Monday, January 19, 2009

The Pink Angels

I figured out that I had a paid holiday in honor of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. today after getting up at 6 a.m. and driving a half an hour through the snow to work. There I was informed that I was not working. I would have remembered that today was a paid holiday, but I was so tired last night that I fell asleep around 9 p.m. I got home from my pointless morning cruise and went back to sleep. When I woke up, around noon, I realized that as an American, I should celebrate not only MLK day, but also the last day of George W. Bush's presidency by drinking and watching movies.

I popped in one of the discs from my recently acquired "Drive-In Cult Classics Volume 3" boxed set. The Drive In Cult Classics series is a boon for fans of overlooked cinematic swill of the late 60s and 1970s. There are 8 movies per set and they sell new for $10 in your neighborhood dvd store. I got my copy of the Volume 3 set at Bullmoose Records in Portland, Maine for $6.95. The films look great, like they have been transferred from the best source. And when you watch a film called "The Pink Angels" about a gay biker gang, you really want it to look as crisp and sharp as possible.

I drank some Rubinoff bloody maries with my homemade mix (V8, jalapeno peppers, black pepper, horseradish, hot sauce, and whatever else I feel like throwing in), and watched this truly bizarre film. It starts with a bunch of tranny bikers walking into a pool party where they are confronted by a butler. The lead cross dresser biker says "Sorry, wrong party..." and this echoes over and over again as the screen freezes. Then, we see a crazy general being led to his mansion. We then hear the surprisingly good hippie folk song "I See America" by Mike Settle as a group of bikers meet in a field of giant concrete tubes. At this point, the movie seems like it might actually be a real counterculture art film. This is mainly because the song by Mike Settle, is actually kind of moving. I don't know who Mike Settle is, but he did most of the songs in the film, and they are pretty good.

The imagery and cinematography is good throughout, but during the first few minutes, before this film revealed what it was really all about, I thought this might be some sort of out of control art film. It doesn't shoot that high, however. The bikers, even though they look like leather tough guys, are gay. This was the early 70s, so the idea of the leather biker daddy was still seen as being a hilarious contradiction in terms. Most of the movie is comprised of scenes of people being scared of the bikers because they look scary, then being surprised that they are gay. Like, really gay. Like, fancy cross-dressing gay. In fact, they are on their way to a drag ball in LA. There is a wild food-fight in an A and W. As a hitch hiker they had picked up watches them squeal and cavort while spraying condiments on each other, he yells "Jesus Christ, they're all faggots!" and runs away.

This is definitely not a PC movie, as the bikers' gayness is played up as a gag again and again. There is a scene where they get pulled over by gung-ho cops. The cops find their dresses, high heels, etc., stashed in their bikes. There is some great dialog in this scene, like where the cop asks the lead biker to unlock his storage compartment in his bike:
Cop: "What's in there?"
Biker: "A signed 8 by 10 glossy of Robert Goulet."
The cops call them queers and one of the gang, who actually looks alot like Jack Black yells "Well this is one all American red blooded faggot you can't scare!"

Getting into the plot too heavily wouldn't make alot of sense, because the movie doesn't make alot of sense. I will say that the actors are very funny and they seem to be ad-libbing here and there. The crazy ending, which took me an entire post-viewing bloody mary to figure out, is truly bizarre. The mad General that we saw in the opening, is shown again and again, being all crazy and sitting in his flag draped office. Apparently the drag ball was a fake, set up by the general so he could kill degenerates. Hence the weird "wrong party" freeze frame in the film's opening. The film ends with the general standing next to a tree with all the gay bikers hung from it. I don't know if this was supposed to be funny, or to make a point, but all it really did for me was make me say "What the fuck?" All in all, this is a bizarre, one of a kind film that is a celebration of all things wild and free in America, like cross-dressing motorcycle gangs. A fine way to spend an MLK day off with the reassuring spicy antifreeze flavor of a Rubinoff Bloody Mary. God Bless America.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Uncle Jesse and Vanity Versus Tranny Gene Simmons

Click on pic to see the entire Turkish cover.

Wow, where do I start? As the extremely lame titular theme song plays and the credits roll, I sit, my mouth agape, my eyes hollow orbs. Even the Rubinoff bloody mary I am sipping cannot bring me back to reality after this insanity. My first emotion is that I feel that I've been cheated by not knowing about this movie already. I mean, it was released in 1986. That's 23 years that I have been walking around, with no idea that this movie existed. I guess that's a good thing, however. If I had seen this when it came out, back in 86, when I was 6 years old, I can say that it definitely would have altered my development as a person. Maybe for good, but I imagine it would have severely screwed me up and I would now be a tranny nightclub performer, like Gene Simmons as "Ragnar" in "Never Too Young to Die", today's movie.
(That was a roundabout way to introduce this movie, I'm no Dana Hersey, I suppose.)

