Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Conspiracy Cinema The Book

CONSPIRACY CINEMA: Propaganda, Politics & Paranoia (book)
Author: David Ray Carter
Publisher: Headpress Books

Friday November 22, 1963 President J.F. Kennedy was assassinated. Thursday April 4th, 1968 Reverend Martin Luther King Jr was struck down by an assassin's bullet as well. Approximately 9:02 am, April 19, 1995 Timothy McVeigh parks a van full of fertilizer bombs in front of the Arthur P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Creating to that point, the largest act of domestic terrorism in the United states until... September 11, 2001 when two hijacked air planes crash into the twin towers in New York city causing them to ultimately collapse as well as the third tower below. Killing an estimated three thousand innocent people.

These moments in American History and many more are the focal point of a new sub-genre of quasi documentary film that has sprung up in the wake of what many have called desktop filmmaking. Films that that have been enabled in the digital revolution because the very medium has been democratized thanks to technology, enabling those with the tools at their finger tips and the ideas in their heads to make a movie on their own. This used to be the domain of Public Access TV, but now thanks to the internet, and free downloading these “Conspiracy Films” have found a much wider audience.

Author David Ray Carter has taken on a massive undertaking with this book to attempt to not only explore this brave new world, but attempt a catalog of the films as well, A job that in and of itself is no easy task considering the width and breadth of material at hand. Carter says up front that the material is sometimes hard to deal with, and that he doesn’t always agree with it, often finding it offensive. But he doesn't a more than admirable job of giving each documentary a fair shake, standing back to take it on it's own cinematic terms. Leaving political views at the door as much as possible. He interestingly enough in the introduction talks of discovering these films after burning out on doing normal film criticism and growing up on horror films. Coming to them as almost an act of rebellion to the mainstream cinema norm. Comparing them to Rock and Roll in that way because as you first are introduced to the Conspiracy world you get seduced by the bad boy nature of it. Sucked into the shadowy underworld of forbidden knowledge and low hanging fruit. Just by virtue of looking you are doing something transgressive, you become momentarily part of an underground that normal people don't see, It feels naughty and good. Eventually you start seeing the flaws in the logic, the mis-communication of ideas, and how most of the puzzle pieces do really fit, but for a while the ride is terrifying, fun and exhilarating. As long as you eventually DO get off the ride.

But in this book we meet a myriad of people who not only did NOT get off that ride, but rode it long and hard enough to make multiple movies about how the shadow government is part of the ride too. People who have made millions off the idea like Alex Jones, or Lizard People chaser David Icke, or Holocaust Denier David Cole. How about Cathy O'Brien who believes many Presidents, luminaries and Country and western singers have used her for Satanic Sex Rituals since she was a child? Or what about a dude simply named “Freeman” who takes the whole Obama Birther thing one step further as he believes Obama is actually the reincarnation of the Egyptian god Akhenaton and his family also descendents of Egyptian royalty...

There is a lot of fun crackpot stuff in her to read about, loads of it dealing with the “New World Order” and the “Illuminati” theories and films about them. But there is also a lot of films discussed that seem to have put a of effort in to try and be researched and as convincing as possible. One series discussed in several chapters is something called EVIDENCE OF REVISION. Which is in 6 parts each on covering a different topic from the killing of JFK and RFK to the 9/11 Towers crash. What sets these apart is there is only footage used that is already in the public domain, but much of it unseen for years. These are well researched and put together documents the shows the major events thought looking glass of time, unfettered too much manipulation. The book makes them look highly recommended. Unlike something such as the very popular LOOSE CHANGE documentary that was really the first Conspiracy Film to catch the attention of the public. The book goes into a lot of depth on this film, and the various revisions that movie went under to arrive at the cut we see now. What the book doesn't spent much time on his how those revisions ended up discrediting the whole LOOSE CHANGE project because if the entire thesis changes as the movie changes then it makes the entire argument sound false and useless.

Other topics discussed include the Moon Landing or in this case the lack of it happening (you can feel the authors disdain in this chapter, but he keeps his cool), The murder of Tupac and Biggie, Princess Diana, Weather Control, AIDS and other Health issues (actually a few of these documentaries sound kind of interesting), WACO (once again here he points out the well rounded work on the docs, not so much in production value, but in presentation of facts and ideas), Conspiracies on Religion (this is where it gets dicey for the author as there is some Holocaust revisionism stuff and other demonizing of people that clearly doesn't sit well with him, and rightfully so. But he still treats all his cinematic subjects with the same level of respect.) Carter makes it all easy to read too, with a breakdown in each chapter of the actual event's facts, how it historically went down, then how the Conspiracy people seem to think it went down. Then he dives into capsule reviews of each relevant film. A lot of work went into this project.

