Monday, June 28, 2021

Junesploitation 2021 Day 28: Free Space!



    GREENLAND (2020, HBO Max)
    for the first time.

    Gerard Butler (who also produced) re-teams with his "Angel Has Fallen" director Ric Roman Waugh for this sci-fi action drama that nicely balances disaster movie spectacle and family drama. Butler's building engineer John Garrity (no attempt to hide his Scottish accent, thank God), his separated wife Allison (Morena Maccarin) and diabetic son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd) go through hell when they're separated by unruly mobs and desperate civilians while trying to get to safety after the Clark Comet that was supposed to avoid Earth becomes a ticking countdown to an extinction-level event. We get a smorgasbord from the best the genre has to offer in bite-sized vignettes: the supermarket from "World War Z," the running crowds from Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" remake, the falling debris-wiping shower of doom from "Armageddon," the lingering hope for an eventual future from "2012," the family dynamics from "Deep Impact," etc. We also meet lots of nice people (Kentucky airport nurse, van full of nice Hispanics, Holt McCallany in an out-of-nowhere pivotal small role, etc.) assisting the Garrity's in their time of need, who nicely balance out the a-holes trying to steal their wrist bands.

    An end-of-the-world disaster misery porn "Greenland" is not, just a good mainstream pic that got lost in the real-life misery porn that was the year 2020. :-( Highly recommended. 4 PRESIDENTIAL ALERT EMERGENCY TEXTS (out of 5).

  2. Kôji Shiraishi's GROTESQUE (2009, CON-TV) for the first [and last] time.

    Well, that was a piece of shit and waste of 74 minutes (the only reason I watched it) of my life. You know this Japanese "Saw"-wannabe torture porn is bad when it makes you ache for the nuisance and subtlety of "Boxing Helena." :-O A crazy doctor (Shigeo Ôsako) abducts just-started-dating Aki (Kotoha Hiroyama) and Kazuo (Hiroaki Kawatsure) and proceeds to dismember/torture them in a dungeon, the faint hope of escape dimming as the days pass and the classic music drones on. For what it's worth "Grotesque's" last 10 minutes are eons better than the first 60 when the dismembered, bleeding youths catch a second wind of attitude ('Your mother's a worm-infested prostitute in Okubo!') and put a strong final front. I literally took a shower after seeing "Grotesque" and writing this review, mostly because it was a hot Sunday afternoon (88 degress) but also to wash away the filth. 1.5 SCISSOR-WIRED TOBAS (out of 5).

  3. Lamberto Bava's BLASTFIGHTER (1984, You Tube --in Spanish--) for the first time.

    A combo recommendation from Matt Sollenberger and Mikko Viinikka from this month's Revenge! Day, I wanted to check this one out because I had just seen Lamberto Bava's "Demons" and was chasing the dragon. Why is it that every other movie I see (for Junesploitation! and in general) feels like I'm watching the worse bullies ever captured on film being sadistic dicks? The redneck Georgia deer poachers in "Blastfighter" seem to be particularly nasty, but they have nothing on anti-hero Jake 'Tiger' Sharp returning to his cabin in the woods trying to escape a traumatizing past. As played by Michael Sopkiw ("2019: After the Fall of New York") in a performance that can only be described as Robert Ginty-esque, we're supposed to be on 'Tiger's' side because he wants the poachers to respect animal life and the bad guys kill someone close to him. But the way he treats his never-seen-her-before grown daughter Connie (Valentina Forte) makes me hate 'Tiger' as much as the brutes harassing him. At least George Eastman shows up as Tiger's veteran friend (and brother of the douchiest redneck poacher), so there's someone likable on screen every once in a while.

    A shameless ripoff of "First Blood" and "Deliverance" with a sprinkle of "Future Cop" (including the 1.0 version of "Beverly Hills Cop III's" Annihilator 2000 weapon), "Blastfighter" feels like its populated by humans speaking their own language in a satellite planet next to the one in 2010's "Predators." Even dubbed in Spanish, the dialogue exchanges and emotions shown on-screen feel alien to anything I've experienced on Planet Earth. Shit blows up real good in the end, but there's nothing more unsatisfying than revenge killing against douches carried out by a douchier hero you wish would turn his supergun on himself. 2.5 "DONKEY KONG"-LIKE ROLLING BARRELS ON FIRE (out of 5).

  4. [Mikko Viinikka's boy] Renny Harlin's THE MISFITS (2021, theater) for the first time.

