Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Machine Girl & Tokyo Gore Police

As the year is coming to a close, I'm trying to sneak in a few films that have been sitting on the back burner for a while (like for over a year). One of those flicks is The Machine Girl from director Noboru Iguchi. What are my reasons for putting this one off? Mainly it's because this film was getting a little over-hyped and everyone kept saying that the CGI pretty much ruined it. So I let my expectations, both good and bad, melt away before I finally sat down to watch this.

After her parents were wrongfully accused of murder and committed suicide, high schooler Ami (played by Minase Yashiro) has been taking care of the house and her younger brother Yu (RyƓsuke Kawamura). When Yu and his friend are murdered by the son of a local yakuza, Ami desperately tries to get revenge. When she is apprehended by the yakuza, her left arm is hacked off. Ami escapes and her life is saved by Miki (Asami), the mother of Yu's only friend, whose husband builds Ami a machine gun arm to replace her lost appendage. These two bloodthirsty and very angry young ladies take on the yakuza, ninjas and even the parents of their victims.

First things first, this neo-grindhouse flick delivers on all of its promises. The film sports great camerawork, muted colors (except for the blood) and an excellent soundtrack. There is obvious and cheesy CGI in some of the over the top action sequences but its combination with practical effects and latex effects make up for the obvious budgetary restrictions. The imaginations of the filmmakers rule the day with this one. And then there's the blood. Holy fuck, this movie is bloody as hell.

The Machine Girl revels in both a gleeful madness and a campy attitude that will surely earn this a cult following for years to come. This film is a delightful gore spectacle with a formulaic plot taken to hilarious extremes. You know how the old saying goes: when life hands you lemons... KILL EVERYONE! And watch out for that drill bra, yo.

"I'm a demon! I've turned into a demon!"


Next up is Tokyo Gore Police. This flick comes from the same production team behind The Machine Girl but this is a whole different creature, my friends. Director Yoshihiro Nishimura channels everything from Robocop to Blade Runner to Wicked City here as the dystopian elements and the perversity come packed in along with the insane violence and gore. Eihi Shiina of Takashi Miike's Audition plays Ruka, a cop in the future hunting criminals called engineers. These genetically enhanced baddies can grow bio-weapons wherever they are seriously injured. There is lots more to the plot of this movie but it will take me a couple of years before I can process what I've just seen.

Needless to say, Tokyo Gore Police is even more outlandish and insane than The Machine Girl. This candy-colored nightmare is an offensive exercise in explosive grotesquery and sleaze. Gross-outs include but are not limited to genital mutilation (resulting in an impressive penis cannon), bug eating, and a woefully disconcerting vagina flower (did I just type that?).

My only complaint of Tokyo Gore Police is its running time. At 109 minutes, I have to admit that I started squirming in my seat a bit. The scope of this film is quite grand and it is certainly never boring. However, some of the plot threads got a little thin. That being said, TGP is some seriously badass and jaw-droppingly repulsive entertainment (with acid-squirting nipples). And just like The Machine Girl, if you can accept some of the glaring budget shaving and CGI tomfoolery, you will have yourself a great time with this film.

"Thanks a lot for telling me. You insane bastard..."

(trailer is a little NSFW):

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Sentinel

An up and coming model (played by the lovely Christina Raines) moves into an apartment building that OMG, is the gateway to friggin’ Hades. What’s this? A star-studded cast? Gore? Nudity? Masturbation? Exploitation of people with real deformities? Why the hell did I wait so long to see The Sentinel? Michael Winner (Death Wish, The Mechanic, Scream For Help) directs this wild satanic romp. The film features a robust and classy score by Gil Melle (Blood Beach, Embryo) that compliments the excellent cinematography by Richard C. Kratina very nicely. There are some overly clever bits of dialogue that probably sounded much better in the 70s but haven’t aged well. There is also the matter of the plot getting a little too big for its britches and everything just feels crowded and awkward. But these faults are easy to ignore when you take into account just how surreal, beautiful, horrifying and truly disturbing this film is. Recommended.

“I am one of the Legion!”


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'd rather be watching movies...

