2021 REVENGE-SPLOITATION WORLDWIDE CINEMA, PART DEUX!My picks for Revenge! yesterday were mostly a bust (with only "Point Blank" worth future repeat viewing). So for the first Free Day! of the month I'm continuing Saturday's revenge rage train with the a bunch of movies I've seen in theaters from the NYC area, many of them also available on streaming/rental platforms.DENMARK: Anders Thomas Jensen's RIDERS OF JUSTICE (2021, Angelika Film Center) for the first time. Available for rental on Amazon Prime, VUDU, Apple TV, etc.Just saw this one a few hours ago. What I thought would be a Mads Mikkelsen-driven revenge vehicle turns out to be both darkly comedic and a heart-wrenching family drama (assuming your definition of drama includes Belarus teenage male prostitutes and "Sons of Anarchy"-style criminal gangs... in Denmark!). Mikkelsen is such a good actor he knows his Markus character (a military veteran with a certain set of skills) can disappear into the background and let a small army of Danish co-stars steal the spotlight to entertain the audience with their quirky and/or dramatic beats (depending on the context of the scene). Imagine the Lone Gunmen from "The X-Files" (who look like Jack Black, an overweight Nick Offerman and Bob Ross) assisting a Bruce Willis or Dwayne Johnson-type, repressed-emotion strong man deal with his grief with technology seemingly inspired by the CBS show "Person of Interest."Markus' teenage daughter Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg) gets accidentally dragged into her dad's revenge quest. The interactions between all these oddball-yet-relatable characters generate pathos and laugh-out loud comedy that complement a body count that would rival any Jason Statham flick. A rare/great example of a revenge movie being a jack of multiple genres/tones and nailing them all for a near-perfect dismount. 4 JUICE/SANDWICH COMBOS (out of 5).
UNITED STATES: Craig Gillespie's CRUELLA (2021, AMC Dolby Cinema) for the first time. Available for rental on Disney+ Premier Access.Caught the last showing of this one in AMC Dolby Prime to fill my weekly A-List quota. When you see a Disney movie (live action or cartoon) as a grown-up and the protagonist has a happy family unit at the start, your inner clock starts ticking on (a) how long these nice folks will remain alive and (b) how they're gonna be dispatched from the story to motivate the hero(ine) at the end. Since "Cruella" is clearly chasing after the money studios are making off of the back of iconic villains starring in theatrical vehicles ("Joker," "Harley Quinn," "Venom," etc.), the lead character presents a rare-for-Disney chance for the protagonist to actively attempt to avenge the death of her loved one as THE primary motivation. And make no mistake about it. Despite the cute sidekick overload (two CG-enhanced dogs in addition to Jasper and Horace essentially playing IMF-caliber thieves), emphasis on cool 60's and 70's fashions (backed by a greatest period hits' soundtrack) and a plot that feels like "The Devil Wears Prada" for kids (with Mark Strong a suitable replacement for Stanley Tucci), "Cruella" is a revenge movie. A bloodless and family friendly one that dabbles too many times into heist movie tropes, but revenge-driven nonetheless.I was dreading seeing "Cruella," but the Disney blockbuster quality machine won me over by the end. Special effects, music, supporting cast (every little role is cast/performed to near-perfection) and most importantly, a perfect balance between the two Emmas (Stone and Thompson, both equally strong and delightful) tilting the balance in their favor back and forth during the great made-up fashion war of the 1970's made the 135 min. running time fly. Guess Thompson being as effortlessly cool as Roberts without the B&W wigs and cooler dresses makes the former's performance the most impressive of the two, but that just means "Cruella" remains interesting and fun to watch regardless of who's backstabbing who. It's not perfect (Kirby Howell-Baptiste's character is taken for granted as Cruella's ally even though I don't remember more than two short scenes of them talking), but this one's fun enough to merit a sequel (which Disney's already working on). 4 TINY DOGS DISGUISED AS GIANT RATS (out of 5).
