'NEW-TO-ME MOVIES I WATCHED FOR A J! DAY THAT TURNED OUT TO BE INAPPROPRIATE' QUADRILOGY! (Part 1 of 2)Joe D'Amato's DEATH SMILES ON A MURDERER (1973, 88 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.My pick for ZOMBIES!, which turned out be inaccurate. As inaccurate as my perception that this was a Klaus Kinski vehicle. He's in it for a while, though, and Kinski's so-badly-dubbed-it's-weirdly-appropriate Dr. Sturges scientist (meddling in the typical movie mad scientist pursuit of bringing the dead to life) is a catalyst for a few gross-out moments. The real star of "Death Smiles on a Murderer" is co-writer/director Joe D'Amato (close to 200 Italian directorial credits), who has clearly watched the movies of Jean Rollin and Jess Franco and wants in on some of the sexy creepy vibe those guys thrived on. Throw in some necessary exploitation ingredients from the era (sibling incest, rape, bad 70's haircuts in an early 20th century setting, etc.) and voila! Prime Junesploitation! fodder.Notice that I'm NOT giving a plot summary for this one. IMDB spoils the whole storyt and I'd urge you to avoid reading it. I watched "Death Smiles on a Murderer" cold. Not knowing what the hell was coming next or where this crazy-even-by-Italian-exploitation-cinema-standards runaway train was headed were the key ingredients that made this first viewing one I'll never forget. There's even a final scene where the closest there is to a likable character, Attilio Dottesio's Inspector Dannick, finds an answer to his questions that gave me serious 'ending of "The Beyond" goosebumps. Highly recommended for Italian Horror noobs, though not sure if repeat viewings will dull the impact of this 'DING! DING! DING! WINNAH, WINNAH!RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY (1991, 91 min.) on ConTV for the first time.90's Action? Prison? Kung-Fu? Nah, there is no one Junesploitation! category that can summarize all the crazy that these filmmakers crammed into 91 minutes of WTF-am-I-watching awesomeness. Based on a manga of the same name (which was clearly inspired by "Fist of the North Star"), the story follows as inmate Riki-Oh (Fan Siu-Wong) goes to John Carpenter prison (as seen on "Escape From NY/LA") and sets off the metal detectors with the five bullets embedded in his chest. There is no real story to follow, just a series of encounters with the many torturers, gang leaders and corrupt prison wardens (and their fat-fuck kid!) that want to subjugate Riki. Naturally they can't subdue the man that was trained by his uncle ('Riki, practice with these tombstones'... what about the families of people buried underneath those tombstones, uncle? :-O) to basically become a human Terminator.Logic and common sense take a backseat to a what-is-cool-for-this-scene mentality that recalls the wild antics of Peter Jackson's "Dead Alive"... in a prison setting. Fan Siu-Wong (who at least has screen presence and looks super ripped) and most of the cast can't act worth a damn, but this is that rare instance in which bad acting plus bad English dub equal an additional layer of entertainment. If you like your Junesploitation! films weird, unapologetic and bloody (as in EXTREMELY) give "Riki-Oh" a shot. By the time we reach the kitchen-set finale you'll think you've seen all the flick has to offer, only for the filmmakers to pull off what they've been doing since the beginning (and few exploitation movies do): continue to top itself until a final, memorable shot that leaves viewers on a natural high. You bet your sweet tooth this is a DING! DING! DING! WINNAH, WINNAH! that comes highly recommended.
Death Smiles on a Murderer was among my top watches last year, Vargas. Though it definitely is better to go into the film knowing nothing about it, the film might hold up to subsequent viewings. My second viewing was just as pleasurable because I love the mood and look of Death Smiles. Eva Aulin is radiant and that soundtrack, though repetitive, is lovely. I am amazed by the fact that schlock king Joe D'Amato created this one.
Like broken clocks, hacks like D'Amato tend to deliver one or two memorable films amidst a sea of shit. And this was Joe's turn. :-)
Caliber 9 (1972)This is one of my favourite discoveries of #Junesploitation2019. Holy crap this is good. It is a movie that reeks of Jean Pierre Melville cool but it's own brilliant Italian thing. This has some of the best Mafia intense staring I have seen in a movie. Money has gone missing and everyone wants to know where it has gone. It remined me a little of Across 110th Street in the terms of how it tries to tell multipal stories, police, mafia and those inbetween. I love how the two central cops are constantly debating right vs left politcs, it stops the movie cold but it gives it more texture. This is an easy movie to gush over.
Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961)My wife's pick. My first time seeing it in its entirety. It's pretty enjoyable. Yes, I know, the 60's era (era) casual racism is problematic. It was a different time. Ignoring that, I thought the movie was fine.
And by casual racism you mean, I don't know, MICKEY ROONEY?!?! :-(
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)Skeleton hands is the best part of this movie. And they don't appear until this 80 minute movie is almost over. Very slow. LOTS of voice over. Very Very slow. LOTS of shots of acid dissolving... something. Very slow. Not a lot of anything exciting. I purposely watched this after 2AM thinking it would help me fall asleep..somehow my plan failed.
I subjected myself to a very eclectic double feature. ILSA, HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS (1976, dir. Don Edmonds) – Ilsa’s first adventure in cinematic sleaze, She-wolf of the SS, was as a doctor at concentration camp. Despite the way that film ends, she seems to have survived WWII and found some constructive work fit for her sadism. Yes, it is the harem keeper of the title. Although there happens to be only one oil sheik she works for, she does plenty of bad things to fulfill his wishes. HAREM KEEPER is prime exploitation sleaze sure to offend every sensibility. Even this jaded viewer was sometimes appalled by the cynicism of it. What sets Harem Keeper apart from the first Ilsa film is that it is a lot less grim. No Nazi experiments here, just a twisted fantasy of the Arab world. The film does not hold back on the craziness, creating a unique viewing experience. It just might be one you do not like. Dyanne Thorne may not a great actress, but she was perfectly cast as Ilsa. KISS ME MONSTER (1969, dir. Jess Franco) – It would not be Junesploitation for me without a Jess Franco film. I am not sure I should have chosen this, however, because none of it made any sense. It’s a Franco film, you might tell me, why is that a surprise? Well, this is more incomprehensible than most I have seen. There are a couple of women who are apparently both nightclub performers and investigators of some sort. They go to an island and search for something that others desperately want. Many characters die in silly ways for that thing, which largely remains a mystery by the end. There could have been a story while the filming was going on, but there is definitely little left of it in the editing and dubbing of Kiss Me Monster. Even the lovely ladies who were lovingly photographed by Señor Franco cannot save this dud.
'NEW-TO-ME MOVIES I WATCHED FOR A J! DAY THAT TURNED OUT TO BE INAPPROPRIATE' QUADRILOGY! (Part 2 of 2)Na Hong-Jin's THE CHASER (2008, 125 min.) on Hulu for the first time.My initial pick for Cops! day. After we saw "The Gangster, The Cop and The Devil" in theaters a co-worker friend of mine recommended this, which he considers a better movie. I disagree that it's as good as that '18 masterpiece, but "The Chaser" is still primo late aughts South Korean gritty filmmaking at its finest. Kim Yoon-Seok Jung ("The Thieves") is a disgraced police officer who makes a living as protector of a group of prostitutes working for an unseen higher-up pimp. When the women under his care start vanishing Jung assumes they ran away. He only realizes a particular John ('4885') is actually behind the girls' disappearances after Jung forces one of his sick girls (Seo Yeong-Hie's Kim Mi-Jin) to go on a date with the creep. A long couple of days follow in which Jung tries to find Kim, whom he fears will be sold to slavery along with his other girls. The reality is far more bleak and violent, since a sadistic murderer (Ha Jung-Woo) is the anonymous caller behind number '4885.'Though he's surrounded by a talented cast and given solid direction by co-writer/director Ha Hong-Jin (2016's "The Wailing"), Kim Yoon-Seok singlehandedly carries "The Chaser" from start to finish. Even when he's not on-screen, particularly during a late heart-wrenching scene when a short-lived victory turns into crushing heartbreak, viewers will be thinking of how Jung will react when he discovers what we're watching. Too honorable to be prostitution muscle, Jung's former cop friends look down on him as lowly as they do a feces-throwing protester (a weird off-to-the-side storyline). Jung's truly a man without a place in this world, and only the righteous burn inside him to do what's right keeps the man running, running and running 'till the bitter end. Highly recommended. Tim Story's SHAFT (2019, 111 min.) on AMC Dolby Cinema for the first time.Or like the marketing should have more accurately called it, "Shaft: The Family Sitcom." Which could be considered a slam given Tim Story (2000's "Fantastic Four" flicks) directs with his typical workmanlike competence. Luckily producer Kenya Barris (ABC's "black-ish") co-wrote the script and makes sure we get Samuel L. Jackson unshackled, foul-mouthed and as politically incorrect as we'd expect