Sunday, June 29, 2014

Junesploitation Day 29: Free Space!

More fun than you can shake your stick at!


  1. The Warriors (1979)

    Why, yes, I think I will come out an play, thanks for asking.
    What a cool movie. I think I realised about 2 minutes into it that I was watching something great. The opening sequence before they get to the meeting, with the pounding music and the scene cuts between world building, characterisations and exposition was so wonderfully done. I literally said to myself, I think I love this. Thankfully it didnt let me down from there. Sure, it didnt go in the directions I would have preferred for it to go, but its not my movie and where it did go was really really cool. Especially for a pop futuristic teen movie it holds up remarkably well. 1990: The Bronx Warrior, you should be ashamed of yourself.


  2. The Art of the Steal (2013)

    Quick Thoughts:
    It's always a shame when you get a great cast in a movie and the script just can't gel together. Its a heist movie that should be up with Oceans 11 and 13 (never 12) but alas spins its wheels for a bit too long. It does have Kurt Russell in it (Kurt Russelsploitation!) On the plus side you get to see Kurt ham it up a little in an early Evil Knievel bit and the cast works their butt off to pull a few fun fleeting moments.

    8 Word Review:

    Just when you think its ramping up- STOP!

  3. LIQUID SKY (1982) in 35 mm at Brooklyn's Nitehawk Cinemas for the first time. Trailer.

    Straight from writer/director Slava Tsukerman's NYC apartment came to Brooklyn the only 35mm print of "Liquid Sky" known to exist (per Nitehawk's projectionist). During its first 20 minutes the veggie burger I'd ordered to eat alongside the movie sat untouched in front of me as I just stared slack-jawed at what would end up being THE epic mindfuck to bring my Junesploitation! to a successful end.

    Any plot summary makes this sound like a small film. Within its limited resources and narrow premise though (an alien craft lands in a Manhattan rooftop seeking opium, settles for a human chemical aphrodisiac from those in close proximity), "Liquid Sky" jam-packs two hours' worth of punk culture attitudes, personalities, odd characters, music (or meant-to-annoy music notes passing themselves as such), fashions, ideas and lifestyles that feel more alien to us than the aliens themselves (and these are pretty far-out aliens as far as movies are concerned). But since the filmmakers and cast were clearly familiar-enough with the culture they're closely emulating (in attitude and lifestyle as well as surface-level fashions and appearance, which are all important) it all feels like organic-to-punk craziness rather than a Hollywood-cashing-in hack job.

    "Liquid Sky" is ten times nuttier than "The Visitor" and "Sleepaway Camp" combined. But, unlike these or other so-bad-it's-good amusing flicks, you always feel there's a vision and a purpose to the visual/aural/spoken non sequiturs or the quirkiness (like barely-understandable-in-English Otto von Wernherr playing an alien hunter saddled with a horny sidekick) on constant parade here. Just because I don't like or care for punk culture doesn't make this movie made by and for its consumers unreachable, just one that baffles at every turn. You can't make a two-hour movie that's 75% set in one small Manhattan rooftop apartment (but what a great view of Midtown Manhattan) unless you're skilled-enough to weave interesting threads. To that end the cast mostly delivers by virtue that "Liquid Sky" absorbs their mannerisms and acting (or lack of) to make them part of its kooky fabric. I wasn't even aware until the flick ended that star Anne Carlisle plays both the movie's male and female leads (fashion model rivals Margaret and Jimmy), which adds an even deeper, more surreal level to Margaret when she recalls her life as a normal Connecticut teen.

    I can't even call "Liquid Sky" punksploitation because it was made and came out when punk was still underground and just before it crossed into the mainstream, and that shows and comes through in every crazy-but-not-amateurish fiber of this film's being. If Andy Warhol had fathered children that grew up and became punk filmmakers "Liquid Sky" is the movie they would have made.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I've always thought Liquid Sky is what Dr. Caligari would be like if Frank Hennenlotter had directed it. See, it's posts like this that make me seriously considering moving to NYC, strictly for the movie watching possibilities. I saw a screening of Dreams That Money Can Buy at the National Gallery of Art here in D.C. and couldn't think anything but "the only reason I'm getting to watch this is because somebody in New York was nice enough to bring this print here" while I was watching it.

