VIRTUAL DESIRE is one of those fantastic movies made in the early days of the internet. Watching how people interact with the internet is laughable considering the limitations of the time.
VIRTUAL DESIRE is what one would expect from a Skinemax flick. Lots of bad acting, lots of softcore sex, and a lot of cheesy fun. VIRTUAL DESIRE is a about a man who's wife is murdered. He has to figure out which one of his "on the side" internet flings committed the crime. Between the murder and the conclusion there's lots of terrible acting, and a lot of questionable decisions are made.
Directed by Jim Wynorski (Director of CHOPPING MALL, a personal favorite of mine) and starring Julie Strain (veteran of trash cinema) VIRTUAL DESIRE is a bad skin flick, but at least it's entertaining, unlike most others of it's kind.
This particular box is a promotional screener copy. One side is "sexier" than the other.
The cover art is very poor. Extremely basic and bland. Unfortunately, there is little much else to say about the box itself. There were other versions printed, I wouldn't say they are better than this.
THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE
AKA THRILLER: EN GRYM FILM, THEY CALL HER ONE EYE, HOOKER'S REVENGE
Director: Bo Arne Vibenius
DVD: Synapse Films
Every "fringe" film blog has to have a review of THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE. Here's ours.
THRILLER is a Rape, Drug, Porn, Revenge, Gore film. It is the absolute epitome of exploitation cinema. Produced in Sweden in 1973, THRILLER was banned and scorned in it's home country and, for the most part, worldwide. It's a shocking experience. Regardless of the type of film viewer you are, at least one aspect of this film will rub you the wrong way.
This is another one of those films that the curious will track down and watch. Unlike most films that may be "shockers" THRILLER actually feels like an actual film. Director Bo Arne Vibenius was a assistant director on some Ingmar Bergman films (including PERSONA and HOUR OF THE WOLF). From the opening sequence of THRILLER or it is readily apparent that Vibenius actually knew how to make a film (unlike most exploitation filmmakers). THRILLER is entertaining and interesting from beginning to end. THRILLER is a grand mixture of shock and style. If you can stomach it, you'll love it.
"GETTING OFF" ON THE WRONG FOOT
Why am I drawn to trash? So wrong.
The film opens with our main character Frigga, as a young girl and a greazy old bastard in a park. The dirty sex maniac lures the little girl over rapes her (which thankfully, we do not see). The shock of this incident, leave Frigga mute for life (I. . . guess)
I thought the blood pouring from the old man's mouth indicated he bit her tongue out.
I bet a bunch of people stopped watching at this point.
The greasy old scumbag gets arrested and Frigga is left mute. The film disolves and Frigga (now 70's exploitation sexpot Christina Lindberg) is suddenly twenty years older. She works on her parent's farm
Frigga decides to get dressed up and go into the city. She hurries down the driveway just in time to see the bus taking off. Tony, a passerby notices the frustrated Frigga and stops to offer her a ride. Against her better judgement, Frigga get into Tony's fly Ford.
Tony takes her out to dinner in the city. This outing includes a lot of Tony talking, and a mute Frigga acting if shes deaf and mute. They make the trek to Tony's swank, pimpin' pad. Interestingly enough, that's actually an accurate description of his dwelling. Tony is a pimp. He spikes Frigga's wine and over the course of several days of unconsciousness, he shoots her up with tons of heroin and gets her addicted in her sleep. He becomes her pimp and her dealer. Twisted man. Twisted.
Once she awakens, Tony demands Frigga sign a letter that disowns her parents. She goes berserk and tries to escape. After several kicks to the balls and battles with clients, Tony goes completely nuts and stabs Frigga's friggin' eye out with an exacto knife. Now "They Call Her One Eye."
Rumor has it that they used an actual human corpse for the eye removal scene. I am a firm believer that this is true. When Tony punctures Frigga's eye a clear liquid shoots out. If it was phony, wouldn't they have used blood?
There is also an extended version of this shot on the Limited Edition DVD. It looks real to me. In 1973 it it were fake, it would look fake.
Frigga begins her descent into prostitution and addiction. She services Tony's customers for Heroin. During the following sequence, the viewer is blasted by up close full-screen porno penetration. Not exactly a necessary addition to the film. But this film is the ultimate sucker punch. Brutal and shocking in EVERY way
Obviously these scenes were cut from most versions of the film.
FRIGGA, YOU'Z A GANXTA
Frigga meets Sally. Sally is another one of Tony's hookers. Sally has taken on extra "jobs" from Tony's clients to save up for rehab. Frigga has a better idea: Revenge.
This idea is bolstered by the fact that her parents killed themselves once they got "her" letter disowning them. In addition, as a few days pass, she sees Sally's bed soaked with blood. She has nothing else but vengeance. Frigga spends her extra coin on Karate, Driving, and Shooting Lessons. Somehow, these sequences are all terrifically amusing.
Throw the reverse punch.
Frigga sets out on a bloody odyssey of slo-mo shotgun revenge that must be seen to be believed. From blowing up cars by running them off the road, to shotgun blasts to the belly, THRILLER delivers the graphic violence.
The slow motion violence is a mix of trash, schlock and beauty.
In the end, Frigga essentially terrorizes Tony and . . . . he learns that being a sweet Swedish pimp ain't easy.
"IF I COULD TEACH THE WORLD" - Bone Thugz-N-Harmony
The main lesson of this picture: never be late.
