Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chocolate, "Rain Man" meets "Kill Bill"

Wow!  From Thailand comes the best martial arts movie of the past 20 years.  Where "Rain Man" gave us an autistic protagonist who could count cards, 2008's "Chocolate" gives us an autistic protagonist skilled in the martial arts and samurai swordsmanship.  The tag line which opens this film is as follows, "A special needs girl...with a special need....to kick some a**."  Stitches, compound fractures, concussions, broken noses, spine injuries, etc., not necessarily in the plot, but the downfall of many actor, extra, and stuntman during the filming.  No harnesses, CGI, stop-motion filming, all real martial arts.
The plot: Zin (Ammara Siripong) and Masashi (Hiroshi Abe) are lovers.  Masashi is a Japanese crime lord who is the rival of a Thai crime boss.  Zin works for the Thai one, and breaks away from him to save Masashi from being gunned down.  Now on the run from the Thai, she sends Masashi back to Japan when she realizes that she is pregnant with Zen (Jee Ja Yanin, pictured above).  Zen is born, and is diagnosed autistic.  Former enforcer and drug runner in the Thai gang, Zin becomes a devoted mother in a culture with no need for a special needs child.  Living in a nice house with all the money she earned, Zin must move to a slummier abode when her former boss finds her and cuts off her toe.  Things get worse when Zin develops terminal cancer and begins to deteriorate in front of Zen's eyes.  Moom (Taphon Phopwandee), Zin's nephew, moves in with them and he and Zen earn money with their street act.  Autistic Zen has amazing coordination and concentration and can catch anything thrown at her.
The money is not coming in fast enough to pay Zin's chemotherapy bills.  Moom finds Zin's notebook of all the Thais who owe her money.  Him and Zen attempt to collect and are met with hostility (see above photo).  Under attack, Zen, who has watched thousands of hours of martial arts movies, then goes to work.  She repels the attacks, usually by disposing of 20 or 30 gang thugs.  After collecting from a lumber yard boss, an ice house owner, and a butcher in a slaughterhouse, Zen probably disposes of 80 attackers, and collects the money for her mom's treatment.  Unbeknownst to her mom, Zen and Moom are driving the Thai boss' allies out of business, so Zin's former boss goes after her, Moom and Zen.  Close to death, Zin needs a way to protect Zen and Moom, and beckons her former lover, Masashi, to return.     
An epic final battle will occur with all the above mentioned players.  I lost count, but there had to be 200 casualties in this film.  In addition to the carnage, the movie has some of the most heartbreaking scenes one can imagine.  When autistic Zen, who does not cope with change, sees her mom's hair falling out because of cancer treatment, her reaction will yank at your heartstrings.  If Dustin Hoffman's portrayal of autistic Raymond impressed the heck out of you, Jee Ja Yanin's depiction on Zen will do the same.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hundra, The Feminized Deathstalker

1983 was a big year for grunting, swords, mayhem, and medieval rape.  Both "Deathstalker" (reviewed on this blog on March 3rd) and "Hundra" hit the screens.  Those who enjoy strong women characters will love Hundra, and cheer when she states, "I would prefer the feel of a horse between my legs than that of a man..." Laurene Landon ("Maniac Cop" and "America 3000") has the title role, and the beautiful actress delivers a terrific performance and executes her own stunts.  When Hundra rides a horse or engages in sword fights, she looks legit. No cut away footage, or a lame fencing technique here, Landon obviously trained intensely for this role.
The plot: A tribe of females has lived in the mountains in order to escape a male society that enslaves it's women and treats them purely as sex toys.  Occasionally the women venture into the cities to find men to impregnate them.  When the women give birth, boys are given away and the girls are raised as warriors.  One fateful day, while Hundra is hunting, her tribe is attacked by barbaric men who grunt a lot.  The entire population is massacred, and Hundra's beloved sister is gang raped and decapitated.  Hundra is then found by these fiends and pursued.  Fortunately for our protagonist, she offs 15 of her pursuers with her sword, a spear, and daggers.  In a daze, she stumbles onto a holy city where a high priestess convinces her to rebuild the tribe.  The first step, getting pregnant and birthing a girl.  Hundra's next quest almost makes her vomit....find a man.  Without online dating services, she finds the lone survivor of the barbarians that pursued her.  However adept she is at killing and equestrian, her ability to pick guys will give you dads out there nightmares.  
Happy to see Hundra, our barbarian fiend goes right to work. He delivers several loud, wet burps and starts pummeling Hundra.  After knocking her around, and burping some more, he attempts to violently rape her.  Realizing that this courtship is one sided, she fights him off and flees to the city.  After fleeing the chieftain's soldiers, who want her as a participant in orgies, she meets the guy of her dreams.  Unfortunately, this guy actually wants to get to know her before having sex.....men!!!!  She then puts herself through charm school, does her hair, applies make-up, and sheds her black leather wardrobe for some white intimates (see photo below).  Desiring to produce a female child, Hundra never intended to actually fall in love with the man who would plant the seed...but she does.  Unfortunately, the chieftain pursues her, determined to break her spirit and reduce her to a submissive concubine. 
                                     
Will Hundra's new feelings of love hamper her ability to effectively repel the chieftain's maniacal desires for her?  Will her love for the father of her child turn off feminist movie-goers?  Laurene Landon is so much fun to watch, and the action sequences and stunts are plentiful.  The musical score is terrific and done by Ennio Morricone.  This movie is worth a view, and please see Laurene Landon in her other films, as in the 1980s, I put her on a par with Lana Clarkson and Brigitte Nielsen.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Future Women, Shirley Eaton Conquers the World