Uncle Jesse, known to some as Mr. Jon Stamos, plays Lance Stargrove, a champion gymnast that has his own theme song sung by someone named Tommie Lee Bradley that goes "Stargrove! Stargrove!" His mortal enemy is the man/woman that killed his father, Ragnar. Ragnar lives in this big Mad Max looking desert fortress and kills people with his giant Lee Press On nails. I didn't think it was possible, but this is an even stranger gymnast action movie than "Gymkata."
Vanity is some sort of secret agent who lives on a farm. We first meet her as she is being accosted by two large Mad Max biker looking bad guys. She beats them up and forces one guy's face into a pile of horse doodie. She says "Eat shit." God, that woman has so much class. To give you an idea of how bat-shit insane this movie is, let me try to list what happens next:
Vanity shoots a bad guy. He goes flying into a wall and knocks a gas can down. The gas, for some reason, starts a fire in some hay, right next to a box clearly marked "Grenades". She grabs Jon Stamos and they jump out of the barn while it explodes. All this happens in the span of maybe 8 seconds.

Vanity spends alot of time scantily clad, which is always a good thing. All I could think about while watching her was the Motley Crue band autobiography, "The Dirt". Around this time she was dating Nikki Sixx, who said she smoked more crack than anyone he had ever seen in his life. That's saying something, coming from Nikki Sixx. She looks mighty healthy, however! Vanity and Stargrove go to a gross tranny bar to see Ragnar's gross tranny nightclub act and there, when asked by a gross tranny waitereress what he wants to drink, Stargrove says "I'd like a Lube Job." Of all the things to order from a gross tranny server! His order excites the tranny. Vanity orders a Bloody Mary and a cigar. Who the hell ever smokes a cigar and drinks a Bloody Mary? Weird combo. I don't recommend eating during this scene, because Ragnar's cabaret act is so gross and creepy and weird, its liable to make you nauseous.

The whole movie seems like it was made in a cocaine blizzard, with everyone but Stamos overacting in the extreme. Then there's the fact that the movie pretty much makes zero sense and you get the idea that cocaine, or at least crack played a large roll in the making of the film. Every single frame of the movie is completely ridiculous and I really couldn't even begin to list all of the insane crap in here. If the idea of Gene Simmons as an evil tranny versus Uncle Jesse and Vanity gets your dander up, I say seek this one out. I guess its pretty rare, but they have for rent at Hollywood Express in Somerville. Oh, I should also mention that I was drinking Rubinoff bloody maries during this film on a snowy, rainy, crappy day in Somerville. Rubinoff is made in Somerville at Allan's LTD, where most fine spirits originate. Even through my spicy bloody mary mix I could taste that slight antifreeze flavor of Rubinoff. Oh yeah, and there is brief Vanity nudity in the movie!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Death Sentence: Death Wish for an Emo World

{Author's Note: This is what happens when I'm actually drunk when I write a review.

"Death Sentence" is a good movie. For people who like to watch regular movies, and new TV programs as well, most likely. Its a dark tour of one family's tragedy and one father's search for revenge, and sure to be the most hardcore action movie on the average "Lost" viewer's Netflix cue. (Did I mention that I hate "Lost" and Netflix as well? Support your local independent video store! And stop watching crappy TV!) Well, for a person like me, who has seen tons of revenge films, and loves them, this one is just okay. I want to get that across right now. If you don't own every "Death Wish" movie on DVD (Well except for part 5, but that one doesn't count), this is probably a great and amazing movie to you. To me, its an emo style look at revenge. I am probably the only film critic in the blogosphere that would say that there is such a thing as over developed characters. While all of North America and even some of the outer Aleutian Islands was popping giant wood for "The Dark Knight", I thought it was an over-long, over-blown, over-developed telling of a simple revenge story. You know what was a great movie, and by far the best Batman movie? "Batman" from 19 Eighty FUCKING 9. Because it knew how to tell a great story with enough character development to make you care but not the over-indulgence of the new Bright Eyes version of the bat. The over-developed characters on display seem more like an insult to the audience than so-called underdeveloped characters of the films of old. Do we really need everything this spelled out for us? I say no. You know what was another amazing revenge movie that knew how to portray an amazing battle of good versus evil without extremely emo bullshit that insults the audience's IQ? The original "Dirty Harry". I would completely hate to ruin anybody's viewing experience of "The Dark Knight", a film that I have no particular desire to ever see again, but at its best moments it was a somewhat gay remake of "Dirty Harry" for kids.

That said, "Death Sentence" is definitely a re-telling of "Death Wish" for the tight pants, tight shirt, Bright Eyes listening emo wimp in all of us. No, I'm leveling my extremely manly gaze at this film a little too squarely. I just like my movie vengeance served cold, not with horrible emo music and Kevin Bacon looking like a clown with a crappily shaved head and bright blood lipstick on his face. You know Charles Bronson is truly dead when movies like this are coming out. I have a feeling he would have killed everyone involved before it could have been released. See, why would I write that? Maybe because Bronson is an icon from his revenge movies, and this one merely makes me think that Kevin Bacon is a capable actor. Kevin Bacon will never be feared by anyone, so this film fails at that. I guess it makes him succeed at looking like a heartbroken, insane guy, but seriously, where is the fun in that? A heartbreaking, sad look at revenge yes, but I'll take "Vigilante" any day. A movie that makes the same points without looking like a crappy music video that tries to make me cry.