In fact it is the professional detachment that makes this book so valuable, It never becomes a parade of freaks, but a consistent study of the underbelly of the world and the outre' ideas the shift under the crust. This book does an entertainingly and admirably job of diving in deep into a pool that very few would even think to swim in. It is a read well worth taking. And a genre of film just getting revved up I'm afraid.

Review © Andy Copp

Here is an Extract on the Headpress Website
Conspiracy Cinema Extract

Below are some films discussed in the book. Some of these are interesting ( the first one on JFK) others completely offensive (JEWISH RITUAL MURDERS which seeks to use horror movies histrionics to prove that Jewish Folks actually commit Blood Libel and eat people!) The one on Satanism, the Anti-Christ and Jack Parsons Scarlett Women is more Occult Hooey, but good for a laugh, and lastly some 9/11 stuff that out of those films is actually one of the better made of the bunch. Make up your own mind about it's content though.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Eros High School Rape Date...

2.35 Anamorphic Widescreen

This third DVD release from Impulse Pictures in the Nikkatsu Roman Porno line may be the most outrageous yet. It is certainly the most offensive in both storyline and execution and for those who are not used to the VERY Japanese way of looking at sex films, this will be a huge culture shock. To call this politically incorrect would be the understatement of the year. But one thing is for certain, it is never, ever boring...

The Eros High school has a problem with their female student body in that they are simply too strong willed. Violent even. The movie opens with male student Tadao having a dream in class about pretty track star Misa whom he is harboring a crush on. Misa's militant feminist girlfriends do not take kindly to him having sexual fantasies about their friend and strip him down in class and humiliate him. The class School Mom gets wind of how out of control the girls have become and comments that they need a boy with some real brass tacks to come into the class and shake things up a bit. Someone to come there and show the girls who is boss.

Enter transfer student Ryo. An older boy dressed like a mountain yokel, carrying a pet pig. We soon learn his nick name is “Ryo The Rapist” because he has been in and out of reform school and several other High Schools for raping both women and girls. He prides himself on never raping the same girl twice and sets his sights on the trio of trouble-making girls at this school. It becomes a battle of the sexes as he rapes his way through the cast trying to get to Misa, each girl succumbing to his brutish ways. We also learn that Misa is harboring her own little secret that has something to do with the fact that she is coming close to the end of her high school days but still has never had her period yet.

This all sounds very vile and salacious and on the surface it is. But the direction of the film is more that of a slapstick comedy. Think Benny Hill meets THE ACCUSED, with a school girl fetish. Every rape or fight scene is accompanied with bells, whistles and konk sounds to remind you this is all supposed to be funny. It is actually just really weird and surreal.

But like so many other Nikkatsu films the last reel turns the tables on the viewer with a slight bit of ugliness. The final rape scene is played a significant bit more vicious than the ones preceding it, which is then followed by a couple of scenes so foul and offensive that you just have to see them to believe it.

But what really throws the film out of whack, is that from this scene forward it clearly has a chance to go completely dark, to head into TAXI DRIVER style territory and make the film have a great deal of heft. Lots of other Nikkatsu films do this. The set up is there...


But instead it takes a complete 180 and has all the girls who were raped decide that it was all a lighthearted romp, that it was really funny and the only character that was negatively affected by it was poor Tadao who is now insane. It really is one of the weirder endings to a film I have seen, a Roman Porno or otherwise.


As to be expected this is a great looking DVD, no extras to speak of as the trailers are all on the NIKKATSU TRAILER COLLECTION DVD, but there is an excellent bit of Liner Notes from Jasper Sharp and some rather aggressive cover art. Which may or may not have contributed to AMAZON dumping this and the other title in the second wave of Nikkatsu discs. So you will have to do your shopping for these discs form your favorite dealers who do not censor what you are buying.

Review © Andrew Copp

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Pound of Flesh for some boobs please!!!

D. Tamar Simon Hoffs
Liquid Films

This flaming piece of trash is one of the most painful films I have had to sit through in many a moons. I generally do not give totally trashing reviews of flicks, preferring to concentrate on stuff I can lead people to that they may enjoy. But I got sent this one to review and thus have a duty to follow through with it.

POUND OF FLESH is about an older college professor at an upscale ivy league school played by Malcolm McDowell (who also produced this thing) who begins to pimp his lovely but bitchy female students to the lonely male staff. Problem being that those other teachers turn out to be some mean spirited bastards whose sexual problems who abuse and kill the girls leaving him to out to dry when the very cliché ridden cops come a calling. 

 I'm pretty sure these ho's aren't in the movie. But according to the website they are.