So I'm at work and I'm like editing these freakin' marc records (library stuff) but I'd much rather be at home watching freakin' movies, yo. My heart is singing the song of horror and I want to answer it so badly. All I can do now is pray for a sick day. Anyway, here are three flicks I am craving at this very moment:

The Boogeyman and I have a strange relationship. I have bought this movie three times. First, I got it in the form of a beat up VHS at a flea market. Then I got the Anchor Bay DVD with The Demonsville Terror on the flipside of the disc. Sold it for some reason. Then I bought it AGAIN the other day. Sigh. I don't know why I keep trying to part with this one. It is actually a great supernatural slasher flick with a very weird streak.

Next up is Satan's Slave from British trash master Norman J. Warren. This fabulous film from my birth year is 15 different kinds of trashy. If you're looking for something silly, gory, sleazy and doesn't make a whole lot of sense then check this one out.

We call it Torso but the Italian title translates to The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence. While this may not be Mr. Sergio Martino's best giallo, this one is probably his most entertaining. There's blood, there's nudity, and there's beautiful Italian scenery. Plus, Torso features one hell of a dropkick in the final showdown.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blood of Ghastly Horror

Uh oh, this isn't good. I have finally entered the mad world of Al Adamson. From frame one, Blood of Ghastly Horror is accidentally genius. The opening credit sequence is just a mishmash of distorted paintings and what not. From there the mishmashing continues as BOGH becomes a disastrous combo of a gangster flick Adamson shot but couldn't find a distributor for and some cheesy horror sequences (with very little blood and 'ghastly horror' to be found) filmed on the cheap and thrown in later. Here's the kicker: it actually works! This film is quite entertaining, trashy and wildly hilarious thanks to its own ineptness.

There's this dead but newly reanimated tough buy (played very enthusiastically by Roy Morton) who is after some stolen jewels. Later, he wants revenge on the doctor (John Carradine) who brought him back to life. Then we find out that what we've been watching was a flashback and there are not one but two doctors creating zombies. There is a leather-woman in bad lipstick (Regina Carrol) and three idiot cops who are using her to get to the other doctor or something. Well, it all falls apart during the "dramatic" chase sequence through the snow. That's where Adamson tortures the viewer for making it that far into film. Shit. This stuff is great!

I can't help but feel like I just started some new and frightening phase of my life. Wait a minute, I've seen Adamson's Nurse Sherri and even reviewed Cinderella 2000 before. Um... duh. I didn't even remember that he directed those. Is it possible that I watch so many movies that I get a little mixed up sometimes? I think it's gonna be okay because this duder's movies look and feel like he forgot he directed them too. Dang it y'all, my Adamson appreciation has already begun. More as this develops.

"You're insane!"
"Well if so, all the worse for you."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Year at the Movies

I just finished A Year at the Movies by 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' writer and voice of Tom Servo, Kevin Murphy. Murphy spent every day of 2001 in movie theaters all over the world watching films and documenting his experiences. A Year at the Movies is crazy good and an excellent read. Murphy is sarcastic, honest, self-deprecating and sentimental. There are a few places in the book that are genuinely sweet and even heartwarming. Thankfully these moments are few and far between though as Murphy takes on multiplexes, bad movies and even kidney stones in his fight for the ultimate movie experience.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Black Christmas (the 2006 one!)

My colleague Eric Grubbs finally experienced the magic of the 2006 remake of Black Christmas and was less than impressed. I love this movie and his post inspired me to revisit this much maligned slasher flick. Yes, the 1974 original is a superior film in every way. Bob Clark's film is creepy, unsettling, and well acted. Who would have thought that this quiet little Canadian masterpiece would become insanely influential as well as a staple for horror fans during the holiday season.

And the newer Black Christmas... well, it did not do and is not any of those things. From the original it takes the title, the setting, the characters' names and screws everything up. Royally. I challenge anyone watching the 2006 film to see if they can find it in their hearts to give a triple rat fuck about any of the characters or what's going on. SPOILER: One of the things that made Bob Clark's Black Christmas so great is that we never learn the identity of the killer. There is this insanely crazy maniac hiding inside the sorority house and that's all we know about him. It's terrifying.

In the remake, we get Billy Lenz, a jaundiced duder with enough backstory to fill the pages of a horror novelette. This is where the film does things right and goes so far away from its source material that they could have just called this something else. Alcoholism, physical and mental abuse, incest, cannibalism- oh yeah, this one's got it all. Instead of making this backstory into its own film, director and writer Glen Morgan gives us two for the price of one by providing the slasheriffic sequel to the this grim little tale in the same movie! I can't help but love this.