My final point: You can make hugely emotional revenge movies without wallowing in emo bullshit (like the Kevin Bacon crying in the shower scene, what is this, Stella?), just watch Kill Bill 1 and 2.

This film's target audience:

You know who's way more badass than Kevin Bacon?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Only Bad Movie with Academy in the Title...

Is also the only bad movie with Reanimator in the title: Reanimator Academy. While I knew this was going to suck, as it is a part of the Tomb of Terrors box set, I wanted to believe. I mean, it has Academy in the title, usually a sure sign of greatness. The odds were against it, however, as a movie in the Bloody Nightmares 100 movie set has about a 1 in a hundred shot at not sucking. And I mean sucking! Like Hoover Vacuum, Deep Throat sucking. This shot on video atrocity is about a Jeffrey Combs look alike who lives in a frat. The frat is pretty lame, except for the fact that they have big parties in the daytime where they drink Bud Dry and wear boxer shorts on their heads. So they are actually pretty awesome. One of the main stars of "Redneck County Fever" is in attendance at their party. Seeing as this was also filmed in Texas, its making me think that this unknown guy is some sort of regional Texas shot on video star of the late 80s/early 90s. Anyways, the Jeff Combs look alike brings a rotting rubber head back to the frat and REANIMATES it! It turns out that it is an old timey comedian, so the head makes non-stop wisecracks. His crack about Rosanne Barr is pretty good. This film was so painful to watch that it is actually painful to write about. With that, I will cut my review short. That is, unless I feel more motivated about relating the sheer pain and misery that this crap movie bestowed upon me later.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Santa's Slay, a new Christmas Classic

This film, which looks horrible with its crappy looking cover, is actually an incredibly fun, out of control way to spread a little yuletide FEAR. I give it my highest recommendation. Settle in with some friends around the yule log and try playing the Santa's Slay Drinking Game. The rules are: You have to drink every time:
1. There is a bad pun.
2. Santa kills someone.
3. Someone uses an improvised weapon.
4. Someone says "Ho ho ho."
5. Something blows up.

You will be hammered within the first half of the film if you play by these rules. That should be an indicator of how awesome this movie is. Basically, the story is that Santa is actually Satan's son, and he has been bound by a magic spell to be good for 1,000 years. (The spell was the result of a curling match between Santa and an angel.) Christmas 2005 marks the year when the spell is up, and he is free to be evil again. The opening scene is mind-blowing, with a family that includes James Caan, Fran Drescher, Kris Kattan, and Rebecca Gayheart having a Christmas dinner that gets interrupted by ole Saint Nick. The entire movie is incredible. Fast paced and hilarious, full of gore and violence and bad puns and sheer awesomeness. Bill Goldberg is great as evil Santa, and this film makes me want to see him in more movies. Hopefully in Santa's Slay Part 2. There is also some amazing original music, like the song that just goes "Santa Claus! Santa Claus!" and plays while Santa destroys a strip club. There is another song that just goes "Christmas time, Christmas time!" Oh, and there is an amazing rap song: "1 for the kids who like to get toys! 2 for the kids who like to make noise! 3 for Santa cause he rolls with elves..."
If I had my druthers, this movie would get played 24 hours a day on Christmas like "A Christmas Story". A must see.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Zombie Rampage, the Straight To Video crap explosion continues....

Zombie Rampage (Director's Cut, 1992)

This film is so incredibly inept and stupid that it definitely has a retarded sort of charm. Add in the fact that it was shot in 1989, and I say "Okay." The dialog is hilariously bad, there are actually a few impressive gore scenes, and the script seems like it was written by a 13 year old. You get to see all the archetypes of amateur late 80s regional horror flicks. The metal guy that looks like Dave Mustaine, the pimply guy with glasses and a mini-curly mullet, the blonde girl with feathered bangs. Its about a zombie rampage (hence the title) that occurs when dimwitted gang members do a voodoo ritual to try and bring their dead brothers in arms back to life. It definitely is a horrible movie, and earned an impressive 1.4 out of 10 on IMDB, but I found myself enjoying it. This film could have definitely benefitted from filmstock, however. It was apparently shot using consumer grade 80s VHS equipment. Either that or the version in the "Decrepit Crypt of Nightmares" box is a dub of a dub of a dub. This would have more fans, I'm sure, if it had been shot on even 8 mm, (I know that there was a recession in 1989, much like in 2009 and much unlike 1999, so I'm not out of touch enough to suggest that Auteur Director Todd Sheets should have used 16 mm.) Its bad, but I liked it and am going to watch more Todd Sheets movies, he's made 34 of them!