a stuck-in-the-70's Shaft to behave in 2019. Stuck with a hasn't seen-in-decades millennial offspring (Jessie T. Usher) trying to discover who really murdered his best friend, Shaft jumps at the chance to both catch-up with Junior and also nail a Harlem drug dealer (Isaach De Bankolé's 'Gordito' Carrera) he's been after since forever. Naturally Shaft's estranged baby mama (Regina Hall) disapproves of her ex-husband's methods as much as Junior's bestie Sasha (Alexandra Shipp) approves of the manly side that hanging out with his father is bringing out of John Jr.Despite an acute case of having its cake and eating it too (criticizing Shaft's misogyny while reveling in it, calling for black fathers to be responsible to their children while the titular character faces no real consequences for neglecting his son for 30 years, etc.) and some seriously unfunny bits (Regina Hall pulling a 'Robin Williams improv jump-cut' montage in front of a mirror), a lot of "Shaft" is both hysterical and entertaining. There are deep cut homages to the original movie (besides having Richard Roundtree), and every scene has personality and attitude to spare. Not as clean-cut and genre-savvy as 2018's remake of "Superfly" (a better remake of a 70's Blaxploitation classic, IMHO), "Shaft '19" is still a blast and worth experiencing on the big screen. Highly recommended.
Love The Chaser! It was one of the first movies I watched when I started to dive deep into South Korean cinema and remember really enjoying it. I've heard good things about The Wailing and have had it on my Netflix queue for a while now, but that run time. I never realized it was by the same director until recently. Have you seen it? I'm looking forward to eventually seeing The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil.
Have I seen "The Wailing"? It mas my #10 movie of 2016. :-)
"Suicide Kings" 1997, Dir. Peter O'FallonThese Free Space days are ideal for childhood staples and a continuation of #WalkensploitationAlso, I want a whole series of movies with Denis Leary and Louis Lombardi driving around, arguing, beating people with golf clubs and talking about fish boots.
MEET THE APPLEGATES (1990) An ordinary suburban family is really a group of super-intelligent giant insects who can take human form. I love the trope of aliens-learning-about-human-stuff-for-the-first-time, but this isn’t it. Instead of having any fun, this movie is too preoccupied with the family’s secret mission while incognito, not to mention them all being horrible to each other throughout the movie. The Addams Family might be spooky monsters, but they’re also likable. The Applegates are just jerks, and I was sick of them by the time the movie ended. Bonus #Godzillasploitation: GODZILLA 2000 (1999) It seems like the fans never talk about this one as much, but I love it. The human characters are really likable this time around, and the monster action is spectacular. It has some of the best miniature work yet, as the city gets smashed and blown up real good. I know we all have our favorites and least favorites, but for me this is easily top 5 Godzilla.
Revenge (2018)I love this movie more and more every time I watch it.
Wild Wild West (1999)20 years later...yikes
Day "WWW" was first released in theaters... YIKES!!!! :-P
Murder Party (2007, dir. Jeremy Saulnier)A really fun horror comedy with a shoestring budget. You can tell the actors are amateurs but it fits the general aesthetic (mostly). June wasn't the right time to watch this, but it might become a Halloween staple.Point Break (1991, dir. Kathryn Bigelow)I know this one is a beloved classic, but this was the first time I saw it. And yeah, it's ridiculous. And tons of fun!Mars Attacks! (1996, dir. Tim Burton)Really disliked this when I first saw it a couple of decades ago, but back then I didn't get the references to 50's and 60's sci-fi films and probably didn't recognize half of the cast. Now I think it's fine.
Vice Academy (1989)Linnea Quigley and Ginger Lynn Allen star as a pair (well...two pairs, let’s be honest about what kind of movie this is) of cadets at the Vice Academy. They go undercover to bust hookers and drug dealers and such, and have to make 10 major arrests in order to graduate from the academy (which makes no sense, but the police work is not exactly Dick Wolf-ian in its verisimilitude). It’s got all the production quality of a third-tier porno movie, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh a couple of times (at intentional jokes, not just at the ineptitude of all involved, though to be fair that scores a couple of hearty chuckles too). This is the kind of movie that was made to be sneak-recorded off of Cinemax onto EP-mode VHS by a 13-year-old boy in the middle of the night. That kid will wear out the tape before he’s 15, everyone else will find a few mild laughs and not much else. It must have worked for somebody, though, because somehow there are six of these movies! Late night Cinemax is a force to be reckoned with.
