Thursday, June 6, 2019

Junesploitation 2019 Day 6: Free Space!

It's love on wheels!


  1. Terence Hill and Bud Spencer in WATCH OUT, WE'RE MAD! (1974, 101 min.) on Amazon Prime.

    . Essentially the Italian equivalent of a Hal Needham picture for kids on steroids (rated 'G' for 'GOD DAMNED!'), this is the one that established the template that future Hill-Spencer vehicles would adhere to. Thin premise (the duo set out to recover a prized dune buggy that was wrecked by local mobsters trying to shut down a carnival to build a skyscraper) that serves as an excuse to hang a series of comedic gags involving Hill playing a handsome clown while Bud is a brute force of nature. Since both leads are essentially straight men (even when Terence smiles he's never not in control of the situation) the comedy comes from the wreckage that follows wherever they go. And for no reason other than the man liked to work, Donald Pleasence (LOOMISPLOITATION!) hams it up as a German psychiatrist trying to build the self-esteem of the timid mafia boss refusing to give in to the demands that he buy the guys a new dune buggy.

    Terence Hill and Bud Spencer are like Abbott and Costello or Laurel & Hardy if the latter two pairs used their fists and eyes (a deadpan eyeroll and sigh from Bud and impish energy from Hill's blue peepers) to get their comedy chops across. And now that their entire filmography is streaming on Amazon Prime (including movies without the other partner, which are OK but NOT as good as when the two work together), I know what cinematic well I'm going to drink from this month. :-) It's about 20 minutes too long (the section in the middle where Chicago hitman Paganini stalks the guys during Bud's choir practice... don't ask!) and moves at too leisurely a pace. But when the catchy "Dune Buggy" tune starts and the vehicular/human carnage piles on (including a motorcycle jousting duel that puts George A. Romero's "Knightriders" to shame! :-P), I smile and become the little kid that grew up watching this and many Bud-Hill comedies at the local El Salvador cinemas in the early 80's. Super-mega-ultra-highly recommended.

    1. BTW, if you're looking for a flick for CARS! day and don't mind the "Love Bug" 'G'-rated vibe of the comedy, "Watch Out, We're Mad" has some amazing car/motorcycle stunts. They're not the main focus of the flick, but they do open/close it with some insane-for-early'70's stunt driving by Frenchman Rémy Julienne and his team.

  2. I did a drive-in double feature for this free day. Both are on Prime.

    PIGS (1973) – When a young woman named Lynn turns up at an isolated rural café looking for work, strange things start to happen. The locals, moreover, have many questions concerning why she is there. The strangeness is only magnified by the rumors that the café owner, a man named Zambrini, feeds his pigs human meat. If the rumor is true, what are the police and locals to do about it? (The IMDB description gives away some big spoilers.)

    Pigs is difficult to sum up. It alternates between being a mindless drive-in movie, a mystery, and a slice-of-life story. The ending is also not typical. My experience watching it was positive, but I am partial to these low-budget efforts. I can understand those who are put off by the pacing and idiosyncrasies of the film. I believe it deserves a look; you probably have not seen anything like it before.

    It is worth noting that Pigs a Vinegar Syndrome release.

    CRIMINALLY INSANE or CRAZY FAT ETHEL (1976) – Available on Prime as Double Doses of Horror: Gluttons

    This is the kind of film Junesploitation was created for. Only exploitation nuts like me would probably see any value in this.

    Nobody gets in the way of Ethel Genowski’s desire to eat. She proves herself more than willing to kill to gorge herself. It does not help that she has some serious mental issues going on. Though this film should not work, the casting of Ethel overcomes its tremendous limitations (no budget, poor gore effects, bad editing). The actress really makes Ethel come to life and brings a certain black humor to the story. The 60-minute runtime also helps to make the film palatable.

  3. Overlord (2018)

    For an important Nazi target and super secret labortory, it never really felt that well protected. I was completely on board of the first 40 minutes of this movie. I think I was expecting and was wanting a bigger turn, so when that doesn't happen it feels like it's never completely commits to the bit. But in saying that effects were goopy, gross and effective. And I liked Wyatt Russell's and Joven Adepo's performamces. It was a solid Thursday night movie, but maybe more undead was needed.

  4. "American Ninja 4: The Annihilation" 1990, Dir. Cedric Sundstrom

    Multi-colored ninjas goofily running around South Africa and battling the stoic super-coolness of Michael Dudikoff and the mega-buffness of David Bradley.

    My friends and I used to debate which of the colors represented the fiercest ninjas. Black was obviously top-tier ninja, and I felt that the red ones were lame-o's (they kicked funny). Blue was usually ranked dead-middle and yellow got a Dudikoff bump because that's the color Joe Armstrong (our hero, everyone's hero, Joe Armstrong till the day I die) dons when he infiltrates the ninja fort.

    The debate raged for years and I hope to reignite the fight when I'm 9 again.

