Monday, February 25, 2013

Redline (2007)

Director: Andy Cheng

Starring: Nathan Phillips, Nadia Bjorlin, Angus Macfadyen, Eddie Griffin, Tim Matheson, Jesse Johnson, Barbara Niven, Denyce Lawton

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Fear Nothing. Risk Everything.

Plot: A gorgeous young automobile fanatic--and front to the hottest unsigned band on the West coast--finds herself caught up in illegal drag-racing competitions organized by exotic car fanatics.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Looking at the IMDb rating and reviews, and Rotton Tomatoes where it has a 0% score, you'd think this was a moldy turd of a movie.  That obviously didn't stop me.  Normally I'd stay clear of a picture of this type - car racing with a bunch of pretty people.  It sounds lame, typical and boring but because I'm a big fan of Tim Matheson, I gave it a shot and it's not that bad.  There's a little bit of use of split screen during one of the races but they never used that technique again which is too bad because I dig it when directors throw that into their pictures (when it's used to good effect, of course).  The songs that Natasha sings are incredibly cheesy and tongue-in-cheek.  The lyrics are all car metaphors and they're hilarious.

As far as everything else, it's OK.  The acting is fine for what this is, the story serves it's purpose, the soundtrack is loud and upbeat, and it ends as you would expect.  No one has reinvented the wheel, here, which is just like most every other movie.  It's a formula picture that's completely harmless and not all that bad.  Oh, and Tim Matheson has a sizable role and he's a lot of fun.  There are plenty of movies at your local theater right now that are worse than this.  Don't listen to the reviews...even this one.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Roadracers (1994)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Starring: David Arquette, John Hawkes, Salma Hayek, Jason Wiles, William Sadler, O'Neal Compton

More info: IMDb

Plot: Cynical look at a 50's rebellious Rocker who has to confront his future, thugs with knives, and the crooked town sheriff.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

This is Robert Rodriguez's first picture after EL MARIACHI (1992).  Knowing his work, you'll be able to spot some of his touches but not enough for this to feel like a RR movie.  It's not without a fair share of fun (I LOVE the Kevin McCarthy cameo the most) but the film does lag from time to time.  Arquette tries to be a badass but he's just a hair shy of convincing and the film that frames him could have done a better job of making him fit the role.  The teens that antagonize him are foolish and silly and I think that's the worst offender of all.  Every time they show up the movie loses its momentum.  ROADRACERS has a lot of neat bits but taken as a whole, it misses the mark in succeeding in being what it strives to be.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday (1976)

Director: Don Taylor

Starring: Lee Marvin, Oliver Reed, Robert Culp, Elizabeth Ashley, Strother Martin, Sylvia Miles, Kay Lenz

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They Weren't Forgotten By History...They Were Left Out On Purpose!

Plot: Sam Longwood, a frontiersman who has seen better days, spies the gold-mine partner, Jack Colby, who ran off with all the gold from a mine they were prospecting fifteen years earlier. He tells his other partners from that time, Joe Knox and Billy, and they confront Colby demanding not only the thousand dollars he took but an addition fifty-nine thousand for their trouble. After being thwarted in this attempt, they, and a would-be whore named Thursday, hatch a plan to kidnap Colby's wife, Nancy Sue, who is coincidentally Sam's old flame, but find that Nancy Sue is not the sweet girl that Sam remembers.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? Aw, hell, no.

Wow.  How embarrassing.  Lee Marvin doesn't fare nearly as badly as Oliver Reed, complete in red face as a half breed.  Boy is he over-acting.  Woof.  Robert Culp retains his dignity, though. Strother Martin makes for a fun old coot and Elizabeth Ashley has a mouth on her you wouldn't believe. She's hilarious. John Cameron's silly, hokey score just adds to the agony. The foley is even weak.  There's a spot where somebody falls in a decent sized body of water and it literally sounds like someone's hand splashing in a sink!  I don't have any issue with the story but there are so many things that detract overall that I can't recommend this although if someone told me not to watch it I'd still do it because of the cast alone.  Lower your expectations.

