Saturday, December 18, 2010


I have absolutely no fucking idea what is REALLY going on in this movie, and anyone else who claims to is lying. Someone needs to throw this one into a think tank for a while. It's a little slow moving, but this thing is littered with odd details that I'm sure contain some symbolism that will blow my fucking mind. Something lurks. I just don't know what exactly.

Based on the actual box cover, I kind of expected this would be along the lines of a z-grade version of Peter Weir's "The Plumber," but padded with titties and driller killer action from an overbearing handyman who practically takes over a home. Granted, you do get some righteous side-boob, but the movie itself is a confusing psychological horror film about a wife who has a nervous breakdown and winds up in a country dream house with her infidel husband after a short stay in the nut house. You never really know what the reality of the situation is, but I'm going to speculate that this is intended to be a supernatural thriller from the perspective of an unreliable protagonist. All that really matters though is that this stars one of the most amazing men to ever live, Wings Hauser, whom many will remember as Ramrod from the phenomenal "Vice Squad." Here's a series of clips featuring the nutjob wife and Hauser as the phantom Carpenter. This is the stuff that nonsense is made of.


Well, the photography has some high points, but otherwise this is a blithering piece of shit that aspires to nuzzle amongst the ranks of “The Outsiders” and “The Wanderers.” This is the drabbest coming of age story that’s ever defied viewing. Anne Frank’s bio “The Hiding Place” has more joy-of-life sentiment to it for fuck’s sake. It’s not that there’s anything offensive about this movie, and that’s exactly the problem. What this movie needed was some drugs, a stabbing, some rape, or shit, how about some domestic abuse? The obstacles in this movie are so fey that you cannot respect the characters as they stumble and whine. The story is limp and unhappy, bereft of adolescent anxiety, with an underdose of angst, and a bunch of greaser punks that stand around bitching like unemployed step dads. I wanted sex, violence, and a sense of awe, but by the end of this non-event I just wanted one of these dipshits to put a zip gun to their temple and end it.

Set in 1964, Ontario, Canada, the story revolves around a wop, a mick, a kike, and an anglophile, with ambitions of ducking their ne’er-do-well fate for rock stardom. Beatlemania has reached a fever pitch, and the Fab Four are set to play the Maple Leaf garden in just a few weeks. Local rock station CHUK has announced a battle of the bands contest to determine who will have the honor of opening the monumental occasion. Our story’s central figure is Bello, the son of fresh Italian immigrants, who spends most of his time hanging out at his bisexual black sheep uncle’s pool hall. Just a side note here, if the uncle had raped the Jew drummer kid, this would have been an incredible movie. While Bello and his friends are dedicated to winning the battle of the bands contest, another hoodlum set insists that they’re wasting their time and should join their fencing operation. In the end, Bello and company lose the competition and bitterly gravitate toward their criminal careers. The film’s final note is less than hopeful, and the already unlikable protagonist is left in the dark without any sort of redemption or ambition to make something better of himself. But you can hardly call it a bummer because the film has failed to make you give a shit anyway.

The movie owes a great deal to a production designer who actually achieves the period, but unfortunately the effort is wasted on a meandering script that lacks real events. Nothing really significant happens. Focus on Bello squanders the ethnic differences between he and the other characters, and we are spared only small glimpses into their home lives. The one primary element that’s lacking is a real sense of youthful comradery between the band mates. None of these guys even have a sense of humor. No one gets drunk. No one gets laid. No one has any fucking fun. Nothing really happens. All together, this mess goes in one eye and out the other, tracking depression through your skull like a brat does mud on a rainy day.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Delivered by Ed Hunt, the man behind the documentary "UFOs Are Real," "The Brain" doesn't stray from the vein of alien overlord conspiracies. David Gale, whom most will remember from "Re-Animator," plays a self-help therapist with a popular television show, which is actually being used to filter brain waves from a hostile alien entity. Naturally, like in most eighties movies, it's up to a teenage asshole to save the day. This ALSO actually qualifies as a Christmas movie, as it transpires during the holiday and the backdrop is littered with tons of tinsel rope and other shitty decorations. This is a MUST SEE!


