Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Junesploitation Day 17: Free Space!

Friends for eternity. Loyalty. Honesty. We stick together through thick and thin.

31 comments:

  1. Chuck Vincent's ROOMMATES (1981) in 35mm at NYC's Anthology Film Archives' 'In The Flesh' Retrospective for the first time.

    Billie (Samantha Fox, "Liquid A$$ets"), a high-class prostitute that decides to leave the life behind and become an ad executive, welcomes struggling actress Joan (Veronica Hart, "Wanda Whips Wall Street") and party girl/model Sherry (Kelly Nichols, "Maneaters") into her NYC apartment to help pay the bills. Each of the girls, in addition to the challenges of struggling to advance their careers in the city that never sleeps, has to contend with men in their lives who are either sexual blackmailers (Bobby Astyr, "Way Down Deep") or cheaters (Jack Wrangler, "Swedish Erotica 43"), commitment-phobic and married (Frank Adams, "This Lady Is A Tramp") or gentle but gay (Jerry Butler, "Both Ends Burning"), and in some cases just downright coke-fueled psychos (Jamie Gillis, "They Call Me Sugar Candy") or random strangers like Dick (Ron Jeremy, "My Anal Valentine") with hang-up issues. Can our girls catch a break in the dog-eat-pussy cat struggle to make ends meet and find love in the urban jungle? Or will the big black asphalt jungle swallow them before they come to terms with who they are as not only single women but the keeper of each other's assets?

    Since "Boogie Nights" is beloved around here let me paint you a picture. Imagine if 30+ years after their heyday the surviving members from Jack Horner's cast & crew, like Amber Waves and Kurt Longjohn (minus Reed Rothchild, Dirk Digler or any male actors, because AIDS and old age) attended a screening of what they considered Jack's singular work, an early-80's X rated attempt to appeal to movie-going, porno-watching couples (gay and/or straight) with a 'quality' adult motion picture (i.e. melodramatic chick flick in which the money shots aren't the primary focus of the production) Horner secretly championed. A half-filled theater (97% men) of 1/3 crew members from Jack's posse (Buck, Scottie, etc.), 1/3 fans that whistled/screamed/clapped when the X rated trailers that preceded the flick unfolded (each more sexually explicit that every R rated movie you've ever seen combined), and 1/3 regular cinephiles trying to shush a couple of middle-aged, weird-looking, retarded-sounding fans that kept cheering and talking to the screen whenever one of the ladies said/did anything remotely sexy (you know, 'that guy').

    Replace San Fernando Valley with NYC, make-believe Jack Horner with real-life Chuck Vincent, and the cast/crew with real-life lookalikes, and that's the screening of "Roommates" that I attended. During a Q&A afterwards with Samantha Fox, Kelly Nichols and crew members (including cinematographer Larry Revine, a dead ringer for Ricky Jay) I literally felt like I was hearing and seeing the characters from "Boogie Nights" wax nostalgic as they uttered the parade of platitudes and cliches about how meaningful "Roommates" is as a legitimate porno/mainstream crossover (I'd never heard of it before), what a talented filmmaker Chuck Vincent was (ditto), how supportive a family Vincent and the crew were, etc.

    As I sat there half-buying the folks' sincerity I couldn't help but smile. It's one thing to watch exploitation movies in June and pretend we're into this world for one month per year. It's another to live/taste/experience that sexploitation vibe with people that lived/breathed/created this type of cinema 24/7. In this regard "Roommates" uses audience expectations that all porno movies are mindless excuses to show graphic sex scenes for the very transgressive (exploitative?) hook of relegating the money shots (graphic and explicit but not very erotic or arousing) behind the simple melodrama of three women struggling to live and love in NYC circa '81. Long live the new-to-me 35mm flesh! ;-P

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  2. That screening actually sounds like a great experience! I'm jealous! Chuck Vincent made a semi-successful transition into mainstream (though still sleazy) filmmaking, directing titles I still remember from my neighborhood Hollywood Video: Wimps, Hollywood Hot Tubs, Warrior Queen (on Netflix Instant right this moment), and Deranged (not the Ed Gein one.) His friends from his adult days largely kept working with him (Georgina Spelvin, Jerry Butler, Jamie Gillis, et al.)

