Uncut DVD by BCI/Eclipse (apart of the Sister Street Fighter Collection)
Sister Street Fighter has nothing to do the the video game Street Fighter and almost nothing to do with it’s namesake the Sonny Chiba karate masterpiece, The Street Fighter but is just as awesome as both of them. In case you are unfamiliar with The Street Fighter, it starred Sonny Chiba in the titular role, as an anti-hero mercenary who kicked ass and gave zero shits about right and wrong. Both The Street Fighter and Sister Street Fighter were made in the same year, both had Sonny Chiba in them (he plays a different character altogether in SSF) and both kicked major ass, so the studio decided to name the film Sister Street Fighter to capitalize on The Street Fighter’s popularity.
The movie starts off with a super sweet, psychedelic opening montage of the main character, Tina Long (or Koryu in the Japanese version but for this review I’m going to refer to her as Tina) showing off a bunch of her killer karate moves. This lets the viewer know that she kicks fuckin’ ass. Tina is played by the wonderful Sue Shiomi who went on to play this character three more times and starred in other various movies alongside Sonny Chiba. As far as the plot goes, Tina’s brother, Lee is an undercover cop trying to bust a drug ring that is importing heroin via wigs. Yeah, you read that right. Heroin hidden in wigs. Her brother blows it and is caught by the drug lord, Ryozo who uses him as a guinea pig for different concoctions of heroin and other drugs he mixes up. Tina vows to save her brother and stop this drug ring and to do so, she enlists the help of the Shorinji Kempo student Sonny Hibachi (Sonny Chiba) and a female student named Emmy Kawasaki in her quest. Side note: the Shorinji Kempo school’s logo happens to be a swastika but it’s not like the asshole nazi type swastika, it’’s more like the peace loving swastika so it’s ok. All sorts of crazy shit happens after this. An informant who was forcibly addicted to heroin gets a poison dart to the chest, men in umbrella hats attack the Shorinji Kempo school, people fall through traps doors and fall off bridges, there’s some fucking ballet that happens, there’s a priest who shoots a nail gun and the craziest karate screams I have ever heard in any karate movie. If that doesn’t make you want to watch this movie then you, sir or madam, are weird.
Umbrella Head Gang
You know in James Bond movies how the main villain seems to always collect or have an interest in crazy things like sharks or weird guns? Well, the villain in this flick collects various deadly martial artists from around the world. He basically has a harem of ruthless killers who are practicing poolside all day, everyday. “It’s my only hobby, one might say. I don’t like race horses so I keep killers!” There’s a guy who’s really good with nunchucks, a guy who‘s got a sickle on a God damn chain that he whips around, one guy has Tonfas (they are basically batons), there’s a South American Female Karate Champion, a dude with a set of Sai (Raphael's weapons from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and seven chicks who are good at Thai Kickboxing called the Amazon Seven. These chicks for whatever reason wear caveman clothes ala Fred Flintstone and it is hilarious. All of these master killers get their asses handed to them by Tina throughout the film so maybe he should have collected machine guns or something a bit more effective at killing.
This guy is fucked
My favorite part of this movie is that everytime someone uses a weapon or a different fighting style, they say the name of the fighter/weapon/fighting style in giant letters that take up the entire screen. It’s like watching a video game. In fact this whole movie plays out like a super sweet video game. Tina and her friends take on each of the killers in the same way a fighting game plays out. Each one has a “stage” and each one has an opening taunt much like Street Fighter (the video game) or Soul Calibur (also a video game). The boss fight… err… last battle of the movie is, of course, with Ryozo who uses a three pronged claw on one hand as his weapon ala Vega from the Street Fighter video game on a cliff above the ocean. It’s pretty epic.
Round One - FIGHT!
Sister Street Fighter’s badassery knows no bounds and is one of the greatest karate movies ever made. The fights are spectacularly choreographed and are totally brutal. While the story plays out much like a Bruce Lee movie, which is to say it’s only there to provide fight sequences, it flows well and is fully entertaining. The cinematography is actually very interesting and ambitious for a martial arts film. This film kicks major ass and deserves more credit than it gets.
