Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Author’s Note:  Mad spoilers.  There is just too much to write about with this movie.  

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)  

Molson Golden 

Well, this is a first for Fermented Film, the author is actually reviewing a good movie.  Not a drinking good movie, but like, a good movie.  “Bring Me the Head...” is an unlikely classic.  Sam Peckinpah’s severely dark, seemingly nihilistic tale of greed, lust, revenge and hatred.  For some reason today I wasn’t in the mood for the usual goofy fare that I watch while having a few and I decided to revisit this film.  Maybe it was the recent article about Sam Peckinpah in the Boston Phoenix but I doubt it.  The Phoenix hasn’t expressed interest in publishing this column, so I don’t find it fit for birdcage liner.  Bastards.  

I decided to keep it simple and drink a few Molson Goldens while viewing.  Molson Golden is a solid green bottle beer, if you like that kind of thing.  Its also a surprisingly heavy beer, more filling than other green bottles like Heineken and Stella.  Taste is definitely decent enough, and it takes a long time to drink a six pack of them, which makes it a good work night beer.  Its not like the deceptively harmless Bud Light or PBR, where you can suck down six of them without noticing.  This beer’s heavy body makes you take your time.  Turned out to be a good choice because you actually have to use your mind to watch this film.

The film opens with a horrifying scene featuring a young pregnant girl being tortured by her parents to give the name of the man who impregnated her.  Alfredo of the title is the father of her kid, and her father offers 1 million dollars to whoever brings him his head.  Hence the title.  

We first meet Warren Oates as Benny, the extremely unlikely protagonist, playing piano in a bar where men punch hookers out cold and no one bats an eyelash.  This isn’t a wacky slapstick “Three Amigos” style Mexican bar, though.  This is a dark place where money is god.  

Two gringo hit men are looking for Alfredo Garcia and they ask Benny for information.  He is able to figure out that Alfredo is worth tons of money, dead.  He gets drunk and goes to find his girlfriend, who is the beautiful Isela Vega playing a hooker.  He yells at her, threatens her and asks her where Alfredo is, apparently she had just cheated on Benny with Alfredo.  While interrogating her he orders a “double bourbon with a champaign back”!!!  Nasty.  She tells him that Alfredo has just died in a motorcycle accident.  

The relationship between Isela and Oates is very disturbing, intense and surprisingly realistic and intelligent.  Peckinpah has been accused of being a nihilist, a sexist, a drunk bastard and worse, but his handling of this fucked up abusive relationship is so damn spot on that it makes me think that he knew the material all too well.  Not to accuse him of anything, but this is one of the most scarily accurate abusive relationships I’ve ever seen in a film.  No soap opera bullshit here.  This is Masters in Psychology shit here.  And it never flinches.  The morning after their first tryst that we witness in the film, Oates finds he has crabs and pours tequila on his package.  He says “Wake up, change the sheets, I got a new job!”  

The scenes with Isela and Oates are very compelling.  This film is so dark that love is shown as a scary thing, a weakness, a place where losers try to hide inside one another.  

Oates and Isela travel to the countryside to find Alfredo’s grave.  There are many great scenes with Oates and Isela cruising through the Mexican countryside with some criminals trailing them.  Everyone is drinking and driving and singing.  Oates and Isela run into a couple of dirt bag gringo bikers, one of whom is played by a young Kris Kristofferson.  What follows is horrifying, a nightmarish rape scenario where the bikers take Oates and Isela hostage and intend to have their way with Isela.  There is a disturbing bent to it, as well, where Isela winds up begging Kris to rape her.   This is could be seen as either a comment on the nature of abuse, and the behavior of abused people.  Or it could be seen as flat out misogyny, the idea that women secretly want to be raped.  Either way, its a goddamn king hell of a disturbing scene.  

The next day they are driving away from the hell behind them and Isela is crying about having to help Oates dig up her past lover and take his souvenir.  He says “There’s nothin’ sacred about a hole in the ground...or the man in it....or you....or me!”  

Damn.  Some of Peckinpah’s legendary nihilism bleeding through.  

