Saturday, June 13, 2020

Junesploitation Day 13: Free Space!

When East meets West...all Hell breaks loose!



    THE SOLDIER (1982, Blu-ray, Matt Sollenberger: 6/8/2018)

    Ken Whal plays an elite government soldier who only answers to the CIA director... which complicates things when the latter is taken out by a slow-motion fireball (courtesy of cross-dressing bomber Zeljko Ivanek). Building on his success from 1980's "The Exterminator," Mr. G. turns a $4 million budget into something that looks/feels ten times more expensive. From Philadelphia to the Swiss Alps (Klaus Kinski one-day cameo alert!), and from Jerusalem to both East and West Germany (courtesy of a sports car that jumps across the Berlin Wall), the action starts at a James Bond fever pitch before settling into something akin to a John le Carré spy novel on steroids. And with Jeffrey Jones as a presidential advisor (one of many recognizable faces in the supporting cast), who can resist? 4 NUKE-PACKING FAKE OIL BARRELS (out of 5)

    THE PROTECTOR (1985, Pluto, Patrick Bromley: 6/10/2020)
    Two great action tastes don't go well together in this first attempt by Jackie Chan at an English crossover hit. Chan and Danny Aiello (RIP) play NYPD detectives sent to Hong Kong to rescue a kidnapped heiress from the criminal organizaition of big bad Harold Ko (Roy Chiao). Typical HK action mayhem ensues, but with lots more nudity and foul language and less emphasis on stunt work or fight choreography. The pace, cinematography (by Mark Irwin), music (from Ken Thorpe) and editing (Mr. G.'s penchant for slo-mo action) all seem geared for a typical mid-80's action picture, not a Jackie Chan vehicle. You'd think the opening action scene in NYC in which Jackie's partner is murdered would fuel a revenge story, but that's quickly forgotten and we're stuck with Aiello's fish-out-of-water routine. Not a terrible action flick (the finale reminds me of 1997's "Eraser"), just one helmed by a director not used to being somebody else's 'Yes' man. 3 BLOOD-SOAKED PLUSH TOYS (out of 5)

    McBAIN (1991, A.Prime, Mikko Viinikka: 6/3/2017)
    Who knew that the Vietcong kept American P.O.W's in cages for one-on-one knife fights, "Thunderdome" style. The "Missing In Action"-like 1975 action prologue establishes the bond between the American soldiers that, 18 years later (which would make it two years after this movie was released!), come together to declare war on Colombia (which the Phillippines doubles as, including the extras) for executing their freedom fighting friend on live TV. It's a preposterous old man wish fulfillment military fantasy, but the game cast (Christopher Walken, Michael Ironside, Steve James, Maria Conchita Alonso, etc.) and Mr. G's clever use of his limited resources sells it. Blink and you'll miss Luis Guzman in a small but memorable supporting role. 3.5 RIPPED-IN-HALF $100 BILLS (out of 5)

    Lil' big bonus:

    SUPERDOME (1978, Blu-ray, JB: 5/26/2020)
    Everything JB writes about in his review is dead on the money. As a fan of the "MST3K" version of this movie (aired during the KTMA era, hence not commercially available) I'm glad to own "Superdome" on high-def so I can concoct in my mind an entertaining version set in contemporary times. Come for the tease of NFL action, stay for disaster movie tropes without an actual disaster. 2 LOW-RENT SUSPENSE MOMENTS (out of 5)

    1. On the Shout Factory blu of The Protector, there is what is called “Jackie Chan’s Personal Cut” of the film which features additional scenes directed by Jackie. I haven’t checked it out but I’m assuming it remedies some of the tonal disconnect between the original cut and the typical Jackie Chan formula.

      I also watched The Soldier earlier this week and you’re right about him getting the most out of a small budget. Although with the exception of the wall jump, the last third of the movie is a little on the thrifty side. Giving a soldier, “The Soldier” as a code name probably would be very confusing. There were probably a lot of Who’s On First conversations around the office.