If Frigga wasn't a lazy bastard, she wouldn't have missed her bus her parents would still be alive, She wouldn't have had to fornicate with a larger, hairier version of the Six Million Dollar Man, She wouldn't have been hooked on heroin and she wouldn't have had to go on a mega-Frigga(ing)-killing spree.
Next time you think about hitting that snooze button, think again. Your parent's lives, your sanity, and abstinence from hard drugs depends on it.
Synapse Films (AKA The Criterion Collection of genre film) released two versions of this film. The "Limited Edition" is a complete version of the film. It includes all of the porno and the disc also has several extra features, such as photo galleries, outtakes, and a short essay by Robert Mariucci (STREET TRASH) . It's limited to 25,000 copies. However these discs seem to be readily available.
The "Vengeance Edition" contains all the violence, but as I understand it, does not included any of the hardcore sex, or special features.
For a film that circulated the grindhouse circuit with close to 30 minutes being cut, Synapse did a fantastic job with the audio and visual elements of the movie. It looks and sounds great. Just clean enough to be dirty, as intended.
Directed by Mark. L. Lester
99 mins. Washed out blues, yellows & reds.
Vestron Video VHS, circa 1991
My friend Andy just gave up his left kidney to his brother Doug, and so he was home from work for a few weeks. My way of taking care of him was bringing over Class of 1999, and I'm pretty sure it's gone a long way in helping him recover. So, this review comes along with Andy's drugged out impressions of the film as well as my own.
With Class of 1999, Mark L. Lester (Commando, Showdown in Little Tokyo) has crafted a very strange, seemingly impossible to market, teen action sci-fi dystopian future gang drug movie. There are tons of huge explosions and a lot of fun moments. If this type of film were made now, I think it would be more straightforward, PG-13 and have big teeny-bopper stars in it, ie: Robert Rodriguez' The Faculty. Instead, what you get is a License to Drive, The Warriors meets Terminator world where the only adults are robots or teachers or both.
In the future, (the very distant 1999), gangs will run all inner-city schools in the states and every student will dress like they're in a Prince video. It's gonna be sweet. The neighborhoods surrounding the schools will become free-fire zones that no longer have police protection. Malcolm McDowell will be a super-cool principal with a super-tall daughter. Pam Grier will be a robot teacher who takes no shit from no one.
Cody Culp (poor-man's Stephen Dorff) gets out of prison and is determined to walk the straight and narrow, even though his brother (little dude from Near Dark) and best friend (poor-man's Billy Drago) are stoned out on some future drug called Edge. Edge is like a vial cocaine-ecstacy.
Stacy Keach sports a greasy blonde rat-tail and weird albino eyes, as he leads a group of new android teachers trying to gain order. They are designed to make decisions like whether to educate or discipline, and whether to use fight combination #1, #2 or karate moves.
Andy is pretty sure this is where the idea for "The Wire" Season 3 came from. Makes sense.
Cody and the principal's daughter get curious, find out the teachers' secret and a chase scene between a Ford Taurus and a dirt-bike ensues. The teachers end up in the drink and Cody shows his mad basketball skillz. So, they implement war games and the little dude from Near Dark gets tossed.
Some of the students do wear jeggings, so, they got that right I guess. (Andy's point) The teachers' plan worked, as the gangs go up against one another while a Terminator ripoff song plays. Lots of tossing, breaking of necks, shooting, grenades, etc...
Andy thinks Cody's duds (purple bandana under a baseball cap with a sport jacket that has frills) is also pretty accurate to how young people dress now.
"Inside this school are three inhuman teaching monsters"
Andy thinks it should've ended with a disgusting hardcore sex scene, as that seems to be the natural progression.
Totally sweet. Mark L. Lester's films are all successful, in that they give you exactly what you're looking for. Stripped to the bone, they are generally, like this film, the extension to which you can take these genres. This is no exception. Class of 1999 is not polished and it's not well plotted out, but every moment of it is pretty damn fun.
Set Yourself Up:
Buy a sport coat, cut off the bottom half and then sew on some Ultimate Warrior type frills on it. Wear a backwards baseball cap. They'll do that a lot in the future.
Get some Pepsi. That stuff is futuristic.
Malcolm McDowell was only on set for 2 days. That's amazing because he is in a lot of this movie. They must've shot everything once, never re-lit anything or had much coverage of any kind. And... you can tell.
Lester is part of American World Pictures (distribution company responsible for masterpieces like Piranhaconda, directed by All-Star Video favorite Jim Wynorsky)
The VHS is totally great, but there is also a DVD release from some random company. The DVD artwork is absolutely horrible, however.
Genius is a word tossed about with reckless abandon. It does not apply to very many people. However, Prince is one of the few who have set foot on this planet that word should be attached to. . . at least in the realm of music. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brian Wilson, and Prince.
In 1982 Prince released his first album that truly cemented his pop sensibilities, funkiness, electronic voyeurism, and sexual energy. 1999 was released to rave reviews from music fans and critics alike.
Rather than just trying to top his previous album, Prince released a more refined version of 1999 and on top of that, released the semi-biographical film PURPLE RAIN.
The album and movie were both resounding successes. Prince was now being thrust into the same category of 80's superstardom as Michael Jackson and Madonna.
The music is phenomenal. The movie is sort of a mixed bag.
The film is melodramatic and soap opera like.