Their relationship continues to be creepy, with her being aroused by his increasingly insane, abusive behavior.  

Once they finally find Alfredo’s grave, they are greeted by a funeral procession carrying a tiny casket.  A baby’s funeral.  Could this film get any darker?  Yep.  And it does.  

They dig up Alfredo’s grave and are ambushed as Oates is about to cut the head off the body.  When Oates comes to, he

 is covered in dirt in the grave with Isela and headless Alfredo.  Isela is dead.  He screams at her and tries to flip her over so that she and Alfredo can “Do it the right way!”  JEEEEEsus.  It seems like she is a sacrifice for the head and the money it is worth.  

It is apparent in the ensuing scenes that the already insane Oates has become completely unhinged.  He pulls his gun out while asking some villagers if they had seen the criminals who had been trailing him.  He screams “Look at me with your goddamn fuckin eyes!”  

He finds the criminals and kills them.  While one is looking at him with questioning eyes he says “Why?  Because it feels so goddamn good!” then shoots him some more.  

Oates grabs the head and starts the long road back to his money with his new traveling buddy, Alfredo.  He starts talking to the head, which is in a burlap bag, always shown with flies buzzing around it.  He asks the head why it is worth so much; “You got jewels up your ears?  Diamonds up your nose?”  The next reel of the film concerns Oates’ descent into madness, and the scenes are slow, but very creepy.  Oates is an excellent actor, and this film is his tour de force.  I guess he was a mad man in real life and drank and drugged himself to a young death at 54.  Not that young, but his talents never diminished, he was great right to the end.    

One of my only gripes with the film is that the lighting is extremely bright, giving everything a 70s T-Show look.  This might have been done on purpose, to juxtapose the extremely dark subject matter with a plastic fantasy look.   There is a great image of a rich scum bag gringo criminal contentedly getting a foot bath from a Mexican hooker while reading an issue of Time magazine with a big picture of Nixon’s face on the cover.   

If you haven’t seen the film, I feel like I can leave the review here, because the end is excellent and shouldn’t be revealed in this wide open space.  All I can say is that Oates redeems himself and the first thing you will say as the credits roll is “Damn!”  This film is definitely not for everyone, but I highly recommend it for you thinking drunkards.  A good one to watch alone.

Monday, September 15, 2008

In the Midnight Hour... Rebel Yell and "Firestorm"

Rebel Yell Kentucky Bourbon  $19.99 1.75 L at New Hampshire State Liquor Store

Firestorm (1997) Rated R.  $2.99 at Newbury Comics.  

Author’s Note:  Tonight, we at Fermented Films LLC offer you a new direction in film reviews.  The author drank some whiskey, watched a movie, took notes, drank some more whiskey, now is writing this review.  The author does not want to give away too many trade secrets, but the other reviews were written the night after the viewing.  This one was written right after viewing, to bring this award winning column closer to the wire, if you will.  Either that or the film was so forgettable and the whiskey so strong that the author found that writing it out as soon as possible was in the column’s best quality interests.  This film was “Firestorm”, so the latter comment is out of the question.  The whiskey was pretty strong, though.  So, without further ado:  the Author brings you this column of majesty:  

I settled down to partake in my daily sacrament of whiskey with a half gallon of Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  I purchased this jug of mellow gold for $19.99 at a New Hampshire State Liquor store after a rousing 4 day weekend building a garage with friends in Central Maine.  The Rebel Yell has a decent, balanced flavor.  What it lacks in spice, it makes up for with a nice lengthy finish and a great aftertaste.  If you can find this whiskey for less than $14 a fifth, go for it.  It retails for around $13 in most places, even Louisville, its home city.  I’ve seen it for upwards of $16 in New England, though.  For a ten to fourteen dollar bottle, it ain’t bad.  

I was about to pop in my night’s viewing when I realized that Townes Van Zandt’s “In the Beginning” album had come in the mail.  I am a huge Townes fan, for my money he is the greatest singer-songwriter of the 20th Century.  That’s saying something as the people who are his competition for that title have names like Dylan and Williams. 

