Unkle Finster says that Matilda is our best layin' hen...

...but I don't know why he says that since she don't give no eggs a'tall.

One of these days I gotta work up something new instead of going through the movie review archives again. I could review some music or somethin'. I've been listening to a lot of Drive-By Truckers lately, after getting turned onto 'em in a big way by some kick-ass covers done by KickerOfElves' bands. Dirty South is my definite favorite, with Southern Rock Opera in second place. And the new Overkill is good. They were never the greatest thrash band, but I've started liking 'em just 'cuz they've always been consistent and never handed me a "Load" album. New Slayer roolz. New Jello Biafra project - Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine - is pretty good... sounds like the Dead Kennedys sounded on their last albums. New Hatebreed's good. New Last Resort is good. The Antiseen DVD is insane, noisy, and stupid (but that's kinda the appeal - if you're listening to songs like "Fuck All Ya'll" or "Death Train Comin'" you're not looking for intellect, really.). And that's about all the newer stuff I've picked up in the past several months... so, I guess I'll just throw a few random movie reviews atcha.


First Spaceship On Venus (C, 1960) aka Der Schwigende Stern, Planet of the Dead, Silent Star, Spaceship Venus Does Not Reply. German-Polish sci-fi that’s dated but still interesting. A spaceship with a rainbow-coalition crew (guess the Germans were trying to prove they weren’t all Nazis) travels to Venus to investigate a mysterious “spool” that was found on Earth, which contains a mysterious coded message. After a long voyage in which they kill time by playing chess with a robot that looks like an old-fashioned vacuum cleaner modified with a Lite-Brite, they land on a misty, radioactive, empty, dead Venus, where they find metal insect-things that have recordings on them. There are melted cities where they are attacked by an ocean of boiling slime. And they may have accidentally started the whole nuclear catastrophe over again… and they may be trapped in the middle of it. Some of the scientific explanations are pretty wacky, but the special effects aren’t bad for the time period, and the good parts are a worthwhile payoff for the slower ones. The whole movie has an odd, unique look. Most of the versions on cheap DVD are edited, but you can find longer, German-language versions.

Watch the whole thing starting here.

Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies (C, 1994) Documentary on the infamous punk rocker/one man disaster area, GG Allin, filmed shortly before he died… in fact, you can see his funeral at the end. Mainly this is an attempt to explain the freak show that was GG and the weirdoes who are his hardcore fans. He shoves things up his (or somebody else’s) ass, then puts it in his mouth, gets people to piss in his mouth, shits on stage and then eats it or smears it all over himself, bashes the microphone into his head until he bleeds, bashes his audience until they bleed, and, oh yeah, sometimes he does music. Was GG a profound statement on the decline of American society? Or was he just a mentally-unstable cretin taking the cheap road to get some attention? The answer may lie somewhere in between. Highlights include all the aforementioned disgusting acts, bits from the Geraldo Rivera show, interviews with one of GG’s fans (a goof named Unk), talks with Dino the naked drummer (who is weirder than GG but in a peace and love and exposing-himself-to-children way), a bit with a former band member named Chicken John beating himself up like a moron, and footage of GG’s funeral. The documentary is only 52 minutes long, but if you buy the DVD (or at least the old version - I’ve heard the extras aren’t on the “special edition” but I’m not sure of that) it has lots of extras, including GG’s last show at The Gas Station, which turned into a riot. That includes rehearsal footage of songs like “Highest Power” and “I Kill Everything I Fuck,” then the actual concert where he does about two songs and then struts prissily around covered with blood and shit, attacking his fans, and wandering the streets of New York naked with cops looking for him. He gets away and goes looking for the drugs that killed him while his fans riot in the streets. A lot of it is jerky footage of GG and his crew trying to get a cab (one of ‘em is a girl who’s much scarier than the oddly-affable GG). Then they show the fans who filmed it standing around and comparing it to other shows (“His shit stunk, but not as bad as usual. The Denver show? That was some bad shit!”). The footage runs over an hour and you probably don’t want to really watch most of it ‘cuz it’ll make you dizzy. Love him, hate him, or love to hate him, this is as close as you’re going to get to seeing GG Allin anymore. At least you’ll get to see for yourself what the legend was based on, and won’t even have to get anything on you.

