Monday, July 30, 2012

An Early Christmas gift for Slasher Fans!


Producer Dick Randall, hot off the success of his slasher flick PIECES, made a two picture deal with UK based F/X man Peter Litten for this film and another slasher called APRIL FOOLS DAY - which was retitled SLAUGHTER HIGH to avoid litigation from Paramount. For this Christmas themed gore flick Randall brought in his PIECES star Edmond Purdom to play the lead again. But Purdom would only do it if he could direct too. Which led to such a hack job that three other directors ultimately took over to patch this mess into the hilarious monstrosity it is today.

Yet in some ways, this may be my favorite if the X-mas themed slasher films from the era. The film is just, top to bottom, so insanely wrong-headed that it is constantly entertaining. Delivering consistently for the whole running time.

The scant story has some psycho scouring the streets of London killing street Santas. Very brutally in fact, burning off faces, slicing throats in peep booths and castrating one poor St. Nick in mid piss. Purdom is the dick on the case investigating and he is convinced a flute playing street musician is the culprit.

Naturally he isn't. The killer is exactly who you think the first time you meet him. But you will be distracted by the naked saggy boobs, overflowing blood and incredible dialogue. Like when flute boy is almost caught by a couple of cops in the street with a babe in a Santa cape and exclaims "they are gonna think we are a couple of GAYS!" Or when Purdom finds a dead body and two women gasp, he tells them "it's ok I'm a police officer!" Then two men approach and he tells them "go phone the cops!"

I also love how every dime store Santa in England is a drunk or a pervert or both. They get killed because the stumble drunk into dark alleys or go into peep booths for a wank. Except for one poor Santa who stumbles inexplicably into Carolyn Munroe's sound check! She looks super hot, the song kinda sucks, the guy gets killed and Carolyn never shows up again!

Of course it is all some flimsy psycho sexual trauma. But you won't care. This is the kind of thing that is only as good as the piles of absurdity it can muster. Trust me, they don't come much more absurd than this.

The dvd has an hour long vintage behind the scenes that showcases mostly producer Dick Randall. But they don't even try to hide how troubled of a production it was. Instead they made a humorous behind the scenes film about it.Joking about the multiple shoots, body doubles and new directors. But even better is the Mondo Macabro made extra THE WILD WILD WORLD OF DICK RANDALL that is a wonderful and loving overview of his life and career. That extra alone is worth the price of the disc and make my all bleary eyed for an era of exploitation film that will simply never exist again. 

The movie looks fine, grainy in places, belying its very low budget roots.but better than if ever has considering it has floated around in bootlegs sourced from 20 year old VHS and one full frame DVD of questionable originans from nearly ten years ago.   Add to that the mind melting Mondo Macabro trailer reel and you get a package that is fit to open well before Christmas indeed.

Review © Andrew Copp 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hunting the Ladies the Franco Way...


La comtesse perverse


This is meastro Franco's take on THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME by way DE SADE with his usual helpings of nude ladies and spread open legs. It is also from that early 70's era when he was regulary cranking out some of his best work. Just think this came out the same year as THE FEMALE VAMPIRE

The story opens when a mod looking couple (Tania Bussellier and Robert Woods)  find a nude woman washed up on their beach (Kali Hansa). She is delerious and tells them of being taken to an island run by the Countess (Alice Arno) where she was seduced by both her and her husband (Howard Vernon) before being taken captive. There are strong hints of cannibalism in her story. But we soon realize it was indeed this couple that procured this woman for the Countess in the first place.

Soon they have a new victim played by the much missed Lina Romay, they are seducing and taking to the island. It is only a matter of time before she is introduced to shady, voyeuristic sex games, raw human meat eating and finally nude hunting through the jungle.

Though still somewhat languidly paced (it IS Franco after all) this is one of the better of his films. The thing is impeccably shot, has gorgeous scenery and art design (the Countess house is right out if an Escher drawing), the sex is actually fairly hot and the final hunt entertaining in a very preposterous way. 

But watching this I finally realized why I enjoy even the worst Franco films (and this is Not one of those by a long shot) and that is he clearly is so happy to be directing his perversions on screen. The dirtier the stuff he is presenting the better the film seems the be, and it comes across in the very cinematic  language he uses. He is a man comfortable presenting his perversions to you the veiwer and I for one end up appreciating that enthusiasm. No matter how bad his films may get, his raw, perverted passion wins me over. Though that says way more about me than Franco as a filmmaker.

The Mondo Macabro dvd is gorgeous. Richly colored and textured with good subtitles. The print is almost flawless. The extras are very worthwhile but to no one's surprise the interview with author Stephen Thrower is my stand out recomendation. Thrower is currently writing the definative book on Franco and he delves in pretty hardcore in the details of this film and just the era it was made.

