Tuesday, December 28, 2010

There's Nothing Out There... No really...

D. Rolfe Kanefsky
16mm Full Frame

I first encountered this over the top home spun horror comedy many years ago when it played the Drexel 24 hour horror movie marathon in Columbus Ohio in I believe 1992 or 1993. I absolutely HATED it. The audience there LOVED it. It went over like gangbusters, but I thought it was juvenile and forced and wanted nothing to do with it or the goofy humor it contained.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my reaction said more about me than the film I had just seen. In the following years the horror genre would change drastically for the worse, with tons of lame self referential comedies becoming the norm in the wake of Wes Craven’s and Kevin Williamson’s SCREAM movies. The actual “horror” of the movies consistently taking a back seat to jokes and refernces about how the films intrude on real life and vise versa. A wink and a nod hipster look at the genre and why it is not really scary to begin with.

I on the other hand was a hard core horror movie buff who like it straight up and ice cold. Movies like that in those days pissed me off (though SCREAM got a slight pass with me until it spawned all the imitators and sequels.) I didn’t like horror comedies because I could see the writing on the wall and it didn’t look good. That horror was quickly becoming another dirty word and as long as there were laughs it was all okay.

But what I missed was that THERE’S SOMETHING OUT THERE was a relatively clever and quick witted little monster mash that more than lives up to its sleazy little promise. First time director Rolfe Kanefsky obviously loves the genre as much as I do because he packs in so much detail in the movie that it feels like it may have been his last project ever. It actually wasn’t as he went on to direct plenty of sleazy little movies from there on out. But it is his first movie that shows he had his heart in the right place. 

Recently re-released from TROMA in a mega two disc package this movie may finally find the audience that has never quite copped to it until now. Cause this little flick has it all. A little green alien that shoots lasers out of its eyes, lots of slime, tons of naked girls and at least one really nasty decapitation that should go down into the books. Then there is the jokes, fast furious and actually pretty funny, this is one of those rare horror comedies that actually is smart enough to look at itself and the genre as a whole and know what is actually funny. But is never mean or spiteful enough to insult the audience.

The plot details a group of semi obnoxious teens who head out into the woods to one of their parent’s cottages for some sprint time rest and relaxation. Naturally the one single guy turns out the be the group horror fanatic and continues to tell them consistently that they are all doomed from the start because the whole situation reeks of a bad horror film. But he is right because earlier a meteor had fallen setting loose a little green alien that looks a lot like if Belial from BASKET CASE was from outer space. This little space turd begins bumping off the fellas and they soon figure out wants to mate with the ladies (including our leading lady who looks rather foxy in her stars and stripes bikini she sports for most of the running time).

That is pretty much it. Cat and mouse, lots of goofing around with a monster (that they figure out hates shaving cream in the mouth) and tons of girls taking off their clothes. Punctuated by tons of fun dialogue and a fashion sense that hadn’t yet let go of the 80’s.

I was obviously just a very angry young man when I first saw it because it is a very charming piece of work that has only gotten better with age.

The TROMA special edition includes several commentaries with the director, one older one from a few years back and a newer one specially recorded for this disc. It also has tons of audition footage, rehearsals, outtakes and other stuff where you get to see the cast and crew cutting up.  Most fun is the director’s couple of short films including a cute little (not) fetish film called MOOD BOOBS about a gal who accidentally wishes her breasts could change sizes at will. So they end up inflating and deflating when she gets angry, excited or moody. It is clearly a little fetish piece for those who have the breast inflation Jones. But it is also a cute and funny little short comedy.  There is a full disclosure behind the scenes peek at the making of this one as well.

Unfortunately this has the typical TROMA intro by Lloyd Kaffman that can be skipped over. It also has the typical TROMA crappy DVD authoring, where on the second disc you  can’t navigate backwards through the extras. Once you click past them, you have to follow the entire sequence to come around full circle to get to it again. Lame.

Still there is a lot of material packed on for such a small movie that most have never heard of. So for the few fans this movie has this is a great release, and should get some new fans going as well.

Review © Andy Copp

"One Lust Feeds The Other" Vampire Circus on Blu Ray! Finally!

D. Robert Young
Hammer Studios
Blu Ray/ DVD Combo Pack
1:66  1080p

This Hammer production was one of the most sought after titles on DVD for many years. With fans making due with imported versions that looked okay, or bootlegs that were soft, or sometimes were missing footage. Many of us have memories of catching this one on the late late show on TV or the butchered American release print that removed literally all of the sexual content and a good bit of the blood-shed as well. Leaving behind a frustrating movie that felt as empty of the townsfolk these vampires continued to leave behind.

So for the dudes at Synapse to finally put out a serious version of the movie is fantastic news for all Hammer horror fans. For it to be Synapse flagship Blu Ray title is even better news. Everyone can rest assured on both counts, the movie has NEVER looked better and this blu is an outstanding ship to be sailed into those waters for a company that many of us love dearly and want to see succeed.