    2. And not only does 'The Soldier' not have a name, but the rest of the team under his command (aka the guys who do most of the heavy lifting for the third act) are each referred to as 'The Soldier's Force'... seriously? 🤭🙄🤓

  2. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966, dir. Harold P. Warren)

    One of the many movies that have been at one time or another dubbed as the "worst movie ever". And yeah, it's abysmal. The script is nonsense, the editing totally haphazard, the acting atrocious, the dubbing incompetent, and despite its 70-minute runtime, it feels longer than Gone with the Wind. And still, it's only the third worst movie I've seen this year (behind Holmes & Watson and a Romanian sex comedy called Oh, Ramona!).

    1. Have you seen the MST3K and Rifftrax (two: regular and Live!) versions of "Manos"? The Rifftrax versions are expendable (but feature the complete movie) while the "MST3K" version is Top 5, maybe Top 3 of all time for that show (but cuts out some scenes for time). 90% of people who've seen "Manos" was through the TV show, who actually discovered it and unleashed it to the world in the early 90's. Highly recommended. 😃🤓

    2. I haven't. Not a big fan of MST3K, based on the couple of episodes I've seen.

    3. You should give this one a try (it's readily available on YouTube and streaming sites). Given the show's premise, it's basically "MST3K" meets the one horrible movie that pushes Joel, the bots and even the Mads to their absolute limits. Even though the show ran for six more seasons after this, "Manos" left everybody scarred for life. Hint: Torgo becomes a semi-regular visitor to the Satellite of Love in the years after "Manos" aired.

  3. It is a trashy black-and-white double feature.

    SHANTY TRAMP (1967) on Amazon Prime

    After enjoying my foray into hypocritical southern preachers last weekend with Preacherman, I decided to dive into another low-budget production with a similar theme. The film opens with a nighttime revival meeting. Getting on good terms with Jesus, damnation, adultery, etc. Emily, the shanty tramp- white trash girl- of the film, wanders in to the meeting out of boredom. She immediately starts eyeing the preacher provocatively, and he responds in a positive way. They make a plan to “talk” after the preacher is through with his duties for the night. And what a night it will be for everyone in this small southern town.

    Shanty Tramp is a peculiar film. Despite all the sleaze and craziness of it, the story does have a lot of heart. One gets a sense of the dysfunctional family life Emily comes from. Daniel, a black man who desires Emily, would like to be able to follow his natural desires. When he does so, the consequences are catastrophic. Moreover, for a cheap exploitation film, this is put together with a lot of care. Certain scenes are creatively linked together by words. The black-and-white cinematography looks good here.

    The versions on Prime are very rough; there was no attempt to restore them. Only one version is in the proper 4:3 aspect ratio, however. Even at a mere seventy minutes, it still may be too much for people not into this kind of movie.


    Vintage New York sexploitation.

    1. Shots of New York City in the 1960s – check
    2. The use of voice-over narration to tie the scenes together – check
    3. A jazzy soundtrack – check (One of those tunes must have been Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers)
    4. Black-and-white cinematography – check

    When a young woman from Indiana arrives in New York City for college, she has no idea what wildness awaits her. Between her and her crazy roommates, there are ample scenes to show off flesh. In this time period the sex scenes could not show much. When she discovers she is pregnant and the men she has been with desert her, she feels like she has few options to follow. Will there be a happy ending?

    As sexploitation films go, this is a good effort. It was shot and edited with some competence. The star, Gigi Darlene, is quite striking. In Hot Nights, she is also not sleepwalking through the scenes. She is best-known for Doris Wishman’s trash classic Bad Girls Go To Hell. The version of HOT NIGHTS... put out by Code Red, despite a few lines and specks visible from time to time, looks good on blu-ray.

  4. The Freshman (1925, Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor)

    My first Harold Lloyd. While on this watch I didn't respond as I did when I watch my first Chaplin or Keaton, you cannot deny Lloyd's pysicality. Especially how he works little throw away gags.

    King Boxer aka Five Fingers of Death (1972, Jeong Chang-Hwa)

    It took King Boxer to want to find that amazing siren score as a ring tone and not Kill Bill. This is the movie wear it feels I really clicked with Kung Fu.q I loved it. And I want to watch Kill Bill again.