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  3. edit: Whoops! I just checked my Netflix Instant queue, and they actually have Barbarian Queen, not Warrior.

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  4. Galaxy of Terror (1981)

    Oy, was Patrick right about this one. Overall the film is a dark, ugly, and confusing mess. The crew members are dispatched in nasty ways that look to have been formulated by the “Ironic Punishment Division” of Hell Labs. Still, I found it fascinating to watch because a certain young James Cameron was the production designer and second-unit director. So we are watching a rising star in action, even if he is surrounded by lesser talents. It makes for very frustrating viewing at times. For instance – Cameron designs for the film a beautiful multi-level bridge set. The main section is where Grace Zabriski sits, and the elevated section is where Robert Englund sits. Unfortunately, the lead director chose to film the set using tons of close-ups, so Englund and Zabriski might as well be in totally separate locations (I think there’s one shot that actually shows the entire set – I remember, because until I saw it I had no idea the two actors were in the same big space). To me it seems like the director shot for speed and efficiency, rather than take advantage of the beautiful space Cameron had given him. There is a terrific shot of the crew on the planet’s surface walking up a hill, where the giant pyramid is revealed. That shot is practically a rough draft for a similar shot in Aliens.

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    1. That movie makes me want to take a shower.

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  5. Dont Look In The Basement (1973)

    The thing about a movie called "Dont Look In The Basement" is that despite there being no mention of a basement for 80 minutes of its 90 minute run time, I kept asking myself for the entirety of the movie "Where is this basement and What the hell is in it?!?" This internal mind game kept me engaged as the series of nonsensical events unfolded.
    I dont quite get why this one has been given the classic/fan favourite label by so many, but it was alright for a "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest" imitation that was actually made two years before Cuckoos Nest.
    Timetravelsploitation.

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  6. Walkabout (1971) – First Viewing:

    OZsploitation. Completely transporting and hypnotic. Meditation on life and death, nature and civilization, and comes to some very disturbing conclusions. Beautifully shot and acted, it’s completely mesmerizing and unforgettable. This is the kind of movie that reminds me why I love movies in the first place. Cannot recommend more highly. Warning you will see some animals getting killed.

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    1. It really is a beautiful movie.

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    2. Walkabout was a movie I watched and was hypnotized by, but didn't totally wow me. Then this past week I started going through Criterions I need to buy during the next sale and found myself saying "oh yeah, I've GOT to have that!" What is this strange power it has?

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  7. Thriller - A Cruel Picture (1973)

    Such intense focus on every step of this journey. The abuse, the training and the revenge were all so keenly detailed.. Nothing happened off camera and nothing occurred in montages or any such shortcuts.
    Its the sort of movie that makes me need to take a shower after watching.
    FuckingMensploitation!

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    1. One of my favorites! Christina Lindberg's beauty perfectly counterpoints the general grimness of the whole affair, and makes the final version of her character even more over-the-top.

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  8. Machete Kills (2013)

    The laziest example of "trying too hard" I've ever seen. Seriously, fuck this movie.

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    1. OMG..you went through with it. You were so warned.

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    2. I was, and I should have listened. I just had to see for myself. Famous last words, I'm aware. I feel like that guy from Prometheus. "I'm gonna pet this razor-snake monster-thing. You know, for science. I'm sure it'll be FINE."

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    3. I would rather be punched in the face by Danny Trejo than watch Machete Kills again...because it's shorter.

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  9. WE ARE THE STRANGE (2007)

    This animated film, which combines stop motion and CGI, takes place in some sort of cyberpunk/dystopia world, with three characters wandering around a nightmare landscape. It’s hugely ambitious and imaginative, which I like, but it’s also extremely low-budget. The I-made-it-in-my-garage visuals are the movie’s big selling point, an onslaught of constant weirdness. But that’s at the service of the story, so after a while you’ll wonder why you should keep watching. Legally questionable substances help, no doubt.