The movie opens with a rather bold and intense sequence (cut to shit in the American release prints) of a very young girl, maybe ten or eleven, being led into one of those beautiful gothic castles so famous in these movies. Inside she meets Count Mitterhaus a rather fey looking but deeply seductive and vicious vampire in the traditional Hammer style. Non-traditionally he seduces and kills the little girl while one of his female minions watches and clearly becomes turned on by the act. Then they strip down and get to getting busy while the townsfolk outside gather to burn him out.  A huge bloodbath ensues, especially nasty and violent for a Hammer movie and Mitterhaus is dispatched but not before he swears a blood oath on the heads of all the men of the village that he will see all their children suffer.

Flash forward fifteen years and those men are now paranoid. There seems to be an outbreak of some unnamed disease in the surrounding towns and they are having to take extreme measures to protect themselves. They fear this could be the curse coming home to roost. But that night the circus arrives in down. A fascinating, sensual and downright weird gypsy circus with exotic animals and interpretive dance. The town flocks to see them, but when the town’s Burgermeister is led into the fun house and doesn’t make it out alive it is clear they are there for revenge.

From here it is pretty classic horror potboiler stuff, but with a nasty edge as the movie has no qualms about killing off kids, old people animals you name it. Seems to me that at this point Hammer was having to compete with movies like NIGHT OF THE LIVNG DEAD or other gore movies in the market place so they were upping the ante and had no compunctions about mixing their older more staid feel with the balls out new horror of the time. Unfortunately you occasionally get a touch of that era psychedelia and London Mod feel getting tossed about too (mostly Mitterhaus and his whole look and style) so with that the movie at times feels a little off kilter and out of touch with the story it is telling. But more often than not it is solid and mean, delivering the chills it promises.

Synapse has taken some heat in collectors circles for releasing a combo pack but business wise it makes the most sense. For only a few dollars more the person buying the disc gets a copy on the other format. The complaints are all over the place but at the end of the day really all the matters is the movie is out on bother formats in an affordable way. And boy does it look fantastic.

Don May Jr. at Synapse has been at the forefront of remastering cult movies for the home video market since the laserdisc days and his expertise has really shined since the Blu Ray explosion. Though Synapse didn’t realize it, one of the best looking BR discs on the market is one he worked on extensively THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. That disc is simply breathtaking. While VAMPIRE CIRCUS may not be the show piece that CHAINSAW is, it is without a doubt a huge crown jewel in the hat of Synapse Ent. Colors are crisp, clean and vibrant, with accurate flesh-tones and blood that pops off the screen. Blacks have true depth with no signs of artifacting or milkiness that older prints of this movie has had. I only noticed a slight moment of print damage right when the famous “animal dance” scene is about to start. But it is so slight you’d have to be looking for it. Just a few light scratches. Otherwise it is beautiful.

Included in the extras are a fantastic featurette called BLOODIEST SHOW ON EARTH: The Making of VAMPIRE CIRCUS – which goes into detail not only on th emaking of the film but on a lot of Hammer studios histoy. Especialy things like their censorhip battles at the time (of which VAMPIRE CIRCUS had its share).   GALLERY OF GROTESQUERIES: A Brief History of Circus Horrors – which is a fun and informative look at hos the Circus and Carnivals have been used in horror films over the years leading up to VAMPIRE CIRCUS. VISITING THE HOUSE OF HAMMER: Britain's Legendary Horror Magazine – which is exactly what it says it is and also very informative, plus VAMPIRE CIRCUS: Interactive Comic Book- Featuring artwork by Brian Bolland. POSTER AND STILLS GALLERY ORIGINAL THEATRICAL TRAILER.

The DVD and Blu Ray have the same features and extras, so no matter which you are buying the package for you are getting the same materials. Just the Blu is going to be that much more of a boost in quality.

If you are a Hammer horror fan, Vampire fan or just like to support our important indie companies this is a no brainer release. Grab it now!

Review © Andy Copp

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ripping and tearing, blood and boobs and franchise, oh my!

D. Jimmy O
All Episodes Shot and presented in Hi- Def

The Burril Family have been trying to launch the Chainsaw Sally character into becoming a horror icon for the better part of ten years now. I remember seeing them at Cinema Wasteland as far back as 2001 selling T-Shirts when there was no movie yet, just the rather striking image of April Monique Burril as the title Character being all they were banking on. The whole shabang being to push a franchisable horror character, with or without major material, didn’t seem to be the point. The point was that she was sexy, fierce, and all the things that adolescent male horror fans should want in their stew.

The movie finally came out in 2005 on DVD and didn’t make too big a splash but did alright as far as these direct to DVD things go. As far as I can tell the character of Chainsaw Sally herself has a huge fanbase online with her various facebook pages overflowing with thousands of fans. But something tells me that most of them never picked up the dvd. Once again the key here is the image of Chainsaw Sally herself, something carefully sculpted by the husband and wife team and sold incredibly well through Jimmy O’s amazing photography and art design. The couple’s online presentations, the artwork, photography, painitings etc. are second to none.