  5. Jackie Brown (1997) Dir. Quentin Tarantino

    Jackie Brown is a movie that I have purposely underseen, because I don't want the magic to wear off. This is maybe the 3rd time I've watched it. I can always remember the broad strokes of the plot and characters, but its the details that always sneak up on me that I love. It's the little smile Max gives when he sees Jackie in the food court. Or the icy stare Ordell gives Melanie when she won't answer the phone. To single out any performance would be a disservice to all the other great performers.

    Another thing I've always liked about this movie is how unusually structured it is. It opens on that great tracking shot of Jackie going to work, then she is out of the movie for the next 30 minutes, and it's the Ordell Robbie show. Then when Jackie enters the plot, it's all on her and Max for the next 30. I can't think of many other movies with such small ensembles that function this way, nevermind do it this successfully.

    And look, I know this is a bit of a cheat, Jackie Brown isn't exactly Blaxsploitation. But it is kind of Blaxsploitation, so I'm counting it.

    1. I can always have a discussion about which Tarantino flick is actually his best, but Jackie Brown is hands down my favorite.

  6. The Driller Killer (1979) Dr. Abel Ferrara

    There are some Ferrara movies I really like, and then there are the others. This is fine, but it doesn't really live up to its poster. Some good sleazy NYC photography but it feels like an aimless Maniac.

  7. Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019)

    A documentary about Mark Patton, a closeted (at the time) gay actor who landed what he thought would be a career-making role, the lead in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. Nightmare 2 has gained a strong cult following over the years, but at the time it was dismissed by critics and fans as “the gay Freddy movie”, a reputation pinned on Patton by screenwriter David Chaskin, who claims he didn’t write any gay subtext into the movie and Patton brought it all with his performance.

    The movie is heavier than I expected, detailing not only Patton's career but also his struggles with AIDS and being gay in a time when being out of the closet meant being a pariah. It’s gratifying to see how times have changed and watch both Patton and Nightmare 2 become embraced, but that certainly doesn’t mean the fight for equality and acceptance is over. As a whole it’s a very sobering look at how people treat each other, and you can really feel Patton’s anger and pain when he finally gets to confront Chaskin. Essential viewing, especially for Pride month.

  8. My Name is Nobody (1973, dir. Tonino Valerii)

    Sergio Leone and Henry Fonda’s epic meditation on legacy, age, and history. Oh, and it’s also super fun, comedic, and entertaining. The music will send you to straight to Spaghetti Western heaven. So great.

    It also stars Franco Nero look-a-like Terence Hill. They knew what they were doing.

    The Hanging Tree (1959, dir. Delmer Daves)

    A dark Gary Cooper western that exists as a character drama more than a standard action/adventure western. It's pretty good (Delmer Daves rarely misses) but NOT a Junesploitation western at all. Check it out another month. lol

  9. Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan (2013, dir. Gary Jones)

    I truly believe Axe Giant is the greatest title of all time. This is a z-grade slasher where some juvenile delinquents disturb the remains of Babe the blue ox and Paul Bunyan seeks revenge. Only Paul Bunyan is the size of a dinosaur. Bonus points for a cameo from Dan Hagerty (Grizzly Adams) and Joe Estevez really hamming it up as a crazed hermit. Highly Recommended.

  10. Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary (Exterminadores do Além Contra a Loira do Banheiro) (2018, dir. Fabrício Bittar)

    A horror comedy from Brazil about a group of hoaxers who host a "ghost hunting" show on YouTube getting in over their heads when they're called in to exorcise a real ghost from a local high school. Everything you'd expect to happen based on that premise happens. A couple of funny jokes and good scares, but mostly predictable and trite. Well, at least I get to cross out Brazil on my list of countries to armchair travel.

  11. The Monster and the Girl (1941, dir. Stuart Heisler)

    A man has his brain placed into the body of an ape and takes revenge on the mobsters who framed him for murder and turned his sister out. The premise sure sounds great, but the movie spends half its 60-minute running time on a trial and not enough on ape revenge. More movies need ape revenge.

