Sunday, December 28, 2008

Straight to Video Crap Explosion

Back in September or so, I found a Border's gift card under the seat of my car. I have no idea where the card came from, but it was worth $30. I decided I would spend it on something really stupid. I found what I was looking for in a boxed set of 100 horror movies called "Bloody Nightmares". This set combines two previously released 50 movie boxes: "Decrepit Crypt of Nightmares" and "Tomb of Terror". Mill Creek has been releasing these 50 movie DVD packs for awhile now, and for the money they are a good buy if you are a crap movie addict with just a touch of sadomasochism in your mental ingredients. Many of these films, even in some of the "better" collections like "Chilling Classics" and "Drive In Movie Classics" are definitely in the "so bad they're good" category. But this one hundred movie diarrhea explosion of amateur level horror movies takes a special kind of viewer. A viewer who loves pain, and drinks heartily to quench that pain. A viewer with iron resolve, iron will and an iron beer gut.
All 100 of these films represent below the bottom of the barrel video swill. Some of them are so amateurish and crappy that they make movies I made with my friends in my backyard when I was 13 look like Cecil B. DeMille. I will say that basically none of these movies merit recommendation, but I will share my experience for future generations of self destructive film critics and also to show my readership exactly how very serious I am about my art and how ready I am to suffer for it. This is the ultimate in cinematic self sacrifice, the film critic's version of kamikaze.
(Author's Note: This entry will be added to as I wade my way through this sea of cinematic sewage, new entries will appear as I continue to torture myself with these horrendous movies.)

The Traveler
The very first film I watched out of this buttload of crap films turned out to be one of the best. As it started, I sighed with the usual "why am I doing this to myself" feeling of regret as soon as I saw the cut-rate video and sound quality. Strangely enough, however, the film grabbed me. The pacing is decent, and it turns out to be a very sick and disturbed little chunk of homemade horror. The gore effects are extremely well done for the seemingly non-existent budget. Some of the stuff in here was actually so gross that it made me feel nauseous. If you are stupid enough to buy the "Tomb Of Terrors" box set, this is the best film in there. And, while it is horrendous, it stands head and shoulders above the rest of the garbage it is packaged with.

Demon Sex
This is unwatchable crap about a demon strain of alien DNA or something. It stars a bunch of fat dorks and a bunch of strippers and Brinke Stevens. The demon stripper girls can only get turned on when they see blood, sounds like an entertaining premise, right? No entertainment is to be found here. This is horrible.

Soul of the Demon
This one turned out to be a goofy bit of early 90s/late 80s fun. Definitely of the "so bad its good" category. The main characters are a bunch of lame rockers who have some amazing dialog. There is one awesome broham who gets killed way too early. He has some amazing lines and has to be heard to be believed. He walks in late to a seance party his mulleted friends are having with a six pack and some pizzas. He says "Did you guys conjure up any evil spirits? Pinhead? Jason? Chucky? If they had known we had pizza, they might have stayed and partied with us! Brew-ha anyone?" Incredible. Definitely one of the most entertainingly bad films to be had in the "Tomb Of Terrors" box. Actually has some good gore, as well.

Redneck County Fever
This film contains no gore, no hot girls in bikinis screaming in prison and basically nothing to make it stand alongside the other splatterfests it is packaged with. Well, maybe the fact that it was shot on a camcorder and is really bad makes it a suitable addition to the "Tomb of Terrors". This film is about two jerks in Zubaz who get lost in a rural Texas town. The film is neither funny or exciting in any way, but for some strange reason is sort of palatable. At only 60 minutes, it doesn't outstay its welcome, but unless you are really hungover and have nothing to do, like when I watched it, those 60 minutes will most likely feel like they were robbed from you.

Slasher (1987) This is a strangely re-edited version of "Blood Cult".
This movie was considered Z-Grade when it was released in 1985. Compared to the newer swill in these box sets, it looks incredible. This version of the 85 film is from 1997, and among the many crappy re-edits that are supposed to hide the fact that it is in fact an older movie, the sound cuts out for the last half hour. Not that it was that good in the first place. This is a crappy re-edit of a crappy film and thus is extremely crappy. A couple good gore scenes and somewhat professional looking camera work make it look impressive in comparison to the other crap fests in this box set.