If you are still distressed over Shirley Eaton's torturous demise in "Goldfinger," 1969's "Future Women" (aka "Rio 70," aka "The Girl From Rio") is the film for you.  Shot in Spain, set in Rio, Eaton plays man-hating Sumitra, who with an army of beautiful women, plans to conquer the world.  This film overflows with hot damsels in much distress, and is a B Movie fan's ultimate fantasy.
The plot: Undercover (literally) detective Jeff Sutton arrives at an exclusive hotel and Rio and immediately demands a manicurist and hair stylist.  Who says there are no more manly men?  Actually his manicurist is a beauty, Leslye (Maria Rohn).  Together they have lots of premarital sex, and do all sorts of romantic inanities.  Uh oh!  Masius (George Sanders), who heads a huge crime syndicate knows that Jeff has come to Rio because he fled the U.S. having absconded with $10 million.  Also, in a nearby secret compound, Sumitra leads an army of man-hating babes.  In an attempt to conquer the world, the women lure the richest men to the compound and steal their money...the men of course never leave.  Sumitra also knows Jeff has a briefcase with millions in it, and desires to possess it.  On the run from Masius' gang, Leslye helps Jeff escape.  Leslye is actually a secret agent for Sumitra and tricks Jeff to get on a plane which delivers him to Sumitra.  Meanwhile, Masius captures Leslye and beats the stuffing out of her in order to learn her secrets.
Bent on torturing him, Sumitra falls in love with Jeff.  The joke is on Sumitra!  There is no stolen loot.  Jeff wanted to be captured because his real job is to find Ulla (Marta Reves), who is the daughter of a wealthy businessman.  Sumitra captured her and is torturing her to break her will, so she will join the cause.  Sumitra's affection for Jeff makes Yuma jealous.  Yuma is Sumitra's lesbian lover. Seeing that Jeff is now monopolizing Sumitra's affections, Yuma rigs it so Jeff can escape with Ulla.  Meanwhile back in Rio, Leslye is enduring excruciating beatings and torture from Masius' men, and is released when Masius believes he has her loyalty.  Now that Masius knows about Sumitra's treasure, he forms an evil but grand strategy.  With his own air force, and an army of brutish criminals, he will raid the island, kill all the women, and claim the gold and cash.  To do this, he needs Jeff to show him the way in.  This results in an epic war in which so many of Sumitra's beautiful soldiers get mowed down by Masius' helicopter gunships.....very sad!
How will Masius strong-arm Jeff to return to Masius' compound?  In 2014, are we ready for an action hero who demands a hair-stylist and manicurist?  This movie was made in Europe...perhaps its a European thing?  Will Sumitra and her army be able to repel the invasion?  As stunning and menacing as Shirley Eaton is as our femme fatale, Maria Rohm, as Leslye, steals the show.  She shoots lots of guns and goes toe to toe, usually unsuccessfully, with all the villains in this story.  We cheer for her, no matter which side she appears to be on in any particular scene.  Even with the beatings and water torture she is subjected to, this beauty never loses control, and never whimpers.  If she were a stewardess instead of a manicurist, perhaps a movie would have been made about her character battling super-villains.  For campy, and very guilty pleasures, see "Future Women."     

Friday, July 25, 2014

Robo Vampire, China's answer to Robo Cop

I found Paul Verhoeven's "Robo Cop" a bit preachy and self-serving.  Apparently the Chinese did as well, because the next year (1988), "Robo Vampire" was made in China.  A cross between Lucio Fulci's "Zombie" and "Robo Cop," this film capitalizes on the gore and violence without pushing forth an agenda.  Badly dubbed, and really corny martial arts only act to heighten the charm of this Asian cinematic achievement.
The plot: When you watch this film, don't worry about the plot....believe me...it'll come together eventually.  Mr. Young runs an international heroine operation in the middle of Asia's "Golden Triangle."  Vampires, who look more like Fulci zombies, are created by Young to guard their operation.  The vampires hop like rabbits, hold their arms straight out, are adept at martial arts, and munch rather than bite.  Young's people have created a super vampire which looks more like a hopping gorilla than it does Bela Lugosi.  Unfortunately, the girl who the gorilla-vampire was supposed to marry, died.  Now this unfortunate soul comes back as a ghost.  She agrees to serve Young if he weds these two poor saps...which he does.  Enough of this foolishness for now.  Drug agents try everything to get to Young's jungle compound.  Young's people kill two of the top agents and kidnap another, the sexy Sophie.  Instead of killing Sophie, Young wants to slap her around a bit (see photo below) and subject her to Chinese water torture.  
One of the dead agents is immediately converted into a robot (see photo below).  The robo-agent (actually not a vampire) then pursues the Young organization in order to free the helpless and vulnerable Sophie.  The agency also hires a band of mercenaries to free Sophie from Young's tortuous clutches.  Young dispatches his henchmen, who all run into gunfire, and the super-gorilla-vampire and his bride...the ghost, to fend off and destroy Robo Vampire. This all sets up an exciting jungle-combat conclusion with lots of gunfights and explosions, not to mention world-class martial arts.
Will Robo Vampire and the mercenaries be able to rescue Sophie before Young has his way with her?  Will our newlyweds (the ghost and the gorilla-vampire) break away from Young and join the forces of good?  This film is tons of fun and very violent.  If you liked those badly dubbed kung-fu movies that used to play on Saturday mornings, "Robo Vampire" is the film for you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Galaxina, Dorothy Stratten, Dorothy Stratten, and Dorothy Stratten...