  12. Rapid Fire (1992, dir. Dwight H. Little)

    A freight train of a movie that starts in one of the best ways a movie can -- "A Dwight H. Little Film"

  13. GEN 13 (2000)
    Animated direct-to-video movie (OK, TV pilot) based on the oh-so-cool ‘90s Image/Wildstorm comic. This was produced and directed by Kevin Altieri, a.k.a. the guy from Batman the Animated Series who isn’t Bruce Timm. The fingerprints of Batman TAS are all over this, except it’s PG-13 this time, so the animators get to include some blood, swearing and sexiness that kids’ TV censors never would have allowed. They also rounded up a voice cast of well-known yet eclectic actors, again in the hopes of turning this into a weekly series. Definitely worth seeing for comic fans feeling nostalgic about the “extreme 90s” thing.

    30 days of HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II, day 13
    On today’s watch, I concentrated on the best friend, Monica. She is the least developed of the main characters. She wants to go the prom, but she pushes away guys who show an interest in her. Then she gets her big romantic scene with Josh the nerd, only for her to get killed in the movie’s naughtiest scene. (She also has Star Trek VI Klingon pink blood.) Did she die because she saw Mary Lou/Vicki do magic, or did Mary Lou kill her just for kicks? We may never know.

  14. Artemis Fowl (2020)

    It's like a Mad Libs of nonsensical bullshit. It looks nice though.

  15. Caged Fury (1990)

    This review is a little spoilery about some pretty obvious stuff, but this doesn’t quite have Interstellar-level plotting. Not sure where Interstellar came from but it was the first movie that I could think of that would have been a bummer to have spoiled.

    Small town Kathie wants to make it big in California as an actress. She heads out to chase her dreams where she picks up and rescues a hitchhiker from being sexually assaulted. The hitchhiker who is now her best friend, takes her to stay in an apartment with a very rapey photographer named Buck who sets them up on an audition. But the night before the audition they go out for a night on the town where she hooks up with Victor (Erik Estrada) at a sleazy bar who saves her from, you guessed it, being sexually assaulted. Victor rolls with this giant karate dude named Dirk who looks like if Oates ate Hall and has lived lives as a mystic, mercenary and a bodyguard. At the audition, things go downhill quickly, as despite overlooking a brigade of red flags the audition goes sideways and they are arrested.
    Kathie wore a sports bra to court, and the scene from her audition is used as evidence against her. The jury rightfully doesn’t believe that she can act and she’s off to a special “bring your own lingerie” lady jail populated by almost exclusively by Playboy models.
    Her sister begins a crusade to find her in a blond wig that would embarrass Hulk Hogan, brother. She figures out the scam that her sister was caught up in, follows it and promptly, to her dismay and my amusement, winds up in the same jail.
    Victor conveniently takes a gunshot very early on is off to the hospital, as I assume Estrada was being paid by the hour. Shoeless and shirtless, Dirk heads off to break a woman he barely met out of jail. He pretty much whoops all available ass in the jail including Ron Jeremy who has a bit part as a guard. Eventually he is leading most of them out like some kind of Kung fu pied piper. Victor conveniently shows up immediately after the jail break and scoops up his lady. We all need a friend like Dirk in our lives. There is also a plot twist about the prison that holds water like a spaghetti strainer.
    Sleazy movies that feature characters that are aspiring actresses, fall into two categories: those that feature a lazy thespian pun and those that don’t. This was the former. Michael Parks appears as her father that never leaves the house and James Hong as a detective that is never more than four feet away from his desk, as they were likely on the Estrada hourly pay schedule. Also early on Buck calls a waitress “Sweet Meat” which I originally thought might be considered as offensive until I checked the credits and the character is billed as “Sweet Meat”. Now that I think about it, that is probably even more offensive.
    Overall it’s a bit of an awkward marriage between serious and silly, as there’s not a lot of intentional humour in the mix, but it definitely gets silly at times.

  16. Jason and the Argonauts(1963, dir. Don Chaffey)

    I've started digging into old-school Ray Harryhausen adventure flicks lately and am really enjoying it. This is a fun one with tons of Harryhausen monster goodness. Seriously, the iconic skeleton army fight looks so damn good for the time.

    Todd Armstrong and Nancy Kovack as the leads are a little lacking in charm and charisma, beautiful though they may be. I think the romantic duo was much better in Clash of the Titans. Nigel Green as Hercules was such a bright spot, and by far my favorite character. His exit halfway through took a lot of charisma away.