    I don't use this comparison lightly, but "The Misfits" is to Renny Harlin's filmography what "Beverly Hills Cop III" was to John Landis' (sorry Mikko). Here's an 'R' rated action thriller about a team of well-financed do-gooders trying to steal from a corrupt prison builder (a visibly-embarrassed Tim Roth) to give to the poor that could show bloody mayhem (a Harlin specialty), have its characters cursing and/or frame its leading ladies (Jamie Chung, Hermione Corfield) in a sexier light. But other than trying to set a record for having the most characters/extras vomiting on-camera simultaneously (don't ask, it's an integral part of the plot and thus a spoiler), there's nothing here that couldn't pass muster as a middle-episode in a bad season of TV's "Leverage." Great Middle Eastern locations (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and a creaky-but-game Pierce Brosnan feel wasted on a heist "comedy" (Nick Canon's shtick as a building inspector is embarrassing) that's not funny, action set-pieces that don't excite and chemistry-free character relationships between actors collecting paychecks from petro-dollar movie producers. Even the director of "Ford Fairlane" deserves better than this. 2 MALFUNCTIONING INDUSTRIAL OVENS (out of 5).

    1. whoa. I was wondering about this one when I saw it pop up in a couple of theaters for like 3 days.

    2. It played in one AMC theater in all of NYC for one week. And yet Harlin is post-producing his next feature while doing pre-production on another. Who's giving this guy money to make movies that 9.5 out of 10 times don't return on the investment? :-(

  5. Nicholas Myer's TIME AFTER TIME (1979, TCM) for the first time.

    Been meaning to watch this one since JB singed its praises in early FTM podcasts. H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell in full proper Englishman cartoon form) did invent an actual time machine, one that friend John Stevenson (David Warner, excellent) conveniently uses to escape from 1893 London to then-present day San Francisco when authorities discover he's really Jack The Ripper. A tongue-in-cheek literary fantasy from the writer/director of "Star Trek II/VI" (the good ones from the original "Trek" movie series), "Time After Time" finds observational humor and light romance (from baby-faced Mary Steenburgen) amidst its fish-out-of-water American setting. The narrative/plot are a little messy (how many banks can Wells visit in one day?) and the score by Miklós Rózsa often borders on being annoyingly histrionic. Besides the great scene where H.G. and Jack sit in a hotel room and watch how the future didn't become the utopia Wells dreamt about (a nice precursor to the Charles Dance villain in "Last Action Hero" being shocked by real-world violence), "Time After Time" struggles to hit such high notes with regularity. Still another qualified 'It's fine' (TM) FTM seal of approval. 3 CONCENTRATION CAMP TATTOOS ON PAWN SHOP OWNERS' ARMS (out of 5).

    1. Fun fact: In 1983, Cyndi Lauper was browsing through a TV Guide in search of inspiration for song titles, saw this movie was playing on TV, and wrote her second biggest hit.

    2. I love that song. Never made the connection that it's name was inspired by this movie's title. :-O

  6. TURBULENCE (1997, EPIX) for the first time.

    Wow! Somebody stole a bad batch from 'Joel Silver's cocaine' (my new favorite phrase of Junesploitation! 2021 :-D) and made the ultimate Lifetime Movie of the Week (aka Women in Peril) flick, to the tune of a way-too-high $55 million budget (with box office pennies and direct-to-video sequels in return). A routine transport of criminals from New York to Los Angeles aboard a sophisticated commercial airliner goes pear-shaped when one of the prisoners (Brendan Gleeson spewing the worst American accent ever tried in any movie ever!) shoots the cops, accidentally kills the pilot and then it's taken down by Ryan Weaver (Ray Liotta), a Ted Bundy-type serial killer who has his eyes on emotionally-fragile s̶t̶e̶w̶a̶r̶d̶e̶s̶s̶ flight attendant Teri (Lauren Holly). Did I mention there's a level six storm (on a scale from 1 to 6) ahead that needs to me manually adjusted into the plane's flying-by-itself automatic pilot? Or that Weaver feels particularly revengeful against the veteran L.A. cop (Hector Elizondo) who nailed him before being shipped on the plane? Most important of all, will Teri ever find love again after being stood-up by her would-be fiancé the night before the flight? And Merry Christmas to you too, "Turbulence" happens on Dec. 24th/25th.

    Good Lord, where to begin? The first third is sort-of dull because the narrative is trying to sell us that maybe Weaver isn't really a criminal. Since we have eyes and know the range of Ray Liotta's outbursts in other movies we know better, which then makes Teri look dumb by virtue Weaver gets to her. But when Liotta is unleashed and dials the crazy up to 11 "Turbulence" comes alive. The airplane-in-peril sequences like the near-crash around LAX look phenomenal for mid-90's SFX tech, but the 'civilian landing an airplane' movie tropes haven't improved at all since their heyday in the 70's "Airport" series. There was potential fun to be had with the handful of civilians aboard (the kid with the skateboard seemed promising), but that door closes early and doesn't return. Lots of recognizable faces (Jeffrey DeMunn, Rachel Ticotin, James McDonald, Michael Harney, etc.) pulling disaster movie cardboard acting, but "Turbulence" has three stars: the airplane SFX shots, Ray Liotta and the interior airplane scenery Liotta chews and spits out like a watermelon seed machinegun. Sorry Lauren Holly. :-P 3.5 AIRPLANE WASHROOM FAUCETS TURNED INTO SHANKS (out of 5).