The film opens with a particularly graphic scene of an older man, a busty young girl and a shotgun that tricks you into thinking you may be getting a sleazy little potboiler. Then the real movie begins and you realize you are getting a lazily shot, poorly acted, vanity production that has very little going for it except they could afford a name actor. The script is just a collection of clichés roped together into dialogue and boring scenes, Until finally it climaxes in a scene that feels like it is snatched out of any cop on the run flick.

But what makes it suck especially bad is the continuing voice over from McDowell that is incessant and tries to band each nonsensical scene together. Instead it just makes you want to puncture your ear drums. The voice over just reminds you that not much of anything is happening, and what little that IS happening is flat out horrible.

Easily the worst thing I have seen this year so far.

Review © Andrew Copp

McKee and Ketchum don't hit their women...

THE WOMAN (2011)
D. Lucky McKee
Bloody Disgusting

I went into this movie fully expecting to hate it. The trailer sort of misrepresents it as a wry, almost hip black comedy with the indie music taking the forefront juxtaposing the tone. I also am not a big fan of director McKee as his films as wildly uneven in tone, usually top heavy with comedy that barely works, and purposefully quirky characters that I find more annoying that endearing. In fact the only of McKee's films I actually like is the one film he was thrown off of; the adaption of Jack Ketchum's dramatic novel RED about an elderly man's dog that is killed by some teens and the horrific fall out that ensues.

Here McKee and Ketchum team up again writing the novella this film was based on. Which goes a long way towards explaining the ultimate tone of THE WOMAN, because all of McKee's quirky humor seems to be missing or at the very least tempered here. This is very much a Ketchum film through and through with only the style having the feel of McKee but it all gels amazingly well.

The story is actually a distant sequel to Ketchum's book/film THE OFFSPRING about a mutant cannibal clan the travel the east coast. Here one of the last survivors of that story, a lone mutant, cannibal woman is wondering a very small New England forest town. She is discovered by the Father of a nuclear family while hunting. He captures her and brings her home keeping her in the cellar of the barn, making her the project of the whole family. Intending to “civilize” her through any means necessary, but mostly keeping her chained and tormented. It soon becomes clear that the family that seems functional and happy on the surface is actually extremely dysfunctional just underneath. Seething with abuse, violence and sexual horror. 

The film starts as a slow burn until it hits a fifteen to twenty minute climax of shattering violence that hits you in the gut. But that violence is not the most unsettling stuff in the movie. The growing sense of unease as you begin to realize just how unhealthy the family is gets under your skin for more.


As the film progresses we realize that the elder daughter is clearly pregnant and it doesn't take a genius to deduce that she has probably been sexually abused by her father. Yet as the movie goes further we realize that the young boy of the family is indeed a violence prone monster, as he confronts the bound woman at one point and sexually tortures her with a pair of pliers. So maybe he is responsible for her condition. It is never really ever said. One terrible scene has the Father sneak away in the middle of the night to finally satiate his evil needs with the bound woman. As he rapes the woman (surprisingly well handled, with well chosen shots that make it less offensive than it could have been) there are two cutaways give us more information than we get the rest of the movie. One to the eldest daughter and another to the very young daughter. These two cuts tell us that the Father had previous snuck away in the night to do the same thing to his daughters as he has now done to the woman. When he returns to bed to his wife her face tells us she also knows what he has been up to.

THE WOMAN plays the material very straight ratcheting up the tension as it goes, revealing more and more about the family holding the Woman captive until we get a huge secret in the last reel that fires off the violence. The movie works because it manages to take a character who cannot talk, who is essentially a savage by all intents, and makes her completely sympathetic by contrasting her to the complete seething evil of the “civilized” characters. The horrors we do witness are really everyday things that are unfortunate real life things like abuse, incest and family secrets. The ideas of passing evil along family lines through bad parenting are very real horror and THE WOMAN explores them thoroughly.

Some people have complained about Lucky McKee's use of music in the film which is scored with a string of indie rock. It is jarring at first, in fact the first instance doesn't quite work. But from there on out the awkward juxtaposition actually works surprisingly well. Contrasting the sterile small town environment, it adds a level of realism.

The movie came to a lot of attention when it played Sundance last year and an audience patron flipped out making an ass of himself. The video of him freaking out went viral giving the film a lot of attention. I am still not convinced this wasn't a wrestling style work, but if it wasn't this guy certainly was throwing a fit that was uncalled for. The film is extremely effective and at times very hard to sit through, but to accuse it of being anti-woman, or anti-human is to miss the point entirely. But then to flip your shit and demand any movie be censored shows a lack of being reasonable.

THE WOMAN is easily Lucky McKee's finest film to date and well worth your time. 

Review © Andrew Copp