1980's "Galaxina" is a chapter in one of Hollywood's most brutal stories over the past 50 years.  Dorothy Stratten, an awkward girl from Vancouver, blossoms into a real beauty.  She is whisked to Hollywood by a Svengali type figure, Paul Snider.  Snider is an idea man with a big cocaine problem. He marries Stratten.  Hollywood and Hugh Heffner (Playboy) are very interested in Stratten, but not Snider.  Peter Bogdanovich fell madly in love with her, and Playboy was about to announce that Stratten was their choice for Playmate of the Year.  As she was making "Galaxina," Snider would harass her on the set.  Now estranged from Stratten, he convinced her to pay him a visit.  When Stratten arrived at his apartment, he brutally raped her and blew her face off with a shotgun, before committing suicide with that same shotgun.  She is most famous, in film, for her role in "Galaxina" and as Miss Cosmos in an episode of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century."
The plot: In the year 3008, an inter-galactic police cruiser is patrolling the outer reaches of the universe.  It's captain is Cornelius Butt (Avery Schreiber), and his right hand man is Sgt. Thor (Stephen Macht).  Galaxina (Stratten) is a robot on the vessel and she acts as a maid, waitress, and sometimes a power source for their force-field. The stunning robot also has a defense feature, if touched by a human, that poor sap gets a stiff jolt of electricity (sort of a futuristic chastity belt).  Galaxina is all robot and doesn't speak until one day Thor cannot resist her beauty and braves the electric shock and plants a big kiss on her. Though a very painful endeavor on his part, Thor tells her "it was worth the pain."  This also does something to Galaxina as she experiences emotions for the first time.  During a port-of-call, the crew visits a cat-house, and when she sees Thor kiss a prostitute, Galaxina sheds tears.  
Meanwhile, the crew is given orders to retrieve "The Blue Crystal."  You know, the proverbial crystal that all who possess it may have rule over the universe.  To get to the planet where it is located, the crew must spend 27 years in cryogenic sleep.  In those 27 years, Galaxina reprograms herself so when the crew wakes, she can talk and seduce.  When Thor awakes, Galaxina has no problem getting him to fall in love with her (this film came out before "Blade Runner").  As the cruiser is attacked by the evil Ordric (who also wants the crystal), they crash land on the planet.  Because of the planet's atmosphere, only Galaxina can venture into a town populated by aliens who eat humans and retrieve the crystal.  Galaxina will come face to face with the evil Ordric and attempt to use her seductive powers to defeat him.  She will also be captured and tied up by a 1950's type motorcycle gang who worships the god Harley Davidson.  
Will Galaxina escape her bondage and return to the spaceship with the crystal?  Will her romance with Thor get past some obvious technical issues (Thor asks himself, "I wonder if she as a .........?")?  Stratten is the draw of this film.  The bloody events that followed the creation of "Galaxina" may be the reason why this film was hardly seen when it came out.  The film spoofs "Alien," "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Star Trek," "High Noon," and "Star Wars."  If still alive, Stratten would be in her 50s and no doubt gracing audiences as a guest at science fiction conventions.  See "Galaxina," for an interesting and fun time, despite it's place inside a real life horror story.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rodentz, Man vs. Those Icky Little Buggers

Alexandra Townsend (see photo below) is best known as the gal featured in ads for Smirnoff Ice and AXE Men's Products.  A beautiful actress, she is of course stunning in today's blog entry, 2001's "Rodentz" (aka "Altered Species").  However captivating her character Chelsea is, a discerning B Movie fan recognizes, as the movie begins, she is listed sixth in the credits.  In absolutely every instance, no exception, the actor/actress listed sixth in the credits dies the goriest death.  We do get to see her for an hour before her face is bitten off by a six-foot mutant rat, so all is not lost.....unless you are Chelsea.
The plot: Professor Irwin (Guy Vieg) is grouchy and makes lots of mistakes.  In other words, he will not be the pioneer who cures cancer....but Irwin doesn't know that.  His new serum makes rats psycho, and really strong.  His student assistant, Walter (Allen Lee Haff of "Ice Crawlers," see my review of Jan. 20th) tries to tell him that the new batch of serum is no good.  Why let a few mistakes get in the way of saving mankind?  In fact, the university threw Irwin off campus because his experiments were a bit....out there.  Rats in the basement drink this serum as Walter pours it down the sink, and the pipes leak down there.  Also, one of the lab rats is growing at biblical proportion and will be 300 pounds in a few hours.  As the rats turn spazoid (thank you, Sarah LaFleur...the real creator of this word), they turn Irwin's cute tabby into puree, eat the janitor, and then...ironically...Irwin as he looks for the cat.  Not to worry, five of Walter's university friends are coming to party with him.
Alicia (Leah Rowan) convinces Walter to let them in using her female "charm." As our six students convene in the lab, it is not yet apparent to them that they are being hunted by thousands of rats, and one six-foot mutant rat.  So Walter's friends agree to help him find the rat that busted out of it's cage.  Frank (David Bradley) and Chelsea use this opportunity to engage in premarital sex.  Of course you can guess what happens to them, as this is the scene where Chelsea is separated from her face.  The surviving students are now in a panic and are grasping for strategies to survive the onslaught.  Walter and Alicia emerge as the two most level headed characters, and together they concoct a strategy to kill the rats and last the night.  
Will Walter and Alicia ensure that man's place at the top of the food chain is secure?  Will AXE Men's Products and Smirnoff use Chelsea's fate as gimmicks in future ad campaigns?  The acting and gore are both fairly good.  The use of a rat-cam is kinda of neat.  This movie has plenty of upsides, and if you watch it on Netflix, you won't be disappointed. 



