Friday, January 29, 2010

Elves (From the AIP Vaults)

From the vaults of AIP (Action International Pictures) comes a "Horror" classic: "Elves"!

AIP: A Sign of Quantity

AIP is a company that produced a treasure trove of low budget direct-to-video films that specialized in action movies, as the company name implies. Being a low-budget production company, you would think they would have been familiar with their forebear "American International Pictures" the original AIP. Why they used that name is a bit puzzling. Even though they made other types of genre movies, it was with action that they hit their stride. Although they ceased production in 1994, they left behind a legacy of VHS gems such as: "White Fury", "Alien Seed" (with Erik Estrada), and "Shredder Orpheus" (Maybe they weren't all gems) More AIP reviews will be forthcoming.

Elves - They're not working for Santa...Anymore

Oh the problems a simple drop of blood can bring.

Elves is what we in the business call and I apologize for using the technical term, a crapfest. There are moments in it where you sit back and wonder. Why the fuck am I watching this, subjecting myself to this kind of torment. Other times you’ll be laughing at the more than ample supply of unintentional humor. To say the least this is an ordeal.

What you probably didn’t know is that Elves is a documentary. It explains that if you cut yourself in the woods while reading an evil book you’ll bring about a slew of demented mini neo-nazi elves. It’s true and now you know! Oh and if you want to get rid of them all you need to do is get Grizzly Adams and he’ll make everything better, that sweet sweet man.

Tell me you don't want a hug from this man!

When I grow up I wanna look just like Dan Haggerty, He delivers a star caliber performance in what would otherwise be an entirely worthless flick. Elves was made in 1989, but must have been filmed much earlier, the slang is borderline god-awful. Speaking of god-awful, the elves are possibly the worst puppets I’ve ever seen, the perpetually shocked look on their face reminds me of a dog who you’ve snuck up on and he’s shocked, but about to bite you.


So if you’re a fan of shit and my guess is you are, by all means take a chance with Elves, it’s the perfect Christmas gift!

4 out of 10, but a great movie to make fun of with your friends, you’ll be saying “Santa said oral” for years, trust me…we have.

P.S. did I mention it took three people to write this turd.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Year in Disturbing Film: Week 4 - The walls are closing in on me, just kidding I'm fine

My year in disturbing film is my weekly column where I devote a few paragraphs to the most fucked up films ever made. Each week I plan on subjecting myself to the most horrific and mentally damaging imagery my mind can handle. I can't promise you this won't be the week I wind up in the hospital...

Here is a reminder about my rating system for these films

The Fourth attempt to get me to start bashing my head into a wall is...

Dumplings – Bet you can’t eat just one

What was the movie about?
Dumplings, but seriously. A former actress (Mrs. Li played by Miriam Yeung) looking for the secret to a youthful appearance is introduced to a mystic (Mei played by Bei Ling) who may just have that. She claims that the dumplings she makes have the power to give anyone a radiant appearance and that she’s proof, though she refuses to say how old she is she does say she’s over 30. Like most of the movies on this list (I suspect) this film is a bit of a one trick pony. Dumplings plays out more like an extended premise than it does a full-fledged idea. Mrs. Li ponders what she’s eating, though she knows pretty early on what they’re made from, basically from there it’s just pondering if it’s right or wrong for her to be doing it.

Is the film disturbing?
The director (Fruit Chan) doesn’t pull any punches on this one and implies the main ingredient right from the get go of the film. It’s about a half hour in where they finally make overt references. Early in the film they seem to take great pleasure in showing long close up shots of Mrs. Li eating, these scenes alone may actually earn this movie a place on this list. The sound effects that are used during these (and every other eating scene) are grotesque and over the top gross.

I actually can’t really say much more without saying what the main ingredient is. So, let me just take a bite of this raw yellow pepper and lift the lid on today’s special ingredient. That’s right, aborted fetus. I discovered the ancient Chinese secret; it’s cannibalism. At first after Mrs. Li discovers what’s in her dumplings she can’t even look at them while she’s eating, but after a short montage of her eating them regardless of their need for a fresh diaper, she’s openly discussing the different effects that different age fetus would have on her. Once Mrs. Li is sufficiently fed up with her husband’s infidelity she demands only the finest. Coincidentally a local woman’s 15-year-old daughter has been knocked up by her father and they ask Mei for an abortion, oh did I fail to mention that Mei was an abortion doctor back in the day, convenient right? Mei was just mentioning how a 5-month fetus is the “most nutritious”, something about it having a layer of fat on it already and mentioned something about it tasting creamy. By chance and this is really lucky for Mrs. Li, a cursed child have more potency. We’re treated to an up-close and a little too personal view to a kill, I mean abortion. And we even get to see the placenta being delivered, which of course goes right into the fridge. Mrs Li. Eats the five month old fetus dumplings and attracts back her husband for a night, but the next day when she has guests over everyone realizes she stinks like rotten fish, didn’t wash well enough after your romp Mrs. Li?