  7. BECKY (2020, Showtime) for the first time.

    From the co-directors of 2014's "Cooties" and 29 producers (the fuck?) comes a bloody Canadian home invasion action/thriller (Canuxploitation! represent) trying to make a big deal that Kevin James ("Paul Blart: Mall Cop," TV's "King of Queens") is giving his first ever dramatic role. He's fine, but Lulu Wilson gives "Becky's" stand-out performance as a 13-year-old angry at her father ("Community's" Joel McHale), new stepmother (Amanda Brugel) and anybody that isn't her dead-from-cancer mother. By the halfway mark Becky channels her raging inner John McClane and gets enough lucky breaks (like how bad Dominick's crew of escaped Neo-Nazi prisoners are at their job) to become Erin-from-"You're Next"-level badass. 'It's fine' (TM), but you can feel the filmmakers pulling their punches and shying away from controversial stuff. 3 FISH WIRE BOOBY TRAPS (out of 5).

  8. And last but not least, R.I.P. CHARLES GRODIN!

    KING KONG: EXTENDED BROADCAST TELEVISION CUT (1976/2021, Scream! Factory Blu-ray)
    for the first time.

    It might be the cheesiest and lesser of the big three Hollywood versions of "King Kong," but I'll always have a soft spot for the 1976 version directed by John Guillermin and produced by Dino De Laurentiis. It's one of the first big movies I saw in theaters as a kid (on a double bill with, of all things, a John Wayne western!) and the one I grew up with and seen most (usually on WPIX-TV Channel 11 on weekend afternoons). So it was easy for me to eyeball the many changes this commissioned-for-NBC version did to Guillermin's theatrical cut, some for the better (more lil' bits of Kong rampaging in New York, alternate take diminishing Kong's lusty googly eyes while fondling Dwan) but mostly for the worse (the Skull Island natives' pre-marriage dance ceremony and Kong climbing the World Trade Center go on F-O-R-E-V-E-R!). You can't extend a 134 min. feature to 182 min. without completely throwing off its pace, which I found out the hard way when trying to watch the latter in one sitting (instead of two separate 90 minute halves, which is how it aired on NBC). Talk about a snooze fest punctuated by now-infrequent highlights. I always wanted to see what Kong left behind after he stepped on Grodin's Fred Wilson, and now that I've seen it... wasn't worth it. :-(

    Kudos to the Scream! Factory folks for not merely taking the inferior copies of the TV broadcast version of "Kong," digitizing them and calling it a day. Using the anamorphic 2K transfer of the theatrical version, they've assembled a high-quality facsimile of the EBTC version (even the 'fade to/from black' where commercial breaks used to be) that looks/sounds better than it ever did on broadcast TV. As a bonus feature on the "King Kong '76" Collector's Edition Blu-ray set it's a nice present for diehard fans, but as a stand-alone feature it's an exhausting 3 hr. curio. 2.75 PEEPING GARCIAS SWINGING UPSIDE-DOWN OVERBOARD (out of 5).

  9. WALKING THE EDGE (1985; Norbert Meisel)

    Finally saw this movie after its been on the watchlist for a couple of years now. New Fun City Editions blu looks great. Joe Spinell absolutely Spinell'ing it up. Robert Forster plays a kind of grouchy grouch that hangs around Nancy Kwan after she wrecks Spinell's gang. It is aight.

  10. THE FOOD OF THE GODS (1976, dir. Burt I. Gordon)

    Looking through the films on the DVR for some light viewing, this title immediately jumped out at me. My instinct was right, for The Food of the Gods is best experienced not thinking too much about it. The way the story is set up is at best awkward, and the acting can range from indifferent to over-the-top.

    The Plot: On a coastal island, a mysterious substance is found on a farm that makes animals gigantic. The giant animals, primarily rats, have an instinctive dislike of human beings and attack any they find. The humans have to find a way to survive the onslaught.

    Once the animal attacks begin, the film does reach a respectable level of entertainment. The miniatures worked better than expected, and the gore is surprisingly graphic for the period. This is a classic “make small animals look big” film, frequently with funny results. There definitely was a possibility of some rats dying for the “special effects” shots, though. Have a schlocky (good?) time if that is the experience you are looking for.

    1. Thinking about the film, I remember watching parts of it when I was a very young child. I probably should not have been seeing it at that age. The rooster attack I certainly saw before. It is strange what the memory retains.

      Food of the Gods would be a great candidate for a Glutton for Punishment article from J.B.