The Last Winter (2006)

Director: Larry Fessenden

Starring: Ron Perlman, James LeGros, Connie Britton, Zach Gilford, Kevin Corrigan, Jamie Harrold, Pato Hoffmann

More info: IMDb

Tagline: What if mankind only had one season left on Earth?

Plot: The American oil company KIC Corporation is building an ice road to explore the remote Northern Arctic National Wildlife Refuge seeking energy independence. Independent environmentalists work together in a drilling base headed by the tough Ed Pollack in a sort of agreement with the government, approving procedures and sending reports of the operation. When one insane team member is found dead naked on the snow, the environmentalist James Hoffman suspects that sour gases may have been accidentally released in the spot provoking hallucinations and insanity in the group. After a second fatal incident, he convinces Ed to travel with the team to a hospital for examination. However, weird events happen trapping the group in the base.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

"THE SCARIEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR." says Bob Strauss of the L.A. Daily News on the DVD cover.  HAH!  I says.  That's a pretty bold fucking claim to make.  Fessenden & co. do a very good job at building tension and creating a great, isolated atmosphere.  Perlman, who I usually dig, delivers an over-the-top villainous role that's just too much.  I would have really liked to have seen this character less of an obvious pro-oil company bad guy and more of a man with a job to do but with an inner conflict (while still remaining and ending on the wrong side of what's right).  I was most impressed by Connie Britton.  I really dig this broad.  At first the film feels like they're attempting to remake THE THING (1982) but after twenty minutes you start to see they're doing their own thing and leave the similarities behind.  The picture's only an hour and forty minutes long but it did drag in spots and the ending, while pretty neat, is something that you see coming a long way away but it's still rather satisfying.  It's easily good enough for me to seek out his earlier flick, WENDIGO (2001).

TRON (1982)

Director: Steven Lisberger

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, Barnard Hughes, Dan Shor, Peter Jurasik, Tony Stephano

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A world inside the computer where man has never been. Never before now.

Plot: Hacker/arcade owner Kevin Flynn is digitally broken down into a data stream by a villainous software pirate known as the Master Control and reconstituted into the internal, 3-D graphical world of computers. It is there, in the ultimate blazingly colorful, geometrically intense landscapes of cyberspace, that Flynn joins forces with Tron to outmaneuver the Master Control program that holds them captive in the equivalent of a gigantic, infinitely challenging computer game.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again?  YES!

I've been waiting for over a year for the price of the TRON/TRON LEGACY Blu-ray set to come down to a reasonable price.  Now that I've got it I found myself grinning with disbelief that TRON looks fucking amazing in this format.  I couldn't stop gawking at how gorgeous it looked.  I'm kind of not surprised but I couldn't have been prepared for how well it's presented.  Great flick.  I saw it as a kid when it first came out and it's been one of those childhood flicks that stays with you.  I watched it a few years ago for the first time since the 80s and I was glad that it still held up.  The cast is great, particularly David Warner who's a friggin' rock star in my book.  The special effects still hold up without showing any age and neither does Wendy/Walter Carlos's score.  Great stuff all the way around no matter how you slice it.  What a classic.  I'd love to see this on the big screen again.  Oh how I long to play that upright arcade game again, too.  I miss the early 80s with those great arcades filled with quarter-eatin' memory-makin' machines.

MoH 205: Pro-Life (2006)

Director: John Carpenter

Starring: Caitlin Wachs, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Mark Feuerstein, Biski Gugushe, Jeremy Jones, Ron Perlman

More info: IMDb

Plot: Determined to "rescue" his pregnant daughter from an abortion clinic, a religious fanatic and his sons plan a violent firearm assault just as the doctors suspect her pregnancy might not be of this world.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

Ron Perlman brings so much to the projects he's involved with.  His presence in this just adds all kinds of fun and danger all at the same time.  He's a real bastard in this one.  It's a pretty neat story, too, with a fun kicker to throw things for a loop as so many of these episodes have.  I liked it even though I've got very little to say.

The Big Snatch (1971)

Directors: Byron Mabe & Dan Martin

Starring: Harry Chest, Momo, Peggy Church, Tracy Handfuss, Ginnie Kindall, Jane Tsentas, Uschi Digard

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Young Girls Kidnapped by Fiend!