I don’t want to come off like I’m bragging or anything, but for the lot I’ve been dealt I have accomplished some pretty incredible things with my life so far. But after sitting through the first fifteen minutes of “Forbidden Sun” I realized my bucket list has one glaring omission: I have never fucked a teenage gymnast.

This one unfolds like a condensed season of some soap opera, but surprisingly atmospheric location and unique score defibrillate the proceedings. After arriving at an all-girl’s school for gymnasts for her summer semester, American athlete Paula makes fast friends with the other rambunctious students. Ample time is spent introducing the cast of quirky but nubile girls. There’s also a Clue-style lineup of red herrings, any of whom could be the perpetrator who nabs and sexually assaults Paula during a group jog. Circumstantial evidence leads the girls to presume that the rape was committed by a local helping hand, Ulysses. After the cops on Crete pretty much proclaim that Paula was asking for it by being so fucking fine, the girls decide to take vengeance into their own hands in a completely inexplicable fashion.

One of the primary characters in the film is Jane, an emotionally unstable Texas transplant, who’s also carrying on a secret romance with the school’s gym instructor. Jane is also preoccupied with an ancient Cretan ritual known as the bull dance, where a gymnast vaults onto the back of a bull by his horns. The themes of this ridiculous feat are touched upon numerous times throughout the film. Jane herself decides she wants to incorporate a bull into one of her routines and has a brass bull head commissioned for the stunt. So, after Paula gets raped, the girls lure the suspected Ulysses back to their gym on the island, trick him into putting the bull head on, and then knock him around. Exactly how this suits the crime is beyond me, but Ulysses is eventually cleared anyway and the girls turn him loose. When Jane discovers her gym instructor beau is fucking the school’s head mistress, played by Lauren Hutton, she pins the rape and the bull head on him, which by the way, is some Sci-Fi channel bullshit. Given the choice of banging either a muscular, seventeen year-old girl that can do the splits while standing on her head or some gap-toothed mummy, most guys would roll the statutory dice without blinking. Anyway, this all builds toward an incredibly bizarre TV Carnage-worthy ending. It’s like Xanadu on mescaline.

In all, this is competently made with some okay acting from an unbalanced script that makes waste of jail bait. The true identity of the rapist is sadly obvious, though, so it’s a Luke warm waiting game with some unintentional laughs rather than a slow cooker.

Monday, December 6, 2010


A little history lesson before I begin: during the 19th century gold rush and railroad boom, Chinese immigrants who poured into the country in search of better opportunities were pretty much considered the lowest form of ethnicity, and were often bullied by blacks, Mexicans, and whites. As a result, many formed support groups known as Tongs. Even though most Chinese had the intention of returning home to their families after achieving their goals, many decided to stay in America. To this day, Tongs are still a pivotal part of most Asian-American communities.
Imagine a sub-par John Woo drama assembled under the atmosphere of an “ABC After School Special,” and you have “Tongs: A Chinatown Story.” The strange vibe is enough to compel you to watch on toward the end, but it’s simply not enough to absorb the bad brunt of the fundamental story telling problems which surface during its second half.
The first half of the movie focuses on fresh Hong Kong arrival Danny Lee, played by Simon Yam, and his brother Paul, living with their poverty-stricken uncle in Chinatown. Danny’s a clean cut kid focused on the straight and narrow. On the other hand, his drug smuggling brother has no intention of following his Uncle’s blue collar example. Danny enters high school, and it doesn’t take long before he clashes with a local gang known as The Red Eagles. Danny covers for the Eagles in one instance, stashing a knife that’s been used in a stabbing, but he shuns the gang when they attempt to embrace him, which leads to all sorts of tension. Following a violent clash, Danny leads a brutal retaliation against the gang that gets him noticed by Mr. Chen, the Eagles’ benefactor. Instead of having Danny killed, he offers him a cut of his territory, much to the chagrin of the other gang. From here, the story shifts from gang violence in schools to a larger scale crime drama. While the first half is quickly paced, the rest of the story is rushed to the point of vagueness. The final moments of the film have a bizarre, open-ended feel. Unfortunately, the film just isn’t quality enough to warrant the extra hour it would need to tell its story. The fight sequences are alarmingly poor, and every other element of production amounts to balsa wood. Nevertheless, it’s hard not appreciate such a sincere effort, and this trans-Pacific production creates an atmosphere that is downright weird enough to qualify as fascinating. There’s even a midget to augment this movie’s already-strange aura.
Shot on location in New Yok City, “Tongs” was directed by Hong Kong superman Philip Chan, who was known as a pop singer before joining the Royal Hong Kong Police Force in the 70s. As an inspector, he foiled several high profile cases which contributed to his popularity. In 1976, Chan was prompted to write the script for “Jumping Ash,” a film about cops battling a drug ring. After the film proved to be a success, Chan resigned from the force to pursue a career in the film industry. Since then he’s dabbled in a little bit of everything. Most fans of Hong Kong cinema will instantly recognize Chan from his numerous notable film appearances. He’s even crossed over into American entertainment several times over the years, appearing in films such as “Blood Sport,” and “Double Impact.” He even had a reoccurring role on the television show “Dallas.” By the way, none of the guys on the box are in this movie, which sucks because I was really stoked about the fat shirtless guy in the leather jacket.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


