Monday, June 30, 2014

Junesploitation Day 30: Revenge!

Let the revenge fit the crime!


  1. Neil Jordan's THE BRAVE ONE (2007) on Cinemax.

    Here is exhibit A of why the exploitation movies of decades past are awesome, and why today's movie-making environment sucks. A role-reversed remake of "Death Wish" with Jodie Foster in the Paul Kersey role of the peaceful professional civilian that turns into a one-person vigilante force when a loved one (boyfriend Sayid from "Lost") are turned into compost by some ruthless thugs beyond the reach of the law, "The Brave One" should be awesome. When Foster's Erica Bain blows away some really bad guys you should be able to feel a cathartic release and get a kick from seeing a punk sucking pavement (i.e. The Giggler getting it). When Erica struggles with her conflicted emotions and self-doubt we should sympathize (we do up to a point, because Jodie works hard selling it). When Terrence Howard's sympathetic cop looking into Erica's case begins to circle around her as a suspect for the vigilante killings (their scene together at a restaurant counter is awesome) you should feel scared that she'll get caught. With Neil Jordan directing and New York City as its background "The Brave One" should at the very least be a classically-made, big-studio genre picture like Clint Eastwood's "Sudden Death," but smarter.

    Instead, having just rewatched it, "The Brave One" sabotages itself at every turn by everything that's wrong with today's Hollywood environment, resulting in a safe and perfectly-bland pretend genre/exploitation movie. You know, the need for everyone to have a backstory/reason for doing what they're doing, for the bad guys (all ethnic dudes) to be total sleazoids that unquestionably deserve to be blown away, for Erica to be conflicted and to be shown in a positive light (Foster star power?) and so on and so forth. The current politically-correct environment and economic-driven decision-making constantly rear their ugly head in how predictable safe the movie plays it. It all leads into a clearly-tested-to-death final act that actually insults and spits on its audience by doing something that runs completely against what "The Brave One's" story and its characters have been building to. The movie wasn't extraordinary before the ending but I was at least tolerant of the bad because the good (Foster and Howard) was carrying it, but it all falls apart at the end.

    Say what you will about a violent stupid cartoon like "Death Wish III" or its Cannon siblings, they weren't ashamed to embrace what they were and running with it gleefully. From "The Brave One" I feel a constant attempt in every aspect of its existence (writing, editing, framing, casting, etc.) to justify, explain and/or soften the blow to minimize the rough edges of what it's showing and exploiting. And that, my friends, is why Junesploitation's celebration of the movies, filmmakers, genres, stars and far-out concepts who are loud/proud of who/what they are is so awesome... which "The Brave One" is not.

    And it's over, we did it! (keels over and dies).

  2. The Messenger (1986)

    This is a strange movie. Fred Williamson is a former Green Beret/former musician/former legendary cat burglar who gets out of prison (cleverly disguised as an Italian villa) and hooks up with his girlfriend/wife (the film can’t seem to decide which one she is). When the girlfriend/wife is killed by thugs employed by the drug ring she was mixed up in, Fred seeks revenge. Not much makes sense, and the basic filmmaking is hopelessly inept. A gun battle near the beginning just might be the worst-edited action scene I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen Manos.

  3. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) – First Viewing

    Michael Myers gets his “revenge” by… doing what he always does: killing people. Save for excellent performances from Donald Pleasance and Danielle Harris, there’s not a whole lot going on here. I thought it was pretty bad. Junesploitation goes out with a whimper.

  4. Audition (Japan, 1999)

    Well...what can I say? A disappointing way to end the month, for myself. I don't really have much to say about this film, so I'll keep it short. Two thumbs down or a middle finger up for two hours wasted. Essentially, apart from the final thirty minutes, or so, nothing happens. From the little I knew beforehand, I thought this film was going to be torture porn, but this was not the case. The acting is terrible, and together the lack of action and slow pace was torture in itself. Perhaps, a few years down the road, my opinion might change after a second viewing, but right now I don't recommend, at all.

    Then again, I have the sort of personality that when I don't like something, I actually hate it. It's as if when a film crosses that invisible boundary, which I'm not totally aware of myself, there is no forgiveness to be found. In other words, take my short review with a grain of salt. Cheers.

