Friday, February 21, 2014

Franco Friday #55 - Ilsa the Wicked Warden

One very dark day, my curiosity got the best of me and I watched Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS. I have to admit, I was entertained. It is a solid movie with a nauseating premise and an ending that pays off. Of course, I tried to sit through the other Ilsa movies and that didn't work out so good. I got about 10 minutes into Jess Franco's version and gave up. All I remember about what I saw is that it seemed very cheap, sleazy, and sweaty like a sicko's daydream. I'm sure that it was just a bad first impression.

Ilsa the Wicked Warden
AKA Greta - Haus ohne Männer
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Dyanne Thorne, Tania Busselier, Lina Romay, Eric Falk, Dagmar Bürger, and Jess Franco
95 minutes

[I am going to spoil the plot to save you from having to watch this.]

The movie starts in the jungle and we hear the sounds of a whip cracking and a woman screaming and moaning. A sexy female voice says "Wicked Warden" lasciviously and it's on. Before the two minute mark, we have women showering, complaining, and cooing nakedly at each at the Las Palomas women's prison (oops, I mean "clinic"). In her own private bath, Greta the "wicked" warden (played by Dyanne Thorne) is having a soak, washing herself luxuriously. I kind of want this movie to be over already.

A girl screams and starts flopping around while the guards try to control the situation. Oh snap, this was just a distraction so another inmate, Rosa (played by Angela Ritschard), can make a run for it. She barely escapes with her life. Dr. Arcos (Jess Franco) manages to save her but he is forced to return Rosa to Greta and the "clinic". Later, he finds out that Rosa died shortly thereafter and the body cremated.

Horrified by the incident, Dr. Arcos pleads to the worldwide community to shut down Las Palomas but with no evidence, they tell him to get stuffed. Arcos is approached by Abbie (played by Tania Busselier), Rosa's sister and a total badass, who volunteers to go undercover in Las Palomas to find out what's really going on there. Abbie gets in and is given a number: 41. She is told that if she ever tells anyone her real name, they will burn the number into her breast.

Abbie meets the other lost souls including Juana (Lina Romay), the lead inmate who is in good with Greta. Abbie finds out very quickly that this "clinic" is a sick and evil place where no one escapes. Let's hope that all the prescribed sexual humiliation, genital mutilation, and shock treatments won't keep Abbie from carrying out her plan. Wait, what was her plan again?

Of course, Greta gets word that Abbie has been asking too many questions about what goes on in the "clinic". In a bizarre twist, we discover that Abbie's sister Rosa is alive, hidden in some dark place in Las Palomas. She has been tortured nearly to to the brink of death. Rosa gives up Abbie almost immediately and, on top of that, she names Dr. Arcos as a leader of a terrorist group. Arcos is immediately murdered by the corrupt police. Now the shit had really hit the fan.

How does Greta keep getting away with all of this shit? The "clinic" practically pays for itself. The lead guard (played by Eric Falk) sells films of the torture and sex to a local rich weirdo. Mo' money! Mo' money Mo' money! Of course, it helps that Greta is in bed (literally) with the Governor (played by Howard Maurer). This sleazebag motherfucker is banging Greta and using her "clinic" to eliminate his female political prisoners. I just got to the gang-rape scene. Ugh, just kill me. After Abbie is turned into a gibbering madwoman, the inmates revolt and tear Greta to shreds (literally). The end.

Good news, everyone! I guess I'm not jaded yet. The sleaze is so fucking thick on this film that I need a shower now. Seriously, every couple of minutes, I just felt totally demoralized by what I was watching. Not surprisingly, there is an insane amount of female flesh on display and so many trashy situations that it is impossible to take this crap seriously. That being said, Isla the Wicked Warden is a pretty darn good film for old Jess. The cinematography, editing, and the score are all very good. Ruedi Küttel, who shot Blue Rita, delivers some of the best experimental camerawork I've seen in a Jess Franco flick in a while.

I can't recommend this movie to anyone who is even remotely sensitive in nature. The torture scenes, while not overly explicit, are pretty powerful even by suggestion alone. I'm not gonna lie though, seeing Lina Romay give Dyanne Thorne a nudie massage is well, pretty awesome. Of course it degrades immediately into the naughty kind of acupuncture. And that's part of what makes this film so insane. Every "pleasure" is tempered with something horrible.

My favorite character is Number 9 (played by Dagmar Burger from Blue Rita), the lady who used to be a man. She was into dudes when she was a man and now that she is a woman, she is all lesbian, baby! She tries to help Abbie out and I don't know, she's just likeable. I needed something to grasp onto to keep my happy thoughts during all of this garbage. Good thing this Ilsa movie had a very satisfying ending or else I would have probably flipped out, changed my sex, and checked myself into Las Palomas.

This move also contains boot licking.

"Ah, piss off, you blonde bitch! And you can take your brother, jack him off, and stick him up your singing ass!"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Zombie Night


I watched a zombie movie.

And I reviewed it.

Alert the presses.

Or just check it out.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My first impression of Dracula 3D

I finally decided to watch Dario Argento's Dracula 3D. Here are two lists I made while watching it; one for the good and one for the bad. Also, let it be known that the copy streaming on Netflix looks like utter shit. It is way, way too bright. I plan on buying the Blu-ray of this film for a proper look at it. But for now, here is my first impression of this huge flop of a movie.