So all of that sets the bar incredibly high for the actual CHAINSAW SALLY SHOW which is hitting DVD from Troma home video. An impossibly high bar to achieve unfortunately which may leave a lot of fans of the online stuff feeling like they are not getting quite the ride they felt they would. By y no means is bad, the show is swiftly directed and shot, the editing crisp, clean and always reminding you it could really play on say MTV without a problem. The biggest issue is that the material is stretched out to be a TV (or was it a web series I am not sure) when it could have easily just served as one longer movie. Repetition becomes the order of the day, with some meandering plot threads and conversations that don’t really receal much at all.

But the positives, the show always looks good, and April Monique Burril always has a handle on the character of Chansaw Sally. After ten years it is clear she has no problem slipping right in and playing her up. On this disc is ten episodes and on longer not quite a movie. While I wouldn’t call it character growth, you can at least see a consistency of the character throughout it all. She toys with the audience and her victims all at once, obviously relishing the chance to be on screen. Which is something else to be said for the whole project. Her director and husband Jimmy O Burril uses his camera to fetishize his wife in almost every single scene she is in. While some viewers might find that annoying, I find it refreshing in this day and age. They remind me of another cult film couple I adore, Jess Franco and Lina Romay. To mine eyes I can’t help but to wonder if in making this series and putting April front and center in such a clearly sexually idolized way isn’t playing out some personal fantasies for them. For that I so go for it.

The story of the show never really progresses as much though. Sally is hiding in a small town with her grown up but sexually deviant brother Ruby . By day she is the shy Librarian but at night she goes around killing the people in town she feels are not nice folks. People who do things like fuck sheep, or are mean to her best friend, a teenage girl who works with her. Hot on Sally’s tail is a Cowboy (Bill Price clearly based on Dennis Hopper from TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2) and a busty/gorgeous cosmetic sales person (Jordan Wyandt) who talks a lot and never does much of anything. 

But Sally and her Brother also take several people prisoner for personal sexual toys, eat several people, and torture a couple of teenage girls to death in highly sexualized ways. So her “code of ethics” is highly debatable at best. When she is admonishing a redneck for raping a sheep before killing him it is hard to feel she means it when she has a teenage girl scout in a dog cage at her house with an electro shock collar on that she uses for various sexual escapades (off screen of course). There is a lot of talk about her morality, but then the show dips into highly questionable stuff often clearly to give the “goods” to the audience. So it is odd bed fellows at best. Her code is never as successful as that other TV serial killer DEXTER who seems to be learning as he goes and adapting.

Maybe that is the problem here. There is not enough attention being paid to the characters and character development and way too much attention being paid to what the fans are expecting and wanting for this to work as a TV show. TV hinges on things developing as the episodes move along. Here each episodes strives to give you more kills, a little more skin (around episode 7 or 8 Sally finally does a breif nude scene) and sicker situations. But not enough meat on the bones of the story. What does develop is a really weird sense of bizare sexuality as the characters do more weirdo stuff to people. From torturing a teen girl by forcing her to pee in a bottle and when it fills the weight triggers a blade to cut off her head, to another teen girl who gets her “tittie caught in a bear trap” and that girl scout I mentioned earlier. What makes all of it so weird is all the victims are supposed to be around 15/16 years old and playing out these clearly fetishised BDSM/ stalk and slash scenerios. Is it intentional to make the audience squirm? To make the villians look that much more evil? Or was it not noticed by the filmmakers in an attempt to get to the next set piece? Something more intentional? Who knows.

So overall if you are a fan of low budget franchise driven horror/slasher stuff, you may like this. It delivers the blood and guts for sure. The lead character is solid and certainly is exactly who they set out to create. I just wish there was more going on in the script department to make it feel like there was more weight to it. After watching the whole thing in one long marathon it strikes me the Chainsaw Sally character would be more at home in a Horror host situation. Maybe a Max Headroom for the horror set. A Chainsaw Sally Talk show where she ends up having to kill the guests. That could be very interesting.

So check it out. If you Dare.

Review © Andy Copp

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

War is messy, even in sepia tone.

D. Army Corps of engineers

Produced during the thick of the Vietnam conflict this infamous training video for Army medical staff is one of the most infamous of all "industrial" videos floating around. Made that way by an article in the book "Shock" penned by Jack Stevenson in which he speaks of showing a night of war propaganda films including this, the famous "Red Nightmare" "Our Job In Japan" (By Frank Capra no less" and several others. The idea being to show how war time propaganda works as well as having a bit of a laugh. But ARMY MEDICINE IN VIETNAM was always the one film that shook audiences to their core, pummeling them into silence, rendering them numb with shock and reminding them of the true horrifying nature of what war does to people. This is basically a government sanctioned FACES OF DEATH but far more savage and brutal, with narration that seems to not notice the Dante's Inferno nature of the imagery on screen.