INDIA: Prabhu Deva's RADHE: YOUR MOST WANTED BHAI (2021, theater) for the first time. Available for rental on Apple TV.This action/cop drama/musical (135 minutes long! :-O) needs to be seen to be believed. Hell, I saw it a LOUD empty theater (as in so loud I had to cover my ears at the volume!) and I still can't believe I saw it. Starring Bollywood royalty Salman Khan (a cross between Vin Diesel's meathead body and Andrew 'Dice' Clay facial features), "Rhade" is basically "Action Jackson" crossed with "Bad Boys" and a heavy-handed anti-drug message about the dangers of narcotics hooking young Hindu kids into a life of addiction. A consistent thread or even tone? FUCK THAT! We get the expected fantabulous musical sequences Bollywood blockbusters are known for, which give Mr. Kan ample opportunities to take off his shirt and show off his (CG enhanced?) upper muscularity. One moment we're in a silly exchange of stereotypical banter between the police captain (who has had it with Radhe's unorthodox tactics) and his troops, the next we're in a graphic bloodbath when out-of-town drug dealers want to turn college students into dealers.I have no idea whether "Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai" is an outlier or an average representation of what passes as an orgy-of-ripoffs musical action movie in India. All I know is that every other scene is a blast because you can see the direct-lift American blockbuster the filmmakers are stealing it from (bathroom brawl: "Mission: Impossible - Fallout") but put their own spin on. The women are unbelievably gorgeous, especially Disha Patani as the sister of Rhade's captain that doesn't want them to be together... until he wants them to. I seldom see Bollywood features at cinemas the States, but whenever I do I feel the thrill I used to have as a kid of going to the movies and getting no effen idea what I'm getting into. But this? This is a JUNESPLOITATION! factory working at full capacity. 3.5 GAY PHOTOGRAPHERS PASSING OUT (out of 5).
UNITED STATES: MORTAL KOMBAT (2021, theater) for the first time.This is the "Mortal Kombat" movie that we should have gotten back in 1995: 'R' rated bloody, cheesy and dumb popcorn fun. I don't think it's cause for celebration that it's taken 26 years to go 3 for 3, or that the lore of the videogame series (which is considerably bloodier and more violent than anything in this new movie) is pushed into the background for a made-up new character (Lewis Tan's Cole Young) who is a wet fart as the lead. It's nice that Asian minorities are now represented and more prominent, but having Tadanobu Asano play Lord Raiden doesn't make him as fun to watch as Christopher Lambert. Still, every other character (Josh Lawson's Kano, Hiroyuki Sanada's Scorpion, etc.) wants revenge on another combatant (Jessica McNamee's Sonya Blade, Joe Taslim's Sub-Zero, etc.) or just wants to rip another fighter to pieces for shits and giggles. Good enough I guess. 3 SPIT-COVERED GARDEN GNOMES (out of 5).
IRAN: Mohammad Rasoulof's THERE IS NO EVIL (2021, New York's Film Forum) for the first time. Available for Virtual Cinema Rental.Making a good movie is a tough-enough boulder to push up a hill. Making an omnibus feature with four separate stories sharing no characters, sets or even genres is an even steeper hill. But to film them in secret for two years in Iran knowing this international release would land you in jail and get banned from making movies for several years? That takes balls and a moral center guiding you through a filmmaking process that could potentially end your life. Which is why "There Is No Evil" could be pardoned for not being a coherent indictment against the death penalty (the only thematic similarity between the four separate stories). But in their unique way the four separate mini-movies here are all masterpieces of maximizing resources under stressful conditions. One feels like the day in the life of a humble middle-class family that culminates in a morbid punchline. Another starts as a prison break and ends as a love letter to Jean-Luc Godard's 'lovers on the run' celebration of youth. Most importantly, writer/director Mohammad Rasoulof doesn't use "There Is No Evil" to directly preach against the death penalty. It just sets stories in the real world and has characters (most of them likable and/or relatable as regular people) have their lives affected by off-camera decision makers who shape their existence. A slow-moving and sensitive drama that, by the end, will make you glad people like Rasoulof risk their lives for stories like this to be told. And yes, revenge (subtle and understated) rears its ugly head in the last, tense-as-hell final segment. 4 CG FOXES (out of 5).
A Something Weird Video voyeurism double feature with exploitation director Lee Frost. THE ANIMAL (1968) Sleazy sexploitation about a man named Ted. Ted has some issues, particularly when it comes to women. He desires them and hates them at the same time. When he comes home at night, he is either smoking pot, making dirty phone calls, watching his female neighbors through a telescope, or getting his sexual gratification from prostitutes. One of his neighbors, a woman named Joan, especially catches his fancy, and Ted ends up stalking her. Ted blackmails her, by threatening to kill her son, to participate in his voyeuristic games. The situation gets worse for everyone from that point on. Lee Frost knew how to make a scuzzy skin flick that gets under your skin. On a technical level, The Animal is as well made as a sexploitation films get, using both black and white and color film. ZERO IN AND SCREAM (1970) Lee Frost takes elements of the story of The Animal for the structure of Zero In And Scream. The result this time is a far less engaging film. Instead of the voyeuristic shots coming from a telescope, they are from the viewpoint of a rifle. A sniper is terrorizing the Hollywood hills, and the police have no clue who it is. The sniper, about whom the film reveals very, likes to frequent a certain strip club. He becomes smitten with one of the dancers and tries to develop a connection with her. Unfortunately, around a half-hour of the 63-minute running time for is taken up with strippers dancing or soft-core sex scenes. It seems like, by 1970, the sex had to be more prominent than the plot. Things get more than a little tedious. The big reveal about the sniper’s motive is not satisfying, and the film ends as abruptly as it can. Even by the low standards of sexploitation, Zero In And Scream disappoints.Because of my displeasure with the last film, I decided to make it a triple feature.SIN IN THE SUBURBS (1964, dir. Joe Sarno)What do a group of bored and dissatisfied housewives in the suburbs do to put some excitement in their lives? Join a secret society of swingers, of course. Joe Sarno’s classic sexploitation melodrama involves much more than sex. Relationships are the focus, with the disconnection between husband and wife at the heart of the story. Coming from the mid-1960s, Sin in the Suburbs does not show a lot flesh. Sometimes not showing much adds to a scene, though. A first-time watch that was a long time coming.