  11. The Ice Pirates (1984, dir. Stewart Raffill)

    Put this on right after waking up, and I definitely wasn't ready for it. The movie's... I think relentless is the right word. The story moves at a pace and each scene has three things happening at once and everyone's shouting on top of each other. It's not hard to follow, just exhausting. The cast is fun though, especially Anjelica Huston and Ron Perlman. They should've been the main characters.

    The Finnish title translates as The Iceberg Robbers.

  12. The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One (2016, dir. Shane Abbess)

    An Australian sci-fi movie (despite having all of the actors speak with an American accent). There’s a lot thrown in (Non-linear storytelling! Corporate conspiracy! Mutated monsters! A prison escape! Gun-toting bogans! A medical drama!) to set up the basic plot of a deadbeat dad trying to reach his daughter before the city goes up in a nuclear blast. It takes itself very seriously, but still has a pulpy sense of fun with its chapter titles and hard cuts.

  13. Ninja Cheerleaders (2008, dir. David Presley)

    Three junior college cheerleaders, black belt ninjas and go-go dancers kick mobsters' asses, save their Sensei George Takei's life, ace their finals, and turn every guy's head.

    The kind of movie I'd skip 11 months of the year, but it's a good, trashy Junesploitation pick. The director really likes beautiful women, but not as much as the editor, who pads the running time by constantly cutting to a bare-chested stripper, totally unrelated to the plot.

  14. The Ultimate Warrior (1975, dir. Robert Clouse)

    Post-Apocalyptic Action/Adventure/Drama starring Yul Brynner and Max Von Sydow. Warring tribes fight for survival, and Yul Brynner (the Ultimate Warrior) aligns w/ Von Sydow's tribe. This isn't really a rollicking adventure, it's more dour and downbeat, punctuated by moments of extreme violence, with an insane ending that is worth the price of admission. At a brisk 94 minutes, Recommended for fans of the genre.

  15. Deep Blue Sea (1999, dir. My Boy Renny Harlin)

    A movie that doesn't waste much time with exposition and gets quickly to what you paid for, shark attacks. And it makes total sense that curing Alzheimer's involves breeding genetically enhanced super-smart sharks, right?

    Why does LL Cool J sing during the end credits "My hat is like a shark's fin"?

    Renny's obligatory Finland reference: besides a Finnish flag and Finlandia Vodka (both of which are featured in many Renny films), there's also a menu with "Finnish pancakes" on it, and a shot of a newspaper declaring Finn Mika Häkkinen Formula 1 champion (which he was at the time).

  16. TREASURE OF THE AMAZON (by René Cardona Jr., 1985)
    (a first-time watch via the Vinegar Syndrome Blu-Ray)

    This morning's breakfast menu presented by Chef Steamboat Stiglitz:
    -Jungle beef on a bed of aged eyebrows-of-Whitman
    -fresh decapitations with bright red splashing blood
    -topless, body-painted, tribal she-wrestling
    -crab finger-food served Fulci-style
    -an appetizer of peek-a-boo ball-shorts
    -a small accent-salad on the side

    If you need a German-Pleasence/grizzled-Whitman jungle combo, warm this film up with INVADERS OF THE LOST GOLD. It's a guaranteed two-movie double feature.

    1. "You know, you think like a loser. You'll always be a loser."

  17. Nightbreed (1990)
    Dir. Clive Barker

    I'm not sure which version it was as it was a one I recorded on the horror channel a while back. I've only seen it a couple of times before and really want to see the directors cut. I love the world Barker created in this where the monsters are not necessarily evil or good and the real evil is David Cronenberg's serial killer. On one hand I would have loved to see this world fleshed out further but on the other hand I'm glad it didn't get the dragged out tedious Hellraiser treatment.

  18. Broken Arrow (1996 - John Woo)
    First I thought I would watch a Craven for this one, but since I can only one movie a day (not like other maniacs here ;) and Adam said, this is a perfect movie, I had to watch it... and it's entertaining enough. After the plane goes down, it felt somewhat like a drag until they arrive at the mines. From that point on, it's good again and the last sequence on the train is action packed fun. Ain't it cool... ah f*** it.

    Bikini-clad female assassins are killing no-good men as part of an international plot, so secret agent Bulldog Drummond (!) is sent in to investigate. There’s some fun to be had here if you’re into the ‘60s mod thing, but it’s awfully slow-paced. There's little sense of urgency as the filmmakers focus on scenic locales and romancing lovely ladies. This is based on a series of old pulp novels, although Drummond is no James Bond and actor Richard Johnson is no Connery. Still, it has a nice toe-tappy score and the giant chessboard finale is almost The Prisoner levels of weird. Guess I’ll have to call this a mixed bag.

    30 days of Chinese fantasy movies, day 28
    On Earth, a man searching for his missing daughter gets caught up in a high-tech crime plot. In a far-off fantasy world, a young hero gets into and out of various scrapes while battling villains and monsters. And of course these two storylines end up converging. I’m reminded of a Wachowski movie, in how the whole thing is overflowing with big ambitious ideas. The action scenes are really over the top and energetic, and I especially liked storm-the-castle battle with the big hot air balloons.