The acting is hit and miss. Other than Prince's Father (Clarence Williams III) and Mother (Olga Karlatos), none of the other people in the film are actors. As an actor, Prince is pretty terrible. Morris Day is charming and went on to act in a few other movies. The "live" musical numbers are what make this movie worth watching. It's essentially a really long music video, which in 1984, was mind blowing and ground breaking.
THE ORIGINAL VERSION:
The film was originally quite a bit longer. There is a shooting draft script out there. It truly fleshes out the story. Most of the original script was shot and left on the cutting room floor. Many snippets of footage can be seen in the "When Doves Cry" montage, which "When Doves Cry" was written for. Had the film not been trimmed, that song may not exist.
The full script makes the final cut of the movie look pretty crappy by comparison. Considering the final cut was almost two hours however, makes me slightly thankful a three hour long version doesn't exist.
Since this box art overview has essentially become a mini-review, I'm going to stop talking about the movie and discuss the video box.
It looks like the album art. Which is really smart. It keeps all of the media surrounding the release recognizable and unified. Just like the music releases, Prince is on his sweet ride with Apollonia starring on longingly. The dark image is bordered by a white backing scattered with flowers.
As a side note, as a child I though the flowers in the white border were fruits and vegetables. I was kind of stupid.
When I picked up the tape, I thought the tape label was the coolest part. Rather than boring text, Warner Brothers decided to add some color and the main album image to the label. Very cool.
Most of the titles we touch on here at All-Star Video are not mainstream titles, PURPLE RAIN is just about as mainstream as it gets. It's an entertaining movie that's music completely outshines the content of the picture. It isn't a musical, but it really isn't a straight up narrative film either. It's sort of a mutated version of both. The more you watch it, the more disjointed and awkward it gets. It's great.
Directed by Sean McGregor and David Sheldon
Color. 88 mins.
VHS, released by Phantom Pain Films
"Not since 'Village of the Damned' has death become so savage... or survival so hopeless!"
Gratuitous / perfect slow-motion, Leif Garret (the Justin Bieber of the 1970s), psychopathic murderous children, a character named Papa Doc, an awesome alternative title and super sweet goofy music make this one of my highlight purchases from Cinema Wasteland. Distributed by Phantom Pain Films (what seems to be a great little one-man-operation) and limited to 50 VHS copies.
Production was a disaster. Director Sean McGregor was forced to leave the set after a few weeks of shooting and David Sheldon took over. Much of the footage McGregor shot doesn't make it into the final cut, as it was deemed "unusable."
The great thing about disasters like this is that you can actually see it fall apart on screen. In certain scenes Leif Garret is wearing a terrible wig, the snow cover is gone, characters seem more tan, etc... It also provides for very strange editing, which gives the film a disorienting feel.
Jarring and disorienting editing makes it unclear, but I'm pretty sure that a yellow van crashes on a mountain road, and five little kids in the back survive. They take what they can from the dead driver and proceed to look for shelter. Due to Leif Garret's ingenuity, they make it to a large resort home owned by Papa Doc. Papa Doc hates his son-in-law, Rick, who has slept with the housekeeper, Lovely, which apparently turns on his wife, Julia. There is also a "handyman" named Ralph who is a little slow, but loves his rabbits. Harvey Beckman is an alcoholic who hates his life and especially his boss, Papa Doc. Ruth Beckman is also an alcoholic, who has no respect for her husband.
Leif Garret (David) - cross-dressing kid who is "smart" but can't beat Harvey Beckman at chess, and can't split wood, but is able to split skulls
Sister - novice nun with glasses who is good at doing dishes and drowning grown women
Ralph - non-descript little man
Brian - little soldier who loves to gamble and threaten little girls with being "punched in the mouth"
Susan - hippy who loves fire
Julia teases Ralph about sex. It's very uncomfortable. Lovely and Julie have a pretty killer "fight" that doesn't make a whole lot sense.
The kids murder some random dude in super slow-mo. It's amazing.
The unsuspecting residents of the resort take in the five kids. However, any mention of parents and the kids quiet down. Papa Doc continues to have a sweet name and get mad about everything. The kids sneak away and rig up the generator to kill Ralph, which it does, in superb fashion. Rick finds him and suspects foul play.
From there, it gets awesome. Though I would love to go into the details of the rest of the film, I believe it's probably best seen for yourself.
This is pretty damn awesome. Each character is distinctive and each kill is creative and funny. The music is hilarious "nursery-rhymey" and the acting is superbly messed up. This is one of those little gems that I would've never seen if Phantom Pain hadn't done such a great job putting it out.
Sister Hannah (Gail Smalle) was allegedly director Sean McGregor's underage girlfriend, and wore a red habit to hide her albinism
Lovely was played by Carolyn Stellar, Leif Garret's mother
Set Yourself Up:
Perfect for anytime, but if possible, the best watching experience is someday when you are inside by the fire and it's snowing outside.
I recommend wearing a habit, military gear or cross-dressing
Drink a "hundred dollar bottle of wine"
Big Time Pot Roast
If you have a chance, try to pick up a copy from Phantom Pain Films. The VHS comes in a very nice big box with excellent original artwork. Since he made such a limited number of copies, you may have a hard time, but visit www.phantompainfilms.com for any info.