Resident Evil, Paul W. S. Anderson, 2002I've never actually seen a Resident Movie. So I thought my Free Space Days would be perfect for checking them out. First of all the Original Resident Evil is the most 2002 movie to ever 2002. But I had a good time. I like Milla Jovoich as a screen presence. Though with this, Monster Hunter and Anderson's Death Race I am curious if I am a secret Paul W. S. Anderson fan......
that is interesting haha! I too watched RE for the first time within the last year, and liked it, and I do like the Death Race re-do and I wasn't even aware he did it. So I guess I need to see Monster Hunter...
If you were married to Milla Jovovich and could get away with, you'd also make movies starring your muse (aka meal ticket). 😛😁
Sudden Fury, dir Brian Damude, 1975There are some really nice 19 Canadian 70s mustaches in Sudden Fury. That and the plaid jackets are almost worth the price of admission. That and this is a fantastic movie. It's all well in good wanting to leave your wife to die after a car crash, but since this is Canada, everybody wants to help. Sudden Fury is one of those movies where your not entirely sure where it's going to go next. Such a solid little movie.
Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse, dir Alexander Witt, 2004.Is it just me or does Apocalypse have a similar plot to Army of the Dead?
Free Space Days are going to be me catching up on the days I missed so:Henry Silva - The Italian Connection:As my first Fernando di Leo movie I had high expectations and initally, I was pretty disappointed. Seemed like a subpar poliziotechi (if that's how you spell it) and dragged for about 50 mintues. I could imagine that first 50 being a blast with a crowd, but it was mostly just minor amusements. Then the car chase happens... The infamous car chase where a man beats his own skull through a windshield and drags the driver through it. And from that point on, for the next 40 minutes, it is pure joy - a wonderful discovery... A gift that keeps on giving. Henry Silva is sort of barely in it given that he's set up to be the main character - but the movie is bookended with him - set up as James Bond and ending in a very bad place indeed.Having said all that about how the first 50 mintues kinda dragged - they were also exceptionally stylish and very well directed, just not very interesting or fun plotwise. But its di Leo's direction of that first 50 minutes and definitely his direction of the last 40 minutes that makes me want to seek out more of his work.
Free Space Days are going to be me catching up on the days I missed so:Revenge - Hunting Ground by Jorge GrauThis is a movie very very opposed to my politics and worldview... but then again, so are so many movies I enjoy. I couldn't watch a Clint Eastwood movie if I let my personal politcs get in the way and in fact I think it might be the opportunity to live in a fantasy world of the right wing for 90 minutes that is the appeal... From the safety of my living room I can experience a gloriously angry worldview where guns solve all, vigilante justice is the only justice that matters and two warring factions can battle it out for supremacy.Hunting Ground works on this anger-fantasy level... A female lawyer (I emphasise female, because it does matter in terms of this movie) opens the film by giving a passionate but ludicrous speech about how murderers should be set free because it is society that made them. She then has to learn her lesson when her house is broken into and her family murdered. She takes vengeance with a shotgun. It is extraordinarily well directed and has many dreamy sequences that are unusual in this genre but work very well... This is to be expected from the director of Let Sleeping Corpses Lie... So, if, like me, you enjoy living in the shoes of the angry and the insufferable, if only for a little while, so you can watch people mette out their own form of justice - this new Mondo Macabro blu ray release is a must for you.
After Midnight (2019 - Jeremy Gardner)This movie is stunningly well crafted. A small, nice little peek into a defunct relationship and a pair that really tries to hold it together, all while a monster comes visiting at night. A nice combo of love and horror and an incredibly beautiful poster. This was my free day pic because I've heard good things about it, and I wasn't disappointed. I'm unsure if I really liked the very last moments, though.3 out of 4 asshole cops at the dinner table.