A beautiful fucking movie about an earthquake that unleashes a prehistoric breed of pyro-sparking roaches, which invade a small town and burn shit down. Written and produced by shock master William Castle, this was also unfortunately the last film he worked on before he passed away in 1977. According to IMDb trivia, Castle actually wanted to trick this one out by outfitting theaters with brushes under the seats, which would run against patrons legs during key scenes to help along the heebie jeebies. Unfortunately, he didn't get his wish, but he did advertise that they had taken out a million dollar life insurance policy on the movie's star -- a hissing cockroach named Hercules.


What the fuck is going on here? Whose idea was this? What drugs are to credit?


Compiled by trash culture shaman Johnny Legend, the "Sleazemania" series was like a set of Psychotronic training wheels to my degenerate friends and I. These tapes, along with Jonathan Ross's "Incredibly Strange Film Show," were my two stone slabs of gospel.

They were the divining rod which defined what cult was at a time when most video stores didn't even HAVE a cult section. Basically consisting of trailers sandwiched between odd-ball Drive-In ads, "Sleazemania" gave us a format that a lot of my friends and I would later use. Most of us had libraries we'd dubbed from the video stores in our areas, and from there we'd ghetto edit several features and dozens of fucked up trailers together onto an SLP tape using two VHS decks, like a mix-tape. Then we'd exchange the tapes through the mail, sharing films we couldn't find in our area. There was an element of friendly competitiveness amongst us, as each of us tried to out-do the other by compiling the weirdest, most fucked up shit they could.

I had almost completely forgotten about the "Sleazemania" stuff until I ran across the "Special Edition" tape at a sidewalk sale this weekend. Brought back some good memories.

Not from the Special Edition I don't think, but here's an example of some of the stuff you'd find on these tapes. Here's a trailer for the HG Lewis JD shlocker, "Just For The Hell Of It."


Fuck CGI. I will take the tangibility of Harryhausen's stop motion over that computer generated garbage ANY fucking day. Fuck man, I even prefer rubber suits stomping on models to that shit because of its realism. No matter how cheap something may be, if it's organic, it's king. Anyway, this is one of those fantastical little films that I was shown at an early age that I cannot wait to one day show my children. Those little faggots better like this shit, too, or else.


Jay Underwood plays an invisible molester out for revenge here, and it's totally a comedy. In the vein of "School Spirit" and "Zapped!," some of the stuff the character does with his powers would be completely questionable by today's standards. The concept of a bullied nerd sneaking into the girl's shower room being played for laughs would go over like a Ted Bundy T-shirt at a battered women's shelter now a'days. Irreverent sex humor was met at the gates of the 90s by two PC Nazis in pink jack boots wielding penis-shaped batons, and promptly drudged like a mouthy house wife. This movie contains a legendary girls locker room scene that would never fly in this day and age. I've never actually seen this one. I hate Jay Underwood, but I also like tits and Brother Theodore. Quite the conundrum.


