1.09.2011

Today's movie reviews are brought to you by the letter G...

... and the number two. Huh huh... number two. Anyway, I needed a title and noticed that most of the reviews I wrote are for movies beginning with G, so, there ya go. See how that works? I'm so geemyuz!


Death Riders (C, 1976) Documentary on the Death Riders thrill show, a group of traveling stunt riders who go from town to town doing crazy things on motorcycles or in cars. They jump dirt bikes over cars or audience members (yep, the 70's were that irresponsible!), ride them through tunnels of fire or through flaming walls, or set cars on fire and crash them into things, and one guy gets in a box full of dynamite and blows himself up. The daredevils are all young guys, most in their teens, and their main motivation seems to be that doing this crazy stuff makes it easy for them to get girls. Granted, they're the kind of girls who show up for stunt shows, but, hey. On their time off they do motocross racing or accept challenges to ride bulls in rodeos, or visit carnivals (where one guy with teeth like the fence in front of a haunted house eats a live goldfish... probably to get girls). To maintain morale they have shaving cream fights or play pranks on each other, like cooking one of their managers a cheeseburger made out of dog food. Much of the footage (well-shot by Vilmos Zsigmond) is accompanied by country music with lyrics cornier than a vegan's dookie. Mostly it's a fascinating time capsule of '70's fairground life and the hair and tee-shirts that went with it. There's more sideburns here than a Danzig lookalike contest. More fine drive-in fodder from your friends at Crown International.



Glory Stompers, The (C, 1967) Either seriously tweaked or a better actor than anyone ever gave him credit for, Dennis Hopper is Chino, the mentally-defective prez of the Black Souls motorcycle gang. He and his not-too-bright goons beat up Cowboy, a member of the Glory Stompers, and think they kill him when they get too happy with a tire iron. They decide to sell his girlfriend to some white slavers in Mexico and take off with her. Cowboy's not dead, though, and when he wakes up he's hell-bent to get his chick back, getting a little help from a passerby who used to ride with the Stompers. Meanwhile, his girl is not pleased to be kidnapped (even though Hopper makes a valiant attempt to cheer her up by rubbing his beard on her) and Hopper's girlfriend is getting jealous and wanting to go ahead and kill her. The giggling, nonsense-spouting Hopper fights with his guys for getting rough with the girl and they all act like idiots. Cowboy gets you-should-give-up-the-gang-and-better-your-life advice from his new partner, in an attempt to give the movie depth. Meanwhile, Hopper and his boys go to a big party with a bunch of other clubs while a Black Soul named Clean Cut watches the girl, and he's a nice guy (well, for a Black Soul, anyway) but she just wants to trick him so she can brain him with a crowbar. But then a bad Black Soul named Magoo (a name the movie stole from a famous Hell's Angel) runs off with her, and bad things happen. Pretty funny biker flick, with a classic goofball performance from Hopper. Also the name of a good Oi band.



Here's the oi band to kick yer arse!



Gore-Gore Girls, The (C, 1972) aka Blood Orgy. This is Hershel Gordon Lewis's best film as far as filmmaking skill and acting goes. The acting is competent enough that its terribleness isn't distracting, the camerawork isn't as crude, and some of the gore is hyper-nasty. An Argento-style black-gloved killer is butchering strippers and mauling their faces. One girl's head is hacked into unrecognizable hash as the camera makes love to the carnage, eyeballs are pulled out and squished, one girl's face is melted off with a hot iron, another is drowned in a pan of boiling french fries, and in disturbing misogynistic attempts at "comedy" a girl's ass is pounded to hamburger with a meat-tenderizing hammer and then salt is poured onto the wounds, and another has her nipples snipped off with scissors (chocolate milk squirts out of one and regular milk squirts out of the other, and I get the creeps knowing I'm watching something created by a grown man who's that juvenile). A prissy detective is assigned to track down the killer, assisted by a girl reporter. A lot of the film takes part in a strip club where Henny Youngman is the M.C. (seeing him in a H.G. Lewis movie is just surreal), and the movie's padded with strip acts (most of the girls aren't bad looking, but it's weird seeing a fresh appendectomy scar one of them). A crazed Vietnam vet sits at the bar, drawing faces on fruits and vegetables and then smashing them, which is about as inspired as the movie gets, comedy-wise. The gore effects are variable, from extremely graphic to obvious abuse of rubber masks. Bizarre in all ways.

Whole damn movie, ya'll:


Graphic Sexual Horror (C, 2009) Documentary on a sick-minded porn website, insex.com, which gained a fairly large following by posting extreme bondage footage of girls tied up, abused, terrorized, and degraded. The creator of the website tries to explain why anyone would be enchanted by such things. The girls who modeled for the torture scenes (which were real, but consensual, and the girls were able to stop it at any time) explain why they did it -- partially for money but also for their own personal kink. Much of what's done is very hard to watch, even with the knowledge that it's consensual, and even with all the rational explanation it's tough to understand how anyone could subject themselves to this, or anyone else to it. It's also uncomfortable that Brent, the guy who ran the site, could coerce the girls into doing things they might not want to by the threat of no longer being employed there, and it paid well. Then the government cracked down on the credit card companies people used to pay for website membership, and that shut the site down. It's an informative documentary, although I still can't claim much understanding of that level of kinkiness; even though I watched the movie I'd have no interest in the site, although the scenarios -- horrible as they are -- do have artistic merit of a strange sort. Most people will want to avoid this, but it's well done if you can handle it. The nudity is porn-level graphic.