This album in particular was Townes’ first studio album, recorded in Nashville in 1966 and produced by the legendary Cowboy Jack Clement.  Peep these lyrics from the ass-kicking opener ‘Black Widow Blues’:

“Got the blues sewn into my jacket sleeve

Got a goatskin full of wine

I got the hands, pretty lady

Gonna make you grieve

And the Lovin, gonna make you mine”  

If verses like that, sung over a funky ass 60s blues groove don’t get you ready to drink some goddamn whiskey and howl at the moon, you might

 wanna check your pulse.  I wanted to howl at the moon, but I was tired and I had work to do.  Like reviewing a shitty action movie and drinking then writing about it.  However, I’ll be damned if a Townes Van Zandt album review isn’t a worthwhile detour in this column.  On to business:

My very first note about the movie “Firestorm” in my viewing notes is “William Forsythe’s in it!  YES!”  

This proved to be a quite prophetic observation, as Forsythe completely dominates the proceedings and makes it his film.  I never saw this movie when it came out or since then, well, because it  stars Howie Long.  He plays an elite Smoke Jumper, a guy who parachutes into forest fires and fights em on the ground.  You may remember Long as the giant Neanderthal guy from Fox Football coverage or the guy that did all those ads with Terri Hatcher for Radio Shack.  As of looking at his Wikipedia page right now, I see that he was born in SOMERVILLE, MA and grew up in MILFORD, MA.  Awesome.  

He is a pretty horrendous actor, but he has the physical presence to make him a passable action hero.  The film is really about Forsythe, luckily, and his great performance definitely makes this a worthwhile film.  Forsythe plays Randall Earl Shay, a guy who stole $37,000,000 from the government and killed a bunch of people in the process.  The movie concerns his prison break via  a strategically lit forest fire and his overall ruthlessness.  He chews up the scenery in classic Forsythe form, spewing out lines like “You ever kill a man, Mr. Karch?  Its really quite

 exhilarating, you know.”   

If you want to see things like Howie Long being beaten with a canoe by a large Frenchman, Howie Long escaping a burning building by jumping a dirt bike through the roof, Forsythe killing tons of people and a multipart gory killing of Forsythe, this film’s for you.  Its really not very good, but I can think of far worse ways to burn an hour and 20 minutes off of your life.  And if you are a fan of Forsythe, his performance here echoes his excellent bad guy “Richie” in ‘Out For Justice’ with Steven Seagal.    

The back of the DVD says that Howie Long is “Hollywood’s Newest Action Hero!”, and apparently one of its quickest, as this was his one and only starring role.  This is the sole Howie Long vehicle, and its not really a surprise that there wasn’t another.  He can’t act worth a lick.  He’s big and muscular, sure, but Arnold could act rings around him, if that gives you an idea of his abilities.  Forsythe definitely saves the day here, turning in yet another phenomenal, unheralded performance.  

I am sweaty and buzzed and I should probably go to sleep, but I think I’ll have a short one and listen to this goddamn Townes album again.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Evening with the Williams Boys, Evan and Remo

