Thursday, June 30, 2022

Junesploitation 2022 Day 30: DTV!


  1. Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman's NEPTUNE FROST (2021, theater, 105 min.) for the first time. It had a very limited theatrical release since early June (it's playing in a single AMC theater in NYC's Harlem, where I just saw it last night), so it should be coming to streaming sites relatively soon.

    I skipped 'Sword & Sorcery' day due to a last-minute family medical emergency, which is still ongoing but there's nothing I can do about it. :'( I had absolutely nothing planned for Direct-to-Video (thought was gonna skip this day too), so my parting Junesploitation! 2022 feature is this one-of-a-kind science fiction, Afropunk musical from Rwanda (in multiple languages and dialects, so everything's subtitled) that's equal parts endurance test, intersex/LGBTQ pride statement, protest against capitalism and hacker-takes-over-the-world visual/emotional allegory. At times it's clear we're watching dream sequences, but more often than not the fluid narrative makes early events that seemed fantastical (musical instruments playing at a mine/quarry, a pastor killed for propositioning a miner, a motorcycle accident, etc.) come back as launching points for bigger statements. Multiple actors play the same protagonist (Neptune) as different genders, characters killed early (Tekno, whose name is no accident) come back to life as ideals powering a movement rather than a person, and this must have set a record for number of characters flipping the bird at countries/economies that take advantage of Africa's woes to enrich their people... even during the film's only passionate kiss.

    Though it boasts well-known people as producers (Ezra Miller, Lin-Manuel Miranda, etc.) this is a unique vision that might not appeal to everybody. I dug "Neptune Frost" in the spirit of Junesploitation! that it reflects a particular group of artists' passion. And hey, it makes a lot more sense than Cronenberg's "Crimes of the Future" atrocity. :-P It's not DTV, but it inhabits that middle ground between pro-sumer and low-budget artistic intent punching above its meager budget. 3 INVISIBLE FORCE FIELDS WITH MUSICAL TONES (out of 5).

    And another Junesploitation! ends. This was a rough one. Five of my reviews are still not being allowed by Blogger even though I've re-written them from scratch. Guess the key words and/or particular names are triggers for blocking. Splitting time between work (and the daily four-hour commute coming/going to work), my still-growing YouTube Channel, family obligations (including the medical emergency) and Junesploitation! really took its toll on the last one. I really wanted to dig deep into my 3D Blu-ray collection and exploit the large number of David Hasselhoff movies on TUBI, particularly early 90's action beauties. I just plain didn't have time to get to them. Oh well, hopefully next Junesploitation! Blogger will not be such a huge dick to us, and I'll be able to better manage my limited time. Loved reading ALL your reviews, this is my favorite year-round thing here at F This Movie. Even if fewer people posted this June than in years past, it's the intent and fun of participating that counts. Looking forward to next year already. :-)

    1. I hope you and your family will pull through - I wish you the absolute best.

      The movie you're talking about sounds... interesting at least, I'll give it a look if I can get it on some streaming services (I'm not actively buying Blu-rays anymore). =)

    2. Oh, just one question: I am on your channel, but what is that all about? Old concerts/commercials/shows of Mexican television?

    3. There are always those films that you would have liked to watch, J.M. For me, deciding on what to see for the free days is always the worst. There so many candidates in my head. This month was no different, but sometimes you have to go with what you are in the mood to see. Though a couple of free days did not follow my plans, I am content with what I saw.

      The Blogger difficulties were certainly not welcome. Fortunately, there was only one day that I had serious issues. It looks like you had more than that. I hope that did not discourage people from trying to post here. The lighter traffic in the posts was noticeable this month. The Twitter postings did not seem as numerous this year, too.

    4. Derk, it's a Spanish YT channel about TV from El Salvador (where l'm originall)y from) in the 1980's and 90's as recorded by me and relatives on VHS, and specifically about one TV program (Domingo Para Todos, aka Sunday for Everybody) that lasted from 1987 to 2021 (34 1/2 years). It's basically a huge nostalgia bomb for a very narrow number of people, but l feel passionate about the topic and we're close to the magic 1,000 subscriber number. 😎🤓

      Casual, maybe it's lousy timing all around. But between the negative feelings toward recent movies (Lightyear, JW Dominion), the Blogger technical difficulties and my personal issues this year Junesoloitation! really felt like a chore. I still love it, but next year l'm putting the YouTube channel on ice for a month or taking time off from work. No way am l trying to do all three things simultaneously next year! 🤯🥵

    5. Sorry to hear that you're going through rough stuff- wish y'all the best recovery- and sorry to hear it's been a tough month overall- I've certainly looked forward to your post each day, they really set a great tone for a first timer like myself!!

