Popping in Kiltro for the first time I had no clue what to expect. I mean, to me, Kiltro sounds kinda like Xtro, that British B-movie from the early 80’s and it also makes me think of some kind of killer robot, NOT a Chilean martial arts flick. I bought this movie out of a clearance section on the merits that it had a buff dude with the face paint of the Ultimate Warrior holding two big ass knives on the cover. As it turns out, Kiltro fucking rules! Equal parts Star Wars, Spaghetti Western, Grindhouse flick and Kung-Fu the TV Series, it’s basically Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s wet dream. With a budget of next to nothing this film is fucking weird, hilarious and 100% awesome.
Kiltro stars Marko Zaror as Zami, a no-neck beefcake who’s madly in love with Kim, the daughter of the local Korean martial arts instructor. Kim is hilariously not portrayed by a Korean woman and instead is played by a Chilean actress with painted on eyebrows that make her look more Vulcan than Korean. Zami first meets Kim after beating up the guys attempting to rape her. They kiss and then she pretends to not give a fuck about Zami. Zami in turn, beats up pretty much any dude that talks to her. This fantastically awkward romance goes on for a bit until Max Kalba, a cane-with-a claw-to-rip-throats-out toting ruthless badass rolls into town and fucks up everybody’s shit. Apparently, Kim’s dad banged Max Kalba’s wife back in the day and got her pregnant. Max got super pissed and tried to kill everyone but spectacularly failed, running away to become a badass. We also find out that Kim’s dad used to belong to a secret order of martial artists that Zami is somehow mysteriously related to (spoiler but not really: Zami’s absent dad used to belong to the group). Well Max kidnaps Kim’s dad and Zami and Kim escape near death with the help of a dwarven hermit named Nik Nak. Nik Nak used to be the leader of the secret order but lost his mojo after becoming said dwarven hermit. He sends Zami out to the desert to train tobecome a master in the Zeta style of fighting and save everyone.
This movie is ridiculous in so many ways. Let’s first start off with Zami’s hair. It is the most ludicrous mullet I have EVER SEEN. His mullet has red extensions which are spread out in a way that looks like yarn somehow got stuck in his Kentucky waterfall. It is glorious. Next, during Zami’s training montage the film turns right into a spaghetti western for no real reason except that it looks awesome. It is complete with a cantina scene and training in the cliffs with a giant sunset in the background. Then there is Zeta. Zeta is basically the Force from Star Wars. According to the characters you just feel the Zeta around you. You just know when to punch and kick and do a crazy flip without thinking and that’s when you know you’re in the Zeta state. The movie just steals from Star Wars left and right but still manages to be fantastic. Max Kalba has the presence of Darth Vader. Nik Nak is exactly like Yoda. There’s even a scene where he hops around a cave beating up dudes ala Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The similarities are so much that I thought for sure Max Kalba and Zami were going to have an “I’m your father” scene.
The fighting in the movie kicks ass. Marko Zaror has a great style and, despite his large size, manages to smoothly pull of some great martial arts moves. At first, Zami is basically just a brawler but after training on some cliffs, snatching pebbles out of hands, he becomes a martial arts master. The fights are fast paced and well choreographed for being an independent action flick. During one part of the movie Zami puts bladed spurs on his feet and fucks some people up. It’s really fun.
The absolute greatest scene in the film, which made me fall in love with this movie, is near the beginning when Zami pours his heart out to Kim to which she replies that she’s already got a boyfriend. Zami stands shocked when all of a sudden the beginning of David Bowie’s Modern Love starts playing. The movie then cuts to him moping and walking down an alley. As the song picks up Zami starts running and ends up in a full-on sprint while punching the air and screaming bloody murder. It is epic. I had to immediately rewind it and watch it over again because it was that special. Words don’t do this scene justice as it must be seen to fully enjoy the spectacular ridiculousness of it.
Sometimes brutal, sometimes awkward and always entertaining this movie is amazing. I can’t recommend this enough. Maybe I got lucky and I watched it at the right time and in the right place but I had a blast. I hope more people see this movie and enjoy it as much as I have.
Toy Soldiers came out in 1991 with little to no acclaim. Roger Ebert gave it 1 out of 4 stars and it currently holds a 32% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That being said, Toy Soldiers totally kicks ass.
Toy Soldiers is about a group of misfit teens attending an all boy prep school who are suddenly taken hostage along with the rest of the student body and held for ransom in exchange for the release of a terrorist drug dealer. The main group of boys consists of Sean Austin (The leader of the group aka DAVE from Encino Man), Wil Wheaton, Keith Coogan (of Adventures in Babysitting and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead fame [Hilarious that those are his two biggest films]), George Perez (of Carnosaur fame) and T.E. Russell (of Toy Soldiers fame). They call themselves The Rejects because every misfit group needs a cool name and it also coincides with the school’s name The Regis School for Boys. These boys are under the constant supervision of the Dean played by Louis Gossett Jr., who lays down the wisdom like a God damn boss. All the fun and games comes to an abrupt end when a terrorist group led by a whiny daddy’s boy takes over the school in hopes of freeing his father from federal custody using the sons of important and rich parents as ransom. What I find strange is that every hour the terrorists let the boys go outside and play everyday and they are shown having a good time during all of these scenes. They workout, throw a frisbee around, frolick, all while smiling and laughing even though they are fucking being held hostage by terrorists with machine guns and rocket launchers! Well, good for them for not letting that bother them in the least bit. The Rejects, however, are a little disturbed by all of this and work together to gather intel on their captors and come up with a plan to free everyone in the school.