I told you it was graphic, see!

Mr. Li overhears a conversation with Mei and his wife and discovers Mei’s shop and decides to have a meal. Apparently he orders the roast beef because he’s fucking her before the meal is done and it’s at this time we discover that Mei is actually 64. Mr. Li does what any red blooded man would do when discovering the hottest 64 year old out there, he fucks her again. Mr. Li is a dog; he manages to get a hotel worker preggers while he thinks his wife is away visiting family in London. The movie ends with a brilliant scene of Mrs. Li convincing this hotel room service tart to have an abortion and for some reason the doctor lets her be there while it happens, she even dictates to him how he should do it and they let her keep it! The final scene is Mrs. Li standing over the fetus with a meat cleaver contemplating if she can chop it up to make the dumplings. Well can she? Thwack…yup.

Other stuff happens in the film, but it’s all really too boring to even bother with. The movie is about abortion dumplings, who cares what else happens? I actually enjoyed the movie, but I’d almost like to see what the shorter version on “3…extremes” plays like.

3 abortion dumplings out of 5

Disturbitude: 5 for the crunching noises and the graphic abortion scene, it would have been a 7 if Bei Ling showed her disturbingly long nipples

Next up: Salo – I hope I survive

P.S. I need a snack

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – There Ain’t No Iguanas

It’s no secret that I dislike Nick Cage as an actor. To say he’s a bad actor is like saying shit smells bad. It’s obvious and unnecessary. Werner Herzog on the other hand is a master filmmaker and a talent beyond compare. There are few directors whom I enjoy more so when I heard about this film, two thoughts popped into my head. First was “what the hell is Herzog thinking?” Clearly he must have seen Cage’s previous work, it’s not like he’s some no name actor. The other thought (and I admit that this second thought entered my mind months after the first thought) was that Herzog knows what the hell he’s doing so we’ll give it a shot and see what comes of it. It’s a known fact that anyone can give a good performance, given the right material and the right direction.

Now here is something I never thought I’d ever say, but Nicolas Cage delivers a brilliant performance in The Bad Lieutenant. The mind boggles. Right from the start of the film it really seems like Werner Herzog is trying to deliberately make a bad movie. It seems, however, when you get a master filmmaker who is trying to make a bad film he winds up making the very best “bad movie” you’ll ever see. The acting (by everyone, but especially by Nick Cage) is so incredibly over the top that one wonders if Herzog wasn’t feeding the cast the drugs that the characters are supposed to be doing in the film. But it’s because of this, not despite it that makes such a great film.

Cage plays Terrance; you suspect by his actions that he probably wasn’t the most honorable cop to begin with. After he hurts his back in a fall he gets hooked on prescription drugs (amongst other things) or as he says, “everything I take is prescription, except the heroin”. It’s almost amazing how he can even function (there are moments when he can’t) from the shear amount of drugs this man takes; vicodin, coke, crack, heroin, pills, pot and anything else he can get his hands on. It’s astounding!

Sweet sweet Eva Mendes

The story revolves around a family of African immigrants being murdered and the Lt. is in charge of finding out what happened. The story is pushed forward at a pretty decent clip throughout the film, but between the rampant drug use and the insane predicaments Terrance finds himself in it’s amazing any headway is ever made on the case. Frankly, the story (though pretty good) is the secondary reason to watch this film. The real reason to watch it is for insanity. Trust me, it’s totally worth it. Now here’s my disclaimer: POCNO is a two-hour inside joke, if you watch it with the wrong crowd it will ruin the movie for you. It is necessary that you watch this with people who are in the know because if they aren’t it will just seem like a bad movie. Werner Herzog is either lost his mind or is a mad genius, I happen to think the latter, but I’ll let you make up your own mind.

5 Crooked Cops out of 5

Next Up: Objectified – I’ll try to be objective

P.S. There is a character in the film whose nickname is “G” for some reason whenever Terrance says his name he makes a face and laughs. It’s hilarious.

