligia Branice, Howard Ross, Marina Pierro, Gabriella Giacobbe, Rodolfo Dal Pra, Loredana Martinez

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Walerian Borowczyk now exposes the secrets...

Plot: A zealous, handsome priest, who is the confessor for a convent full of women, encourages the equally zealous abbess of one such institution to enforce the same strict rules on these unfortunate women that are applied to others. In doing so, they uncover a snake pit of sexual couplings, both lesbian and heterosexual, as well as many tools for masturbation. At the same time, a particularly disturbed inmate manages to poison herself and many of the other novitiates in yet another scandal which is covered up by church authorities.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Probably.

#28 on 42nd Street Forever Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

Part of the Nunsploitation Project (July & August 2013). Click here for more naughty nun insanity!

Much like the Nazisploitation genre, Nunsploitation enjoyed a brief run throughout the 70s. I've seen a few and they can be enjoyable. Someday I'll make my way through them but probably not in one big chunk like when I tackled Nazisploitation earlier this year. Anyway, this one is one of the more polished and entertaining ones I've seen. It's a great looking picture with nice lighting and pretty quick pacing. I mean every scene moves and it's not dull for a moment. That's an accomplishment that most Nunsploitation flicks can't boast.

BEHIND is all about being naughty and sexy. Unlike others in the genre there isn't any violence. You get nuns fornicating with men, each other and, naturally, with themselves. One nun carves a dildo out of a piece of chopped wood that flew threw a window and landed near her feet. It was a sign from god, right? She has jesus's face painted on the end of it and she watches it with a small mirror while she masturbates.

I was really surprised at how entertaining and playful the entire film was as I usually don't expect much from this genre. It's got me curious about seeing more but that'll have to wait a while. Maybe in December. That seems appropriate, don't you think?