...more movie reviews out of a can. Hey, they're new to you, right? And it gives me an excuse to be lazy. I'm wrote you guys a scary-ass ghost story for Halloween that's in the touching-up stage, and I may even write another one, so, I'll make it up to you in the coming weeks. I'll also probably be writing a ton of horror movie reviews, because I'm going to make a half-assed attempt at the http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif (which you are also invited to attempt). I will fail at that in a spectacular way (my narcoleptic tendencies wouldn't let me stay awake for that many movies even if I wanted to devote that kind of time to trying, and I don't - I wanna read, too - but I should at least get some watched. For now, there's these...
Black Lemons (C, 1970) aka E venne il giorno dei limoni neri, Mafia Connection. Antonio Sabato stars in this Italian mafia fest. A hit man tries to dump Antonio, our anti hero, into a rock crusher (getting an innocent co worker instead) and ends up being thrown off a cliff. This makes Antonio even more bitter against the mob, who had killed his wife over some inner family business. He's on parole for carrying heroin (they used him as a fall guy to distract the cops from a bigger shipment) and the cops want him to help them gather evidence, but he doesn't play that snitch stuff. He starts a trucking business, but the mob interferes and murders one of his friends. Another mob guy gets killed at the funeral by a guy who wants to work with Antonio. Antonia has a file incriminating all the mob leaders that will be released if he dies, so the mob is over a barrel, and Antonio's helper proves to be a little too psychopathic, and almost carves up a gangster's son they kidnapped. The conflicts between Antonio and the mob inevitably lead up to some shooting. Plenty of action even though the plot isn't really all that enthralling. As for the obvious question "What in the hell does that title mean?" I'm sorry, but I still have no clue. But I bet the strangeness of it probably dragged a few people into the theater in hopes of finding out, so I guess it makes sense on that level, anyway. On DVD (shitty print!) as Mafia Connection.
Black Moon Rising (C, 1985) Tommy Lee Jones is a big time thief who steals a computer disk. When some thugs come after him for it, he secretes the disk in an experimental car called The Black Moon. It can go over 300 miles an hour, runs on water (by processing the hydrogen out of it), and basically appears to be a Lamborghini that somebody bondo'ed all the character out of. Problem is, someone promptly steals the Black Moon, and Tommy's disk is still in it, and it's his ass if he doesn't recover it. Of course, that's not going to be easy or we wouldn't have much of a movie... not that we do, anyway. There's a decent cast Robert Vaughn, William Sanderson, Bubba Smith, Linda Hamilton, and Fear's lead singer Lee Ving with his hair grown out and a suit on that still somehow fail to hold your attention, and it was co scripted by John Carpenter, yet it's still pretty mundane. Not awful enough to avoid, not good enough to seek out.
Trailer available here.
Black Sun : The Nanking Massacre (C, 1995) aka Hei tai yang Nan Jing da tu sha, Men Behind the Sun 4, Black Sun Sequel of sorts to the very, very infamous Men Behind The Sun, depicting more Japanese war atrocities. Occupying Japanese forces commit hideous acts against the Chinese city of Nanking. The Japanese command declares a "killing competition" to encourage the execution of as many civilians as possible, and claim that all Chinese women are "comfort women," free to be raped by Japanese soldiers. Use of action historical photographs and film footage is intercut to add an uncompromising sense of authenticity to the proceedings, which are both historical dramatization and propaganda (there's even a scene with a Japanese soldier ripping up an American flag to outrage viewers in the States, too. Those World War II era Japanese bastards!) There's lots of hatefulness and mass killing, but it's not as focused on gore as Men Behind the Sun, limiting the real nastiness to a few incidents, such as a pregnant woman being bayoneted in the belly and the fetus pulled out and held up (the DVD company used this picture for a full page ad in Fangoria! Talk about crass), a baby being thrown into a vat of boiling water, some decapitations, and burning bodies. There's a subplot about an uncle trying to keep a couple of kids safe during the massacre, but mostly it's without any real plot beyond showing how cruel and depraved the Japanese were. It's pretty well made but, needless to say, not too pleasant.