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  10. Robot Wars (FMS): Well I am not sure why but when I saw that title, I thought 'I am really in the mood for that'. I was wrong. The entertaining part was the dialogue, it was so silly and ridiculous it kept it being from totally boring. The thing about Robot wars is there are not enough of the robots. That silly dialogue in a movie filled with silly robots was what I was in the mood for. But instead it had these long drawn out 'character' moments that don't work as they are not good actors at all.

    The Heroin Busters (FMS): This was so much better than Robot Wars. Aside from that, it is just a great movie. Holy fuck! That Live and Let Die is how you do a plane chase! (About that, great podcast, every time any of you do an English accent it makes me laugh so hard, brilliant!) I have to check out Street Law now, which is the other Castellari film on FMS that I can see (another shout out to The Big Racket as that was great). Fabio Testi is just so cool as well so I want to check out Revolver. Back to The Heroin Busters. It is a crime movie that isn't afraid to show the real gritty nature of the drug underworld and the dangers of addiction as well as the scale of the drug market. Definitely worth your time!

    The Inglorious Bastards (1978): Such gripping action and brilliant characters (one of them has a moustache to rival Heath's, unless there is something he isn't telling us...) This had me gripped and hugely entertained throughout. I cannot believe I bought this for 25 p ($0.43) it should be worth more than that!

    *Remember to wish John Murphey a Happy Birthday tomorrow guys!*

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    1. So glad you dug The Heroin Busters. That was my first movie this month and maybe still my favorite that I've seen. It made me want to seek out every Fabio Testi movie.

      Still haven't seen Robot Wars, but your critique can be applied to a lot of the Full Moon movies -- I like "x" thing, but there's not enough of it...

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  11. The Big Chill (1983)

    Friendsploitation? I saw an old friend for the first time in eight years this week and thought this movie would capitalize on that awkward kind of re-affiliation. It's fiiiine. I like the cast, but this sort of Stephen King "friends together again at long last" thing has always seemed a little strange to me. The final decision made by Glenn Close and Kevin Kline gave me the heebie jeebies, and I don't know what to make of the last line, which is straight out of an 80's sitcom wrap-up. It feels dirty when you sit down and say that you're favorite part of a movie was the funeral scene. Is there something wrong with me?

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  12. Head of the Family (1996, dir. Robert Talbot [Charles Band]) First viewing of this Full Moon "classic," about a two-bit criminal who hooks up with a weird crime family led by, yes, an oversized head (with a tiny body you can't even see). Too many long stretches in which nothing happens, but gets weird enough at times to not be a waste of time. J.W. Perra's performance as the titular Head is actually really good, as is the one from Jacqueline Lovell, who spends almost every scene naked and/or having sex.

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  13. 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

    I thought the visuals in this were actually super cool, but that can only sustain a movie for so long. I actually started the movie, then stopped to make and eat dinner, and then forced myself to finish it. It's not that the movie is necessarily bad, but it's actually kind of boring.

    Confession: I actually like the first one, and I don't find it boring despite how repetitive it is. Maybe it was Gerard Butler...

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    1. I haven't seen this (yet) but I confess that I really like 300 too. C'mon, it's awesome!

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  14. Seeding of a Ghost (1983)

    Only two months after unleashing Boxer's Omen onto the world, Shaw Bros. released this not-quite-as-fucking-insane-but-very-similar sister film. However, being not as insane as Omen still means being Really Fucking Insane. A supernatural rape/revenge story: a meek taxi driver happens to run over a grave-robbing practitioner of black magic as he's being chased by an angry mob. This actually somehow saves the warlock from the mob, and he's grateful to the driver. However... having "interfered with black magic," he's warned that his family will have bad luck and likely die. His unfaithful wife's luck does promptly turn around when she's raped and murdered by a couple of young punks. The cabbie returns to the magician, and forces him to help him secure revenge against both the punks and her boyfriend. That revenge involves (amongst many other things) possession, puking up worms, brain-eating, and a climax so wacky I'm loath to ruin it (if you do, Youtube Seeding of a Ghost; it's the first result.) Strongly exploitative and enthusiastically recommended.

