Thursday, June 5, 2014

Junesploitation Day 5: Serial Killers!

I warned you not to go out tonight!

35 comments:

  1. TERROR AT LONDON BRIDGE, aka BRIDGE ACROSS TIME (1985) on Amazon Prime for the first time.

    Holy shit, I love how Junesploitation gets us to sample stuff we wouldn't normally watch and, once in a while, hit gold. This made-for-TV movie features the bonkers premise that a missing rock from the London Bridge where Jack the Ripper was gunned down in 1888, once found at the bottom of the Thames River and rejoined to the old bridge after it's been moved to Lake Havasu, Arizona (a real place with a real moved-from-the-UK old bridge), brings Jack back to life and just in time to reprise his killing spree. But, since the town has a booming industry as London-in-the-middle-of-the-desert tourist attraction, the city council refuses to cooperate with the police and keep Laka Havasu open for business. "Jaws" anyone? And yes, Jack still looks, acts and dresses as a 19th century Englishman, which allows veteran TV director E.W. Swackhamer a couple of shots in which Jack's cape swirls and swoops... in the middle of the fucking Arizona desert!

    Did I mention new-on-the-job former Chicago cop Don Gregory ('an old Lake Michigan boy' he says) is the only one to figure things out and he's played by David Hasselhoff in-between "Knight Rider" seasons? Hoffsploitation! Have I not mentioned that Clu Gulager plays the town's police chief and Adrienne Barbeau shows up as the local mousy librarian? And did I not share that, even though a century-old serial killer is loose in his town slitting women's throats, The Hoff spends a good deal of the movie fishing, horseback riding, disco dancing and romancing "Hunter's" Stepfanie Kramer? Most of "Terror At London Bridge" is a tedious police procedural (an undiscovered classic this ain't), but every 15 or so minutes you either get a decent-for-TV death scene or a Hasselhoff acting moment that is worth waiting another 15 minutes for.

    In one of the greatest Junesploitation moments I've ever experienced, Hasselhoff trades punches with the time-traveling resurrected serial killer. That's right, Jack the Ripper goes mano a mano against Michael Knight... in 1985 Arizona! If that's not a 'come to Jesus' 80's moment then I don't know what is. ;-)

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  2. What a great review. If I told you a movie with that ensemble cast existed you would laugh in my face. On my watchlist now.

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  3. House of Whipcord (1974)

    a bit of a misjudge on this one. Not quite the serial killer flick I was expecting.
    A decent commentary on the shifting social morals of the time, as depicted by way of a private estate that acts as its own gaol for women the owners perceive as being indecent. Once gaoled if they misbehave once they go in isolation, twice they get whipped, three times and they get executed.
    More an escape story than about any killing. Once I get over the disappointment of it not being about serial killers I may look back upon it fondly, although it was a little slow.

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  4. Cold Fish (2010)

    A wimpy fish store owner, his unhappy second wife, and bratty teen daughter lives are changed forever when the daughter is caught shoplifting. The charismatic old man who caught her volunteers to have her work at his fish store as a way to build her character and the old man and his wife seem nice enough but...see what category Junesploitation is today.

    This movie is based on a true story and has the habit of showing the date and time for almost every scene, like an episode of an true crime show, and really doesn't add much to the movie. Also, at about two and a half hours, it's kinda bloated. The direction is pretty good but the standout is the performance of Denden, who balances being darkly funny and frightening psychotic. WARNING...the ending is depressing and a lot of things happen that are hard to watch.

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  5. Ed Gein (2000)

    There are a couple of Gein movies out there; this is the one starring Steve Railsback. The film is mostly faithful to details of Gein’s life and crimes (not that details like that need any embellishing). Railsback as Gein and Carrie Snodgress as his mother are both very good. So why did I find this movie so uninvolving? There are 2 major reasons, I think. First, the direction is flat and uninteresting, taking one of the most horrific true-crime stories in American history and turning it into a TV movie-of-the-week. Second, the film tries to “explain” Gein’s crimes by having him hallucinate his dead mother, a rigid fundamentalist who tells him to kill women “she” finds sinful. Okay, that’s fine as far as it goes, but there’s all that other stuff about Gein wearing the skins of his dead victims. I strongly doubt “Mom” would approve of that kind of behavior. Thus, the psychosexual aspects of Gein’s crimes remain unexplored. Hitchcock’s fictional film Psycho (inspired by the story of Gein) ends up having much more insight into this than this true-to-life account.