Blonde in Bondage (B&W, 1957) aka Blondin i fara, Narkotika, Nothing But Blondes. A newspaper reporter is sent to Sweden to report on "Swedish morals" and finds a pair of sisters who are all too eager to teach him all about 'em. After a minor car accident he meets a show business couple, Krueger the manager and his singer, Mona Mace, who acts a little strange. He learns that she has a drug addiction that Krueger is using to control her. The reporter decides to help Mona out and ends up wandering sleazy streets full of drunks and prostitutes, looking for a dive called The Golden Calf, where he tries unsuccessfully to strong arm info. This doesn't work so he goes to a cabaret club where Mona's doing her song and strip act (just down to some fancy lingerae it ain't that kind of movie) and gets himself beaten up by Krueger and some hoodlums, who cause a lot more trouble before the reporter can make any real headway toward helping Mona out. It's tame but probably pretty exploitative for its time, and manages to look really cheap even though most of it was actually filmed in Sweden. There's some decent action and good sleazy locations, but it could have benefitted from some tightening up; at 90 minutes it's a little overlong. Pretty obscure doesn't appear in any movie reference books I've seen. The final chase through a funhouse is pretty interesting.
Blood of the Beast ( C & B&W, 2003) After massive biological warfare in 2012, one third of mankind is killed and nearly everyone rendered sterile, so the human race has to reproduce itself via cloning. Nineteen years later, problems start showing up in the first strand of clones; they go nuts and start biting people like George Romero zombies. And that's basically it, which would be okay except the movie doesn't do much with the concept. They don't show many attacks (basically just some campers and a compound of religious nuts) and they didn't seem to be very interested in the possibility for gore, either -- there's just a little blood unenthusiastically dripped around and that's about it. And it's not scary in the least. So, what you end up with is a lot of attempts to be clever with style that come across as wankage (the film turns into a silent movie at the end, after trying hard to look like the Blair Witch Project) and substance is kept to a minimum. It's not badly made overall and gets points for trying to be different on a budget of zero, but fizzles because it would have been so easy to make it so much better.
Couldn't find any video on it, but here's Exodus doing "Strike of the Beast." Completely unrelated, but it's good!
Brain from Planet Arous (B&W, 1957) John Agar and his buddy go into the desert to investigate some radioactivity, and in a cave they find a giant brain with eyes named Gor. Gor possesses Agar's body and uses him to enact his will on Earth. This gives Agar freaky shiny black eyes (contact lenses that were very uncomfortable, but Agar was a trooper) and super powers: he can make things blow up just by thinking about it. That'd be a bad power to have, just because of the "hippopotamus factor" (you know, if somebody tells you, "Don't think of a hippopotamus!" then that's all you can think about. Well, try to not think of "blowing up everything I see" sometime, if you're John Agar). Another alien brain named Vol shows up, hunting for Gor, who is a criminal on Arous. Vol possesses the body of a dog to be able to surprise attack Gor. Meanwhile, Gor is getting off using Agar's body to cheerfully blow up airplanes and make out with Agar's girlfriend. But he has much bigger ambitions; he gathers leaders from all the major countries on the planet (promising that if they don't show up he'll level their capitol cities) and lets them know that he's enslaving Earth so he can use humans to wage war on his home planet. Agar's great over the top performance and some funny floating giant brain effects (did they even think about trying to, I dunno, hide the wires in some way?) make this one classic.
Broken Skull (C, 2000?) When a Chicago gangster finds his wife cheating on him, he hangs her and crushes her lover's head in a vice. Twenty years later a repairman doing some work finds the guy's busted skull hidden in the basement wall of a building, then promptly rams a brick wall with his head until he's mangled. But then he gets up off the autopsy table, dripping brains, and goes on a killing spree. One guy gets stabbed while he's peeing and starts pissing blood... pretty sick. The undead killer's family, friends, and a lady cop try to figure out what happened to him. Meanwhile, the killings continue: a guy's bashed with a rock and has his head crushed by a train, another's killed with a drill. The detective discovers a reanimation virus was produced as part of something called "The Headcrusher Project." Then there's a crazy Cambodian lady who married the G.I. who murdered her family just so she can torture him every night. No -budget, shot -on -video horror isn't as bad as some, but even though the first half is fairly engaging, it starts to run out of gas after that. The gore effects are weak, but at least they're edited so fast that you don't get a very good look at 'em (use your pause button and you'll end up laughing), so they're still effective enough, which is good because the movie relies pretty heavily on them. Not bad among shot on video horror flicks, but that's kind of damning with faint praise. Available super cheap as part of the Night Chills 10 movie set.
