Monday, April 6, 2020

Interview of Juan Diaz, aka El Sapo Blanco

Juan Diaz is a talented filmmaker who has a passion for for bringing a bygone era back to us. His creation of the El Sapo Blanco superhero is a throwback to the El Santo wrestling hero (luchador) from the Mexican B movies of the 1950s. The hero isn't politically correct, confident, macho, and always victorious. Mr. Diaz was kind enough to take a few moments to speak to me and be interviewed on Zisi Emporium for B Movies.
CJZ:  El Sapo Blanco is such a neat character.  Did your love for the Mexican wrestling hero, or his films inspire it?
Juan Diaz: Thank you. I grew up watching the old "El Santo"/ "Blue Demon"/ "Mil Mascaras" movies. It was fascinating to me how they were always called by the authorities or scientists to help solve a case, or destroy a monster or two.  What made them so special? Because they were Luchadors.

CJZ: Today's wrestling fans probably have no concept of the Santo or Sampson or The Angel. They're understanding of wrestling is the WWE or Vince McMahon's modern creation. Santo's masked wrestler inspired something more pristine. I his brand of masked wrestler/matinee idol/superhero gone forever?
Juan Diaz: I think there was an honor in these Luchadors, akin to the Samurai. They brought the violence when necessary but always maintained honor.  I consider El Sapo on par  with the likes of Flash Gordon, and The Phantom, etc.  Matinee idols that ruled television, the airwaves (radio plays), and theaters (cliffhangers and serials) back in the 40s and 50s.

CJZ: El Sapo is a matinee idol/B movie hero trapped in working/middle class America... does he have a driving maxim? Or what propels him to fight evil mad-scientists, monster bugs, and aliens?
Juan Diaz: El Sapo Blanco's mindset is, "it's the right thing to do." He has proudly taken the mantle of doing what is right. If that means fighting monsters, or evil scientists, then so be it. He doesn't do it for the glory, either. He doesn't want credit. He just wants to fight evil.

CJZ:  Those evil bugs, monsters, and aliens are so finely captured in special effects. Their introduction into El Sapo Blanco videos serve to make the masked hero larger than life. Talk about those special f/x and how intricate they are in the production of your videos.
Juan Diaz: The special effects help me bring the creatures/foes to life. Because the budget is so low, I utilize special effects apps (FX Guru, MovieRide FX, Action Movie FX, etc.) as well as green screen. Of course, El Santo's old movies used practical effects, but I feel I bring the spirit of those films even though the creatures are more modernized. Also, I like to imagine how would El Santo  deal with bugs, or giant worms as those things were not so prevalent in his films.

CJZ: We've seen El Sapo Blanco's tender side, especially with his kids. Is there romance or a sultry babe in store for him?
Juan Diaz: El Sapo loves children. He's taken an infant under his wing, Prince Jaxxston (from alien slugworms), because he is the sole heir to the Xan Empire and the child has no one else. Very similar to "The Lone Wolf and Cub" films. There is romance in El Sapo's future.

CJZ: What kind of budget do these videos have? Are we talking akin to "Jurassic Park" or more like that of purchasing a comic book?
Juan Diaz: The budgets are zero budgeted. Just time and passion. I literally use my iPhone to shoot, edit, and add f/x. I also compose most of the music. I use my voice to add some of the sound effects, as well. I also recycle old footage from El  Sapo's previous adventures (a la Roger Corman or Lloyd Kaufman).

CJZ: El Sapo Blanco seems to be a target. Are you thinking of giving him a cape to fly to other places to find monsters, more mad-scientists, or maybe other planets?
Juan Diaz: El Sapo has flown to other planets and dimensions, but he knows he has a problem magnet as he knows evildoers will try to dispatch him. He has no real secret identity and its widely known where he lives, so he just waits for trouble to come to his doorstep. The world he lives in is not our world. Its an alternate world where monsters exist.