Set Yourself Up:
This movie is best paired with a plate of Spicy Yellowtail Maki and a couple bottles of Kirin Ichiban
BCI/Eclipse did a really great job with the Sister Street Fighter Collection box set. The set includes all four movies beautifully restored with the Japanese audio with English subtitles for all of the movies and the option of the English dub for the first film. Sister Street Fighter has been restored to its original cut which was garnered with an X rating when first released. The only special feature on any of the discs are the original theatrical trailers. The box comes a booklet that would rival most booklets found in Criterion releases. It’s filled with essays, interviews and rare photos. Since Sister Street Fighter is now a public domain movie you can find tons of cheap, random releases most anywhere. You can also find it on youtube but I highly recommend that you add the Sister Street Fighter Collection box set to your collection. It is one of the only places where you can find the uncut version of the first film along with the other three films in one nice package.
This week, I interview Peter Schilling, Jr. Peter is the author of The End of Baseball, a great short story called "16mm Blues" in the most recent version of Twin Cities Noir that involves the Trylon, numerous articles for The Rake, and a soon to be worked on piece about Mark Twain. Peter is also a projectionist / programmer at the Trylon, one of the hosts of the weekly radio program, Cinema Shanty and the manager of my softball team. Dude is bomb and we talk.
You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, or you can listen here:
JOSH AND S.A.M.
Director: Billy Weber
New Line Cinema VHS
Josh and S.A.M. is like no other kid's movie ever made. The back of the box notes "Home Alone meets Thelma and Louise in this fun filled comedy." Marketing comparisons are always stupid. If I was to write the box quote for this movie, it would read: "Goonies and Terminator meets Badlands in this comedic drama."
Directed by Billy Weber, editor of several Terrence Malick films as well as Top Gun and the good Beverly Hills Cop movies. This was Weber's directorial debut. It is also his final credit as a director. Most unfortunate.
Josh is a 12 year 85 pound nerd with a chip on his shoulder. His brother Sam is the most intense, athletic, 8 year old on the planet. They live with their single mother. The brothers head off to spend the final days of summer with their Dad in Florida. While there, Josh and Sam learn their mother is about to marry a French Accountant and move to France for a year. Rather than be trapped with his jock Step-Brother's a pushy dick of a father, the persuasive and brilliant Josh comes up with a plan to break away.
Josh, S.A.M. and Liberty.
They head back home to see their Mom before her nuptials to the stereotypical french assnut. Their plane lands in Dallas due to bad weather conditions.
Josh Convinces Sam that his is a Cyborg that has been recently activated to fight in a secret war in Africa. Josh tells Sam that the only way to avoid being sold to the Pentagon is to head to Canada where they Government will not be able to find him. When Sam learns that his name is an acronym for Strategically Altered Mutant, He now understands why he's different. He is a killing machine.
In their hotel in Dallas, Josh attempts to make his exit through a High School Reunion party. He grabs a name tag of a woman that Derek Baxter (a drunken redneck played by Chris Penn) had a fling with. Baxter thinks Josh is his son and takes Josh and Sam to the woman's parents house, Josh tells him he isn't his son and he goes berserk. Sam pops Baxter in the head with a billiard ball and Josh cracks his skull with a pool cue.
Josh believes he killed Drunken Derek. They steal his rented Pontiac and head for Canada to avoid going to war, and also to avoid the gas chamber. Josh makes up a story about a White Harriet Tubman that looks like a juicebox mascot and sneaks child Cyborgs over the northern border called the Liberty Maid and how he hopes to meet up with her. Sam believes with her expertise, they'll make it. Little does Josh know that The Liberty Maid shows up. Teenage runaway Alison (Martha Plimpton), meets the description and goes along with the story, so she can use the sweet stolen 1993 Pontiac Grand Prix to get where she needs to go.
Josh and S.A.M. is a rare breed of Kids movie that does not insult it's audience. The story is bizarre, but never goes too far that these things couldn't happen. It's rare that a movie such as this develops interesting and likeable characters. For as much of a wiener Josh can be, he does what he has to do to survive in a world where he is out matched physically with his cunning and ability to coerce others. This is not the type of film that's a laugh a second. I wouldn't even necessarily call this film a comedy.
While the film is certainly funny, the meat of the film is the story of feeling alienated for one reason or another. The young characters form a bond that stems from their anger at the world. For a film targeted at kids and young teens, there are many relatable themes and . . . I can't believe I'm saying this. . . Lessons that can be taken from the film.
Why this film never found an audience is confusing to me. To put this film's failure in to perspective:
Box Office Gross: $1,528,163
It's very well made. It's fun and it's paced in such a manner where I never feel like walking away. Comparing this film to Home Alone was a mistake. While I very much (still) enjoy Home Alone, Josh and S.A.M. was a film for kids that read books, watched grown-up movies, or felt alienated, bullied, or different. My comparisons to Badlands and Goonies is much more accurate. It's thoughtful and lovable. . . but total madness.