Last Exorcism, The (C, 2010) Combination of Marjoe, Blair Witch Project, The Exorcist, and just a tad bit of Rosemary's Baby tossed in for flavor. An evangelist who's been performing exorcisms decides to perform one more and film it, because he doesn't actually believe in God or demonic possession and wants to expose it all as a fraud. He's a nice person and cares about the people he's been preaching to; he's just decided that exploiting their ignorance for money is harmful and wants to do his part to stop it. He chooses a random letter requesting exorcism and heads to Louisiana with a two-person film crew and meets a 16-year-old girl named Nell who's been exhibiting some strange behavior, such as mutilating her father's cattle during sleepwalking episodes. Her father is an evangelical lunatic who's kept the family separated from society and firmly believes in demons and exorcism, and Nell is a fragile, nice girl but very creepy. Her hostile brother seems protective of Nell but his animosity toward the exorcism crew is chilling. They do an exorcism and it seems to have taken care of the family's psychological needs... but then it becomes evident that more than psychology is at work in this case. I'd heard that this movie sucked, but it worked well for me, even though the filmmakers blow the whole Blair Witch "found footage" concept -- it's like they forgot they were even trying to do that sometimes and shot scenes from several different angles when only one camera's supposed to be present. The casting and acting are very good, especially Ashley Bell as the possessed girl, who can snap from being a nervously-friendly sweet girl to a screaming malevolent fury in seconds; she really goes balls-out in the possession scenes, which include a few twists we haven't seen before. It's creepy on a lot of levels. Evangelicals are creepy to begin with and they're portrayed convincingly -- I know a ton of people who project that same eerie, almost-mental-illness cultishness. The possession antics are disturbing, but it's also scary on an even-if-she's-not-possessed level because the girl is dangerous even if she's just crazy, and the father may also be on the verge of doing something violent in the name of acting on his beliefs. I had my doubts about this one due to some bad reviews (I've got to quit buying into that; modern audiences just seem to have no attention spans anymore) and the fact that Eli Roth was connected to it; I've not been impressed with his work at all, but he produced, not directed. The ending is pretty weak and is hampered by lame special effect bullshit, but overall this one's worth watching.





Machete (C, 2010) Over-the-top action flick that was created because the fake trailer Robert Rodriguez shot for Grindhouse was too cool not to become an actual movie. Real-life badass Danny Trejo finally gets a leading man role as an ex-Federale who's working as a day laborer. A smarmy anti-immigration creep (Jeff Fahey) hires him to assassinate a senator (Robert DeNiro), but it's a set-up to prop up DeNiro's anti-immigration campaign by making a Mexican illegal look like a violent assassin. They shoot Trejo and set him up, but he's not a guy you want to double cross, and soon all kinds of ridiculously gory hell is breaking loose, with Trejo joined in the mayhem by immigration agent Jessica Alba and taco-selling revolutionary Michelle Rodriguez and Trejo's priest brother Cheech Marin, all dealing steel to the bad guys. Stephen Segal, Lindsay Lohan and Don Johnson also have small roles. The violence is cartoonish and overblown, with heads shotgunned to stew meat and limbs flying ever-which-a-way, but it's clearly not meant to be taken seriously (and that's never clearer than the scene where Trejo disembowels a guy to use his intestines as an impromptu escape rope), but it's played straight and the story's actually engaging, if implausible. If you're a grindhouse movie type there's no way you won't have fun with this one. The credits promise sequels; that may be part of the joke, but I hope not, because more of this would be a good thing.



The original trailer that spawned it:


Sheitan (C, 2006) aka Satan. A rainbow coalition of French party assholes head out to an isolated house in the country. The caretaker, Joseph, is a permanently-smiling loonietoon who makes racist comments like he doesn't even realize they're inappropriate, and offers to let one of the guys fuck his niece. She's has crazy as he is, if making out with a dog is any indication, and it is where I live, but I can't vouch for France. The behavior of the locals gets more and more bizarre and Joseph displays crazy mood swings. Then the movie forgets all of that for a while and focuses on the uninteresting kids trying to get laid... and then one finds loads of grasshoppers in her bed and weird puppets freak them out and Joseph goes on a rampage while trying to kill a retarded boy and a grotesque woman gives birth to something, and things get more and more chaotic and nonsensical and it becomes clear that things aren't what they seem and black magic may be involved. The movie ultimately makes no fucking sense (the French are somehow under the impression that they don't have to and are, in fact, geniuses when they don't) but it's still worth watching for some really nightmarish imagery -- and I mean that literally, you'll think you dreamed it. It's a worthwhile bunch of parts even if the sum is zero.




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1 comment:

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