Like any other underground film collector who read that article I too become fascinated with the content described within and found myself slowly being obsessed with the need to see this movie. I only ever found one bootleg source that had it but they wanted a full price and with it was only a half hour long I never could justify pulling the trigger on it. I found that the actual Army had a website that carried it, but once again it was a full $25 (including shipping) and I couldn't bring myself to drop that coin on a half hour program. Especially one that might very well make me sick. I eventually found a trade for it trough my good friend Screamerclaus.

The movie is indeed a shocker. But I found that I could stomach it because I have this fascination with the human body. I can watch things like surgery footage all day long because I love to know how the human body works or how it can be repaired. Now watching these soldiers in pain is horrible, but much of the footage on display in this movie is actually footage of them being treated for their wounds, so it is, for me, stomach-able.

The movie begins showing some of the Vietnam battle fields and then the "high tech" hospitals as the narrator explains to us that a medical unit is never more than 35 minutes away for a wounded soldier thanks to the modern miracle of the helicopter. Something that the other wars had not had the comfort of. Then the movie gets right into the meat of the matter showing several wounded soldiers being worked on. One has a bullet hole in his thigh that has opened an artery. We see how the doctors cut his leg wide open, and removed a vein from his other leg and stitch it in place to repair the damage. Another soldier has a hole blasted clear though his chest as the doctors pull bone fragments from the open wound, they eventually stop the pumping blood and sew him closed. Yet another young man has shrapnel embedded deep in his face. He is cut open and the metal dug out. He has a nine inch sutured scar running from his eye across his whole face. We are told by the narrator he will be back on the battlefield within two weeks!!!

Lots of time is spent explaining how modern the facilities in the battlefield are and how great the medical treatment is. But yet the visuals on screen are showing us soldiers having bullets dug out of their eyes, chests, and limbs. Their faces exploded by mines and extremities having to be amputated. In fact the most harrowing footage in the film is a poor soldier having to have his right leg sawed off just under his kneed from an explosion. But you half expect the narrator to tell us he was back in action two weeks later.  Another guy literally has his face reduced to hamburger, mulched to the point he is nothing but raw meat and teeth, but the doctors manage to use wire and a lot of patience to make him look like a person again.

We also see the effects of disease, skin rash, leprosy and all the other problems of disentry and poor living conditions of Vietnam.What you are left with is that War is ugly, violent and messy, but if there is a Narrator he will tell you otherwise. which is usually what the Army recruiter is doing.

The print I saw was faded to the point of being sepia toned, which is probably a blessing because if this had retained its rich full color all that horrific blood and guts would have been all but unwatchable. I can't even imagine having been there to shoot this stuff. The actual narration during the surgery scenes is a blow by blow account of the incident reports including the actual periods and commas in the report so it becomes mind bendingly surreal.

Probably worth a watch for those with strong constitutions. You know who you are. For those I have embedded it below! Enjoy.

Review © Andrew Copp

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Death and horror and cannibalism "All Night Long"

NIGHT OF DEATH aka La Nuit de la Mort (1980)
D. Rapheal Delpard
1.66 Enhanced

This highly unusual French shocker is a lesuirly paced little weirdo of a movie. But give it a chance, it is sure to win you over by the end. Fans of Jean Rollin will find the aura of madness and sexual menace especially rewarding I would think.

Pretty Isabelle Goguey plays Martine, a young woman who is thrilled to find a job at a far away nursing home in the country. Seems the job market is just as shitty in France circa 1980 as it is here in the USA these days. Her older and slightly goofy boyfriend seems more than a bit happy to let her go away for months at a time to work. He probably doesn't mind the extra income and new found sense of freedom. Once there she immediately falls foul of the headmistress Helene, a classic domineering old bitch who runs the place with an iron fist. The old folks staying within all display the typical quirky manias one expects to see in this type of move, much to the chagrin of already on staff nurse Nichole (Charlotte De Terckheim) who is more happy just to have company hear he own age. But what neither of the girls know is that the old folks are blood thirsty cannibals under the wicked spell of the head mistress using their murders as blood rituals.

Also going on, quite randomly it seems is a black gloved, giallo styled murderer that mostly we just hear about peripherally in news papers or gossip. We see that the hospital groundskeeper is a loony and possibly he could be killing these girls by sticking a giant needle in their neck. Or maybe he is just one big red herring.

