the Video 98 Collection part 8: Lola (1969)

I went into this this movie expecting something really pervy and salacious. It struck me as being a comical spin on Lolita, which isn't completely off, but not exactly accurate either. Charles Bronson plays Scott Wardman, a pornographic American novelist living in London. He's having a rather juvenile relationship with a barely 16 year old girl, Lola, played by a young Susan George (Straw Dogs, and a great episode of the Persuaders, "the Gold Napoleon"). Lola's parents find out about their affair because she stupidly writes about it in her diary and leaves it around the house for her mother (Honor Blackman) to discover.

Which is Unlikely Scenario # 1, What kind of teenage girl documents her sexual escapades? Let alone her ILLEGAL ones.

Her parents are of course outraged and threatening him with legal action. As Lola tells him this he responds like your typical self centered middle aged bachelor who should have known better. He blames her and takes no responsibility for his actions. Despite his selfish lust that he's mistaken for love, men like this don't seem to realise the mental and emotional damage they could cause a young girl by allowing themselves to lose their wits when encountering a pretty face and body that's off limits.  Or maybe they just don't care? In this case I think I'm taking it a little seriously. This movie makes light of a taboo and I guess that's the point. Amidst all of this, his visa expires and he's soon to be deported back to America. So what do they do?

Unlikely Scenario #2, they decide to get married. She suggests it and pouts when he brushes it off as maybe not the smartest idea. So like a father and a spoiled child, she gets her way. They decide to move back to America where his family and publisher are. He doesn't bother telling his parents so as soon as they arrive, the Mother and Father are greeted by a mini-skirt clad child bride, making this Unlikely Scenario # 3. They decide to stay with his parents for a while, sleeping on the living room floor outside the shared bathroom. Bronson gets arrested for punching a cop (of all things to get arrested for in this movie). During this time, Lola decide she can't take living with his mother anymore and goes out to find an apartment of their own. When his publisher tells him, he's actually proud of her because she wasn't willing to stick around to listen to his mother cry. Sounds to me like his mother has a lot to cry about.

When he gets out of jail and heads for his new apartment, she's not only having a loud party, but she hasn't even informed the doorman that she has a husband. When he insists the doorman call up and ask her, distracted and being a general retard, she says no! Possibly, Unlikely Scenario # 4, but at this point I've lost track. The whole movie is an Unlikely Scenario.

It was hard not hating this girl. She was completely annoying and acted more like a 10 year old than a 16 year old. Playing with dolls and flopping around like a giant long legged kid. Then again, I remember being 16 and naive, thinking I was "in love" with dorks and losers I should have never dated in the first place. That's kind of apart of being 16. He , being the ADULT, should have known better. He should have had the foresight to see that this was a big mistake. If he really loved her he wouldn't want to ruin her life by making her try too grow up so fast. Their relationship was doomed to fail from the beginning, only a fool or a teenager (same thing) couldn't see that. Annoying or not, the whole situation was his fault and I'm glad she irritated the shit out of him.

If anything this movie is a PSA for why NOT to do this! This was Richard Donnor's second movie, after Salt and Pepper. He would of course go on to make the Omen, Superman 1&2, the Goonies, and Ladyhawke. I also discovered that he directed one of my all time afterschool specials, Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic starring Linda Blair. Lola (aka Twinky, and my favorite alternate title "the Statutory Affair") isn't a complete misfire but it is lagging in believability. It had some humorous moments and some of the cuts were interesting, but for the most part you're wondering where the hell they're going with this. You're waiting for the proverbial train to wreck. And so it does, and it's still not completely satisfying. It's not amongst any of the actors' or director's best work, but it's worth a look for curiosity's sake. It's mockable and I can dig that.


The Video 98 Collection Part 7: The Mines of Kilimanjaro (1986)

I almost forgot to review this one! It was just that forgettable. One of the many low budget Italian Indiana Jones rip-offs. Which is partially entirely the reason I wanted to see it. Confusingly, the character who looks and acts like Indiana Jones is killed in the first 10 minutes. The "hero", Dr. Barclay, steps in to find out why his friend was murdered. This guy is a total fop. He's a geek and has no screen presence for a roll like this. I expect my Harrison Ford-a-likes to be rugged, or least resemble Ford is some way, be it looks or behavior. Tobias Hoesl had no character at all. He was practically sleep walking through the whole movie.

Based on some scribblings by the Professor, Dr. Barclay heads to Africa to investigate the murder and pick-up where he left off on a hunt for some big ass diamonds. Our bad guys are the high light of this terrible mistake. A German guy that looks like Heino, and a painfully over the top racially stereo typed "Chinese" guy with a fu manchu moustache who's obviously a fat Italian man.

