Friday, June 20, 2014

Netflix This Movie! Vol. 82

Yes, #Junesploitation is still going. Yes, we have more Netflix picks for every day.

Adam Riske:
June 23 - Vampires!: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1993, dir. Francis Ford Coppola) One of the best vampire movies and super underrated, Bram Stoker's Dracula is worth the revisit for the incredible makeup and production design alone. Director Francis Ford Coppola does something with his rendition of the classic tale that I think many other filmmakers do not with their vampires: he makes them actually scary.

June 24 - Martial Arts!: Man of Tai Chi (2013, dir. Keanu Reeves) Man of Tai Chi was up there for my favorite action movie of 2013. It's wonderfully entertaining with great fight choreography and game performances from Tiger Chen and director Keanu Reeves, who I hope continues to direct action movies. He's learned from the best and the results show.

June 26 - '80s Action!: Beverly Hills Cop (1984, dir. Martin Brest) Simply one of the best action comedies ever made. Skip the sequels. They're garbage.
Heath Holland:
June 21 - Drugs! Reefer Madness (1936, dir. Louis J. Gasnier) The obvious choice is still the best, as far as I'm concerned. I don't see how any exploitation movie about drugs can ever top this in terms of ridiculousness or fear-inducing propaganda.
June 23 - Vampires! Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974, dir. Brian Clemens) This Hammer movie has more of a swashbuckling vibe than what the studio is traditionally known for. Think swordfights and lots of sunshine in a fairy-tale Europe instead of the usual stage-bound fare. Kronos was designed to be a recurring hero but the movie's middling success insured that this is the sole outing of the vampire hunter.

June 24 - Martial Arts! The Big Boss (1971, dir. Wei Lo, Wu Chia Hsiang) In many ways Bruce Lee is responsible for the international success of kung fu films during the 1970's; it all started here. Not Bruce Lee's best by any stretch, this is still the movie that made him a movie star in America and one that is, for me, synonymous with classic exploitation.

June 26 - '80s Action! Deathstalker (1985, dir. John Watson)  I've written about Deathstalker before, but I feel like this is a perfect opportunity to give this crazy little fantasy/action movie from the mid-'80s a bump. No, it's not about a rogue cop who doesn't play by the rules or a one man army, but it IS about a Conan the Barbarian rip-off named Deathstalker with a budget of about three dollars and featuring creepy practical effects and creatures, weird story elements, violence, and a bounty of bouncing bare flesh served up in the way that we only got during the '80s.
June 20th - Full Moon!: Charles Band has taken most of his masterpieces and moved them to Full Moon Streaming, which our very own Patrick Bromley endorses. Good luck finding “the goods” on Netflix now. Puppet Master 6? Band was executive producer!

June 21st - Drugs!: Reefer Madness (1936, Louis J. Gasnier) Originally titled Tell Your Children, this crazy film is the winner and still champion of hysterical anti-drug films from a previous generation. Reefer Madness is so funny and so odd in so many ways, I always wonder if the filmmakers themselves were in on the joke. In the '70s, the National Organization to Repeal Marijuana Laws (NORML) used screenings of this film as fundraisers, because Irony. My favorite scene involves Ralph (Dave O’Brian of the MGM Pete Smith Specialties), impossibly high on the devil’s weed, exhorting his friend to play the piano faster. “Play faster… FASTER!”

June 22nd - Sexploitation!: Ecstasies of Women (1969, Hershel Gordon Lewis) A young man remembers past sexual adventures during his bachelor party at a TOPLESS bar. When the main character, Harry, has his many flashbacks, his head lolls back and his eyes close, over and over again. Could Harry be secretly narcoleptic? Ecstasies of Women is a great example of what sex movies used to look like before they could actually show sex. Really, you must watch this film if only to complete the Herschell Gordon Lewis filmography. All the hallmarks of Lewis’s work are here: bat-shit dialogue, community theater-style acting, razor-sharp focus, and boobs. It sounds as if they used the same girl in post-production to foley all the heavy breathing. “The thought of you falling asleep on your wedding night frightens me— OR DOES IT?”

June 23rd - Vampires!: Female Vampire (1973, Jesus Franco) More Eurotrash soft-core sleaze than horror, the work of Jesus Franco defines the term “acquired taste.” This is an exploitation film in every sense of the word. Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog finds Franco’s film to be “hallucinatory” and “dream-like.” I find them “pretentious,” “poorly shot,” and “unwatchable.” Next Monday, YOU be the judge and jury!

June 24th - Martial Arts!: Legend of the Drunken Master (1994, Chia-Liang Liu) This is a very entertaining film: goofy premise, outstanding fight scenes, and Jackie Chan. My son’s first R-rated movie!