It would be easy to write a review of Luigi Cozzi’s (credited in the U.S. as Lewis Coates) 1978 space opera Starcrash by merely creating a list of the joyfully absurd and fantastic moments that pepper its runtime. If a cowboy police robot, a constantly changing wardrobe of leather space bikinis, a giant Amazon robot with nipples, and a young, eye-shadowed David Hasselhoff can’t convince you that the film is worth your time, than I can only conclude that you’re an emotionless slug with a miserable life. However, there’s plenty more that can be said about the film than a simple highlights list.
When writing about Starcrash, it’s nearly impossible to not draw comparisons to Star Wars, though it’s a poor way to view the film. It was undoubtedly made to siphon from Lucas’ cash cow. Laser swords, quirky robot sidekicks, planet-sized super weapons, etc... all make an appearance, but much like Batman and the Joker in the Adam West series they end up serving as a sort of gateway into a more colorful, manic vision than the source material. If you approach this film from a hard nosed science fiction angle, it’s gleeful abandonment of physics and scientific reality will be nails screeching across your mental chalkboard. Instead, it’s best to focus on just how much goddamned fun it all is. And that’s really what Starcrash seems to be about. Forget a gloomy, grand confrontation between good and evil, this is about how much fun it is to fly around space battling robots and saving the galaxy.
Many Starcrash fans and reviewers have focused on one time Bond-girl and prolific horror film actor Caroline Munro’s lead performance as Stella Star, but for me the real treasure is her wily sidekick Akton, played by one of my personal heros (no joke), Marjoe Gortner. Gortner was raised by abusive parents who forced him into revivalist preaching at the tender age of 4. A couple dramatic decades and a crisis of conscience later, he opted to out himself as a fraudulent traveling evangelist in the brilliant, Oscar winning documentary, Marjoe. From there he turned to acting, bringing with him an infectious charisma gleaned from his years of crowd manipulating evangelistic performances. His character Akton possesses Jedi-like powers (and weaponry), but wields them with Han Solo’s roguish charm and a sense of fun loving wonder. Akton’s gleeful outbursts when shooting down enemy fighters and knowing smirk before revealing plot secrets give a sense of just how much fun Gortner is having.
And then there’s The Hoff. There’s an eerie prescience to how Starcrash builds the anticipation for Hasselhoff’s appearance. It’s as if it knew that the young actor would become the most widely recognized name in the credits (there’s a good argument to be made for Christopher Plummer in that race, though) and kept him hidden until the third act to tease the modern audience. But this is not your childhood’s Hasselhoff. Bulging pectorals and machoism are replaced by eye shadow and male-model femininity.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of Starcrash’s absurd appeal. The over dramatic villain Count Zarth Arn, the physically and logically absurd soldier-filled space torpedoes that crash through space station windows, the colorful star field that looks like an out of focus Lite Brite... There’s just too much fun to be had. Some think it’s a travesty when they learn that one of their friends has never seen Star Wars. Personally, I’m much more reactionary about Starcrash. I’ve watched a fair number of low-budget sci fi from all over film history, and there are very few that so consistently deliver so much campy fun and fantasy. Even as you speak it’s been taken care of.
Getting yourself in the mood:
Wear a collared, leather bikini if you have one. Knee length boots are a plus. If you have more than one, change every fifteen minutes or so.
Make yourself a colorful cocktail.
Listen to some Hasselhoff albums.
Watch a couple episodes of Baywatch and Knight Rider.
Ryan Nichols is a writer / filmmaker in Minneapolis, MN. He is a regular contributor to http://www.crocoduck.com/
This Monday I submit for your approval the box art for GOBLIN LIVE AT SHOCK STOCK. I picked it up at Cinema Wasteland in Cleveland.
This blu-ray is concert footage from a show Goblin played at Shock Stock in 2011. It looks and sounds really good for a low budget release. Unfortunately, all the yelling and whistling from the crowd can also be heard the whole time. But, I wouldn't let that dissuade you, if you have the chance to pick this up. The songs get longer versions than any of the recordings you could pick up, with the improvisations on Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) being a standout. The art itself is just a montage of projects that Gobln did soundtracks for and a funny little curved border. Put out by Vagrancy Video, they did a pretty nice job with the release. The fact that they did a limited Special Edition is great. That little gold sticker with the hand printed number is a nice touch. However, as you can see, the number is smudged out. Likewise, the blu-ray inside is just a burned disc and didn't work in my nice blu-ray player. It did work in my other one, though... -J. Moret
THE BURNING MOON
Directed By Olaf Ittenbach
1992/1997/1999 (I've seen all three. Seems like it was made in 1992)
DVD: Intervision Picture Corp.
I'm sort of a twisted bastard. I always tell myself that splatter flicks are not for me. Minutes later, I'll catch myself reading online debates about what the most disturbing and goriest film of all time is. Splatter as a sub-genre is an interesting phenomenon. These movies truly have so little to offer but gore. It's like going to McDonald's and only ordering four Cheeseburgers. No fries, sodas, or apple pies in sight. Just pure, gluttonous, meat and bread.
The BURNING MOON is firmly in realm of sick, morbid, demonic, meaty, crazy splatter flicks. Director, Writer, Producer, Star, and Special Effects Director Olaf Ittenbach seems like he's a pretty messed up dude and here's why:
The movie opens with Peter (Played by Ittenbach himself) on his way to a job interview. Peter is cool. He has a killer earring, drinks beer, and loves heroin. He asks the man interviewing if he has any beer. He then tells the guy to kiss his ass when he is not offered the position.
Then there is a gang fight. Not sure why. It's probably supposed to make Peter like even more misguided. . . or it's probably supposed to be a random and awesome gangfight. Either way, I'm ok with it. Lot's of fantastic face punching and blood spitting.