    Real talk though, I don't feel like I was given enough of a reason to root for Jason to go into that other kingdom across the world and steal their golden fleece. They're not evil or anything, and it's their fleece. Get your own magical maguffin, Jason. And where was the final confrontation with the evil king that this whole journey was about??

    Enjoyed the movie though!

  17. Death Wish (2018) Dir. Eli Roth

    Its the same aggro incel power fantasy that the rest of the Death Wish movies are, this time with half the fun. What's most insulting is the lip service the movie plays to the ethical problems involved with vigilanteism. Every now and then the movie cuts to Sway being like "This isn't right" but every inch of the plot indicates that this is both right and good. And the movie ends with Bruce Willis winning the day, only slightly worse for wear, and getting an "okay good job but you gotta stop after this" from the police. The movie also changes Kersey's profession from Architect to Doctor (I think he's an accountant in the book) for plot convenience. Hoping for some internal conflict about a doctor violating the Hippocratic Oath to go on a vigilante killing spree involving multiple executions? Well, fuck you, because killing is cool.

    Joe Carnahan is the only credited screenwriter, and I cannot believe that is true. This script is so incredibly shallow and insulting. I'm pretty sure that movie was written by a 2nd Amendment Reddit message board, with thoughtful input by the "constitutional scholars" that scream "but what about Chicago?" at any suggestion of gun control. They don't really care about crime in Chicago and neither does the movie.

    Fuck this movie.

    1. Still my last favorite movie I've seen in years. All the podcasting stuff also sucks so hard.

    2. It's way down there. I'm sure our Chicago viewers were excited to see plenty of screen time from the legendary Mancow tho.

  18. Disney's The Kid (2000)

    This movie is still surprisingly good and Bruce Willis cares in this!

  19. L.A. Crackdown II (1988)

    Pool cue in the mouth and a roundhouse off a roof save this sequel that is much better than the predecessor.

  20. Anguish (AkA Angustia) 1987, Dir. Bigas Luna

    It's like David Lynch was hired to make Last Action Hero a slasher movie. With eyeball dissection, hostage standoff and hyponotism. And then we the story is in fact a movie inside the movie that being watched by an audience that then gets taken hostage by a mad gunman.

    Zelda Rubinstein as the slasher's mother is by far the weirdest element, who is remotely controlling her son (Michael Lerner) by way of phonograph player and conch shell. Her high pitch voice sounds grotesquely inhuman.

    I'm not sure I liked it, but the second act, which involves a teenage girl experiencing the titular anguish at the movie slowly driving her mad that was starting to drive me mad. So, mission accomplished, I guess...?

  21. Conan The Barbarian (1982, dir. John Milius)

    Kudos to Milius for bringing in Basil Poledouris before they started filming -- I am not sure he would've shot those long dialogue free action sequences without first knowing the score would absolutely bang

  22. The Lost Boys (1987)

    A really nice blend of comedy, horror and that unimitable, unselfconscious 80s cool, with some of the most incredible outfits and hairstyles ever committed to film. As a fan of both vampire movies and teen movies, it was everything I expected and then some. (Also, don't ask me how the hell I had never seen it before, because I honestly can't explain it.)

  23. Satanic Panic (2019)

    Pizza girl ends up embroiled in a satanic ritual.

    Okay. I'm going to be super open here... My bad.

    I sat on this one. Patrick championed it repeatedly and I kept it on the back burner. Reviews complained about tonal inconsistency and that's something I've had a hard time with as of late.

    Not sure what film they watched! What a fucking blast. Genuine humor throughout with some well deserved emotion. Not only do I disagree with the tonal imbalance argument, I would go so far as to say Raimi would likely be proud if he got around to this one. Already can't wait to re watch.

  24. Da 5 Bloods (2020) Netflix

    A free space day came at the perfect time to watch Spike Lee's new movie. Delroy Lindo gets the meatiest role, but it's a good cast all-around. Comes in a little long at 2.5 hours but I liked it quite a bit.

  25. Day 13

    Juice (1992)
    A fantastic, frightening performance from Tupac made this a great watch. The ending was weak but it didn't hurt the movie.

    Tootsie (1982)
    A great movie on so many levels. Hoffman and Lange were great but it was Bill Murray and George Gaynes who stole every scene that they were in. I don't think the ending was earned and it was too easy in my opinion. I love that comedies used to be about characters instead of being gross and loud like they are now.