Nosferatu (B&W, 1922) aka Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens. Rarely does anyone nail something the first time, but this silent German masterpiece -- the first vampire film -- is still the best. It’s an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with a few incidental changes. Stoker’s widow was so mad at the movie being made without authorization that she ordered all prints destroyed, but luckily some escaped the burning by being in other countries, so we still have it. Jonathan Harker (or a reasonable facsimile) travels to Transylvania to make a real-estate deal with Baron Orlock, who is the Dracula figure. As portrayed by Max Shreck (a pseudonym meaning “terror”), this is one of the creepiest figures ever to cross a movie screen. He’s bald with long pointed ears, a hawk nose, crazy eyes, and two ratlike fangs for front teeth. And he’s tall and thin, with hunched shoulders; he looks like he’s spent so much time in a coffin that he’s become deformed to the shape of it. His fingers are long, spider-like talons. As a kid, our school library had a book with pictures of him in it, and we all got the hell scared out of us just looking at the stills. Orlock makes a sea journey to Germany, killing all aboard the ship and bringing plague-rats with him. There are too many classic images in this film to list (Nosferatu’s shadow going up the stairs has been copied many times) and it’s a nightmarish masterpiece. Werner Herzog remade it in 1979, and his film is good in its own right, but it doesn’t hold a candle to this. Another film, Shadow of the Vampire, was released in 2001, detailing the making of this film and suggesting that Shreck was a real vampire who was unwittingly cast as one. I could almost believe it.

Suddenly (B&W, 1954) Kinda like “Lee Harvey Oswald Comes to Mayberry” (Oswald did supposedly watch this a few days before shooting JFK). The president is going to make a brief stop in a town called Suddenly, and Frank Sinatra plans to assassinate him because person or persons unknown have offered him half a million dollars to do so. He sets up shop in a house overlooking the train station, and he and his two goods have to keep several people hostage while they wait. Sherriff Sterling Hayden and a little boy named “Pidge” are among the captives who have to wait this whole thing out, and try to stop it, while Frank defensively talks about the Silver Star he won in the war. Neat, intense little drama, with a believable psychotic performance from ol’ blue eyes. (Who, in the colorized version, becomes ol’ brown eyes! Doh!) There are rumors that Sinatra wanted all prints of this destroyed, but in actuality it was just pulled from distribution for a while after the JFK assassination, then fell into the public domain, making it one of the best movies you can buy for a buck. Recommended.

Surf Nazis Must Die (C, 1987) First up, this is a Troma movie. Now that you know it’s going to be an inept, moron-pleasing, boring, time-wasting piece of dreck with no attempt even made at anything approaching even passable acting, direction, or special effects, we can dispense with expectations and see what’s there. In a futuristic society where cheesy surf gangs rule the beaches, a large cigar-smoking black woman named Eleanor Washington moves into a retirement home when her house is leveled by an earthquake. The worst gang, the Surf Nazis (who have names like Adolph, Eva, and Mengele - you get the idea) luckily don’t seem all that sincere about their Nazi beliefs; most of the swastikas are backwards. They rig spikes into their surfboards, rob people on the beach, and battle with another surf gang called The Samurai. See, they don’t even know that Japan’s supposed to be their ally, jeez. The fights aren’t much of anything and last for seconds. Then the Surf Nazis kill Eleanor’s son, and she overhears one of them bragging about it, so she buys a Walter P38 and some grenades. After about a half an hour of footage of people standing around, sitting around, or driving around, and the occasional surfing footage, there’s a brief, full-lack-of-contact fight between surf gangs, which looks more like people with weapons hugging each other. Then you get a few minutes of Eleanor riding a motorcycle and getting payback, just so there’ll be something to put in the trailer. The Nazis are so dumb they try to get away from her on their surfboards -- only an effective vehicle when heading toward the beach. Most of the movie is drawn-out padding and every scene seems to take forever, but I guess it’s nice that there’s still a job market for filmmakers who don’t have enough talent to work in the porno industry. I’m not sure if this is an action film with no action, or a comedy with no jokes. Eleanor comes across as likeable, but that’s about all it has going for it. My best advice is, either tune in about ten minutes before the end, or just watch the trailer. Troma Films: wasting potential guitar picks since the mid-80’s. Fuck ‘em.

Young Hannah, Queen of the Vampires (C, 1972) aka Crypt of the Living Dead, La Tumba de la Isla Maldita, Hannah Queen of the Vampires. The credits won’t tell you this, but this is based on “The Tomb of Sarah” (link is a PDF) by F. G. Loring… and that’s not a bad source. A guy comes to an isolated and superstitious island because his father was killed there when some hippie cultists crushed him beneath a tomb he was studying. His son gets interested in the tomb, because it’s 700 years old and inscribed with a warning not to open it, because it contains Hannah, a beautiful vampire. And of course that’s true, as they find when they move the tomb to get the father’s body out from under it. She rises in green mist and turns into a wolf (I think it’s actually a coyote, but what the hell) and starts a killing spree, with her cult members helping her out. In other words, pretty much the usual vampire-movie thing, but not badly done and has a creepy atmosphere. Most of the copies on DVD are black and white for some reason, but a color DVD is available. The old videotapes were struck from a really beat-up print, which almost worked better, as the artifacting added to the atmosphere.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! I agree on Nosferatu... I've got it on my iPod + watchd it at the doctor's office a coupla days ago. Creepy. Not quite GG creepy, but still...