Peter comes home and tells his Mom to kiss his ass because she asks why he looks beat up. His parents go away and he is left alone with his kid sister.
Peter does some bomb heroin and then he sees this:
Sort of makes me want to try heroin.
So then he goes in to his sisters room and does this:
No. I could hear your earring jingling all the way in the basement.
Naturally, with the moon burning, it seems like a good time to share some bedtime sisters with your baby sister.
OUR FIRST BEDTIME STORY
JULIA'S LOVE is the story of. . . Julia and her trouble with dudes. She always seems to end up dating the strangest guys.
The story opens in a mental institution. Some stupid nurse takes Cliff Parker, a dude who killed almost 30 people, off his meds and places him in therapy. Cliff proceeds to cave in everyone's skulls and escapes. He's crazy because of this:
His Gramps chopped up his whole family.
The next scene we see Julia Parker come home. She proceeds to get ready for a big date with a cute boy. She seems like a happy girl. So happy that she must have missed the fact that her escort for the evening is maniac from the mental hospital.
The date is wonderful. They eat off of GIANT dinner plates and call Pepsi, Coke. What more could a girl possibly ask for? Just when Julia is thinking about fornicating with Cliff, she hears a report on the car radio about a psychopath who had stolen a red Volkswagen. Guess what? The plate number matches the car they're riding in. Julia skips out and hitches a ride with a passerby back to her house.
One thing though: she left her wallet in the Volkswagen. Whoops. She frigged up bigtime.
Cliff discovers Julia has left and sees her wallet on the passenger seat. Suddenly a hooker pounds on his window. He accepts her request for a "party." She get is in the car about is decapitated in about 15 seconds. Cliff sits at the traffic light while green for a bit, surveying his latest victim. A greasy dude with a mustache honks at him. So Cliff chucks the severed hooker head at the greasy man's fresh white whip.
We are then transported back to Julia's house. She says hello to her mother and father. She goes upstairs and meets her sister in the bathroom. They have a good laugh about how bonkers all the men she dates are. Meanwhile in the first floor Cliff arrives and severs their mother's fingers on the butter dish and her throat gets ripped open.
Toast? Dry please.
Julia's father meets a similar fate:
Are those "Transitions" lenses?
Julia leaves the bathroom and her sister proceeds to get ready to go out with Jake, a normal hunk. Cliff beats Julia's sister to death in a semi perverted/romantic sort of way. Then he does this:
Julia finally realizes she doesn't have her wallet and discovers the carnage. She battles with Cliff a bit and gets captured. Then cliff tells her this:
Julia stabs him with a scissors. She gets punched out of the window. Cliff is about knife her in the face. Then his head gets blown off by an off-screen gunman. Then we discover:
When the story ends, we are left with Julia in an ambulance. Her whole family is dead and she is scarred for life. She has now become a psycho. Is this supposed to make some sort of point about the transference of psychoses? Does that happen?
THE BACK HALF
There is a second story that Peter tells his sister. I am not going to cover it in depth here. I felt that spoiling the first story was less egregious than the second.
The second story is what the movie is truly famous for. It's quite mean, demonic, torture porny and makes even less sense than "Julia's Love." If you're curious about it, just pull a google search for BURNING MOON HELL SCENE. I'm sure you'll be able to see all the "best" parts.
After the second story, we go back to Peter and his Sister.
The movie's ending tries far too hard to be shocking. I won't spoil it, but if you think about a heroin addict that tells these types of stories to his seven year old sister, you could easily figure out what happens.
The movie is certainly not for me. It really goes to show that for a movie to be enjoyable, there needs to be some semblance of coherence in the plot. Things need to happen for a reason. I need to care about someone or something. In the first story, Cliff is crazy because his grandpa killed his family. This is really the only thing we know about any of the characters in the movie. I understand that this is a cheap, shot on video (SOV) splatterfest. But the serious and mean tone certain reduces any affection I may have for the films finer points.
With that being said, the technical details of this movie truly impress me. THE BURNING MOON is the most accomplished SOV horror movie I have ever seen. Ittenbach seemed to understand that just because video is cheap, didn't mean that he couldn't movie the camera or make a lot of cuts in a scene. Every kill in this movie is made up of several cuts. The camera twists, turns, and truthfully, makes some bold moves for a film of this ilk.
Watching this movie for a second time truly gave me an appreciation of the sort of effort that Ittenbach and his crew put into this. Very much a hallmark in the splatter genre, as well as the pantheon of SOV trash. Certainly a must see if you ever consider making a very low budget horror/gore movie.
Not to mention that the effects are top notch for a low budget flcik. Ittenbach does the effects himself, very impressive considering what he's working with. From gunshot wounds to decapitations to eviscerations it's all pretty great for the time period and for the budget.
I honestly couldn't recommend THE BURNING MOON to anyone. Unless I know you're a freak. You truly have to have a curiosity about movies like this (SOV, low budget horror, or Splatter Flicks/Torture Porn) in order to appreciate any of what happens in this movie. If you don't, I would steer far clear. It just doesn't offer enough of anything but gore.
I hope someone sends me an email saying, "YOU JUST DON'T GET THE POINT MAN. IT'S GORE MAN THAT'S WHY YOU WATCH IT BRA." I do get it, but I also get that I'm not really into the Ultra violent "Splatter" genre. On top of that, this isn't fun, funny, or even humorous in the slightest (aside from some minor bits such as the "Love Juice" part or the "I'm a cop" part). Aside from the technical attributes of the film, it's a mean movie with nothing in way of redeeming qualities.