That's "G" on the far left

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fanboys – I Feel the Farce is Strong with this One.

A better name for Fanboys would have been Cameo: the motion picture. Fanboys should the how to guide for filmmakers looking to do a bunch of really great cameos. While they’re at it they may want to consider looking at the rest of Fanboys as a “what not to do” in making a movie. It’s essentially A+ material done at a D- level; it’s kind of disheartening really.

Like being trapped in a garbage smasher without having R2 there to shut them down for you

Fanboys is the story of Three long time friends and one other friend who they’ve lost touch with after high school. Eric is a used car salesman; he works for his father “big chuck” who is so tan I bet he makes George Hamilton jealous. At one point Eric wanted to be a comic book artist though, but most he’s just a star wars nerd. Linus, Hutch and Windows round out the last of the four; they never really stopped being the star wars nerds that they were in high school. Something seems oddly familiar about them, but for the life of me I can’t put my finger on it. Before too long we discover that Linus is dying with cancer. So Eric realizing the error of his ways decides one last caper, to travel to George Lucas’ place and steal a print of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace.

say hello to the most persuasive argument to seeing this film

Along the way they meet up with many an interesting character and each one of them an amazing cameo. Seth Rogan, Danny Trejo, Allie Grant, Ethan Suplee (playing Harry Knowles of ain’t it cool news fame), Joe Lo Truglio, Billy Dee Williams (playing a character named Judge Reinhold, which is hilarious), William Shatner, Carrie Fisher, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes (because the the two never separate), Ray Park, Will Forte, Craig Robinson and last, but certainly not least Danny Mcbride. Like I said, some of the best cameos put on celluloid. Sadly it’s the rest of the film that suffers as the main characters (except Dan Fogler as Hutch) put out shitty performance after shitty performance or maybe I’m just missing the point and that’s just how the characters are. I somehow doubt this. It’s definitely not the worst film I’ve seen this year so far, but it’s not the best either. A+ material with D- delivery equals out to a…

3 Jar Jar Binks out of 5

Next Up: Objectified - I'll try to be objective

P.S. The closing line of the film poses the eternal question “but what if the film sucks?” history has already answered that one for us.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Book of Eli - The Lord Maketh and it was Bad

Denzel Washington has a long and accomplished career. He’s played everything from Denzel Washington to Denzel Washington and in Book of Eli he plays…Wait for it, Post apocalyptic Denzel Washington. Look Denzel is a fine actor, but frankly he plays the same thing in everything he does and Book of Eli is no different. It really seems like the Hughes brothers wasted the entire budget on this star studded cast. If book of Eli has anything, it’s an amazing cast. Starting with Denzel as Eli you also have Milas kunis as Solara, Gary Oldman as Carnegie, Tom Waits (whom I happen to be listening to as I write this, coincidence only I swear), Jennifer Beal, ray Stevenson (whom I loved in the most recent punisher film and who is much bigger than I expected he looks like a giant next to Oldman) and with a great little cameo by Albus Dumbledore himself, Mr Michael Gambon (an esteemed and amazing actor in his own right). Now look at that cast and tell me this doesn’t seem like the kind of movie you’d want to see. Well that’s how I got suckered in too.

Who wouldn't be suckered in to seeing a film with Gary Oldman? He's awesome!

Book of Eli follows the story of our titular hero as he wanders the countryside looking for the perfect place to deliver a book he keeps in his backpack. He gets caught up along the way in a small town run by Carnegie and his men. Carnegie is learned man and is looking for a particular book that will help him have better control over the masses; he has great aspirations to rule. Needless to say the book he’s looking for just happens to be the one Eli is carrying and once he makes this discovery goes to great lengths to get it. The story itself is the weakest part of the film. It’s kinda irritating when the cast brings their all and does a really good job with the material they’re given, but frankly it’s the material that brings the film down the most. The only saving grace (pun intended) is the action sequences, all 7 ½ minutes of them. The action, while it taking place is crisp and well edited with quick snappy camera work that would have great if it appeared more in the rest of the film. Sadly just not enough of the film is good enough to make it worth watching. In all seriousness if I was alone watching this, I’d have walked out. The other main offender in this film is the pacing. It's glacial. Imagine, if you will, you're traveling on foot across the country. You stop at every flower and smell it. You take three naps a day and maybe cover 1/4 mile a day. Now imagine that you're doing all this in an outfit made entirely out of fiberglass insulation. That's a pretty good comparison to what it's like watching Book of Eli.