Bug (C, 1975) William Castle's last production is a sci fi/horror film based on The Hephaestus Plague by Thomas Page. An earthquake opens a deep crack in the earth, from which emerge three inch armored cockroach/beetles that eat carbon, which they acquire by setting fire to things by rubbing their legs together. Due to pressure differences on the surface of the earth, the dangerous insects are quickly dying off, but entomologist Bradford Dillman is so intrigued by them that he can't let that happen, and unwisely finds a way to breed them, creating a new generation that eats meat and are intelligent enough to communicate by spelling words with their bodies. And they're intent on mutating further... It's unique among nature on the loose movies since these bugs not only bite but also burn their victims, which include several people and a cat. The special effects are pretty impressive, and the movie's well done and holds your attention, and will probably even scare you if you have an insect phobia. The climax is a little disappointing, though. This used to show up frequently on the USA Network, before they turned into complete crap.
Burn 'Em Up Barnes (B&W, 1934) This 12- chapter Mascot serial is one of the most action -packed old things you're likely to find. In fact, the cliffhanger endings are almost anticlimactic, given that the plot is a constant string of one tough scrape after another, with Murphy's Law in full effect for our heroes. Young Marjorie Temple is trying to run a small transportation business, but unscrupulous car manufacturer Lymon Warren and his henchman, Mr. Drummond, want to buy her land because they know there's oil on the property. Top race driver "Burn ?Em Up" Barnes (they actually call him "Burn 'Em Up" as a name throughout) and his teenage sidekick Bobbie help her out, battling Drummond and his hoard of badguys. Drummond frames Barnes for murder but Bobbie has film that proves Barnes's innocence, so they fight over the film for a while, with it changing hands repeatedly during one fight and high speed backroads chase after another. Then they fight over a signed confession for a few chapters, and then they try to wreck the school bus that Marjorie needs for her business. Barnes saves the day by getting a job as a movie stuntman, which leads to still more hairy situations. The plot quickly becomes superfluous to the action, but it delivers plenty of that, with only a few cheats on the cliffhangers. Solid stuff for serials fans or those who like watching antique vehicles going full tilt.
Bury Me An Angel (C, 1971) The day this comes out on DVD I'll be a happy fella, 'cuz I live in fear of wearing out my VHS. In fact, one of the reasons I'm considering buying a DVD recorder is to transfer this to DVD -R.
(Since this review was written, it has come out on DVD as part of the Best of the B's Collection 1, but I'm still not thrilled because my 2nd-gen VHS dub looks better! Somebody needs to put out a more primo disc of this one.) Dixie Peabody is Dag Bandy, a six foot tall shotgun wielding biker chick riding the vengeance trail on a chopped hog, gunning for the scooter trash who blew away her brother. If it wasn't for an icky psuedo Joe Dirt hairdo, she'd be just about perfect. Dag is emotionless and ice water veined, fixing up her bike and thinking of nothing but revenge. When she's ready she loads up the ?gauge and hits the road with two maile bike buddies and some cool suede pants (which reminds me Hannie Caulder needs to be on DVD, too). For some reason, the suede pants usually turn into other kinds of pants whenever she gets off the bike, but I think they just shot all of the road scenes at once and we're not supposed to notice that. So forget I said anything. On the way to the final vengeance, she intimidates a midget deputy, hustles pool, trashes a bar full of rednecks (or at least causes it), skinny-dips, meets a mystical woman living in a ghost town, has lots of flashbacks of her brother's head exploding, does a lot of riding to a fuzz rock soundtrack, and meets modern artist Dan "Grizzly Adams" Haggerty. Then she scares the hell out of a high school principal and his secretary, has a love scene with Dan, and finally catches up to the little weasel, where some dark secrets are revealed. This is possibly the only biker movie directed by a woman, Barbara Peeters, who later gave us the original Humanoids From The Deep. So, the film has a feminist slant Dag's male compadres are definitely subservient and look to her as the Alpha. Humanoids from the Deep has a feminist statement, too the monsters actually do the raping that was just implied in all those '50's flicks. Barbara Peeters is a sneaky (and possibly brilliant) woman. This one moves pretty fast and Dixie has loads of screen presence even if her acting leaves a little to be desired. One of the best biker flicks, and sports classic poster ad copy that Quentin Tarantino did a lousy job cribbing from in Kill Bill "I'm gonna get my gun and... BURY ME AN ANGEL. She took on the whole gang! A howling hellcat humping a hot steel hog on a roaring rampage of revenge!" Dixie only showed up in one other movie, Night Call Nurses, which is a shame because she could've been drive -in gold with the right push behind her. And if I ever have a daughter, I hope somebody stops me before I name her "Dag," because I'd be tempted.
Go, Dag, Go!