Kill Them and Eat Them

More unwatchable crap, this time about mutants terrorizing street people. The theme music is good, and there is some cool old school looking animation, but overall, this is a snooze-fest.


More unwatchable crap, this time about a perverted serial killer clown named "Purvos". This one amazed me by how unattractive all the women were. I passed out within an hour of putting it on.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Inglorious Bastards! Quentin is Right!

Let me preface this review with this:

Quentin Tarantino is remaking this film
. His version is basically a cousin of this one, and not a straight-out remake. That said, I've wanted to see this movie ever since reading a post "Kill Bill" interview with Tarantino where he said he was working on his World War II project. The group of misfits teaming up for a dangerous mission film has been done many times, most famously in "The Dirty Dozen" . I thought that this film was just a cheapjack Italian rip off of The Dirty Dozen, and I'm a huge fan of that film, so I was actually a little apprehensive about buying its new fancy pants DVD incarnation. Luckily, it was in the movie store and I plopped down my change for a rental.

I immediately knew that this was much more than a cheap Dirty Dozen remake. This movie is awesome. It hits the ground running and never slows down. That said, let me talk about something way more boring: Schlitz. The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous with "Just A Kiss Of The Hops". Its really not very good. I never liked it, even when I wore cans of cheap ass beer like war medals in college. I always thought it was crappier than Hamm's and Pabst. And it is. But now, it holds some good memories. During my stint as a lobsterman, me and the Captain would head to the Squealing Pig for burgers after getting off the boat. The burgers are delicious there, but the beers are very expensive. Except for Schlitz. Three bucks for a tall can, sign us up. That first thirst quenching beer after a long hard day on the sea is great. That said, it tastes like butter and corn. And it really isn't that good. But, I like it these days.

So, I settled in with my Schlitz tall can and watched this obscure classic. Its about a group of deserters, murderers and thieves who are on their way to prison and execution in 1944 France. On the way there, a German fighter plane attacks the transport. This is a great sequence, with the guards holding the prisoners at gun point, while the fighter plane is raking the truck with bullets. The prisoners are getting shot at by the Germans and the Americans at the same time. The survivors escape, under the leadership of badasses Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson. The action never stops, as the Americans and Germans are their enemies. This is brilliant material for Tarantino to sink his teeth into. A movie where the heroes are bad guys in World War II France, just trying to get out alive with their freedom. It definitely has anti-war undercurrents. I think I actually like this film more than "The Dirty Dozen". There is way more action, and the characters are interesting because they are fighting for self-preservation, not for duty or country. This is slam bang, balls to the wall action fun right from the gate until the final frame. And its got such a great name. Looking forward to Quentin's interpretation. Three great movies in two days, the movie God is smiling on me this week. Final thoughts: this movie is extreme fun and Schlitz is garbage, but I like it.

The New Punisher Movie Pwns!

I thought this movie looked kind of crappy. I mean, the first one was cheesy fun, and Tom Jane was excellent as Frank Castle, so I was a little disappointed to see some new guy filling Franky's big black boots. The only thing bad about the first one was John Travolta, but he was the bad guy, so you get to root for his death. I wish Travolta died a violent and horrible death in every movie he was ever in, even "Saturday Night Fever". He and his other space buddy Tom Cruise are basically the modern definition of the term "douchebag". But, I digress. When my good friend and harsh critic Mr. Tim Castle, husband of Mrs. Jill Castle, said it was "punishing....and good." I was surprised. I expected to hear "cheesy but fun" or something like that. "Punishing and good, eh?" I thought while steering my car through the urban blight of Somerville and Cambridge (not! Nice areas.) on my way to the depressing looking Cambridge Entertainment Cinemas.

First off, some great trailers were played. The new "Friday the 13th" is coming out on Friday, February 13th, 2009. Though I am not a fan of re-makes, I am a huge fan of Jason. And I guess these days you gotta take your Jason however those bastards in Hollywood want to serve him up. "The Spirit" looks like it could be either horrible or really incredible. I'm hoping the latter, as it was a great comic book and Frank Miller is at the helm of the film. There is a really crappy looking remake of "My Bloody Valentine", not really a classic in its own right, but guess what? It's in 3D! That makes it a must-see right there.