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins... (1985) Rated PG

Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon 86 Proof

I didn’t even realize that this film and booze combo shared a surname until about 20 minutes into the movie. After a long day of work, my brain works like this:
“Movie. Whiskey.”
After a whiskey, my brain works like this:
“Movie: Remo Williams. Whiskey: Evan Williams. HEY, they share a surname!”
And as if the name pairing wasn’t enough, they turned out to be a great combo. Evan Williams is one of the best low budget bourbons, it sells for $11.70 a fifth at Fuller’s Package Store in Orleans. In Kentucky it sold for about $10. A dollar seventy price difference from Louisville to Cape Cod is not bad, considering that other bourbons are $10 more a bottle here and gas is 20 cents cheaper right over the bridge.
Evan Williams is smooth almost to a fault. Its smoothness might come from a lack of flavor, but in its own right it has no bad qualities. Watery enough to remind you that it is cheap, smooth enough so as not to offend you. The first sip has just a touch of burn to it, then there is almost no burn or spice after that. Advanced whiskey drinkers might be turned off by the Williams’ lack of flavor, but its a perfect end of a long day sipper, when your tastebuds don’t really have the energy to be presented with anything too challenging. As I poured my first EW on the rocks, the rousing opening theme had me pretty excited to imbibe, and witness the beginnings of a franchise that never was. The theme music, by Craig Safan, has rhythmic gunshots, or fireworks exploding. It doesn’t get much more rousing than that.
We first meet a mustachioed Fred Ward as a police officer who is sitting in his cruiser listening to some jammin’ contemporary R and B (“Janet” by The Commodores). He has a Miss Piggy coffee cup holder, as well. Cool dude. Ward beats up some street thugs who are beating up on a guy. The thugs turn out to be in cahoots, as the guy they were beating up turns on Ward and they all beat him up. He goes to his patrol car to call for help, but a dump truck, driven by a maniacal laughing black guy, pushes his cruiser into the Hudson River.
Ward wakes up sans mustache in a hospital room. The same black guy, Conn MacLeary, who pushed him into the river tells him that his death has been faked and that they made a few “adjustments” to him while he was knocked out. Ward immediately checks his package. I would have done the same thing. It is then explained that they only changed his face, ie: removed his fake mustache. His new name is Remo Williams, and he has to work for a shadowy government organization now. Remo nods along, then escapes. Reginald Vel-Johnson, everyone’s favorite bi-sexual cop, makes an early appearance as the EMT whom Remo ambulance-jacks. He can’t escape for long, as Conn MacLeary gets him and leads him to the secret control center of C.U.R.E. (It is never explained what the acronym stands for and I can’t find an explanation anywhere on the net. Not anywhere, but the first two google entries for a “Remo Williams C.U.R.E.” search. What do you think I do, sit around in my soiled underwear all day hungover as hell looking up stupid stuff on the internet? Far from it, friend, farrrrr from it.)
Fans of Wilford Brimley, and I know you are out there, will be pleased to know that everyone’s favorite Oats salesman plays the head of the C.U.R.E. organization. Brimley has an extremely advanced computer that thinks for itself and speaks in different voices. After Remo cracks wise to Brimley he says “The Computer said you were a smart ass!”
Remo is basically the cleanup man for America, he is to get all the bad guys who can’t be taken down publicly. He is given his first assignment to kill a bad guy and Conn MacCleary, the black guy who pushed his car into the Hudson, says he will have to be “In and out, like a duck mating.”
Remo enters the building and we are introduced to Chiun, a little invincible Korean man that Remo tries to kill, but can’t. He is played by Joel Gray, which is an odd casting choice, and some might even say racist, but he does a great job. Chiun can dodge bullets and when he does karate chop moves, it makes a lazer sound. Chiun beats up Remo, then Conn enters and we realize that Chiun will train Remo to turn him into a super-ninja.
The training scenes consist of Remo endlessly getting his butt kicked by Chiun as the old man makes excellent constructive criticism of Remo’s performance like “You move like a pregnant yak!”
One of the most interesting details in the training scenes is that Chiun knows the secret “20 Steps to Bring a Woman to Ecstasy”, of which he says he only needs to use 7 and he only teaches Remo one. He also informs Remo that “Professional assassination is the highest form of public service.”
The main bad guy, Grove, is an evil military contractor. This is where the film shows itself to be politically pretty left wing, especially for an action film made in the gung-ho 80s. The idea that military contractors are running this country into the ground wasn’t exactly mainstream 23 years ago, although today it couldn’t be more apparent. Grove is trying to sell the government something called HARP, an obvious take-off on the Star Wars program that Reagan loved and dimwitted Donald Rumsfeld pushed on us until his top ranking generals forced him to resign due to “dismal planning.”
This film is in many ways a spiritual ancestor of the radical Steven Seagal “message” films of the 90s, (“On Deadly Ground” and “Fire Down Below”). Big business is seen as pure evil, with its tentacles reaching high up into the government. The heroes are shown to be mystery men who have been trained in the ways of the east. New Age action for the liberal ass kicker, I suppose.
This is a really fun movie and having a good buzz going only made it more enjoyable for me. It contains some pretty advanced ideas, offset by its “gee whiz” goofy demeanor. The CURE members have to kill themselves if they fail, as Brimley says “The main goal here is to not embarrass the President.” This must have been before everyone in America has just accepted that the President is a moron anyway. I wonder how many secret agents had to kill themselves before Bush went on to show the world how much of a buffoon he is. Although, he always seemed like a buffoon, didn’t he?
They obviously wanted to turn this into a series, as this film is called “The Adventure Begins...” and I wish they had made more of these. I imagine its fairly radical, left leaning undertones alienated alot of people who were looking for another Rambo, Norris- styled meat and potatoes hero. This movie is light on violence (although there is one incredible, violent scene involving a diamond studded tooth), and high on fun. I found the Williams boys, Evan and Remo to be great companions for an enjoyable evening.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Up the Creek with Miller High Life Cheladas and No Paddle