As far as I can tell, Josh and S.A.M. has never been released on Region 1 DVD. The VHS can easily be had for under $5, so it's no big deal. It can also be viewed on Youtube for free.
Who the fuck is that Jabroni? . . .
I will leave you with a brilliant exchange between Sam and his Step-Brothers Curtis and Leon that occurs at the end of the film:
Curtis: Did Josh really kill a guy? Sam: Dad is trying to cover for him, but I saw him. He beat him over the head with a pool stick he was so mad. Leon: What was he so mad about? Sam: The guy called him a homo.
Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith & Yu Wang
111 minutes of pure insanity, in bright technicolor
Co-production of Golden Harvest and The Australian Film Development Corporation
My copy: A Bootleg DVD from Trash Palace
The combination of Golden Harvest and Brian Trenchard-Smith couldn't be sweeter. The complete lack of inhibition present in all of Trenchard-Smith's films gels perfectly with the action elements of Hong Kong cinema in the 1970s.
Obviously inspired by James Bond, it makes for something so much more complicated. Where Bond is a misogynist and imperialist, Inspector Fang (played so non-chalantly by Yu Wang) must deal with the racism of Australia (" I didn't meet a Chinese yet that didn't have a yellow streak") and the bureaucracy of Hong Kong, which was still controlled by the United Kingdom.
At the same time, there is a very present Bruce Lee vibe. The track suit Yu Wang wears when he goes on the offensive against the gang looks strikingly familar to Lee's suit from Game of Death, but it's blue instead of yellow. Likewise, the fight in the training facility is very reminiscent of the awesome fight in Chinese Connection. This is definitely not to be a criticism, but instead to express the way this movie "feels."
Of course, all this is sub-text and on it's face, it's just a killer kung fu action film. And, at that, it excels.
Ozploitation films in the 1970s were notoriously dangerous productions for the cast and crew. This one was especially so. During the opening chase scene a car rolls over and explodes. The door blew off the car and came within a few feet of the camera, almost killing Trencard-Smith and the cameraman. George Lazenby was burned during the final sequence, when he couldn't get his flaming jacket off. Yu Wang crashed the hang-glider into some rocks on Sydney harbor and fell 100 feet, causing him to be knocked unconscious and missing from the set for a few days. Two stuntmen were injured in a car crash and a sound recordist broke his ankle. Brian Trenchard-Smith almost lost his vision when he was sprayed in the eyes with chemical spray.
But, the film was finished, and it's great.
The film opens with "Sky-high" by Jigsaw, and is perfect.
So, Sammo Hung gets off a bus to meet a really scummy looking tool who has a sweet vinyl bag. Well, George Lazenby doesn't like these two exchanging luggage, so he points his gun at them and tells them to freeze. Sammo runs away and then tosses a big rock at Lazenby. Meanwhile, scummy is shooting at a helicopter with a little pistol. Commence sweet fight on top of a cliff. Apparently Sammo is a wanted criminal in Hong Kong.
Inspector Fang meets up with a reporter (Rosalind Spiers) from Sydney who accidentally flies her hang-glider into the police station. Obviously they roll in the hay, and then Fang heads off to Sydney. Apparently during shooting, Yu Wang made it clear that he disliked Rosalind Spiers and Australia in general. So, that love scene was probably really fun to shoot.
Once Fang arrives, he dominates Sammo in jail and forces him to talk. He then prepares him for extradition to Hong Kong, but Sammo is killed by a sniper. Awesome foot chase scene followed by awesome jump kick off a dirt bike followed by awesome fight in a restaurant's kitchen ensues.
We then head to Cobra Kai headquarters and watch henchmen get the crap kicked out of them.
More sweetness happens: Machete fight at Inspector Fang's hotel room. Exercise on a cliff at dawn. Fist fight at cocktail party. Free-climb up five stories on a sewage pipe while wearing sweet Adidas track suit. Convalescing in a veterinarian clinic with five young hot ladies. Horse-back riding while falling in love. Revenge!
Get you Ready:
Buy an Adidas track suit. Why don't you already own one?
Barbecue up some shrimp in a ginger soy sauce glaze, serve over rice
Enjoy with friends.
The Trash Palace bootleg is pretty great quality. Like most, it's taken from a VHS. But, your other options only include some Region 3 DVDs that will run you around $30.00. Obviously, you get no special features, but the feature itself is special enough.
