Oi, oi, that's yer lot!

I figured I'd specialize this week and just cover football hooligan/skinhead movies. I've been listening to a lot of Oi! on the ride to work (not the Nazi stuff - fuck that RAC shit) so I thought this might be a good time to just look at movies about skins 'n' hoolies. The review of Skinheads: The Second Coming of Hate is from memory, because I don't think I ever wrote one back when I watched it and I don't want to take the time to watch it again, but I think I remember enough to tell ya a little about it. The Scums aren't necessarily skin/hoolie flicks, but there's a close enough relation that I decided to include them.

But before we start the aggro, here's a message from Bill Hicks.

American History X - (C, 1998) "Has anything you've done made your life better?" Ed Norton is a neo-Nazi skinhead scumbag who kills a couple of black guys when they try to rob him, which might’ve been okay – hey, they were armed – ‘cept he was pretty sick about the way he did it (nastiest “bite the curb” scene since the underground short film, Red. ) While he’s in jail, he learns that racism is a pretty damned stupid thing, but by the time he gets out, his little brother Eddie “I’m in every movie made since 1990" Furlong is following in his old Doc Marten prints, and the local skinhead scene is thriving. Even though Ed was about as scummy as you can get through the first half, he pays – heavily – for his sins, and comes out sympathetic in the end. Great performance by Ed... you can tell he’s a good actor, because he actually makes a SCARY skinhead, even though normally there are few creatures less scary than Ed Norton. He really should’ve gotten an award for this – he’s great. Good script, good message, check it out even though it’ll make you upset. But then, who really likes “feel good movies” anyway? The DVD contains deleted scenes, one of which – Stacy Keach and the fat guy getting their just deserts – explains a few things but was probably too comedic for the rest of the movie...

Whole movie online starting here (man, that can't be legal):

Firm, The (C, 198 [8)] Nope, this isn't the John Grisham movie, it's one of Alan Clarke's raw, uncompromising exposes of the nastier subsets of British life, like Scum or Made in Britain. In this one, a barely recognizable Gary Oldman struggles to be "top boy" or his gang of soccer hooligans, competing with a couple of other gangs, one led by a guy named Oboe and another led by a blond weirdo named Yeti. Their conflicts are really about nothing (soccer is barely even mentioned) and involve a great deal of senseless violence and destruction (if they're lucky the just end up with a big facial scar or a burned- up car), which brings none of them anything bug misery. But, since it's all stupid to begin with, they have no lesson to learn when things go to far. Pretty powerful and fast moving (it's only 69 minutes long), with Clarke's usual nonjudgemental camera letting you draw your own conclusions (which, given the subject matter, are pretty inescapable anyway.) DVD includes Clarke's Elephant.

Whole movie online starting here:

And there's apparently a remake:

Football Factory (C, 2004) Soccer hooligan flick that seems to borrow style from Trainspotting, Fight Club, and Guy Richie's stuff, but holds its own pretty well, too. A young Chelsea supporter is tempting fate as a sure-to-be-a-major-ruck match with Millwall is coming up, and a psychotic friend named Billy is adding even more chaos to the situation. Tommy's got a one-night-stand's enraged brother after him, and his grandfather is depressed over the death of his best friend, and on top of that Tommy's having nightmares about taking a bad beating and talking with a bandaged-faced dead kid. Plenty of violence and also some funny parts, although not enough to promote this as a comedy, which the DVD case vaguely attempts to do. If you're looking for any insight, you're better off with The Firm or Green Street Hooligans, but if you like watching thick-accented British thugs kicking six shades o' shite out of one another for no particularly good reason, then this will deliver the goods. Us Yanks will have to rely on context for a lot of the slang, which is plentiful and unforgiving to the uninitiated. Subtitles help.

Green Street Hooligans (C, 2005) aka Hooligans, Football Hooligans, Green Street, The Yank. Elijah Wood is kicked out of Harvard two months before graduation due to his roommate's cocaine possession, so he goes to visit his sister in Britain. Due to anger at his roommate, Elijah eagerly falls in with his brother-in-law's brother Pete, who's head of a West Ham "firm" of soccer (or football to everybody but us) hooligans and provides him with a chance to take his frustrations out on rival firms. Even though he's kind of wimpy initially, he's soon fitting in with the thugs and getting in some trouble, especially when they find out his dad is a journalist... and they hate journalists for making them look mugs. Pretty good, even though editing and stupid-camera-tricks take away from the fight scenes a little. Not quite as great as The Firm, but it's a worthy football-hoolie film nonetheless.

Made in Britain (C, 1982) aka Tales Out Of School: Made In Britain. Tim Roth (from Reservior Dogs) is phenomenal as a completely incorrigible British skinhead who's hell bent on self- destruction, no matter how much time social workers waste in trying to help him make something of himself. He's really not interested in anything but being an asshole and causing trouble, and nobody's going to stop him. He steals cars and throws bricks through the windows of Pakistanis, preaches racist bullshit, and absolutely does not care if he's dooming himself to life in prison. There's not a lot of story to it, and seemingly no point... other that the fact that there's no point is the point. It doesn't force any particular viewpoint, but Roth is so believably nasty as the stubborn, violent Trevor that he'll give you the creeps. The truth is, even if Trevor had put any effort into bettering himself, he wasn't likely to get very far in Thatcher's hopeless, limited options Britain. The Exploited's "UK '82" makes a perfect soundtrack. Made in a very straightforward, forceful manner, with a steadicam following the constantly pacing Trevor as he determinedly and ruthlessly paves his path of rage. Lack of plot doesn't weaken this one. Also check out Scum, from the same director.

Whole thing on line starting here:

Rise of the Footsoldier (C, 2007) Badarse Bri'ish crime film based on the true story of Carlton Leach, who progressed from football hooligan to bouncer at a club to mob enforcer to bigtime criminal, all because of his hard-guy talent for violence. Covering a period of years and apparently patterned on a Goodfellas narrative style, this film is high quality filmmaking paired with lots of intense and uncompromising violence. Carlton is a brutal and vicious guy who thrives on fighting and is capable of acts like nailing people's arms and legs to the floor, but he's actually a lot more laid back than a lot of the guys around him, some of whom are psychotic enough to carve people up over a pizza order gone wrong. Carlton's criminal dealings get him in a lot of dangerous situations (such as a near war with the Turkish Mafia), but when some of his friends try to make a huge drug deal they get even worse, shotgunned to hamburger. And they may be luckier than Carlton, who has to live a life under constant threat. Very hard-edged and tough British crime film, with some intense fight scenes (the scene were their subway car pulls up to a crowd of rival supporters weilding hatchets is pretty terrifying). A must for gangster film fanatics, if they can handle it.

Some aggro scenes here.