I really didn't expect the technical details of a SOV feature to stand out as the best thing. But here it is. THE BURNING MOON.
The DVD is pretty wonderful. Intervision Picture Corp (A sub label of Severin Films) has released a few trashy discs (THINGS, SLEDGEHAMMER, Several Jess Franco pictures). Surprisingly, their discs are not bare bones releases.
THE BURNING MOON includes a "making of " featurette. This is the only feature on the disc. It's about 50 minutes in length and offers insights directly from Ittenbach during the production of the film. It's a pretty remarkable piece.
I would have liked an audio commentary (from who? I don't know) on the disc but the featurette is more than sufficient to make the DVD worth purchasing should the movie interest you.
SET YOURSELF UP
- German Bier
- Bananas Foster or Cherries Jubilee. . . or any other food or drink you can set on fire.
Slice your wrists and bleed all over the place. . . That, or you could order a pizza.
Directed by John Cassavetes
141 mins. Color.
Big Box VHS from MGM/UA Home Video
The 1970s was a golden age for American Cinema. John Cassavetes should stand up next to Robert Altman as one of the reasons that is so. Unfortunately, he is too often over-looked by the likes of Spielberg, Coppola and Scorsese. He is in every way their equal, but chose to work in decidedly unmarketable territory... reality. Love Streams was made in 1984, but comes directly out of that 1970s tradition of character driven story-telling.
Cassavetes was famously generous. He often worked with a small group of performers and friends. His wife, Gena Rowlands, was a brilliant actress that often led the troupe both on and off camera. They were known to work in their home, often cooking themselves for the cast and crew. Some of them would live with the couple in hard times. Cassavetes acted regularly in mediocre (and some brilliant, ie: Rosemary's Baby) films to fund his small budget, completely independent directorial efforts.
His films range from jazz surrealism (Shadows) to reflexive stage drama (Opening Night). They are about social structures, family, love and the quiet moments we each have in our solitude. And, every one of them is infused with compassion and humor. He pulls the best possible performance out of every actor. As a viewer, you almost feel as if you know each and every character. You also feel as though you are watching a very rare performance. The only other experience I can compare it to is P.T. Anderson's ability to draw out Daniel Day Lewis in There Will be Blood or Joaquin Phoenix in The Master.
Unfortunately, this film isn't available on DVD in the States. That's absolutely ridiculous. I really don't get it. How is it that Caddyshack gets like 7 releases and this languishes in a dying format? So, you either need to be willing to shell out some cash for a region-free DVD player or get it on VHS.
In the vein of Cassavetes' A Woman Under the Influence, Love Streams is about mental illness and those who love the mentally ill.
Cassavetes plays Robert Harmon, a wealthy philandering writer who has no real commitments of any kind. We see him in bed with two women as a third answers his door. His life is made up of constantly feeding hedonistic inclinations.
Gena Rowlands plays Robert's sister, Sarah, and is mentally ill. She is currently going through a divorce with her husband Jack (Cassavetes regular, Seymour Cassel), who has been unfaithful. Her daughter chooses to live with Jack, and Sarah is completely destroyed.
It is a true vision of illness. A film like Silver Linings Playbook is a sweet-natured little film, but it is in the end just a romantic comedy with lovable characters. Robert and Sarah, on the other hand are not stuck in a formula. We have no idea how their journey will end. Ultimately, they are both mad and have so little to rely on, outside of their love for one another. Sarah begins with a declaration and by the end the sentence turns to a question.
"Is love a continuous stream? Does it stop?"
The BFI put this film as one of the top 250 films of all time (no. 231 to be exact), and it absolutely deserves it. In reality, I think a number of his films deserve to be on that list. (Faces being my favorite).
This film is two and a half hours of living with very flawed, real people. It is, at times, excruciating. Such as the scene in the backyard of Jack's house where Sarah tries desperately to make her husband and daughter laugh, and instead they stare blankly, without mercy. Rowlands is so in tune with her character that I began to see her as Sarah by the end.
Cassavetes performance is a tour de force of hard emotional avoidance. However, his performance is also funny and compassionate. At one moment, he turns to his son that he hasn't seen since his birth (while giving him beer for breakfast) and explains, "I don't like men. I don't make any money on them. They're not interesting to me. Someday, when you're 14, go hitch-hike across the country and see real men. Not the ones here in suits. See what they're really like." A few moments later, he leans back and says, "I don't like women anyway, you know. I like kids and old people. They don't need anything. They're innocent."
Matt and I had a conversation a little while ago about how we feel about comedies. For the most part, they fail because you don't care about the story or what happens to any of the characters, you just wait for the next punch line. The better option seems to be to make a drama or action film or whatever and add comedy. This film is the perfect example of that. The funny moments are so funny, simply because you are so invested. In fact, the physical comedy here is far funnier than anything in a Woody Allen comedy.
Beer for breakfast
Get yourself ready for 1980s decadence:
Champagne, beer, wine, etc...
Wear a sport jacket and an open button-down shirt underneath
Have your pets near, especially if you have a dog. Maybe buy a goat.
Since the VHS is your only option it is, well, your only option. It comes in an attractive big box and puts you squarely in the 1980s, so that's positive.