    3. Last weekend and this one there were 15 single-showing repertory movies (excluding mainstream movies with multiple showings) showing on multiple theaters that I was interested in, everything from an Italian poliziotteschi retrospective to a 4K restored "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" (which I did see, my first time seeing the movie), Alec Guinnes' "The Ladykillers" ("Star Wars" tomorrow afternoon), Jodorowsky's "The Holy Mountain" with live music, etc. A few weeks from today they're showing "Rushmore" in 35mm at midnight at Landmark Sunshine, and "My Neighbor Totoro" the week before.

      I guess I'm just saying pack your bags and come over, future share-my-exorbitant-rent-and-expenses-with-flush-out-of-towner roommate of mine. ;-P

    4. Who did the live music for Holy Mountain??!?! It better had been MF'in Don Cherry himself, not some dubstep version of "Nights in White Satin." Brother, I hope you've seen Texas Chainsaw 2. I'm leery of this "I met the real life Jack Horner but I haven't seen TCM" stuff. (But who am I to judge? The only Van Damme movie I've seen is Bloodsport.)

    5. Some dude named Guizot performed the music. I tried to get a group of friends (same group that I took to see "Posession" at a theatrical screening in May with the screenwriter in attendance) to come with me for "Holy Mountain", but it fell through so I saw "Texas C.S.M" instead. Bummer. :-(

      I saw "TCSM 2" once in the early 90's on Showtime, but I was drugged at a hospital waiting for surgery (one of those deals where you have to stay awake and not eat anything the night before the operation) so that viewing felt weird, surreal and I honestly don't remember liking or hating it other than wondering what the heck was Dennis Hopper doing wearing a big white hat.

    6. I can't imagine a better Texas Chainsaw 2 viewing experience than that. When you said "Dennis Hopper wearing a big white hat," I swear this is the image I had in my head.

  4. Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972)

    Knowing that this was an adaptation of a long form graphic novel narrative, and the first in six movies, it was hard to see it as much more than a set up. The first half of the movie cuts between past and present to explain how the lone wolf and cub came to be, then the second half depicts the lone wolf being hired to take on an evil chamberlain, which he does. This second half doesnt seem to have anything to do with his origin. Considering that the American version (Shoguns Assassin) is mainly comprised of the second movie in the series I expect that there will be a more substantial plot to the other movies in the series.
    All of that said, it was good and worth watching. A good introduction into a good character. Ill definitely be continuing with the series.


  5. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

    I know this isn’t really exploitation fare, but I wanted to watch it in honor of Eli Wallach, who passed away this past Tuesday. Wallach’s performance as the bandit Tuco is the best thing in a movie full of wonderful moments and performances. Of the 3 leads (Wallach, Clint Eastwood, and Lee Van Cleef), Tuco is the one I’m drawn to because he is easily the most human. Eastwood’s “Blondie” and Van Cleef’s “Angel Eyes” are practically superhuman, rarely showing any emotion. By contrast, Tuco sweats, swears, grumbles, and gnashes his teeth. He’s also the only one of the 3 who shows any vulnerability, as seen in the painful confrontation he has with his priest brother. Wallach gave many great performances over his long career, but I will always remember him as Tuco.

    On a cheerier note, Happy Birthday Gabby!

  6. Switchblade Sisters (1975)

    Jack Hill, even without Pam Mother Fucking Grier, brings in the goods.
    The chicks kick butt and its a lot of fun.
    Im not too sure about the claims of feminist movie considering that the downfall of the gang is because a man gets between them, a man who rapes one and forces the other to get an abortion. Maybe its a period thing, but ti didnt feel that part held up very well. That niggle/quibble aside, it was a real good gang flick.

    Schools sure are a lot different in America. You crazy Yankees.


  7. There were so many movies I wanted to watch for Junesploitation that I just didn't have time for. So call me Justin Theroux, because my Free Space day is all about The Leftovers! I'm cramming as many of the titles I'd picked out for particular genres but had to leave by the wayside into today as possible. I think my normal M.O. of waiting until I've finished watching everything I'm going to watch before posting is forcing me outside the functional boundaries of the Junesploitation conversation, so I'll just be posting as I finish watching things. First two down were refugees from Sexploitation Day:

    Kiss Me Quick! (1964) trailer

    Nudie cutie about an asexual alien from the Buttless galaxy (Oh My God) looking for human females to use in creating a slave race for his planet. Of course the proper way to go about this is by requesting the assistance of a mad scientist doing a Bela Lugosi impression. It's all a very flimsy excuse to watch strippers do their routines for a little over an hour. Manny Goodtimes' Dr. Breedlove character is easily in the top ten movie characters of all time, though. He never stops making horrible Mad Magazine-in-the-Fifties puns, wears a neckbrace, looks like a TV horror host, and has a Dr. Strangelove-style evil arm with a mind of its own. Frankenstein's monster is a botched sex-change operation, Dracula's a lech, and the Mummy (named Selfish because "she's all wrapped up in herself,") is his chaffeur.