Romper Stomper (C, 1992) "We came to wreck everything and ruin your life. God sent us." Russell Crowe easily stands out in this largely-plotless saga of Australian Nazi skinheads and their pointless battles with Asian immigrants. They spend all their time attacking Asians, smashing into shops, and sitting around bored, drinking beer and hitting each other while listening to substandard hardcore (one song robs from Condemned 84). Like American Nazi skins, they complain that immigrants are stealing "their" country (forgetting they're not the indigenous race themselves... or maybe they do remember it and that's why they're scared of immigrants!). Their fights with the Asians are brutally violent, and the skins often get their asses kicked unless the odds are strongly in their favor. The skins want to take their country back but can't even hold onto their clubhouse. They also beat up white guys, too, if they're hippies. Crowe, their leader, won't even eat pasta because it's "bloody wop crap." They also don't have much sympathy for epileptics. In an attempt to reclaim their “honor,” they get guns, and one girl helps finance their armory by helping them rob her incestuous father’s house, but they screw around and mess it up. A few of them quit, and cops get some more. Soon they’re robbing convenience stores and killing people, and even the pathetic dregs who are left aren’t unified and are going nowhere. The film is pretty chaotic and cheap-looking and the story isn’t especially brilliant, but there is an undeniable raw power to it. Kind of an updated Clockwork Orange.

Scum (BBC Version) (C, 1977) Made-for-TV juvenile-prison movies get networks in trouble on both sides of the Atlantic. You can perhaps remember the furor raised over Born Innocent over here, and similar hell was raised in Britain over this vicious borstal drama that was eternally banned from broadcast (and promptly remade -- even more brutally -- for a theatrical version by director Alan Clarke). It is tough to watch, especially the rape scene, so I'm kind of amazed the BBC even considered it. A young man named Carlin is sent to juvenile prison for assaulting an officer, and in that prison the only people more cruel and abusive than the guards are the other inmates. Carlin wants to just do his time in peace, but he has a reputation so other prisoners hassle him, and he decides the only way he'll get any peace is to become the "daddy" of the place. Meanwhile, beatings, rapes, suicides, and riots keep happening and the guards could care less. Uncompromising, realistic film from the guy who brought you Made in Britain.

Scum (theatrical version) (C, 1979) When the BBC banned his made-for-TV borstal drama, the incorrigible Alan Clarke retaliated by promptly remaking it for theaters, making it around 15 minutes longer and intensifying just about everything the BBC found so objectionable. So there! It's not radically different from the original, just a wee bit more graphic and with almost total recasting (except for Carlin and maybe a couple of supporting characters), as well as a different directorial approach to nearly every scene; it's interesting that, given it all to do over again, Clarke rejected most of his previous camera angles. Despite the more unrestrained nature of this version, I have a slight preference for the BBC version because that cut is a little mangier-looking, and the lower budget gave it a slight edge in the authenticity department. You really can't go wrong with either version, though, because the story is very strong and it's well-told and -acted in either case. Get the dual-disc set and see 'em both.

Skinheads: The Second Coming of Hate (C, 1989) Silly and stupid attempt at a topical exploitation flick from Greydon Clark, a veteran of several biker flicks. A gang of miserable skinheads hassle Jews in convenience stores, get in fights with Blacks, behave like assholes, and then chase a bunch of white people they don't like into the woods... which turns most of the movie into a skinheads-wandering-through-the-woods flicks, which pretty much removes the entire point of having the movie be about skinheads in the first place. My guess is they had another script that they doctored a few scenes to try to cash in on the fear Geraldo was trying to stir up at the time. Chuck Connors shows up as a guy living in the woods who takes on the skins; watching him mock Hitler makes the movie almost worthwhile. The Skins listen to Elvis Hitler, because I guess the filmmakers didn't want to bother researching any real Nazi punk rock. Elvis Hitler's a much better band that Skrewdriver, anyway, so what the heck.

This Is England (C, 2006) A young British boy named Shaun, whose father was killed in the Falklands war, is getting picked on because of his flared trousers. He's having a really bad day until he meets a group of friendly skinheads, led by a kind-hearted (if slightly criminally-bent) guy named Woody. They remake Shaun in the skinhead image and everything's great until an old mate, Combo, gets out of jail with a head full of stupid nationalistic ideas. The injection of this hate and divisiveness has a highly negative effect on the whole group; Woody and a couple of others are against racism and leave immediately, but Shaun -- possibly looking for a father figure or trying to feel that the Falklands war was worthwhile -- stays with Combo's group even though he doesn't buy into the racism crap. Even Combo struggles with that part of it, but he's weak and the results aren't good for any of them. Highly compelling drama explains a lot of the psychology behind Britain's skinhead culture, acknowledging the faults without condemning (or exploiting) the whole thing. Very well done.


A Fistful Of Kung Fu

Or maybe a double-fistful... I got a little carried away, just so I can have something to point to if I feel like slacking some week. Now, onward to the grindhouse...


Crack Shadow Boxer (C, 1979) aka Crack Showdown Boxers, Mang Quan Quai Zhao. If this were a Western, Don Knotts would be starring in it. A couple of wandering conmen get in numerous slapstick fights (usually with dissatisfied customers) as they go from village to village selling "iron strength pills." One village they come to mistakes them for a couple of expert fighters they hired to chase off the evil Tiger Gang that's been squeezing the village for protection money, unaware that the real hired fighters have already been caught. The con men are getting money, food, and sex with nymphomaniacs, so they go with the scam. Luckily the bandits are idiots and mistake the con men for great fighters. One of them manages to win fights just by being clumsy, and he dubs that "stumbling style kung fu." He also wraps himself in rubber tubing (even though the movie appears to be set in the distant past, before such things were invented), and gets a lot of silly fighting out of that. There are more "sad trumpet" wah-wah-wah's and goofy sound effects in this than any cartoon I can think of. Lots of fights, but all of them silly, and only for those with a high tolerance for kung fu comedy.

Death Duel of Kung Fu
(C, 1979) aka He Xing Dao Shou Tang Lang Tui. Two stars from Secret Rivals are reunited in this classic. Wang Tao is a Ming patriot who infiltrates the invading Chings so he can cut the head off of their leader. He escapes, and their new leader decides that the only way to keep the army from losing what little morale it has left is to hunt down Tao and kill him. His kung fu is too good for them, though, and he mows down all their forces, no matter how many they send. Nobody's luck holds out forever, though, and eventually he's wounded and rescued by John Liu. When Tao recovers, he and his rescuer plan a duel just to see who's the best fighter, but the Ching leader (Eagle Han) shows up in the middle of the fight, and Wang Tao thinks that John Liu is working with them. Liu leaves Tao to face Eagle Han, who's nearly unbeatable, and Tao is beaten again. He soon recovers and starts training extra hard, but he still may need Liu's help to defeat the Ching leader. The fighting in this one is frequent and amazing, with John Liu's amazing leg control getting a real showcase here. He often stands on one leg and fires off several strong kicks without ever putting his other foot down. And Wong Tao and Eagle Han are no slouches, either, with Han's form so expert they couldn't resist having him display it without an opponent in several scenes. Music stolen from Hang 'Em High is used to great effect. Top kung fu film.

Whole movie online here.

Double Dragon In Last Duel
(C, 1985) A bad guy with a white stripe in his hair like a skunk poses as a friend to a local magistrate, so he and his gang can steal a gold shipment. In so doing they kill off most of the magistrate's family. He takes his young son into hiding, where a white-haired monk trains him in kung fu. Then he grows up and goes out seeking vengeance, with help from a stranger who sides with him, apparently because they both have the same ridiculous bell-shaped hairstyle. Things escalate to Shakespearean proportions, but they aren't really capitalized on. Average (other than being South Korean) but entertaining, with even worse dubbed dialogue than usual and a lot of grandiose gesturing to make up for a lack of skill. And ya know a ponytail used as a whip that can shatter trees is just goofy already.