The scene where he freaks out is a highlight, as Martine watches him storm about his room, reliving some past transgression with a woman, all the while mimicking his murderous and lustful rage on a non-existent participant. The other scenes of the cannibalistic geriatrics stalking through the corridors hold a particular amount of nasty horror, that is surprisingly unsettling and nasty. Maybe it is the innate fear of getting older, maybe it is that the one guy looks like Martin Short when he hits sixty and drooling blood. But the scenes are nasty and uncomfortable. The blood ritual scenes are also pretty unpleasant and horrifying with a nasty sexual edge to make them that much more uneasy. In fact the entire proceedings have this air of sexual authenticity.

Overall NIGHT OF DEATH is a curious, and fairly shocking little number with a genuine ambiance of gruesome inequity that is rarely found in modern horror cinema. The Synapse DVD is typical of their output I.E extremely well done. No extras to speak of unfortunately, but the transfer itself, and the queasy nature of the movie, should be enough for you to make an informed buying decision. Check it out.

Review © Andrew Copp

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Swinging sex on Blu-Ray and we all SCORE!

SCORE (1974)
D. Radley Metzger
Cult Epics
Blu-Ray 16x9 Enhanced

I have a confession to make. I have never seen a Radley Metzger movie. I own a couple, but I have never actually sat down and watched them. Then this Blu-Ray of SCORE appeared mysteriously in my mail box one day. Many people consider this among his finest films (along with THE IMAGE, which I also own and need to sit down with). Having only recently gone Blu, I figured this was as good a time as any to acquaint myself with his work. Boy am I glad I did! if SCORE is anything to go by I have been missing some seriously great erotic cinema.

The set up is simple, and has been done dozens of times in both mainstream and smut films. A swinging couple, played by Claire Wilbur (TEENAGE HITCHHIKERS) and Gerald Grant (NAKED CAME THE STRANGER) have a standing bet that she cannot seduce the straight laced, even backward Lynn Lowry (I DRINK YOUR BLOOD, SHIVERS). Meanwhile it seems that Lynn’s husband Calvin Culver aka Casey Donovan is definitely siding on the side of sleeping with the boys.  Throw into the mix a horny, willing to do anything phone repair man played by Carl Parker (THE IMAGE) and things are bound to heat up soon.

What makes the movie so wonderful is that for most of the running time is is a huge cock tease. An incredibly directed,  smartly written cock tease. The camera finds the most interesting places to shoot from, or through or into, while the characters dialogue is witty, fast and filled with repartee that is layered with sexual innuendo. The first (and only) sex scene in the first half of the movie is soft-core and barely lasts a few scant minutes. What makes it hot is how Lynn Lowry’s character is tricked into being a voyeur at first, then a willing participant by taking Polaroids of the action. She flees wracked with guilt, but is lured back into the nest by the couple for dinner only hours later. Along with her husband where the almighty marijuana is rolled out and inhibitions are loosened. Soon everyone is dressing up in there alter-ego outfits - Cowboys, Nuns, Sailors, Prostitutes, and the shackles of their sexual desires are slowly let go of.

The last half hour of the movie is basically two long, very graphic intertwined sex scenes. Apparently uncut for the very first time on this Blu-Ray. Watching it there is no question what is new here as the many erect cocks in loving close ups, photographed with artfulness rarely seen in this kind of movie are surprising to say the least. But the fact that the scene is a very graphic gay seduction leading to a full blown hardcore sex scene probably couldn’t happen in an erotic film today. Technically both sex scenes are gay scenes as the two women pair off and seduce each other and the two men do the same and each scene is inter-cut. Oddly enough it is clear the men are “in the business” as it were as their scenes are FAR more explicit than the women’s. But the handling of both scenes is so professional, with such enthusiasm from all performers, and with such incredible directorial flare that none of it can be denied as incredible erotic film-making. Gay, straight, or just don’t care, back in the 70’s I can’t imagine anyone leaving their seats. And it still holds up marvelously today.

The Disc delivers a host of extras that make it well worth picking up for fans as well. Besides this being for the first time an uncut version there is a commentary with Metzger himself which from what I understand is a bit of an unusual thing. There is also a longish, and very interesting behind the scenes /on the set documentary that features rare footage of the cast in action and a 20 minute current interview with cult actress Lowry. This being Blu-Ray people are very concerned with picture quality. I thought it looked extremely nice, the natural film grain was present throughout and had not been digitally enhanced out of the picture like some modern Blu-Rays have a tendency to do. It also has not been cleaned up to the point of blowing out colors or highlights. All color is crisp, clear and well rendered with sharp, fine detail. The 2.0 Mono soundtrack was clear and clean as well so that very Rolling Stones sounding theme song played through loud and strong whenever it reared its head.

I am not entirely sure if this is CULT EPICS first foray into Blu-Ray. if it is they have done an outstanding job entering the market. it not, then it is just as outstanding disc and well worth putting into your collection for fans of cult movies and erotic cinema. 

Review © Andy Copp

Nikkatsu, Porno, Japanese Boobs, This one has it ALL.