Intruder 1989I've been circling this movie for years and thanks to the first Free Space! day I have finally caught up with it. It is quite the mixed bag of a movie so here we go. The fights are really awful. They play like scenes out of the early days of television. The killer and their purpose are a bit of a tough sell with the screenplay lacking support for what happens. It takes a little while to get going and we could use those early scenes to connect a little more with the characters. The effects are so much fun though! Inventive kill methods and quality practical work on what looks to be a small budget elevate this to a good watch. The cast isn't given much on the page but they are fun and manage to seem like 20 somethings who work in a grocery store. The idea of a killer attacking the night crew at a grocery store is strength and utilized well. The biggest selling point of course is seeing a bunch of household movie names at work in their early years. It doesn't reach the heights of Chopping Mall but it feels like they deserve to be playing as a drive in double feature. Tons of fun and worth watching with friends.
Army of the Dead (2021) - 5/10 unexplained robot zombies
WAR (2007, dir. Philip G. Atwell)JetLiVersusJasonStathamSploitation!I'm planning to watch more Statham and Li this month, so starting with a movie starring them both seemed perfect. I know the main complaint with this one is it doesn't nearly reach the fighting potential of these two martial arts legends facing off, but knowing that going in I wasn't bothered by it. I really liked WAR as an intense crime thriller with two great stars at the front. Jet Li just defines cool in this movie, and Jason Statham gives a great angry asshole performance (as he often does). I'm also happy I didn't know the twist going in because it really elevated the whole thing. I'm a fan!
FOUR-MOVIES-THAT-HAVE-NOTHING-IN-COMMON-SPLOITATION!Carry On Nurse (1959, dir. Gerald Thomas)A cadre of eccentric male patients in a hospital ward joke around, gamble, ogle at the pretty nurses, fall in love, try to avoid the strict Matron's wrath, get drunk, and decide to practice some self-surgery.I'd never seen a Carry On movie before, so thought I'd civilize myself. It's certainly of its time. Not one laugh-out-loud moment here, but it's still 80 minutes filled with pleasant hijinks and wordplay.The Finnish title translates as Laughing Gas and Pretty Girls.The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009, dir. Chris Weitz)Watched it with Blank Check Podcast's commentary featuring director Chris Weitz. Weitz has some fun stories from the set and recounts both highs and lows with sobriety and humor. The movie, on the other hand, is bad.Merkitty (1984, dir. Ismo Sajakorpi)A young woman attends a séance, where a medium announces one of the attendees may be "the marked one". Later, after a breakup, she commits suicide, but mysteriously comes back to life in the morgue. Afterwards, she's haunted by a ghostly figure of an undertaker. Meanwhile, a young doctor attracted to her tries desperately to figure out what happened.Written and directed by a member of a well-known Finnish comedy and music troupe wanting to branch out, this was originally meant to be the pilot episode for a horror anthology series, which never got a second episode.Some of the horror sequences are genuinely creepy, others just laughable. Sajakorpi isn't coy about displaying his influences from Hammer and Twilight Zone. Definitely a lot of promise here, a shame Sajakorpi's horror career didn't go beyond one short miniseries after this.Office Space (1999, dir. Mike Judge)Felt like finishing the day with a comedy. It's great when it's making small observations about office work or whenever Gary Cole or Stephen Root are on screen. Not so great when there's any kind of actual plot going on.
Very disappointed that Merkitty just translates to 'marked' and that the movie isn't about a mermaid kitten.
Death of a Snowman (1976) aka Snow PatrolHave been meaning to watch this for a few Junesploitations now, but the print is eh. Reporter and a cop team up to expose the War on Crime organization. Convoluted plot, excellent James Blood Ulmer style score, terribly poor dialogue, so it’s basically everything you’d want. A little slow, but the overall “feel” of this one is gritty and intriguing enough to keep one invested. Watched from a stream on Plex, so not the best copy.
