Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Junesploitation 2024 Day 26: Free Space!


  1. More Candice? Not a bad thing. Is it from Candy Stripe Nurses?

    THE LAUGHING WOMAN (1969, dir. Piero Schivazappa )

    The first re-watch of this month. Watching the restored version, though, is almost like seeing a new film; the colors really pop in it. The DVD version I saw years ago came from a very faded source. This also inadvertently was another tribute watch. Philippe Leroy, the male lead, passed away at 93 early this month.

    The Laughing Woman, or Femina Ridens, is a pop art film about the battle of the sexes. A rich man who enjoys playing abusive games with women meets his match when he meets and abducts a woman (Dagmar Lassander). The outcome is not what you would expect. As dark as the subject matter can get, there is a lot of comedy in The Laughing Woman. The design and décor of the sets is extremely in the styles of the late 1960s. The score by Stelvio Cipriani is a delightful example of the Italian soundtracks of the period. This is a good example of the mixing of arthouse and exploitation cinema that continues to draw me to this period of European filmmaking.

    BLUE RITA (1977, dir. Jess Franco)

    I always fit in at least one Jess Franco film for Junesploitation. Though the late 1970s can be a rough time for finding quality in his films, Blue Rita has flashes of engaging visual style and unusually coherent (for Franco) story ideas that elevate it above most of the trash Franco was producing during that period. Blue Rita is still very trashy, however. The title refers to the name of a Parisian night club where agents working for the Communist Bloc organize their activities. The various agents/acts in the club are photographed using some lovely colored lighting. Those scenes are each shot in a different way, showing that Franco was not completely rushing through the film. There are also some surprising optical effects in the title sequence. Being able to understand the French dub makes the film more enjoyable; the English dubs for his films are usually terrible. Hard to recommend to anyone who does not already like Franco’s work, but there is much worse that can be watched from his vast filmography.

    1. I haven't seen it but based on an image search, yes the pic is from Candy Stripe Nurses.


    THINGS (1989, TUBI)

    Tuesday night Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Manhattan hosted a theatrical screening of the OG VHS version of Andrew Jordan and Barry J. Gillis' "Things," a super low-budget 8mm homemade East Coast horror tale that combines "The Evil Dead" (trapped in a small house in the woods) with "The Mist" (mysterious ant-like giant creatures from another dimension burst out of a pregnant woman and start attacking/eating people). I wasn't sure I wanted to attend so Tuesday afternoon I clicked on TUBI version to see if I'd be interested in going, and I ended up watching the whole thing. Saved me $40 (ticket price plus meal for one at Alamo) and thank goodness for TUBI, because I wouldn't have enjoyed "Things" on the big screen. Except for some so-bad-it's-hilarious, on-the-nose dialogue this was an endurance test. For DTV enthusiasts only. 2 AMBER LYNN NEWS REPORTS (out of 5)

    Was saving "Margaux" for Slashers! but eff it, there are plenty of those. A sentient house with an advanced AI hosts a 'nerd herd' of graduating college seniors, and tailors their rooms to their particular social media profiles/personalities. Naturally the only one without social media, Hannah (Madison Pettis), happens to be the quiet one of the group with knowledge of how AI algorithms are programmed that lets her know early on what Margaux (voiced by Siri herself, Susan Bennett) is up to. It feels like Canadian low-budget filmmakers wanted to get in on the "Black Mirror" bandwagon, and for the most part this delivers the tension build-up and awesome kills the genre demands. It's when the house springs Dr. Octopus-type robotic arms (which look way worse than "Spider-Man 2's") and can 3D print human replicas of the house guests it kills that "Margaux" crosses into sheer ridiculousness. Worth seeing once for the uniformly excellent kills. 3.20 ACID WATER GLASSES (out of 5).

    Doug Liman (OG "Bourne Identity") directs an updated (aka less sleazy) remake of 80's classic "Road House" with a confidence that he can leave the OG flick alone and let his and Jake Jake Gyllenhaal's freak flag fly as high as they want. Change of scenery to the Florida Keys is welcomed, as is the diversity of the cast (more women and minorities as musicians, patrons, bouncers, etc.) and the plot not being a beat-for-beat repeat of '89 (Dalton doesn't even have a car). While Sawyze's version took itself somewhat seriously this one is self-aware (Jake can't stop smiling as he struggles to keep his bottled anger from exploding), enough that halfway through the story it brings in Conor McGregor's Knox as a cross between Bullseye from "Daredevil" and Kano from the most recent "Mortal Kombat" reboot. It's silly, but just because most of the fights are CG-heavy (looks/feels like a videogame, probably on purpose) doesn't mean Liman can't stage some slick set-pieces (the boat-heavy finale looks great). I was dreading seeing "Road House '24," and now I hope it was popular enough to warrant a sequel (with Conor, of course). 3.75 BRAZILIAN COFFEE CUPS (out of 5).