Enter The Invincible Hero
(C, 1977) aka Heugpyobigaeg. The always-entertaining Dragon Lee and a rare appearance by the incredible "Human Tornado" Casanova Wong give a surge to this otherwise-average kung fu flick from lackluster director Godfrey Ho. A sinister bald guy who has a medallion around his neck that lights up when his "chi" gets intense has been scamming a money-delivery agency he's working for. He arranges to have the shipments robbed by some scurvy bandits (including a hunchback who uses his hump as a weapon and a guy who butts everyone with his stomach) and splits the take. Dragon is hired by the agency and gets ripped off by the bandits. It's his responsibility to pay it back... and the only way he can do that is to get to the bottom of the whole crime ring and then shut it down. And that won't be easy since there are some incredible fighters amongst the opposition. One guy (the one in the red suit) has kicking prowess that almost shows up Casanova's (he's the guy with the white glove), and that's really saying something.

Whole movie online starting here.

Executioners From Shaolin (C, 1977) aka Hong Xi Guan, Executioners of Death, Shaolin Executioners. Lo Lieh plays Pak Mei, an invulnerable White Eyebrow Priest similar to the one he played in Fists of the White Lotus. Chen Kuan Tai (from the 70's Iron Monkey) is a resistance fighter, sworn to kill Pak Mei to avenge his destruction of the Shaolin temple. The only problem is, Pak Mei has only one vulnerable spot, and it only exists between 1 and 3 o'clock. Chen trains while raising a family, and he practices on a bronze statue full of grooves with rolling metal balls, so he can get the knack of chasing down Pak Mei's vulnerable spot. But he stubbornly refuses to learn his wife's crane style to supplement his own tiger style. Eventually he comes to regret this, and it's up to his son to correct the mistakes (by developing a style that would become Hung Gar) and get revenge. Classic kung fu; the first half hour's a little sloppy (despite a guest appearance by Gordon Liu) but after that it's top notch stuff.

Whole movie starting here:

Fist Full of Talons
(C, 1983) aka Hu Ying, Wind Forest Fire Mountain. The underrated Billy Chong stars as a young martial artist who has a hobby of collecting the braided pigtails of Ching-loyal Manchurians who are trying to re-take the country after a revolution. He eventually goes into hiding at an abandoned temple with a stranger who, using tactics from Sun Tzu's Art of War, teaches him how to improve and best utilize his kung fu skills in order to defeat the Manchurians. He gets extra help from a little bandit and his seriously-gorgeous falconer fiance. And he'll need help, because the chief bad guy has armored legs... Well-done kung fu with better production values than usual.

Flag of Iron
(C, 1980) aka The Spearman of Death, Tie Qi Men, The Spearman. The plot of this Shaw Brothers classic starring the Venoms contains Shakespearean levels of treachery. The Iron Flag Clan (so named because they use huge flags as weapons) have a feud with the Eagle Clan, and during a peace talk the Eagles ambush them. In the ensuing fight ten Eagles are killed, and someone kills the Iron Flag chief. The Eagles press charges and one of the Iron Flags, Brother Lo, agrees to be a scapegoat and is exiled for a year, working a menial job as a waiter. The new Iron Flag chief acts grateful and promises to send him money, but the money never comes. Assassins show up instead, but Lo manages to kill them all first... even the guy who uses an abacus as a weapon, and The Dangerous Kid, who uses a sword that seems comical at first. Lo makes it through all the assassins but is finally wounded in a trap/torture device, but, with the help of a spearman and some true brothers, he manages to get revenge. I held off on getting this for a while because I thought flags would make for silly weapons, but actually they're pretty impressive, and there's tons of fighting without them, anyway. Bloodier than usual, and with better dialogue. Really good.

Whole movie online starting here:

Half A Loaf of Kung Fu
(C, 1980) aka Dian Zhi Gong Fu Gan Chian Chan. If you couldn't guess from the title, the credits sequence with Jackie Chan parodying lots of kung fu archetypes should let you know you're in for something silly. A young Jackie, sporting a long ponytail on an otherwise-awful haircut, gets a houseboy job at a palace, has dreams about being Popeye, then loses his job by being a peeping tom. While running away he happens upon two men who are fighting. They kill each other and Jackie takes the credit since there's a $500 reward. Everybody (in a town where everyone seems to twitch or stutter or fart) thinks he's a hero named Lu Lu Long, so he tries to pick up kung fu tricks to live up to his new reputation, but still gets by mostly on luck. It starts running out when he gets int he way of a gang of bandits led by a "witch woman" who is after some magical evergreen jade and "soul pills." Because Jackie has more guts than brains, an old beggar agrees to train him in kung fu. And, as usually happens, he learns enough to engage in a big climactic battle against the bad guys. Too silly and slapstick to work as a real kung fu movie, and not slapstick enough to be one of Jackie's best, but it's still okay viewing for real Chan-fans. Will disappoint the new jacks who ware expecting crazy stunts and stuff, though.

Here's the opening with the parodies (gotta love Jesus!):

Kung Fu Genius (C, 1969) aka Tian Cai Gong Fu. Cliff Lok has mastered all kung fu styles -- including a few he made up -- and so he considers himself a genius and, at the urging of his idiot pupil, opens a kung fu school. This puts him in conflict with students at a Spiritual Boxing school in the same town. he doesn't have much trouble dealing with all the attacks (which are pretty constant -- even thought this is a comedy it's heavy on the action sequences, which are well-done), his pupil is beaten up until he goes insane. Because he mows down everyone who goes against him (even a really silly-looking duck fist style is no match), they bring in a very dangerous guy who uses a fan as a weapon. Meanwhile, the insane pupil and another nutcase bond over a melon they've befriended. Yes. Includes music stolen from a wide variety of sources, including Rocky and Lucio Fulci's The Beyond.

Witness... duck style!

Whole movie starting here:

Lord of the Wu Tang (C, 1993) aka Yi Tian Tu Long Ji: Zhi Mo Jiao Jiao Zhu, Kung Fu Cult Master, The Evil Cult, The Swordmaster. A weird combo of a kung fu movie and a shroomhead's feverdream, starring Jet Li. It's hard to follow, because the cheap DVD I got has horrible subtitles and the movie's chaotic to begin with. As a kid, Jet was hit with a poisoned "Jinx Palm," which left him too weak and sickly to avenge the deaths of his parents. But one day he and a female friend find a crazy old monk who rolls around in a boulder he's embedded in, because he has a broken back. He attacks Jet and causes him to spit up things that look like pieces of candy, which cures him, and also teaches him kung fu which makes him nearly invincible. He can fire solar beams out of his fists. There's also a disguised woman named Master No-Mercy who has a magic glowing sword that does all kinds of crazy stuff. He battles her, then armies of Ming who want to destroy both Shaolin and Wu Tang, and he's aided by the power to learn any kind of martial art in minutes. It's difficult to make sense out of this but it's a constant barrage of wire-fu, with people flying around, shooting things out of their sleeves, and all sorts of highly-imaginative weirdness. Plus, several pretty girls. So don't expect regular kung fu -- it's more along the lines of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon -- and don't worry about it making sense, just go with it.