Plot: Guy in a pickup truck kidnaps 5 women off the street, intending to make them his sex slaves.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I LOVES me some exploitation and Uschi Digard.  They go so well together.  She had an amazing body back then (I'm sure she still looks smashing).  Too bad she's too old now to have my babies...or is she?  I'd still like to give it a shot, Uschi, if you're reading this...

THE BIG SNATCH sounds like a blast.  The plot, tons of gratuitous nudity and much of it is Uschi, revenge, sleaze, low budget goodness, bad acting, etc.  It should be ripe for a great time but it isn't.  The biggest problem is that it's an hour and twenty five minutes long.  Sure, it's great if you like your simulated sex scenes go on forever but geez.  There comes a point to where you want something else to happen.  No kidding, if you trim this down to a half hour, you might just have a tolerable flick.  For me, Uschi, the title and plot were enough to pull me in but there were some side things I really liked.  There's one chick who is so bad it's GREAT.  Her abduction scene on the sidewalk had me howling it was so inept.  She literally sees the guy who is going to kidnap her and, before he does anything, she drops her bag of potato chips and walks off camera as he approaches her.  Their timing was way off.  All of the girls give up and in way too soon.  These two guys were like Jedi-fucking-masters when it came to getting their way.  The WTF ending was fun but it didn't make any sense.  One of the girls turns out to be a lesbian and forces the other four to stay as her captive play things.  There were four of us watching this last night and we were all bored to tears by the time that happened.  Regardless of how much things might not make sense, it doesn't come close to approaching the WTF moments in PROMETHEUS (2012).  Get your copy of THE BIG SNATCH from Something Weird Video.  You know you want it.

Argo (2012)

Director: Ben Affleck

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Cleau DuVall, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The movie was fake. The mission was real.

Plot: After Iranian militants stormed and took control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 taking 56 Americans as hostages, six Americans managed to get away and took refuge in the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. After two months of the Canadians putting their lives on the line everyday, the CIA and the US State Department try to come up with a plan to get their people out. Tony Mendez is an "ex filtration" specialist who proposes that they pose as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a science fiction movie called Argo. Using Hollywood connections, Mendez creates a back story for the movie - ads in Variety, casting calls, inviting he media to a production launch - and then heads off to Iran to lead the six Americans out.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again? Probably.

So I FINALLY went to the theater this week to see this picture after weeks and weeks of missing opportunities.  I really enjoyed it.  It's a fascinating subject and Affleck did a very fine job of bringing the story to the movie screens.  I like the look and feel of it probably more than any single part.  It reminded me of best political thrillers of the 70s.  All of the actors did a fine job and it was great seeing John Goodman back on the screen.  The ONLY thing that bothered me and took me out of the picture a bit was the execution of the last act.  Affleck threw in and drew out every possible means of making us think that at every turn the rescue-ees were about to get busted.  I mean this shit was down to the calculated second.  Instead of building tension, for me it lessened it because it was loaded with cliches.  Do they make it, though?  That's for you to see.  Despite the last twenty minutes, it's well worth the watch.  I'd really like to know if some or all of the tension moments Affleck posed really happened.  If all of them did, my apologies Ben.  You made a fine picture. 

I MUST HAVE the fake movie concept poster in the background.  It needs to be framed and on my wall!  Where can I get one?

The Last Stand (2013)

Director: Kim Jee-Woon

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Titos Menchaca, Peter Stormare, Richard Dillard, Eduardo Noriega, Luis Guzman, Johnny Knoxville, Harry Dean Stanton

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Retirement is for sissies.

Plot: Sheriff Owens is a man who has resigned himself to a life of fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town Sommerton Junction after leaving his LAPD post following a bungled operation that left him wracked with failure and defeat after his partner was crippled. After a spectacular escape from an FBI prisoner convoy, the most notorious, wanted drug kingpin in the hemisphere is hurtling toward the border at 200 mph in a specially outfitted car with a hostage and a fierce army of gang members. He is headed, it turns out, straight for Summerton Junction, where the whole of U.S. law enforcement will have their last opportunity to make a stand and intercept him before he slips across the border forever. At first reluctant to become involved, and then counted out because of the perceived ineptitude of his small town force, Owens ultimately accepts responsibility for the face off.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yeah, I probably will.