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dracula's Widow, Sylvia Kristel R.I.P.

Almost two years ago, Sylvia Kristel succumbed to cancer at the age of 60.  The beauty from the Netherlands is still famous for three "Emmanuelle" movies in the 1970s.  Her erotic performances in those films turned a lot of adolescents into temporary foreign film fans, as they were frequently played on HBO or other movie channels late at night.  In 1988, she had the title role in Christopher Coppola's "Dracula's Widow."  Christopher Coppola delivers a better movie than his uncle Francis did four years later when he made "Bram Stoker's Dracula."  Though released in 1988, Coppola made "Dracula's Widow" in the style of the great Film Noir films of the 1950s, complete with seedy L.A. neighborhoods, dark alleys, cynical old police detectives, and an ultimate femme fatale.
The plot:  Raymond (Lenny von Dohlen) owns a wax museum in Hollywood.  Six crates from Romania arrive at his store (even though he ordered only five), as he is creating a Dracula display.  Retiring for the night, two burglars break in and plan to steal valuable antiques.  Unfortunately for them, Vanessa, Dracula's widow, pops out of one crate and drinks the blood of one of the perpetrators.  Vanessa then heads to a seedy jazz bar and pick up a local L.A. radio personality.  He takes Vanessa to a park to make-out, and Vanessa bites his face off and drinks his blood.  Back to the museum she goes and meets the timid Raymond.  Raymond is shocked, and Vanessa bites him (see photo below), making him her slave.  Under her spell, Raymond is cold to his girlfriend Jenny (Rachel Jones) unless he looks at her jugular vein.
The hapless Raymond chauffeurs Vanessa through the seedier parts of L.A. so she can nourish herself, while he settles for eating pigeons.  At one point, Vanessa comes across some Satan worshipers as they are disemboweling a beautiful blonde.  She joins in the ritual, and discombubulates all 15 of them after the ceremony.  Crusty old Detective Hap Lannon (Josef Summer) shows up, with Van Helsing's grandson, and together they look for Vanessa.  The corpses piling up all have neck wounds, and mangled faces.  Hap doesn't believe in vampires until Helsing brings him to the morgue where the dead victims come to life as they are staked in the heart.  Meanwhile, Jenny is distraught over Raymond's aloofness, and on Vanessa's radar screen.  Vanessa must kill Jenny, as vampires do not deal with jealousy well.  As Hap and Jenny try to save Raymond, Vanessa gets deadlier. 
Will Hap and Jenny save Raymond from Vanessa's spell?  Will Jenny survive Vanessa's wrath?  Will Vanessa blend in to the seedy L.A. nightlife?  Fans of Film Noir will love what Christopher Coppola has delivered here.  Sylvia Kristel is exotic and menacing, and Josef Sommer as Hap turns in a terrific Film Noir type performance.  Don't waste your time with the 1992 Coppola vampire film, enjoy Christopher Coppola's "Dracula's Widow."  This film is on Netflix.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shakma, Roddy McDowell vs. the Ape

When animals attack....it is usually because a human did an evil or stupid thing.  That is the case in 1990's "Shakma," where experimentation on the brain of a baboon has fatal consequences on medical students and their professor.  With the popularity of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (released in theaters last week-end), "Shakma" is a timely movie for this blog, especially since Roddy McDowell stars.  The two really cool aspects of this movie, setting it apart from average fare, are the fantastic ending and real surprises on who survives and who gets chewed up by the psycho baboon.
As the story begins, Dr. Sorenson (McDowell) is finishing up with brain surgery on Shakma the baboon, as his students watch.  Bad news, when Shakma comes to, he is all spazoid (my word, like it?).  Sorenson then has Shakma euthanized.....or so he thinks.  Remember, this is 1990.  Fantasy Football and elaborate computer games do not yet exist.  So...what are restless med students and their professor to do to let off steam.  Exactly!  Sorenson arranges a huge role playing game akin to "Dungeons and Dragons" where he will act as the game master.  His students will be knights, elves, wizards, dungeon keepers, and princesses.  They will search the halls for weapons, powers, and magic crystals in hopes of freeing the princess (Ari Meyers of "Kate and Allie").  Uh oh..... Shakma regains consciousness and he is really ape-s&#@.  As the students prowl the halls, Shakma hunts them down in very bloody fashion.  Sam (Christopher Atkins of "The Blue Lagoon") and Tracy (Amanda Wyss of  "A Nightmare on Elm Street") figure out what is happening and realize the game has changed.  
As idiotic role-playing med students get chewed up, Tracy and Sam attempt to find ways to rescue their surviving peers and kill Shakma.  The two work brilliantly to distract the monster, while they search rooms for survivors...though this will be a futile effort.  Their strategery will then be focused on escape.  Sam must rescue the princess from the seventh floor, and Tracy will keep Shakma trapped on the fifth floor.  With the stakes being life and death, there is no room for error.  As Kim, dressed as a medieval princess waits to be rescued by a prince, she has no clue of what is happening on the floors below.  
I don't want to say too much more, as the final 20 minutes has many surprises.  Shakma is relentless and unforgiving and chooses his kills without regard to the attractiveness or clean-cut nature of the characters. Will Sam be able to save the princess?  Will a modern remake of "Shakma" use Fantasy Football or a zombie role playing game as a plot device?  Though inspirational to the baboon community, humans will find "Shakma" unsettling.  For more ape fun at the movies, see "Shakma," which is on Netflix.    