Opium and the Kung Fu Master (C, 1984) aka Hung Kuen Dai See, Lightning Fists of Shaolin, Master of the Hung Clan. The majestic Ti Lung is a skilled teacher of kung fu who begins socially dabbling in opium-smoking and soon regrets it in this Shaw Brothers classic, which emphasizes emotion almost as much as action. The workers in Ti Lung's town turn into addicts when an opium den opens for business, and their productivity drops, if they show up for work at all. Ti tries to keep them in line, but his own opium use is starting to get out of hand and it's affecting his fighting skills. One of Ti's students is disgusted with the tragedy the drug abuse is causing and he tries to burn down the opium den, and then dies trying to defend a weakened Ti from the drug-dealing gangsters. With the help of a blind master, Ti struggles to kick his habit and regain his skills so he can run the dealers out of town. He tries to train in kung fu while going cold turkey, but only more tragedy can give him the motivation he needs. Lots of pathos and an impressive climactic battle make this an unusual, standout kung fu masterpiece.

Whole movie online starting here:

Sister Streetfighter (C, 1974) aka Onna Hissatu Ken, Female Fighting Fist In Danger, Lady Karate, Woman Certain Kill Fist. Sue Shiomi's brother disappears while on an undercover mission, infiltrating narcotics smugglers. Since she's got enough skill in the martial arts to stab flies with toothpicks and feed them to obnoxious punks, she decides to go after him. Even though she can handle the bad guys alone, she gets help from lord-god-king-badass himself, Sonny Chiba (as "Sonny Hibachi"). One of the bad guys is Masashi Ishibashi, who played "Junjo" in the first two Streetfighter films, but here plays a guy named Hammerhead, whose crew all wear baskets over their heads. She'll have to deal with them if she hopes to rescue her brother (who they've hooked on heroin) and stop them from smuggling drug-impregnated wigs (yes, wigs) out of the country. There's also a guy with a mohawk who uses a blowgun, and some Amazons who dress like Fred Flintstone! They all get their asses kicked, and they deserve it! She also sends Rev. Star, a former preacher who uses a speargun, to Hell. And dozens more! Despite getting star billing, Sonny Chiba's only in this for a few minutes. But that's okay, because it means more screen-time for Sue. Decent karatefest that's not really connected to Chiba's Streetfigher franchise in any way.

Whole movie online starting here:

Triangular Duel (C, 1972) aka Tie San Jiao. A rickshaw man who trains in martial arts gets in the middle of struggle between rival kung fu schools. One of the schools wants to take over the rickshaw man's school, but his teacher refuses to consolidate. The other school insists, resulting in a lot of fighting between the students. The rickshaw man also has some training in Japanese fighting styles and is only taken on as a student because he promised not to fight... but of course he does, which gets him in trouble with his teacher. The bad guys make it almost impossible for him to keep his promise, especially when they start interfering with his girlfriend... who's apparently the daughter of the rival school's leader. The intricacies of the plot are pretty tough to follow since this is on a Mei Ah DVD, and they're notorious for terrible "Engrish" subtitles. Ordinarily these can be hilarious, but when you're wanting to actually keep track of the story, it's tedious to figure out what they meant to say when things like "He took up the dull willingly. No man can be blamed even if he died" are the norm. Fortunately there's still a lot of pretty decent fighting going on, especially when the bad guys use their "Iron Triangle" secret -- a guy with super-strong fists, a guy with super-strong feet, and a guy who can take all kinds of beatings without even noticing. The rickshaw guy will have to find a way to defeat it, and the climactic duel goes on for quite some time, veering into mud-wrestling in a lakebed. Good kung fu movie, too bad it's so poorly served by the subtitles.

Unbeaten 28
(C, 1980) aka Wu Dang Er Shu Ba Chi, The 28 Wonders of Wu Tang. An evil kung fu master (played by Mark Long, aka Ghost Faced Killer) murders a whole family except for a baby who gets rescued. He's trained in kung fu since infancy and grows up to be a fighter called Tiger (Meng Fei), and in order to obtain a super-secret kung fu manual he goes through a Shaolin chamber of 18 traps and tests, such as stone men, crushing doors, and other expert fighters. He's nearly killed by the process and it takes him several tries to make it through. When he finally gets the book he's infuriated to find it blank... but his girlfriend discovers that water and heat make the ink appear... but the book only contains instructions on how to beat the obstacles he faced to get the book. Realizing his struggle has taught him all the kung fu he needs, he heads out to face the supposedly-invincible master who killed his parents. Well-done, training-sequence-heavy kung fu film that's another version of 18 Bronzemen... and that's a good thing.

Whole movie online starting here:

Young Avenger, The (C, 1980) aka Ban Ye Xiao Zi, The first thing you'll notice about this rather strange kung fu flick is that it steals lots of the Ennio Morricone score from Sergio Leone's Duck You Sucker, burps and all. But it's probably most famous for being the movie where the guy uses a "Swiss Army spade" as a weapon. A young graverobber with no respect for the dead (he goes weewee in burial urns) gets haunted by a rotting-faced ghost who wants him to track down his killers. During the day the ghost hides under a bamboo hat and demands that he throw death-money around at all bridges and Buddhas, which makes everyone think the guy's crazy. The graverobber's kung fu isn't quite up to the task of wiping out the killers, so the ghost trains him... and tells him that he's not really a ghost, just a guy with a scarred face (it was eaten by ants after he was betrayed by some evil co-workers). Even more surprising, his name is Bud! Pretty good kung fu that knows when to drop the comedy. The Swiss Army spade finale is worth the wait.

Young Tiger (C, 1973) aka Xia Lao Hu. Meng Fei stars as a happy-go-lucky motorcycle-riding kung fu student who's not terribly bright but is highly skilled in martial arts. A gang of thugs try to frame him for murdering a guy he had a fight with, and he makes things worse by escaping and running away when the cops bring him in for questioning. He hides out at his girlfriend's apartment (clever, nobody'd ever think of looking for him there), but the thugs are after him, too, wanting to kill him before he can clear his name. They think they kill him by throwing him over a cliff, but he fooled them and comes back to battle them by the dozens. As a subplot, the thugs run a blackmail ring, taking pornographic pictures of their targets fooling around with whores. The soundtrack treats you to some strange saxophone-and-organ versions of classic rock songs like Led Zep's "Immigrant Song" or "Move Over" by Janis Joplin.

Whole movie online here (the Led Zep song is at the beginning, if that's all you're interested in):


The Return of Soundgarden, etc...

The release date for the new Soundgarden album is 28 September 2010. The first single "Black Rain" is up on iTunes for $1.29. Starts out kinda swirly + swelly like "Searching with My Good Eye Closed" before kicking into a mammoth + amazingly sick riff in fuckt/4 time. Makes me think of stuff from Badmotorfinger (and it turns out, it was recording during the sessions for BMF)... odd-time, twisted guitars, rumbly + intricate bass, huge drums, multi-trackt Chris vox screaming to the mountaintop...
So... holy shit!