CJZ: What inspired you to reach back to the 1950s Mexico in order to give us your masked fighter of evil? Have you been able to connect with many fans of those old Mexican films?
Juan Diaz: I felt those old 50s movies had innocence in them. That's why my movies really don't have nudity, sex, nor foul language. It's not that they're kid friendly, but its more because those old films didn't have to use those elements. Just fun stories and good action. I sincerely hope fans of those old films can enjoy my films, but I make these films for anyone to enjoy, regardless if the viewer knows of  Mexican cinema or Luchador movies.
CJZ: Selfishly speaking (hey, I'm a guy), Santo always rescues sultry babes clad in white negligees... will we see any of that with El Sapo Blanco?
Juan Diaz: El Sapo feels like he saves everybody, so he doesn't believe in concentrating on sultry babes, but hey, who knows?

CJZ: If an A-list director offered you millions for the rights to El Sapo Blanco and gave you control of the cast, who would play the masked hero, who would be the lead villain, and yes... who would be the damsel in distress?
Juan Diaz: I would use Liam Neeson as the lead, as I envision El Sapo Blanco as an aging, retired Luchador, who found his calling in fighting evil late in life. He's a broken man. He's had numerous injuries from his many matches, thereby retired. The villain would have to be Paul Reubens, as the nefarious Dr. Fantom, the mastermind behind all of the attacks. Fantom is trying to wear El Sapo down because he knows he can't best him one on one. The damsel would be Tina Fey as El Sapo's physical therapist/love interest. The film would be played straight and letting the humor come out of the situations. Think of films like "Machete," "From Dusk to Dawn," "Toxic Avenger," "The Mask of Zorro," "Planet Terror," and "Danger Diabolik." That sort of irreverent spirit and action.

NOTE FROM CJZ: Recent YouTube videos from El Sapo Blanco have indeed put our hero into outer space.
Juan Diaz demonstrates an inanity with a purpose in his videos. As an example, take a look at The Invisible Man Returns as an example of a dry wit while conveying the nonchalance of the famous 1950s era luchador. The story is humorous, B cinema (all the way), and filled with homage to a bygone era of horror and adventure. The cheesy special f/x are precious and the confidence and bravado exhibited by El Sapo Blanco perfectly captures the 1950s hero...and perhaps, in some sense, makes us all long for this type of hero in our era of milquetoast metrosexual heroes.

To see dozens more videos of the aforementioned hero see and subscribe to his YouTube channel by clicking this link: ZBudget Director

Destroyer, The Rape, Torture and Murder of Vanna White

The rape, murder, and torture of Vanna White? That's why Lyle Alzado is in the electric chair in 1988's "Destroyer." Oh yeah, to make matters worse, after Vanna White, Lyle Alzado will try to do the same to "Valley Girl" Deborah Foreman! How horrible. Throw in Anthony Perkins as a movie director shooting a women-in-prison sexploitation flick in an abandoned prison and we have a vicious and unforgiving horror film.
After raping, torturing, and murdering a Vanna White character (Cathy Eberhard) and 22 others, Ivan (Alzado) is executed in an electric chair. His execution inspires a riot at the corrupt prison and many guards and inmates will die. But wait! Is Ivan dead? 18 months later Robert (Anthony Perkins) is filming a women in chains exploitation epic at the prison. Susan (Foreman) is his stunt lady and she is having weird nightmares that Ivan is after her. Her boyfriend, David (Clayton Rohner) assures her Ivan is dead. The leading babe in the film is Sharon Fox (Lannie Garrett), and she is a real bitch. Then the murders start as Ivan seems to be very alive. A blow torch fries the former warden, a corrupt cop will be taken apart by a jackhammer, and even the electric chair will beset some of the film crew.
As Ivan continues to torment Susan, no one believes Susan is in danger. Bombshell actress Sharon will catch Ivan's eye and Ivan has special plans for her. As Robert films his massive cat-fight-in-the-shower scenes, Ivan watches and is aroused. Now he is exploding to do all sorts of perverted and awful acts on the perky stunt-woman...and he will have that opportunity. As Susan must now face Ivan, she will be pummeled, licked, groped, and tortured...but she has fight in her. Oh yeah, David? Who cares!?
Will Susan escape the tortuous and humiliating fate the game show hostess and B movie scream-queen endured? Does the diminutive and sultry valley girl have any prayer against the Oakland Raider brute? Did this film ensure that the Raiders would eventually move out of Oakland into Las Vegas as the people of Oakland rebel against misogyny?  This is a good one and is extremely brutal. At times it is difficult to watch what Lyle Alzado does to our favorite valley girl. Not for fans of "Wheel of Fortune," but for all others, enjoy "Destroyer," directed by Robert Kirk.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Final Scream, Casting and Torture Porn