They're all after the diamonds, the movie is set in the 30's, there are Nazi's, etc, etc.  Nothing really exciting happens. I felt bored throughout this entire movie. The cool holographic box was the selling point. I 'm only reviewing it because I said I would when I listed my Video 98 findings. I've gotten some new stuff since then from there, but I won't be making any promises about reviewing those for this precise reason.

Luigi Ceccarelli did the music. He also did the scores for Women's Prison Massacre and Violence in a Women's Prison. For some reason Franco Bixio owns the copyright to the score, which I thought was kind of strange.

This movie doesn't have enough going for it to give a second look. From what I've read there are other more entertaining Italian Indiana Jones rip-offs, such as Hunters of the Golden Cobra and Ark of the Sun God. Other than a sparkley box and a few laughable costume choices, this is an all around disappointing video find that's already found itself a cozy spot on my shelf to collect dust for an eternity.


TV Tuesday! - Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp (1970-1972)

So I've decided to do this new thing! Sometimes I'm just not up for watching a whole movie. Like everyone, sometimes I just want to tune-in and vegge-out. Fortunately (sometimes) I don't have to deal with cable. I haven't had it at all during my adult life and aside from wishing I could catch TCM and Something Weird On-Demand (and Lost this last season) I don't miss it. 99% of television is a waste of time. That's not to say that there haven't been some totally awesome shows over the years! As I've gotten into collecting strange movies I've in turn amassed some great television programs. Things you might have seen in syndication on TV Land 10 years ago before they started showing bullshit like Everybody Loves Raymond (Gagsville!).

I've often said that my generation was really the last to have a really great run of programming. Kids today have shit to choose from. Hannah Montana... I dare not even look to see what Nickelodeon is showing these days. The days of Ren & Stimpy and the Adventures of Pete and Pete are long gone. Who needs cable anymore with the TV on DVD at our disposal? I could start my own incredible TV station with the selections I've amassed. I can't do that ,legally, but I can talk about them here on my blog. So from now on Tuesdays will be dedicated (though perhaps not exclusively) to whatever show has been catching my fancy late nights before I drift off to the Land of Nod.

This week's feature program: Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.

I had never seen this before I happened to get a 70's Saturday morning cartoon comp a friend of mine made. Though not exactly a cartoon, it's the only chimps-with-comically-dubbed-voice-overs-dressed-up-and-acting-like-people show I ever thought was actually funny. The head writers wrote for Get Smart and the Carol Burnett Show, which explains how this tongue-in-cheek goofiness worked so well. As I was watching it I couldn't help but think what a brilliant idea for a show it was. Costing almost nothing to produce, being able to re-use sets and costumes, most of the budget probably went into paying the filmmakers and animal trainers. The plot owed heavily to the themes in Get Smart. Lance Link is a bumbling spy whose voice is an obvious Don Adams impression, with a lady chimp side kick "Mata Hairi".

They're also in a band together called the Evolution Revolution with drummer "Bananas Marmoset" and "Sweetwater Gibbons" on the organ. All of the music was written by Steve Hoffman in bubblegum style. Reminiscent of a Don Kirshner production, in fact before I looked it up and found out otherwise I was convinced it was a Don Kirshner production. A major complement coming from me, whose taste is a direct descendant of my 12 year old self's obsession with the Monkees and the Archies.

I liked this show so much I think I'm going to have to upgrade to this nice little Image DVD set you can get on Amazon for a mere $12.49 which isn't quite complete but still not bad for the price. If you're like me and are late on the Lance Link bandwagon, watch the intro and see how cool this show is for yourself!

The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914)

I was never a huge fan of of the 1939 classic, the Wizard of Oz. It's a fine film but it never spoke to me. The music gets on my nerves and so does Judy Garland. I'd take take Walter Murch's Return to Oz (1985) over what I once thought was the original any day. It has a darkness, mystery and realism that I live for from a fantasy film, and given the Jim Henson touch of genius, ahhh ...nothing compares. As I said, there was a time I mistakenly thought that The Wizard of Oz was the first adaptation, then somehow over the years I heard about the silent versions. I thought they sounded neat in passing but really didn't give it another thought. When I came across the 1914 Patchwork Girl of Oz recently I couldn't help but wonder how it was. Such an interesting title. I only read one book, the Wizard of Oz, when I was a kid. I wasn't even aware that there were FOURTEEN books in the series. Meaning, I didn't even know that this story existed. On top of that I couldn't help but wonder what a children's movie looked like 1914. I'm not sure what I expected, but I didn't expect this.