The flicks reviewed are currently being shown. Check listings for pay channels, IFC + Sundance (+ for noir stuff, sometimes Fox Movie) Channels for details.

The Signal (2007)

I thoroughly enjoyed this very clever indie film. Some sort of ubiquitous weird transmission has overtaken televisions + phones, driving those exposed to it for even a short time into a homicidal rage. And the few people who've avoided exposure are gonna have to fight their way out of the city if they want to survive. The story is well-told, careening through three different segments, each by a different director. The opening segment is a dark + vital updating of Night of the Living Dead, with a a clever opening film-in-film trope (a brilliant tip'o'the hat to indie-horror's forefathers) + a quick introduction to our lead couple Mya + Ben before an unexplained + immediate descent into nightmare. The second act fleshes out the backstory a bit more + also turns toward an extreme Re-Animator style horror-comedy vibe, while the final bit balances the horror + humor, adding in the love story that's been underpinning the plot the whole film. It's definitely an excellent entry in the "infection/virus" sub-genre of 'zombie mooby.' The gore level varies, with some of the violence in your face + some more subtly presented. The guy with the shears in the first bit is disturbing, and Mya's jealous husband's professional use of a pest control spray cannister is terrifying + clever. And his baseball bat... Filmed in Atlanta on a budget of $50K, but with a very professionally-done style that never goes too far into the realm of overpolisht-Hollywood or indie-hell. Some subtle anti-mainstream media concepts at play, as well, with salvation in the forms of love +, even better, your own personal mix CD, though Ben's taste in music... Whatever, me like-y!

Los cronocrímenes (2007) (English title: Timecrimes)

Investigating something strange he's seen in the woods near his country home, Hector ends up being pursued through the forest by a bandage-covered man. His flight takes him to a nearby research facility, where he unknowingly enters a time machine + is flung backwards in time. But only about an hour or so. And that's all the plot info you'll get from me; to do otherwise ruins the flick. Hector is developed as a character as the story progresses + the entire film unfolds cleverly. Without ever feeling cheated, I was easily able to stay on track even as the time-travel aspects of the plot started to become more complex. This could've been very confusing, but was instead a clear, almost linear story that kept me interested all the way til the finish. This is the first film from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, so look for his futurewerks. Me-likey!

and a book:
Drood by Dan Simmons
Simmons spins a dark fiction around the historical events of the last five years in the life of Charles Dickens, told from the POV of fellow Brit author Wilkie Collins, + involving the dark machinations of a powerful possibly supernatural menace named Drood who controls the criminal underworld of London. Great book, with weirding hints at Dracula, the Phantom of the Opera + Sherlock Holmes, plus references to Simmons' arctic historical-horror novel The Terror (also reviewed here by zwolf... search it out). And, like The Terror, Drood is well-researched, with an astounding amount of historical detail + fact interwoven into the fabric of the story. Scary swarthy foreigners, mesmerism, questionable Scotland Yard inspectors, sleazy opium dens... the Victorian Era is a lot of fun, if you're chugging laudanum, I s'pose. Highly recommended!

And a final thought... The Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff aired this week. Try to catch a replay, cuz there were some hilariously ugly jokes bandied about, including Greg Giraldo's beautiful "David Hasselhoff's liver is so shriveled, black + dead that if you lean in close to his side, you can hear it saying, 'Whatchu talkin'bout, Willis?'"

Hah-hah! That's all for now... gotta go watch Brian DePalma's Sisters from 1973 starring Margot Kidder (playing crazy before she went crazy) as a pair of psycho-ass twins! IFC aired it yesterday, but I was enthralled (again) by Akira Kurosawa's brilliant Ran, so today's the day... might even get to The Nickel Ride, a cop-flick from the early 70s.


A Swarm of B's

Hardly anybody but me seems to watch these kind of movies anymore. I know of people who won't even watch black-and-white, much less no-budget old obscurities. Those motherfuckers don't know what they're missing.

Anyway, I figured I'd put these up even if nobody gives a damn. Hell, especially if nobody gives a damn...


Beast of Yucca Flats (B&W, 1961) aka Girl Madness, The Atomic Monster: Beast of Yucca Flats, The Violent Sun. A true legend among bad movies, this is one of those klunkers that was shot without sound and then just voiced-over by a narrator rather than post-synched... and they even managed to goof that up, because the sentence-fragment-spouting narrator often explains things that happened minutes ago (“A man runs. Somebody shoots at him.”) or says things that make you think he’s commenting on another movie entirely (“Flag on the moon. How did it get there?” “Nothing bothers some people. Not even flying saucers.”) Even when he’s on target, his phrasing in ludicrous (“Boys from the city. Not yet caught in the whirlwind of progress. Feed soda pop to the thirsty pigs. Coyotes. Once a menace to travelers. Missile bases run them off their hunting grounds.” “Vacation time. Man and wife. Unaware of scientific progress.”) Anyway, the 54-minute “story” starts out with an unrelated bit where a topless woman gets strangled. Then, Russian scientist Tor Johnson (okay, so a Swedish wrestler’s close enough to a Russian scientist) is in the Nevada desert to swap secret plans when agents try to kill him. He wanders away casually during the gunfight. Then an A-bomb test goes off, transforming him into a scarred brute who only thinks of killing. He carries a dead girl around for a while, then swaps her for a stick. The narrator reminds us many times that this was a “respected scientist, now a fiend” so we can’t possibly miss the profound irony of it. Or, you could just read a Hulk comic. A couple of cops try to track him down, and a couple of little boys get lost in the desert. Tor chases them a while, then is killed, and a young bunny that just wandered into the shot tries to wake him up; that was unplanned but provides the film with it‘s closest thing to a poignant moment. And that’s about all you get. They had intended to do more post-synching; people tend to talk with their faces in shadow to avoid any matching-up problems. I don’t know why they had the narrator use incomplete sentences... maybe they thought it would create a gritty noirish feel or something, a pseudo-Dragnet thing, but all it does is make it weirder, and give you the feeling that the script for this thing was written on a couple of napkins. It’s pretty dull when nobody’s talking, but it’s very funny when they are. A definite must-see for bad-movie fanatics, but pure poison for normal folk.


Whole damn movie:

Blonde Ice (B&W, 1948) Minor noir depicting the homicidal exploits of an upwardly-mobile sociopathic bitch named Claire, who marries a man for his money but tries to keep her boyfriend Les on the side. Her husband figures this out quickly and tries to start divorce proceedings before the honeymoon’s even over (dumb Claire was writing Les “wish you were here instead” letters from their hotel). To avoid losing the money, Claire rigs a scheme where she secretly flies home, shoots her husband, then flies back. When the pilot she hires figures out what she did he figures $100 hush money isn’t nearly enough, and starts blackmailing her. Meanwhile, she’s trying to line up a new rich guy and getting Les in trouble, since her solution to every problem is “kill, then frame whoever’s handy.” Not bad at all, but doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from similar films.