Godfrey Ho is either a mad genius or a total A-hole - I just can’t figure out which. Godfrey Ho was born Chi Keung Ho somewhere in Hong Kong in 1948. He started his film career as the assistant director to the brilliant Chang Cheh at the Shaw Brothers Studios under the name God Ho. He also managed to work alongside a young John Woo. It was during this time he met his future business partner Joseph Lai. The story goes that Joseph’s dad bought a failed production company called ASSO Asia Film in 1979 and then put his son in charge. Ho, being a total D, decided that he wanted the company, married Joseph’s sister and muscled his way into becoming a partner. It was there that he supposedly found a store room filled with finished and unfinished films from all over Asia. So what’s a guy like Ho supposed to do with all these half made movies? Well hire American actors, dress them like ninjas and finish the films of course! He would film various scenes, cut them into the films that he found and dub over all the audio to try and make a complete story for each one. The crazy thing is that he purportedly denies having done this. Godfrey Ho has 123 directing credits to his name on IMDB with his last movie being released in 2000 when he retired. My guess is that he ran out of unfinished movies in the store room. He did in fact fully direct a few for Shaw Bros but I would not trust any of the credited films after 1979. He also had a ridiculous amount of aliases since he had to fill in the credits for each movie. Some of the better ones are: Benny Ho, York Lam, Ed Woo, Felix Tong and my favorite Kurt Spielberg. In order to appeal to the overseas market he added Ninja to the title of almost every movie he released. Ninja Terminator, Bionic Ninja, Ninja Destroyer, Ninja Project Daredevils to name a few.
This all brings me to the Thunder Ninja Kids Series. This is a series of action adventure movies that are supposedly for kids but OH BOY, they are completely not for kids. As far as I can tell there are five movies in the series: Thunder Ninja Kids: Wonderful Mission, Thunder Ninja Kids in the Golden Adventure, Thunder Ninja Kids: The Hunt for the Devil Boxer, Thunder Ninja Kids: Little Kickboxer and Thunder Ninja Kids: Robo Kid. The order you watch them in does not matter in the slightest as none of them share the same characters, have the same setting or are even in the same historical time frame. Hell, the Thunder Ninja Kids are only in ONE of the movies yet the four others still have Thunder Ninja Kids in the goddamn title! I was able to find four out of the five Thunder Ninja Kids movies on ebay for super cheap, Robo Kid being the only one I can’t seem to find anywhere. I’m not even sure it exists. So let’s start off with what looks to be the first movie released: Wonderful Mission.
Thunder Ninja Kids
The first thing I noticed with Wonderful Mission is that the title in the movie is Thunder Kids 2: Wonderful Mission. Confused? So was I, but don’t fret, I have scoured the internet and I can’t find any trace of there being a Thunder Kids 1 (please refer back to the first sentence of this review). The movie’s plot is a bit jumbled to say the least; mostly due to the inclusion of the scenes filmed by Godfrey Ho. The movie starts off in ancient, rural China with a bunch of white guys, dressed as “ninjas” wearing padded helmets from the 80’s, who are practicing their sweet moves when their master tells them that an ancient golden Buddha has been stolen by a rival clan. There are two groups looking for the Buddha. One group led by “Cruel Killer” Keith (a rural Chinese name for sure) wants it cause he’s greedy. The other group is a black ninja clan (while they may look badass, they are definitely NOT ninjas) led by “Top Tech Ninja” Lee who wants it for spiritual reasons. Let’s just pause right here for a second. What the hell is a “Top Tech Ninja”? I’ve seen hundreds of ninja movies and I’ve never heard of a “Top Tech Ninja”. No wait, he’s probably really good at computers. Moving on. The white ninjas are tasked in retrieving this golden Buddha cause… I dunno… their master says so. While that is happening, the world’s most annoying child, named Danny, wanders about and eventually bumps into the random groups of ninjas. He meets a Lord and his daughter, the Princess, and decides to squat at their place for a while. As it turns out the Lord is the one in possession of the Golden Buddha and all hell breaks loose. Also, Danny is friends with two kids that have super powers called the Thunder Ninja Kids. The Thunder Ninja Kids don’t seem to have ever met each other even though they both go by the name Thunder Ninja Kid and wear the same clothes, only one is black and the other is white. Honestly, not a whole lot makes sense in this movie due to the fact that Godfrey Ho spliced two movies together creating a video version of Frankenstein’s Monster. The climax of the film has the Thunder Ninja Kids and Danny teaming up to fight Lee and Keith. After that is done, the most random scene involving the white ninjas occurs and it is glorious. I don’t want to give away what happens but man is it abrupt and awesome.