There's no Dorothy here. Which is a relief. I always thought the character was kind of a dork. Who the hell would want to go back to fucking Kansas after being in the magical land of Oz? The story revolves around Ojo, a "munchkin boy" , who just happens to look like a beautiful shapely girl and her his "Unc Nunkie" (try saying that out loud, it's embarrassing) run out of food from their Bread-Tree so they decided to make a trip to the Emerald City. Along the way they find themselves at a magicians house where he's been mixing a powder of life for 6 years.

 His wife who is tired of doing all of the chores, decides to make herself a slave girl out out of quilt  "Scraps" (which becomes the Patchwork Girl's name). Ojo is put in charge of mixing the "brains" and makes the mistake of giving her too much of everything, giving her a very spirited personality. As soon as Scraps comes to life she's a nimble acrobatic mess! Flipping around like a nut, she knocks over "liquid petrification" on the Unc Nunkie, the magician's wife and his daughter's boyfriend, Danx. Knowing that he couldn't possibly mix another powder of life for another six years the magician he lists some elaborate ingredients for a quick fix that Ojo and his daughter Jesseva must fetch. The ingredients include...

  • Three hairs from the Woozy's tail
  • a six-leaf clover
  • water from the Dark Well
So begins Ojo and Jesseva's journey, accompanied of course by Scraps.

My initial thought when this movie was underway was how totally ugly and weird the Patchwork Girl looked. For starters, it's obviously a man playing her. That's right, Patchy Scraps is a drag queen. Girls don't have shoulders like that and that dress did nothing for his figure. In fact, the costume made him look more hulking and broad, like it was made out of an oilcloth tarp. His face looked like something from horror movie. With sparse stringy yarn hair he looked like a scalped Leatherface clown. Not at all cute as the quaint title would have you believe. I expected a ragamuffin and I got some creephole that looks like he's in Slipknot or something. Not to say that any of that affected my opinion of the movie. After adjusting to the expectations-not-met I was able to appreciate this bizarre rendition of what was surely intended to be a funny character. I later found out that Scraps was played by the male acrobat Pierre Couderc. "Due to social restrictions" a female acrobat wasn't an option.

They first come across the Woozy. Scraps agrees to try and convince the Woozy to give them three hairs from his tail. They end up up dancing together and the Woozy decides to just come along on their journey. I liked the simplicity of this boxy cat. It looked like a cat costume made by a couple of kids. Despite it being so unconvincing, I found it really charming. It's awkwardness won me over.

My favorite creature in the movie was the strange oriental monkey , the Lonesome Zoop. After having just watched Hanuman vs. the 7 Ultramans I couldn't help but view this unintentionally frightening beast as something to be avoided...and admired.

We run into lots of strange animals and people. One legged "Hoppers", the black faced "Jolly Hottentots" and the weird wizard looking "Horners". We briefly get to see the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion. Throughout the movie I noticed similarities in Scraps behavior and appearance to the Scarecrow and even thought "they'd make a cute couple", and wouldn't ya know it...

They went there.

I did a little research on the history of this film and the Oz Film Manufacturing Company. This was the first of three OZ films to come out in 1914. After this came the Magic Cloak of Oz and His Majesty the Scarecrow of Oz. L. Frank Baum wrote and produced them. This was the most recent of his books published so it made sense to market on that and make it the first film. All three were box office failures. Although often critically acclaimed, after a while having the word "Oz" in a title was considered box office poison. Shortly after the Oz Film Manufacturing Company disbanded Baum's health started to decline. Decades would passed before approaching the fantasy series again would even be considered.

In a way I understand how this movie might not have been successful. At the time most of what was coming were violent westerns. This movie was considered juvenile and it's easy to see how 96 years ago this might seem a little hokey. Viewing it with a pair of 21st century eyes makes the experience a bit more puzzling. The incredible amount of care to make this movie fun is impressive in it's own right. My print has strange music playing as well. Every five minutes or so it would change from your standard piano roll, to ethereal meditation music to this synthesized Ryuichi Sakamoto sounding track. Oddly enough, each tracked worked for the movie in different ways. After it was over it stuck with me for the rest of the night. It was unlike any silent film I've seen to date. The mis-fired gender-bending fantasy elements made the movie feel like it was taking place in another dimension, which I guess is kind of the point! The Oz Film Manufacturing Company's version of "Oz" is completely gonzo! Which leads me to believe that L. Frank Baum must have been a little gonzo, and that makes my heart smile.

Despite it's lack of success, the Patchwork Girl of Oz is an eccentric little piece of  forgotten film history. Imagine if it had been successful? The 1939 classic that some consider the greatest movie of all time would probably never have been made. The Oz Film Manufacturing Company would have continued and the series would have gone in a completely different direction. It's an entertaining thought but as it is, the Patchwork Girl of Oz and it's OFMC successors will probably remain in the annals of a used video store's budget bin, only occasional dusted off to be enjoyed by a curious passer-by.


Moustache Monday! Starring Sam Elliot's Moustache

Sam Elliot has always maintained a good stache. It's so good that I think it should get it's own movie credit.

I've been slacking a little in the review department this week. It may not appear that way, but I've gotten used to planning for my next few reviews in advance and I haven't even been able to watch any reviewable movies. This weekend one of my computers died, I knew it was coming. I had to rush out and buy a new one. I'd been planning on getting a Netbook for a while, so with cost in mind that seemed like the best choice. A lot of my old programs aren't compatible though, so I've been scrambling around slowly getting orders filled from days ago. I should be all caught up by this afternoon and hopefully I'll be able to get back into my regular writing routine tonight.


the Day of the Cobra (1980)

I'll watch just about anything with the eternally handsome and talented Franco Nero. The Fifth Cord was my first Nero movie and ever since I've been hooked on just about anything with him on the bill. His on screen presence is magnetic and even when he does schlock his performance always stands above the rest. I'd been wanting to dive into his Euro-Crime thrillers and this Enzo Castellari (Inglorious Bastards, Keoma, 1990: The Bronx Warriors) flick seemed like a good place to start.

A third rate gumshoe formerly known as "the Cobra" now getting payed to follow cheating wives and finding lost pets. He was once the best but after spending three years in jail thanks to super criminal "Kandinsky" his career and life in general has suffered. He's rehired to solve the murder of an American narcotics agent by his former employer. They know that Kandinsky is responsible for the murder and a big time drug ring. Who better to go after this guy than the man with a personal vendetta.

Entertaining but still somehow lacked the seamless grit that Italy's crime movies are famous for. The story was a bit routine but thanks to the great acting and a karate chopping transvestite it maintained itself nicely. I read that it's very similar to another Castellari team up called High Crimes, which I haven't seen yet. Based on what I can guess this movie seems like a watered down version of it.

Sybil Danning was especially sexy in this movie. The boy who played Franco Nero's son is his son in real life, and the unseen Kandinsky was played by an uncredited Michele Soavi, the director of Cemetery Man, the Church and StageFright (1987). The theme song "I Don't Give a Damn, I Am the Cobra" is enough the carry this movie's coolness in my book.

The Day of the Cobra is a decent entry in the epic genre of Poliziotteschi. Not the best, but better than a lot that's out there. If you're a fan of Nero and Euro-Crime, I say give it a go!


Hanuman vs. 7 Ultramans (1974)

About a week ago I reviewed the action packed extravaganza, 6 Ultra Brothers vs. the Monster Army. I relayed the story of how I'd recently become obsessed with Thai crapmaster, Sompote Sands. 6 Ultra Brothers is commonly mistaken for this movie, so it seemed like the right choice to follow it up with this absurdity. Hanuman vs. 7 Ultramans (that's no typo, the Thai language doesn't really account for pluralization of the literal English translation) is a strange and somewhat incomprehensible assault on the senses. Mixing Kaiju Eiga with the Hindu Mythology already feels wrong somehow from the get go. Can you imagine if a serious attempt was ever made in America to turn "God" fully clad in a white robe and beard into a giant avenger who squashes bad guys and fights monsters? Sure, it would have a hell of a cult following but certain things seem off limits when it comes to religious taboos and as far as I can tell this movie was aiming at a mainstream audience of children. Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Sompote Sands.

I'm pretty sure there's a plot here somewhere. There's a group of celebratory children performing some kind of ritualistic song and dance routine around some temple ruins. This scene seemed to drag on longer than it should. After one of the boys finds some bandits stealing a stone Buddha head he flips out! Screaming, chasing after them, all the while they're punching and kicking him in the head. Don't get me wrong, these guys were assholes but the kid's attachment to this idol was ridiculous. He runs after them and jumps on the back of their MOVING CAR. I was completely entertained by this almost keystone kops-esque chase scene. That is until one of the bandits gets fed up and SHOOTS THE KID IN THE FACE!

WHOA! Did I just see that? And so begins my understanding of the true nature of Mr. Sands' fucked-uppery.

Meanwhile we're introduced to two stooges that's role in the movie is never quite clear. Comic relief I suppose? They drive around the desert until they find a lake and decide to go for a swim. They're wearing women's bathing suits underneath their clothes! This picture pretty much sums up their entire roles in the movie...