This kind of bullshit is right up my alley. Kind of like "Surviving The Game" meets "Rambo," five Nam vets on a weekend pass from the state hospital wind up on a camping trip that turns into "The Most Dangerous Game." Writer and director David Heavener also STARS as vet Puckett, who returns to the jungles of his mind and goes KILL CRAZY on the motherfuckers who have backed him against a wall.

"Vietnam was only practice. Now the real war starts."


Pretty boss Hammer flick continues the Ripper legacy by virtue of a the White Chapel slasher's blood line. When the Ripper's wee daughter witnesses dear old dad rip and rend her mother, it leaves a deep impression on her subconscious which occasionally sends a violent eruption to the surface of her psyche years later. Could it be the spirit of dear old dad controlling her during her murderous blackouts, or is it just bad genes? This was one of the last really luscious looking films Hammer produced. After entering the seventies a lot of the Hammer films tend to look pale, and lack that overly saturated color of their sixties productions. Underrated and unsung, "Hands of the Ripper" verges on proto-slasher with a little more grit to the gruesomeness than you normally see from Hammer. Killer performances cinch this as must see. This was also directed by Peter Sasdy, who directed my favorite of the Hammer Dracula films, "Taste the Blood of Dracula."

Friday, December 3, 2010


This is a brutal let down when you consider that it was helmed by the guy who delivered “Food of the Gods 2.” I suspect this film reflects a pang of autobiographical yearning on Damian Lee’s part, as he was at one time a bare knuckle fighter, but this thing is bogged down by ambitions of becoming a sensitive piece of art. Somewhere inside this movie’s morbidly obese husk chokes the heart of a true action film. The subject is somewhat personal to Lee, prompting a more serious treatment of the material than it actually deserves. I’m not calling the guy out on a failed volley into fine cinema. I’m just saying this movie tries too hard to be something it’s not instead of devoting ample time to bone crunching action.

This tangled mess stars Vernon Wells, who’s best know for mainly playing bad guy rolls (most notably Wez from “The Road Warrior”). Here, Wells trades in his head of dick for a heart of gold, portraying the kindly but troubled Roo, a past his prime brawler who’s wasted his better years slugging it out in an illegal fight club known as “the circle.” When friend and manager Casper (William Sanderson) cajoles Roo into retiring before he winds up with a curdled brain, Circle fight promoter Napoleon’s business nose dives. Casper employs Roo down at his boxing gym, and while mopping up spit and scrubbing toilets, a romance develops between him and woefully unattractive Tom girl mechanic, Charlie. Her old man’s got a gambling problem though, and coincidentally owes Napoleon big time. Napoleon promises to forgive his debts though if Roo will step into the Circle one last time to fight his new champion, Cannon.

Ironically, this is a fight drama where the fights themselves actually contain no drama whatsoever. The wins and losses merely exist to move the story along, but the fights themselves are just kind of there. Imagine a porno where they just kind of gloss over the fuck scenes to get to the plot. That’s what you get here.

So, Roo goes down for Cannon like a drunken prom queen, and this is when the story becomes unnecessarily convoluted. Napoleon is also grooming legit prize fighter Razor Jones, who jumps ship for better management opportunities. There’s a rivalry between Razor and Roo that really doesn’t quite work within the context of the film. He’s one of the main antagonists, but he never gets ample time to develop as a character. He just shows up occasionally and acts like Morris Day. Now, throughout the film, Roo has been plagued by a series of laughable flashbacks, which hint at his troubled past. We eventually learn that Roo went through eight years of electroshock therapy after killing some dude in a bar fight. Enter Tenny, a corrupt cop who takes kickbacks from Napoleon in exchange for a blind eye. Tenny is unhappy with how poorly his take has been, so he threatens to throw Roo back in a padded room if he doesn’t come out of retirement. There’s just too much plot at this point, and I’m even leaving some shit out, but eventually all these flaccid points are braided together pathetically and the movie ends.