    1. This is one of the first movies I saw in theaters last March, after the pandemic kept NYC theaters closed for a year. Loved the mixture of South Korean existentialist drama, the "X-Men" genetics sub-plot and the balls-out final fight in the fantasy realm. It basically operated on three separate realms (the fantasy narrative, the heightened-reality real world and those moments these two worlds interject), and it was fun to be bounced around between the three. One of the better ones for you to end your mad 30 day experiment, Dr. Forrester. ;-)

  20. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002, dir. Kevin Reynolds)

    An adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas’ novel by the director of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Waterworld. Edmond Dantes (a not-yet-Christlike Jim Caviziel) is framed for treason and imprisoned by his best friend Fernand (Guy Pearce) in post-Bonaparte France. It’s a swashbuckling historical drama about the search for justice, filmed at beautiful Mediterranean locales with a stable of good actors doing their best with a so-so screenplay. Was it just a poor adaptation or an adaptation of a poor translation? I dunno.

    Richard Harris (in one of his final roles) plays a fellow inmate and mentor to Dantes at a ghoulish prison. They are lorded over by the malevolently perfect Michael Wincott, hamming it up like he was born to do. Dantes learns about a hidden treasure and digs his way to freedom. He meets up with pirates, teams up with Luiz Guzman and strikes it rich.

    The back half of the movie finds Dantes now with more money than God, assuming the role of the titular Count with an elaborate plan to get even with Guy Pearce and his accomplices. Stay awake for barely-out-of-short-pants Henry Cavill in the third act.

    I found it to be a gorgeous movie, with the kind of cinematography and locations that exemplify the big budget 35mm film. I was a little melancholy that a literary classic like this is not likely to ever be adapted this way on film again; more likely it’d get the Baz Luhrman/Gatsby treatment, or adapted into a 6 hour long streaming TV miniseries for Hulu or the like.

    Worth seeking out if you dig romantic swashbucklers.

  21. Blind Fury (1989)

    Why the hells wasn’t Rutger Hauer a bigger star? He’s so good here as Nick Parker, a blind Vietnam vet-turned-drifter/swordsman taking on a murderous crew of drug dealers, and the movie is a total blast. It’s an updated, Americanized riff on Zatoichi (specifically a remake of the 17th entry in that series, Zatoichi Challenged) and for the most part it’s tons of fun.

    There’s some comedy (and I use that word loosely) that feels very forced, particularly in the middle section (apparently America’s favorite pastime isn’t baseball, it’s fucking with blind people) but everything else is so much fun that the unfunny stuff is easily forgivable. The last act in particular is an all-timer, featuring a fight with Sho Kosugi around an electrified hot tub and a fantastic villain dispatch that’s right up there with Showdown in Little Tokyo or Death Wish 4. Love it!

    1. yea, not sure how Hauer wasnt a bigger star, however i'd put him up on a mantle of all time amazing baddies....2x....Hitcher and Blade Runner.

      "All of those teardrops in the rain.........time to die"

  22. Forbidden Planet (1956, dir. Fred M. Wilcox)

    Wow! I was really surprised how well this still holds up! The sexual politics aren't exactly up to date, but the central mystery and the effects are great. Really loved the electronic score too. Still having slight trouble taking Frank Drebin seriously.

  23. Fantastic Planet (La planète sauvage) (1973, dir. René Laloux)

    On a distant planet, humans live alongside blue-skinned giants, who regard humans as either pets to keep captive or pests to eradicate. But one young boy, raised as a pet, incites a rebellion.

    A French-Czechoslovakian experimental sci-fi animation from the 70's. Haven't seen one of those before. The trippy animation is pretty great, while the story is... also trippy. The basic story is a pretty clear racism metaphor, everything else around that basic story is magnificently weird.

    1. And the music! My god, that funky weird score.

  24. Street Law (1974)

    l cittadino si ribella (The Citizen Rebels) finds Franco Nero getting beaten down by muggers, so he goes looking for his own justice, only to get beat down even worse until he finally learns how to get revenge. This was the first vigilante film in the poliziotteschi genre, as this made it to Italian theaters before Death Wish.

    Once Franco makes friends with a thug named Tommy (Giancarlo Prete), he finally gets to take out the people who done him dirty in spectacular fashion. I mean, there are absolutely no permits in this movie and tons of stuntmen -- including Franco doing all of his own stunts -- defying death just to entertain you.

    Plus, you get music by Guido and Maurizio DeAngelis (AKA Oliver Onions), which makes any movie better. And yeah! A pre-Ringo Barbara Bach!

    Strangely enough, while this movie inspired Vigilante, it was released in the UK as Vigilante 2.