These guys are totally ninjas
What’s fantastic about Ho is that he’s a pretty decent Martial Arts film director. The scenes that he clearly filmed are fast paced and well choreographed. It’s a shame he has no idea what a “plot” is or how “dialogue” works but HELL! Who the fuck cares when there are ninjas involved?! Another great thing about this flick is that you can tell that Ho decided AFTER the dubbing process that he wanted to market this movie towards kids even though the ninja scenes are violent, showing a bunch of stabbings and blood. Ho cut out all of the swear words from these scenes. Every time one of the ninjas is about to swear the audio drops out leaving dead silence. At first I thought it was just a problem with the poor quality of the film but NOPE! He straight up cut out all of the audio every time a ninja says “Fuck” (even though he wrote all of the dialogue).
This flick is ridiculous in every way, but it’s something to be experienced if you are interested in film as an artistic medium. Godfrey Ho’s movies are like a film collage that only sort of make sense. I’m not sure if there is anything quite like his movies out there. I don’t want to give him too much credit because his movies are terrible (in the best possible way) but, he is, to me, a bit of a pioneer in his own way. I don’t think there will ever be a director like him… mostly because no one is ever going to stumble upon a shit load of unfinished films in the back of a failed studio like he did. Wonderful Mission is a solid first (?) entry in the Thunder Ninja Kids series. It’s dumb and fun and to be honest I probably would not have had the patience to enjoy this as a kid but now as an adult I find it great.
Set Yourself Up:
Go to Amazon and buy some red Karate head gear, ninja swords and some white sheets to cut up and make into ninja costumes for you and your buddies.
Get jacked up on Mountain Dew and Doritos
Go outside and chop off all the little branches from the tree in the backyard, then take everything you don’t care about and chop that shit in half with your kickass ninja swords.
Eden Entertainment spared no expense on this thing. Literally, no expense was spent on this thing whatsoever. There isn’t even a menu for the disc. It just plays and when it’s done it ends. There isn’t even any trailers. It's available for around 5 bucks on eBay but if you don't want to spend that kind of cash it's free to watch on youtube.
This week, I interview Nikki Weispfenning. Nikki is the projectionist at the Trylon Microcinema in Minneapolis, MN. Her experience working around and with film over the past twenty years has made her one of the most interesting and knowledgable people in our little Minneapolis community. Her perfect presentation and painstaking attention to detail continues to make viewing films at the Trylon a pleasure. Our conversation veers from North Dakota to a geek out on projection to movie theaters in general.
Collecting Physical Media is a dying hobby. Digital Media is becoming more overwhelming and prevalent all the time. Streaming services offer what seems to be an unlimited amount of titles. However, services like Netflix and Hulu are actually far more limited and temporary. So, in our hunt to find interesting titles that can only be obtained physically, I offer you FINAL IMPACT.
"Former World Kickboxing champion Nick Taylor (Lorenzo Lamas - Falcon Crest, Night of the Warrior) sees in young Danny Davis (Mike Worth - Teen Wolf Too - Back to School) something he's never seen before - a fighter who can beat reigning champ, Jake Gerard (Jeff Langton - Rocky 5, Die Hard 2, Lion Heart). Nick agrees to train Danny because he wants to avenge the merciless beating he suffered at the hands of the sadistic Gerard three years earlier. In a bloody ring in Las Vegas, the past and future collide. For one man it will be... the FINAL IMPACT."
On the front you've got a shirtless Lorenzo Lamas looking pretty confused and blinged out. A faintly lit boxing ring in the background and a very unspecific and rather misleading quote from Minnie Madden at Hollywood Alert, "Kick Boxing Action with Heart and Soul."
Really, though, the only reason I picked up this film from a little video game / video place in the burbs is because of that logo near the bottom. PM Home Video. And, directed by Joseph Merhi (the M in PM) no less. Also, how awesome is Jeff Langton? He manages to come in to series to only be in the worst ones? Perfect timing, Langton.
The back is pretty stellar. Four completely out of place pictures are badly cropped and laid on top of one another. A strangely out of focus Lamas is next to a dude in a tank top with a board in front of a trash can that is on fire? Mike Worth has his shirt off and looks confusedly at Lamas' chin. A lady in a tank top in bed also seems to be staring in that direction... I love pre-photoshop graphic design. It's either a terrible mess or a great triumph.