“Up the Creek” is a mindless and fun 1984 comedy that reunites ‘Animal House’ Alumni Tim “Otter” Matheson and Stephen “Flounder” Furst. Matheson plays basically the same character from the 1978 classic in this film, and Furst basically play’s John Belushi’s “Bluto” character, renamed “Gonzer” here.
Matheson, Furst, a skinny nerd named Irwin and a character whose only trait is that he is horny and can’t get a date, are rounded up by their dean at the beginning. The dean is the other mustachioed guy from Magnum PI.
He tells them that they are the worst students at the worst University in the country. They will be flunked out unless they compete in an intercollegiate rafting competition. Matheson’s character adheres to the cinematic rule of thumb that if there is a group of guys and one of them smokes cigars and wears a leather jacket, he is the coolest guy out of the group and the group’s leader.
I was drinking Miller High Life Cheladas, a clamato and beer health drink during this viewing, which is a sure sign that you drink too much beer. Not because I was once again spending an early evening at home drinking beer and watching movies, but that I was adding things to beer, disguising it, dressing it up to hide the fact that it is my lifeblood.
The humor kicks off strong, as the boys are on the way to the rafting competition and we get our first farting dog joke via Chuck the Dog, who turns out to be a major character. Upon their arrival at the competition, we are introduced to a group of those ever-evil Republican WASP Yuppies, who are the villains here, as they were in every movie made in the 1980s. They all look alot like Kurt Engel (R.I.P.), who you may know as Mr. Perfect from the WWF. An older Yuppie bastard sells them all sorts of weapons and bombs disguised as rafting supplies, like a paddle with a switchblade style knife inside of it.
The skinny nerd character, Irwin, turns out to be pretty interesting, because as the movie unfolds it is apparent that he has a severe drinking problem. I thought he was an interesting pick for the drunk character, most 80s films would have picked Gonzer, the fat party animal as the biggest drunk. Gonzer is rambunctious, and all the characters drink, but Gonzer’s main vice is food, while Irwin has acute alcoholism.
As the car full of hot babes arrive, they are reading a steamy romance novel aloud. Apparently back in the late 70s, early 80s, girls were really into reading steamy romances novels aloud to their friends, as the cute girls in “Meatballs” do the same thing.
There are several odd themes that continue throughout this film. One is Matheson lighting matches off of things, like a greaser’s leather jacket and later a yuppie’s face. There is also a theme of people flipping the bird and kissing it. Matheson has a jerky habit of narrating what is going on in a sort of ‘author-speak’. And, there are several instances where people order high class drinks and are served low class drinks instead.
Matheson: “I’ll have an Old Fashioned with a twist.”
Bartender: “Beer it is.”
Then there is the unlikely idea that the hot girls are excited that the bar where all the rafters party is full of men. As they enter the bar one of them says “Look at all that beefcake! The odds are in our favor. Take no prisoners!” Is it just me or does it seem like attractive girls would never ever say anything like that? Maybe in the 80s girls were into sausage fests. Seems to turn em off these days.
Matheson and the main hot girl, Heather Merriweather (played by Jennifer Runyon, who you may recognize as the hot female student in Ghostbusters that Venckman was trying to seduce.
She was also Gwendolyn Peirce on “Charles in Charge”. Easy on the eyes, that Runyon. The last thing she was in was the 1993 Roger Corman film “Carnosaur.” She fell in love with Todd Corman, Roger’s son during the filming. They later married. I got this info from IMDB, I’m not obsessed with her or anything. I swear it.) Uh, where was I...oh yeah, Matheson and Heather Merriweather seduce each other with very classy dialog.