Born To Be Wild (B&W, 1938) While the guys from Steppenwolf were still swimming around in their dads’ balls, Republic put out this truck-drivin’ action B-flick. Ralph Byrd and Ward Bond are drivers working for a trucking company. Just a couple of happy-go-lucky wise guys, they’re about to get fired for speeding, and that suits them just fine... but then they’re contracted for a secret mission to haul a load of dynamite to a town called Indian Head, where a land baron has blocked off the dam, and he has gangs of armed thugs trying to stop them from making their delivery. They pick up a girl along the way and almost get arrested for kidnapping, but they manage to escape, get their truck back, and continue their mission against heavy odds. The action is good (fist fights, vehicle stunts, etc.) and never lets up, and the dialogue is snappy, the cast is likeable, and it’s one of my favorite old 30’s B-flicks that few people have ever heard of. It’s slightly compromised by a couple of musical numbers (weirdly enough), but despite that it’s highly recommended, check it out.

Dance Hall Racket (B&W, 1953) What a combo -- Lenny Bruce (in his only acting role) stars as a hoodlum in a sleazy crime drama, directed by Phil Tucker, the guy responsible for Robot Monster. It looks like they had maybe a hundred bucks to work with. A dance hall is a front for a racketeering ring which is involved in all kinds of criminal activity. They buy stolen diamonds smuggled in dog’s ears, then give the smuggler a mickey to steal their money back. Lenny is one of the thugs, named Vinnie. He makes out with a girl with space-age hair, but doesn’t say any of his infamous cuss words (although everybody does say “seamen” a lot, because sailors frequent the dance hall). A weird guy tricks a bartender out of a free drink with a lame joke, then goes around getting loaded on everybody’s leftovers. An undercover cop poses as a sailor in order to crack the racket. Lenny knifes people and threatens them with a switchblade. There are little skits with customers that are probably meant to be funny -- you’d think a guy with Lenny’s comedic chops would deliver more. There may have been some brief nudity at one time, but if there was, a censor’s scissors claimed it before Alpha got the print they used as a bonus on the Sin You Sinners DVD, which is fairly sharp but choppy. It’s really cheap and bad and mostly only of interest as a curio for Lenny fans. For a really exploitative dance hall movie you‘ll need to go to the Olga series.

Hell’s House (B&W, 1932) aka Juvenile Court. A country boy named Jimmy is orphaned when his mom gets run over, so he goes to live with his aunt and uncle. They’re really poor, though, so Jimmy wants to get a job to help them out. He asks the wise-cracking bootlegger who boards with them for work and ends up arrested and - because he won’t fink on his boss - sent to a reform school, where he has to slave in a brick factory all day. Meanwhile the bootlegger carries on as usual. His girlfriend (Bette Davis in an early role) likes Jimmy and wonders where he disappeared to; the bootlegger won’t tell anybody the kid’s in reform school. Conditions are pretty harsh, with the kids getting beaten or put in solitary or forced to stand and stare at a line on the wall until they drop. He gets so upset when his pal Shorty is about to die that he escapes and tries to get a newspaper to write an expose on the place. Fairly simple but engaging old creaker.

A music video somebody made from footage:

A scene some insecure doofus labeled as "gay" because two guys are in frame:

Hoodlum, The
(B&W, 1951) Lawrence Tierney has the title role, so you know it's good. Tierney is an incorrigible criminal who's been in and out of the tank about a dozen times but they parole him again, against some board members' better judgment. As soon as he's out he goes to work at his brother's gas station, but has his mind on more devious exploits. He fools around with his brother’s girlfriend and she ends up dead, while Tierney double-times with a woman who works in a bank, so he can plan out an armored car robbery. It ends up in casualties, and Tierney’s promptly on his way back... but to the chair this time. Good B-drama with a typically tough performance by Tierney. Not major noir, but a fast-moving hour with plenty of moral pathos.

Invasion U.S.A. (B&W, 1952) Jaw-droppingly hysterical Cold War propaganda film in which the Ruskies stage an all-out invasion of the United States, using the secret weapon of stock footage to decimate us without straining their economy much. They drop atomic bombs on some of our major military airfields, and we retaliate, but the Commies drop thousands of paratroopers on the state of Washington, take over San Francisco, and blow up Boulder Dam. Soon New York gets nuked, paratroopers capture D.C., and - in the midst of it all - a slick TV reporter and a nurse make absurd and inappropriate whoopie. Really bizarre scare film starring both of the Lois Lanes from the Superman TV show. It’s mostly stock footage of planes and ships, tied together with alarmist news reports and some cheap destruction effects, but it’s a lot more entertaining than it has any right to be. The DVD also includes the classic blunt-force-trauma propaganda short “Red Nightmare” with Jack Webb, which is worth the price of the DVD all by itself, and there are a couple of how-to-survive-the-nuclear-holocaust records as “commentary tracks.” Overall, an excellent package of Cold War artifacts. Not to be confused with the equally-loopy 80’s Chuck Norris scare-film.


San Franscisco destroyed!

Red Nightmare is also online... here's the first part:

Jungle Siren (B&W, 1942) Buster Crabbe ad his goofy sidekick are sent into the jungle to build an airstrip to help fight the Nazis and stop an evil native chief from collaborating with a German agent. They meet a Tarzan-like white girl, Kuylaya, who’s also fighting off the enemy natives, and she soon gets a crush on Crabbe. This causes complications when the German agent’s wife tries to seduce him. When the subterfuge leads to blatant hostility, Kuylaya helps Crabbe and his buddy stay alive, which gets more difficult when they’re captured by the chief. Average jungle adventure pic. The Alpah DVD isn’t one of their better mastering jobs; every ten minutes or so, a few seconds from some tai chi instructional video sneaks in.

Murder By Contract (B&W, 1958) TV’s Ben Casey Vince Edwards is an eccentric but proficient hit man named Claude, and he’s contracted to kill a key witness before a big trial. Claude is laid-back and matter-of-fact about his job until he finds out his target is a woman, and then he freaks out and wants more money. He says it’s because women are too unpredictable, but he seems to actually have some misogynistic fear of them. Finally settling into the idea and getting some help from a couple of goofy mob guys who’ve been escorting him around (and losing patience with his oddball way of doing things), he works out a few plans to complete the hit despite the woman being heavily guarded by cops, but luck’s not with him. Despite heavy setbacks, Claude is determined and refuses to leave the contract incomplete, no matter how jinxed it is, and no matter how hard he has to struggle to overcome his quirks. Stark, gritty, and low-budget, but brilliant. One of Martin Scorsese’s favorites and had a clear influence on Taxi Driver; Edwards’ speech patterns and flat emotions are very reminiscent of DeNiro’s Travis Bickle. Has a unique mood, very stylish.