DVD. Various Ratios

This new DVD from the fine folks over at Synapse FILMS. is a introductory sampler to the insane world of the Roman Porno. the 70’s and 80’s explosion of filth and fury that made the smut world int he states look tame by comparison. What set these movies apart from the American porno revolution was several things: One there was never any penetration shown. That old buggaboo of no pubic hair or genital nudity was still strongly in place during these years (and still enforced, though not always as strongly) and more importantly, these were made by the big studios, and some smaller studios in Japan. Studios that created their own star system, had their own in house directors and stuff and created their own genres out of this stuff. These director’s often came out of the world of directing crime pictures, big monster movies, or even family films and found a much bigger freedom in these films. A lot of second stringer, tech people in the industry got there first chances to make films creating these babies as well. So what you ended up with was insane, sick, twisted sex films with titles like SEX HUNTER, or RAPE! or ZOOM UP: RAPE APARTMENTS. But the actual films were this incredible, well directed, sometimes very well written almost film noir sex movies. The people behind them were often putting everything they had into these productions because they wanted to prove they could make solid films irregardless of confines of genre.

It is also probably important to point out that social, sexual and political mores on what is considered “sexy” are completely different in Japan from the states and it can and will come as a culture shock when running down the titles or watching these trailers. The first probably ten or so of the films all seem to feature the very 70’s idea of a woman who is raped but either comes to want to be with her attacker, or finds that the rape sexually liberated her in some way. A pretty disgusting, and repellent idea her in the west, but in Japan for whatever reason that is an extremely common fantasy played out not only in these types of films, but in literature and art as well. Make of it what you will, but it is not an uncommon theme. So to even look at these trailers you sort of have to look at them from that separate cultural from of mind. I mean remember this is a film industry that has a superhero series (that is a comedy no less) called RAPEMAN that has gone to seven installments the last time I checked...

So with all that in mind, the NIKKATSU ROMAN PORNO TRAILER COLLECTION puts over an hour of trailers for these outrageous, nightmarish sexual atom bombs in one handy place to offend and delight your friends and loved ones. The awesome thing being that Synapse plans to put these out on DVD in the future, so if there is one you think looks great it should be on the way at some point. The trailers are all over the place in tone, style, subject matter etc. Like I mentioned before the first maybe ten or so deal with the “I got raped and learned to love it” theme, with the best among those clearly being DEBAUCHERY, which looks incredibly twisted, grueling and insane. Though FEMALE TEACHER; IN FRONT OF THE STUDENTS has a certain distasteful grotesqueness that looks very appealing as well. There is a whole battery of “Nurse” movies (Nikkatsu seemed to really like the idea of abusing the shit out of Nurses) with the best title being NURSE’S DORMITORY ASSY FINGERS(!?) but the most distressing (and probably most interesting looking) is NURSE DIARY: BEASTLY AFTERNOON. RAPE! is from cult director Yusaharu Hasabe who did the also excellent ASSAULT! JACK THE RIPPER (available from Mondo Macabro, check it out) and it is actually almost a horror film. Hasabe is a brutal stylist, telling stories about people on the fringe. It is a good thing this collection is going to get some more of his work out there. If RAPE! looks grim enough to be a horror film, then RAPE ME! just looks puzzling and fucking weird. Is it a comedy? A purposeful cult film? That one will be one to check out just to see what the hell is going on. Some other ones that caught my attention: EMBRACED BY THE DARKNESS, RACE ACROSS THE DRENCHED WASTELAND (this one looked highly unusual, even by Nikkatsu standards) and NEW COMPANY GIRLS; 9 TO 5, a parody of the American film 9 TO 5 with Dolly Parton!

As if these amazing trailers weren't enough to make you pick up this incredible disc (I mean come on this is a great party disc, clear out tight ass friends in minutes!) you also get the short movie RYOKO’S LESBIAN FLIGHT. This 80’s shot on video lesbian grope fest is unfortunately pretty standard AV porn. With highly annoying “fogging” obscuring the genitals. Though I will say the lady playing RYOKO was pretty easy on the eye’s and when they got down to scissoring each other’s crotch it was some hot stuff. But they whole last act of making the lesbian girl watch her have “normal” hetero sex was pretty disappointing to say the least. With this being Japanese AND from Nikkatsu I kept waiting for a twist, for the Lesbian girl to freak out and kill her friend with a cake decorating kit or something. You know, pump her vagina full of compressed air and fly her out a seventh story window and have the be RYOKO’S LESBIAN FLIGHT. But such was not the case. It was all very standard stuff. A cute little bonus, but all in all no FLYING SEX MAN (yeah go look that one up kids).

But this disc does just what it is supposed to do, makes you all wet and tingly about the upcoming Nikkatsu discs come from Synapse. There is some awesome shit coming down that pipe line and this is the menu for what is in store. So pick it up and check out what you want to get. 

Review by © Andy Copp 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Humping trash could give you an infection...

Day twenty of the September Exploitation Challenge (yes I have fallen WAY behind) is when I took out the trash...