    Star of David: Hunting for Beautiful Girls (1979) full movie

    I hope I'm not overselling it, but I think this is the most sexually perverse non-pornographic movie I've ever seen. Stuff like Salo and Serbian Film are fueled much more by politically charged anger than genuine perversity, but this one nearly falls in the Ilsa and Female Convict Scorpion camp of screenplays written to get the screenwriter's rocks off. It's another one from highest echelon Russ Meyer-level exploitation director Norifumi Suzuki of School of the Holy Beast and Sex & Fury fame. He utilizes his uncanny stylishness in the service of the seedy biography of a lowlife rapist's son brought up by wealthy foster parents, who uses his sizable inherited fortune to install a sex dungeon in his mansion where he sexually tortures prominent women (pop stars, popular high schoolers) he thinks are too big for their britches. It's partially called Star of David because of the main character's fascination with Nazism; in the movie's most outrageous scene, he masturbates to photos of Auschwitz victims! This is some real shower-afterwards business, and I can't believe it's on Youtube.

    More to come!

    1. I want to shower just from reading what you wrote about "Star of David" (no disrespect).

    2. Remember last weekend when I watched two different anti-drug puppet shows for Drugs! day? You do?! Well, you'll be happy to learn both of those shows HAD SEQUELS!!!!!!

      Miami Spice with Lenny the Lion (1990)
      Lenny is neither patsy nor anti-drug spokesman this installment... he's Sprockett of Sprockett and Bubbs, taking down Mr. Crack's all-rat drug-smuggling cadre.

      Curt-Hiss the Drug-Free Snake: Trust Me

      So, I lied. This is the first installment in the Curt-Hiss saga. Before Curt-Hiss became a successful one-snake anti-drug taskforce, he was no more than a pot & booze-addled pusher himself. Curt hits rock bottom and his younger brother has to die before he turns his life around. There was a lot of singing in the last episode, but this one is heavy on the beatboxing.

    3. The Perfect Weapon (1991) full movie

      Leftover from Martial Arts! day. When Chaybee1 recommends an action movie, I take that shit seriously. The final fight between Jeff Speakman and Oddjob is pretty hardcore, but Jeff looks too much like a country music singer, and for a movie desperate for you to acknowledge how about Koreans it is, none of the asian names in major roles (James Hong (Chinese,) Harold Sakata (Japanese,) Mako (Japanese,) Dante "Rufio" Basco (Filipino,) Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Japanese)) are Korean.

    4. Holy shit, I never noticed this. Perhaps it's because I was too caught up in the fact that Jeff Speakman is "The Perfect Weapon". Thank you for ruining this racist movie for me, forever. :)

    5. What can I say, Chaybee1? manwithpetgull's GOT THE POWER!!! Five movies in one Junesploitation! day? This dude is hardcore. :-)

    6. Ha ha ha, I get it! But there's still today's final insult:

      Mahakaal (1993) highlight reel / full movie (unsubtitled)

      If you happened to see Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, then you saw a few brief clips from this Bollywood remake of the first film, which also incorporates plot elements from all four of the of the franchise's entries made until that point. Of course, being Bollywood's take, it also includes irrelevant musical numbers, an insane amount of grating comic relief bits (If you watch that highlight reel, hang in there for the Michael Jackson impersonator,) and is really fucking long (2 hours and 12 minutes.) With the movie's level of quality being what it is, I feel like I spent my entire weekend watching this one.

    7. Didn't they talk about "Mahakaal" at a recent Killer POV podcast about SOV and direct-to-video movies?

  8. Big Bad Mama (1974)

    Imagine Roger Corman producing a movie about a woman and her two teenage daughters becoming prohibition-era (era) bootleggers, bank robbers, and general violent shenanigan-havers. Can you picture it? Now imagine more nudity.

    A little more.


    Ok, now you know exactly what to expect here. Your enjoyment of boobs is probably the best barometer for how much you'll enjoy this one. Your assumptions regarding how much I enjoyed it are both accurate and hurtful. You know me too well, everybody reading this. Oh look, the DVD also includes Big Bad Mama II.