When I go to movies like this I just want to be entertained.  It didn't hurt that this was Schwarzenegger's first starring role in a decade.  When you take how much time off he's had into consideration and that he's 10 years older (he's now 65) this picture is easier to take.  If anything he feels like he's been out of the acting game for a while but it's not so much that he's embarrassing or anything.  He's does a good job.  He doesn't say much and he moves like a much-older man, just like his character should.  What I didn't dig was Johnny Knoxville's ridiculously silly yokel role.  I like the actor but he's way over the top and stupid.  And while I'm at it, Forest Whitaker was overboard with his role, too, but much less annoying.  He's got one emotion and that's pissed.

The action scenes were fun and there's a bit of humor thrown into the mix.  The details of the drug lord's getaway are laughably outlandish and unrealistic but you have to take it as popcorn entertainment.  It's just there so we can do certain things, set up action set pieces - it's a means to an end.  The big showdown between Ray (Arnold) and the bad guy, Cortez (Noriega) is pretty darn good.  I like the lack of music.  Ray's experience and large build is just enough of a match to the lesser but more agile Cortez that it seems like they're putting some real effort into it - they're really sweating it and wearing down.  I dug it.  It's good to see Schwarzenegger back in the saddle.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Die Hard 5: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Director: John Moore

Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yuliya Snigir, Radivoje Bukvic, Cole Hauser, Amaury Nolasco, Sergei Kolesnikov

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Yippee Ki-Yay Mother Russia

Plot: John McClane travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son, Jack, only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist, causing the father and son to team up against underworld forces.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This is the worst of the series (so far).  Why?  First of all it doesn't feel like a DIE HARD picture.  Bruce is in it and his name is McLane but he's not the focus of the picture; he's just there, participating.  I've got loads of suspension of disbelief and this picture takes everything I've got and then asks for more.  As a movie, it's OK popcorn fare.  The big-ass car chase early on has its moments of "well that was kind of cool" but then again, I was looking for something to like about that sequence.  It was pretty uneventful and really long (but never long enough if it's handled well).  Then there's other idiot stuff like McLane reading a Russian language file on his if he can read Russian (and we know he can't because of the cab ride once in Russia).  The biggest offender of all is the fucking use of shaky cam.  Look, it's one thing if you want to use it to create tension or pump up the action but it's another when two people are having a quiet moment with each other (and I'm talking about McLane and his son after a brutal confrontation with the bad guys), and it happens more than once.  It's amateurish and it cheapens the film.  I suspect that I'll like this entry even less whenever I break the seal on my DIE HARD Blu-ray set and make my way through the other four pictures.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Freshman (1990)

Director: Andrew Bergman

Starring: Marlon Brando, Matthew Broderick, Bruno Kirby, Penelope Ann Miller, Frank Whaley, Paul Benedict, Jon Polito, BD Wong, Maximillian Schell, Bert Parks

More info: IMDb

Tagline: An innocent kid. An experienced mobster. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Plot: Clark Kellogg is a young man starting his first year at film school in New York City. After a small time crook steals all his belongings, Clark meets Carmine "Jimmy the Toucan" Sabatini, an "importer" bearing a startling resemblance to a certain cinematic godfather. When Sabatini makes Clark an offer he can't refuse, he finds himself caught up in a caper involving endangered species and fine dining.

My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again? YES!!!

Here's another of my top favorite comedies.  I love everything about this flick.  It's friggin' hilarious!  I caught this when it first came out and it was an instant favorite.  Brando is a laugh riot.  He's a stitch in nearly every scene he's in.  It's comedy gold.  Broderick is great, too, along with everyone else.  Miller is scrummy and she needs to have my babies.  Maximillion Schell just cracks me up with every line.  Andrew Bergman's script is clever and fun but it's his direction and comic timing that brings everything together to form a brilliantly funny screwball comedy from start to finish.