Okay, I admit it...this film has flaws. This begs a great, age old question; Is gory torture porn and a sultry final girl enough to overcome any flaw? Of course! Hence 2019's "The Final Scream," directed by Scott Jeffrey. Perhaps this is a dramatic exaggeration of an industry infected with the Harvey Weinstein mindset, or perhaps it is just gratuitous and deviant horror, in any event, we are left with a neat slasher film where so many of the beautiful will die so horribly.
Kia (Kate Lister) is an aspiring actress desperately holding onto the dream of making it in pictures. With little cause for hope, she is desperate and accepts a casting call from a shady website. She is offered the part as the final girl in Tim's (Marc Ozall) low budget slasher film. She will play a bride who is stalked in the woods along with her beautiful bridesmaids. She's excited and so is Tim. Kia will star in the film and Tim will have his cast...for a snuff film. See, Tim is not only a pervert, but also a deviant homicidal maniac. He desires to strap each gal down and torture them with...well, you'll see. And see it you will.
Slow on the uptake, Kia begins acting for the camera and eventually gets suspicious...too late. Now Kia is in the role of her life, but her new role better be of commando if she hopes to survive. Ah good news, her sultry lesbian lover Reece (Becca Hirani), and her agent figure things out and race to the remote location. Bad news...more victims for Tim. As bridesmaids and other lovelies are strung up or strapped down, power drills and pliers are brought out. Now Kia is on the run but with the emergence of Reece as a prisoner, she must return and try to save her...and of course kill Tim and his crew. The sultry Kia will give us some gratuitous scenes as the end credits approach, and Tim will get increasingly deranged and angry.
Will the sultry Kia emerge as a final girl or will Tim's snuff film be made on schedule? Will the sultry Kia's lesbian relationship with the sultry Reece be exploited by either Tim...or the actual makers of "The Final Scream"? Ms. Lister as Kia is the strength of this film and plays to the camera very well, you guys will love watching her. Scenes of icky torture will abound with some neat kills interspersed (car keys and hedge-clippers galore). For a gruesome good time with gore and cheesecake, enjoy "The Final Scream."

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Solid State, Girl Punk Band and the Apocalypse