Mystery Plane (B&W, 1939) aka Sky Pilot. Film adaptation of a comic strip, “Tailspin Tommy,” about a crime-fightin’ pilot. It starts with a bunch of small-town kids fighting over a scrapbook of a pilot’s exploits, nearly getting violent (“Careful, Betty Lou, my boil!” one kid yells, grabbing his neck). They’re on their way to an air show (which boil-boy can’t watch, ‘cuz he can’t look up) where one of the boys rescues a parachutist who falls into a pond. The boy turns out to be Tommy when he gets older; he’s an ace in his own right, and his hero is long disappeared. Tommy’s developed a new bomb-targeting system, and treasonous agents from a secret bad-guy organization are out to steal it and sell it to enemy countries. One of the agents is Tommy’s childhood hero, who’s balking at this nefarious plot. They kidnap Tommy and try to make him give up the bomb guidance plans, but he’s far too patriotic to give in... but when they kidnap his girlfriend and threaten to torture her, Tommy’s put in a tight spot. Pretty ordinary old adventure flick, but not too bad, and it’s a chance to see the early work of actors like Jason Robards and Milburn Stone (“Doc” on Gunsmoke, here playing a guy named Skeeter), and the directorial work of George Waggoner, who did The Wolf Man two years later. Giving a kid a neck boil is one of the weirdest approaches to character development I’ve ever seen; what were they thinking? “Audiences will really love this kid with the skin lesion!” It became the most interesting part of the story and we never know what happened to him.

Queen of the Amazons (B&W, 1946) The country of Akbar is on the verge of a revolution, and a woman and her party are searching for her missing fiance. After learning that he may have been part of a safari, they head off to Africa. They hire a guide who has a raven as a sidekick, and he doesn't like girls! But she impresses him with her deadly marksmanship with a .45. Once they recruit a poetry-spouting slob named Gabby as a cook, they set out into the jungle, despite warnings from natives that there's a tribe of voodoo women killing any invaders to their turf. The party's also seeking contraband ivory smugglers, but somebody keeps trying to sabotage their efforts. Meanwhile, every bit of stock footage they could scare up -- from native dances to lions to swarms of locusts - is inserted. Even though this movie only has a running time of an hour it's still making a big effort to move fast, jamming in animal attacks and other action scenes every minute or two, whether it's logical to the story or not. They finally find the tribe of women, who use bow and arrows, whips, and trained lions, and have names like "Zita" and "Shugee." They're more hospitable than rumor has led the safari to believe. They're not really all that butch, but one professor still tells the Amazon queen, "Greg's a remarkable boy... and so are you, my dear!" The queen and the fiance both want to marry the same guy, so there's some conflict there. No big whoop, but should scratch any old-vintage-jungle-B-movie itch you have.

Scar, The (B&W, 1948) aka Hollow Triumph, The Man Who Murdered Himself. A criminal genius named Johnny Muller gets released from jail and immediately gets back into trouble by holding up a gambling club. The criminals who run the club swear to catch him if it takes 20 years. Muller heads off to the pharmaceutical job that the prison lined up for him, but soon gets himself fired. It comes to his attention that he’s a dead ringer for a psychologist named Dr. Bartok, except that Bartok has a big scar on his cheek. Since he’s being hunted by the gangsters and likes posing as psychologists (he has a background in it), he decides to pose as Bartok. Working from a photograph, he carves a scar in his own cheek (he’s so hygienic -- uses rubber gloves... while he has a cigarette going). Only problem is, it’s a photo that’s been reversed, so he’s disfigured the wrong cheek! He manages to pull it off anyway, through coolness and ingenuity, but o’ course since this is a noir film nobody’s luck holds out forever. Suspenseful flick with good work from Paul Henreid as the con man and Joan Bennett as his suspicious secretary. The end is a great bit of irony.

Sea Bat, The (B&W, 1930) Sponge divers in the West Indies face a dangerous existence to begin with, but it’s made even worse when a Jaws -sized manta ray starts preying on them. It kills the brother of a young Spanish firebrand named Nina, who offers herself to any man who can kill the manta, and also takes part in the native voodoo rites to try to curse it. A new priest who’s just arrived on the island tries to get through to her, but her brother was a Christian and it didn’t do him any good, so the reverend doesn’t get far. He’s pretty hard-boiled, though, and even considers “lashing the black magic out of her.” There’s some ol’ time religion for ya. He’s actually a Devil’s Island escapee posing as a priest, and when Nina finds that out she falls in love with him and plans to escape with him. But the manta may complicate their plans. Quick little MGM B-pic has a certain early-talkie stiffness, but the manta ray special effects are surprisingly good; I’m not sure how they did them, especially since this film looks very low-budget. This used to come on late at night when TNT was a brand new cable channel that actually had a lineup a person could give a damn about instead of the idiot waste-of-bandwidth it is now, but it doesn’t show up much now, possibly because Nina gets pretty close to nudity with one wet-shirt scene. Boris Karloff shows up for about the space of an eyeblink. Occasionally Turner Classic will run this, buried at 3 a.m.

Too Late For Tears (B&W, 1949) aka Killer Bait. Ambitious, conniving Lizabeth Scott to fully capitalize on a possibly unlucky windfall when some hoodlums with a case of mistaken identity toss a valise full of money into the back of the convertible her husband’s driving. He knows the money will be nothing but trouble and wants to turn it in, but Lizabeth starts spending it, even when one of the hoods shows up demanding the cash. She wants the cash so badly that she shoots her husband and dumps him in a lake, then pretends to make a deal with the hood... but she’s planning to kill him, too, and he knows it but has to keep her alive to get the money. Then Lizabeth decides to kill her husband’s sister because she’s too suspicious... but the sister has the claim ticket they need to get the money. In short, it’s a tangled film-noir web that’s gonna end badly for somebody. Solid noir with good performances and a script with all elements of the genre intact. Althought I like her acting, I don’t really buy Lizabeth Scott as a femme fatale -- she’s always struck me as unattractive, with a greased-skull face and million-cigarettes slow-fingernail-drag-across-the-blackboard raspy voice -- but she’s a great enough actress that she can play so sinister that even her partner in crime is creeped out by her. The ending’s pretty slick.


If anybody has any "I ♥ Tapwater" tee-shirts to sell...

... I know somebody I need to buy one for. Jesus Christ, I wish they'd shut up already. We get it! You're impressed with the fucking tapwater! God!

Anyway, mixed bag of reviews this week.

A couple'r'three books I read:

No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey To the Inner Circle of the Hell's Angels - Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton, Three Rivers Press 2009.
Unputdownable account of an ATF agent who managed the almost-unthinkable and infiltrated the Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle club, posing as a hitman/debt collector for another club. On the way Jay got so wrapped up in the case that he lost his real self and almost lost his family, too, by becoming the outlaw biker he was posing as. The book is extremely well-written and compelling, full of both honest self-criticism about bad things he did and a fair amount of bragging (but hey, anyone brave enough to infiltrate the Hells Angels has the right to crow a bit). The Hell's Angels come across as sympathetic yet pathetic, criminal yet noble in a way... and that seems like a fair assessment. You admire Jay's bravery, yet also feel he's a rat, even though he was doing his job, and you admire the Hells Angels loyalty and stand-up attitude, yet also despise some of their behavior. There's lots of interesting detail and I liked this as much as I did William Queen's account of infiltrating the Mongols MC, Under And Alone, which is also recommended (and probably not going to be filmed, unfortunately, because it was a Mel Gibson project). And to give the other side equal time, you can't go wrong picking up any of Sonny Barger's books.