Directed by Tim Kincaid
75 min. Color.
VHS, Wizard Video
On the cover of the tape it says this film was too gory for the silver screen. I doubt that. I think it was just too stupid / awesome and was never intended to be a theatrical release. Back in the wonderful days when you could just shoot a film and put it in video stores.
Apparently cyborgs are bad news, even though they are just guys who have flat tops and wear sunglasses all the time. They're apparently also mutants. There is lots of exposition about a drug called euphoron, introducing mutations, cyborgs who are just killing for the pleasure of killing, (tearing off heads, choking out suckers, throwing out windows, power-lifting etc...)...
The real villains are corporate stooges who dangerously introduced euphoron into cyborgs, and now they've gone haywire.
There is a bounty-hunter / go-go dancer that is in love with Riker, a dude that wears sweet underwear and has rusty machetes, shotguns and crossbows on the walls of his apartment. He gets a bomb placed in his head (my favorite plot technique in any movie), and gets it out two minutes later. Cyborgs kill a bunch of people. Riker's friend Johnny Felix has a killer mullet that's super greasy and he spin-kicks cyborgs.
Did I mention that the cyborgs can stretch their arms? Yep. Apparently they can stretch their arms like Inspector Gadget.
All this gets started when a hot doctor is in peril and goes to Riker for help.
In a later sequence a cyborg is half-robot and the effects are actually pretty impressive. However, I have no idea how he got into that scene. He explains a bunch of stuff to the doctor about how she's needed and then carries her off.
Johnny Felix pounds on a bunch of street toughs with the help of Riker. A corporate stooge explains that euphoron mutates cyborgs. But, really you don't care about any of that.
There is also a weird character who is a euphoron junkie that is attracted to cyborgs and really has no place being in this film. As an aside, there is a five minute scene where she unwraps a new(?) kind of cyborg and just keeps rubbing the bandages (I think they're bandages).
The cyborgs also melt or something. I don't know what's happening there.
What's really fun about this movie is the absolutely incomprehensible film-making. The editing and dialogue make it clear that there was no real plan. Kincaid probably got some funding for a title and just started shooting. A few days later, the effects crew probably came up with that sweet half-robot and then they just decided to wing it. Overly complicated plot developments, under-developed characters, and stupid awesome music make this incredibly enjoyable to watch, however.
Set Yourself Up:
If you have real friends, they will want to watch this with you. Explain that a character named Riker fights a melting cyborg.
Pizza Hut. The melting cyborgs totally look like Pizza the Hut from Spaceballs. I think the Big Box is definitely the way to go.
The VHS will do the trick, but it looks like Full Moon's Grindhouse label has re-released it on DVD as well.
- J. Moret
I will leave you with the Amazon description:
When New York is besieged by mutant cyborgs with an insatiable lust for ripping human beings apart, it's dedicated mutant hunter Matt Riker to the speedy rescue! A diabolical scientist, ""Z"" has injected these mechanical zombies with a sexual narcotic that induces a thirst for killing. All over Manhattan, the robotic Romeos begin loving 'em (THIS NEVER HAPPENS IN THE MOVIE) and leaving 'em...dead. With two trusty mutant-hunting pals, Riker descends into the dark tunnels beneath the city to find Z's secret lab. Riker attacks the with revolutionary lasers! The mutants are clamoring for more of the demonic drug! How are Z's plans going for world domination? Not so hot. It's a terrifying fight to the finish as you'll discover when you scavenge for danger on the MUTANT HUNT.
Daimajin is not your typical Kaiju film. If you are hoping to see a giant monster stomp through villages crushing people for 84 minutes you are going to be sorely, sorely disappointed. That being said, I loved it. It was dark, beautiful, shocking, and at many times: truly frightening.
From the opening credits I thought this movie was spooky. It opens with thunder and lightning which fades into flames as the credits roll. All it needed was just a super creepy floating eye to cap it off and freak me out. Oh wait… It’s got that too. The actual movie opens on a mountain village, where a lovely Japanese family just put their baby to sleep and are hanging out when out of nowhere the earth rumbles. They suspect it is the work of the Maijin of the mountain. The baby screaming and the look of sheer terror on the parents’ faces actually made me tense up. They all run out of the house as the entire village gathers to pray to the Daimajin so that he may calm down. This short scene really stuck with me. When I started watching this movie I was not suspecting that it would have that horror element to it. While I understand why the original Gojira can be scary at times Kaiju films never struck me as being creepy. Even the sets were something out of a Hammer film. But this just set the tone of impending doom to all that go against the Daimajin.
We are quickly introduced to Lord Hanabusa, the Lord of the mountain village and his children, Kozasa and Tadafumi as they observe all of this commotion. In the meantime, Lord Hanabusa’s Chamberlain Samanosuke plansto murder the Hanabusas and take control over the land. He attacks killing the Lord but Kozasa and Tadafumi manage to escape with the help of a samurai named Kogenta and travel up to the mountain that is the home of Daimajin. They meet the local priestess, Shinobu and they are escorted up the forbidden mountain to live in the caves next to a statue of Daimajin. The film then transforms into a pretty decent Jidaigeki film. In case you don’t know what that is, Jidaigeki literally stands for “period dramas”. They are mostly set during the feudal era(Edo period) and usually focuses on samurai. Think Akira Kurosawa and you’ll know what I mean.