20 years ago I hosted and produced a weekly radio show on film music and I had the privilege of interviewing the composer of this film, David Newman (of the famous Newman family of film composers).  He was then and remains one of my favorite composers.  His score for this film has one of the most lyrically touching themes I've ever heard.  We chatted a bit about his music for this and he was kind enough to send me a cassette of the entire unreleased score. It's been my most cherished soundtrack possession ever since.  Another great score of his is for Danny DeVito's HOFFA (1992) which reminds me that I need to push that to the top of the list.  It's a great film as well.

Gangster Squad (2013)

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Emma Stone, Michael Pena, Robert Patrick, Giovanni Ribisi

More info: IMDb

Tagline: No names. No badges. No mercy.

Plot: Los Angeles, 1949: A secret crew of police officers led by two determined sergeants work together in an effort to take down the ruthless mob king Mickey Cohen who runs the city.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Eh, maybe.

I just got back from a matinee show.  I had to see this before it left theatres.  The reviews weren't all that pretty but I figured it could be worth the few dollars for a ticket...and it was.  Honestly, all I wanted was a couple of hours of light entertainment from this picture and that's exactly what it delivered.  I enjoyed the cast, especially Penn and Brolin.  I didn't recognized Robert Patrick as the grizzled old gunslinger.  He was a hoot.  There are a good deal of noir-ish one-liners, shots and punch-'em-up scenes to satisfy but it's not going to fill you up like a nice stead dinner.  It's halfway between that and gangster fast food.  The script should have been stronger as should the direction.  There were some spots that needed more attention to make it feel less rushed but in all, I had a good time.  And I'm soooooo looking forward to seeing that original shootout in the movie theatre that was cut because of the DARK KNIGHT RISES mess last year.  In my mind's eye I can see that being the coolest part of the picture.

Sidewinder 1 (1977)

Director: Earl Bellamy

Starring: Michael Parks, Marjoe Gortner, Susan Howard, Alex Cord, Charlotte Rae, Barry Livingston, Bill Vint, Byron Morrow, Sue Ann Carpenter

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Digger...JW...and the Dragon Lady blasting across the back country of motocross - raising hell with their hot machines and foxy women!

Plot: Michael Parks plays it cool and easy as J.W. Wyatt, a blunt, scruffy, aging motocross champ who decides to endorse and help design a fancy new motorcycle for laid-back businessman Packard Gentry (Cord). Alas, Packard gets killed in a motorcycle accident, thus leaving Wyatt and his cocky, swaggering, groupie-chasing yahoo cowboy buddy assistant Digger (Gortner) at the mercy of Packard's smug, rigid, by the book advertising executive sister Chris (Howard).

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? Noop.

More by-the-numbers plotting but this is the first ever movie about motocross so it has some significance.  I'm sure this will rate higher if you're a fan of the sport.  The acting isn't bad, there's lots of race action and the picture goes exactly where you think it is.  I watched it because of Parks and Cord.  I'd keep this one on the second page of their resumes.  It's harmless motocross entertainment.  I wish I had more to say but it's pretty middle-of-the-road no matter how you slice it.

Shoot (1976)

Director: Harvey Hart

Starring: Cliff Robertson, Ernest Borgnine, Henry Silva, James Blendick, Larry Reynolds, Leslie Carlson, Kate Reid, Helen Shaver, Gloria Carlin, Alan McRae, Ed McNamara

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A thriller that begins where 'Deliverance' left off.

Plot: When boredom, pride and a mad second of misjudgement leaves a hunter shot dead by one of five combat veterans also hunting in the Canadian hills, it is expected a police investigation will follow, but when the veterans discover the incident has not been reported, the leader of the team, Major Rex (Cliff Robertson) suspects the other party maybe plotting revenge. Convinced that he, his party, and their families will be targets themselves he decides to beat his suspected assailants at their own game, grouping together more army comrades and stocking up an arsenal of weapons for the forthcoming battle.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

The first act has the boys in the woods and shit gets ugly.  I thought this was going to be a DELIVERANCE () type of clone.  Hell, I was hoping for it, but it's not.  The next act focuses on what they're going to do about it.  After one of their men is shot in the woods (the bullet grazed the guy) they get into a firefight and end up killing one of the others.  They split back to their town and play the waiting game to see what the other cats are going to do.  Rex (Robertson) does some checking into things and figures they mystery men are going to wait and try to kill them out of revenge when they return to their hunting site.  So Rex gets his ex-war buddies and the vets at the American Legion post to suit up for war.  When that happened I thought it was getting ridiculous and they started to lose me. 