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Killing Machine, Dolph Lundgren kills in Vancouver

In 2010 (the year this film was made), the population of Vancouver must have decreased.  In "The Killing Machine," Dolph Lundgren kills 30 bad guys, and 13 more are mowed down by other characters.  If you have had a day when the entire population seems bent on annoying the snot out of you, this film is the perfect remedy.  Averaging a kill every two minutes, very few of the casualties are characters we sympathize for. One rule in B Movies, every 18th person on this planet is a highly trained and capable international assassin.  Also known as "Icarus," this movie is a perfect elixir if your spouse or date made you endure "The Fault in Our Stars."
Eddie, a salesman of corporate real estate (yeah right), is rich, divorced from Joey (Stefanie von Pfetten), has a small daughter, and a beautiful girlfriend, April (Lindsay Maxwell, see photo below).  No one knows that he was a killer for the KGB, and when the USSR fell apart, he did the same for the Russian mob. However, for the past five years, he has lived a double life, as killer and businessman.  As the movie opens he mows down several Hong Kong mobsters in rescuing an unfortunate Russian mobster.  Immediately back home to April, who adores him.  Then he gets a mysterious visitor to his real estate office, a slimy spook named Graham (David Lewis) who indicates that Eddie's cover is blown.  This is confirmed as violent attempts on Eddie's life commence, usually resulting in the death of entire teams of assassins.  Talk about inconveniences....Joey calls Eddie and lets him know it is his week-end with the daughter.  Not wanting to blow his cover to his clueless ex, Eddie says "no problem."  
Putting his daughter first, he leaves her with April and heads off to Miami to do a hit.  On the way to the airport, he is engaged by a road construction crew with assault rifles....Dolph Lundgren wins.  April isn't as fortunate as she is blown to pieces by another team of killers.  By a stroke of luck, his daughter gets away and he is able to deliver her to the CIA for protection.  He then finds Joey, who is enjoying the week-end with her new beau (a lawyer).  When another team kills the lawyer, Eddie brings his wife to the CIA, as well. With April dead (very sad), and the lawyer too, Joey and Eddie fall back in love and Eddie tells her everything.  Try this at home....go up to your wife or husband of many years and say, "Dear, I need to level with you, my real name is Icarus and I used to kill for Russian mobsters."  Amazingly, Joey takes this news well and is even more devoted to Eddie than ever.  She even kills for him.
As the movie winds to a whirling conclusion, Eddie realizes that the CIA team protecting his family may be behind the attempts on his life.  He is also forced by his CIA peeps to find and kill Vadim, who has taken over the syndicate in Hong Kong.  The CIA apparently ran protection for the previous crime lords.  To make matters more complicated, Vadim (Bo Svenson) has been a devoted comrade of Eddie's for decades. Will Eddie waste his best friend to save his family?  Is Joey's new attraction to Eddie a metaphor for what today's women are looking for in their men?  This movie is a lot of fun. The acting is terrific, especially Lundgren and Svenson as former Soviet KGB (both these actors are Swedes).  See "The Killing Machine," and regain your manhood...or for you women, regain your "edge."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Killer Yacht Party, Troma takes to the High Seas

From our friends at Troma comes today's blog entry, 2006's "Killer Yacht Party" (aka "Dead in the Water"). Though just a few years old, this movie reminds me so much of 1980's "Terror Train." Over the top carnage of beautiful clubbers...but instead of a train, we have a yacht. Widely available, in good quality, on YouTube, this film averages a murder every five minutes.  Though the surprise ending will be easy for the discriminating B Movie fan to figure out, it is great to see that 1980s style slasher movies are still popping up.
The plot: Lacy (Becky Boxer) and Jane (Maggie Marion) are unlikely pals (see photo above).  Lacy lives for nightclubbing and some ungenerous critics may term her a "skank."  Jane just moved to L.A. from Iowa and and has geek written all over her, including her prudish wardrobe.  Thanks to Lacy, they secure an invite to a party on a yacht....the kind of party that one needs to be on a list for admission.  Jane has eyes on handsome Gavin (Taylor Gerard Hart) and Lacy has eyes on everyone except the guys she has already had a one-night stand with.  Other than Jane, every guest is a sexy clubber.  The boat is leased by a heel who supplies the gals with ecstasy, and has a girl named Monica (Kate Luyben).  Uh oh...our yacht has a history.  On it's maiden voyage, the owner killed his wife.  Legend has it that the deceased wife haunts the yacht.  For the first half of the movie we see the guests behaving badly with drugs and promiscuity.  In the latter half, all bloody carnage.
One of the first to go is Monica, as she lay in wait (clad in lingerie..see above photo).  She is bludgeoned to death with a mallet.  The suspects are numerous...a drug dealer with a beef, an unbalanced captain, an admirer of the woman who was killed on the maiden voyage, some jealous ex-one-night stands of Lacy's, etc.  Ah yes, perhaps clean cut Jane?  Maybe.  The killings come fast and furious at this point.  We have mallet, fish hook, electrocution, flare gun, knife, fishing line, and trash compactor carnage galore.  The sexier the outfit of the victim, the gorier the kill.  Though we don't sympathize with any of the victims, we are able to see huge judgment errors.  For example, if you are wearing lingerie, don't wander into a dark hallway to check the fuse box after the lights go out.  Another example, if "Get off my boat" is written in blood over a mangled corpse, this is probably a good time to take the yacht back to port.
Is Jane from Iowa as pure as she appears?  Is a ghost responsible for all the carnage?  Though the setting is a yacht, not a cruise liner, there seems to be an endless supple of really great looking guys and gals...all with the life expectancy of a house fly.  For fans of 1980s slasher films, this is a must see.  With no slasher films due out this summer, catch this one on YouTube.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Raw Meat, the Perils of Public Transportation