    "The Exorcism" might be the worst movie I see in 2024. Produced by Kevin Williamson (yes, that K.W.), it starts as an homage to the idea we're watching the behind-the-scenes making of a remake of the never-mentioned-by-name William Friedkin OG "Exorcist" movie. Russell Crowe, fresh off a cheesy take on the same subject matter with "The Pope's Exorcist," starts decent as an alcoholic actor trying to deliver a comeback performance while reconnecting with his estranged daughter (Ryan Simpkins). Alas, by the 2nd act we're in full-blown exorcism horror tropes that bring nothing new to the table. Why did David Hyde Pearce agree to do this but skip on the "Frasier" streaming reboot is beyond me. I wanted to leave the theater so bad, but it was too hot outside. 1 WASTED AMC A-LIST WEEKLY SLOT (out of 5).

  3. My fourth crazy, supernatural anime of the month:
    Paprika (2006)

  4. (genre: Tarantinosploitation)

    Smokin' Aces (2006)

    Back in the day there were a lot of attempts to capture that magic-in-a-bottle that was Tarantinos Pulp Fiction and Guy Richties Lock Stock. This is one such attempt. It's a hot mess of a movie w an awesome cast playing a wide array of quirky characters. Its violent and fun but it comes across a bit forced and slapped together. It's better than I remembered but still falls far short of those it aspired to be.

    1. Pulp Fiction (1994)

      In a bit of ironic timing this showed up on cable today. Couldn't turn it off. Pure Brilliance.

    directed by Charles B. Griffith
    produced by Roger Corman

    Was this car chase even longer than the one in Gone in 60 Seconds? Did people actually die filming these stunts? Did they have to make a lot of fried chicken after that one crash? Why was casual racism okay if it was against the Arabs in the 80s? Was this Smokey even more obsessed with his pursuit than Buford T. Justice? Why is William Forsyth so watchable in everything he does? Where are the six movies we should have gotten about the smoking elementary school kids?

    I don’t think I’ll rewatch it to find out.
    But I’m not sorry I watched it.
    Charming leads. Crazy car crashes?

  6. The Uninvited (1944)

    Extremely effective spooky mansion movie. Insanely great photography takes it over the top. Hayes Code era (era) innuendo is intense in this one. Wow. This and "X: The Man With The X-ray Eyes" have turned this into my Ray Milland year for Junesploitation. I'm good with that.

  7. Revenge Of The Ninja (1983)

    Probably reviewed this one many a June on this beautiful ol' website, so let me tell you a little of what my internetting told me about "grandmother" Grace Oshita":

    After forced internment in Delta, Utah during WWII, she helped her parents reestablish their miso factory in Salt Lake City. She devoted a large part of her life to educating about Japanese-relocation. She was cast locally when "Revenge Of The Ninja" started production in SLC and according to her obituary, considered the experience one of the highlights of her life.

  8. Tank Girl (1995): now, where did i get the idea to watch this? It's a mystery 😜. As i'm writing this, i haven't listened to the podcast yet. Anyway, i always had fun with this movie. Lori Petty is always fun. Plus, Naomi Watts before she became who she is. I should track down some of the comics.

    1. Tank Girl (1995)

      So weird...I made the same totally random choice. Great minds, I guess.

      A lot of its wackiness worked for me. Lori Petty's fully committed, and I love that she wins the movie using beer cans. I dug the incredible makeup and loopy humor of the Rippers. Malcolm McDowell's always a fun villain. I enjoyed the movie stopping in its tracks for half a musical number. Killer soundtrack matches the movie perfectly.

      Even when the wackiness didn't totally land for me, it still felt like it was borne out of the creativity of people having fun, and I'll gladly stay on board for that type of energy.

    2. Comics tracked downed. A couple from amazon and i'm on my way to pick a couple from my local comic shop

  9. Beyond the Time Barrier (1960, dir. Edgar G. Ulmer)

    A US Air Force pilot tests an experimental aircraft, which accidentally whisks him into the distant future of 2024. There (or rather here) he finds that humans now live in subterranean cities to escape "the plague", while mutants roam outside.

    A fun, simple little sci-fi adventure with some wild ideas and a tacked-on anti-nuclear message. The acting and dialogue are "50's sci-fi" clunky.