    *presses play*

  9. Four of the Apocalypse (1975, dir. Lucio Fulci)

    I didn't want to go the whole month without squeezing in a spaghetti western, so I'm glad I was able to use today to watch this one. Fabio Testi is my new favorite leading man, and he's joined by Michael J. Pollard and the very pretty Lynne Frederick. There's a little of the typical Fulci ugliness (read: a rape), but it's actually very accomplished and the closest thing to a real movie I've seen from him. Great use of pop songs on the soundtrack, effective bursts of violence and characters we care about. Another one I really liked this month. I think I've had way more hits than misses, which is a turnaround from last year.

    1. If you like Fabio Testi you should check out That Most Important Thing: Love, from the director of "Possession." Testi is the leading man but he's more of a supporting player to the scene-stealing turn by Klaus Kinski and Romy Schneider doing career-best work. A classic of 70's arthouse cinema, and one of the best OTT melodramas about relationships I've ever seen.

      That's what's so great about these exploitation actors like Testi, Nero, Palance, Williamson, Greer, etc. They could be in one little no-budget exploitation flick one year and headline a critically-acclaimed international one the next and they never feel like they don't belong in either one,

  10. Willard (2003) - First Viewing

    Ratsploitation. Even though this came out in 2003 it feels more like a 70’s B-movie (which the original Willard was). This movie stars Crispin Glover as a weird dude (surprise?), and R. Lee Ermey as his hilariously cruel boss. Add in tons of animatronic/real/CGI rats, and you have a recipe for a great little movie. Bonuses for memorable production design of an old and broken down house. It was great! See it!


    You’ve probably heard of this one. It’s a grim, serious biopic of Karen Carpenter’s rise to fame and subsequent struggle with anorexia -- and the whole thing is told with Barbie dolls in place of actors. It’s surprisingly well made and earnest, which somehow just makes it stranger than if it were all jokey. It’s a serious drama, and the fact that it’s a serious drama is what makes it so freakin’ crazy. This isn’t a guy playing with dolls and a camera, it’s a guy playing with dolls and a camera and making a real movie.

  12. Subspecies: I love Radu, he is such a great movie vampire! I loved the tone of this. I think its location really adds to the creepiness of the village people's superstitions. There are some parts which were dull such as the handsome boring vampire. I'd like to re-watch this when I am less sleepy as those moments without Radu seems to stretch on a bit. I am also looking forward to watching the second one!

    1. Awesome! I have always loved the stop motion animation used in this film.

  13. I, Frankenstein (2014)

    I remember seeing previews for this and thinking "That looks really stupid. I'm definitely going to watch it." Frankenstein's creature is being hunted by some demons, but gets help from some gargoyles (seriously) who name him Adam. Because of course they name him Adam.

    I was secretly hoping I would actually like this, and I think I did. Not because it's good (it's not), but because I was super entertained. Except for the really bad pillars of fire CGI. That was terrible. And happened a lot.

    All in all, not great. But I have absolutely no regrets watching this.


    Lost is Translation (2003)

    A near-perfect indie film with mass market appeal. It tells the story of two confused and isolated people who meet and connect during a week in Tokyo. A smart, Oscar-winning screenplay, and standout performances from Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.

    Three Colors: Blue (1993), White (1994), and Red (1994)

    A set of fables that strike at the emotional core of loss, isolation, and connection:

    Blue - Juliette Binoche plays a widow who withdraws from her previous life after the deaths of her husband and young daughter.

    White - A Polish hair stylist rebuilds his life after being humiliated and unilaterally divorced by his beautiful young wife (Julie Delpy).

    Red - A university student and fashion model (Irène Jacob) meets and later connects with a retired judge who lives in isolation but eavesdrops on his neighbors' telephone conversations.

    When first seeing these movies in the '90s I felt Blue was the strongest. Now watching them again at a different point in life Red stood out as the most nuanced and compelling. All three are character-driven art-house films that might not appeal to everyone. If you are into it, though, they are quite good.

  15. Cheap Thrills (2013)

    I'll echo everything Patrick said in his great review of this earlier this year. This movie is fantastic. I just now saw it since purchasing the blu-ray earlier in the month. I can't wait to dig into the bonus features!

  16. Cheap Thrills (2013)


    Loved the hell out of this - it initially feels like a sort of predictable set up but then does an amazing job of NOT doing what you might expect. Most importantly for me, even with all of the tension and violence and awful commentary on humanity, it's a lot of fun. So far it's my You're Next of this year and that's a GREAT thing.

    Shannon - I haven't checked out everything but I did watch most of the making-of documentary and it's awesome - I'm guessing the commentary could be very entertaining as well - definitely a good blu-ray buy!