Then they go 'hunting' in the snowy woods, looking like something out of the European theater of WWII.  They're still losing me because this is retarded.  Who's going to go to this extreme?  Rex must be unstable, wanting to go back to war in an effort to kill the other men before they kill them.  I'm just shocked that Rex got all these other cats to load up with machine guns, assault rifles, etc and join him.  What I didn't know was that after several minutes of creeping around the woods, the other guys have been lying undercover across the river and suddenly their little army exposed themselves and machine gunned down every last man, leaving Rex alive but severely wounded.  FUCK ME, that was cool! 

I had to stop thinking and let that play out.  If I started thinking about the aftermath and how are these people going to explain this to the cops, my head would explode.  The film makers are asking an awful lot of my suspension of disbelief.  That's OK.  I had a pretty good time with it.


The performances are fine.  Robertson's such a cool badass. Doug Riley's score wasn't. The story asks a lot of your intelligence when it comes to how Rex ultimately handles the situation but the outcome is fucking off the charts insanely cool and unexpected.  It's worth checking out, even if it's the shitty fullscreen VHS tape which is the only way to view it.

Book of Numbers (1973)

Director: Raymond St. Jacques

Starring: Raymond St. Jacques, Philip Michael Thomas, Freda Payne, D'Urville Martin, Sterling St. Jacques, Gilbert Green, Irma P. Hall, Doug Finell, Willie Washington Jr.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Black King of the Numbers Game

Plot: Arkansas, 1930s: Two waiters and their protege arrive at the town of El Dorado and disclose their intention to establish the town's first numbers bank, thereby freeing the black citizens from having to support the white-run racket in the next town. They meet with opposition from the neighboring numbers bank and tragedy ensues.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

I'm a sucker for Prohibition-era gangster/crime shit and here's one with a black angle.  It's not too shabby.  Have D'Urville Martin in your movie ups the stock and entertainment value.  There's some action sprinkled into the by-the-numbers (ahahahahaha) plot.  I'm not looking for anything different with these kinds of stories so they don't have to re-invent the wheel but I do like to be entertained and this one did a fair amount of it.  Thomas was way too serious but that's the character I guess.  The only copy of this I could find anywhere is a VHS sourced DVD which is full screen and shitty.  A decent widescreen print would have been nice but you do what you have to if you really want to see it I suppose.

The Gore Gore Girls (1972)

Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis

Starring: Frank Kress, Amy Farrell, Hedda Lubin, Henny Youngman, Russ Badger, Jackie Kroeger, Nora Alexis, Phil Laurenson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The most horrifying film you'll ever see in your life!

Plot: Strippers at a sleazy club are being mutilated at an alarming rate. A pretty reporter enlists the aid of a debonair detective to solve the case and land her a front-page story. Soon, the two are wading through evidence against a vegetable-pulverizing freak, a creepy college student, and a group of angry feminists.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.

I fell asleep on this the other night but, for fairness, I was tired.  HGL movies are the kind that you have to be awake and ready because they can be slow.  The lack of budget doesn't help, either, but he'll usually make sure there's lots of blood and boobs.  It was his last film until 30 years later.  This picture might have had more impact if it were made a few years earlier but by '72 his movies were being eclipsed by more serious horror instead of this camp.  It's the kind of picture that plays better with a group of friends and some booze.  The gore effects are sometimes pretty damn grisly and at others, laughably bad.  Frank Kress in the lead seemed like a poor choice but he's so consistently and ridiculously over the top and bad that he grows on you and you're probably laughing at him by the end.  I was.  The Something Weird Video releases usually have loads of trailers and extras but this one only has a HGL commentary and a trailer. 

Lincoln (2012)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson

More info: IMDb

Plot: As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I see it again? Yes.