All kinds of craziness is going on in outer space. The Ultramans are cohorting on their awesome Bava-esque planet (since these scenes are taken directly from 6 Ultra Brothers, there are lots of nice pictures of this in my review for it) and Hanuman is having a conversation with some other Deity in a giant fiery orb (the sun perhaps?). Amidst their conversation Hanuman decides to take the body of the little boy who was shot in the face. Which I presumed would be to eventually revive him. I mean, what good is being an ancient God if you don't have some kind of mystical healing powers? But alas, it was just a tease. The plot really didn't go in that direction at all. In the end, after Hanuman as inevitably saved the day, he flies off like nothing ever happened. Like he didn't just possess the body of a boy-corpse in order to taunt his murderers.

Another subplot I could barely comprehend are all the scientists with all the rockets. Not two or three rockets, but something like 20 rockets bunched up together on a launching pad. Eventually this set-up leads to the accident that will cause the monster attack. An earthquake awakens a bunch of monsters in which Hanuman attempts to battle. Poorly, I might add. He gets his ass handed to him and has to rely on the 6 underwhelmed Ultra Brothers to save him. That's another thing. Where does this 7th Ultramans come in? My best guess is that the appearance of Ultra Mari (Ultraman's Mother) at the beginning makes up for this oversight. I might also add that there's no "versus" involved here. Hanuman and the the Ultramans are on the same side. In the end Hanuman thanks the Ultramans by performing what I assume is some goofy sacred dance. He does that a lot. He hugs and kisses each disillusioned Ultraman before they fly off back to their home planet.. .And so ended the epic freak fest known as Hanuman vs. 7 Ultramans.

So what's the verdict? Well, there were times I was a little disappointed in how the Hanuman costume looked like a costume, and the actor in it was probably just some guy they paid to flounce around like a monkey. No finesse like I'm used to from the Japanese. Then again there were other times his face looked really fierce and the sheer weirdness of what I was seeing was enough to carry the movie. Besides, I think disappointment is Sompote Sands calling card. He built an entire career on broken dreams and strange myth. I've seen a lot of foreign movies. (When I say foreign I mean the way growing an extra limb out of your back would be foreign.) None have seemed quite so foreign as this and probably his other movies too. I can't help but wonder how well this and the other Hanuman movies did in Thailand at the time of their release. I believe there are at least two others, Hanuman vs the 5 Riders and Space Warriors. There's also Giant and Jumbo A, which I thought starred Hanuman but later realized it stars another Sompote Sands movie Deity "Yuk Wud Jaeng" from his film Tah Tien, which at a glance has a similar costume. Reviews for ALL of these movies are on the way.

There's so little information about Sands on the net. Aside from the few aforementioned blogs, you'll be lucky to find anything that's not misinformation. Like IMDB for instance, it only lists three of his movies and even makes the mistake of confusing Hanuman vs. 7 Ultramans and the original 6 Ultra Brothers vs. the Monster Army, listing them as the same movie and he as the primary director. I know for sure that he did at least 15-20 movies as I've seen them on ethaicd.com and various reviews in other blogs. But if you type in his name in google mostly links on the lawsuit that was only resolved three years ago come up. In my review for 6 Ultra Brothers vs. the Monster Army I was a little confused about about the lawsuit between Tsuburaya Productions and Chaiyo, awesome blogger/Sompote Sands expert Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! cleared that up for me. I was under the impression that Chaiyo never had permission to use footage from Ultraman, but I guess what really happened was they thought they were giving permission to use a little bit of footage for this movie alone and that sheister Sands ran with it! He spent a good chunk of his career abusing his expired privilege of Tsuburaya's creations. There's a great article on it over at Scifijapan.com. I still can't help but root for Sompote a little bit. It's the same part of me that would rather suffer through Badi: the Turkish ET, than be bored watching the original. Not to compare Tsuburaya with Spielburg! Yikes! But it was the hacks of the world who were responsible for leading me to some of the most strange discoveries. Everyone's seen Star Wars, but you'd be surprised how few have seen the outrageous Planet Wars: the Brazilian Star Wars. Just because it's a stolen idea doesn't mean it's not a good idea.

Some may not like this strange fermentation of Japanese and Thai culture. Ultraman is very clean, Hanuman and company seem exotic by comparison. Not in the drinking cocktails out of a coconuts on the beach while listen to Martin Denny sort of way. More like the I went to vacation in Thailand and came back with this festering rash on my ballsack kinda way.

Next I'll be watching one of Sompote Sands original films (to be announced) and I'll see what kind of proverbial rape of the senses he has to offer next.

for more stills I took from Hanuman vs. 7 Ultramans click on on the link...


Chinese Super Ninjas (1982)

Some spoilers ahead, but the kind that make you want to see it even more...

Unfortunately I didn't have the pleasure of viewing the nice Tokyo Shock release of Chinese Super Ninjas (Ren zhe wu di) that was released earlier this year under it's alternate title Five Elements Ninja. I had the stretched out full screen dubbed version that was much sought out before the nice new edition. This didn't stop me from enjoying what's been called the best Kung-Fu movie ever made. It just made me aware that this masterpiece could actually be even better!