    Interstate 60 (2002, dir. Bob Gale) (rewatch)

    A young man wishes to know which direction his life should take, so a wish-granting genie sets him on a magical road trip full of adventures, mishaps, eccentric people and valuable life lessons.

    James Marsden is kind of a wet blanket as the lead but Gary Oldman is clearly having fun as the genie. The supporting cast includes MacReady, Doc Brown, Marty McFly, Norman Osborn (no, not that one), Chev Chelios's girlfriend, the Pink Ranger, Janessa from Jason X, and the Groosalugg. The movie is a weird mess of tones and ideas and it ends like I used to end my short stories as a teenager, but I kind of love it.

    The Blob (1958, dir. Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.) (rewatch)

    A meteor strikes the ground near a quiet American town and unleashes an expanding blob that consumes every living creature it comes in contact with. You know, The Blob.

    The acting's a little clunky, the 50's portrayal of teenagers seems goofy now and the effects are of course dated, but that's the charm. And the theme song will get stuck in your head.

    Operation Kid Brother a.k.a. O.K. Connery (1967, dir. Alberto De Martino)

    An evil crime syndicate has an elaborate plan to take over the world, and when the world-renowned British secret agent normally assigned to these kinds of situations is unavailable, his multitalented brother Neil is called in to deal with them.

    An Italian Bond pastiche built around the fact that they got Sean Connery's brother to play the lead. Supporting actors from past Bond movies (Lois Maxwell, Bernard Lee, Adolfo Celi, Daniela Bianchi, Anthony Dawson) also make appearances. Half homage half parody, some of the villains' schemes, plot twists and gadgets wouldn't be totally out of place in a real Bond film. It almost feels like this movie predicted Roger Moore's goofier Bond tenure, which started six years after this. The movie opens with a very Bondy-sounding song and Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai's score hews as close to the Bond theme as they could get away with. As a big Bond fan, this felt kinda familiar and comfortable for a while, but it soon became clear the plot makes very little sense and the movie feels aimless and way overlong.

    1. The Blob was filmed in my home state of Pennsylvania, Mikko. The movie theater used for the film is the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, which is near Philadelphia. The Colonial Theatre is still in use for regular screenings and special events. I have never gone there (a bit too long of a drive, honestly), but the organizer of screenings at the Mahoning Drive-In has some big shows at the Colonial.

  10. BLOW OUT (1981)
    Travolta plays a Hollywood sound guy who gets involved in a murder plot. While I like De Palma, it recently occurred to me that I’ve only seen a few of his films. Got to fix that. Travolta’s coolest-guy-in-the-room persona is a perfect match for a noir/Hitchcock thriller. I imagine another a big selling point for this movie was De Palma pushing then-new theater sound tech to new heights, and he’s having fun letting viewers in on the behind the scenes of it all. Awesome movie, and I’m so glad I’ve finally seen it.

    DEAD LEAVES (2004)
    A sexy babe and a guy with a TV for a head wake up with no memory in a dystopian future. They go on a crime spree, get locked up in jail, and uncover a conspiracy… and we’re only ten minutes into the movie! This is an exercise in extremism, where every scene – if not every shot – must be the most over-the-top thing they can think of. I don’t know if I can recommend this because it’s so hyper and trying-too-hard. But on the other hand, I’ve never seen anything else quite like it.

    Bonus Universal Monster-sploitation: ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN (1951)
    Bud and Lou play detectives working with the Invisible Man to clear his good name, putting them in conflict with some gangsters. Then it becomes a boxing movie in the second half. It lacks the wow factor of A&C Meet Frankenstein, but there are plenty of good goofs.

    1. Ah, a reminder that I haven't watched an De Palma this Junesploitation. Blow Out is one of his more acclaimed movies that I still have yet to see.

  11. Cash Out (2024)
    Thanks to the FTM crew for putting this one on my radar a few weeks ago. I love when DTV crap is actually good and I love Kristin Davis.

  12. Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

    After the intensity of Irreversible, I needed some lighter entertainment, and this is probably the most irreverent apocalyptic Road Warrior rip-off one could hope for. Also, I missed New World day, so I checked that off my list as well. Roddy Piper is a virile man in a sterile world, fighting off both women and amphibians. Solid action, frequent laughs, and I loved the frog men. Oh, and Rory Calhoun! The film's levity also gave me strength to finish Junesploitation strong down the stretch.

    Fun fact: Roddy Piper wrestled in my hometown of Portland, OR, and he owned a car repair shop named Piper's Pit!