    6. Even with few life distractions, the commitment for Junesploitation is not easy. When there is life to deal with, getting into the mindset to watch movies can be a big challenge. Hopefully, next year circumstances are better, J.M. I was fortunate to be in a good mood this June; I enjoyed all the time spent watching movies. For June 2021, the desire to watch movies was not strong, which meant that many days (too many) felt like a chore. You can never get the most out of anything that way.

      I have largely given up on modern Hollywood. I went to a drive-in to see Top Gun: Maverick, which was a fantastic experience. Unfortunately, the first film of the night was Jurassic World Dominion. Though it looks good, the story is a total mess. That seems to be the case with most 2010s and 2020s mainstream releases I have bothered to try watching. Not being a fan of superheroes in general, so many of the big Hollywood releases of the past decade intrinsically have no appeal, anyway.

    7. Definitely hope things settle down for you J.M.

      I didn't post on here for the back half of Junesploitation, opting instead to just make some quick posts on Twitter each day. Part of it is that after the first few Junesploitations I kinda caught up on most of the great exploitation stuff I had missed out on, and now it's become a month where I have an excuse to watch stuff I wouldn't have otherwise bothered with. That leads to watching a lot of movies I'm not really inspired to post about beyond "yeah, I watched Monster from Green Hell."

  2. Tremors II: Aftershocks (1996 - S. S. Wilson)
    “DTV!” is always a bit tricky for me. I don’t have a lot of knowledge about movies that came out strictly on video (I consider myself too young for that), and I also don’t have a good source where I can find streams of such movies, since the portals I can use for that don’t offer an option to search for DTV titles. So I simply used the IMDB Advanced Search and their tag “Video” for this category and sorted the titles by the number of reviews they got on IMDB – and there it was: Tremors II, placed 26th.
    I’ve never seen any of the Tremors sequels, and I had little to no expectations about this movie, but was, as so often this month, positively surprised about what ideas they went with. There is really no large downtime in this film, as they managed to keep it interesting every time I thought they would probably fizzle down. The monsters look great as long as they are made out of rubber and plastic (or whatever they were made of), and the CGI is… well, it is as you would expect if you would watch a movie made for home entertainment. But since it is from 1996, I think it looks pretty good for that time, considering the budget.
    The only thing that I really, really didn’t like was the character of Grady Hoover. I was really annoyed by him all through the movie, because he is plain stupid, a risk for everyone, and I just don’t get why you would bring someone like this to an operation that everyone else takes serious. It’s the Prometheus’ scientists all over again.
    Overall, pretty decent movie.

    Junesploitation recap
    Tremors 2 was a great movie to end Junesploitation for me, it has been a lot of fun! Beside the clear A-List movies I sneaked in (like First Blood, Top Gun, Mad Max: Fury Road), I think I had the most fun with CANNONBALL (1976), EOLOMEA (1972), COBRA (1986), NEMESIS (1992) and HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II (1988). Junesploitation is always a great opportunity for me to break free from the great classics of filmmaking, and from contemporary stuff that is released every day around the world. You sometimes ask sourself why you’re doing it, sometimes you feel a bit dirty and want to take a shower after finishing a movie, but most of the time it is just fun.
    I’m looking forward to Scary Movie Month now, when I’ll be in the United States on a road trip for the first time. I don’t know how and if I’ll manage to watch a horror flick every day, but I’ll sure try.
    Bye Bye!

  3. The Fanatic (2019)

    I will never EVER get over Travolta's first line being, "I can't talk too long, I gotta poo." I knew it was coming from being aware of the movie and still laughed. Travolta is truly unhinged. Can you imagine being his scene partner when he's doing shit like this? Insane.

    PS - Thanks for having me this June, F-heads. My first Junesploitation was great. Looking forward to writing some seven word reviews.

    My top five of the month:
    1. The One (2001)...I ended up writing a whole piece on it, linked below
    2. Pink Flamingos (1972)
    3. Old School (2003)....I already piugged The Vince Vaughn-a-thon, but I won't miss the opportunity to do it again...
    4. The Beastmaster (1982)
    5. Dick Tracy (1990)

    Letterboxd list:

    The Original Multiverse Movie: Jet Li’s The One (2001)

  4. HARD TARGET 2 (2016)

    Since this is already in my collection, it became the automatic choice for today. Hard Target 2 is a watchable Scott Adkins vehicle about a former MMA fighter who gets recruited for a human hunt in Thailand. The beats of the story are very familiar if you have watched the original film or any human hunting film. The fact that the hunt is rigged from the start takes away from any suspense the story can generate. Though I found some scenes very engaging, there is not enough to the script for the length of the film. What there is of the script is mediocre, especially when it comes to creating interesting characters. Having watched 2019’s Triple Threat, I know that Adkins has been in worse films than this. He is undoubtedly the best thing about Hard Target 2. One aspect of the film that I did like were the locations. The Thai tropical forest is lovely, and there are a few nice drone shots of the actors walking in it.

    Although I might try to get to one more film today, my sixth Junesploitation has reached its conclusion. I followed the plan of watching as many films from my collection as much as possible, but I might remember this month more for discovering the riches of Tubi. I also got to a few of the things that have been sitting on the DVR for a long time. There were only two days that I did not watch something for, but I got in multiple watches a day for half of the month. As usual, there are films I intended to watch that will have to wait till 2023. (Some titles are reserved for a June watch.) I have enjoyed seeing what other people were watching, too. I will create a favorites list when my mind is fresher.

  5. Batman vs. Two-Face (2017, dir. Rick Morales)

    The second of two animated movies made in the 2010's, styled after the 60's TV show and starring the voices of Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar.

    Like the first one (Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, 2016), the sequel captures the silliness of the original show fairly well, but it's hampered a little by Batman and Catwoman sounding like octogenarians. Unfortunate but inescapable. Burt Ward's voice sounds surprisingly youthful by comparison.

    The portrayal of Two-Face is very different from the other movie versions, which I really liked. I'm not nearly familiar enough with the comics to know whether this version is original to this movie or comes from a comic book. Two-Face is played by William Shatner, and the character is designed to look like Shatner looked in the 60's, which is a nice touch.

    Campus Code (2015, dir. Cathy Scorsese & Kenneth M. Waddell)

    I put this movie on my watchlist after seeing its trailer a couple of months ago and... well, the trailer gives a fairly accurate picture of what the movie is. It's 70 minutes of characters acting like no human being acts and speaking exclusively in mysterious non-sequiturs, then a half-assed "explanation" at the end that's just plain dumb and uninspired (and not exactly original). Flatly directed and bizarrely written, it's terrible but in a fascinating way.

    Apparently, it was originally created for a streaming service called JumpView, where you could switch between the different characters' viewpoints at will, and the movie version is a re-cut of those separate strands. So that could explain part of the weirdness, but I can't imagine this being anything approaching good in any medium.

    Martin Scorsese and Ray Liotta appear for two minutes of screentime each, no doubt as a favor to Marty's daughter, who is a co-director.

    And so the month comes to a close. I had a hell of a lot of fun watching some good, bad and good-bad movies and reading everyone's reviews. Thank you to all for another excellent Junesploitation! Now if you'll excuse me, I'll start putting a preliminary list together for Scary Movie Month.

  6. Children of the Living Dead (2001, dir. Tor Ramsey)

    The first 20 minutes is some of the most wildly entertaining and hilarious "bad" filmmaking I have ever seen. Tom Savini lights up the screen as the ultimate badass zombie-killer, who incorporates style points into his kills.

    At HorrorHound this year my friend asked Tom Savini to sign his DVD of Children of the Living Dead. Savini instantly became pissed off, hurriedly signed it, and told him he should throw that "POS" in the trash or burn it. He then clammed up and refused to talk about it. Highly Recommended.

  7. 555 (1988)
    King Video Distributor is just Wally and Roy Koz, who shot this movie on video and got Wally’s wife Linda to make it with them. She was the first assistant director and associate producer, so one imagines that she had plenty of notes for the scene where the Lake Front Butcher slices a woman and then has some post-death carnal knowledge of the corpse. Most movies would use this as a grand finale, while 555 puts it up front.

    The killer has a pattern in that he kills five couples in five nights every five years, living up to the film’s name. The killer also doesn’t need a hockey mask or fancy burned up face. He’s just a dude in a Hawaiian shirt.

    Actually, they’re called aloha shirts and first made at the Honolulu-based dry goods store Musa-Shiya the Shirtmaker which was owned by Koichiro Miyamoto. Originally these shirts — made out of Japanese prints — were the symbols of rich status as only those with millions could afford the trip to islands. After World War II and soldiers being stationed there, they became less for the prosperous and also became more floral based as anything Japanese was out of favor during and after the war.

    This is a movie that has no idea that in our time it will be looked at as problematic. No, it has no idea what that word will come to mean. The Koz brothers felt like slashers had started to suck and that they could do a better job. So they made this, a movie that is so proud of its best effect that it ruins it on the box cover.

    It’s a film that dares name its reporter heroine Susan Rather and has her talk about how no man can turn down her vagina, which that hard boiled cop certainly can’t, and they lie in bed talking dirty and seem like they support each other which is nice because I’m old now and I like to see older couples that still like to be around each other and have a healthy sex life. I’ve seen some reviews where they’re like, “She’s too old to get nude” and I have to say you’ll be fifty someday, my dude.

    How romantic is it that when you see the first kill, there’s graffiti that says WK + LK and that’s for the director and his wife.

    Shot in Blood-Vivid Video for Your Viewing Pleasure! With a tagline like that and the knowledge that the blood is neon colored, well — this is assuredly going to either upset you or make you all meat sweaty.

    Also, Wally Koz was a gold prospector when he wasn’t making this movie.

    My recap of all the films of Junesploitation:

    Thanks for letting me share.

  8. CYBER C.H.I.C. (1990)
    A scientist creates the perfect woman in his lab, and she becomes a super-cool crimefighter. This must have been an easy pitch: "What if Robocop was a beautiful woman?" (Apparently, this was also released under the titles ROBO C.H.I.C. and CYBORG C.H.I.C.) But instead of Verhoeven action/satire, the filmmakers are going for Naked Gun-style puns and sight gags. Burt Ward hams it up in a supporting role, so I guess he's the movie's big celebrity "get." This movie is worth a few laughs, but after going full Albert Pyun a few days ago, I wonder how much better this would be with someone like him at the wheel.

    Bonus Lloyd Kaufman-sploitation, day 30: SHAKESPEARE'S SH*TSTORM LIVE (2020)
    Kaufman is still shopping his newest movie to theaters, the cast did a live reading of the script on Zoom in summer 2020 for charity, and it's available to watch on Troma Now. The script has tons of jokes aimed at cultural appropriation and so-called social justice. I'm at a loss as to whether these gags are tone deaf boomer-isms, or if this is Troma satirizing themselves and their own fan base. But it was still pretty fun, and I'm curious how it will compare to the final product.

    Huge THANK YOU to Patrick and co. for another stellar #Junesploitation. It's been a much-needed calm among the storm of our lives. This year in particular I watched a lot of movies I otherwise never would have watched. Horizons broadened and all that. Nothing but love to you all.

  9. Blue Vengeance (1989) dir. J. Christian Ingvordsen, Danny Kuchuck

    This may actually be a stretch of today’s theme, because it didn’t even make it to video in the US in any kind of accessible way until the recent Vinegar Syndrome release, but since “Indirect to Video” isn’t a category, I’m gonna let it slide- plus it unexpectedly, for a cop movie, has some sword and sorcery bits, so it’s a great transition title for these last couple days!

    Blue Vengeance is the kind of scuzzy zero budget obscurity that makes spending way too much time combing through Letterboxd lists suddenly feel worth it. It brings together two of my favorite nice things: police procedurals about serial killers, and that weird late era punk/metal pre “alternative” scene in New York when everyone was just making ugly music on drugs and unironically wearing cowboy hats– and it even manages to combine the two without feeling a bunch of writers passing around a New York Times trend piece for mineable bits. It’s a little saggy in bits, but largely that seems to be a product of everyone swinging way above their weight class - you can’t help but hold it up against the heavyweights they’re aiming for.

  10. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)

    I'm finishing the month like I started it: with an animated movie based on a cartoon. Never been a huge fan of Scooby but over the years I've heard a lot of good things about Zombie Island, all of which turned out to be true. It's really funny, really well-written, and most importantly, it's an honest-to-goodness horror movie with ghosts, zombies, voodoo witchcraft, ancient pagan deities and more. It also feels like some of the choices in characterization and storytelling helped inspire the live-action adaptations made a few years later (including the gang getting back together after a hiatus). Scary fun for the whole family!

    The Recap
    I love that we're doing a recap of the month. Like with previous Junesploitations (this was my third) I had a list prepared before the month began and followed it to a tee, because that's the sort of person I am. My schedule didn't allow me to do double features, but I didn't skip a single day either. I watched exactly 30 movies, all first time watches, none longer than 95 minutes, none made later than 1999, and that's exactly how I like it in June, so great job me, I guess.
    I enjoyed reading people's reviews tremendously (and made sure to add a lot of titles to my watchlist) even though it seemed to get more and more quiet here in the official threads as the month progressed - which was a bit surprising considering how excited I thought folks were when the calendar was announced. (Maybe the action just moved over to Twitter, but I wouldn't know because I don't use Twitter.) Still, I had a lovely time sharing movie love with everyone who kept showing up so big thanks to all of you, and of course to the whole FTM crew. See you in October (and yes, I already have a preliminary list for that).

    My top 5 favorite watches this month:
    Hannie Caulder (1971)
    Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989)
    Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (1972)
    Shogun Assassin (1980)
    But I'm a Cheerleader (1999)

  11. Truth or Dare: A Critical Mass (1986) dir. Tim Ritter

    You know how Mozart said that Music isn’t in the notes but in the silence in between? You could make a pretty good argument that real SOV horror gold isn’t in the bloodletting, but the bizarre attempts at melodrama in between. I’m not sure this quite qualified as gold to me, but it definitely has the patina of a precious metal. It’s easy to see why it’s a classic of the genre, as it feels legitimately unhinged in both its violence and its basic understanding of human interaction. Also, it has really fucking good VHS art.

    This little bit of trash classique seems as good of a way as any to to end my first Junesploitation! - I’ve had a blast (even when it’s felt like a burden lol). I had a minor injury at the beginning of the month that made me far more sedentary than usual, and getting to watch more Junesploitation titles ended up being a pretty big silver lining- as did getting to spend more time reading other peoples reviews, and of course stay up to date on FTM official! Big thanks to all of the FTM crew for this month, and in general. The site’s longevity made it intimidating to jump into the comments before, so this created a great opportunity.

    My Top 5 discoveries/rediscoveries for the month were:

    Rio Bravo (1959)
    Mirage (1990)
    Thriller: A Cruel Picture (restored & in Swedish) (1973)
    Conquest (1983)
    Blue Vengeance (1989)

    See y’all soon!!!

  12. Darkman II: The Return of Durant (1995)

    I saw the original Darkman for the first time a few years ago when it was part of the FThisMovieFest lineup, and really dug it. The trilogy Blu-ray was about the same price as the standalone, so I went for it, and DTV day presented a good opportunity to check out the sequel.

    Title don't lie: Durant returns and has an evil business plan to sell nuclear powered photon guns to a far-right extremist group. Darkman is South African instead of Irish now, but he's still hell-bent on getting revenge against Durant, and he's willing to wear as many prosthetic polymer faces as it takes (often two at a time).

    It's a pale shadow of the original in pretty much every way, but it has a few fun moments. Larry Drake has some pretty great line readings as Durant, among them "I think we've all learned a valuable safety tip," "Hip hip hooray," and "Put the gun down, you ridiculous bitch!" The movie also features probably the best and longest airborne flight of a golf cart.

    My Top 5 of Junesploitation
    1. The Man from Hong Kong (1975)
    2. Little Darlings (1980)
    3. Terminal Velocity (1994)
    4. Serial Mom (1994)
    5. Foxy Brown (1974)

  13. My top five Junesploitation watches:

    1. The Professionals (1966) - Judging by the combination of film quality and the overall viewing experience, this stands out as the top watch. A western with great characters, great actors (Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster), and a director who knows what do with the material.

    2. Julie Darling (1982) - Using the same criteria, Julie Darling was the best exploitation film I saw. A drama about a young woman in love with her father, the lengths she goes to keep other women out of his life surprised even this jaded viewer.

    3. The Killing Kind (1973) - A psychological drama about a young man who is not well adjusted to normal life. A stint in juvenile prison and a controlling mother do not make his situation better. Part of the fun is spotting all of the Hitchcock references.

    4. Pamela, Pamela, You Are... (1968) - This is the pick that most reflects my personal tastes. A sexploitation story about a rich cheating wife getting involved with a wild crowd becomes an avant-garde acid trip toward the conclusion. Lovely B&W cinematography and interesting editing.

    5. Evil Dead Trap (1988) - It is on the list solely for the surprises at the end. The conclusion gets very weird. Up till then it is a slasher film that does not stand out much.

    Honorable mentions: Hunting Ground (1983), Love Hunter (1972), The Naked Cage (1986), Cherry 2000 (1988)

    Best re-watch: A tie between Killer Party (1986) and Top Gun (1986)