A must own for any Franco-phile.

Review © Andrew Copp

Friday, July 20, 2012

Actions of a Madman...

14 Dead and 50 Injured due to spree shooting at Colorado movie theater...

Everyone is talking about this horrible tragedy where a madman went on a rampage taken the lives of so many people in this senseless act of violence. I can't even imagine the horrific sense of loss for the families and friends involved in this. I can however put myself in the shoes of those who were there and imagine the terror they felt at having to experience this. I wouldn't want to go through this, nor would I wish it on my worst enemy. No one should have to experience this, especially when just going out to the movies.

Which is what we all need to remember here. This is all exploding into a wave of finger pointing and blame assignment. Why did this guy do it? Are the movies to blame? Could gun control have stopped it? Was Islamic terrorism part of the bigger picture? Even one particularly disgusting Congressman has decided that this was strictly an attack on Christianity (were only Christians shot in the theater?). But at the end of the day NO ONE in that theater left the house yesterday thinking anything other than they were excited to be going to the movies. They were excited to see the biggest movie of the summer and not a single one of them expected to lose their lives. Not a single one of them DESERVED to lose their lives. One of the most disgusting comments I have seen on facebook, a joke I understand, is that why couldn't this have happened at the TWILIGHT premiere instead. But NONE of those people would have deserved it either, because NO ONE deserves to be shot at be a delusional, heavily armed madman. No one deserves to be ripped from the comfort of the fantasy of the movies only to be killed for just BEING THERE. 

If there is a solace to be had is that this was all over before it got any worse. Early reports have stated that the authorities found  some sort of incendiary device in the theater when it was cleared out. This points to the idea this guy fully intended to kill a lot more people than he had the chance to. A lot more people COULD be dead today. 

So when arguments are flaring up, and the media is making this an issue of what ever they decide to attach it to, just try to remember that there are actual people attached. With families, friends, people who are going to miss them. This isn't about all the other stuff. Forget the TMZ and all their muck raking bullshit they do. Remember the people involved. 

Article © Andy Copp

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Fist full of AGGRESSION


2.35 - 1

This tightly wound little thriller literally hits the ground running when hit-man Lloyd (Dana Ashbrook from TWIN  PEAKS) enters a suburban home and calmly blows the person out the front door with as shotgun in front of their kids. After a couple more equally bloody and unsettling murders we come to find out he is working for local mob boss Mr. Bellevance (Ray Wise). Seems someone has absconded with $500,000 of his money and he is none to happy about it. If Lloyd doesn't get the money in 48 hours, he gets put under the ground.

Then we meet slowly fracturing, newly thrown together family. Bill (Boyd Kestner)and Maggie (Lisa Rotondi) have just gotten married and are moving their two teen aged children up to a new house to start over. The kids are not happy about it. The daughter Lauren (Fabianne Therese) is a typical spoiled bitch who is complaining about everything. But their son Owen (Ryan Hartwig) is a different sort of child, clearly autistic and introverted, he never utters a word throughout the film. But we get wind early on that something is brewing inside of him when he kills a spider with a makeshift blowgun...

Before long Lloyd and his brutal gang of thugs (Including Derek Meyers from the FRIDAY THE 13th remake and THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake) are there killing their way through the supporting cast, but what they didn't count on was the Owen is actually the concern of the title.

What transpires id that this young boy with extreme autism, is actually as dangerous, if not more so, than these thugs and killers. That he has been training himself for survival strategies and this whole situation becomes an extremely bloody game for him.

It would be easy to dismiss THE AGGRESSION SCALE as HOME ALONE for adults. That is the easiest short hand for it. But that also cheapens what is one of the freshest, most exciting thrillers I have watched since HANNA (2011). Constantly exciting, lean and to the point, viciously brutal and uncompromising, it is edge of your seat stuff. Sure there are missteps along the way. Owen's actions are sometimes way too exacting, with him having the forethought to do things that ONLY make sense if he were to know the script itself. The daughter, Lauren, gets really annoying with her teenage angst early on, but thankfully the films spends very little time with that before getting to the action. 

The movie is getting really bad reviews on the IMDB, which just furthers my opinion that the people who leave comments and reviews there are trolls. Check this one out, it is well worth your time.  Review © Andrew Copp


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Everyone can be SAVAGES

SAVAGES (2012)
2.35-1 HD

Oliver Stone returns to the drug business with his Southern California beach noir adaptation of the Don Winslow crime novel of the same name (Winslow also co-wrote the screenplay). The result is probably Stone's most entertaining movie in a decade or more, but is still not without some major flaws. But the film is so awash in beautiful scenery, and plenty of forward momentum it is easy to get caught up in the ride. 