I had gotten used to seeing Michael Gambon with the beard

I wasn’t going to go into this because I didn’t want people to think my personal opinion played any major role in my dislike of this film, but it’s just too big of an aspect to be ignored. There is a major religious undertone to the film that absolutely didn’t need to be there aside from giving the movie its title. It’s an unnecessary addition that might have actually meant something better had Eli been carrying a science text book instead of a King James Bible. The story goes that once the worlds ended everyone blamed religion and for some reason only the bibles were collected and destroyed? Why not the Qur’an or the Torah? It just makes no sense when you get down to it and it’s this lack of logic in the story that really infuriated me. I mean, I get it and totally understand why it was important for him to be carrying a bible and the message of faith that the movie delivers especially with the “twist” at the end (a twist that if you don’t have it figured out by the second action scene I’d be surprised). I do have to admit that my personal opinion on this matter did aid in my lack of enjoyment in this one aspect of the film, I just thought it was frivolous. I guess my point is, had this been a 5 star film, my personal opinions may have made me give it a 4, but this was already a pile of post apocalyptic dung to begin with. My thoughts and prayers go out to the cast that they might be able to bounce back from this steamy mess. Amen.

1 “Twist” out of 5

Next Up: Fanboys – my expectations aren’t much better for this one.

P.S. do you think the “Amen” at the end was too much? I don’t either.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bride Wars - I Can't Believe I Watched This on Purpose!

(I'll start off with a happy image because the rest of the movie is just painful)

You know what’s embarrassing? Yes, admitting to watching bride wars is pretty embarrassing, but that’s not what I meant. What’s embarrassing is asking a studio for millions of dollars to produce a film that (on paper) should net huge profits. It’s a film that has an all-star cast, a story of weddings and bridezillas. You figure you can’t fail because it has all these elements that little girls (and not so little girls) love and hold close to their hearts. And then the film fails so miserably that it’s painful. A film that is so hated that it’s actually not even fair for me to be writing this review. Now that is embarrassing.

Bride wars tells the story of two utterly forgettable characters played by Anne Hathaway and the queen of modern chick flicks, Kate Hudson. For the sake of this review (since I never bothered to learn their names) we’ll call them Anne and Kate because really, who cares? The girls have an unnatural obsession with their wedding day and have apparently been planning this extravaganza since they were little girls. Is this really how young girls think? So of course after a major mix up and the girls are accidentally booked on the same day for their weddings the proverbial shit hits the fan. It sets off a course of petty bickering and revenge plots that frankly aren’t funny enough to keep a guy’s attention and are too cruel to keep a girl’s. By the end it’s making a frantic attempt to clear everything up so all us young girls in the audience can have our obligatory happy ending.

"we just ruined not one, but TWO weddings, oh who cares we're not paying for it!"

This would normally be the part where I’d talk about what I enjoyed about the film. Next…

Bride Wars is almost literally ten pounds of shit in a five-pound bag. Not only is it painful to watch it’s also insulting to the females of the species. I wouldn’t wish Bride Wars on my worst enemy, though I do wish this had been around back when we started the war in Iraq. One screening of this in the prison camps and people would have talked, trust me. I was admitting all sorts of troubling personal information just to see if it would shut off. Apparently it wasn’t enough though because the film just kept on playing. I was hoping that the movie would have at least one redeeming quality (other than Anne Hathaway being kind of hot) because it almost seems cliché for it to be the first movie on Drunk on VHS To receive the infamous and dreaded…

0 Bright Orange, Blue Haired Bridezillas out of 5

(seriously, this is the joke of the movie...i mean aside from the movie itself)

Next Up: An MRI to see if I suffered any permanent damage and then maybe Food Inc., maybe I’ll enjoy watching animals being slaughtered more.

P.S. Ouch, my brain

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Youth in Revolt – Fun for you and your alter ego

Some people are not meant to be bad. They go through life with this sense of right and wrong and can never blur the lines. Some people would have a hard time upsetting their parents. Most people are a little more morally gray, but I think most people would admit that the events of Youth in Revolt are beyond their comfort zone.

