I figured ya'll might be in the mood to watch some YouTube clips by now, because there's nothing on the real TV but this Michael Jackson fella who died. Apparently, he was a singer and dancer in addition to his career as a childfondler. Who knew? "The kid is not my son... he's my date!" It's relentless, and it's grabbing TV time from the more-worthy-of-mourning Farrah Fawcett, who also died (when I heard her asshole had cancer, I assumed they were talking about Ryan O'Neil), and Ed McMahon, too (I believe he was killed in a shoot-out with the cops. That's not true, of course, but I believe that it is, and in the Bible belt belief is all that matters).
So, it's been a sucky week all around. Never was a big fan of Jacko (his talent and impact were undeniable, and he was a tortured soul, but I can't get around that child molestation thing. Which is another reason I hate Ted Nugent, who, with Jacko's passing, assumes the mantle of Most Famous Child Rapist In Rock 'n' Roll). Farrah seemed like a nice lady, though, and did some important things (Burning Bed and Extremities brought a lot of attention to stopping violence against women, and she was a good sport on the William Shatner roast, which is why I think she'd forgive me for that shot at Ryan O'Neil). And who didn't like Ed McMahon? He was so lovable I was always hoping that one day I'd find him standing on my doorstep. Holding a large sum of money from Publisher's Clearing House. I'm hoping that's our three, and Bea Arthur, Lux Interior, and David Carradine make up another three, so we'll get a break from celebrity death for a while. But, if Rush Limbaugh's feeling froggy... Yeah, there's a thrombosis waiting to happen.
When? When did this become the blog of cruelty and heartlessness?
Oh well. In July I'm not gonna be able to write much of anything blog-wise, because I'm gonna be doing that NaNoWriMo thing, where I have to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. And I encourage (beseech! cajole! naaaaaag!) all of you to do the same, because this thing's more fun if there's other people to compare word-counts with, encourage, and trash-talk ("You're only up to 3,500 words? Cunt!"). So far only one other guy at work has agreed to tackle the challenge. So, it's up to you, my friends! You guys write! I've seen you do it! Now is the time to pit yourself against the forces of ennui and lethargy! Write that novel you've always wanted to write... or, at least, a novel you're willing to write just to humor me!
Anyway, not wanting to shirk my commitments to the Mighty B-Hole and it's half-dozen or so readers (seriously, is this thing on? hello?) I planned ahead and typed up several-many pages of movie reviews in advance, which I can parcel out throughout the month of July. I can probably even find time betwixt all the writin'-about-inbred-mountain-cannibals to find some YouTube links for 'em. So the next month should look something like this...
Alabama's Ghost (C, 1973) I was hopelessly confused by this right off the bat. The prologue was so convoluted I couldn't keep track of it even though I rewound it three times -- it's something about a Nazi scientist named Dr. Caligula who goes to India where a magician has developed some super-hashish that can turn anyone who uses it into a broadcasting station that can kill with sound... or something. Then the opening credits (which scroll like end credits... in fact, they may even be the end credits, just really early, because there's nothing when the movie's actually over) play over a corny jazz tune. A black jazzman named Alabama follows an even-more confusing-than-the-prologue warning on a record and finds a trunk loaded with magic paraphernalia left behind by Carter The Great, including some of the magic hashish, known as “Khartoom Khaki” (or possibly “Cartoon Khaki” - I can’t swear to it). Alabama plans a new career as a magician, calling himself “Alabama, King of the Cosmos,” and makes a shaky deal with an old grandma who’s secretly a transvestite vampire. Alabama does his nonsensical magic act (there are seldom any actual tricks) at rock concerts. The director (Frederic Hobbs, who also brought you such cinematic colon-stuffing as the killer-mutant-sheep film Godmonster Of Indian Flats, which was the only killer sheep movie until somebody got enough Jagermeister to greenlight Black Sheep) hated rock music, so he substituted some theatrical version of soul music, similar to the awwwwwwful “You Can’t Fart Around With Love” song from Hobb’s Roseland.
WARNING: if you watch this clip, you're going to feel really stupid and embarrassed to be part of this species.