Next thing about the remake is the colors. It looks like the set designer vomited Christmas lights and tinsel in every nook and cranny of every shot. I'm all about style over substance so GOD DAMN, the 2006 is distractingly pretty and hilariously tacky to behold. All of this is lovingly filmed by Robert McLachlan (Cursed, "Millenium", "Harper's Island", etc.). Crap! Just talking about this stuff makes me want to watch this movie again, right now. The final selling point of the new Black Christmas is the gore. The unrated DVD gives us more eye violence than you can shake a Fulci at.

The sorority girls are interchangeable and their acting is bad though I can't really blame them since the writing gives them absolutely no reason for the audience to care. The performances by Karin Konoval (as Billy's mother) and Robert Mann (as the sublimely evil Billy Lenz) are great and both should have been given more to do. So, for the love of all that is unholy, watch the original Black Christmas. When you're done doing that, DO NOT watch the remake expecting anything more than a gory, pretty and utterly stupid film. Or don't watch it at all. It helped get me in the holiday spirit. That's all I'm sayin', yo.

Friday, December 18, 2009

You Should/Should Not Review Movies

My post about things I didn’t get around to reviewing got me thinkin’. Back when I started Doomed Moviethon I told an acquaintance who runs his own DVD Studio about my little internet venture and he told me I was an asshole. Okay that’s not exactly what he said but dude who shall remain nameless inferred that I was joining of the ranks of a bunch of douchebags. He said that anyone who asks him for screeners are leeches and crooks. He went on to tell me that he was sure that I would never be like that but yes, anyone who asks DVD companies for screeners are pieces of shit. So without calling me an asshole, he called me an asshole.

Four and a half years later, I think he was half right. Well, about me anyway. I requested (not from the dude who shall remain nameless) and received screeners for many, many films and things turned out okay there were some slightly dicey times mixed in there. So here is some advice for anyone who is considering starting their own movie review site and going about the embarrassing, humbling and greedy task of obtaining screeners. (This is where I expect I will look like a complete dick and an egomaniac but oh well, thems the breaks.)

One. Make sure you have a mountain of free time because you will be bombarded with films. It will start as a trickle at first and then it will snowball out of control. And know this: you’ll never be able to watch everything. For a while, I was getting too many things to review and it didn’t seem like I could ever get back to what I really wanted to review (movies I loved). More importantly, I ended up feeling and looking like a dick when I wasn’t reviewing stuff in a timely manner (or at all). This is why I have drastically changed my review policy. Nowadays, I accept very few review submissions whatsoever. Part of this is my jaded side that is tired of indie horror movies and the other part is me finally admitting to myself that it’s just too much and I just want to watch and review whatever the damn hell I want to. Which leads to…

Two. Prepare yourself to watch things you would never, ever watch on your own. This is most difficult for me. I have such a huge backlog of things that I want to watch/review for Doomed Moviethon that anything that gets in the way pisses me off. But I started this mess so I have to take what folks send me and give it a fair shake. And somehow this always leads to porn, usually of the softcore variety. I really, really don’t want this stuff and have said as much to DVD companies but they send it anyway. I’m a dang prude and reviewing spank material is so far out of the realm of what I want for Doomed Moviethon that I just won’t do it. I have caved a few times and reviewed some moderately raunchy stuff but usually it was because there was a good moving surrounding the sex scenes. No more vintage bondage loops please.

Three. Be ready to defend your review. I have had angry directors write to me after I slammed their movie and I was kind of freaked out. I've had things like "hey, I was working on a small budget" so you have to appreciate my utter incompetence as a filmmaker. The unquoted part of that last sentence is what they were really saying but didn’t know it. Or "if I'd made some brainless zombie flick in my backyard like -insert random director's name here-, then you probably would have given me a good review!" This is so not true. What I like in independent horror films is originality and if there isn’t any of that stuff, then style. Style over substance is my dang credo (I didn’t have a credo until just now).