D. Harmony Korine
Alcove Entertainment
Shot on VHS!!!

I will freely admit I went into this wanting to hate it. Figuring I would hate it. The trailer doesn’t try to sell it for anything it is not. The movie is basically just Harmony Korine and a couple of other people dressed in cheap joke store old people mask, running around acting stupid and literally humping trash cans. To make matters worse it is shot on old school sub-standard VHS equipment, edited between two VCR’s (the play, pause and rewind on screen displays have as much screen time as some of the characters) complete with tape drop out and fucked up color balance. The whole thing is designed to look cheap, immature, and like it was done by people with no skills or talent. I suppose the argument here is that the movie is designed to be “anti-art” or “anti-filmmaking” since Korine was part of Lars Von-Trier’s whole DOGMA 95 deal back in the day, and Korine’s best film came out of his time working within those constraints (I am immensely fond of JULIAN DONKEY BOY, but generally detest the dude’s other work).  So maybe that is his point. Or maybe he was just screwing around. Who knows. 

 "One critic called this JACKASS for the Psuedo-intellectual set. I can see that being accurate."

Which ever, he managed what would have been completely impossible had any other person made this exact same movie. He got it released, put into major festivals, it played art house theaters and now is seeing the light of day not only on DVD but in some rather cool special edition packaging.  Had any other underground filmmaker made this exact same movie they would have been laughed out of town, called an idiot, and had their equipment smashed. Their career would be effectively over. But oddly enough Korine has seen some of the better reviews he has gotten in a long time. Which I think goes to show that a cult of personality can certainly get you a long long way in ths business. 

 "Trash collection for the 21st century."

But what is most important is the actual work itself. Irregardless of my wanting to hate it because of everything I state above, I actually did not. TRASH HUMPERS is far from a good movie, hell you almost cannot even call it a movie, but there is a certain quality about it that becomes mesmerizing after a while. While most of it is inane, stupid, puerile and without a purpose, once in a while there are images that stumble across the screen to grab hold of the mind’s eye and stay there. Sometimes those will be humorous such as the little bespectacled kid in the three piece suite explaining the proper way to bash a baby doll's head in. Sometimes it is just a flash of beautiful scenery or landscape. By the half hour mark I found myself wondering if Korine knew, or even cared what he was putting on screen at all, or if this was just complete randomness. Then suddenly there is a jarring shot of a nude dead body, laying in a field, just like a piece of trash the movie has been obsessing over. This feels like the filmmakers just found this dead man and shot it for the movie (though clearly they did not). At this point I became aware that the cameraman is supposed to be a character in the movie too as he is singing a little nursery rhyme about “three little devils who jumped over a wall” as he surveys this corpse. The moment is supremely haunting. Maybe because so much of the half hour leading up was so deadening, I don’t know? But it got my attention. From this point on a tiniest thread of a plot had started to emerge in which the four characters we have been watching fuck around, break shit and hump trash are also traveling around killing people. There seems to be an obsession with baby dolls going on throughout the proceedings (one of the “characters” is female it is important to note) which eventually ties in to a haunting and surprisingly, in its own twisted way, tender finale. 

 "I think she was one of my high school teachers."

The movie is still more of an art piece/ endurance test than an actual film, but in the second half it at least starts to resemble a narrative. With more of the startling and haunting moments seeming to be on purpose as opposed to things that just happened to be in front of the camera at the right time.

TRASH HUMPERS might be best described as a movie to watch once. It might be fun to see in an art theater with a crowd though. To see who it pisses off and who over pontificates it to the point of great art. Because at the end of the day I still get the feeling Harmony Korine is having a laugh at the art scene that has embraced him as much as he was just tooling around fucking off while making the movie. But to my shock and surprise his end product has something there to offer when I seriously thought it would not at all. 

Review © Andy Copp

Friday, September 24, 2010

You can't remember who you want to be...

Day 19 of the September Exploitation Challenge goes REALLY sideways with this amazing short animated nightmare:

D. Screamerclaus
Chainsaw Kiss Productions
Animated HD 16X9

The film REALITY BLEED THROUGH made my top ten list for 2008, now this short animated production from the same director tops even that impressive movie for quality. LIQUID MEMORIES is without question one of the most impressive movies I’ve seen this year.

The movie deals with a young man (Brandon Slagle) who has discovered the secret to capturing memories in a tangible form. In this case a liquid he can extract from himself, or even other people. When we meet him he is in a church, distraught, almost a junkie from injecting himself with other people’s memories. What he has discovered is that he can edit his own memories by taking other peoples, or even find his way into theirs. When we meet him he is about to kill himself, in memory only. Consequently we meet a street prostitute played by Ruby LaRocca who is courting a client who has two peg legs. She is badly assaulted by the man resulting is losing an eye. She crawls her way to the church, bleeding to death. Our hero cradles her while she is dying and decides that a death memory might be useful and hastens her death by slitting her throat and steals her memories while she dies. And injects them into himself. This is where the REAL nightmare begins as we go inside his head, or her head to meet the demonic memories that built both of them to become the damaged humans they are today. We experience his attempts to edit her memories so her death is not experienced at the point of reliving all of the horrors of her past. There is a lot of deranged material pertaining to her awful family life, a brother who was clearly on his way to becoming a serial killer and a drunken mother (Linnea Quiggley) with incestuous tenancies. All of this overlorded by a demoic presence that at times takes the form of the family dog. 

