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