Debbie Rochon! Her name is pure poetry to us horror fans. Dress her up in leather and studs, give her Miss Bikini for four years in a row and a sultry cowgirl, and we have a trio adept at warding off a mysterious invasion. Oh yeah, we won't mention it too much in this review but male drummers seem to die horribly when Debbie Rochon sings...poetry! Debbi Rochon, in an age of boring remakes and super-hero garbage, has continually given us films we actually want to see and 2012's "Solid State" (directed by Stefano Milla) is no exception.
Celeb agent Fox (Viveca A. Fox) has put the band back together again and lead singer Emily (Rochon) isn't happy. The sultry lead singer hated her two female colleagues, back-up singer Cynthia (Ava Brunini) who is now a country singer, and guitarist Sharon (Suzi Lorraine) who is now a bikini model and CEO of a designer edible lingerie company. They're all babes and Emily isn't happy to see them. Only the drummer needs replacement as they usually die horrible when around Emily, and Ray (Diego Castle) fills the bill. Fox arranges for their reunion in Italy and the band flies there and stays at a villa. Oh yeah, of no consequence to the band, an asteroid is heading our way with the girth to destroy Earth. Thank heavens NASA sends up a missile and blows it up, only to have a meteor from it fall near the villa where our band, 3 of Sin, is crashing.
Immediately Italians are turned into meteor zombies and have our punk band trapped in the villa. For food they eat Sharon's lingerie. The bickering band comes up with a plan for escape and are soon on the run. The monster Italians are eager to either kill the babes or turn them. As the large breasted band and their menacing drummer run through Italy Emily can't take their inanity anymore and separates from them. She'll discover a town with a secret and perhaps the explanation of what exactly is going on and how to fight it. Oh yeah, just as significant, our sultry cowgirl Cynthia has grabbed a really big machine gun for the fight to save mankind. Yes!
Exactly where did this infectious meteor come from and is their an intelligence in it? Is edible lingerie gluten-free? Will Emily wage war against her ditsy band mates or the alien intelligence that has invaded Italy? The wit and ominousness are fantastic as this scifi/horror spectacular quickly takes us through a potential apocalypse with weird zombies and beautiful punk performers. For some great cheesecake, edible bras and panties, and eerie Italian settings, see "Solid State."

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Alien Predator (2018), Navy SEALs vs. Space Aliens

What does a movie look like that only garners a 1/7/10 rating on IMDB? Well...its better than any of those DC or Marvel monstrosities. Better than any "Iron Man," "Wonder Woman," or "Thor" films. Cheers for the Syfy Channel and our buddies at Asylum for giving us movies we want to see devoid of the inane preaching of big-budget Hollywood. Hence 2018's "Alien Predator," directed by Jared Cohn.
An alien ship crashes into a building in the jungle of Honduras and a special black-ops Navy SEAL team is sent in to investigate. They will be shredded by Alien lasers and the gore that ensues will be quite gory. Back at base, tech guy Brooks (Dutch Hofstetter) hears the carnage over the radio and advises Captain Adrian (Xavi Israel). Adrian is then denied permission to go rescue his buddies. Disobeying orders, Adrian puts a team together anyway which include the PTSD-ridden Brooks, some guys who grunt a lot, and two SEAL babes (Katy Bentz and Amanda Rivas). Off they go into the jungle in hopes of finding SEAL survivors...this won't go well.
After finding some weird signs of carnage which include alien goo, alien booby traps, and ripped apart humans, Adrian and his men find the crashed spaceship. As the booby traps begin to whittle down his ill-prepared team, he concocts a plan to enter the ship to rescue any human left alive. As alien lasers pick apart more Navy SEALs, Adrian's team enters the ship. Awaiting them are more surprises and our SEAL babes won't fare well, I'm afraid. The deaths all differ and provide some neat gore. Brooks, the tech guy, begins finding out answers and discovers not every alien on the ship is a soldier. As the second team's numbers diminish rapidly, Adrian must rely on the PTSD-ridden tech guy to figure out exactly what they are dealing with and why are the aliens here.
What will be the fate of the SEAL babes, and do the aliens have special plans for them (like in a Roger Corman film)? Is there a chance Brooks will be able to communicate with the big buggers? Just what are the SEALs doing in Honduras and is this a repeat of the annoying meddling in Central America in which the U.S. and Russia just can't seem to avoid? This is a much better film than anything Tom Hanks or Steven Spielberg shove our way. Good gore...good action...great looking cast...and no annoying preaching! For a good time, see "Alien Predator."