I don't want to give anything away about "Punisher: War Zone" because I hope people go and see it. If you are a fan of the comic book, the first movie, hell even the 1989 one with Dolph, you will love it. Where this movie really excels is the violence department. This gets the comic book just right, which is ultra-violent. It doesn't have much of Garth Ennis's pitch black humor, but it's definitely got all the exploding heads fans of the comic will need to stay interested. I really hope they make more of these films. Hell, Ray Stevenson is no Tom Jane, but he looks the part and nails the character. Dominic West, better known as drunk ass cop Jimmy McNulty from the "The Wire" is great as Jigsaw, the main villain. Hell, Newman is even in the thing!

This might ruffle some feathers, but I liked this film even more than the 2004 version, of which I am a giant fan. So, that should give you an idea of how awesome it is. AND, I was drinking 40s of Olde English with the Castles at the 2004 big screen release. I was sober this time. That is saying something. When you go see a movie by yourself on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, sober, and can say it was a better film than the hootin' and hollerin' good time you had with good friends movie-drinkin', that means its really good. I give it my highest recommendation for fans of hardcore, good old fashion movie vengeance! If any Hollywood execs are reading this, of which I'm sure all of them are, start work on a sequel!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

80 Blocks From Tiffany's

I've heard about this movie for a long time. Its an ultra rare (it sells on used VHS for $300 on Amazon) documentary by Gary Weis, originally released in 1979. Weis actually worked on Saturday Night Live and this was his side project, an intense, down to earth look at the embattled South Bronx of the 1970s. The Bronx in the 1970s was an incredible place. There will most likely never be another place like it again, as long as zombies, a plague or nukes don't decimate a major American metropolis. This is where hip hop was born, and it was the most ghetto of ghettos.

Miraculously, a video store in Boston (I won't say which one, because I don't want anyone stealing it and selling it on ebay), had this movie on the shelf. On the way home, I stopped into a liquor store for some whiskey. Little liquor stores in Boston really don't have great selections of booze, by and large. I might have to take a road trip to Kappy's to get something interesting. I decided on the blandest of the bland tonight, and went with Seagram's 7. There is really no way to describe Seagram's 7 in a positive light. I mean, sure, its "smooth", but it also has basically no flavor. For a dollar more a bottle, Evan Williams actually tastes like whiskey. Seagram's 7 tastes like whiskey flavored spring water. The little flavor it does have is syrupy and sweet, which leads me to believe that it gets its brown whiskey color from caramel sweeteners. There is little to no body, the whiskey is thin and slippery. I like my girls, and my whiskey, with the boom. I would say this is the Kate Moss of whiskeys, but she's actually really pretty, once you get past the visible ribs and chicken legs. I guess its just the cheap, really skinny girl with no personality of whiskeys.

I settled down with my nondescript whiskey to finally see this movie. I won't lie to you, I was psyched. I'm a huge hip hop person, and this movie is more hip hop than hip hop. These are the real gangsters, the real streets that all rap came from and that today's kids emulate. The locations, the interviews, the music, even the stuff they wear provides a fascinating glimpse into the South Bronx. The gangs interviewed are the Savage Skulls and the Savage Nomads. We meet the leaders of both gangs (Hollywood for the Skulls and Crazy Joe for the Nomads). We also meet several active members of both gangs, like D.S.R., Outlaw Manny, Frankenstein, Jamal and Fly. There are interviews with female gang members like India and shorty, and ex-female member Evelyn. There are interviews and on the beat footage with Youth Gang Task Force cop Bob Werner, community activist Joan and a former club owner named Heavy.

This is an incredible documentary. It ended after a scant 70 minutes, but easily could have gone on for hours and I would have been just as fascinated. If there has ever been an obscure documentary that screamed louder for the big time fancy loaded with extras DVD treatment, I've yet to hear of it. Where do I begin? This is just the raw, real street shit, from another time and another place. One thing that really amazed me was the overall positivity of the scene. It seemed like hard drugs had yet to really screw these neighborhoods up. That would come a few years later, when crack stepped onto the scene. These kids weren't choir boys, they robbed, fought, killed, raped, pillaged. But the whole community seems to be striving for something better, and the gang members are part of the community. These are just lost kids looking for a home, and the gangs provide them with some semblance of a family.