This movie really feels like a sequel to The Goonies to me and it’s not just because Sean Astin is in both or the fact that the main bad guy looks a lot like one of the Fratelli brothers. I think it’s the fact that the depiction of these boys’ attitudes very much resonate the “Goonies never say die” mentality. Toy Soldiers has just a bit more at stake with the whole “terrorists with guns” thing happening but regardless, both sets of kids are willing to do what it takes to save the things that mean the most to them. Both films are adventures and both films involve the characters using their specific skill sets to overcome the obstacles ahead of them. I like the fact that the boys are depicted as intelligent and capable. These kids are able to handle themselves better than all of the adults in the film. Most of the adults are just bumbling fools with the exception of Gossett Jr.’s character who believes in the boys more than any adult could.
I think what sets this movie apart is the graphic depiction of violence. This flick pulls no punches in the graphic violence department. People get thrown out of helicopters, shot in the face, necks get slit and dudes get blown apart by machine guns. This movie would have been tough to market because who do you market to? The movie is about teens but you can’t market it to them since this movie is rated R and adults typically don’t want to go see a movie about a rag tag group of teens out smarting terrorists, I mean, that just sounds like a live action disney channel flick. I applaud the risk they took in making this movie they way that they did.
Cool Teen Violence
SPOILER ALERT! One thing that I always had a hard time with was the death of Wil Wheaton’s character 3 quarters of the way through. I remember wanting to watch it when it came out because it had Wesley Crusher in it and by God I teared up when he was shot dead in the film. I remember turning to my mom in shock muttering “they killed Wesley Crusher….” That has always stuck with me for whatever reason.
Teens who are depicted as capable and intelligent, tons of action and a lot of heart, this movie is worth your time despite Mr. Ebert’s criticism. At times, it’s very violent but it never went too far to where it detracts from the pacing of the film. A cross between The Goonies and Red Dawn, Toy Soldiers is a decent film that gets more crap than it really should. Check it out.
So, I happened to be at Cinema Wasteland, not paying attention and I was scheduled for an interview with TI WEST. I'm stupid, missed the opportunity to do record the interview over the phone, and only had ten minutes.
Turns out this movie didn't get a theatrical release, which is ridiculous when you look at the crap that does.
Anyway, here is a short review and discussion with Ti, based on random notes on Holiday Inn notepad:
ASV: So, you've made a really fascinating film with THE SACRAMENT. It seems derived directly from Jonestown. You've also made other films that deal with cults, what is the inspiration for this type of film?
WEST: I really wanted to make a horror film that has no supernatural elements. I used Jonestown as the framework, and I see this human experience repeating itself over and over.
You know I really love the idea of being immersed in the real world, and how horrifying it truly can be. I think the idea of reality being presented in a fun way has always been interesting to me. Hopefully that works in the movie.
ASV: I really love the actor who plays Father. Where did you find him?
WEST: I actually originally saw him on the Louis CK show. He has a really great sense of humor, and I wanted someone I would really like working with. Most people probably recognize him from the coin toss scene in No Country for Old Men. He is a real force in the movie, and provides a huge character at the center of the film. Almost everyone that sees the film talks about how he great he is.
ASV: So, VICE is a real company... what made you want to use a real organization in this situation?
WEST: Yeah, they have a show on HBO. They go into all the same places that CNN or Fox News does, but they do a great job of not being biased, or having a political slant. They do a ton of video journalism, which they call "immersionism." They do a lot of esoteric, provocative and scary stories. It's real life, and far scarier than most things you see in films.
ASV: Did you grow up in Virginiia?
WEST: Delaware. I lived in New York for six years and now am in LA.
ASV: How did growing up in the Northeast shape how you make films?
WEST: Yeah, we shot House of the Devil in Connecticut, and that suited my sensibilites perfectly. The Innkeepers was also shot in the Northeast, and I love how creepy the fall there can feel. It suits my childhood. With The Sacrament, I wanted to move it to a foreign environment.
ASV: Was that choice designed to follow Jonestown as well?
WEST: You know, we shot it in Georgia, and I wanted it to feel very non-specific. It is supposed to be outside the States, and could be in almost any part of the world that is hot. Jonestown is a very specific place, and though that was a jumping off point for me, this is not Jonestown. It's the echo of that event.
ASV: Thanks, Ti.
WEST: Thank you.
I have enjoyed West's films mostly for their setting and pacing. Where House of the Devil is like a 1970s Halloween / Rosemary's Baby mashup, Innkeepers is a modern ghost story. Both capture what they're trying do really well.