The Good:

Asia Argento!
Thomas Kretschmann!
Rutger Hauer!
I really dig the score by Claudio Simonetti. (Nice theremin, duder.)
Corny Eurohorror atmosphere!
Bad dubbing.
The non-CGI sets and locations are great!
Weird Argento crap.
Atmosphere - wind, lightning, graveyard, castle, old library, etc.
Homosexual overtones.
Great lighting.
The axe scene (Tenebre reference?).
Dracula's swarm of fly entrance (Phenomena reference?).
I really like the actress playing Mina (Marta Gastini).

The Bad:

The flying-through-the-village opening credits look like shit.
The Dracula-owl looks like shit.
The train station looks fucking shit. What the fuck?
The wolf transformation scene is the best that the computers of 1997 had to offer.
The script is very silly.
People that should be dubbed, aren't.
Cheesy sound effects.
The acting is bad, especially from Asia Argento and the duder playing Jonathan Harker.
I really don't like the vampires turning to dust in this. More poor CGI.
The praying mantiss scene is insanely dumb.
10 minutes too long.
"Thank God I had enough garlic for one bullet."

Friday, February 7, 2014

G.I. Joe: The Movie

When I was a kid, I played with toys. Pretty freaky, huh? I had Transformers, He-Man (He-Men?), Star Wars, and Legos. I guess it's pretty obvious that I was a spoiled kid. How else would I have grown into this adult-sized man-baby that you see before you today? But back in the day, nothing came close to the fury and obsession over G.I. Joe that gripped me from age 9 through age 12 when I stopped playing with toys altogether.

After having my brain melted by the amazing Transformers: The Movie (an unforgettable theater experience), rumors of G.I. Joe: The Movie were putting me right up to the edge of heart palpitations. But luck was not be in my favor as the film was never released in theaters. I had to wait until it came out on VHS before I could get to see it.

Having no idea when it was supposed to come out, I was surprised as hell to see it on the "New Releases" shelf one night while my dad and I were at the video store. I remember that my mom was out of town on business so she was going to miss the movie! Yeah, my excitement for G.I. Joe at the time was so insane that I would try and force my parents into partaking of such things.

Dad and I had dinner and I put the tape on. Less than 5 minutes into the movie, my dad bailed. He said he was going to read a book or watch a movie or something. I was shocked. How could anyone walk away from my most anticipated film of all time (that month)? So anyway, I got back to the movie and... and... Honestly, I was disappointed.

In fact, I barely remember G.I. Joe: The Movie at all save for two things. One of them is someone said "shit" which blew my mind. I had never heard someone curse in a cartoon before. I was so glad that my mom was out of town because she probably would have turned it off if she had heard it. My dad was a bit more lenient but I paused the movie when it happened and looked over my shoulder just to make sure he hadn't heard it.

The second thing is actually pretty horrifying and to this day, pops into my head randomly. For reasons I can't remember and this is a SPOILER for any of you out there who are actually interested in seeing G.I. Joe: The Movie. So anyway, Cobra Commander gets turned into a snake. As he slowly devolves into a creature, he keeps hissing "I was once a man! I wassss once-ssss a man!" This completely freaked me out and actually made me feel bad for Cobra's charismatic leader.

Okay, this is as far as I can go without actually watching G.I. Joe: The Movie. Hold on. Let me go watch it.

Hi, I'm back!

Well, sadly, one thing didn't change: I'm still disappointed in G.I. Joe: The Movie. The story (which loses steam way before its conclusion) is that during a battle in the Artic, the forces of Cobra retreat into a strange oasis filled with an ancient race known as Cobra-La. These creatures are plotting to take over the world by launching spores into the atmosphere that will mutate mankind into anamorphic cavemen or something. G.I. Joe decides to stop them. There's more to this but I want to get the hell out of this while I still can.

I do like how the movie added even more elements of science fiction, fantasy, and even a little more horror to the Joe universe. Anyone familiar with the TV series can tell you about some wacky and totally fucked up episodes. I even like how we get a brief glimpse of Cobra Commander's face shortly before he turns into a wiggly reptile. And there was blood spilled when Duke gets injured. You never saw that in the show even with all the grenades, missiles, ninja sword-fighting, and laser blasts. As for someone saying "Shit" in the dialog this time, I think it was edited out. Maybe I'm thinking of Transformers: The Movie. Is this the nerdiest thing I've ever talked about on this blog?

What is surprising is how much anime is packed into this film. Obviously I can only speak for myself on this but back in the day, anime or Japanimation (as some used to call it) was so scarce that every tiny bit of it was special. I think G.I. Joe: The Movie subconsciously planted an insidious anime parasite in my brain that would grow and eventually destroy everything in my head. Don't believe me? Look at the frickin' crew on this film (listed hilariously as Action Force: The Movie on IMDB).

Cutie Honey, One Piece: The Movie, Fist of the North Star (series 2), Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon: The Movie, Galaxy Express 999, Final Yamamoto, Mobile Suit Gundam, several Mazinger movies, Full Metal Alchemist, Saint Seiya, etc. are just a few of the titles that the Japanese members of this crew had their hands in over the years. Their influence on the look of this film and even some of the plot elements are impossible to ignore. Don't get me wrong, a huge crew from the US and other countries were instrumental in bringing this film to life but yeah, it's films like this that helped make me an anime fan for life.