A group of martial arts experts are challenged to a battle with "the Elements", a group of super sly Ninjas that fight with the incredible gimmicks of Gold, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. The first encounter with these elements is disastrous as our team of white cloaked good guys are slain one by one it gruesome ways! Saddened by the defeat the group starts training for a rematch. During this time two of the remaining fighters take in a beautiful slave girl who's being abused by her pimp uncle. As it turns out she's a spy for the Ninjas and because of her backstabbing tactics the entire group gets infiltrated and murdered. The Lady Ninja kills Brother Li, the brother of our protagonist, Shao Tien-hao.

click "read more" for picture and the rest of the review...

Crazy Safari (1991)

There was once a time when seeing the Gods Must Be Crazy was probably a unique viewing experience. A quirky native African finds a coke bottle and it comically turns his village upside down. I always thought it was a great movie and wasn't surprised to find out it spawned several sequels. However, I was surprised to learn of just how strange some of the sequels got. Crazy Safari (Fei zhou he shang), also known as the Gods Must be Crazy III, isn't about the misadventure caused by your everyday litter bug. In the third installment a Chinese Vampire is dropped from a plane flying over the same village in Africa.

The great-great-great grandson, "Sam", of the deceased is transporting the corpse back to Hong Kong to have a proper burial. He enlists a Taoist Monk (Ching-Ying-Lam of Mr. Vampire fame) to control the ghoul with paper talismans with Chinese script on them taped to it's forehead. All is going well until the plane's engine fails and they all have to abandon ship. And wouldn't you know it, our pudgy Chinese Vampire lands right in the tribe of everyone's favorite Bushman, N!xau. At first they're frightened of the creature, but being the gentle natured people that they are, they learn to live with him. Clever N!xau learns to control him like a pro! Meanwhile Sam and "the Wise One" are scrambling around running from rhinos (with human feet), lions, riding ostriches and having their food stolen by baboons.

Click "read more" for the rest of the review and lots of pictures....


Moustache Monday!

So I decided to do this new thing. A lot of bloggers seem to have some weekly posting ritual. Maybe it's posters, maybe trailers, maybe hunky Bollywood actors so I've been racking my brain trying to think of something I obsess over or notice a lot in movies. Then it hit me... moustaches! I've always had a soft spot for a sleazy villain stache or a furry lip caterpillar so it only makes sense to emblazon my favorite movie moustaches in blog form forever!

This week's Moustache is from the Indonesian exploitation flick Virgins from Hell, this one is especially swarthy because it belongs to a rapist. eeeew!


Evilspeak (1981)

Ahoy! Spoilers ahead!....

I've been wanting to see Evilspeak for a long time due to my unnatural obsession with Clint Howard.  I remember seeing movies like Ticks as a kid and the cover  for Ice Cream Man (review coming soon) and thinking that he was utterly horrifying looking. Something about his face made me very uncomfortable as a child. In fact, I thought he was quite grotesque looking but as I grew older this fascination grew into somewhat of a strange crush. This is a big step for me, I don't think I've ever verbalized that. He's still by no means an attractive man, but he's a phenomenal character actor and lord knows I love actors with character! I think it was seeing one of my all time favorite 80's movies, the Wraith , for the first time that put me over the edge of my Clint obsession. That was the turning point from "there's that guy again..." to "ok! I need more of this guy!". It's getting to the point that I'll soon be renting brother Ronnie's movies just for Clint's obligatory cameos.

So I finally made the leap on one of Clint's few leading roles, the 1981 satanic horror movie, Evilspeak. The movie opens with an ancient sacrifice being performed by your typical black robe clad cult. Jump to present day, Howard plays "Coopersmith" , a young dork at a military academy who is absolutely tormented by the other students and even the staff! When he's the reason they lose a soccer game he's punished by having to clean out the chapel cellar. While doing so he finds a hidden area that seems to be a devil worshipping dungeon. All the books are in Latin, he takes one to be translated by the school library computer. The incantations in the book make the computer come to life by demonic possession of the guy (Esteban) who we saw perform the sacrifice at the beginning of the movie. One can presume he is some kind of High Priest of Satanic worship.

(more review and pictures under the link)....


Popcorn (1991)

I always used to see this on the shelf at the video store and think how badly I wanted to see it. For some reason I just never made the leap. But when you still watch the same kind of movies you did when you were 12, it's never too late. So now that I finally own it I had no excuse not to find out if it lives up to it's amazing cover.