(not his thankfully)

Michael Cera tends to get typecast as the awkward, socially inept loser type who somehow always manages to get the girl, despite himself. His character in youth in revolt is not much different, but the differences are what make him so enjoyable. Nick Twisp (Cera) is 16, but he’s not like the other kids his age. He watches foreign films and listens to classic crooners (his favorite being Sinatra). His parents are divorced and he lives with his mother who’s currently in a “meaningful” relationship with Jerry (Zach Galfianakis) who we discover is about as trustworthy as an email from a deposed Nigerian prince. Upon learning that he sold a lemon of a car to some burly sailors the family figures now’s the best time to take a little vacation. Thankfully he has access to a trailer for a week.

Poor Nick is still a virgin. No women take him seriously. So it seems like fate when he meets Sheeni at the trailer park. Nick soon discovers that he and Sheeni have very similar interests. He learns that she is completely obsessed with the French and has glamour shots of Jean-Paul Belmondo on her wall. She fawns over breathless (one of my favorite films of the French new wave as well) and she loves Serge Gainsbourg. She’s an ideal woman for a boy like Nick and he knows this. Unfortunately we learn she has a boyfriend named Trent and by her description he’s a near perfect specimen of the classification Homo Sapien. There must be forces at work on Nick’s side though because before too long Nick and Sheeni are in love and Nick feels he has to do whatever he can (or whatever he must) to keep her.

The lovebirds devise a plan to get Nick kicked out of his mother’s house and Sheeni gets Nick’s dad a job close to where she lives. To this end Nick is forced to transform himself. He’s not the type of guy who gets in trouble so he feels he needs to create an alter ego to help him. Enter Francois Dillinger. Francois is everything Nick isn’t. He’s sure of himself and doesn’t stumble on his words. He abhors authority and lets the world know it as often as possible. Whenever Nick can’t get something done on his own he calls in Francois to do the dirty work. He succeeds by burning down half of the town and manages to get himself a whipping from mom's new man friend who's played by Ray Liotta, because of course Jerry died. Keeping in character we find out that Jerry was married and now Jerry's wife wants back his car.

sorry I forgot to mention you Vijay

Francois will also, hopefully, have one more consequence to his existence. I’m hoping that this will give Michael Cera some more diverse roles. It proves that he can perform characters that are more confident and maybe even playing characters that aren’t such lovable losers. That’s the great thing about Nick as well. He’s still a loser, but at least he’s cool. I mean, not mainstream cool, but there are subcultures out there that he’d fit right into. He’s such an interesting character that you spend the entire film rooting for him to win. I’m not going to say if he does or doesn’t, but it’s quite a roller coaster he puts himself through to get to the third act.

Youth in revolt, I suspect, will also be one of the most polarizing films out there this year. I don’t see anyone walking out of the theater saying to themselves “meh, whatever”. The hipster crowd is going to love it, but this is not the kind of film that I could see the average moviegoer enjoying. I’m actually a little surprised that this made it to the big screen at all. The target audience for this film is so small it is a little shocking that it ever got a green light. I happen to be amongst the target audiences so needless to say I loved it.

5 Mustachioed Alter Egos out of 5

Next Up: Bride wars – Can’t believe I watched that on purpose.

P.S. If you go and see this based on my recommendation, I don’t want to hear it if you didn’t like it. You were warned!

My Year in Disturbing Film: Week 3 - Even I'm surprised I lasted this long

My year in disturbing film is my weekly column where I devote a few paragraphs to the most fucked up films ever made. Each week I plan on subjecting myself to the most horrific and mentally damaging imagery my mind can handle. I can't promise you this won't be the week I wind up in the hospital...

Here is a reminder about my rating system for these films

The third attempt to make me spend the rest of my days rocking in the corner is...

Pink Flamingos – A family affair, brings the kids (seriously though, don’t)

John waters once held the distinction of being the most controversial man in America and for good reason. His films tend to have some of the most disturbingly bizarre (and more often then not, real) images ever captured on celluloid. As a man who has seen at least 97% of Mr. Waters’ body of work I can assure you that it has to be seen to be believed. There are certain things you should expect when you watch a John Waters film…

A.) First and foremost, great music, John Waters has a taste for music bested by very few and he loves to show off his tastes in his movies and I think the viewing public is the better for it. Thankfully the one thing you will always have coming out of a waters film (other than a bad taste in your mouth) is a wonderful tune in your head, it helps to juxtapose the horrible images he barrages you with so it’s not so bad.
B.) Sexual perversion, waters has an obsession with kink and perversion, from hearing him speak on the subject I know he revels in learning knew fetishes that he can put in his films. The premise behind a dirty shame seems like it comes from an exceptionally busy weekend of learning on Waters’ part.
C.) And lastly an over abundance of kitsch and camp. Waters films are not to be taken seriously and he knows it. He piles on the ridiculous in an attempt to get those who understand to say “now will you look at that!” and those not in the know to say ”now will you look at that!”