Late night Cinemax WAS a force to be reckoned with. As of late last year, Cinemax is out of the adult softcore business. Is nothing sacred anymore? :'(
Out for Justice (1991, dir. John Flynn)Guys, the villain of this movie played by William Forsythe is absolutely incredible. You know how sometimes people say the best villains are ones that don't realize they are the villain? That is not William Forsythe in this movie. He plays a completely out of control maniac, waving a gun around in public, killing civilians in cold blood, smoking crack, and loving every minute of it. He is on a total downward spiral and knows he doesn't have long to live. On top of that, William Forsythe is much heavier in this movie than anything I've seen him in before or since, he is really out of shape, profusely sweating and breathing really hard in every scene. He's a mess. I've already forgotten some of the stuff I've watched in Junesploitation, but I'll never forget William Forsythe in this movie. This may be my new favorite Seagal movie, it's just so entertaining. "You took my leg!" Highly recommended.
Also worth seeing just for the way Seagal pronounces “puppy dawg food,” but yeah Forsythe is amazing in this.
THE BIG CUBE (1969) – A late 1960s film concerning LSD should offer some exploitation thrills, right? Sadly, The Big Cube does not. The bulk of the film is in the vein of 1950s melodrama. The presence of Lana Turner, one the big stars of those kind of films, keeps The Big Cube from being as exploitative as it could be. The sequences of drug use, sex, rock’n’roll, and acid trips appear to belong to a different film and are too spread out to liven up the action of the plot.
The Seventh Sign (1988 - Carl Schultz)Michael Biehn's sperm must be blessed by holy water. Not only was it essential to create John Connor (JC), the 21st century savior of the world, yet he also fertilized Abby Quinn (Demi Moore) to give birth to... well, I don't know his name, but Jesus Christ the 2nd would be fitting. However, as strong as his seed may be, Demi Moore is doing the heavy lifting of the movie (pun intended) and is spoiling the famous Vanity Fair Cover for a few years. The film's production is good, I like the effects. Yet the story is sadly only "meh" and the finish is simply crazy, but not in a fun way.
Running Scared (1986)I finally got around to seeing this and it’s actually a lot of fun, in spite of the fact that it posits a world in which Darlanne Fluegel is lovesick over Billy Crystal. In this one, the jersey-tucking Crystal and partner Gregory Hines are looking into Florida bar-ownership as early retirement from their Chicago detective gigs. This is probably for the best, as the seem to use their roles as detectives primarily to harass their exes. They are backed up by by John Gries and an uncharacteristically Serpico-shaggy Steven Bauer in their pursuit of a drug smuggling Jimmy Smits. As far as buddy-cop movies go, this one’s quite enjoyable. A definite highlight is a ridiculous Crystal and Hines as chick-magnets montage.
Anna (2019)So I think me and like 20 other people in the country saw this one this weekend. I just wanted to go see something on Saturday morning and I’m always down for an action movie and this looked fairly entertaining enough. So, the story of a beautiful woman plucked from nowhere to become an assassin is well tread territory for Besson, and while it’s entertaining in the moment, it’s nothing extraordinary and quite forgettable. There are a couple great action setpieces (the best one is featured heavily in the trailer and takes place in a restaurant) but mostly this all just plays like a Luc Besson greatest hits album. Also, I just have to mention how they hilarious over use the device of the “_______ years later” title cards. It became comical when there were about 4 in a half an hour as the movie jumped all around.
Nekromantik 2 (1991)With a higher budget and better effects than the first, this is technically a better film than the first. Unfortunately, it drags a bit too much, making a gross out film about necrophilia far more boring than it should be. It's still quite an interesting experience, and one that I hesitantly recommend to anyone with a strong stomach who has nothing better to do.
Death Line (1972)First time viewing. According to IMDB, this is known as "Raw Meat" in the US, although I'm not sure why they changed the title. It's about cannibals in the London Underground! It stars Donald Pleasence, who is so unusual and quirky that I always find him fascinating to watch. I can't find any mention of this movie on the site and I don't remember hearing anything about it. Has anyone else seen this? Mind the doors!