  5. Vilgiante (1983)

    This movie is worth the price of admission just to see Fred Williamson go all Six Million Dollar Man, with some incrediably careful and well footed parkour. Plus this is a Bill Lustig movie with Williamson, Robert Foster, and a cameo by Joe Spinell. It's a solid revenge movie, it's a grimey New York. And apprently being a Vilgiante is something you can do on weekends, which is a bonus.

  6. The Legend of Hercules (2014, dir. Renny Harlin)

    Yeah, it's not good. The script's terrible, the acting's bad and most of the movie looks bland. And Renny uses speed ramping in the fight scenes like a baby who's just learned a new word.

    Only reason I watched this was it was the only Harlin film I hadn't seen (except for the Chinese fantasy film from last year). I've come to the conlusion that of the 19 Harlin films, two are actually good and a few others are kinda ok.

    Koeputkiaikuinen ja Simon enkelit (1979, dir. Spede Pasanen)

    (The title translates as "The Test Tube Adult and Simo's Angels".) The plot in ̶b̶r̶i̶e̶f̶ excruciating length: Mathematician Mauno Mutikainen gets a splinter in his finger, goes to surgery and dies as a result. The doctor who operated on him sends a sample of the dead man's thyroid to a Professor Jyrä, who is working on a huge scientific breakthrough: a test tube baby. He uses a mixture of different people's cells to construct the baby, including Mutikainen's. Surprisingly to all, even the Professor, when the baby is born, he is fully grown, able to speak, and looks exactly like Mutikainen did. When it turns out that Mutikainen's death was a misdiagnosis and he's alive after all, he returns home and finds out he has been pronounced dead and his accounts frozen.

    Meanwhile, two gangsters have gotten wind of the experiment, and hatch a plan to get the secret formula by kidnapping the b̶a̶b̶y̶ adult and blackmailing the Professor, then make an army of test tube adults and take over the world. A private detective agency called Simo's Angels is on the gangsters' trail. As you'd expect, Mutikainen and the test tube adult are constantly mistaken for each other, which leads to a series of wacky adventures and comical misunderstandings. Oh, and there's a running joke that the day's horoscope predicted Virgos would have a bad day, and about a dozen different characters turn out to be Virgos during the movie.

    Written and directed by (and starring in a double role) my favorite Finnish filmmaker, Spede Pasanen, and starring his usual group of collaborators (most notably Vesa-Matti Loiri as four different zany supporting characters and Simo Salminen as the detective agency's boss), this is one of the funniest movies I know and almost definitely the movie I've seen more times than any other. Unfortunately to my knowledge, this or any other of Pasanen's films aren't available outside Finland, but I thought I'd write about it anyway. Maybe that crazy plot synopsis got a chuckle out of someone. There's also a sequel with an even more convoluted plot. Maybe next year...

  7. Don't Look In the Basement (1973)

    A new nurse arrives at an unconventional home for the mentally ill. The head doctor that hired her has just been murdered by a patient in an unfortunate "accident." The woman who has taken over is quite abrasive to the new hire at first. Things just get stranger from there.
    I really enjoy this bizarre little thriller. Some very interesting charactes, good acting, and an unsettling mystery that takes awhile to unfold.
    The final act is worth the wait. Great, low budget movie.

    1. Don't Look in the Basement is also a film I really enjoyed. That house gets more and more unsettling as film goes on. To have the conclusion be as satisfying as it is a credit to the director's skill.

  8. The Bat People (1974)

    I found this to be a pretty decent, weird, little monster movie. I quite enjoyed the story, and the finale is pretty solid.

  9. Nightbeast (1982)

    Wow! This is an awesome movie. The sound effect for the alien weapon is great, as is the creatures appearance. Sort of a mash up of Xtro and Jaws. I loved the Mayor.

  10. The Holiday (2006)

    I watched this with my wife so I could get a woman's take on this. After watching the ridiculous running time of 2 hours and 458 minutes, we decided it's one of the worst movies we've seen together. This was written and directed by Nancy Meyers. The men come off great in this. They are just two good boys who just can't catch a break. Except one is incredibly successful and the other is very charming but has a secret(the secret is that he is great). The two women are monsters. One is a successful trailer maker? She's been working on the worst trailer of all time. She hasn't cried since she was little, I guess. The other is a woman that works at a newspaper. She's been in love with someone who is about to be engaged to be married. She then proceeds to fall in love with another person in a relationship. This whole thing is a pile of garbage. Most of these romantic comedies are about crazy women who just need a man to love them for them to get it together. It's complete lunacy and more women should be outraged that they are portrayed like this, especially by another woman.

  11. Devils of Darkness (1965)
    Black magic, a Satanic cult, a missing girl, dead bodies piling up, an ancient vampire, evil eye, betrayed lovers; this movie has everything!