The story deals with a trio of pot growers and also full time lovers. Ben (Aaron Johnson) is the Soft heart, hippie agriculturist of the trio. The brain who studied botany and perfected the specialized herb that has made them the millions they have. He travels around the globe spreading the wealth to the underprivileged. Cho (Taylor Kitsch) is the muscle, an ex Marine, back from two very violent tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Scarred by the war both physically and mentally, he takes the business side very seriously. He is more animal than man most of the time. Finally there is Ophelia, (Blake Lively) O  for short, the woman that loves them both, and they both love her. She is the glue that binds them all together. The three of them live in a Southern California bliss, happily selling weed, and trading each other off with no jealously at all. The perfectly progressive family for the 21st century. 

Until the Mexico drug cartels come calling. Salma Hayek plays Elena, the drug Kingpin (clearly based on the famous Cocaine Madam of Miami) who wants the boys to reinvent her business with their product and growing know how. When they refuse and intend to run, she has Ophelia snatched and held captive. The intent to be she will be her captive for a year while they set up shop for her, then Ophelia will be set free and they will take a hefty cut in profits for disobeying. They boys know this is not going to work and going to war is probably going to be the best bet in winning back the love of their life. 

So begins a viciously violent thriller that delivers on most of what it promises. The first 30 to 40 minutes of the movie as near picture perfect. Especially the setting up of the relationship between the three of the leads. We get to know the boys especially well and understand what it is about them that Ophelia sees in them and why the threesome approach works for her.  There is a terrifying opening scene involving an internet video and multiple decapitations that is not easily forgotten as well as a sequence that introduces Benecio Del Toro's character Lado, an assassin for Elena that brings the title of the movie into sharp focus. 

But once Ophelia is captive the movie begins to drag a bit. The boys spend a lot of time trying to figure ways to get her back and the movie spins around more than it really should. There is a fantastic heist sequence that is bloody, brutal and fucking LOUD. But most of all takes time out to remind you the cost of human lives. 

But the movie slowly loses focus as it runs into the third act. Ophelia sort of never really rises to become a clear focus of the material the way she should. She gets one great scene where her and Elena have dinner and discuss the people in their lives they love. But mostly she just kind of whines and wimpers about her situation. As the movie progresses we clearly see why SHE loves the boys. They are everything she claims them to be in her narration that peppers the film. But we never get to really understand what it is about HER that makes them so crazy in love with her, that they are willing to risk their lives, to tear down their own empire to save her. Her character seems kinda of one dimensional compared to them at the end of the day. 


Then there is the issue of the ending. Of the two endings actually. Neither of which actually conclude the film in a satisfactory way. The film actually has a shoot 'em up climax that is semi-satisfying, then ends with a Romeo and Romeo and Juliet death pact, then literally backs out of it to give us the "real" ending where everyone lives. Bad guys, good guys, supporting players, everyone. The whole thing feels weird and like a cheat. Problem is that the movie leading up to that point has been a journey for the two boys, especially Ben who has learned to give up a significant part of his humanity to save her. To have a happy ever after undercuts the point.. I have not read the book, but I would be curious to know how the book ends and if it is like the movie at all. 

Even with all this in mind, I still quite enjoyed the film. The acting is good, and Stone's direction is slick and back to the heavy saturation, crazy editing of U-TURN and NATURAL BORN KILLERS that I love so much. His politics are not as hit you on the head blatant here, but the pro-pot stance is loud and clear. SAVAGES is a very entertaining film. It just could have been a great film with just a little more effort. 

Review © Andy Copp

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

True Crime Spree made toothless...

D. John Murlowski
Image Entertainment

This somewhat recent attempt at a bio-pic of William Bonin the Freeway Killer of the title (Played with clenched teeth by Scott Anthony Leet) is another of a long line a messy true crime films that miss the mark. This plays fast and loose with facts. This isn't the movie's problem. The sort of slipshod-lazy feel of the production is what ultimately sinks the movie.

Bonin was kidnapping young men, and strangling them. He got his real kicks from psychological power plays with several much younger men he mentored in the art of killing. Which of course eventually led to his capture an ultimate lethal injection.

The movie is plagued by uneven acting, poor driving/process shoots and a feeling of not much of the  production actually caring. There some great dialogue towards the midsection between Bonin and his protegee Vernon Butts (Played by Dusty Sorg who is actually the best performance in the film) as they remember meeting up and seeing a demon for the first time. This tit for tat eventually leads to Vernon attempting to commit suicide. It is a particularly well written exchange and well done by the actors as it allows them to get "quite" for a moment instead of the normally higher level the have for the rest of the movie. Michael Rooker shows up for a couple of scenes as the cop who busts Bonin, but he is clearly picking up a paycheck, but that is OK because he has been cast clearly because they are trying to connect the movie to HENRY PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. Which this movie doesn't deserve to hold the jock strap of.