  5. Get Carter (1971)

    Holy flying turd! This movie knocked me on my butt. Michael Cain has become casting shorthand for steady, proper, and british. Not so in 1971. This guy was a badass.

    Classic revenge story. Jack Carter (Cain) is not a good guy in the strict sense of the word. He works for a crime ring in London and has probably done the occasional misdeed on account of his occupation. When his brother dies in a car accident, Carter returns to his hometown in Newcastle where something's not quite right. Jack keeps asking questions which eventually lead him to the disturbing truth behind his brother's death. It's more than your thinking, and holy crap is it an effective scene. I don't want to say much more, but this movie is great.

    Michael Cain was magnificent. The fact that he played this part so well actually bothered me a bit. This movie came out the same year as Diamonds Are Forever which was Connery's last outing as Bond (except Never Say Never Again which doesn't count). Cain was 38 at the time and demonstrates with this movie that he knows how to convincingly work it with the ladies and dispatch bad guys. Why on earth did Albert Broccoli pick up Roger Moore as the next Bond. He was 6 years older than Michael Cain, and though I haven't seen his earlier films, I can't imagine that he ever kicked any kind of ass. Cain was slick, he could run, he could punch, he could beat a man with a shotgun, he could make two women hot simultaneously even though they're three hundred miles away from eachother, for goodness sakes he could at least get his leg more than one foot off the ground to make a kick look convincing. I hope it wasn't the blond hair as was often the complaint about Daniel Craig. I suppose they just weren't ready to go in the direction that they have since Casino Royale. Either way it was our loss.

    At least we'll always have Get Carter.

    1. I love this movie. I didn't know eating soup could be badass until I saw Michael Caine do it in this movie.

    2. Yet another movie that's been sitting unwatched on my shelf for some time - your review makes me want to watch it tonight!

    3. Do. You will not regret making this your revenge day pick. As long as your comfortable with the unfamiliar feelings Caine (I am ashamed at my previous misspelling) arouses in a heterosexual male.

      Maybe I should call a doctor; it's totally been more than four hours!

  6. Rolling Thunder (1977)

    Its that 70s slow burn that gives movies like this the lasting impact.
    Its set up is straight forward and its mission is singular. No real diversions, and no big twists. Its about the man and his goal. in that, it is good.

    Not the most "fun" exploitation movie going, but fun isnt its point. This is more of a introspective look at the isolation of a partially broken man...with guns...and a hook. This movie made me really miss the times when a movie could show without saying and end up telling more than words could, and when an audience was trusted to get it without being spoon fed or even provided complete closure. Its an art, but isnt that the point?

    A nice way to end a really great Junesploitation.


  7. I Spit on Your Grave 2 (2013)

    Hell of a way to end the month. Not only does this replace Machete Kills as the worst movie I've seen this month, I can say without hyperbole that it's one of the worst movies I've ever seen, possibly the actual worst. I can't think of anything I've ever seen as vile and hateful as this. It's truly disgusting, exploitative in the ugliest possible sense of the word. Not even gonna waste time with a review, I'm just gonna get some Brillo and wash it off me.


    A woman’s husband is murdered, then she’s horrifyingly raped, and then her parents are murdered right in front of her. Then the audience sits through a ton of filler waiting for her to enact revenge. The movie repeats so many beats from I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE that we might as well call it a remake. Except, of course, it doesn’t go as far, which means it’s less awful but also more bland. It’s that thing where the movie piles on all kinds of miseries on our heroine just so her later vengeance can feel “justified,” but I don’t think it worked in this case. It’s not fun-trash, it’s not trash-trash, so I guess it’s just trash.

    Let’s keep the party going! Julysploitation! Day one: Breakdance movies. Day two: Werewolf movies. Day three: Bikini movies. Day four: American jingoism. Day five: Lawrence Tierney movies. And so on.