    The Bodyguard (1992)
    My love for Costner got me through this slog. I couldn't buy into Costner falling for and willing to take a bullet for such a loud mouth brat of a human being. The movie was predictable I was checking to see how much of the movie was left, it didn't help at all because the movie didn't want to end.

    Return of the Beast (2013)
    Oh my, I finally worked up the courage to watch the sequel to 1997's Search for the Beast. I had long comnsidered Search to be the worst movie I had watched. I wasn't expecting a miracle when I started this but my word. There is no point to this movie, it's just too sex scenes with people who shouldn't be getting naked on film. I know this movie is suppose to suck on purpose. But fuckin A this was below the barrel trash and it stands proudly next to Search for the Beast as two of the worst movies ever made.

  26. Fear City

    1984, dir. Abel Ferrara

    Streaming on Shout TV app & Prime

    Thought this would be a hidden gem, but unfortunately no. The movie definitely benefits from it’s great cast (Billy Dee Williams, Tom Berenger, Melanie Griffith) and the unfiltered sleaze of 80s NYC, but the plot is utterly rote and predictable, and it just lacks the hard edge of Ferrara’s other films. The characters all have the generic arcs you’d expect and the killer is just the usual self-righteous, woman hating, journaling, self-image obsessed “incel”-type you’ve seen a thousand times. Supposedly Fox dumped it on Aquarius Releasing after they gave up trying to de-sleaze it, hence the jump cuts and video quality footage in the version currently streaming. I’m not sure less sleaze (or even more for that matter) would’ve made a difference. It’s just... mediocre.

  27. Big Bad Mama (1974) dir. Steve Crisen

    Was there some sort of strange 70s brew that made Tom Skerritt irresistible to women? Because Angie Dickinson, Robbee Lee (from Switchblade Sisters) and basically every woman in Depression Era California were apparently getting knocked up by him. Makes sense they'd tap a 70's Shatner, bit goodness gracious if Skerritt doesn't mumble all his lines.

    What's the plot? It's the 30s and everyone's horny. They're also easy marks, which is the only way this quintet gets away with their "crime spree" for so long. It's also wild that Dick Miller is both a fed in this, and a cop in Crazy Mama, but Dick's gotta Dick. And Big Bad Mama's gotta "Bonnie and Clyde" at the end. At least Cloris Leachman lived to tell the tail.

  28. VICTORIA (2015, Sebastian Schipper)

    If Frederick Lau asked me to do something some what dodgey not sure I would say no.

    I loved this movie, not just because it's a impressive feat of movie making, cause it is, but because of the emotional substance to the movie. You are not just following them through Point A to point B, if feels more chaotic than that. And Victoria is a character who is at the end of her tether, so her actions of following those guys makes complete sense. I meanI really loved this movie.2

  29. Happy Death Day (2017)

    Wasn't very interested in this when it came out, but heard good things from people who have seen it since then. Way more fun and interesting than I initially thought. Glad I caught up with it.

  30. Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead (2006)

    Fell asleep watching last night and finished this morning. It was no less ridiculous and offensive this morning. While I can appreciate that it's going for something different, I don't think Troma movies are for me. Would have probably loved this 30 years ago as a teen.

  31. Starship Troopers (1997):

    Dizzy > Carmen any day of the week.

    Edge of Tomorrow (2014):

    Paxton > Carmen any day of the week.

  32. Suburbia (1984)

    I don't remember a movie with such a turn around from start to finish. I went from thinking it was terrible to saying actually I kind of love this.

  33. The Woman in Red (1984)

    I guess this is supposed to be funny but it never is. We are rooting for Gene Wilder to cheat on his wife for some reason. Gene Wilder wrote it. Not cool, Gene.

  34. Special Effects (1984)

    Director of shitty movies kills actress and then tries to make a film where her husband looks like the murderer. I sort of like the idea of this but I didn't really care for the execution.

  35. Shadows Run Black (1984)

    Kevin Costner is in this and it is garbage. Sorry, Kevin.

  36. Fear City (1984)

    Abel Ferrara has made some really good films. This isn't one of them.