Before there was "Midnight Meat Train," there was 1973's "Raw Meat" (aka "Death Line").  Both these very gory movies tap into a terrific source of horror....the subway system.  I remember taking the Mass Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to work every day when I lived near Boston. To this day I have nightmares about being suffocated in crowds in dark places.  As a kid, I saw my first rat in a subway tunnel, and smelled odors emanating from grouchy fat people on hot summer days.  In "Raw Meat," cannibalism in the Russel Square Tube Station in London is the atmospheric setting which resurrects our fears of mass transit.
The plot: Two university students, Patricia (Sharon Gurney) and her useless communist boyfriend, Alex (David Ladd), come across an unconscious man named Manfred as they exit the Russell Square Tube Station.  They report this to a constable just outside the station, but when they go back to show the cop, Manfred is gone.  The selfish Alex doesn't care, but Patricia does and reports this to the police.  Inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasance) takes an immediate interest in the case as Manfred is a bigwig in the Ministry of Defense. What Patricia and Calhoun don't yet know is that in 1892 a horrible accident collapsed a tube station under construction, and the construction company did not have enough money to retrieve the bodies. Not all of the workers died, instead they lived underground, with plenty of water and enough corpses to feed themselves. Over the years, a race of cannibals lived in secret under the London streets, and one fiend abducted Manfred in order to feed on him piece by piece. (see above photo)
Inspector Calhoun works hard on the case, and is inspired to work harder when an agent from MI5 (Christopher Lee) pays him a visit (see photo below).  The arrogant agent tells Calhoun to stick to petty crime, and leave Manfred to MI5.  Apparently Manfred had some perverted habits and MI5 does not want Scotland Yard prowling into his past.  With lots of hard work, Calhoun discovers the tragic history of the collapsed station in 1892, and finds more victims in the subway.  After finding some of the members of a maintenance crew in very gory fashion, he realizes that some of them are not accounted for.  Meanwhile we get glimpses into the cannibal's lair, containing half eaten bodies, some of which are still alive.  Patricia and Calhoun, separately, attempt to solve the mystery of the missing Manfred.  Unfortunately for Patricia, she gets too close and is grabbed by our monster.  Uh oh.....the fiend has plans for Patricia which are unspeakable, and go far beyond feasting on her.
Will Alex get off his lazy and selfish rear-end and help Calhoun find Patricia?  Will the cannibal community in London ever enjoy the spirit of inclusiveness from an already diverse city?  Donald Pleasance is sensational as Inspector Calhoun. His dryness and cynicism are perfect for the role.  Norman Rossington as Sgt. Rogers, Calhoun's partner is perfect as his compliment.  Though not a vampire (...er I guess he sort of is), Christopher Lee as a government spook is menacing and sly as usual.  If you find yourself in the subway, remember to "mind the doors," and don't wander off by yourself.  "Raw Meat" will serve as a fitting metaphor to what can happen to us all in taxpayer funded mass transit.   

 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Asian School Girls, Rape, Torture, and Revenge in L.A.

An American movie capitalizing on the popularity of Japanese sexploitation is our selection today....2014's "Asian School Girls."  This is one of those films that most who watch it on Netflix will not admit it. Can you imagine going into work and and some lady tells you that she and her book club are reading "The Bridges of Madison County," and your response is "Cool, I just watched 'Asian School Girls,' on Netflix." Sort of a conversation stopper, right before you are reported to Human Resources.  So, instead of confessing that you viewed this film, now read the rest of this entry and claim "you merely read about 'Asian School Girls.'
Four Asian-American high school girls, Hannah (Sam Aotaki), May (Catherine Hyein Kim), Suzy (Belle Hengsathorn), and Vivian (Minnie Scarlet) decide to grab some fake IDs and go nightclubbing.  As they get all decked out in slinky wardrobes, and false eyelashes, these girls look the 21 years of age their IDs say they are.  Wes (Andrew Callahan) and Steve (Lucas Davis) find them like a shark finds ground beef.  After charming them, the two studs convince the girls to join them at a party.  Unfortunately, after our quartet agrees, the drug that was slipped into their drinks takes effect.  The girls, tied up, wake up in a dirty hotel room and are gang raped.  Still under the influence of the drugs, they are then dumped on the side of the road.  After coming to, the girls are humiliated, and their humiliation continues at the police station, as the cops see how they were dressed, and comment on the drinking they did, and the drugs which are still in their systems. Suzy takes this humiliation the hardest, and jumps off the roof off the high school, ending it all...at least for her.  
Hannah, May, and Vivian then decide to go on the offensive. Determined to make the men who raped them pay for their deeds, the now trio get jobs at a strip-club.  The girls know that Wes and Steve hang out there and are bent of finding them.  With generous tips, our girls are also able to buy lots of weapons like guns, throwing stars, knives, swords, and other sharp things.  Fortunately, they find Wes and Steve pretty quickly, as they were starting to enjoy there new careers as strippers.  Wes and Steve are only the beginning, after torturing and killing them, the amateur assassins continue on up into this crime syndicate which specializes in securing under-age girls for anyone who pays.  Their kills will approach two dozen before this film ends.  Many of the kills feature torture and castration.  As Hannah, May, and Vivian get good at killing, the crime syndicate goes after them.  The boss of the syndicate intends to capture them and surgically dismember our trio without anesthesia.  A final horrific showdown occurs when the boss gets the drop on the girls.  Will the beautiful vigilantes escape and exact vengeance on the evil crime lord, or will their need to take AP classes be dissolved?
Some of the more puritanical among us may ask, "Is there really any reason to watch 'Asian School Girls'?"  Well, my response would be, "Was there any real reason to watch 'Thor'?"  Perhaps not the most edifying of cinematic efforts, "Asian School Girls" is violent and unmerciful, and the actresses do a fine job.  I don't suggest anyone admits to enjoying this movie (though you will enjoy it), but do yourself a favor and catch it on Netflix the next time you are alone at home. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Argento's Dracula, Italy Deliver's the Classic Tale