You are not alone. I’ve seen it and agree it is really good! Donald Pleasance steals the show as usual. And how about that scene between him and Christopher Lee!? Gold.
House of Traps (1982)I missed Kung Fu Day (honestly, I've missed a lot of days...), so I went with the recommendation. I found myself getting distracted during any of the talking parts, but the fight scenes were super fun to watch.
Toy Story 4 (2019)Having just walked out of the movie, not 100% sure I enjoyed it as much as the previous three entries. In saying that, I giggled a lot and at some points cackled, mostly at Hale, Key, Peele and Reeves, which were all used just in the right amount. So get ready for the Toy Story spin off. But it is a Toy Story movie, it is still better than your usual franchise entry.
Men in Black: International (2019)I wanted popcorn so I went outside. The movie was pretty useless. I stared at it at points and stuff was happening. It rained on my walk to the neighborhood theater so even though the movie was bad at least I was damp and uncomfortable the whole time. I can't wait for Sony to reboot more dormant franchises to leave Chris Hemsworth to flail in. I love this Hollywood trend of releasing movies that no one proofread.
Duel (1971)I feel like Steven Spielberg is his own category. It's difficult to compare him to anyone. I'm glad I finally got to see this. Are men still head of the household? If we stay home and our wives go to work, wouldn't they be considered head of the household? That was on the radio broadcast in the beginning of the movie. Are men only men if they stared death in the face? Only then can we face our wives.
Someone's Watching Me! (1978)John Carpenter started shooting this a before Halloween. It debuted on NBC a month after Halloween came out. I would have never guessed that these were directed by the same person. Is someone watching her? Is she just crazy? Shouldn't I care about this?
Deadly Friend (1986)This is even more bananas than I thought it would be. I knew it had something to do with a robot and there is an incident with a basketball. Also, Kristy Swanson is in it. Which is always a plus in my book...maybe not always. What a slick take on a Universal monster movie. I think people treat this as lesser Craven. I disagree. This is greater Craven. Graven.
Under The Silver Lake (2018)This movie made me very light headed.
Anthony Hickox's HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH (1992, 97 min.) on Amazon Video (purchase).Wasn't planning to watch any more movies today, but what the heck. June is winding down and there's plenty of exploitation fare left to sample. I've never ventured past this third installment in the "Hellraiser" franchise. The first "Hellraiser" is a little too disturbing for my taste (it gets under my skin and "goes there" too effectively), and "Hellbound" is a cheesy freak show that wastes the talents of the returning cast with special effects too ambitious for its time/budget. "Hell on Earth" has the best elements from both movies (and some of their worst tendencies), plus as good a performance as Doug Bradley can deliver inside and outside his Pinhead make-up. The reveal of Elliot Spencer's backstory started in "Hellraiser II," but its in part 3 that his background is truly fleshed out (PUN-SPLOITATION!). Bradley's scenes with Terry Farrell (decent leading lady, but no scream queen) in the recess of the former's supernatural mind are my personal highlights outside of the NYC-has-only-three-police-officers, bloody-as-hell extended finale. And no, the new Cenobites (CD thrower, camera zoom killer, cigarette burner, etc.) can't hold a candle to the prequels' first class. Sadly by 1992 the Dimension producers were chasing after Freddy Krueger's sloppy seconds, so Pinhead goes out of his way to deliver cheesy one-liners that have dated as badly as the early CG effects. Some moments land (Monroe: "Jesus Christ!" Pinhead: "Not quite."), but you can tell from watching this one that the "Hellraiser" movies were about to jump the shark(nado) big time. It's strange to call a declining threequel my favorite in a franchise that's almost into double digits, but I can put "Hell on Earth" on any empty slot in the month of June and be entertained. Not creeped out (first movie), not bored and underwhelmed (second one), just entertained. :-) Recommended.
Fate of the Furious (2017)I've rewatched F&F 5,6,7 and now 8 with my kids (first watch for them) and they love it. I still love it too, although this might be the weakest entry of the series. It looks like we're going to see Hobbs and Shaw opening weekend.
RIGHTEOUS KILL (2008):Any movie in which old De Niro fucks should just be called OLD DE NIRO FUCKS.
Who'd pay money to go see that in theaters? Not me.
Monster on Campus (1958, dir. Jack Arnold)Wolfman meets mad scientist meets killer caveman. Jack Arnold knows how to make a movie.