It stars 80's/90's B-movie actress Jill Schoelen. Growing up I knew her as Mary Contrary from the 1986 epic crapfest Babes in Toyland, which may very well be what gave me my first taste of an addiction to shitty 80's kids movies. As I got a little older I noticed that she didn't limit herself to bad family movies, she had a huge career doing horror movies as well! Most notably (for me) the Stepfather, but also Cutting Class, When a Stranger Calls Back, Chiller, the Bite and Phantom of the Opera (1989). I pretty much know that if her name is in the credits that I won't be disappointed. This was 90's Schoelen though, when her cuteness was turning into more of a dorkiness.

Click von linky for the rest of the review plus pictures...


The Video 98 Collection Part 6: Arizona Heat (1988)

My significant other has a peculiar obsession with Michael Parks. Because of this I've been exposed to more Then Came Bronson then I'd like. On the bright side I've also had the joys of experiencing some of the most hilariously shitty pieces of shitty hilarity ever to grace my VCR. Today's feature, the absolutely craptastic disasterpiece: Arizona Heat.

What in the hell was this filmmaker thinking?? Parks plays a tough cop who doesn't play by the rules (naturally), which is exactly why his chief loves him so much. He gets the job done by any means necessary. So they keep reminding us but in reality what you're seeing is this ASSHOLE go around fucking shit up, screwing any willing participant (including a mother daughter team, G R O S S), getting himself and other cops shot and being a rude insulting prick in the mean time. I promise you, folks, you will have NO empathy for this guy. He's absolutely horrible. Since he's hot tempered the chief decided to pair him up with a sexy lesbian cop played by Denise Crosby. Not realising she's gay he goes out of his way to try and get in her pants by telling her what worthless cop she is. They've been assigned to solve a string of cop killings, the chief thinks that the broad might soften up Parks and curb his violent nature. Not so much. I couldn't help but notice that he does no investigating or "policing" whatsoever. Once he's teamed up with Crosby he just sulks around and puts all his energy into trying to get her in bed. When he finds out that she's a lesbian HOL-Y-SHIT. He throws a bitch fit to end all bitch fits. He goes to the chief OUTRAGED screaming things like "You KNEW she was a dyke when you teamed her up with me!". Completely sincere and never with the slightest sign of remorse. NEVER, not in the end, not after the case is solved and she's saved his ass, not EVER. He continues being a bigoted detestable jerk-off for the duration of this painfully wonderful movie.

Considering it follows the basic cheesy male/female cop team up 80's formula there's the obvious "sexual tension". Which I find to be really absurd. She doesn't hate him nearly enough. At one point he sleeps with her girlfriend, FILMS IT, and when she confronts him about it he tries to rape her in a shower.

Did I mention that this movie is so predictable that you know who the killer is within 5 minutes? Did I mention the cheesy video toaster lightning bolts? The resolution in this movie is non-existent. Michael Parks' character is comically chauvinistic. So much so that you're rooting for the killer.

This movie is reprehensible garbage and has earned it's way into the bad movie hall of fame in MY HEART! It's tacky, offensive and delivers MANY laugh out loud moments. This, my friends, is the crowning jewel in my Video 98 finds so far.

The Video 98 Collection Part 5: Tales Of Ordinary Madness (1981)

I have a confession to make. I've never really been able to get into Bukowski. Granted, I never tried very hard but I always found his drunkenness off-putting. I'm not one of those people who sees anything admirable in being a debaucherous bum. So basically, I have a hard time being able to look at his work objectively because I find him to be a disgusting abusive alcoholic. He's obviously a great writer, I get that, but I find it totally unrelatable and unreadable for me personally. Movies, however, are completely different. I've seen some awfully rough and rowdy flicks that are also unrelatable but being a visual medium makes it much easier to take in. That's how I feel about Bukowski movie adaptations in general. I've liked pretty much every one I've seen because it's fun to watch a crazy person do crazy things.

Ben Gazzara plays Charles Serking, an unemployed writer who spends most of his days drinking and fornicating. He feels up 12 year old midgets and stalks trashy women at the bus stop. Susan Tyrrell makes a refreshing appearance in this movie as Vera, a crazy loon (like Tyrrell does best) who just happen to enjoy men stalking her, following her home and basically raping her. She fakes passing out several times and screams in pain when she's actually enjoying herself. Then she gets her final kicks telling him she's going to make him some steak and eggs and calling the police while he's in the bathtub having him arrested for "sexual violence". This is one of many gross liaisons Serking has. My favorite being when after he's had sex with a fat woman he tries to shove his head inside her to re-enter the womb.