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  15. Valhalla Rising (2009)

    Directed by Nicolas Refn who also did Drive (which i really liked) and Only God Forgives (a bit disappointing) so I didn't know what to expect from this. The story starts out with a one eyed man who is held captive and forced to fight to the death regularly. He also has the ability to see into the future. He soon escapes and starts his journey to a far away world along with a young boy who had cared for him while being prisoner. There's some Norse mythology and Christianity mixed into the story as well. The movie itself has it's ups and downs. There's really not much dialogue (zero for the main character) throughout, so it's more atmospheric and sometimes a bit boring in parts. I thought the cinematography was really well done and the performanes were solid all around. That being said I'm somewhere in the middle with liking the film. I feel like i may need to re watch it. Definitely not for everyone.

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  16. Jason X (2001)

    Figured I'd make up for two of the days I missed (Sci-Fi and Ft13th) in one. There's a lot that's not very good about this franchise oddball, but my affection for it grows every time I see it. I think the idea that Teenager Sex somehow animates or fuels Jason is a worthy addition to the mythology!

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  17. Duel (1971)

    Steven Spielberg was 25 years old when he made DUEL, an auspicious start to his career. I'm 35 and still rely on spellcheck to spell 'auspicious' correctly. Spielberg > Me

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  18. Taxi Driver (1976) - A gritty view of an isolated, disenfranchised veteran searching for connection and meaning in mid-70s New York. Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks, Peter Boyle.

    Easy Rider (1969) - The first act features glorious views of the American southwest and a driving soundtrack. As the film progresses, it has more substantial things to say about freedom, conformity, and the pursuit of happiness. Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson.

    Earthling (2010) - An aliens-among-us B-movie with low-fi effects and marginal storytelling.

    Godzilla vs Mothra (1992, dubbed in english) - Despite a number of positive recommendations, I couldn't make it past 23 minutes. Sorry, I tried.

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  19. Ichi the Killer (Japan, 2001)

    I know, I know, I'm a day late, but I had two exams on the 18th, thus I decided to watch this damn crazy film tonight, instead. I'm not sure how to describe this film, other than providing a few adjectives. I mean, it's just senseless violence, mixed with a dollop of sadomasochism, a sprinkle of torture, and a pinch of misogyny...to say the least.

    My understanding is quite poor, but I'm quite sure that in Japan the yakuza have historically been quite influentual in the country's entertainment industry, having had their hands in producing many pro-yakuza films in the past. Although, Wikipedia (sure, not the best source) mentions that this isn't the case in regards to yakuza-based films, nowadays. Nonetheless, there is relatively good evidence that a Japanese director, by the name of Juzo Itami, was murdered in 1997 as a result of intending to produce an anti-yakuza film. It's very doubtful that the truth will ever be learnt, though. Enough with the history lesson!

    In the end, I can't say that I'd recommend this film to anyone I know, but if you're looking for two hours of gore and cruelty, then this film might be up your alley. Can't say it's up mine. Cheers.

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  20. The Monuments Men (2014)

    I'm bad at the "exploitation" part of this month. But fuck it -- FREE SPACE!

    This movie is exactly what everyone said it was -- disappointing, kind of boring and overly sentimental. Whatever good will I have for it is based purely on my enjoyment of the genre and the existing chemistry of the actors. George Clooney should stop making movies.

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  21. Almost Human (2014)

    I started the movie on Tuesday so this counts.

    Decent genre movie really picks up in the last 20 minutes. Worth a watch.

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  22. Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

    I honestly expected a little bit better out of this Blacula sequel, especially considering how it co-stars Pam Grier. I guess that she hadn't "popped" as a star yet. Even though this was after Big Bird Cage and The Big Doll House it was BEFORE Coffy and Foxy Brown, so maybe they didn't know how awesome she was yet? I don't know. It's fine, but it had every right to be incredible and it's not. I'm sure future viewings will go better since I'll know what to expect, but this initial screening was disappointing.

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