    1. And with a Director name of Lance Comfort. I am tracking this movie down!

  12. They’re Playing With Fire (1984)

    Sybil Danning’s breasts play an English professor who seduces a student as part of an intricate plot that involves infidelity, a stolen inheritance, and a whole bunch of murder. Think of it as Double-D Indemnity crossed with one of the weaker Friday the 13th sequels.

    The screenplay is an overcomplicated mess, the actors appear to be completely repulsed by each other (there hasn’t been a couple with onscreen chemistry like Danning and male lead Eric Brown since Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby ™️&©️ Dennis Miller Productions, 1984) and it’s jam-packed with completely gratuitous nudity and violence. Needless to say, I loved it and it’s like it was tailor-made just for Junesploitation. This kind of insanity deserves an audience.

  13. Dream Home (2010)

    I don't know about all of the housing market subtext, but those sure were some great kill scenes.

    1. I believe her motive was to get the prices down on the apartments where the killings happened.

  14. SERENITY (2019)
    Everybody says to go into this spoiler-free, and holy crap you’re all not kidding. Not only is the twist/premise utterly ridiculous, what makes the movie over-the-top is how everyone involved takes this so seriously. The people who made this truly believe they’re making life-changing Oscar-winning cinema, and THAT’s what makes it truly insane.

    Bonus #Godzillasploitation: GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO
    Here’s where the Godzilla franchise becomes a total comic book, with flying saucers and crazy-looking aliens in addition to Godzilla, Ghidora, and Rodan. This one is the origin of the Godzilla victory dance meme, representative of the plot’s anything-goes tone. It’s a lot of movie.

    Extra-bonus #Godzillasploitation: GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER (1966)
    Some guys are shipwrecked on an island where this is a conspiracy afoot, as well as giant monster action. The “island adventure” subgenre makes this one different, but it’s slowly paced and lacks some of the over-the-top thrills of the bigger and better ‘zilla flicks.

  15. Tammy and the T-Rex (1994 dir. Stewart Rafill, First Time Viewing on YouTube):

    Wow. I'm struggling to think of an existence of a movie that is more astonishing than this. Absolute insanity from start to finish. Stewart Rafill also directed Mac and Me, and Tammy and the T-Rex makes Mac and Me look like Godfather 2. Truly has to be seen to be believed. Highly Recommended.

  16. Can't wait for my Vinegar Syndrome copy of Night Beast. Their shipping following the sale is soooo slow. ETA three weeks from order date!

    Boar (2019)
    Dropped on Shudder today. Slightly higher quality than your run of the mill SyFy horror, but nothing to write home about. The physical effects are good fun and there's a hilarious man v. beast wrestling match.



  18. Streets of Fire (1984)

    One of my favorite films that I learned about through this site. I can't think of a better Free Space! day closer.

  19. I turned 'Free Space!' day into 'Christopher Lee!' day and had a glorious time.

    Rasputin the Mad Monk (1966, dir. Anthony Hinds)

    Barbara Shelley. A true goddess on earth. Truly, we are not worthy of Barbara Shelley. This movie is awesome.

    The Devil Rides Out (1966, dir. Terence Fisher)

    Few things make me happier to see in a movie than a goat-headed devil monster. Is that bad?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. And Chistopher Lee rocks a suit if I remember correctly. Good chance I am mixing this up with another movie 

  20. This turned into Sammo Hung day for me (all of these are free on Prime although the first two are dubbed):

    Warriors Two (1978)

    The most standard martial arts movie of the three. Starring Casanova Wong who I don't think I've seen in any other movies, but he seems solid but not really a standout. The last sequence of fights is pretty good though.

    The Prodigal Son (1981)

    Yuen Biao is the lead here as Leung Chang, a young man whose parents (unknowingly to him) pay people to challenge him to fights and lose in order to keep him safe while convincing him he's a master of Kung-Fu. Ching-Ying Lam is the standout here though as the Wing Chun master who acts as the female lead of his Chinese Opera troupe who eventually trains Leung Chang. Even with the bad dubbing, it's a good performance, which really makes me want to seek out a subtitled version at some point.

    Eastern Condors (1987)

    '80s Dirty Dozen style action movie that still managed to work in a surprising amount of martial arts as well. I really enjoyed this one. Once again we've got Sammo Hung, Biao Yuen, and Ching-Ying Lam who get to do most of the hand to hand fighting, but there's much more of an ensemble cast here (including Hung's future wife) who make up the criminals and guerrilla fighters recruited to go on a mission to destroy an American weapons bunker in Vietnam before the Viet Cong can get to it. True to this kind of movie there are plenty of casualties along the way. A perfect Junesploitation pick.

  21. Sphere (1998)

    I have a confession to make. It's something I haven't told anyone. In all the movies that I've seen him in, I have never understood a word Dustin Hoffman has ever said.

  22. Caveman (1981)

    Remember the good old days when you could make a movie where no one says any actual words? If we do this, we gotta get Ringo!

  23. Attack of the Demons (2019, dir. Eric Power)
    Horror movie in which a town is overrun by killer demons, all done in cutout animation.