Serking meets a beautiful prostitute (the stunning Ornella Muti) who is extremely self destructive. Not in the get drunk to the point of puking on yourself way that he is. Inserting sharp things in her face, slashing herself with broken glass and even pinning her vagina shut with a giant safety pin. He develops feeling for her, this is the kind of woman that inspires his writing and personal sensibilities. It's of course a momentary obsession. Such masochistic people aren't really capable of much more than unhealthy obsessions. As you would imagine, this "relationship" is doomed for both failure and emotional and physical disaster.

Italian Euro-sleaze-mesiter Marco Ferreri (of La Grande Bouffe fame) directed this lurid adaptation of Bukowski's short stories. It has a much more serious tone than say, Barfly. Drenched in eroticism and melancholy, this movie certainly has an Italian flair. Gazzara did a wonderful job portraying the self deprecating writer, but Susan Tyrrell still reigns supreme is saving this movie from depressing awkwardness with her usual (and all too brief) charismatic psycho-freak-out.

Don't worry, she's just acting.

This was one of the other few videos that I wasn't aware had a DVD release now. Had I know I probably would have passed it up and just rented it from Netflix. I didn't enjoy quite as much as Barfly, but it's still one of the best entries (arguably thee best) to Bukowski's film adaptations and is totally worth checking out for it's sheer perverted weirdness. Lord know I'm guilty for wanting to see a bit of that every now and then.


Alabama's Ghost (1973)

A few weeks ago I reviewed Godmonster of Indian Flats, an ignored B-movie that I felt showed great potential. So much that I decided to seek out the director Fredric Hobbs' other work. I discovered that he was both an artist and an experimental filmmaker. Godmonster of Indian Flats may not be considered a masterpiece, but it's far from your every day low budget 70's monster flick. It has this bizarro flavor and a stark sincerity that struck my fancy. I found out that the same year Hobbs made Godmonster, he made a blaxploitation horror movie called Alabama's Ghost. Naturally, I tracked it down immediately.

Alabama's Ghost teeters between avant-garde and nonsensical. The movie starts with a dixieland jazz band performing the title track while the end credits role. The story revolves around a black handyman named Alabama who accidentally drives a fork lift through a wall in the basement of the club he works at. He starts exploring and finds several chests full of a dead magician's belongings. Amidst cloaks, cards, endless handkerchiefs and other magic gimmicks he also finds the Great Carter's stash of mystic ganja. Apparently the Great Carter had been developing a special hash to control minds. In it he finds an address to a little old lady's shack, the supposed sister of the Great Carter. He decides he's going to go and blackmail her for the use of Carter's magic garb so he can get rich and famous. At no point during this movie does Alabama seem like he has any clue what's really going on, much like the audience. The old lady turns out not to be an old lady at all. She's actually the leader of a world wide vampire cult.

To fulfill their own plan of world domination they need Alabama's body for...what, I'm still not quite sure. At one point this phrase is uttered...
"Doctor they have a twin Frankenstein. They're trying to kill Alabama!"
So I think that may have something to do with it. I'm getting a little ahead of myself though. So Alabama carries on his plan of mixing magic with a prog rock. He and his band tour the country and he becomes rich and famous. Unfortunately he keeps being haunted by the ghost of the Great Carter.

One of Hobbs' movie sculpture cars also seen in his impossible to find documentary "The Trojan Horse"

There was lots of wackyness to please my sensibilities. It's a wild, psychedelic, freakshow from a truly underrated auteur. I was happy to see almost the entire cast of Godmonster of Indian Flats starring in this. I especially liked Peggy Browne, who played Zoerae, the vampy broad who seduces Alabama. Her performance stood out in Godmonster and it stood out here too. She delivers her lines with allure and I really dug her presence. The actor who played the Great Carter, E. Kerrigan Prescott is my favorite though. It's obvious that he's a great thespian but loves to ham it up. He did mostly TV, but I was thrilled to see he was also in Arthur Crabtree's Fiend Without a Face. His character was the most fascinating part about this movie to me. I could be reaching here, but I got the impression that he was intended to be an homage to Dr. Mabuse, by using mind control from beyond the grave. Even kind of looks like he did in Testament of Dr. Mabuse...


Alabama's Ghost is baffling, bizarre and purposely politically incorrect, but to a select few those are precisely the reasons to watch a movie like this. There's much more that I haven't mentioned because I truly feel this is a film that garners repeat viewings. Jam packed with the good stuff, Like Nazis, an elephant, and voodoo mysticism. This movie is a gluttonous nutty free for all and is a beautiful reward for actually enjoying Godmonster of Indian Flats and doing the footwork to find more like it. I still haven't been able to find any info on Hobbs' first film, Troika being available in any form, but I'll keep trying. Now as soon as I have the funds I'll just have to make the leap and buy Roseland and put this Hobbsian triple feature to bed.