Merriweather: “Why don’t you slip into something more comfortable?”
Matheson: “I didn’t bring anything more comfortable.”
Merriweather: “Well, how about me?”

Classy. The class is continued as the film teaches us that the sight of boobs will make a brass band play and a crowd cheer. The fans seemed a little less than enthused at the beginning of the race, so an attractive coed flashes her boobs and they strike up the band and the crowd goes wild. A lesson not lost on me. Boobs make people cheer. Remember that.
Once the rafting kicks off, its actually pretty impressive, with the real actors going down some very sketchy looking rapids. They still manage to clown around, which is commendable.
There really isn’t too much more to say about this film. Its stupid, brainless and fun and nearly interchangeable with any number of 80s college comedies. Although, I should mention that the horny guy character saves the day with inflatable sex dolls that they use as life rafts. Oh, and when the Yuppies think they are going to win the race, one of them says “We’re gonna get inducted into the stud hall of fame!” The theme song is by Cheap Trick and its called “Up the Creek.”
Dumb fun and definitely a perfectly acceptable drinking movie.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First Review: Ninjas, 80s Teens, Miller High Life and Olde Fitz Killed My Hangover


Silver Fox and Ninja Terminator

Dangerously Close


Miller High Life Chelada

Olde Fitzgerald 1849

I settled down to watch this bargain bin Kung Fu DVD "Silver Fox and Ninja Terminator" on a hungover afternoon with my health drink: Clamato and cheap domestic beer.  They are apparently called “Chelada”s and Budweiser now sells pre-mixed canned varieties that are very disgusting and are only sold in Austin and Northampton.  I learned of this magical mixture while visiting my old buddy Jayck Deez in Tucson, AZ.  He was tending bar at a dog track and the Mexican patrons seemed to enjoy the Clamato and light beer quite a bit.  I tried one and found it delicious.  Its like a light Bloody Mary.  A perfect hangover elixer, easy on the pipes and full of lycopene and clams.  I enjoy mine with pepper, salt and jalapeno slices.  I find it pretty amazing that clams and tomatoes can grow together, like in that Tomacco episode of the Simpsons.  Well, in this age of the internet and cellular phones, I guess anything is possible!  

The DVD has a “Hardcore Instructional Supplement” where Grandmaster Hwang Lee teaches Tai Kwan Do.  This extra has little value to the non Chinese speaking audience, as the entire thing is in Chinese and consists of Grandmaster Hwang yelling stuff.  His two female assistants and him don’t do much but jump back and forth and yell.  I wish I could have gleaned more knowledge from this supplement.  I felt sort of disoriented at this point in the game, and it was only going to get worse.  This turned out to be a good drinking movie, mainly because it is so disorienting that you can only hide from it in your glass and try to enjoy it on a strictly visceral level.  

The film obviously originally had a different name.  The title credit was pretty obviously added later on.  There is funky, lo-fi disco music playing and shots of shiny weapons.  And, as my notes tell me, it is worth mentioning that the A.D. (Assistant Director, for you non-Hollywood types) goes by the name of Joseph Poon.  

The opening scene shows a ninja master putting together a golden statue of, you guessed it, a ninja.  When the three pieces of the statue are put together, the ninja master becomes invincible.  His minions, who we later find out are named Harry, Baron and Tamachi (Harry and Baron are white and wear black eyeliner), try to kill him, but their swords have no effect on him.  Then, a bunch of red-suited ninjas invade.  There are many shots of ninjas bustling around, obviously sped up.  The deaths are unfortunately pretty bloodless.  Tamachi gets killed.  