The Astrologer (1975) I’m always chasing the dragon, so to speak, when it comes to weird movies and no high has eluded me more often than 1975’s borderline insane vanity project The Astrologer. The Junesploitation month gave me the opportunity to finally sit down and experience something I've been waiting on for years. Trying to find it led me to discover the other 1975 movie with the same title, which is also known as Suicide Cult. That film, in which a government agent tries to use biorhythms to find the Antichrist, may be the strangest movie I’ve ever seen.And then I watched this.The Astrologer is the very definition of a lost film, one that went away forty years ago and only was discovered again when a 35mm print was amongst a thousand pornographic movies that were donated to the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA). I can’t even imagine what it was like to be in the first few screenings of this movie, which starts somewhat normally and then suddenly lurches into heights of psychotronic madness the likes of which I have never seen before.Trust me. I’ve been caught in hype for movies before, but this time, the time and energy and sheer waiting that this movie engendered all paid off. If anything, The Astrologer is even better than I thought it would be. Imagine if Miami Connection was not about how martial arts can save the world, make better friendships and repair families, but instead that auteur madness drove one man to make a movie about a carnival con man who learns that he really does have psychic powers when he isn’t becoming the President’s fortuneteller, a diamond smuggler, a movie star, a producer and a murderer.Supposedly, the making of this movie was based on the aforementioned numerology, with even the numbers on cabs, how many people appear in scenes and even the length of cuts all based on important numerological concepts. Also, there was no script, other than the story that was credited to Dorothy June Pidgeon, but instead, horoscopes that were scried each day would determine what was filmed.Denney plays Craig Marcus Alexander, who we first meet as a helicopter flies above a carnival, where we learn that he’s gone from picking purses to fleecing people via fake psychic shows to getting married to Darrien (Darrien Earle, who was Denney’s cousin and a restaurant owner who was married at one point to Lee Iaccoca****) to being told about stealing diamonds to being in jail for the second time for jewel theft. If it seems like we’ve missed big moments in time and that things have escalated quickly, just hold on. This rollercoaster is only going to get faster. And stranger.While in Kenya, Alexander takes the gems that will bankroll his empire, defeating corrupt cops, quicksand and cobras to sail to America — always sailing, a movie more obsessed with sailing than Christoper Cross in 1980 — to start his new career becoming the world’s most famous astrologer. He does this by allowing a woman to down in said quicksand and selling another for a boat, which we watch sail endlessly as ripped calendar pages fly at us while listening to the Moody Blues “Tuesday Afternoon.” Keep in mind the music in this movie, as we’ll get to it in a bit.At this point, you may think that you have watched five movies worth of material. Nope. It's just getting started.When he isn’t conducting secret missions for the Navy, Alexander has become a multi-media mogul, making the movie of his life within, well, the movie of the life of the real Denney. To make sure that his money is safe, our psychic protagonist hires his friend Arthyr to be in charge of his cash, which is weird because the man has a tenth-grade education, but Alexander remarks that there’s no difference between ten bucks and ten million dollars, which is the most false statement that nearly anyone has ever uttered ever.There's so much more than I can find into the character count of this post, so read way way more at https://bandsaboutmovies.com/2021/06/06/junesploitation-2021-the-astrologer-1976/
Where can we find this? 🤩 I'm sold, but can you point us in the right direction, oh B&S one? 😉😁
There’s an archive.org link in the article on our page.
Black Moon Rising (1986)Tommy Lee Jones is a hotshot I’m not sure what bounty hunter? Fixer? Tracker for the FBI? Regardless, he needs to get this sick ass mixtape back for the feds and foolishly stashes it in a super car. Yes, a super car. Linda Hamilton then steals said super car and I’ll let you take it from there. Apparently, John Carpenter worked on this script and you’d think he did the score as well (he did not) which kicks ass. Great first time watch.
ANGEL 2: AVENGING ANGEL (1985) The infamous schoolgirl-by-day-prostitute-by-night returns to her double life to investigate the death of her cop friend. As with the first movie, the erotic thriller stuff isn’t nearly as interesting as the goofball humor among all the kooky characters who wander the streets at night, and their unlikely friendships with each other. I mean, when you’ve got Betsy Russell and Susan Tyrell in the same scene, you know you’re in for a quirky good time. Yeah, I guess I actually liked this one. 30 days of Chinese fantasy movies, day 6 ELEGANT MAGE (2021) A young mage who wields powerful magic has grown up knowing nothing of the outside world. To stop evil forces at work, he travels to a modern-day high-tech city to investigate. Lots of fun fish-out-of-water stuff, with the supporting characters’ romantic comedy bits taking precedence over the fantasy action. The CGI is really low budget, which is probably why we don’t see much of it. This means it’s more about the characters, and… it’s fine.
Loved the first Angel, definitely need to seek out Avenging Angel. Isn’t there a third entry as well?
If Wikipedia is to believed, there are four of them.
Mechanic: Resurrection (2016, dir. Dennis Gansel)Not as bad as I was expecting from the reputation but easily the worst of the 3 installments. Statham makes it watchable enough. Michelle Yeoh is wasted, she should've been allowed to get in on some of the action.
No joke, this movie just aired Saturday night duubbed in Spanish in primetime (9-11pm) on Telemundo. 😲😵
Shaft (2000, dir. John Singleton) Maybe it is due to just being late 90's NYC opposed the raw 70's version of the city but I felt it was missing the sense of place. This felt like it could've been happening anywhere. Sam Jack and the supporting cast are all good, though I could've used a bit more Richard Roundtree.
DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)The cognitive dissonance of going from Promising Young Woman to what is essentially Male Gaze: The Motion Picture is certainly striking but that being said, this is a wildly entertaining pile of nonsense. This movie had me right from the start, as one of the first scenes presents a woman beating the holy hell out of a roomful of bad guys while putting on her bra. That’s some good Junesploitationin’ right there (even confined as it is within the boundaries of the PG-13 rating). The plot is basic video game silliness (because of course it’s based on a video game) featuring a mystical fighting tournament, mystical warriors, mystical hambone villains and, of course, mystical bikini volleyball. Really. With DOA-branded equipment and everything. Oh, and mystical Eric Roberts (which is the best kind of Eric Roberts). Have I mentioned I love this movie? Because I’m pretty sure I love this movie. In fact I’m gonna go watch it again right now just to be sure.