The Sacrament, likewise, is a brooding, slow-burn build. A photographer (Kentucker Audley, yes, his name is Kentucker), is concerned about his sister (Amy Seimetz), who has sent some suspicious letters that lead him to believe she's joined a cult. So, a reporter (AJ Bowen) and cameraman (Joe Swanberg) from VICE go down with him to check it out.
As mentioned in the interview, the set-up is basically Jonestown. But, rather than having Jim Jones, you get the awesome Father character, played brilliantly by Gene Jones. Jones is absolutely the standout of the film.
West plays it like a documentary happening real-time. Almost like something in the vein of Cannibal Holocaust, so you expect that its going to get crazy. And, he does a wonderful job of building tension. After the interview, I have since watched VICE and understand better what West is getting at. True life is truly more horrifying than anything in a horror movie.
But, here's where we come to my problems. The "documentary" or "POV" style of film-making is problematic. West manages to do some nice camera set-ups, and keep it looking interesting, but I think that's really the problem with these types of films. It's always a matter of how good it manages to look despite the style. But, that style was ill advised. Like all of these films, it gets held up at moments while characters look into the camera, make pleas for their lives or remind the cameraman to "keep filming" or ask "did you get that?" All of this gets rather tedious fifteen years after Blair Witch.
Likewise, it never really raises above the Jonestown story. It never becomes something more.
But, let me get back to Father. The way that he captures every scene and has a very creepy air, make up for any short-comings. He's a wonder to watch as he enters into his first scene. He has a commanding presence that is chilling.
At the same time, I am fascinated by cults and stories like Jonestown, so I am very pleased to see West head in that direction. He is one of the major names of his generation, and I look forward to see where filmmakers follow him with this one.
If you're reading this, maybe you check our site occasionally. And, maybe you've noticed that there has been significantly less posting as of late. Well, here is your answer.
I've been working diligently on a 'zine, that I've confusingly titled, The ALL-STAR VIDEO REVIEW. That's right, ranting and pumping up films that barely deserve it, now on paper! But, luckily, I'm not the only one writing on this one. A number of extremely talented people have offered their services and there are some pretty fantastic essays, a directional on how to fix a VHS tape and a membership card to our new All-Star Video Library.
We're limiting it to fifty copies, hand-numbered.
I know what you're thinking, how do I get my hands on this fantastic pamphlet of useless information?
THE ALL-STAR VIDEO REVIEW Breakfast Release "Party"
Sunday, July 20th
Moon Palace Books
(Free Coffee and Donuts)
If you can't make the party, you can stop by Moon Palace anytime and pick up a copy. If you don't live in Minneapolis, send an email to: email@example.com and we'll mail you one.
THE ALL-STAR VIDEO LIBRARY
With the purchase of our Review, you will also receive a membership card that will grant you access to the All-Star Video Library. It will be in a small wooden bookshelf, beautifully crafted by friend of the site, Nick Geiken. The bookshelf will be located in the entrance hallway to the Trylon Microcinema.
Inside, you’ll find a meticulously curated collection of films. We have included everything from hard-to-find brilliant art films to hard-to-find Shot on Video trash films to films we just simply think should be included. Everything was chosen for a specific purpose and with a specific vision. This collection will continue to grow and change. Is there a particular film that we've reviewed that you would love to see and can't find? Contact us, and we'll make it available to you via the Library. We believe entertainment and enlightenment are not too far apart, and that honest human introspection can be seen in art film and amateur film alike.
The following films are all shared free of charge with hopes that they will be enjoyed and shared with others.
In order to obtain a membership and have access to the collection, you will need to purchase a copy of The All-Star Video Review. You can purchase the Review at Moon Palace Books or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. We also ask that you provide some information:
1. Your Full Name
2. Home Address
3. Email Address
4. Telephone Number
Once we have this information, we will give you a membership card that has an individual number on it. Membership will be limited to 50 members. After that amount has been reached, we will no longer accept new members until a member leaves.
There are no dues, but all films are due back to the Library 7 Days after they have been rented. If rentals are not returned within 2 Weeks, membership will be suspended for 2 months, if not returned within 4 Weeks, the membership will be cancelled and can never be renewed.
We believe that all forms of home video should be included where appropriate or necessary. We have chosen certain formats for certain films because of the original intention of the filmmakers or because of nostalgic style choices. Please note that some films will be provided in second or even third generation VHS tapes in the wrong aspect ratio. This is only done when no other alternatives are available but we believe the film itself is worth seeing in any format.
Please remember to look at the type of media before renting a certain film. If a certain film is only available on VHS, you will need a VCR to play the film at home. We do offer the rental of our VCR, if you do not own one. It will need to be returned with the film. If you'd like your own VCR, they can usually be easily and cheaply obtained at Goodwill. Likewise, note that Blu-Ray cannot be played on a regular DVD player.
As a member, we ask that you consider contributing something from your own collection to ours. If you have a film that you’d like to offer up for rental, please contact email@example.com with a description of the film and set up a time to leave it at Moon Palace bookstore or the Trylon Microcinema for consideration.
If you’re looking for more information on a film or would like to read longer reviews of the films, they are available at www.allstarvideo.org