The cop, Bob Werner, seems to care about the kids, he's not out to harass these kids or screw their lives up any worse than they already are. Conversely, the gang members respect the cops for doing their jobs, and only get pissed off when their friends get sent to jail for crimes they didn't commit. Its a shockingly mature and intelligent stance in this age of SWAT teams and Stop Snitchin. These gang members come across as being very smart, on a whole. There is little false bravado and posturing, when compared to today's wannabe gangsters.

There are literally too many great quotes and scenarios to list in a review. This film definitely is one of the best inner-city documentaries I've ever seen. I give it my highest recommendation, if you can find it. You can definitely find Seagram's 7 anywhere, and I don't recommend it. Unless you like your whiskey really bland. I know that this film is extremely hard to find from my own experience with it, but its a must see.

Here's the first 8 and a half minutes. I think the entire thing's on youtube. That's not the same as finding the real VHS, though.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Garbage: The Wizard of Gore (2007)

This remake of Herschell Gordon Lewis's cheesy 1970 gorefest is a completely horrendous piece of shit. I don't want to waste too much bandwith talking about it, it already stole nearly 2 hours of my life from me. Its basically an example of everything wrong with modern filmmaking, from crappy CGI, hipster shilling ("Featuring The Suicide Girls!"), horrible music and nonstop hooks. A movie just can't be one thing anymore, it has to be 20 things. This film had 5 producers, and I imagine that had something with its scattershot, try for everything and fail at everything style. I will save my review of Korbel Brandy for another review, because I honestly don't want this piece of garbage taking up too much space in my blog. I will say that Crispin Glover is the only reason to watch it, but even he isn't in it enough. Easily the worst film I've seen in a long, long time. Insulting to fans of the original and fans of Crispin Glover. It sucks that the genius who did this would lend his talent to such a inferior film.

Sober Night Part 2: Cemetery of Terror

After "Don't Panic", I was on a role with these Mexican Horror movies, so I decided to delve deeper into my "Horror From South of the Border" box set and watched "Cementerio Del Terror". As the credits rolled and the ominous kettle drum/dissonant piano stab/low growling synth music played, I was excited to see that this was, in fact, another Ruben Galindo Jr. film! I immediately liked this film. You know how a certain smell can evoke vivid memories? Like when you're spray painting some apples gold for your holiday centerpiece and it reminds you of the times in your life when you huffed spray paint on the streets, servicing Johns under a bridge with BJ's, HJ's and ZJ's to support your habit? Well, there is a certain type of grainy film stock that does that for me. I can't smell it, obviously, but if I could, I imagine it would smell like dreams. Which is what Ron Howard's jizz smells like.

But that's besides the point. The point is, as soon as this flick started and I saw that grainy film stock and those deep, garish 80s colors, I knew I liked it. Even though this film is from 1985, it could easily be from 1980 or even the 70s. If it wasn't for one character's awesome Michael Jackson circa Thriller jacket and a few of the hairstyles, I would have guessed that this film was no newer than 1982.

This movie has three main storylines. One traces a doctor who wants to have a famous Satan worshipper named Devlon's body cremated. The other involves some jerky young medical students and their dates. The third involves some kids out trick or treating who want to take a "courage test" in the cemetery. How do these three different threads connect? Welp, without giving too much away, a cop and the doctor go to the morgue to get Devlon's body to cremate, but the jerky med students have already stolen it to play a joke on their dates. The jerky med students invited their dates to a "super" "jet set" party which was never going to happen. They made it up as a cheap scam to get some action. They take the ladies to a creepy abandoned house hoping for a make out party. The ladies aren't enthused, and won't make out. One of the jerky med students, who is wearing an incredible ski jacket, decides to wander around the house. He finds a giant black book that says "DEVLON" on the front. He starts reading it and is excited that its all creepy and shit. He tells the other jerky med students that they should scare the hell out of the girls because then they will come running right into their arms.