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Banker, Financial Whiz and Weird Indian Cults

High stakes bankers do serve a purpose. They put deals together that affect corporations and enable them to grow, thus hiring more people and producing more goods and services. Just because some of these financiers are misogynistic homicidal lunatics shouldn't dissuade us from appreciating their services to our society. I mean, just because they hunt women with crossbows and use their corpses for cultist offerings to weird deities doesn't mean they're bad people. Who among us doesn't have an aspect of all that in our private lives? Hence 1989's "The Banker," directed by William Webb.
Spaulding Osbourne (Duncan Regehr) is the above mentioned lunatic. He pays for the classiest hookers and then shoots them with a crossbow and carves up their bodies in weird cult ceremonies. Jaynie (Teri Weigel) is the first to succumb to some ancient South American deity, and we are sorry to see her go. Her sex scene (pre-marital sex, I might add) is steamy and vicious. Detective Dan (Robert Forster) is assigned to the case and he figures there will be more killings. He is a good detective and Spaulding has no idea what he is in for.  Neither does another sultry hooker, Melanie (Deborah Richter). She'll be carved up, as well. However, Melanie was one of Dan's snitches and now Dan is taking this case more seriously.
Uh oh again, info-babe Sharon (Shanna Reed) is covering the story for a TV station. She also happens to be Dan's ex-wife. Sharon detests that a misogynistic killer is killing young ladies. Her approach on the air is antagonistic and she mocks and humiliates the killer. Not a good move. Spaulding will buy the TV station and then stalk her. More sultry whores will die horribly as well as some poor schmucks who figure out it's Spaulding. Spaulding's crossbow gets a lot of use in this film and now he aims it at Sharon, who just happens to be falling back in love with her ex, Detective Dan.
As Dan and Sharon get sweet on each other again, Spaulding goes full throttle Inca (or maybe Aztec) madman.
Are Sharon's First Amendment rights as a TV reporterette more important than the sensitivities of weird, homicidal, South American Inca cults? Who would win in a one on one contest between the hunk Duncan Regehr and the babe Rhona Mitra (crossbow vixen in "Hard Target 2") in a duel of crossbows? Oh yes, the last five minutes of this film is classic which includes one of the best one-liners ever uttered in film history. For a steamy and vicious thriller, with terrific crossbow carnage, see "The Banker."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Crash Site, Charisma Carpenter in Much Peril

When selecting a film to review I have three criteria. The second one: Is Charisma Carpenter in it? Hence a review today of 2011's "Crash Site." The charming and vivacious former Sand Diego Charger cheerleader shines so bright even after being bruised, scraped, bitten by icky things, chased and attacked by wolves, and caught in a marriage that is going down the drain. Oh yeah, for you gals, her husband is played by major league hunk, Sebastian Spence...trust me, you'll like him.
Okay, the sultry Rita (Carpenter) and hunk Dan (Spence) are on the outs. He works all the time and has neglected his family. His daughter Frances (Katie Findlay) has grown into a major league babe. The last straw is when he misses his daughter's graduation party, now he needs to figure out a way to stay married. A trip to the lodge in the woods! Everyone loves the idea and Dan must resist the temptation of bringing work with him (laptop and smart phone). Uh oh...Frances brings her smarmy boyfriend Matthew (Steven Grayhm). After the great looking couple keep bickering, Dan announces he and Rita will go an an overnight camping trip, just the two of them...no devices. Good move, except for the fact Matthew has actually seduced Frances to get close to her dad so he can kill him. Dan and Rita drive off with cut brake lines, courtesy of Matthew, and crash in the wilderness.
After regaining conscious, both spouses have chances of saving each other's life. Alas, the beautiful Rita is bitten by a poisonous spider as wolves start stalking them. The two go back and forth between bickering and tender moments as Rita lays some awful news on Dan. Meanwhile, the nubile Frances finds herself in much danger at home with Matthew, who is bent on murder and industrial espionage. As the two are stalked by more and more wolves, who now decide to attack, they both have realized what happened to them and desire to get back and save Frances.
Just how could Dan spend so much time at work with Charisma Carpenter waiting for him at home? Does the plot even matter when Charisma Carpenter is in the film? Fighting for their lives, will we see our very good looking couple put their marriage back together? Charisma Carpenter and Sebastian Spence play to the camera very well and this film is fast-paced and beautifully shot in the woods of the Pacific northwest. For some great cheesecake and beefcake, and some neat nature scenes, watch "Crash Site."