I told you ;)
You did! I owe you one**(bikini volleyball game)
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Gloria (1980, dir. John Cassavetes)WHAT A MOVIE! I have been working my way through Cassavetes directorial filmography this year, and this one was a total surprise, who knew he and Gena Rowlands could create one of the most badass action adventure movies of all time! Rowlands is a revelation as the protector of a young boy who's family is killed by the mob. She was nominated for an Oscar, rightfully so. This movie is basically a non-stop chase through NYC filled with one suspenseful encounter after another. The final scene brought tears to my eyes. Cannot recommend Gloria highly enough.
John Cassavetes did an action-y, grindhouse-y movie starring Gena Rowlands? 🤯😳 I had no idea! Will l be forced to turn over my cinephile card and hang my head in shame? Only if l don't seek out "Gloria" out. 🥲
Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976) On Amazon Prime for 4 more days.I have to say that having never really watched Wonder Woman, I've never had much of an opinion on Lynda Carter beyond thinking she looked kind of attractive in a somewhat goofy looking superhero costume. After watching Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw I get it. Now I wish she hadn't been largely relegated to TV shows and TV movies after this.Anyhow this is a Mark Lester joint about about a couple (Carter and the supremely mismatched Marjoe Gortner), along with a friend (Belinda Balaski!) and another couple who end up on an increasingly escalating crime spree. And if that isn't enough, Gerrit Graham shows up in a bit part also.One of my Junesploitation highlights so far this month.
Running Scared (2006) Goodness this movie is good. I always knew it was good, but like, dang, its probably great. Thrills, (legit) chills, and good character actors galore. Genre QUEEN Vera Farmiga. Love the IMDB trivia about how Paul Walker was feeling down about how bad the movie was doing at the box office and came home one day with a message from Tarantino praising him and the movie.
Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021, dir. Taylor Sheridan) The fire plays less of a role than I thought it would. All of those years watching Medium meant that I had a huge attachment to Jake Weber in “worried dad” mode. Reminds me of the movies I would catch on TV in the middle of a school day. Also, I feel like playing Firewatch again.
A QUIET PLACE TO KILL (1970, dir. Umberto Lenzi)Lenzi’s ultra-crazy genre work is fine, but I just love these erotic dramas he made with Carroll Baker. They’re not really Giallo in the traditional sense, but are so well-made, and have a terrific ‘60s vibe. This one is a ton of fun, packed with wild twists and over-the-line sleaze.
Snitch (2013, dir. Ric Roman Waugh)Ric Roman Waugh is one of those directors I never think about but with this, Shot Caller, & Greenland has shown he's a skilled action director. In particular there is a semi-truck crash in this that looks pretty rad.
Robo Vampire (1988)Well, you can’t fault someone for really swinging for the fences. From what I gather, this may be two films spliced together. There is plenty of action though to make up for the non-sensical plot and once the robot suit comes out, it’s super fun. This movie feels more like 1978 than ‘88 which is charming I suppose.
Un Chien Andalou (1929)The only film of Luis Buñuel's that I had seen before this was The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and I loved it! This is similarly spectacular in that it came out in 1929, 43 years before it! I can't wait to really dive into his filmography but I had to start at the beginning. I've heard this is one of the films that changed filmmaking and I can totally see that.
Stagecoach (1939)If you didn't understand why John Wayne was a movie star, you should see his entrance in this film. I have a lot of love for John Ford and this was really good. I think The Grapes of Wrath is probably my favorite of his followed by The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. There are a few that I didn't vibe with but I had a good time with this one.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)I like the first two but this one was pretty unfocused and lacking the emotion of the earlier entries. It's not terrible but Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson can only do so much.
Dreamscape(1984) Joseph RubenFirst time viewing in a long time. Liked it more as a kid still has some cool scenes and ideas like the snake man and the presidents nightmares but other things don't hold up as well. A scene where Quaid invades Capshaw's dreams was really off putting. She calls him out for it but the movie glances over it really quickly and turns it into some kind of meet cute. Granted it isn't as bad as some 1984 movies but still bothersome. Other than that its still a pretty fun watch but a lot of that admittedly is from nostalgia.
MICKEY BLUE EYES (1999, dir. Kelly Makin)A 1999 mafia comedy starring Hugh Grant and James Caan. Yes, it’s fantastic and super fun.