So, they go and inadvertently steal Devlon's corpse and hold a black mass in the graveyard. During the black mass, they keep chanting "its the sixth day of the sixth month!" Uh, so is Halloween on June 6th in Mexico? The cop and the doctor show up to grab Devlon's body to cremate it and it ain't there. The doctor freaks out and steals the cop's car and drives around looking frantic. After the black mass in the graveyard with the stolen corpse, for some strange reason, the jerky med students' dates are totally in the mood. A couple of them are listening to some great make out jams on a transistor radio. They apparently can't make out without it, because as Devlon's reanimated corpse approaches the house, the signal gets fuzzy. I don't want to give too much away, but Devlon tears some shit up, literally. His main weapon is his claws.

The trick or treater kids are doing their courage test thing in the cemetery, and zombies start popping up everywhere. In what must be a Rubin Galindo staple, all the zombies look like the zombies from Thriller, just not as good. I hate to dis children, but these kids are extremely stupid. There are tons of moments where they run the complete wrong way when fleeing a zombie. Like, the exit from the house in on the left, a zombie enters the scene from the camera's position and they run to the right.

The crazy doctor finds the kids and helps them by punching the zombies. These are really wimpy zombies. They can be defeated by a doctor who looks like Zach Galifinakis. I mean, its not like Zach doesn't look tough or anything, but you know what I mean. There is a super surprise ending that I can't give away, so I'll end this review like this. I liked this movie, It is dumb, and cheap but it is also fun. One fun thing about it is how off alot of the timing is. An actor reacts to something a little too late here and there, and sometimes the camera lingers on a scene well after the action is over. Its fun garbage. I mean, I took a melatonin with a half hour left and I still stayed awake for the whole thing. That's saying something.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Don't Panic! I Took A Night Off.

After the week-long party that was Thanksgiving, my 10 year high school reunion and many smaller reunions of old friends, I decided to take a much deserved night off from the hooch. I also have to take a drug test for my new job tomorrow, and I thought that maybe showing up for it not smelling like a distillery would help make a good, albeit false impression for my new employer. I drank some cranberry juice, took some milk thistle and watched "Don't Panic", or "Dimensiones ocultas" as it is known in its native land. Its part of my "Crypt of Terror" Mexican horror box set.

This film was written and directed by Ruben Galindo Jr., making it what we film buffs call a "vehicle", a Ruben Galindo Jr. "Vehicle". I like to think this blog is educational and informative. Turns out that three of his other movies are included in my box set. Hooray. The film is also somewhat of a Jon Michael Bischof "vehicle", as he is the main star and he wrote and performed the film's ultra cheesy titular (I love that word) theme song. Jon Michael is deserved of praise, not only for his excellent name, his excellent curly mullet or the fact that he's supposed to be 17 years old and runs around in his dinosaur pajamas for most of this film, but for the fact that he apparently recorded the theme song on a Fisher Price tape recorder. There are backup singers, keyboards, all sorts of things going on in that song. It must have been hard to get all that together with no multi tracking and just that little plastic microphone.

Jon Michael plays a kid named Michael whose friends give him a Ouija board for his 17th B Day. The way his friends repeatedly say "Michael" when they talk to him reminds me of Stella (who I'm going to see live a week from Friday!!!) As in all 80s horror movies, the teenagers look like they are 30. Michael's love interest looks like Naomi Russell with a bad unibrow. Don't ask me how I know who she is, we bloggers are just very intuitive with all aspects of pop culture. And big ole butts.

At night, Michael starts having visions of bloody murders and when he opens his eyes, the pupils are huge. Turns out that these murders are really happening and his friend Tony is committing them, because he has been possessed by Virgil, who is actually the devil. So there are some bloody murders while Michael runs around in his dino jammies trying to stop them. The gore, violence and weird imagery isn't exactly mind-blowing, but there's enough of it to keep you awake. As Tony turns into more and more of a zombie, he looks like a zombie from "Thriller".

The ending is extremely downbeat, until they lash some dimestore spirituality on at the end to try and perk it up. The film is really not that great, nor is it too bad to not be bad/good. Its basically bad/good but won't blow you away. And furthermore, Cranberry juice is tasty, even without vodka in it.