What is the movie about?
The most notorious of John Waters’ films is Pink Flamingos. Pink Flamingos tells the story of Devine, playing herself (himself if you want to get technical) going into hiding as Babs Johnson. It appears Devine has pulled off some nefarious business and the cops in the 70’s were too stupid to bother looking for her. She’s the self-proclaimed “filthiest person alive” and apparently this displeases a rival family that Devine has no idea about. Let’s face it, the story in this film is only really there to act as a support mechanism to hold up the film long enough to throw a metric ton of crazy crap at you and then hits you with the most shocking ending I’ve seen to date, more on that later.

Is it disturbing?
John Waters likes to make sure he hits you in two different ways throughout his movies. The first is the big obvious gags that hit you like a ton of bricks. He’ll usually whack you with those quick and lingers for a couple seconds then let you get away from it. Those include scenes with babs’ son Crackers involving a chicken in his coitus (the chicken doesn’t make it through alive), a man masturbating over the passed out body of a woman he’s trying to impregnate and a man performing what might just be the earliest goatse ever caught on film, a castration and murder. This also includes the movie’s final scene that I won’t be discussing quite yet (you’ll just have to wait).

The other way john likes to hit you is with the slow burn. Images he tosses at you and it either takes a little while to realize what you’ve just seen or by repeatedly showing you something you become more aware at how out of place it is. These usually come in the form of his characters. Devine herself looks like a demented circus clown. She steals meat from a butcher shop by holding it between her inner thighs (it’s also implied later in the film that this is also how it was cooked). Devine also takes a public shit, wipes and leaves the toilet paper (thankfully she didn’t have the balls to actually do this, it’s just implied). She gives her son a blowjob (unfortunately, very real) and proclaims herself a god on several occasions. Also rants quite a bit about her political views and invites the press to come witness her murder her rivals

The woman who plays her mother (Edith Massey) spends the entire film in a playpen eating eggs, around the second or third time you see her you realize she’s covered in egg for the entire film. Edith Chuckles maniacally in every shot she’s in and falls in love with her egg deliveryman. He asks her to marry him and he eventually takes her away, in a wheelbarrow, nonetheless. Devine’s travel companion Cotton is possibly the most normal character in the film. Her only quirks are that she likes to watch Crackers have sex and begs him to make his shows more bizarre and she hates to be touched. Outside of the bizarre sex, Crackers doesn’t have much to him either.

The rival family, the Marbles, has pubic hair that matches the hair on their head. Connie (Mink Stole) has flaming red hair and Raymond has bright blue hair. Connie and Raymond Marble are actually the most interesting characters in the film; they’re like a twisted version of Gomez and Morticia Adams. They have sex by sucking each other’s toes and showering each other with platitudes like “I love you more than my own hair color, more than a baby crying, more than my own shit”, classy couple. They also front money to the heroin dealer at the local elementary school and run a baby-selling ring out of their basement (they kidnap hitch hikers, impregnate them, let them die in childbirth and sell the babies to eager lesbian couples). Raymond also has a side hobby, he likes to tie a pepperoni to his penis and flash girls in the park, this does eventually backfire when he flashes a transvestite who in turn flashes him back. Connie has arguably the best line in the film “there are two kinds of people, my kind of people and assholes”. They continuously try to sabotage Devine’s plans and consistently fail. They finally incur the wrath of Babs Johnson after they send her a “turd” for her birthday, setting up the movies most comical revenge concept (I got to give you some reason to watch it right?).

But everything I’ve told you to this point can’t hold a candle to the finale. Remember before when I said you’d have a bad taste in your mouth? Well this is why, John Waters waits till the very last couple of minutes of the film to unleash the most vile and disgusting image you may possibly ever see. It’s one of the few things I’ve ever had to avert my gaze for and I’m not proud of that. If you’ve seen the film you already know what I’m talking about. If not, allow me to paint you a picture, Devine is eyeing a dog being walked. The dog stops to do his business and Devine, clearly feeling it to be her civic duty, Picks up the dog droppings and, lacking the appropriate waste disposal baggie, figures the best option would be to make a light snack of it. She even takes the time to press it between her teeth, like so many ripe wine grapes. This is an image that will stay with you and is almost single handedly the reason Pink Flamingos makes it onto my list. It’s one of the few moments in film history that have made me dry heave, though to be fair I am watching these films in order so there may be something I haven’t seen yet which tops it. This is a film that I think most novices could sit through 99% of, but just beware of the last several minutes.