There is an oddly touching funeral scene.  So far, the film is from the 80s.  All of a sudden, we meet “Tiger”, a bad guy with a platinum blonde wig and a white suit.  Now the film looks very 70s.  I didn’t quite realize this yet when initially watching the film, but this film is definitely two different films edited together to resemble one film.  It really starts to fall apart about halfway through, where it becomes obvious that one film, the one with the white Ninjas, is from the 1980s, and the other film, the one with Tiger and a badass good guy named Jaguar, is from the 70s.  They are both pretty hilarious and awesome films, and the way they are so sloppily combined makes for a very strange and disorienting viewing experience.  The type of film that is best viewed with a drink very close by.  

As the film got more and more confusing, I decided that the health Clamato drinks I had consumed already had done a good job of wearing my hangover down and it was time to give it a swift overhand right to the temple and knock it down to the canvas.  (Bad metaphor made worse by the fact that I was watching a karate movie so I should have written something like “I decided that I had rabbit punched my hangover enough with my health Clamato drinks, so I decided to dispatch with a swift chop to the neck.”  Oh well.) 
I grabbed a bottle of
Olde Fitzgerald’s 1849 Kentucky Bourbon and poured myself a glass over ice.  This bottle is 90 proof goes for $17 at Fuller’s Package Store in Orleans.  I had drank the cheaper varieties of Olde Fitzgerald in Louisville, where it sells for about $10 a fifth.  The 1849 is one of the venerable Louisville distillery’s top shelf brands.  It definitely isn’t the smoothest bourbon, with lots of smoky, woody spice and a good deal of burn.  Well, these tasting notes are nothing like the real thing, and the two beers I’ve drank while writing this have definitely knocked my hangover down a bit, so I’m going to pour myself a short one right now.  Please standby, and feel free to make yourself a drink while I make mine.  (I recommend listening to The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” while doing this, as that is what I am listening to right now and its a great song for getting in the mood to drink.  What the hell am I doing?  I have to get up at 4 a.m. tomorrow.  Shit. No one ever said being a drunken writer was going to be easy.)  

This whiskey is very good, with a strong flavor more suited for the advanced whiskey connoisseur (ie: drunkard).  

It tastes very smooth initially, then burns for quite a while afterwards.  Definitely makes me grimace a little bit, but in a good way.  I like to know that I’m drinking 90 proof booze.  If its too smooth or sweet, there is something missing from the equation.  You have to pay a little bit for the bliss of whiskey, while its going down and the next morning.  

Back to the film.  The movie has a “Silver Fox” in the title, and this character never appears.  There are many shots of the white, mustachioed ninja, Harry McQueen, chopping up watermelons and the other white ninja, Baron, twirling fireballs.  There is a scene where Harry McQueen’s girlfriend brings crabs home to cook for dinner.  She drops the bag on the ground and starts screaming as the crabs start moving around the kitchen.  Harry kills a crab with a throwing knife.  At this point, I decided that there was no reason to try to follow the story of this film.  It was too be enjoyed with childlike whimsy.  Or drunk.  

Basically the film makes no sense from here on out, and I can assure you that it wasn’t a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario where my own drinking made me not understand the film.  The film really made no sense.  So, I will merely list some of the highlights.  

-Jaguar kicks a baseball out of the air which bounces off of one bad guy’s head and into another bad guy’s head.  

-The ninjas have mist jets and flame throwers in the handles of their swords.  

-Random sex scene with a girl named Lilly.  

-A guy that looks like a little Asian David Crosby runs a pawn shop.  

-Cheesy remote control robot toys deliver death threats to the white ninjas from the Ninja Empire.  Harry McQueen tells the Ninja Empire to go to hell.  

-The editing is so bad that people’s costumes change from shot to shot.  

-Harry is an awesome hero, he’s like a Tom Selleck ninja.  

-Another, extremely awkward sex scene with Lilly.  

-Harry turns invincible, cuts more watermelons.  

-The white guy ninjas look goth in their ninja hoods with their black eyeliner.  

-The Ninja Empire sends VHS tapes that have clips from other ninja movies, narrated by The Ninja Terminator, who threatens them.  

