Sunday, November 22, 2015

What I Watched - November 15-21 2015


Don't Go in the House (1979) DVD
- I've owned this as part of a Shriek Show triple-feature boxset, (alongside a couple of low budget crime actioners - Cop Killers and Tenement) for a few years now but never got around to watching it. I'm glad I finally did, because this is an awesome gritty old school urban horror/exploitation film along the lines of Maniac. The story itself has elements of Psycho - a guy with mommy issues killing young ladies (although Norman never used a flamethrower!). There's actually some quite creepy moments involving burned bodies coming back to life. One for fans of sleazy late 70s, early 80s grindhouse horror flicks!

Diamonds of Kilimandjaro (1983) DVD
- I own this in another Shriek Show box set that I got at the same time as the aforementioned one, this one called "Jungle Girls". It's actually a Jess Franco movie but is pretty tame by his standards. Essentially Tarzan with a female in the vine-swinging role, this one has little in the way of gore and a lot in the way of nudity. It's pretty run of the mill - kind of like a Lenzi/Deodato jungle movie without any of the gut-munching or torture. Watchable but hard to recommend.

Stryker (1983) DVD
- Since I was trawling through long-neglected boxsets on my shelves, I pulled out one called Grindhouse Experience 2, which has something like 10 movies of various drive-in fare. The name of this one, plus the artwork, made it an easy choice to begin making my way through this set. I do love a good cheesy 80s Mad Max-ripoff, and that's what you get here from Filipino director Cirio H Santiago. While this one's not terrible, there are better examples of the genre out there. The final battle is pretty cool, but the lead-up to it is sloppy and quite frankly boring in a lot of places. The highlight is a band of "little people" who dress like Jawas and sound way too much like animated penguin Pingu. Sadly they are on screen for far too little time - if they'd been around more I might have enjoyed this more. A good time-waster, but probably only for the hardcore fan of low budget post-apocalyptic fare.

Blazing Magnum (1976) DVD
- Next up in Grindhouse Experience is this is a movie also known as Shadows in an Empty Room, although that name makes it sound like a giallo, and it's definitely not. Blazing Magnum is a more apt name, because what we have here is an Italian/Canadian production that is clearly influenced by Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry flicks (one of the sequels of course being Magnum Force). Like Harry Callahan, the main cop in this one uses "unorthodox" methods to get what he needs. With a great cast that includes Martin Landau, John Saxon and Tisa Farrow, and containing one of the best car chase scenes I've seen in a long time, this is great stuff. Definitely recommended.

Slavers (1978) DVD
- Continuing down the Grindhouse Experience 2 road, we move from police action to pure exploitation. Coming in the wake of the highly-successful mini series Roots, this trods over similar ground, telling unflinching stories of the slave trade in Africa in the 1800s. An African couple who are separated by the bad guys are part of the focus, but most of the time is spent on the various white men and women (including Britt Ekland), most of which are completely reprehensible. One scene in particular - involving target practice on swimming natives - is quite shocking. My biggest complaint is that the racist villains in this for the most part don't get a satisfactory comeuppance. Obviously this is never comfortable viewing, but is a good reminder of a dark period in man's history.

Deathgasm (2015) AVI
- I watched this a couple of weeks ago as part of 31 Nights of Terror and enjoyed it so much I had to watch it again, this time with my girlfriend. Check out my review here:

Three Supermen Against Godfather (1979) DVD
- Back into the Grindhouse Experience 2 boxset, and next up we have an all-together odd little movie otherwise known as Supermenler. Apparently the 9th of 11 Three Supermen movies which ranged from 1967 to 1986, this is a goofy comedy set in Turkey that feels like a low budget episode of the 1960s Batman TV series. Most of the intended comedy falls flat, while there are unintentional laughs (one guy's whiney dubbed voice is hilarious). The theme song that plays constantly throughout the climax is so, so annoying. The setting is apt, because this is one big turkey.

Mister Deathman (1977) DVD
- The last of the Grindhouse 2 movies for a while (there are others I haven't seen, but I'll save them for another time) is this very poor excuse for a blaxploitation movie. Filmed in South Africa, it stars the main guy from Zombie Island Massacre who tries to play a suave Bond-like superspy but his acting is beyond terrible. The bad guys are boring, our hero seemingly gets captured every few minutes, and the plot is groan-worthy. If there was a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of this movie I'd watch it - it would be interesting to hear how the main black actor found filming in apartheid-era South Africa - and let's face it, it would have to be better than the actual movie itself.

Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet (2009) DVD
- I really have to stop choosing movies to watch based on the actors involved. That bit me on the ass with Old 37 and it kind of did again here, and Bill Moseley is involved again (along with horror fan darling Danielle Harris). Bill's the definite highlight here, as he's in full Crazy Ralph from Friday the 13th mode (he even dresses the same, so it's obviously a homage). The movie starts off pretty well with a good opening murder and some time in an asylum, but when it switches to the present day and turns the spotlight on various annoying teens, things break down. I couldn't wait for these douchebags to get dead, and unfortunately it took so long to happen, with endless teen partying bogging things down. Sloppy editing and the fact that it looks like it was shot on a handicam (not in terms of shakiness, but of quality - it feels like a home movie, not a film) make this one a pretty unbearable mess.

- November is of course the month when men grow all shapes and sizes of mustachios in the name of charity (not me, I'm be-goateed all year round, gotta hide those double chins somehow). So, with that in mind, I decided to find movies featuring standout supporting performances by upper-lip caterpillars.

Turkey Shoot (1982) DVD
- First up is Roger Ward's menacing mo-and-eyebrows combo from this Australian exploitation (Oz-ploitation) classic. I've always loved this movie - it's beautifully shot, has plenty of action and its simple storyline is essentially Most Dangerous Game mixed with 1984. But it also has plenty of tasty cheese to stop it from being too mainstream, like the hairy "freak" hunter, the woman's exploding arrows, the weird futuristic vehicles and the pre-requisite smatterings of T&A and attempted rape. Steve Railsback is a weird choice for a leading man - the guy who would go on to play an uber-creepy Ed Gein is hardly charismatic pin-up material. But that's not to take away from this movie, which is a must for any fans of exploitation flicks.

Witchfinder General (1968) DVD
- As a huge Vincent Price fan (I collect his movies on DVD) this is one that had managed to slip through the cracks, until now. Price's facial hair isn't anything too special, but hey, it's there, so it makes this movie count for this moviethon! Okay, so I was just looking for an excuse to include this one. Vincent is great as always, although rather subdued by his standards (after watching a doco on director Michael Reeves it seems he told the legendary actor to tone down his performance). The supporting cast is great (Ian Ogilvy is always good to watch) and this gets quite brutal in places (like the burning of the witch at the stake - my DVD has a lot of the cut violence restored). This is essentially a western set in ye olde England, and it's a good one! Definite recommendation.

The Big Lebowski (1998) AVI
- I'm sure everyone has a movie or two that it seems EVERYONE has seen and enjoyed, but which they've managed to miss somehow. Rather embarrassingly, this is that movie for me. I know it's a cult classic and I do enjoy the Coen brothers, but this one just never found its way in front of my eyes. I had it on my list on Netflix to watch a few months ago, but now when I went to watch it... it's not on Netflix anymore. Don't you hate that? Anyway, a quick acquisition from an "alternative source" and now I can finally say I've seen The Big Lebowski and now know what all the memes and quotes are in reference to. Oh yeah, obviously the mustache in this one belongs to Sam Elliott's The Stranger, although there are a couple of other commendable face-hair efforts in this movie. As for the movie itself, it is as good as everyone makes it out to be. The Dude abides man!

No comments: