Friday, June 9, 2023

Notes on Film: Take it Sleazy

 by Anthony King

24/7 filth.

We've got a week's worth of Junesploitation under our belts, and it looks like you're all having a great time. I mentioned a few things I've watched on this week's podcast (The Goonies, Eurocrime!, Hit List, The Joe Spinell Story), and a few other things will be written about in future Blu-ray reviews. But there's still so much sleaze to write about, so here's more of week one of Junesploitation!

My official pick for Teenagers! was Kids (1995). While I never saw Kids when it came out in 1995, I'd certainly heard about it, and my 8th grade brain wanted nothing more than to see this forbidden fruit. The following year, my neighbor and best friend Valerie let me know she had procured a bootleg VHS copy of Kids from her boyfriend Josh (Josh immediately became the cool drug dealer kid to me, but instead of drugs it was bootleg tapes of movies I only dreamed of seeing). About five minutes into that first viewing of Kids, where Telly is sloppily Frenching that first girl, I knew my life was about to change. I watched it again a couple years later, still completely enthralled, still completely shocked at seeing kids my age doing things I never did but wished I was cool enough to do. Years later I met my future wife, we moved in together, combined movie collections, and discovered she had a DVD of the movie that changed my life all those years ago. We watched it and became inspired, setting out on a multi-year journey to write my first musical. I hadn't seen it for a decade until last week, and it still lords its power over me. My wife refuses to watch it now, but I still become lost in its world – a post-Dirty Old New York where teenagers are left to their own devices in an urban jungle mid-transition. I love this movie.
For our first ever Polizitteschi! day I finally checked out Umberto Lenzi's Gang War in Milan (1973). After watching four Lenzi films this year, he's quickly becoming one of my favorite filmmakers. As Matthew McConaughey would say, though, “You gotta pump those numbers up. Those are rookie numbers in this racket.” I've seen 10 Lenzis with one more coming this month, but I realized I need as much Lenzi in my life as possible. I'm a huge fan of John McKenzie's The Long Good Friday (1980) starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren, and if that movie wasn't even a tiny bit influenced by Gang War, I'd be shocked. Antonio Sabato stars as Toto, a slimy pimp and wannabe gangster who is approached by Roger Daverty (Philippe Leroy), a French gangster who wants to team up (read: take over Toto's sex trade business). What I love about Polizitteschi movies is that you're forced to choose between a bad guy and a worse guy. Gang War presents one of the more difficult decisions as both of these men are pieces of shit. All said, it makes for a riveting and brilliant film.
Because of the Maniac (1980) podcast this week I wanted to watch another Joe Spinell. I decided on the horror-comedy The Last Horror Film (1982), a riff on the obsessed fan story a la Taxi Driver (1976). Spinell plays a struggling filmmaker named Vinny Durand working as a cab driver (get it?) who is infatuated with the movie star Jana Bates (Caroline Munro). Jana heads to Cannes for the premiere of her latest horror film at the renowned film festival with cast and crew in tow. Vinny soon follows and begins killing everyone standing in his way of Jana. As Patrick and I discussed, Spinell's latter career was populated mostly with horror movies, specifically Maniac-esque roles. That said, he was brilliant in these types of roles (see The Undertaker [1988]). The comedy of The Last Horror Film leans more into satire at times, which makes the movie more interesting and memorable. The ending alone subverts the obsessed fan genre in a brilliant moment between Spinell and his on-screen/real life mother, Filomena Spagnuolo.
For our first Free Space! I watched National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) which I hadn't watched in five years. I remember watching Vacation for the first time at my friend Josh's house in 1989 on a taped-from-HBO VHS that also included The Barbarians (1987). As far as I know, Beverly D'Angelo's were the first boobs I'd ever seen on screen (although I feel like I stated otherwise earlier this year). The funny thing is that Josh and I were being sneaky about watching the movie because we weren't supposed to watch it, but Josh refused to let me watch The Barbarians because he said that was the REALLY naughty movie (I still haven't seen The Barbarians). Vacation holds a special place in my heart and I still consider it to be one of the funniest comedies ever. Chevy Chase has never been better and I love the amount of recognizable people that pop up in the most random roles. I also found myself reciting 75% of the dialogue along with the movie. It's the ultimate summer movie in my book. Other movies I watched include:

Cellar Dweller (1988) for Monsters! – Good. I haven't had the best time in the past with Empire movies, but this was a good start to the Enter the Video Store: Empire of Screams box set. Review coming later this month!

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) for Monsters! – Good. I've written so much about this in the past, but I hadn't cracked open my Indicator Blu-ray yet. Total comfort movie.
Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976) for Polizitteschi! – Good. Ruggero Deodato doing a violent Italian cop movie with homoerotic undertones that had me screaming in delight.

Violent Naples (1976) for Polizitteschi! – Good. Maurizio Merli is hellbent on stopping crime and toppling Franco Nero from the throne of sexy, mustachioed, Italian men.
The Day of the Owl (1968) for Polizitteschi! – Good. The OG Italian sex machine, Franco Nero stars alongside the most beautiful woman that ever lived, Claudia Cardinale. This is part of the Cosa Nostra: Franco Nero in Three Mafia Tales by Damiano Damiani set out next month that I'll be reviewing soon.

Mission: Killfast (1991) for 90s Action! – Bad. With a title like that and a poster featuring Tiger Yang high-kicking while a jeep full of masked men with machine guns and not one but TWO helicopters appear amidst an explosion promises to deliver the action. Yet the action is sparse in a dialogue-heavy movie that commits the ultimate cinematic sin: it's boring!

The Killing Game (1978) for Free Space! – Good. The second film in Toru Murakawa's Game Trilogy starring Tusaku Matsuda as a hitman and the ultimate slacker. You wouldn't expect someone this lazy to be such a brutal killer, but this dude is a machine. I'll be reviewing the set from Arrow in a couple weeks.

Coming up:
Day 8: Cannon! – The Apple (1980)
Day 9: Fred Williamson! – The Black Cobra (1987)
Day 10: Kung Fu! – The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)
Day 11: 80s Horror! – Nightmare Beach (1989)
Day 12: Westerns! – Rio Bravo (1959)
Day 13: Animals! – Shakma (1990)
Day 14: Free Space! – Dolls (1987)

Keep it sleazy, everybody, and keep sharing those Junesploitation picks!

1 comment:

  1. You have to watch The Barbarians. Find a spot somewhere, it's a must see. Ask Patrick 😁