One of the rock stars reminds me of Dave Vanian from The Damned, though. Alabama’s shows don’t always go well, though, such as a swords-through-the-box-with-the-girl-in-it trick. Alabama is haunted by Carter The Great, who is robed and turbaned and has an exposed heart, and he’s also attacked by vampires, so he seeks help from an overenthusiastic voodoo witch doctor. Alabama recovers, drives around in a wooden car, and plans to make an elephant disappear... but this angers the ghost of Carter the Great again, and vampires work an assembly line of captive girls, and the Nazi mad scientist shows up to perform “the most scientifically efficient contamination in history” by running her “raw zeta” hashish through Alabama and destroy civilization for the benefit of the vampires. She also makes an Alabama robot (or maybe turns him into one -- my attention was wandering by this point) which raises havoc at a Woodstock-like televised concert full of dancing hippies, but then the show’s attacked by bikers and vampires, which Alabama tries to fight off with magic. Make what sense of this you can, because the movie’s sure not going to help you. It’s an incomprehensible blend of World’s Greatest Sinner and Rocky Horror Picture Show, which tries to be a horror film, a comedy, and a blacksploitation film (although Alabama sometimes acts like a throwback (or more of an upchuck) to a character from some 30’s black-people-are-afraid-of-haints stereotype), and it’s very original. It’s fascinating for its weirdness but it’s also boring because of all the padding, and it’s hard to get into because it’s so schizophrenic. Not on DVD legally, but a VHS hosted by Elvira was released a couple of decades ago and some people sell bootlegs of that.
You can watch the whole thing online, if you insist.
Army of One (C, 1993) aka Joshua Tree. One of Dolph Lundgren's best movies isn't something that breaks any new ground in the action genre, but it delivers big time, anyhow. In fact, this may be the perfect cheap action film and the best example of its type. Dolph plays a guy named Santee, who's framed for killing a cop and escapes from jail while another cop is trying to beat him to death. On the run through the desert he picks up a beautiful (and martial-arts skilled) woman who turns out to be a deputy sheriff with a reputation for excessive violence. They engage in plenty of it, as well as loads of car chases (some involving trucks, some involving Ferraris and Lamborghinis -- something for every gearhead's price range), trying to avoid capture, settle some old scores, and clear Dolph's name. It's got typical unbelievable plot twists and Dolph takes ridiculous amounts of punishment (and deals out more than his share in a John Woo-style gunfight in a garage), but it hits on all levels: the pacing is great, Kristian Alfonso is especially yummy eye-candy, the action's very well done, the plot is actually pretty decent, and Dolph's skills are used to their maximum, in that he doesn't have to act much and is mostly kept fighting, at which he's very believable. Holds up to repeated viewings, too. One of the best surprises I ever fished out of Wal-Mart's $5 bin and made me a fan of Dolph's movies (even though few of them get anywhere close to this level).
This is the trailer, but YouTube has the whole movie, too, I think. I'm not sure that's legal, but you won't get arrested for watching it.
Automaton Transfusion (C, 2006) We need to come up with a new term for fast zombies. Most of them aren't really zombies, anyway, because they're not necessarily dead, just infected with some kind of homicidal virus, as in [REC] and the 28 Days Later movies. Well, whenever we decide on a name for these things, you can fill in this blank for me, because this is a _________ movie, shot on high-end video for a very low budget. Some teens on their way to see a really awful band (a music video is included on the DVD so you can enjoy not watching it) end up fighting off herds of enraged flesh-eating _________s, the victims of a genetically-engineered virus developed by the military. They fight back using all kinds of splatter-making weapons -- shotgun, baseball bat, and (of course) a chainsaw (they even make a geeky Evil Dead joke when that's brought out). And that's all the plot, really, since this whole thing's basically a thin excuse to do gore effects which are pretty decent for a movie of this budget level, and they do try to come up with some extremes (even if it gets a little silly). A fetus is torn out of a pregnant girl's belly and eaten, a piece of someone's jaw is ripped off, heads explode, a chainsaw goes through a face, and plenty of limbs get torn off and gnawed during the feeding scenes. The over-the-top nature of the events and self-conscious horror-geek shtick robs this of any real fear level and leaves it overly familiar (comfortable, even, which is death for a horror film), but the cast is likeable and the bloodshed should please those who don't demand much more from movies than gore-spectacle. Beyond that there's not much, but it's competent... up until the end, that is, which is unfuckingforgivable, especially in the unlikely event that you were actually engrossed in this story: they cut away in the middle of an attack with a "To Be Continued" tag, and that's the end of the movie. Too bad, because even though I didn't hate this (until that point, anyway) I have no particular urge to see a sequel. That climactic cheat is enough to move this from "nothing special" to flat-out unrecommended. You just can’t do that shit to your audience and walk away without a kick in the ass.