Ten years pass. The village is miserable. They have all been forced into some kind of slave labor by Samanosuke. Tadafumi turns 18 and finally decides that it is time that he tries to retake his rightful place asLord of the mountain village. If you’ve seen other Jidaigeki, you’d expect them to go out and maybe find 7 or 8 samurai to help them or maybe go strike a deal with a different Lord to help them and unite their lands or something to that effect but this is a KAIJU Jidaigeki. That shit does not happen in this film. Foolishness takes over and eventually both Tadafumi and Kogenta are captured and are to be executed publicly. The priestess, Shinobu, hears about this and goes to Samanosuke to plead for the lives of the two men. He listens to her begfor the lives of the two men and she warns him that he will bring the wrath of Daimajin upon him and his men, but he’s an asshole. He doesn’t give a shit about her or her mountain god. So what does he do? He gouges out her eyes with a hot poker and then strikes her down. With her dying breath she whispers that Daimajin will come for him. After hearing this he orders his men to travel upthe mountain and destroy the statue. On the way up the mountain, the men get lost but run into Kozasa and force her to show them where Daimajin is.
Now, up until this point the movie can be real hit or miss for people. It definitely has a strong opening scene and the ending which I will describe in detail later is spectacular but everything in the middle can be pretty slow if you don’t like or haven’t seen a lot of samurai movies. I very much enjoy samurai movies so I thought it was decent. Nothing to write home about but tolerable none the less. I do however feel that it completely necessary to have this slower paced middle section because it really makes the last twenty minutes that much more exciting and jarring. Without this type of middle story, the film would have just fallen flat in my opinion.
This is where things get really awesome. The men try to destroy the statue with large hammers unsuccessfully. The move on and try to hammer a large spike into his forehead. As soon as they get it in about halfway blood starts to drip from the wound and all hell breaks loose. The sky immediately turns black and gusts of wind blow the men over. Fearing for their lives, they run away. The earth then cracks open and swallows them whole as they scream for mercy. This scene is BRUTAL and 100% awesome. The lighting is otherworldly and the instant change in tone is jarring. It is a complete shift from the rest of the movie and it made me feel similar confusion and fear to what Samanosuke’s men must have been experiencing. It’s a fantastic scene and the build up to it felt right.
Afterwards, the sky clears and everything returns to normal like nothing had happened. Kozasa, fearing for the lives of her brother and herprotector pleads to Daimajin to help saves them and to stop the evil Samanosuke. She offers up her life in exchange for that but before she throws herself off a waterfall Daimajin awakens. The statue stands up and the maskover his face disappears to reveal a truly hideous and frightening face. I mean, Daimajin is freaky to me. First off, he’s not a giant. He’s maybe 20-25feet tall. He’s not going to tip of a skyscraper but the scale of Daimajin works. He doesn’t need to be as big as Godzilla but at the same time that is unnerving to me because of that fact. Secondly, I think he’s super freaky because you can see the actor under the costume’s real human eyeballs unlike Godzilla or any other major Kaiju monster. It’s the same feeling I get when I watch the original King Kong. You can see his eyes and you get more of a sense that he is real. Godzilla, Mothra, Gamara; they all are just creatures with lifeless eyes. He then heads down to the mountain village and immediately starts destroying everything in his path. He frees the two men and proceeds to hunt down Samanosuke. When he finds him, he holds him against a wall and then slowly pulls out the stake that has been bored into his skull and like the bad-ass he is, slams the stake into Samanosuke’s chest essentially nailing him to the wall. Again, BRUTAL AS FUCK. Daimajin, still not satisfied, turns on the people of the village and starts attacking them as well. It isn’t until Kozasa tries to sacrifice herself to save a child that daimajin stops. He looks at Kozasa and in an absolutely amazing show of special effects his spirit leaves the statue and the statue crumbles to dust. Seriously, this movie has jaw dropping special effects for the time that it came out in. I also really enjoyed the fact that the portrayal of Daimajin wasn't that of a savior but of a spirit. By that I mean he was capable of both good and evil. There is a cost to summoning a powerful spirit and when he starts attacking the villagers that worship him and awakened him, it is all so evident.
The music of the film was also top notch. Scored by Akira Ifukube, who also did the original Gojira and several of the sequels, it really added to the overall impending doom tone of the film. It had a sense of familiarity yet was different and darker. The final sequence when Daimajin awakens the score is big, bombastic and terrifying.
Daimajin is an outsider when it comes to Kaiju films. It’s not well known at all and I mean the monster doesn’t even appear until the last 20 minutes of the movie! It can be slow if you are not a fan of Jidaigeki but if you stick with it, it has a brutal, terrifying, and totally satisfying payoff. It has quickly shot up on my list of favorite Kaiju films and I feel like fans of this genre should give it the attention it deserves. It spawned two sequels which are also great in their own ways but the initial shock of the first movie just could not be replicated.
Set Yourself Up:
I’d watch it alone, at night and in the dark with the sound cranked. Get ready to get freaked out. Because of the slow pace of the film I would recommend some hot sake or a red wine. If you’re looking to eat during the movie then maybe some chicken teriyaki served on white rice.
The Mill Creek Blu-ray is GORGEOUS! The transfer that they did is spectacular. The set comes with the second and third movie. As for special features, they supplied the original trailers for each film then they have interviews done with the camera man for each of the movies. The interviews are really boring so I suggest skipping them.
Reinert is a horror / exploitation film geek extraordinaire in Minneapolis, MN
and friend of the site