A Hells Angel supporter posted a documentary against him, starting here:

Suck It, Wonder Woman! : The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek - Olivia Munn, St. Martin's Press, 2010
A series of essays (and pictures, which is a big selling point 'cuz the woman's gorgeous) on various funny things, some true stories about her experiences as an unpopular child, and others as a too-pretty-for-her-own-good adult (Hollywood types always seem to be masturbating at her, showing her collages of their girlfriend's vaginas (which she describes as looking like "sloppy open-faced Reuben sandwiches"), or acting in various other horrible ways). And a few things are just funny bits (what to do when robots invade, zombie sex tips) or advice (humorous yet sincere), things she did on Attack of the Show, and obsessing about pie. It's nothing terribly profound or fall-down funny, but she's highly likeable and it's consistently entertaining. A must for any Olivia Munn fan, and if you're not one of those, what the fuck's wrong with you?

Olivia Munn as a rebellious Southern teenager ("It itches sometime!")

Olivia Munn as a Bond girl ("Don't stop, don't you stop at all you dirty pay-nis!")

Olivia practicing smiling (I don't know why this one cracks me up so bad, but it does)

Olivia and vagina juice ("Some people have a problem with me saying awesome things....")

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee - Sarah Silverman, Harper 2010
One of the world's funniest women explains how childhood humiliation warped her into a comedienne who can innocently say shocking things (which much of the public frankly doesn't understand -- there are layers to what she does) and cause controversy even when she's not trying to. Biographical info is shot through with jokes, so even though it's sometimes hard to separate her comic persona from her true self, I think you can kind of make it out here, and she's much more of a sweetheart than she'd have you believe in her act. Not likely to disappoint any Sarah fan, which you should be.

Discussing the book:

Another discussion of the book

Early standup footage (brilliant! "You look like Rocky...")

Jewish People driving German Cars:

Some movies I watched:

Call of Cthulhu (B&W, 2005) Some talented guys wondered what it might look like if someone had decided to adapt H. P. Lovecraft's work back in the silent era, so they made this film. Despite having a very low budget, I believe they pulled it off beautifully, and Lovecraft seems to work better silent. He's still pretty close to unfilmable, since part of his power is drawing pictures in your mind that are more awesomely horrible than anything you could see in a film, but this movie may be as close as it can get. Using old-school techniques (miniatures, stop motion, forced perspective, etc.) with judicious use of green screen and such, they manage to deliver a convincingly old-looking film with some surreal elements (which are often courtesy of budget-cutting tricks working in their favor). Working from papers let to him, a professor researches a cult based on a dead-but-dreaming god, Cthulhu, who may be more real than anyone dared imagine. His research goes from accounts of unholy rites in a Louisiana swamp to a confrontation in a frozen ocean. It's only about 45 minutes long, but that keeps it moving, and it's a very impressive effort, worth seeking out for Lovecraft fans or any aspiring filmmakers who want to see what you can do when you have more ambition than money.

Good news! They're working on "Whisperer in Darkness," too - trailer looks great!

Kiss Kiss Kill Kill (C, 1966) aka Kommissar X : Jagd Auf Unbekannt. West German/Italian entry into the Kommissar X series of James Bond ripoffs, based on some German espionage novels. A woman hires high-end playboy/detective Joe Walker to find a missing nuclear physicist, while another woman (named Bobo) wants him to protect her from a jealous fiance. Both women have hair-helmets the color of silver tarnish. Joe takes the nuclear physicist case, even though previous guys contacted for it were killed by car bombs and exploding tennis balls. Joe is nearly shot by a sniper rifle disguised as a radio. People around him are killed with poison darts, and he tracks bad guys to their hideouts by giving out transmitter rings. After a few fistfights, shoot-outs, and seductions, Joe is captured by a megalomaniacal old man on an island full of massive amounts of stolen radioactive gold and an army of identical blonde go-go girls who've been drugged into a state of robot-ness. After a girl helps him escape, Joe and the all-girl army fight the bad guys and his henchmen, trying to stop the island from blowing up despite booby traps and electromagnetic fences that steal Joe's gun. Not to be taken too seriously, but it keeps moving and has 60's style to burn.

Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, The (C, 2005) I have a fascination with the truly pathetic, so when something reminded me of this guy I had to seek out this documentary on his career. Jim Helwig and his "Ultimate Warrior" character pretty much ruined WWF wrestling for me when I was a kid, because his character was so silly and corny that it seemed to make a sad joke out of the whole business. I wasn't ever a mark who thought wrestling was "for real" - I was already old enough to recognize what was going on - but the "Ultimate Warrior" gimmick was just too much. It's not all his fault, because the WWF was already becoming too cartoonish to not insult one's intelligence, but Ultimate Warrior was the last straw with his obvious lack of in-ring skill, inability to move a plotline, his incoherent idiotic rants (he never made sense and he never shut up, and that's a bad combo), and all that dayglo aerobicize shit and the silly little "I'm getting power from the warriors in the audience!" dances he'd do were just too much to put up with without scrambling for the remote to see if maybe the Freebirds or Long Riders were having a match on another channel. At least you could still pretend their stuff was legit. Anyway, what used to annoy the hell out of me now seems hilarious, and the Ultimate Warrior is the Manos Hands of Fate of the wrestling world; it just doesn't get any worse. When you add to that that his life seems to just be a snowball of pitiful narcissism, it gets even funnier. They're pretty rough on him in this documentary, with all of his unprofessionalism and ingratitude toward the people who were the only reason anyone ever heard of him is laid out like a coprophagia buffet. Interviews with Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bobby Heenan, Ted DiBiase, Chris Jericho, Mean Gene Okerlund, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and others spell out the whole history, complete with footage from matches from both WCW and WWF stints, and Warrior promos (they need to put out a whole disc of those -- I almost pissed myself laughing at the torrent of stupidity this grown man was babbling). The documentary unfortunately doesn’t go into his life after wrestling, which got even more bizarre and pathetic, when he got completely lost in his own ego and worship of this extremely lame, corny concept, changed his name legally to “Warrior,” and became a conservative pundit, spewing racist and sexist swill, and selling nonsensical comic books (in one issue, he raped Santa Claus!) This guy exists for no reason but to be laughed at, especially when you consider the amazing amount of work, pain, and dedication he had to put in to become... that. I mean, no doubt, the guy’s physique is incredibly impressive, but when he used to make himself into a clown, it’s just funny. But, he made a ton of money off of it, so, what the hell if it’s lame? Even if you’re not into wrestling, this documentary should prove fascinating and almost too silly to bear. Warrior put in litigation against Vince McMahon for some of the things in this documentary, and it wouldn’t surprise me much if there weren’t some unfairness in it (as Bobby Heenan said, nobody in the wrestling business likes the guy), but Warrior’s so goofy that seeing him at all was enough to crack me up.

Go take a pee before you watch this one... "Now you must deal with the creation of all the unpleasantries in the entire universe as I feel the injection from the gods above!" "Come in, where nightmares are the best part of my day!"

Whole thing online starting here:

Here's a review of the "Ultimate Warrior Rapes Santa Claus" comic book, which is too hilarious and weird to believe.