The Living Skeleton (1968)Directed by Hiroshi MatsunoWhat was 1968 low-budget Japanese horror made of?Hilarious miniature freighter model work done in a bathtub, jittery plastic bats with clearly visible wires they didn’t attempt to hide,underwater plastic skeletons interrupting the “love scuba” scene, reused twice, go-go dancers cheesecake a-plenty, super period “groovy” instrumental themes weirdly ripping off John Barrry’s James Bond theme,Asao Uchida’s hyper-exaggerated, twitchy, comic performance, Kikko Matsuoka’s actually good performance, the film was smart enough to know Catholic priests are shady, a truly preposterous bald-cap,a pretty good death-by-acid sequence,an actually startling twist I didn’t see coming, and the whole movie doesn’t make much sense.That’s what 1968 low-budget Japanese horror was made of…Pretty good.Junesploitation 2021 schedule:https://boxd.it/caPy8
Silat Warriors:Deed of Death- Silat is just such a gorgeous martial art that it papers over a lot. Brutal fights, but I do wish the lead wasn't such a doucheThe Battleship Island- Ryoo Seung-Wan hits yet again. My favorite Korean director drops a staggering war movie. Tough to watch but totally worth it.Deliver Us From Evil: A combination of Taken and No Country For Old Men, fine Korean style. An assassin tries to rescue his kidnapped daughter while being pursued by another hitman bent on revenge. Rock solid action and another great performance from Hwang Jung-min
Matinee (1993) Wonderful love letter to the movies made more special because it was my first time back in a theater since March of 2020. John Goodman was never better and the film engages in a lively debate about real versus made-up horrors.The Tingler (1959) Nothing in the history of American film better than Vincent Price narrating his own acid trip; a squishy, rubbery monster, and the audience itself commanded to “scream for their lives” if they want to survive the film.
I saw the same double feature as JB, who said it all better than me. It was great to see MATINEE on 35mm for the first time since 1993. It remains one of my very favorite movies.
I wanted to have a common theme for my Free Space days this year, so I decided to go with "80s musicals I should have really seen by now, but somehow haven't".Little Shop of Horrors (1986)Starting with the most obvious one. Not much to say here, really. Just your standard, run-of-the-mill story about a boy and his gigantic human-devouring plant from outer space. The songs are cute, the plant monster is super fun, the cast is great (Rick Moranis was such a national treasure, and Ellen Greene's vocal delivery shouldn't be physically possible), the set design is beautifully shabby, and the puppet work is first class (with Frank Oz directing, how could it not). The abusive boyfriend part has aged really poorly, but other than that, this little gem of vintage 80s weirdness is a near-perfect mix of comedy, horror and camp.
The 'Burbs (1989)I wouldn't let Ricky Butler paint a dog house. Pretty sure I never spotted Nicky Katt before this zillionth viewing. 998/1000 femurs.
Streets of Fire (1984) Dir: Walter Hill1984 was such a great year for movies. SO many classics it seems some movies have gotten lost or never got their dues. Streets of Fire is one of those movies. Perfectly paced it opens with a concert and before you even know who anyone is William Dafoe and his gang kidnap her right in the middle of the concert. From there the movie doesn't stop. Action, Rock and Roll, Bill Paxton, Ej Daily, tough talking Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan as a bad ass, Micheal Pare at his best and Dafoe in leather overalls. This move has everything. I mean it evens has the girl that did all of Jennifer Beals dancing in FlashDance. If you haven't seen this then go. Its on Netflix.
"William Dafoe and his gang kidnap her right in the middle of the concert"her being Diane Lane.
Hot Shots! dir. AbrahamsAlthough not as good as his collaborations with the Zuckers, still very silly and funny.