    OMG, you guys! I feel like I just died and gone to Junesploitation! heaven. I've owned the "Extreme Prejudice" BD for years, but only now that I've seen it do I realize what an amazing southwestern action noir Walter Hill delivered back in '87. The same way Timothy Dalton's James Bond movies are more appreciated now than in their time, "EP" had to crawl and die at the box office in the 80's so "No Country For Old Men," "Sicario" and "Hell or High Water" could run in the 2000's. I LOVED Nick Nolte and Rip Torn as partnered Texas Rangers, their chemistry (for the brief time they're together) is Nolte/Murphy-in"48 Hours"-level good. So many moving parts to this Mexican-narcos-vs-U.S.-police bloody action tale, including romance (between this and "The Running Man" Maria Conchita Alonso had a hell of a year), love of country (American soldiers questioning orders), meaning of true friendship when a romantic triangle interferes and a final shoot-out that's worthy of comparison with "The Wild [freakin'] Bunch!"

    Most importantly, what a stacked cast of manly dudes! Powers Boothe, Clancy Brown, William Forsythe, Tom "Tiny" Lister, Dan Tullis Jr., etc. I've never seen Nick Nolte so focused and intense as he's here, a bullet of integrity in a sea of compromised people always compromising. Ry Cooter AND Jerry Goldsmith collab score? John Milius co-writing the script? Everybody sweating profusely? And I get to rewatch this again and again with commentary track and bonus features? This is what winning the exploitation movie lottery must feel like. :-P 4.75 PHONY DEATH CERTIFICATES (out of 5).

    BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! The Kino Lorber 4K UHD of "Bad Lieutenant" just showed up, and I couldn't put that sucker on my player fast enough. The greatest trick Abel Ferrara and Harvey Keitel ever pulled back in 1992 was making an NC-17 arthouse picture that got tons of press for its graphic depictions of... stuff I'd rather not mention (ahem... BLOGGER CENSORSHIP.... cough!) to cover-up the fact that at its core it's a simple spiritual redemption story. Can a bad person's soul really be saved if his lifetime of sins give way to true penitence? As a current Atheist that was a devout Catholic for the first 15 years of my life the last third of "BL" always brings me to tears. The scene in the church where the LT confronts a nun (Frankie Lou Thorn) that has forgiven those that have wronged her is a tour-de-force culmination to an unending parade of Keitel giving some of the best acting he's ever done in front of a camera. "Reservoir Dogs" (released the same year) has the most entertaining performance, but it's in "BL" that the man (and Johnny Ace's 'Pledging My Love' song) achieve iconic status. And the permit-free tour of NYC locations in the early 90's as fake Mets vs. Dodgers baseball games are seen/heard? Too cool for school. 5 WORLD SERIES GAMES PLAYED IN THE AFTERNOON (out of 5).

    It was hot and muggy Wednesday night in Gotham (no AC in my apartment), so I went to a packed theatrical screening of "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" in Times Square just to have the pleasure of hearing more than half the crowd sing along with the tunes. I've seen this one so many times it's practically memorized (Comedy Central used to air it uncensored on cable after 1AM on weekends), and I enjoyed this viewing as much as the previous ones. But since I was there mostly to beat the heat I don't feel it's fair to judge this particular J! pick. NO SCORE.

  14. THE GANG’S ALL HERE (1943, dir. Busby Berkeley)

    In a legendary career in musicals, Berkeley hit some of his highs in this WWII-era musical. There is a plot to The Gang’s All Here, but, after eight decades, it is the musical numbers that make the film memorable. It is not a bad plot as far as these 20th-Century Fox musicals go, though. There are two numbers that really standout: the banana sequence (The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat) and the conclusion. The colorful, in many ways, Carmen Miranda performs Tutti-Frutti Hat while lines of chorus girls swing giant bananas around in amusing patterns. The concluding number is pure cinematic art, by far the best sequence I have seen in any film this month. Through the magic of deft editing and some of Berkeley’s camera tricks, the sequence gets increasingly abstract. Though the Gang’s All Here is on the long side, it does reward patience.

  15. Night Swim (2024) Impressive little horror film exploits our fear of water. Happy little family buys a new house and… NEVER SWIM ALONE. Wyatt Russell impressive as the Dad. Kerry Condon hides her English accent admirably. Creepy, creepy, creepy.

  16. Stone (1974)

    Osploitation movie about a cop that embeds himself in a biker gang to find a killer. This movie has a real vibe and lots of psychedelic scenes with a appropriately weird score. Also some really impressive bike stunt work. I was really happy to delve into a few Aussie movies this month.