Unlike 1992's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (directed by Francis Ford Coppola), 2012's "Argento's Dracula" is actually a good movie.  Rutger Hauer is a much better Van Helsing than Anthony Hopkins, and mercifully, Winona Ryder is not in the Dario Argento version.  In Coppola's version, Gary Oldman (a fine actor) is a horrible Dracula, but in Argento's version, Thomas Kretschmann turns in a fascinating performance.  What makes Kretschmann's portrayal so alluring?  His Dracula seemed a cross between Bela Lugosi and the Governor from "The Walking Dead." Filmed in 3D, with an over-the-top musical score, "Argento's Dracula" is a lot of fun and very atmospheric.
The plot is typical of Dracula movies.  As the film begins, Tanja (Miriam Giovanelli) violates a myriad of rules which B Movie fans know.  She sneaks out of her house against her mother's wishes, meets a married man in a barn, has pre-marital sex with him, throws away her cross pendant, believes her paramour when he tells her that noise outside was just the wind...and before you know it....she is one of Dracula's brides.  Meanwhile, Dracula summons Jonathan Harker to his castle to catalog his books.  With Lucy (Asia Argento) already under his spell, Dracula's real goal is to make Mina Harker (Maria Gastini) his bride.  Believing Mina is the reincarnation of his wife, Dracula uses Tanja and Lucy as pawns to lure Mina.  The Governor...I mean Dracula is manipulative, charming, and smarter than anyone in the town.  He can also take the form of an owl, wolf, rat, fly, roach, and praying mantis.  If you hold your breath long enough, you can almost see an eye-patch on his face.  
With Lucy gone....or undead, and her husband Jonathan missing, Mina searches for answers.  Enter Van Helsing (Hauer).Van Helsing is all business as he goes through Dracula's brides and sycophants like crap through a goose.  As Dracula succeeds in drawing Mina to his castle, Van Helsing heads there, well armed, with garlic, silver bullets, a wooden stake, and crosses.  Mina is no match for Dracula's hypnotic charm, and seems willing to succumb to his wishes.  Will Van Helsing arrive in time to save Mina?  Will Rick, Glenn, and Maggie......er....never mind.
While the 1992 Francis Ford Coppola version of Dracula wasted our time, Argetno's effort refreshingly paid homage to the real Bram Stoker work and also to Bela Lugosi who was Dracula in 1931.  Some of Lugosi's most famous quotes, such as "...children of the night...what music they make," are included in this film.  As for the acting, Rutger Hauer is always terrific, and Miriam Giovanelli is radiant as a very jealous bride of Dracula.  As for "The Walking Dead" fans, it will be difficult not to call this movie "Argento's The Governor."

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Blood Tide, Greek Virgins Beware

Miss USA 1970, Deborah Shelton, acted in her first movie in 1982's "Blood Tide." The green-eyed beauty flourished in the 80s in the TV show "Dallas," and as an ill-fated wife in Brian DePalma's "Body Double." This film showcases some of the most beautiful actresses of the 1980s, usually in states of undress.  In addition to Shelton, Lydia Cornell and Mary Louise Weller also star.  These three actresses steal the show from the male stars, James Earl Jones (who plays "a modern day Paul Robeson who spews Shakespeare") and Jose Ferrer who plays the mayor of a Greek island.  These three beauties are pictured below.
The plot:  Sherry (Weller) and Neil (Martin Kove) are on a pseudo honeymoon to an exotic Greek island.  The real purpose of this scamper is to find Neil's missing sister, Madeline (Shelton).  This good-looking couple meet the mayor (Ferrer) and surmise that he is lying when he states that he never has seen Madeline. The mayor keeps the island's secret.  In ancient times, an evil monster was kept at bay by feeding it virgin sacrifices.  Next stop, Frye (Jones).  Sherry and Neil follow a brunette, which ends up being Madeline, to a shack.  Madeline is described by Frye as "a screwed up virgin." Then Barbara, Frye's kinda girlfriend, enters.  Barbara likes doing nude aerobics, and like most 1980's characters who partake in nude aerobics, she is eventually killed by the monster.  Frye is also in the process of looting an underwater cave filled with ancient treasures.  
Frye then dives on this cave, but this time, brings explosives.  In the cave is a walled off entryway which Frye believes leads to more treasure.  Of course, he is wrong, as an ancient toothy sea beast dwells on the other side.  Now loose, the beast starts eating virgins, though the viewer might question the virginity of some of the ladies who are attacked.  Back to Madeline.  Indications are that an order of nuns are preparing her to be an ultimate sacrifice for the beast.  While in the convent, the former Miss USA finds a painting of the creature, which sports a humongous male sex organ.  After Barbara is killed while skinny dipping, Frye makes up his mind he is going to blow up the always aroused fiend.  At the same time, Neil and Sherry race to save Madeline from her destiny with the stamina monster.  
Will our honeymooners get to Madeline in time?  Are we supposed to believe that the lady in the white bikini (pictured above) is a virgin?  Shelton, in her first motion picture, turns in a very erotic performance...especially during the final scenes when, under a spell, she awaits the beast in an aroused state. Filmed in Greece, this is a very pleasing film to look at.  Though the creature has limited screen time, our three actresses have plenty.  See "Blood Tide" as you plan your next beach visit. 