    I pretty much love everything Enzo G. Castellari made, like Keoma, The Last Shark, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, The New Barbarians, Escape the Bronx, The Inglorious Bastards...just add this to the list. I mean, Franco Nero shotgun blasting scumbags while wearing a turtleneck? Let me see the movie made this year that can live up to that. Even the ending made me emotional.

  25. Highwaymen (2004; dir. Robert Harmon)

    Crash x Duel from the director of The Hitcher

  26. Super (2010) - 8/10 heavy, unused bulletproof vests

  27. Dangerous Men (̶1̶9̶8̶5̶ 2005, dir. Jahangir Salehi aka John Rad)

    The opening credits in their entirety:

    A John S. Rad (Jahangir Salehi Yeganehrad) Film
    Created & Written by John Rad
    Producer: John Rad
    Original Music, Song & Lyrics: John Rad
    Executive Producer: John Rad
    Directed by John Rad

    Gotta admire a true auteur.

    John Rad was an Iranian architect-turned-filmmaker, who spent two decades filming and editing his passion project. The result is an amazing mess where plot threads disappear to make room for new ones that spring out of nowhere, the protagonist vanishes halfway through, the edit liberally switches between scenes clearly shot at least a decade apart, and the score is mainly composed of one repetitive instrumental loop that will get stuck in your brain.

    I won't even attempt to recap the plot, because this movie doesn't bow to conventional plot structure, or for that matter any kind of human logic. You have to see it to believe it. I finished my six movie marathon strong!

  28. KONG: SKULL ISLAND by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, 2017
    (a first-time viewing via WB BD)

    I've never LOOOOOVVVEEEED the big Kong/Godzilla movies, but that didn't stop me from plunking down my hard-earneds for the Criterion set, the Arrow sets or the classic Kong flicks. All this to say, I'm not moved by the idea of the modern digital reboots of what represent for me a golden age of creative problem solving to help suspend disbelief & generally make magic. Grump grump grump. But it's hot & I just watched TREASURE OF THE AMAZON so staying in the jungle was appealing. And because I usually stay away from blurbs & plot summaries regarding movies I'm probably gonna watch (it's not some ascetic practice, just not my habit), I didn't know it had a 'Nam set-up.
    All THAT to say, KONG: SKULL ISLAND might not've been the snack-destroyer I wanted, but it was the snack-destroyer I enjoyed.
    And I'm still ambivalent about the whole Kong/Godzilla reboot thingy.

  29. Robot Jox (1989)

    Been meaning to get around to a rewatch and it's leaving Prime tomorrow so today was the day to watch Stuart Gordon's Robot Jox.

    I liked Gary Graham as Sikes in Alien Nation but for some reason he looks like Billy Bob Thornton in this movie. Debating watching Real Steel later today if I have time.

  30. Roadhouse 66 (1984; dir. John Mark Robinson)

    Judge Reinhold winds up in a rockabilly road trip with Willem Dafoe that eventually settles down to a quirky hangout comedy. Would pair well with Oliver Stone’s U-Turn as the lighter film of a trying-to-get-car-fixed-in-a-desert-town double feature.

  31. Hideaway(1995)Dir: Brett Leonard

    The opening of this movie hooked me quick. Jeremy Sisto stands over his praying mother and sister and then heads upstairs to a room which is set up for a satanic ritual complete with alter and candles. Lots of candles. Incantations on the walls. The whole 9. After saying the lords prayer backwards Sisto stabs himself from a push up position in his chest as his father discovers the mother and daughter are not praying but dead and posed in that position.

    So Sisto goes to hell. Early Cgi abounds as he is judged and shown his former crimes. His ethereal form resembling a colorform with a face green screened on. He is then sent to hell by what looks like some teeth in a red saran wrapped bowl of spaghetti.

    Cut to Goldblum and his family(Christine Lahti, Alicia Silverstone) at a getaway cabin. They argue and decide to head home getting in a wreck. Goldblume dies but as he is being judged by some christmas lights behind a Vaseline covered window. Jeff is brought back by Alfred Molina and his magic serum. Sadly for Jeff after returning home he starts seeing visions of girls being murdered. Eventually seeing his own daughter through the killers eyes.

    This movie started off excellently, other than some really bad CGI and stayed good for a long while. The actors are all giving it their all. And all do really wonderful jobs with whats given. I was really enjoying this movie. It does start to dip about an hour in as it turns into a pretty standard thriller with Goldbloom trying to save Lahti and Alicia Silverstone. The killers weakness of being sensitive to light seeming to come at random intervals hurts it a bit too. Its not terrible, but its a steep decline from the beginning. And then the last 5 minutes happen.