5 gaping assholes out of 5

Disturbitude: an average of 5 ½, a 2 for most of the movie, nothing too terrible to see and a 9 for the finale

Next up: Dumplings – bet you can’t eat just one

P.S. I need to wash my mouth out

Friday, January 15, 2010

Big Fan – Cuz I Take it to Extremes…

If Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! Reminds us of anything, it’s that great comedy should be based in the ability of funny people to play a role seriously. The film was speckled with notable comedians playing dramatic soles with little to no sense of irony. Patton Oswalt was amongst them though he was not given much to play around with to whet his acting chops. Now he’s given the opportunity to show that this funny man can get down right serious. And does he ever.

Paul (Oswalt) is a loser. He lives with his mother and works a dead end job taking tickets in a parking garage. He has nothing going for him, except the love he feels for his New York Giants. He spends his shifts at work penning diatribes to spew every night on the local sports radio show about how much the “Eagles suck” or how the Giants are gonna take out whichever team they’re up against next. His friend Sal (Kevin Corrigan, who I didn’t even know was in this, pleasant surprise) sits up late at night to listen to Paul on the radio and then immediately calls him after he gets off to discuss. The only thing Paul is more obsessed with than the Giants is the Giants star player Quantrell Bishop. By chance one evening Paul spots Mr. Bishop pumping gas and decides to follow him in the hopes of getting an autograph or even just a chance to say hi. They wind up at a strip club in Manhattan and Paul does everything in his power to get his hero’s attention (without actually leaving his seat). Finally they decide to just approach him and one wrong comment turns the entire situation south and he’s beaten senseless, by his hero no less.

This opens up a huge moral dilemma for Paul. The possible future of his team is in his hands. Does he blow everything he loves for justice or does he just let it slide and ‘take one for the team”? I joked with a friend of mine during the film that I didn’t know what I would do if I got the crap kicked out of me by say, June Lockheart (whom I adore). But seriously, Paul has some hard decisions to make that culminate in a shocking climax.

(June with yours truly, see she'd never beat me up. I talked to her about Troll and didn't mention Lassie at all)

I see great promise in Robert Siegel as a director. If you recognize the name that’s understandable, he wrote the critically praised The Wrestler. Siegel is also a prime example of what I mentioned above about funny guys doing serious work. He was as an editor for the onion, which if you don’t know what that is…you should. Great writing meets praiseworthy acting in this dark drama full of very serious funny people. Michael Rappaport also makes a brief appearance as an Eagles fan. It’s unfortunately that he’s not in the film more; he really is one of my favorite actors.

5 Hard Decisions out of 5

Next Up: Youth in Revolt – fun for you AND your alter ego

P.S. Patton Oswalt really does put in an amazing performance, especially next to some indie film powerhouses like Corrigan and Rappaport.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death - No additional pun required

Nick Park is a man whose work you’ve seen even if you didn’t know it. He’s done stop motion for TV commercials. He has several animated short films, all stop motion. What he’s most famous for is Wallace and Gromit. The pair consists of a lovable if slightly stupid man and his loyal and (thankfully) brilliant dog/sidekick. Each film finds Wallace involved in a new venture and, as is expected, leaves Gromit in charge of the running of said venture. If you’ve never seen a Wallace and Gromit film you should be ashamed of yourself. Go find them now and watch them, there are four short films and one feature length. A close shave, a grand day out, the wrong trousers, a Matter of loaf and death and curse of the were-rabbit respectively.


We’ll be taking a look at the newest adventure, a case of loaf and death. In this short we find Wallace has started a bakery. While on delivery he happens upon the girl of his dreams, the bake light girl and saves her from a runaway bike situation. They date for a spell and eventually are engaged, Gromit being the smart one sense that there’s something wrong with this situation and looks into it. I don’t want to spoil it for you so I’ll leave it at that. Remember it only has a 29-minute running time.