    1. I could watch Teen Wolf for days one AND two, so I'm in!

    2. You're all out of your got damn minds! :-) One month a year is plenty.

  9. The Big Heat (1953)

    To close things out I'm mixing business with Drunk on Foolish Pleasures. Glenn Ford is the face and voice of pure, raw melodrama as a good cop whose wife is killed by a car bomb meant for him. He turns in his badge but not his gun (an actual line in the movie) and sets out to bring down the crime boss that shattered his world. I adored how the story was mysterious and engaging without being muddled down in too many twists and turns for the sake of it (I'm looking at you The Big Sleep). I was also shocked by the brutality of it all, particularly the two "femme fatales" who prefer the comforts of material life to taking a stand for what's right and are rewarded with some intense scenes of violence. It's here where the movie contemplates the cost of Ford's vengeance and the price others must pay for it, although the ending practically wraps this all up with a bow. Perhaps this is Fritz Lang's way of showing the dark side of heroism by showing Ford as a man who hasn't at all considered how many deaths are his fault? I love film noirs, and this one has found a place in the sun for me. Thanks Junesploitation!

  10. Ms. 45 (1981, dir. Abel Ferrara)

    Sleazy but terrific revenge movie starring the gorgeous Zoe Lund (RIP) as a mute woman who is attacked (twice) and decides not to put up with the bullshit of men any longer. I could do without ever seeing another rape scene -- much less two in the span of a few minutes -- but everything else is great: the music, the colors, the look of NY in the early '80s. I don't love a lot of Abel Ferrara movies, but he's got a few I like a lot. This just shot to the top of the list. Drafthouse Film's restored Blu-ray of the movie looks incredible, by the way.

  11. Oldboy (2013) Spike Lee Remake

    Let me start off by saying I am a big fan of the original; I think it's one of the best films (and trilogies of the past 20 years). I am also a big time Spike Lee fan but also a realistic one who knows that this man with amazing talent can really make some shitty movies. My mind was blown when I heard Spike was directing this remake. I didn't understand why and I still don't. That being said, this is not a shitty movie at all. I actually thinks it's a pretty good movie. I also think, technically, it's a really good movie minus a couple bad ADR moments (I always pick up on these and it's a major pet peeve for me). It looks beautiful and has some bloody scenes where the "red" pops like Bava. I won't go into comparisons from this to the original, read the net web if you want to hear people bitching. I have nothing to bitch about. I thought it was handled in a respectful way and Spike killed it with the camera. Even the famous fight scene I thought was handled really well. It reminded me of playing "Kung-Fu Master" in the arcade as a kid; side scroller; "your princess is on another level" style. Two things that were disappointing - the score is boring as hell and unmemorable; does nothing for the film- this is really unlike Spike. Lastly, the added "twist" was unnecessary and kind of annoying. It's more fucked up than the original (somehow!) but unneeded. All in all I'm glad I finally saw this. If the original never existed, there could have been a totally different reception for this film.

  12. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

    I've done a terrible job for Junesploitation watching movies that are new to me. Next year I'll try harder, but to close out this year I went with a classic. I've been on a HUGE Star Trek kick lately and I've been watching Star Trek: The Original Series from the beginning. My plan is to finish the series, then watch Star Trek: The Animated series before jumping into the movies. I vowed not to jump out of order, but then Patrick had to publish his article today on great revenge movies and included Wrath of Khan. I was set to watch Man on Fire, a movie I've never seen, but fuck that. I watched Khan and am happy I did. WoK joins a list of movies for me that gets better with each viewing. It's got a great cast, kick ass story, amazing soundtrack and an ending that kills me every time I see it.

    Thank you, Patrick, for Junesploitation, and thank you to everyone that participated. Even when I wasn't able to watch a movie myself, I had a blast reading all of these reviews.

  13. Run and Kill (1993) trailer

    I wanted to end the month with a bang, so I finally put on a movie that's been waiting anxiously on my shelf for almost ten years. One drunken night out, Fatty Cheung (Kent Cheng, the penis transplant guy from Sex & Zen) accidentally hires the Vietnamese mob in Hong Kong to murder his philandering wife. When they find out he can't pay, they come at him relentlessly, destroying his life. He heads to mainland China seeking a different gang's help against the mob, but it all backfires horrible when the brother of one of his helpers is killed protecting Fatty, and Fatty is personally held responsible. Simon Yam, reteaming with his director from the equally morbid serial killer drama Dr. Lamb, is even creepier here as the superhumanly relentless out-for-revenge mercenary. The movie isn't a gorefest by any means, but has the notoriety of one thanks to a sequence where Yam goes way, way too far to get back at Fatty. Let's just say it involves a family member of Fatty's and a gasoline can.