Like every movie reviewer, I have aspirations of being a filmmaker too (just not a talented one). If I write, film, edit, score and release a piece of shit, I’m not going to start getting mad when people tell me it’s a piece of shit. I will already know. How do people not already know? But hey, if I hated a film, I hated a film. I'm not going to go back and soften my language or delete the negative aspects of a review just to please people. Screw that noise. And this leads to…

Four. Don’t be surprised if you get things that are too awful to review. This will happen. I have chosen on a few occasions to pretend I never got something or just go silent when someone sends me a follow-up email. There are movies out there that I hate so much, I refuse to write word one about. Some folks have put a great deal of love into their little movies and I don’t want to just go on a blistering vomitous tirade about how profoundly terrible their film is. If I can’t find one single redeeming quality about the movie or I know deep down that it is good but there is one glaring pet peeve that ruins the whole film in my eyes, chances are, I won’t go there. Sounds cowardly? It is. I don’t want to rip someone (who might be a good person) a new one just because I have the platform to do so. If a major studio produced a turd, yeah I’ll go off on it. But I still feel the need to protect the little guy once in a while. (I know this sounds insanely hypocritical after what I said in Three but hey, I’m complicated.)

Five. Be really, really open-minded (like I used to be). It is easy to get jaded. At first, I liked everything people sent me. It felt so good to be like a real horror movie review site that I might have given some unfairly good reviews to some pretty bad films. But no more! I promise. (Sorry if I got anybody’s hopes up several years ago.) The thing that annoys me to no end about indie horror are all the dang references and in-jokes to the director’s favorite films. If they’re subtle and it takes me the second or third viewing to even notice the reference… Good. If you have an Evil Dead poster hanging up in the main character’s bedroom… Bad. Don’t do that. Please don’t film an entire scene of dialogue in front of your fucking DVD collection. Yes, I’m getting off the topic here.

So yeah, the main thing is that you have to love movies and if you keep an open mind, you will see things that you didn’t think you’d be into but will blow your dang mind. My advice* is to review everything that people send you even if you get swamped or you didn’t like the movie. That way, even if the director sends you a surly email about your negative (though hopefully not hostile) review, you can rest easy knowing that at least you tried to give every film, big or small, a chance.

*(One day I will follow this advice.)

Things That You Should Never Watch*

*(But probably will anyway.)

Hey y'all, it's Friday. I am working on a 2009 end of the year extravaganza (actually, just a clip show) and uncovering some odd things in my files. Things? What kinds of things? Well, you know, stuff that I've watched over the years but never had the courage to talk about before. When you are plumbing the depths of horror and cult cinema, you run into some really messed up shit. I'm a prudish vanilla duder so don't ridicule me too much now. Here are three that deserve a mention:

10/07/2006 - Entrails of a Virgin

Ohhhhhhhhhh, doctor! I believe that Entrails of a Virgin is actually porn. The horror and gore moments are phenomenal but they make up less than 20% of the film's running time. This has the longest pixelated sex scene I've ever forced myself to watch and the whole experience is a real chore to sit through. However, the insane violence at the end of this movie is almost, almost worth the trouble. If you're looking for something offensive, squirm-inducing and almost impenetrably un-entertaining, then this is the one for you.

12/10/2006 - Cannibal Campout

I really, really tried to review this one. Whatever 80s shot-on-video charm Cannibal Campout might muster up is lost in its relentless cruelty and sleaze. Now don't get me wrong, kids, I loves me a good piece of trash but for some reason, this one is too grim and gleefully mean-spirited. Yes, I'm a dang hypocrite. Get over it.

08/09/2007 - Knight of the Peeper

I feel quite guilty about this one. The moment you start getting screeners from very nice people, you run the risk of getting in over your head. And Knight of the Peeper got me, big time. I'm pretty sure that this was meant to be funny and cheesy but this flick got a little too close to rape fantasy for my tastes. Knight is a colorful slice of exploitation shot on a micron-sized budget and features some very lovely ladies. But no. No. No. NOOOOOO! I apologize profusely to the kind soul who sent me this film but I just could NOT review this one.