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  6. There is nothing quite like going too hard and burning out before mid way into the month

    Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer(1986)
    An interesting peek into the life of someone like this and his influences on those around him. The love story had no reason for being except "I feel like I know you, like Ive known forever", but besides that it was fairly tight.
    Now Ive got my killings in for the day I can now go to bed a happy man.
    NotSidHaigsploitation

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  7. Bloody Birthday (1981)

    3 children born on the same day under an eclipse (because Astrology) grow into murderers by the time they are 10.

    That's pretty much it. They kill some people, and then kill some more people to cover the fact that they killed some people. Their classmate and his older sister eventually discover what they are up to and have to stop them.

    This started off pretty great. But it couldn't keep up the momentum. Eventually got kinda boring. But the little girl murderer totally reminded me of the little girl in Hook, so if I ever watch that again it'll probably seem like a much creepier movie.

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  8. JACK’S BACK (1988)
    A psycho is running around LA recreating the Jack the Ripper murders. He kills off the James Spader character, only to have Spader’s identical twin dream of the murder and get involved in the case. As soon as the movie introduced identical twins, I and everyone else in the world said, “There’s going to be a twist!” This one tries to be all dark and psychological, and maybe it was for the time, but all I can see is cheese when watching it now. On the plus side, Cynthia Gibb is way cute as the nerd girl love interest. Nerd girls are the best.

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    1. I remember being so surprised by the first twist the first time I saw that movie. And Cynthia Gibb is adorable.

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  9. Suspect Zero (2004)

    You know how Ebert said that no good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough? At 99 minutes, Suspect Zero is about 142 minutes too long. In this truly wretched attempt to clone the success of Seven (a decade late), a serial killer is playing a game of cat & mouse with a disgraced FBI agent and nobody cares because this is a garbage movie that you should never see. There is no tension, there's a ludicrous twist, and the whole thing is a criminal waste of Ben Kingsley. I expect this kind of nonsense from Aaron Eckhart but...et tu, Sir Ben?

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  10. The New York Ripper (1981) First Viewing

    This is pure exploitation. It revels in GRATUITOUS nudity and graphic violence (may set the all-time record for close-ups and zooms on crotches). Side-Note: A character runs past a marquee in this movie advertising a double feature: American Werewolf in London and Night Hawks. Whoever went to that double feature got their damn money’s worth! Skip this one, watch Maniac instead, it’s a scarier, better early-80s NYC serial killer movie (not the 2013 remake starring Elijah Wood as the least threatening villain ever).

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  11. The Frozen Ground (2013)

    A movie where cop Nicolas Cage is trying to catch serial killer John Cusack should probably be more nutso than this staid thriller, but the "true story" of an upstanding family man who hunted and murdered more than 20 women in Alaska is worthy movie fodder. The hook to the film is the teenaged girl who gets away from the killer and helps bring him down. Wheels are spun, and I rolled my eyes when Cage's cop said he was two weeks from retirement. Still, I'm a sucker for true crime movies and this one has way more reason to exist than Devil's Knot (which I also watched/slept through).

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  12. Natural Born Killers (1994)

    This is why I don't normally watch the news. Crazy stuff man.

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  13. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

    I like that from the very opening credits it’s this twisted, woozy nightmare that never attempts to explain the motivations of its characters. It starts with this really creepy music and then you get these progressively more disturbing images as you’re introduced to Henry. It’s a ruthlessly effective way of setting up the character and sets the tone for the remainder of the film. I thought it was very well acted and directed and, considering how little it cost to make, surprisingly cinematic.

    So many serial killer movies glorify the violence or the killer in some way. There is absolutely no glorification here and that makes it all the more compelling. The violence is shocking and abhorrent as it would be in reality (the murderous home invasion they film is incredibly hard to watch). The net result is an astonishingly grim yet rewarding glimpse into the world of a psychopath.

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  14. Hell's Kitchen (2014)

    After searching for a long time for the right one, I finally had my Serial Killer movie picked out all day, get home, turn it on - "Video has been removed"! What are the chances?! Super F-ing pissed and now have no motivation to look for another to watch. Instead, I am going to watch Chef Ramsey mutilate the dreams of young innocents. Friday can't come any quicker.

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    1. Cockblocksploitation!

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    2. Netflix must have just done a purge. There were a few titles we were going to recommend for NTM tomorrow that went away this week. Bummer.