    Goldbloom and the killer lock eyes. Goldblooms flash the christmas vaseline window light and the killers flash red saran wrap spaghetti bowl . And then the two "beings" appear in the air and begin some kind of my cgi is better than yours duel. Its really just looks like two screensavers with monster sound effects and some kids whispering. While Goldbloom fights Jeremy Sisto in a really bad choreographed fight. It goes big and it goes a bit insane. ITs not a great or even a good movie but it is really entertaining with some good performances.

    Its on Vudu

    1. Yes!! That ending sequence is very good if I remember correctly. Tense.

  32. The Warriors (1979)

    This was billed on HBO as the "Ultimate Director's Cut," but I haven't seen this since I was a kid, so I don't have any idea how this differs from the theatrical version. It's also the first time I've watched this since I've lived in New York City, and that made it a lot of fun. Initially, I thought the idea of gangs dressing up in matching costumes is a wee bit silly (there is a gang of MIMES!), but I read that Walter Hill intended for it to take place in the future, and I'm fully on board with that. The Baseball Furies are still the coolest.

  33. The Debt Collector (NetFlix)
    I decided to take a second dip from the Scott Adkins well after enjoying the heck out of Avengement. This one was not as fun, the plot kept getting in the way. The need for a new fight at each debt collection stop was a good gimmick, but when they have to play detective and develop a conscience, the movie slows way down.

    1. Check the sequel out (also on Netflix), if only to see Adkins fighting thugs in a boxing ring wearing boxing gloves (plus a loving homage/recreation of the alley fight in "They Live"). :-P It's mostly a road movie from LA to Vegas and then back to LA, but the emphasis is more on comedy and the chemistry between French and Sue than an actual plot.

  34. Jennifer's Body (2009)

    This was so much better than I thought it would be.

  35. Explorers (1985, dir. Joe Dante)

    Despite being 42-years-old, the existence of this movie somehow eluded me until recently! It was delightful and imaginative. And that moment of first contact was one of the funniest things I had seen in a long time!

    1. Its definitely a fav of children of the 70s-meet-80s like me. The backstory on it is pretty interesting..Joe talks about it on podcasts..apparently towards the end of production there was a shake up at the studio making it and they replaced several top folks..the new leaders wanted to do their projects so they basically said "Explorers is done..cut it and ship it". Joe is really bummed that they didnt let him finish it the way he wanted. BUT thats a testimony to how good he is because its still a ton of fun.

      Speaking of Joe: he's an amazingly knowledgeable cinefile and great on podcasts. Always learn alot from him

  36. AROUSED (1966, dir. Anton Holden)

    Sexploitation meets Psycho and film noir. This is some harsh stuff for 1966. A serial killer is prowling around New York City murdering prostitutes. Another prostitute, Ginny, who was a lover of one of the victims, teams up with a police detective to track down the killer. Besides the obligatory nudity and soft-core scenes, there are engaging characters and a script that moves the plot ahead. The actors are better than average, particularly the one who plays Ginny. The shots of the characters wandering around the city are reminiscent of film noir and were cleverly shot. (People on the street generally did not seem to be aware of being filmed.) Although the technical level is still rough compared to mainstream films, there is a polish to Aroused that rare for these low-budget roughies. The murder in the elevator is quite an achievement in the genre, tense and disturbing. Few films went that far in that period of time.

    There are distinctive Maniac vibes here. I would not be surprised if Bill Lustig drew inspiration from Aroused.

  37. Somehow found the time to squeeze three more movies, all sports related, into the last Free Day! on the calendar. It's nothing but gangstas and blood suckers after tonight. :-D


    12 MIGHTY ORPHANS (2021, theater)
    for the first time.

    Remember the 2000 Denzel Washington high school football "Remember the Titans"? "12 Mighty Orphans" is basically the same but substitute racism with condescension toward orphans, change Virginia in the 70's to Depression-era Texas at the height of the Dust Bowl, and replace the black coach fighting to integrate a high school with a World War I veteran (Luke Wilson as coach Rusty Russell) fighting a system of favoritism and inequity against his looked-down-upon students. There is an actual exploitation angle in the narrative about the Texas school's corrupt chief (Wayne Knight in mustache-twirler form) physically abusing the orphans under his care with wooden paddles and exploiting them as cheap labor. Anything involving Knight's comically over-the-top Frank Wynn character feels like made-up crap Hollywood loves to stick in these types of stories. I sincerely doubt the fate of the Orphans' chances to play in the final HS football game of the season hinged on a last-second call from FDR to the corrupt Texas board of HS Athletics to do him a solid. :-O

    "12 Mighty Orphans" is the perfect inspired-by-true-events biopic to see in an air conditioned theater during a hot summer afternoon (like I did), neither too stupid or too smart to make one feel like like it's a waste of the time to see it trot out all the "Rocky" tropes. It feels like the labor of love it is from New Line Cinema's Michael De Luca and Martin Sheen, who executive produced the picture and gave himself the plum role of assistant coach/team medic/narrator Doc Hall. To re-coin a phrase I've abused too much this June, "12 Mighty Orphans" 'is fine' (TM). 3 FAKE FLOUR-WRAPPED-IN-RAGS PIGSKINS (out of 3).