Here is as far as I got:

"My biggest criticism of this film is of the quiet times. There are these disconcerting dialogue-free moments in Knight Of The Peeper that creep me out. Suddenly, no one is saying anything and the only sound on the soundtrack is a woman whimpering. Close your eyes and you’re liable to start having a fit. I already love the canned music and the wickedly cornball script so these scenes are that much harder to sit through."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas

Good morning. I am here to tell you about my review for Monsters, Marriage and Murder in Manchvegas. This film comes from the gentlemen at Shockmarathons and it is one heck of a good time. These are the same kickass dudes who changed my life with Freaky Farley. Don't believe me? Well my friends, it's all true. So click some links, read a little, and tell me what you think, feel, and BELIEVE!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Witch

Damiano Damiani's The Witch might be a little long winded, a little pretentious (okay, a lot pretentious), and a little too easy to figure out plot-wise but damn y'all, it is one hypnotic and beautiful film. In it, Richard Johnson (Zombie) plays Sergio, a male chauvinist historian who goes to a castle to translate some old texts and he gets involved with an ooo-ooo witchy woman. I watched The Witch back in June of last year and for whatever reason, I never got around to reviewing it. Here are some screen shots for ya.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Akira, Domu and My Dumb Brain

I've been rereading Akira lately and thinking, "hey, they should make this into an animated series!" Now don't get me wrong, I freakin' love the film version of Akira; it was the gateway drug into a world of nerdery that I have never looked back from. One thing that you may find amusing (or just pathetic) is that when I read Katsuhiro Otomo's manga, I was kind of disappointed. I was like 'wow this is really long and who are all these characters I don't care about?' Can you believe that shit? Don't worry, the me that had lame thoughts like that is dead, I promise.

Anyway, now that I have finally pried my head out of my dang butt, I think that with a 12 or 13 episode run (at an hour apiece), there would be plenty of room to stay true to the original manga. And with CGI going the direction that it's going in, I'm sure Akira could be done live action. As long as the good old US of A doesn't have anything to do with it, it might have some promise.

One of Otomo's other masterpieces that I would like to see on the big or the small screen is Domu: A Child's Dream. This is one freaky and genuinely chilling book that has the makings for an incredible animated adaptation. Come to think of it, Domu is a much smaller scale deal than Akira so it could work as live action as well.

Now here's something weird I did not know existed: World Apartment Horror, a horror/comedy directed by Otomo (one of his very few forays into live action). It definitely looks like it is more comedy and political statement about race relations in Japan than horror. But I'm still quite curious. Here's the trailer:


Nafa returns to that fateful year once again. Isn't it weird that it's 2009 but like 2012 is already over? Does that mean that like we're dead and pseudoscience (and/or pseudonature) wins again? A little while ago, in anticipation of the real 2012, Nafa reviewed the fake 2012. It was called 2012: Doomsday. Well, that is old news, kids. Here is his take on the real 2012. I'm getting confused. I don't know where I am. It's the end of the world as we know it and I wear pants. I WEAR PANTS!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Two New Reviews

I ain't braggin' but I've got the day off today. So instead of staying in bed and reading comic books between catnaps, I'm using the free time to get some more DVD reviews in before the year ends. Here's two for ya: Evil Face and The Howl.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Devil's Kiss

My hopes for Devil's Kiss were abysmally low so it is hardly surprising that it turned out to be totally perfect. Well, almost. This Spanish/French co-disaster is a slow and awful film but its saving graces are the wretched English dubbing and the sweet junky soundtrack. The dialogue has more pseudoscience and Satanic mumbo jumbo than the human body can digest plus there is pointless nudity and one (only one?) softcore sex scene that I didn't want to see. Okay, I've said too much already. Here are the highlights:

I was told to get my groove on.

I am Claire. Do not call me by that other name anymore.

Oh sweet leatherman, take me to a magical island.

The fashion world just threw up.

Why yes, I do have a weak ass bitch slap.

It's a living.

If I can tame this horse, I can tame you.

I'm a pretty tall dwarf, can I get a chair?

Why yes, I was in Umberto Lenzi's Eyeball. What about it?

Paul Naschy's agent said he didn't need this gig. But I do.

The fashion world just threw up. Again.

Hi, I'm Richard and I'm the hero of this motion picture.

Yeah well, we've all had this dream, haven't we?

Loretta pwned!

I seriously spend 80% of my screen time doing this.

Loretta 2.0: I will dis you and dismiss you.

We are probably analyzing her stupid dead brain or some shit like that.

I'm Susan! Remember? You're supposed to care if I live or die.

We'll get there when we get there.

What used to have two thumbs and is now a pile of offal? This guy.