Well, not very good unfortunately. I was hoping for a Kickboxer 3 ripoff with Lamas instead of Sasha Mitchell. Because PM put it out I was hoping for the craziness of Rage, the stupidity of Skyscraper or the hilarity of Mayhem. Instead, it's just pretty boring. It starts off sort of strong, I guess. Some sweet club that has both girls mud-wrestling and dudes punching out is owned by Lorenzo Lamas. Mike Worth shows up to make a name and well... who cares. It doesn't work and is pretty dull.
This week I interview Matt Gamble. Matt is a blogger, podcaster and all around lover of movies. Our conversation veers from running a movie theater, falling in love with movies, and bowling to texting during movies.
Do you have the post Halloween blues? Are you in the mood for something creepy when everyone else seems to be buying Christmas cards and getting ready for turkey day? Do you have Netflix Instant? Well, look no further dear readers, have I got a list for you! I have scoured Netflix Instant to bring you the top ten creepiest movies available. A couple things to keep in mind: these are the creepiest on there, NOT the scariest and these are in no particular order. Hope you get as creeped out as I did watching these:
1) Rosemary’s Baby (1968) Rosemary’s Baby is a classic. There is no reason for you not to see it. Masterfully filmed and beautifully acted, this movie can and should be appreciated by anyone and everyone. In case you have no clue what this movie is about, it centers around a young housewife named Rosemary who's married to a struggling actor. The couple move in to a new apartment which has an old history of witches and satan worshippers as tenants. After meeting the all too friendly neighbors, Rosemary and her husband decide to have a baby. Unfortunately for Rosemary she gets raped by the Devil in a “dream” and her world slowly falls apart around her as she brings the baby to term. A frightening descent of a woman paranoid and afraid of the people around her. I’m a big fan of Roman Polanski’s earlier film Repulsion (Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby and a later film called The Tenant form a loose “Apartment Trilogy”), but this film is outstanding. It was the expert pacing that really stood out. It starts off so innocent and sweet and before you realize it the film itself has gotten under your skin.
2) Pet Sematary (1989) What more do I have to say about this movie other than “Gage”? That kid is too fuckin’ creepy. Everything that comes out of his mouth is horrific and creepy. After the loss of his child, a young doctor learns of an Indian burial ground located behind a pet cemetery labeled as “Pet Sematary” that has the ability to reanimate the dead. He is warned by his hick neighbor, Jud, that it’s not a very good idea. Ghosts, reanimated soulless dead children and devil cats set this up for one of the creepiest movies from the eighties that still holds up now. This is a really great adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name ESPECIALLY compared to the others at the time (Christine, Silver Bullet, Graveyard Shift, etc.). “Sometimes dead is better.” No shit Jud. No shit.
3) Session 9 (2001)
Is there a worse or more horrific place on earth than an abandoned insane asylum? NOPE. Not a goddamn chance. Riddle me this Batman: Why do they even exist? To haunt your dreams, that’s why. They always have all of their fucked up nightmare machines left there like reel to reel tapes of therapy sessions of messed up chicks. That’s the creepiest part of Session 9. Session 9’s plot involves a group of asbestos cleaners who are hired to cleaned up an abandoned nightmare tomb aka the local nut house. They have one week to complete the job. While cleaning it, one of the workers finds a box with 9 recordings of 9 sessions from a former loon that are so horrific they could scar you for life. The head cleaner also starts hearing a voice in his head that sounds like what I imagine the devil to sound like. Madness, murder and mystery ensue. Maybe it’s the setting, maybe it’s the pacing, but this movie oozes creepiness.
4) The House of the Devil (2009)
I have to start off by saying I love this movie so much. It’s near perfect. Everything about it. The director Ti West somehow PERFECTLY captured the feel of the early eighties and did it with the care and precision that most Hollywood movies would give their left nut to have. This movie is just gorgeous. The plot involves a girl who needs money to rent an apartment because her college roommate blows and is a total slut but unfortunately she’s got less than $100 in her account. She finds an opportunity to make some quick cash in the form of a last minute babysitting gig at a giant house in the middle of nowhere. Her and her friend go to the house and meet the completely mesmerizing Tom Noonan who explains that the job isn’t for babysitting a child but his old mother. I don’t want to give too much away but the creepy factor goes off the scale once the girl is left “alone” in the house. Seriously though, see this movie at all costs. From the expert pacing to the brilliant camera shots to the genuinely great acting this movie is a modern masterpiece.
5) Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) This movie scared the balls off of me the first time I watched it. I get pretty freaked out when it comes to ghost stories and this one is great. It sets up the ghosts as somewhat like a virus. Once you encounter either the house or the ghosts OR even just interact with someone who is being haunted by the ghosts you are pretty much fucked. How the story goes is that a Japanese man goes insane and murders his wife, his son and the family cat in their home and then kills himself. The whole family, including the cat, return from the grave to haunt the house and anyone who comes inside - or hell, even looks at it wrong. This and Ringu kicked off the whole pale, Japanese ghost-virus thing that exploded in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. This one is the better of the two - mostly due to the fact that it is super fucking creepy and scares the shit out of me every single time I watch it.
6) Absentia (2011)
If you knew about Absentia before reading this article then I say good on ya! Absentia is a direct to DVD release about a woman whose husband went missing and now she is filing his death in absentia forms so she can move on. In case you don’t know what death in absentia is, it essentially means that someone is declared dead without proof of death, i.e. no remains. Her sister comes to stay with her and help her through this traumatic time when her missing, raggedy, malnourished husband shows up out of nowhere claiming that something took him. There happens to be a tunnel across the street from where they live that people tend to go missing in. Before they can readjust their lives to the husband’s reappearance he is ripped from the home by a shadowy monster and dragged back into the tunnel. The acting is above par for a newer direct to DVD movie and the atmosphere is fantastic. Lots of low lighting done right where it’s not so dark that you can’t tell what going on or where they just put a video filter on it. This also happens to be one of the first movies partially funded through kickstarter which is cool. Most independent horror films get bogged down by over explanations of the almost always over-complicated plots or they desperately try to make everything seem intelligent and new. This one doesn’t stop to think - it just goes and succeeds. It felt like I was watching a feature length episode of Friday the 13th TV series or Hammer House of Horror.
7) A Horrible Way to Die (2010)
Directed by a new favorite of mine Adam Wingard (You’re Next, V/H/S 1&2), this flick follows Sarah, a girl who is trying to pick up the pieces of her life after she finds out her boyfriend is a serial killer and sends him to jail. She regularly attends AA meetings and starts up a romantic fling with a fellow former alcoholic. Everything seems like it’s getting better for her until her ex breaks out of prison and seems to be on her trail. This film is beautiful and interesting. It asks the question: how do you pick up your life after you find out the love of your life is a brutal murderer? AJ Bowen (from House of the Devil) plays serial killer Garrick Turrell and he just oozes creepiness. He’s disarmingly calm and gentle right up until the moment he strikes and it is very unnerving. The shaky camera work can get to be a tad too much at times and the film has some pacing issues but Bowen’s acting is truly captivating and the plot is very interesting.
8) Pulse (Kairo) (2001)
Pulse is about as bleak as a movie can possibly get. It’s a film that starts off on a small scale but only grows as you watch it and by the end it is massive. It follows several people who begin to find spirits on the internet. These spirits have found a gateway back to the living world through the use of computers and cell phones. They seem to feed off of people’s will to live causing anyone who comes into contact with them to become suicidal. This is a very patient film. The scares build slowly and naturally. There is hardly any musical score to this film which can throw some people off. However, when the score does come in it much more effective and frightening. The ghosts seem to move like they are floating through water which creates an effectively creepy atmosphere. This film is directed by the fantastic Kiyoshi Kurasawa (No relation to that other Kurasawa). He has a talent of letting his films naturally evolve from a small beginning to a much greater end. This is a perfect example of his talents. If you want more of his work look outside Netflix and check out his masterpiece, Cure (Kyua).
9) Deathwatch (2002)
Dark, damp and dirty. This flick is about a squad of British soldier in World War I who lost their way within a thick fog and stumble upon a mostly abandoned German trench. Under command, they secure the trench and try to contact backup. Well, of course, that doesn’t happen and one by one the men are terrorized by an unknown evil force. The trench becomes the enemy with its loads of dead bodies, tons of barbed wire and heaps of mud. The filmmakers did a great job making the movie feel cold, dark and wet. It’s because of this thick atmosphere that you get a good sense of doom. The acting is pretty decent with a lot of recognizable actors thrown in for good measure. All the barbed wire and the nightmarish horror sequences really give this movie the feel of a WWI Hellraiser.