The only other thing I can remember is that the Jaguar movie, the one from the 70s, looks really good, and I would like to find out what its called.  If anyone knows, hit me up.  Jaguar is a badass goodguy in the Terry Siguri tradition (Sonny Chiba’s character in the “Street Fighter” series).  He fights dirty, throws sand in people’s eyes, even throws dice in a bad guy’s eyes.  Awesome.  

Overall, it was a fun way to kill a hangover, but way too bizarre of a film to recommend to anyone who isn’t drinking while watching it.  Drunkards only on this one.  The Olde Fitz 1849 isn’t the smoothest whiskey in the world, but it packs a strong, clean buzz, which is fine by me.  

This turned out to be a pretty long afternoon/evening of movie watching, and I continued to chip away at the Olde Fitz and popped in a VHS of Albert Pyun’s 1986 film “Dangerously Close”.  

This movie is about a group of teenage vigilantes called “The Sentinels” that are hired by the principle of their high school to help out around campus and secretely hunt down and terrorize members of a group called the Magnet Project.  The Magnet kids are apparently students from less rich areas that are allowed to attend Vista Verde High, a rich kid school.  It is worth mentioning that the Vista Verde sports team is called the “The VV Lazers”.  I bet their logo was awesome.  The main character is the editor of the school newspaper, Donny.  He has five alarm clocks and they all have to go off to wake him up.  His wacky mo hawked buddy Krueger picks him up for school in his wacky hot rod.  Krueger smokes weed, bumps reggae, offers a cop a hit of his joint and narrates the proceedings in an over the top narrator voice.  Needless to say, he’s pretty awesome.  

We can see the conflict between Krueger and the Sentinels right away, as he blatantly disrespects them to their faces.  The first half of this film shows a great deal of promise.  It has a decent premise, it resembles my ideas of what high school was going to be like when I was 6 years old, and like most great 80s teen movies, all the actors playing teens look like they are about 30 years old.  

About a half hour into the film, I starred something in my notebook.  I normally only star things that are really important.  This starred note read: “* Albert Pyun.- Good movie from a bad director?”  

Albert Pyun is a horrible director.  He has made so many bad movies that it is actually pretty outstanding.  To be that bad at something but continually get work is sort of impressive in a somewhat sad way.  To look at his IMDB credits is like looking at a rogue’s gallery of cinematic sewage.  This was only his third film, so maybe he didn’t discover his own crappiness till halfway through the thing.  I haven’t seen his first two films, but I would wager that they suck.  So, that kind of kills the theory of him realizing he sucks halfway through this one.  I think he was given a decent script with a great potential and he managed to fuck it up, because he’s Albert Pyun.  This man made “Cyborg”.  Remember that piece of crap?  Remember when Van Damme was the next big action hero and you were 10 and you managed to convince your dad to rent “Cyborg” and it was like the worst piece of shit ever and you actually felt bad because you had put alot on the line convincing your dad not to rent some good movie and rent “Cyborg” instead because Van Damme was a good martial artist and you were a yellow belt at Villari’s Karate School?  Like it would actually be educational?  Hmmph.  

Ah, I was about to be let down by Mr. Pyun yet again.  What starts as a fun, very smart high school thriller just turns....bland.  There’s no other way to describe it.  There is very little action, the direction is stale and lifeless and the best character, Krueger is absent for most of the second half of the film.  This was an early night.  I had a decent buzz from the Olde Fitz and I had to get up very early the next day, so I didn’t watch Steven Seagal’s “Today You Die” and went to sleep.  I remember my hangover the next day as not being too bad, so I can recommend Olde Fitz for the experienced whiskey drinker.  I can’t really recommend either of these movies, but if you are drinking away a hangover, the non-congruent insanity of “Silver Fox and Ninja Terminator” is worth a look.  

Thanks for tuning in to my first Fermented Flicks entry, check back for more soused reviews.  Thanks to Jay Furrey and a bunch of other quality folks for helping with the name.  I have three more beers to drink, its 9 p.m. and I need to get up at 4 a.m.  Salud.