    Hal Needham's RAD (1986, Showtime) for the first time.

    A cult BMX flick that only got physical media releases in the past couple of years (VHS, TV airings or bootleg copies were the only ways to see it before 2020), "Rad" is a visually energetic but otherwise messy early attempt to portray the world of extreme sports on film. Since it's a Hal Needham joint the bike stunts look terrific (slow motion galore!), but you can't help but feel the director of "Smokey and the Bandit" was already slumming by the mid-80's. The story is 1,000% sports cliché not-going-to-sell-out BS contradicted by the movie itself selling out to Mongoose and 7-11 in every other shot. Bill Allen's bland lead performance doesn't help much, although seeing Cru and his friends delivering morning newspapers was dumb fun. A few supporting cast standouts (Full House's" Lori Loughlin, "The Godfather's" Talia Shire, "My Favorite Martian's" Ray Walston, etc.) keep things lively, but not even the 'Helltrack'-focused finale could keep my interest in "Rad" from waning. Strictly for the nostalgia crowd who grew up watching/renting it in the 80's. 2 SENIOR CITIZENS 'FLIPPING THE BIRD' AT 'THE MAN' (out of 5).


    SKATER GIRL (2021, Netflix) for the first time.

    In the impoverished small Indian village of Rajasthan, London-born 34-year-old unmarried tourist Jessica (Amy Maghera) comes looking for clues about her past. She bonds with Prerna (Rachel Saanchita Gupta, who is a Hindi dead ringer for "A Quiet Place's" Millicent Simmonds), a teenage girl too poor to afford a uniform and books to go to school. Along with her younger brother Ankush (Shafin Patel) and every other kid of low caste in the village, Jessica and her American friend Erick (Jonathan Readwin) are introduced to such cool things as an iPad and drawing supplies. The one thing that captivates all kids is Erick's skateboard and his skateboarding tricks, which even the shy and withdrawn Prerna takes a liking to. As the kids' love of skateboarding spreads throughout the village, the teachers and parents get upset at Jessica for bringing things from her culture into their traditional lifestyle.

    Writer/director/producer Manjari Makijany initially has fun with her gender-reversed "Footloose" template transplanted to a rural Indian village with skateboarding replacing dancing. Though there's some janky acting among the Hindi cast and the principals (especially Erick's skateboarding friends later on) the plight of Prerna's growing obsession of a sport she has to keep hidden from her parents feels at times too real and painful to watch. Contrasted with the superficial nothingness of "Rad," the joy in these Hindu kids' faces when they're learning to do basic ollies or flip-over tricks will tug at your heart. The ending of "Skater Girl" feels as fantastical as any American movie where an individual triumphs over familiar adversity, especially in a society where young women are still forced to marry at a young age against their will. The skateboarding park built for the production will be left standing, a lasting legacy of a good-bordering-on-great, coming-of-age movie delivering actual real life joy to those that need it most. :'( 4 ORPHANED PET BLACK GOATS (out of 5).

  40. Pandemonium (1982) Alfred Sole

    Ok. Everyone is doing their best. Carol Kane, Paul Reubens, Tom Smothers, Judge Reinhold and many more are all being varying degrees of awesome while the script and pacing do everything to undermine their efforts. A few genuine laughs and some semi-creative slasher spoofery are the only things, beside the fun cast, keeping it from being a total waste, but it’s close.

    1. DUDE...i saw this flick once when i was like 12 and loved it..for years i tried to find it but couldnt...i think i tracked it down at youtube at one point and was like "ummm yea, maybe this one was better during its time and place". Its crazy obscure these days and i love that you watched it!

    2. I blind bought the Vinegar Syndrome release due to my borderline obsession with Reubens, Hartman and comedy in general. Glad I watched it.

  41. Vicious Lips (1986)

    I had it on my (inexplicably mute and communicating only in text messages) radar since Pyun Day last June and since I was in the market for music-heavy 80's movies, I decided to pull the trigger.

    An all-girl new wave band (in space) and their weaselly manager have to get to a make-it-or-break-it gig halfway across the galaxy. But as luck would have it, they're travelling on the same spaceship as a psychotic serial killer, tucked away safely in his cargo bay holding cell. What can go wrong?
    The first half feels like a set-up to a slasher (in space), the second turns into Nightmare Sequence: The Movie, nothing feels very coherent, then things stop making any sense whatsoever, and then it just ends. I loved the aggressively 80s (in space!) style of the movie, though, which looks as if Pyun threw a grenade into a costume and wig storage room before starting to shoot.
    Bonus 'sploitation points for space guitars with blue electric bug zappers where headstocks should be. Very practical for playing outdoors after dark.