So I'm sittin' there watching this yesterday in a theater of about 10 and there's an elderly couple sitting in the row ahead of us. At the end of the picture I lean over and ask, "So, is this how you remember it?".  OK, I just thought about saying it.  I was really shocked by the lack of laughs there were in this picture.  Hell, there weren't even any pratfalls.  Day-Lewis was splendid and his makeup job was remarkable.  I guess we Americans have this image of Lincoln as a tall, deep-voiced, slow-moving Gregory Peck-type.  DDL's performance changed that somewhat and I really liked it.  While real-life politics disgusts me,  I enjoy it in the movies, especially when there's a historical context.

It's funny how you can be emotionally effected by something you already know the outcome.  You know the 13th amendment passes and you know Lincoln snuffs it at the theater, yet Spielberg makes a compelling movie with plenty of tension and emotional impact.  Tommy Lee Jones gets the most laughs and his character's payoff (in his final scene with his significant other) is so beautiful I was all choked up.  It's getting to me again as I talk about it.  If I have any qualms about the movie it's that it went too far.  I would have liked it more if Spielberg had stopped before Lincoln's assassination.  It didn't feel necessary to the narrative.  The entire picture was about his struggle to get the 13th amendment passed.  Maybe it was included because it represents the price he paid to see it through.  This probably has the sparsest John Williams score yet.   Well, at least I know more about the man on the penny than I did last week.

Let's Go to Prison (2006)

Director: Bob Odenkirk

Starring: Dax Shepard, Will Arnett, Chi McBride, David Koechner, Dylan Baker, Michael Shannon, Migeul Nino, Jay Whittaker, Amy Hill, David Darlow

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Welcome to the slammer

Plot: When a career criminal's plan for revenge is thwarted by unlikely circumstances, he puts his intended victim's son in his place by putting him in prison...and then joining him.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

Maybe my hopes for this were way to high (I know, what was I thinking).  Odenkirk directing, starring the great Will Arnett and badass Michael Shannon.  It's got some great laughs, I enjoyed the setup/execution and Dax Shepard is hilarious but there weren't enough funny bits to keep me engaged.  I realize it's just a comedy but I wasn't laughing nearly as much as the material and talent should have delivered.  The side story between Arnett and McBride was a gas.  That was handled well.  The ending with the winery was pretty weak but it was a pretty fun ride up to that point I suppose.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy (1964)

Director: Rene Cardona

Starring: Lorena Velazquez, Armando Silvestre, Elizabeth Campbell, Maria Eugenia San Martin, Chucho Salinas, Ramon Bugarini

More info: IMDb

Tagline: How much SHOCK can you take?

Plot: Wraslin' babes, Loretta & Venus, try to crack the heads of an Asian gang led by a Fu Manchu-like character known as "The Black Dragon," who's killing off archaeologists in hops of discovering the Treasure of the Aztecs. Entering a tomb and discovering the living remains of a mummified witch doctor who can also change himself into a spider and bat, it time for the main event


My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe, but with a crowd.

Wrestling women?  Four of 'em and right from the start.  Aztec mummy?  Not until 70 minutes (out of 99) in.

This one is almost as fun as the title.  There's lots of women wrestling (really, there's probably a total of 20 minutes of it). Plot-wise you're going to get exactly what you think.  The English dub is ridiculous but it might be just as ridiculous in Spanish.  It's got a costumed, Fu Manchu-esque villain, thugs, good guys, wrestling women and one Aztec mummy.  I love it.  When Prince Fujiyata (the bad guy) doesn't get what he wants, he offers to settle the matter once and for all by having his two Judo-chopping sisters wrestle the good guys girls and the winner takes all...but the match will be held in two weeks.

Gee, way to go perpetuating the stereotype, man.

Things I learned...wrestling women are hot! Aztec mummies can turn into bats.  Said bats can fly backwards when the shot calls for it. Aztec mummies only attack at night.  Aztec mummies seem an awfully lot like vampires.

It's not a bad way to kill some time with your friends.  There's plenty to goof on and enjoy.  Is it as educational as a museum visit?  No, but it can be just as much fun.