Now, I’m a forgiving man. I have an absolute adoration for the atrocious. But even atrocities can be completely charming in their own way. Take Vernon Wells for instance. He just awful in this movie, but he’s so terrible that he evokes the same sort of sympathy you feel anytime you see a dead tabby on the side of the road, only funnier. Wells is actually charismatic, so he’s still likable in spite of how bad he is. However, I draw the line at boring. I like to define dull as the ultimate absence of violence and boobs. This noir flop totally qualifies as dull. Dudes rent low budget crap like this because they want to see titties, explosions, and dudes getting their hearts punched through their spines. If they wanted human drama they’d just get married. Thumbs down.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


The Academy Entertainment tradition of late-wave Canadian noir continues in this middle-of-the-road “Home Alone”-esque thriller, starring Shelley Hack (Charlie’s Angels) as a blind woman trapped in an Inn with a trio of armored car thieves. While the premise holds a ton of promise, the author of “Blind Fear” does not seem to understand that it takes more than the sheer goodness of a concept in order for a movie to succeed. The ending is kind of cool, and some of the action beats soundly, but the bulk of the movie is overpoweringly dull filler. After watching Hack stumble around in the dark and knock shit over for a collective forty-five minutes, what eventual good there is doesn’t even matter. You ever bang some really hot chick and she doesn’t think she really has to move or anything simply because she's blessing you by letting you even touch her? Well, “Blind Fear” functions in much the same way. It relies on having a good concept, but never really does anything special with it.

Hack plays Erika Breen, the blind switch board operator of a rustic hotel that’s just been bought out, leaving her displaced and without a job. On the eve of the purchase, Erika finds herself stranded at the Inn when her cousin calls to tell her that he won’t be able to pick her up until the next afternoon. Boozy German ground’s keeper Lasky (Jan Rubes) refuses to leave her alone in the old, forsaken building and insists on keeping her company. Shortly after Lasky orders a pizza, kill-crazy stick-up man Ed and his accomplices crash the party. Erika keeps out of sight, and the invaders, who’ve just knocked over an armored car, decide to hole up the hotel while awaiting their mysterious benefactor, Heinneman (Géza Kovács). So, the pizza finally arrives, and in a plot detail that’s so stupid it might be genius, Ed deduces there must be someone else in the Hotel because half of the pizza does not have any anchovies. After all, “not everyone likes anchovies.” A storm rolls in, and the band of back biting thieves grow more paranoid toward one another during their search for Erika, who uses her familiarity with the property along with her heightened senses to depose of the criminals. The second half of the film also finally manages to evoke some sort of atmosphere, as the first portion is completely bereft of vibe. Eventually, the bad guys are done away with, and we’re treated to a nice plot twist that answers some questions while leaving a few others open.

There are some competent and creative people on board this production, but there are other elements that completely sabotage anything that might remotely resemble quality. The film is primarily confined to the hotel, and the sets look good, but then composer Michael Melvoin drags us back to B-grade reality with a crushingly bad synth score. I cannot begin to list the multitude of B-films from this period that would have come across more impressively if they had either used a more organic score, or no music at all.

There are some decent performances here in spite of the fact that the cast are fed a mediocre script. In particular, the charismatic Kim Coates shines like a proto-Elijah Wood in the role of Ed. Hack, too, is convincing as the bumbling blind Breen. Perhaps the best thing about the movie, though, is the creative use of lighting. However, the fact that Academy recorded this in EP mode reduces what is actually ambient, nuanced light to mere dimness. All of this is compounded by some awkwardly abrupt edits toward the film's last quarter.

And of course, I cannot end this review without touching upon the box. Another great hack job by the artistically impaired marketing goofs at Academy. First off, none of the people on the cover are actually in this movie. The chick on the box is actually way finer than Shelley Hack and about ten years younger to boot. Also, I love that she is wearing tinted glasses, because all blind people wear that shit while tapping the ground with their white cane. And second, the tag line – not exactly accurate: “She’s blind. She’s Beautiful. She thinks she’s alone.” Alright, yeah, she’s blind. I’ll even let you have beautiful. But at no point does she ever think she’s alone. That’s just bullshit. Seriously, it says a lot when the dude who comes up with your taglines hasn’t seen the movie.