    It that it? Is Junesploitation over? Now what do I do with my life??

  14. Cape fear (1962) Uni Library Loan
    Beautiful black and white photography. Mitcham and Peck play off each other very well, which adds a great deal of tension that builds to the finale. A look at how far a man will go when threatened as he slowly leaves behind his principals as he buckles under the threats made to him by Max. Due to the film being under strict control of censorship the exploration as to what extent this process turns Sam into as much of an animal as Max had to be subtle. There are some parallels drawn when they are at Cape Fear and you can hear the sounds of the wild animals as the two men battle it out. There is also a really great scene where he is pushed too far when he is holding a gun with the intent of finding Max to kill him with no concern over the consequences. The censorship does leave a more suggestive film which leads to a large amount of suspense. The film has the courage to end it after the showdown at Cape Fear, which leaves you breathing a sigh of relief yet still very much feeling the impact of the taught action. I have been to watch this one for ages and now I have I can also finally get to watch the remake soon!

    Witchhouse (FMS)
    Kind of plays out like an episode of Scooby Doo or something as this has some incredibly over the top acting with ridiculous make up also set in the one house with very similar beats played a few times. I am a huge fan of witches, have been since I was quite young so I feel a bit let down as they could have made this more entertaining but most of it is a bit boring. Reminds me of The Dead want women in a way that you would think they could have made more from the premise but it ends up being a little dull.

    Basket Case (1982) Uni Library Loan:
    This was an odd watch. I am not sure if we are meant to feel sorry for the monster with the scenes as they grew up, but it is so violent and cruel it is hard to feel for it. The film does however make for a very silly but entertaining film where you feel that the wackiness of it keeps you guessing and a little creeped out. Gory and good fun.

    Blood Dolls (FMS)
    This was a bad movie but quite fun. The oddness of the film kept me entertained. There were some twists and turns were campy and interesting. I liked those elements such as the leading man with his tiny head, his tiny minions, the weird band he has in a cage and the dominatrix love interest. I feel like I shouldn't have liked it because it is got such a bad script and some very bad film-making, but it was kind of oddly funny and amusing despite that.

    Death Proof: (Typing revenge into netflix and this came up): I am really glad I had one re-watch of the day, and that was this one. I remember not being a fan of this movie at one point. In fairness that was from one viewing and I was in a very bad mood, and also very tired. I might have even missed some of it through napping or something... bad times. I shouldn't have taken that out on the film. Anyway, I have parted ways with that now as I really loved it! I am incredibly invested in Tracie Thoms, Rosario Dawson and Zoe Bell. (I can't think why I didn't like them before) I think they are so much fun to watch. Kurt Russell is perfect in that role. Some killer drive sequences and a great bit of revenge at the end. A really great way to close out Junesploitation. Thank you Junesploitation!!

  15. Män som hatar kvinnor (aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 2009)

    Although the main story is a murder mystery, there are two revenge subplots that help build empathy for the main characters and provide a sense of closure to the film. The movie is interesting in the way the film-makers build tension through many scenes of watching characters read and stare at photos. I prefer the Swedish production, but the english-language version is good, too.

    I enjoyed reading everyone's reviews through the month. Would it be appropriate and/or possible for people to leave Have-you-seen-anything-good-lately? comments in the weekly podcast post?

    1. SPOILER: The main plot is a revenge story of sorts, too.

  16. Get Carter (1971)

    Holy Bad Motherfucker, Batman! Michael Caine is the epitome of cool as he goes about his business of solving his brother's murder and exacting murderous revenge. It's a very subtle performance - he barely raises his voice or changes the expression on his face, but you know exactly how he's feeling. A perfect Revenge! movie and a great way to end Junesploitation!

  17. Oldboy (2003)

    One of the most unique and fucked up movies I've seen in the past few years.