Baba Yaga (C, 1973) aka Kiss Me Kill Me, Devil Witch, Black Magic. Bizarre pseudo-giallo based on a sadomasochistic comic book called "Valentina" by pop-artist Guido Crepax, and directed by Corrado Farina (not Umberto Lenzi as some low-budget DVDs advertise). A fashion photographer named Valentina is walking home late one night after a party and meets a very strange witch-woman named Baba Yaga (Carroll Baker). Baba Yaga forms an attachment to Valentina, bewitches her camera so that accidents happen to whatever she photographs, and causes her to have weird dreams about Nazis and such. While visiting Baba Yaga, Valentina learns that the witch has a bottomless pit in her parlor floor and she's gifted with a dominatrix doll (named Annette), who sometimes turns into the real thing and stabs Valentina's friend with pins... and they die later. Baba Yaga becomes increasingly domineering and keeps Valentina in a form of psychic slavery, which includes whippings from the dominatrix. Valentina's boyfriend (George Eastman) has to save her, and learns that the whole Baba Yaga situation may be even creepier than it looks. Interesting and atmospheric erotic horror with direction that follows the kinetic style of Crepax's comic book and plenty of lesbian overtones, effectively implied, even though the nudity is rather subdued. The director didn't take the easy way out on portraying either the erotica or the violence, which results in a great deal of stylishness. Unique and unusual.
Bad Influence (C, 1990) James Spader (yesterday’s Toby McGuire) is a stressed-out, mousy financial analyst who’s very successful but is still a doormat for everybody. One day Rob Lowe saves him from a bully in a bar, and they start hanging out. Lowe helps Spader develop somewhat of a spine, but there’s a problem; Lowe is a total sociopath who finds it entertaining to influence Spader, and eventually starts controlling him. He plays a tape of Spader having sex with a bar girl to Spader’s fiance at a party, just to free him up for more manipulation. Then Lowe involves him in armed robbery, just for fun, and also beats up Spader’s jerky co-worker. When Spader gets disturbed by this behavior and tries to get Lowe out of his life, he finds that’s not very easy to do, and Lowe is far more dangerous than he’d suspected. Suspenseful and twisted neo-noirish social-nightmare film, with Lowe making a pretty convincing psychopath; it’s pretty daring of him to make a film where a sex tape figures so prominently, considering the scandal he got in involving the same kind of thing.
Barn of the Naked Dead (C, 1974) aka Terror Circus, Nightmare Circus, Caged Women. Andrew Prine is a demented pervert who brings home female hitchhikers and girls whose cars break down in the desert so he can chain them up in his barn and train them to do tricks in his own private woman-circus. He yells and cracks a whip and makes them run in circles until some of them are almost as crazy as he is. He also has a mountain lion that he sics on them. To make matters worse, his area of the desert is an old nuclear testing ground, and Prine’s dad is a crazed radiation mutant, wandering the desert and murdering passersby (who somehow can’t see him lurking around even though the only cover are clumps of grass less than a foot high), or some of the girls who Prine paints with calf’s blood. The gore’s mild and the nudity’s very brief (and certainly not abundant enough to justify the title), and the whole thing should be silly, but the derangement, sadomasochistic sleaze factor, and some grimness (lotsa people don’t escape) saves it from too much campiness. The filmmaking’s pretty crude, but it does have that 70’s low-budget vibe going for it.