June 25th - Hixploitation!: Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil (2010, Eli Craig) Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) go up to their cabin in the woods and encounter entitled college students, prejudice, and demons. I have recommended this film before. It is very funny, but also has a sweetness about it that I find unique and… sweet. “Not the bees! Not the bees!”

June 26th - 80’s Action!: The Running Man (1987, Paul Michael Glaser) Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a cop wrongly accused of murder. It’s the future, so he has to prove his innocence on a crazy, violent game show. This one has it all: insane premise, atrocious acting, and Richard Dawson. Of course in the future, all criminals will be judged via game show. I wonder how many critics have suggested over the years that Stephen King, Paul Michael Glaser, and Arnold Schwarzenegger actually predicted the rise of reality TV? I wish I had originally seen this one at a drive-in.
June 20 - Full Moon!: Curse of the Puppet Master (1998, dir. David DeCoteau) JB's right. Most of the Full Moon titles are over at Full Moon streaming (you can subscribe for one free week right now), leaving this the only real option on Netflix. It's the sixth entry in a series that had already run out of steam. You're better off watching (or, more likely, re-watching) Re-Animator, which was produced by Charles Band during his Empire Picture days. Just watch Re-Animator. It's the best.

June 21 - Drugs!: Drug War (2012, dir. Johnnie To) Oh, I'm sorry. You haven't listened to me and watched Drug War yet? Great job. Here's your chance. We know what we're doing.

June 22 - Sexploitation: Screwballs II: Loose Screws (1985, Rafal Zielinski) This movie is the work of fucking maniacs who saw Porky's and tried to approximate it with Screwballs, then made a sequel that's even more bizarre. There is nothing funny about this "comedy," but it's very entertaining if you watch it assuming it was created by horny Martians.

June 23 - Vampires!: Kiss of the Damned (2012, dir. Xan Cassavetes) I watched this last fall and didn't think much of it. The movie has stuck with me ever since. It's insanely sexual in a '70s softcore way but has some interesting things to say about vampire psychology.

June 24 - Martial Arts!: Return of the Dragon (1972, dir. Bruce Lee) Both Adam and JB already recommended the movies I would have suggested, so I'll throw this one out because it features Bruce Lee fighting Chuck Norris. That's pretty martial artsy...martially artistic...pretty good. But you should probably just watch Man of Tai Chi.

June 25 - Hixploitation!: Barracuda (1978, dir. Harry Kerwin) Once again I get the fuzzy end of the lollipop. JB's right -- you should watch Tucker & Dale. But in the interest of offering more choices, I'll recommend this bizarre Jaws ripoff that begins as a killer fish movie set in Florida before turning into a crazy '70s paranoid thriller. It's not good, but it's exactly what this month is about. Also works for Mockbusters!

June 26 - '80s Action!: Red Scorpion (1989, dir. Joseph Zito) This is what '80s action is all about. The first real attempt to make Dolph Lundgren an action star (besides Masters of the Universe), directed by the underrated Joseph Zito with makeup effects by Tom Savini. The middle third of this movie, when Lundgren's character goes on what feels like a 30 minute walkabout, drags. The first and last third are a blast. Also noteworthy for being produced by Jack Abramoff, who gets a "story by" credit.


  1. Adam, Man of Tai Chi was a really pleasant surprise for me, with the caveat that I just kept wishing Reeves hadn't cast himself as the villain. he just wasn't quite nailing the feel that I wanted in that part. But besides that, his directing is pretty good and Tiger Chen really delivers a very nice leading performance.

    1. I know I'm in the minority but I really liked Reeves in that part. It was such weird casting for the boss role.

    2. I'm right there with you, Adam. I love Reeves' performance in it and I'm excited to see whatever he does next as a director.

    3. I'll back up Adam as well, although Reeves is fairly weird in the movie. His tall-guy fighting style is fun to contrast with Tiger's.

      I'm not sure he brought anything special to the role, but neither did he detract. I'm excited for his future stuff too.

      I wish Drunken Master wasn't dubbed and Netflix would put up alternate audio tracks. Some movies dub well, but early Jackie Chan movies are not in that camp.

      The list this week is almost too much! There are so many movies to watch!

    4. I think Keanu did a decent job acting but his DIRECTING is what got me. I love that he shot it the way action used to/should be shot. You can actually *see* the action and the choreography and the athleticism of the stunt guys (and Tiger Chen, who is a card-carrying Badass) and understand the geography of the fight scenes. As it used to be before Michael Bay (I'm aware it wasn't just him, unfortunately) popularized the current incoherent action style that makes it possible for untalented directors believe they can shoot action. They can't.