I went with Road to Perdition on a limb and was pretty delighted. I initially picked it embracing the “you can watch anything aspect” of the month but after finishing it I think this is at its heart a full fledged genre film taking the form of a more serious film. (This is what I also thought about American Beauty when I recently watched that). Scanning the meta critic reviews some critic even uses the term dime novel pejoratively. But the fact that this work is based on a graphic novel and Michael Jr. is shown reading the lone ranger makes me believe it at some level embraces that pulp attitude. But then it simultaneously feels like Sam Mendes fully in Oscar mode and thinks he’s making high art. And that kind of mixture works super super well in my opinion. DETAILED SPOILERS AHEAD. You’ll have a scene where Paul Newman is killed by Hanks in the slow motion rain after Hanks guns down every individual body man before tearfully killing his father figure as only orchestral music plays. The straight face the film plays this utterly ridiculous moment in is pure pulp. Then when it comes to the death scene of Daniel Craig, who is next on the list and by far the bigger villain soby movie rules should thusly be killed in an even more spectacular way, Hanks just wordlessly shoots him. So the film simultaneously is playing it straight and being genuinely self aware. Ebert very interestingly compares it a greek tragedy and contrasts it to The Godfather, which he says is more about characters with free will. But I feel like Mendes really did want to make something like The Godfather and comes pretty damn close but fumbles just enough that it looks kind of embarrassing.So then the final few moments blend the two moods together in such quick succession it fucks with you a little bit. Tom Hanks and his son make it to the beach (or a beach i honestly don’t remember them planning to head to a beach) and in his first moment of relaxation he’s killed by Jude Law. But he survives long enough to watch his son corner Law with a gun. The film holds on this moment of whether the son will become a murder like his father. Hanks mutters to his son not to and you think the film is going to end on a deeply ironic note before a gun shot is heard but gasp Hanks killed him. The son mutters that he couldn’t do it and Hanks says that’s good. THEN the bookending voice over returns and the kid seriously says something along the lines of “I could see my dad was only afraid of me following the same path he did. I’ve never touched a gun since”. So returning to The Godfather comparisons it would be like if Vito snapped out of his coma, killed Sollozzo and Mclusky himself, and then immediately fel down in a tomato garden. Still it worked for me super well and any awkwardness I could adjust for.I was also thinking that Hanks’ performance is such a real example of acting against type.It really clarified to me the difference between acting against type and really good casting/directing which presents that type in a new way. On the Creepshow podcast y’all talk about Leslie Nielsen not playing against type necessarily but adjusting his charm in a different direction. In this movie Tom Hanks completely abandons any and all charm. It honestly doesn’t work all the time but like the movie it won me over. Also his son is played by Tyler Hoechlin who gives one of the best performances in Everybody Wants Some!! His character in that movie slices through a baseball, in midair, with an axe, TWICE in a row and he plays it off so effortlessly I have no doubt it somehow contributed to him becoming Superman on the CW. I ended up writing a lot more than I thought I would but I haven’t participated in Junesploitation much so I really wanted to make one work even if I had to make it work on free space day. I hope I can double up and go back to some from the first week that I missed.
Looking forward to more of your detailed reviews, William S. :-)
The Ice Pirates(1984) Dir: Stewart RafillAnd so finished my unplanned marathon "Movies I haven't seen in a long time that all came out in 1984".Ok so this is one I haven't seen in any format but on vhs. I forgot how much this plays like a actual pirate movie. Plenty of swashbuckling to be had and a couple of the set pieces are pretty fun. The desert planet being a highlight. The production design is all pretty good with the exception of some of the robots. The cast all seem game too. John Matuszak as a really positive thief and Angelica Houston as the resident bad ass of the crew stood out most. Watch for a young Ron Perlman but be prepared to mute the movie when Bruce Valanch comes on screen. Bruce is a very funny writer. I even enjoyed the documentary "get Bruce". That said Bruce is not an actor and his character will grate your nerves. I really did want to like this movie. But it had some problems. Problem like its comedy having a higher ratio of misses than hits. One way out of place n-bomb, which is called out and corrected but really had no need to be in the movie. The ending features a couple of good time travel comedy bits like the characters hair doing 20 years of growth and greying and the son being born and saving the day all in about five minutes of real time it still cant help the ending from feeling really anti-climatic. They exit the time field/warp, give a throwaway line that the bad guys were off by a degree and are trapped. Roll credits. I don't mean to sound to hard on it as I said there is some good things in this but unless you can catch it streaming for free or on mgmhd or HBO there is no need to go out of your way to see it.
Intruder (Scott Spiegel, 1989)How is this movie not in more favorite slashers lists? This baffles me. Intruder (from the Raimi squad) is a lot more fun and inventive than many better known slashers, that I hear about a LOT more. The setting (a closed supermarket at night) is great, I love that we get a first half of just hanging out there with the cast, the gnarly gore effects (Berger, Kurtzman, Nicotero!) made me chuckle more than once, and there are some really terrific shots in there (some really creative, some funny, but one -the killer running alongside the final girl in slow-mo- utterly creepy). Now, where do I find a can of Beer©?
Assassination Nation i just watched this and was kinda blown away. holy cow. i know patrick you’ve been beating the drum for this movie since it came out. i see why.
Yes! Happy to hear you liked it. I've been too afraid to revisit it so I'm glad it works for someone else. Maybe I'm not crazy.
Adam's Rib (1949)Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn are married AND lawyers. They come upon a case where they must face off against each other in the courtroom. They answer the question "should you be able to shoot your husband if he sucks?"
Room at the Top (1959)A drama about an accountant trying to decide between two women isn't usually up my alley. This surprisingly hooked me in to where I actually cared about how who he ended up with. There's not a lot to it but wasn't a waste of time.
The Learning Tree (1969)Written and Directed by Gordon Parks, it's the first major American studio film directed by an African-American. It's a great film that should be talked about more often, mostly because I've never heard of it.
Caveat (2020)Could you come watch my sister for a week? It's not weird and totally normal. By that I mean you have to get on this boat and head to this island. Like I said, it'll be even more normal when we get on my totally isolated island shack.