Otherwise it is pretty episodic and surprisingly avoids the blatant gay themes of the material. This should have been much better than it is.

Review © Andrew Copp


X marks the hookers

D. Jon Hewitt

This Australian lensed art/cum/crime flick directed by Jon Hewitt, is about a high priced call girl on her last night before flying the nest to Paris vs a teenage whore on her first night in the job. The two women end up working a job for a drug dealer who is killed by a rogue cop sending them in the run.

The movie tries to be gritty and street level in the depiction of a prostitutes life. But it never really is. This is a fantasy version of a whore's life complete with dirty old men asking for silly prices and rich drug dealers making the women come when eating them out. The crime element becomes increasingly silly and is hard to take seriously except for one head crushing scene clearly inspired by IRREVERSIBLE. The movie is about as edgy as JOHN LANDIS' 80's comedy movie INTO THE NIGHT, but not as funny or well made. 

What this movie DOES have going for it is some very impressive night time photography, and seedy location work. But outside of that, this is simply never as ugly, or shocking as the filmmakers clearly think it is.

watch for underground writer Jack Sargeant
And fellow Aussie director Richard Wolstencroft in cameo's during a strip club scene.

A well shot, well intended, but ultimately very silly movie. 

Review © Andrew Copp

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Your Sex Is On Fire: The Latest Nikkatsu DVD from Impulse Pictures...

D. Naosuke Kurosawa
Impulse Pictures
2.35-1 / 16 X 9 Anamorphic

“Let's fuck in the fire and spread all the ashes around” - Sunspots – Nine Inch Nails

The line from that song is what sprang to mind when this movie is over, and you will see why once you will watch it. A surrealistic pyromantic horror as only Japan can deliver. A giallo hiding in the guise of a Roman Porno film. Like many of the other films in this amazing collection, completely surprising and far better than you would ever expect, from any angle on the material.

The twisted plot follows a bored housewife named Saeko who once her decent, but boring Husband leaves on a business trip is off to meet her long time lover. On her way to meet him, while riding her bicycle, she is assaulted in an abandoned lot and raped by a black gloved, long coat wearing man, brandishing an ice pick-like weapon. - An aside here, this has got to be the second or third movie of this type where I've noticed women being raped while riding bicycles. And in fields or abandoned lots. Just an odd thing I noticed about these films. – She goes on to meet her lover, who is a pretty odd guy himself. Later that night a young girl is assaulted in the part by his home, her vagina stuffed with gas soaked rags and set on fire.

We learn her lover is a piano repair man and carries an assortment of tools, several of which look exactly like the one the rapist carried. More girls get assaulted and burned to a crisp including one that Saeko walks in on while burning. This poor girl is one the killer has broken out her teeth, before setter her alight with a blow torch. Later He attempts to stuff the body of a victim into an industrial garbage disposal in an abandoned, half built apartment complex with the local mentally challenged teen girl watching him. She gets so turned on by what she sees, she eats the garbage out of a bag while masturbating. 

Then things get really weird, with some double crossing, mistaken identity, more people getting burned up, and lots and lots of explicit sex, including a lesbian scissor sex scene that evolves into a threesome that I found particularly hot.

Unlike several of the other films released so for in the Impulse Pictures NIKKATSU line, this film takes a very different approach to the Roman Porno material by being an straight thriller first and foremost. Visually and structurally this owes more than a debt of gratitude to the films of Dario Argento. Imagine if DEEP RED had been a sex film. The film has all the trappings of a classic Giallo, the black gloved killer, the convoluted plot, the classic score. It is all here. But what sets this apart is the Roman Porno trappings, setting the Giallo set pieces in the Roman Porno world of S+M and rape fantasies. Especially with this film the heavy touches of poeticism and surrealism. The final ten or so minutes of this film dips completely out of reality and into the land of surrealism and loaded imagery. In doing so the film goes from being a well made, interesting, sexy thriller, to being an artistic triumph. Something altogether more interesting.

The imagery of fire being an all consuming sexual passion, something you can either give into or be destroyed by, make the film truly unique, even in the cannon of this type of film. Several shots towards the end are quite beautiful including our lead masturbating furiously and where ever her wetness hits the ground catches fire, or another shot of a nude woman who has fallen to her death and her vagina shoots flames like her soul is escaping. Or the final coda of the film, which has to be seen to fully appreciate. 

I don't know if this is my favorite of the Nikkatsu collection so far, because I really liked DEBAUCHERY simply because it was so freaking filthy and well done. But this is probably the best made so far, with the best plot and imagery. But I would say this is really one you should take a look at, Even if you are not into sex films. This one transcends the label. 

Review © Andrew Copp