 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Flukt, On the Run in Norway

2012's "Flukt" ("Escape" in English) is the third film starring Ingrid Bolso Berdal to be featured on this blog (also see "Cold Prey" on Jan. 28, and "Cold Prey 2" on Feb. 3).  This is also the fourth work on my blog filmed in Norway.  I thank both Norway and Ingrid Bolso Berdal for helping make this blog the raging success it is.  Add in swords, crossbows, knives, spears, and booby traps and we have a movie for the discriminating B Movie fan.
The plot:  The year is 1363!  With all that happened around the world in that year, it is easy to forget that Norwegians were trying to rebuild their civilization after the black death.  Signe (Isabel Christine Andreasen), her brother, and parents are venturing out to start a new life. They won't get far, as Dagmar (Berdal) and her gang massacre the family, killing them all in front of Signe.  Signe (see picture above) is taken prisoner because Dagmar wants to give her so-called daughter, Frigg (Mila Olin) a baby sister.  Dagmar intends to let each of her four thugs rape Signe until she is impregnated.  Dagmar cannot bare children of her own, but is bent on being Frigg's mommy, and having Frigg call her mommy.  Sounds pretty warped, huh?  Later in the movie, it is explained in eerie fashion why Dagmar is obsessed with this plan.  Frigg befriends Signe and helps her escape.  Now the two girls are on the run from crossbow wielding Dagmar (see picture below) and her henchmen.  Oh by the way, did I mention they are cannibals?
Now the chase is on.  "Flukt" then takes on the flavor of a John Boorman film, as director Roar Uthaug does a brilliant job utilizing the Norwegian mountain wilderness.  As Signe changes from a meek girl to a heroine who will do anything to maintain her virtue and protect her new friend, we see glimpses of Dagmar's past.  In one sense Dagmar is an evil being, but at the same time we feel sorry for her and all that she endured to become who she is now.  As the movie draws on, Dagmar becomes more human and Signe becomes more killer (almost reminiscent of Sarah Butler's performance in "I Spit on Your Grave"). The final scenes are vicious and beautiful at the same time.
Again, Ingrid Bolso Berdal turns in a remarkable performance as a very strong woman.  Like her performances in the "Cold Prey" movies, she has turned into a capable survivor after hellish events.  In a 90 minute movie, this is not easy.  Ms. Berdal has joined Ursula Andress and Barbara Bach as the most popular actresses on this blog, so hats off to her.  Known as "Escape" on Netflix, don't miss "Flukt."     

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

She, Ursula Andress who Must be Obeyed

Ursula Andress, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee in a Hammer Film.....say no more!  1965's "She" may be the poor man's "The Ten Commandments." Epic desert scenes, ancient Egyptians, idols, ruined civilizations, etc.  Andress has the title role as Egyptian princess Ayesha, who is referred to in the movie, not as She, not as Ayesha, but as "She Who Must Be Obeyed."  The Swiss actress is perfect for the role (...okay, so she doesn't look the least bit Egyptian....but she is Ursula Andress).  This Bond-girl has become the most popular actress on this blog.
Here we go! 1918 Palestine, the war has just ended for three British soldiers; Major Holly (Peter Cushing), Job (Bernard Cribbins), and Leo (John Richardson).  Saddened that the war is over, the three men are stewing at a nightclub desiring more desert adventure.  Leo then sees the woman of his dreams, Ustane (Rosenda Monteros).  Ustane lures him into an alley and instantly falls in love with him.  She will refer to him as "My Leo" throughout the film.  My Leo is then kidnapped and dragged to an apartment where he meets She Who Must Be Obeyed.  She Who Must Be Obeyed tells My Leo that he is her reincarnated lover Calicrates  (the former High Priest of Isis).  My Leo then falls in love with She Who Must Be Obeyed and is told that he will have to find his way to the lost city of Kuma to fulfill the prophecy so they can be reunited for eternity. With the help from his two cohorts, they embark on a desert trek to find the city.  Ustane is heartbroken, as she is also in love with My Leo.  Ustane, Major Holly, and My Leo are pictured below.  
After much adventure, they reach Kuma.  She Who Must Be Obeyed is angry Ustane has followed.  Sensing My Leo may love Ustane....well lets just say when a girl from a small tribe goes up against Ursula Andress the small town gal loses and Ustane is prematurely cremated.  Here's the catch, My Leo must walk through the flame of eternal life in order to be with She Who Must Be Obeyed for eternity.  Easy choice?  Hold on.  Major Holly then gives one of the most interesting speeches to My Leo regarding the downside of eternal life.  All this time, She Who Must Be Obeyed never, even over lots of centuries, picked up on the fact that her high priest, Billali (Christopher Lee) is in love with her.  Job sums up She Who Must Be Obeyed the best, "They just don't make 'em like that anymore, sir." Major Holly and Job try to convince My Leo to decide against She Who Must Be Obeyed and eternal life.  Meanwhile, Billali plots My Leo's demise so he can move in on She Who Must Be Obeyed.  
As invasions commence, My Leo must make his decision.  Billali decides he must act, and so do Major Holly and Job. In a fast and furious final twenty minutes, watch closely because so much happens.  The ending is fascinating and may be a warning against the concept of eternal life.  As in all her movies I've blogged about, Andress is captivating.  Cushing's performance is perfect, and so are Cribbins' and Richardson's.  If you have seen "The Ten Commandments" more than a dozen times and are sick of hearing "Moses...Moses...Moses!," you can find "She" on YouTube.