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  15. Henry: Portrait of a serial Killer - The other disturbing part of this film is how easily led into Henry's behaviours Otis is. I feel that not only is Henry the subject of the commentary on real life violence having no glamour or entertainment, but Otis is also subject to commentary to how we as a culture are willing to partake in violence or how easily we can be lead into something horrible. There might be a question here to be raised about the nature of the film's relationship with violence as it presents itself as the honest look at it but really is it using that to sell itself and set itself apart like the movies/culture it criticises? I think the film has a lot to say though about violence that still makes for powerful and gritty viewing.

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    1. Completely agree about Otis.

      The question of how the film uses violence is a tricky one. I think, honestly, it is probably a bit of both. This may be very cynical, but can you have one without the other?

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    2. It would be probably very hard to have one without the other! It is linked to that Truffaut argument that there is no true anti-war film in that it can spread out to violence as a whole. Myke's pick, Natural Born Killers, was another accused of using some of the same things it was criticising; the glorification of violence. I think that is almost inescapable. Even though a true anti-slasher film might be impossible, Henry does come pretty close.

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  16. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

    Though the frequent driving scenes looked like an old driver's education video and (as warned) there was nothing fun about it, it has an authentic feeling that really makes for a creepy and disturbing experience that's thoughtful enough to never feel gratuitous. A very good movie that I will probably never watch again! That's 3/3 PB!

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    1. Agreed.

      Really distrubing viewing. I'm glad I finally got to it but now that I have. Not sure when I will again.

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  17. Skinner (1993) trailer

    Ted Raimi hams it up as a serial killing janitor who wears the skins of his hooker victims whenever he isn't busy seducing housewife Ricki Lake. Traci Lords does her best Carmen Sandiego/Female Convict Veronica Lake impression as a disfigured, revenge-seeking junkie. The fifty-something TV-movie veteran director was on his way to a brief career in porn after being involved in the Heidi Fleiss scandal. There's also pounding industrial music soundtrack. Keep an eye out for the unbelievably tasteless and protracted 'Earl' scene. My thoughts while watching this movie: "Holy fuckin' shit!!"

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    1. "Female Convict Veronica Lake" - Brilliant!

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  18. Monster (2003)

    This is the story based on true events of serial killer Aileen Wournos. This film for me has been on the back burner a long time. So I thought this was the perfect time to finally watch it. The movie itself was just ok. I thought most of the performances were pretty good, but Charlize Theron was on a different level. I liked her as an actress before, but this role moved her up a ton in my book. I would recommend this if not only to see a great performance of such a sad human being.

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  19. The Boston Strangler (1968)

    Well, Junesploitation is officially a success. After a few duds for me so far this month, The Boston Strangler came through and kicked my ass. I first heard about it in college, but never got around to watching it until tonight. Directed by Richard Fleischer, The Boston Strangler tells the story of, well, the Boston Strangler. Tony Curtis plays the infamous serial killer while the great Henry Fonda heads up a team looking for him. Beautifully acted, well directed and enthralling throughout, The Boston Strangler is a hell of a movie.

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  20. Maniac (1980, dir. William Lustig) This is one of those movies I was always scared to watch. It just seemed to sweaty and brutal and unpleasant. It is a lot of those things, but it's also pretty great. Joe Spinell gives a great, sad, uncomfortable performance and William Lustig makes things feel seedy and gross but never really exploitative. The whole movie is actually rooted in psychological drama; unlike Michael Rooker in Henry, Spinell is not a sociopath. He's crazy and damaged. Tom Savini's gore effects are great as always and the movie features one of the best exploding heads ever (if not THE best; it's only real competition is The Prowler, which Savini also did). This is the kind of movie in which exploitation meets true art. I'm 4/5 so far.

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    1. Definitely in the top three exploding head scenes but you are forgetting "Scanners" my friend. I'm super happy you liked Maniac. I think that movie gets better with time (not that I watch it that often, that would be really creepy).

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  21. The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976)

    After they disappointed me with The Horror Show, Scream Factory is back on target with this one. It's like a strange hybrid of a movie and a made-for-TV dramatization with a narrator voiceover coming in at regular intervals to set up the next event. I was thrown off by a seemingly inappropriate few minutes of dopey "comedy" complete with zany music 1/4 way through but, though it may have just been a matter of poor directing, I think it was to get the audience to let its guard down before it steps up the brutality of the murders. Anyway, I haven't seen anything quite like it, but it's good, and the blu-ray looks great!

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  22. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

    I cannot support this movie!

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    1. Hey Doug!

      Would it be weird if I said I kinda miss ya? If so, I totally don't.

      Also, best line of the movie! :P Go Eagles!

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    2. I was thinking of you all day during Canuxploitation. So polite. Smelling of maple syrup. Riding a moose.

      Also, F the Eagles.

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