10) The Road (2011)
Winner of pretty much every Filipino movie award out there, this beautiful, spooky movie centers on… you guessed it: A road! Along a semi-hidden road, a couple of young girls mysteriously disappear then, a few years later, a different group of young kids who dared to drive on the road also go missing. A young decorated police officer heads the case but seems to know more than he should. The film is segmented into three different years. The first segment does a really great job of setting up a ghost story. The ghosts were terrifying and the atmosphere was great. It’s a shame it wasn’t like this the whole way through. The second segment is set years earlier involving more of a serial killer aspect but still contains some supernatural elements and the third segment shows the serial killer as a child and shows how he became a ruthless killer. Elegantly shot and full of suspense, the film does well in exuding a creepy vibe however it is plagued by slow moving, drawn out scenes and a twist that is a bit too predictable.
Following in the tradition of THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF ZORRO,THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE, THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD etc. etc. etc. the planet's thirst for THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF THE 3 MUSKETEERS was quenched in 1992.
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this movie is just a pornographic/comedic version of the 3 Musketeers. I tried watching the whole 105 minutes, but Christ, this is one god awful softcore piece of junk.
When I saw this at my local thrift store that blasts christian pop music from the mid 1990's, I found it too hilariously ironic to pass up.
It's almost too perfect. Really well done. It looks like the best romance novel cover of all time. Greasy.
The colors all work well (except the green maybe). The logo is old-tyme and very intricate. The back of the box is hilarious to me. It's the same as the front except maybe 30 seconds prior.
The box has a lot in common with the film itself, it looks good. Time and effort was put into producing it. It's uncommon for a movie like this to receive this attention to detail. People don't buy things like this to be wowed by production values. . . they buy it to beat off to.
There is a trailer for another softcore movie at the END of the tape called HOLLYWOOD DREAMS. Looks really good.
This week, I interview the amazing Jim Brunzell, the director of Sound Unseen, on the eve of it's 14th Annual Film Festival. Jim and I talk growing up with a wrestler as a father, getting into movies, posters and more.
I HATE YOUTUBE is a look at the current mess of life that Matt leads. He typically comes home from work, takes his clothes off, busts open a beer and fires up YouTube and goes shoulder deep into the filth that resides in it's depths. Here, he discusses his findings.
There is no greater example of the wasteland that is YouTube than Baywatch - Season 6, Episode 15 entitled, "Bash at the Beach." When I was a kid, just discovering the world of sex, I couldn't bring myself to watch Baywatch. That's how bad I thought the show was. It's the most poorly acted show ever. . . and it's about lifeguards.
Throw in Pro-Wrestling (Which I loved) and unfortunately, It was a must watch.
There are two plots in this episode. The "A" plot centers around Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage fighting Ric Flair and Vader. Flair and Vader purchased the Boys Athletic Club and plan to turn it into Condos. The lifeguards of Baywatch have been assisting the owners of the Boys Club financially but the owner has to sell.
The "B" plot centers around Stephanie Holden (The Flat One) getting skin cancer and being totally over emotional about it.
To get it out of the way, Holden gets a biopsy. Mitch Buchanan (Hasselhoff) Spends the entire episode consoling her. Holden get so emotional and weird that she tells some sweet bikini babes to load up on sunblock like an oppressive fascist. It was so embarrassing, I fast forwarded past it.
The "A" plot starts out with a Ski-Doo crushing Hulk Hogan's skull during a race with the Macho Man Randy Savage. This is the best thing that ever happened on Baywatch.
"OH SHIT. . . BROTHER!"
CJ (Pamela Anderson) rescues Hogan. They somehow arrive on the topic of the Boys Club during their 30 second conversation. Apparently the club will be torn down by the new owners. Hogan and Savage go pump iron there. It's sweet. Then the kids ask where they're going to train if the place gets torn down.
Flair, Vader, and "The Taskmaster" Kevin Sullivan show up and reveal they have purchased the Boys Club. Hogan and Savage challenge Vader and Flair respectively to matches. Whoever wins, gets the Boys Club. This makes no sense at all. Why would Flair and Vader accept this challenge? They have nothing to gain and everything to lose.
To keep this short:
1 .There is a training montage featuring Hogan running down the beach being followed by kids a la Rocky 2.
2. The matches at the end feature punch sound effects. For anyone that at anytime has watched pro wrestling, this is disorienting and sad.
3. Hogan and Savage win and Hulk kisses the deed to the Boys Club.
4. The episode ends with Holden on the beach at sunset, facing her cancer with Hasselhoff and some phony Yanni tunes.
5. There is a guy wearing a wrestling singlet with a T-shirt.
The only thing remotely interesting about this episode in the context of pro-wrestling is it's airdate. 3 months after air, the nWo would be formed and Hogan would turn heel (Bad Guy). The episode would not have been possible if Hogan was a heel. . . well, timing is everything, I guess.