To discuss this further not only gets more complex (in fact I may not be getting it all right as the movie is so layered with details, as it becomes very abstract) but it is really worth your time to watch it. Choosing to use computer animation with actual actors as models was a smart choice for this material as it allows for a total immersion into a dreamworld that would not have been possible in live action without a billion dollar budget. Here Screamerclaus creativity is allowed to run wild, with backgrounds, characters and whole scenes morphing and changing at will. The soundtrack, also by Screamerclaus is a nightmare dream-scape of audio that is layered thorough. Hopefully a soundtrack is on the way.

What is best about this movie? The fact you can actually watch it below! So check it out and go let the director know what you think! But for warned this NOT safe for work at all! Or for the children but you knew that…

Review © Andy Copp

Real action for the Men of the house!

Day 18 of the September Exploitation challenge rocks us down under:

D. Brian Trenchard Smith

This is a man’s film. A movie that real men can appreciate because it is about STUNTS and ROCK MUSIC. The ladies might like it because of the rock music (the wommins love the rock music) but admit it, us guys love to see dudes putting their lives at risk. Australian director Brian Trenchard Smith has the brilliant idea to have the countries  greatest stuntman Grant Page accompany him on this cinematic journy into mayhem. 

The movie has no plot, just watch as Grant Page risks his life showing us how he makes his day to day living jumping off cliffs, smashing through car windows, shooting over canyons, getting set on fire etc. But wait! Grant’s nephew is in the American rock band SORCERY! What we now call Dragon Metal, Sorcery was a Zepplinesque L.A. rock outfit that went for the full on LORD OF THE RINGS stage show in which Merlin battles Satan with all kinds of pyrotechnics and an on stage onslaught of rock and roll savagery. So the film cuts back and forth between Grant doing his stunts, and Sorcery rocking the shit out of the world to great effect. 
"Action at 100 Decibels per hour!"

There is a VERY slight story about a reporter doing a story on Grant while he is on the job doing stunts for a local TV show. A minor subplot has that show’s lead actress becoming friends with them, going to the Sorcery rock shows and parties and eventually getting to do a couple of dangerous stunts herself. But the meat of the movie is Page and Sorcery doing their colorful thing.
"Who let the old guy on stage? No wait it is Merlin from the band SORCERY!"

One really horrifying stunt has Page diving down a rope at free fall, which in and off itself is a pretty harrowing stunt, but he takes it to the edge by doing it with a full burn.  He calmly explains to us how the forty second delay he has worked out will keep the fire from burning throgh the ropes he is using keeping him from plummeting to the rock cliff below. But as you watch it in 400 frame per second slow motion it looks like he is going to burn alive and free fall to his death at any moment. Naturally he pulls it off without a hitch. But it is a sight to behold.
 "All in a day's work for Grant Page. Or was it the Taco Bell he ate?"

Trenchard-Smith chooses to capture all of this is true seventies style with tons of split screens and super slow motion. The stunts seem like the are still in time they are so slow, so you get to see every piece of glass or lick of the flame, and the split screens feel like you are getting every angle, though sometimes it is just the same camera angle just flipped over. But it all makes for some visually dynamic stuff.

"Even the dog is a manly rocker in STUNT ROCK!"

In a lot of ways this is MTV several years before the was MTV. Or think of it as LED ZEPPLIN’S THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME without the fantasy sequences and replaced with lots of bone crunching stunt work. 
"The babes of STUNT ROCK try out the Blue Man Group thing."

CODE RED’s DVD is extremely bad ass. A two disc set packed to the gills with interviews, commentarys, an older documentary Brian Trenchard Smith did called THE STUNT MEN, and tons of other CODE RED trailers. The 2.35 scope frame is the way the movie was always meant to be seen and after years of the badly cropped VHS this is a wonder to behold.
A note about CODE RED. Bill who runs that joint has announced publicly that in 2011 he plans to shut the doors. Thanks to a lot of internet bitching, and fan backlash, combined with really poor sales on amazing discs like this one, he is throwing in the towel. It is a complete fucking shame that a company that put their heart and soul into releasing great little gems is having to shut their doors and even worse because THE FANS didn’t support them. But when sales for a title are barely cracking 300 something is majorly wrong.  This disc is amazing, I’m glad I own it any self respecting cult movie fan should. 

Review © Andy Copp