(after this there's an amazing homage to the original Batman movie, it's hilarious)

A case of loaf and death has everything you’d expect from a Wallace and Gromit film. There are all sorts of Rube Goldberg looking flabtraptions that are animated fluidly. The one thing the film is lacking in that other W & G films have is that sense of playful dread. Usually Nick Park Lingers on the bad guys more after Gromit has figured everything out, but in this case they plug along at a healthy pace and don’t really let the cat and mouse between Gromit and the villain linger before letting Wallace in on the secret. That one complaint aside, this is still a wonderful family film that the entire family will still enjoy.

4.5 Water balloon alarm clocks out of 5

Next Up: Big Fan – How big of a fan are you?

P.S. If you’re going to search out the W & G films, try to watch them in order so you can see Nick Park Hone his skills, it’s an amazing transformation.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Daybreakers – Consider my Day Broke

Daybreakers is a movie that doesn’t know what it is. It comes off as this big budget action film, when at its heart is a throwback to the era of trashy B-movies. You can’t go into this movie expecting quality because if you do you’ll be thoroughly disappointed, but if you open your mind to the inner sleaze of the movie what you walk away with is a damn near brilliant cult classic in the making.

Here’s the thing about Daybreakers, the ideology of the film is pretty heavy handed. It has a very anti-corporate message warning of the perils of greed and the squandering of our natural resources. Right wingers need not apply. Typically I try to avoid bring any political view into my reviews, but you can’t really help it in this case. The filmmakers make it impossible.

The film takes place in the near future after a vampiric bat starts an outbreak and turns the population of humans into blood drinkers (they don’t show any of this, but they imply it during the opening credits). Now its ten years later and the blood supply has been depleted to less than a month’s worth of blood left and the human population is dwindling. Chief hematologist Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is desperately trying to devise a blood substitute in order to quell the inevitable riots that will be taking place. He works for a major blood farm run by Charles Bromley (Sam Neil) a money and power hungry caricature of an evil executive. A man who’s even willing to kill his only daughter because she’s not willing to drink her blood after she’s turned against her will by his order. The government has a zero tolerance policy towards subsiders after all. Apparently one of the disadvantages of being Vampyre is if you become blood deprived you become a twisted mutated creature they lovingly refer to as “subsiders” (in ‘Merica we call them Mexicans).

So it’s a race against the clock for our man Dalton to find an answer or so we thought. A chance encounter with a group of humans on the run helps solidify Dalton’s already lingering feeling that being Nosferatu is wrong, especially when he meets Elvis (AKA Lionel Cormac played by the best thing in this film, Willem Defoe) who happens to be a former undead. Together they discover a way to turn Vamps back into humans. Hooray for mankind, kind of.

(our future?)

Look basically here’s how it goes, if you have a love for B-movies and can leave your politics at the door. If you can empty your brain and come in with zero expectations, you’ll probably enjoy it. In fact, my biggest complaint is that it was too short. I could have used another 20-30 minutes of the action in the third act. These vampires explode when you stake them in the heart. They burn up in the sunlight, but most importantly, they don’t sparkle.

4 Sci-Fi Vampires out of 5

Next up: who knows, I’m watching 9 movies this week so whatever I post next. Maybe Youth in Revolt

P.S. with lines like “We’re humans living in a world of vampires, it’s about as safe as bare backing a $5 whore” how can you go wrong. Seriously Daybreakers is worth seeing for Willem Defoe alone.


Monday, January 11, 2010

My Year in Disturbing Film: Week Two! let's see what's store for us

My year in disturbing film is my weekly column where I devote a few paragraphs to the most fucked up films ever made. Each week I plan on subjecting myself to the most horrific and mentally damaging imagery my mind can handle. I can't promise you this won't be the week I wind up in the hospital...

Here is a reminder about my rating system for these films

The second attempt at scarring me for life:

Murder-Set- Pieces – “pictures never lie”

What’s the movie about?
The characters are so inconsequential in murder-set-pieces, that I will just call them guy, girl and little sister. Guy lives in Vegas, he’s dating girl, she has a little sister. Guy kills a lot of hookers, usually post-coitus, sometimes during. Guy is a Photographer, the reason you know this is because they say it. He always seems to have a camera on him…he seems to take a lot of pictures, but he isn’t very convincing as a photographer. He holds the camera like it’s a blunt instrument and he’s about to bash you over the head with it. The movie is a gore/sexploitation film, but you'd never know it, but that’s not why we’re here…

Was the movie disturbing?
Not at all, sure if you’re a hausfrau who’s never seen a gore film you’d be apt to say “oh my” a couple times, but 95% of the violence takes place off screen. All the sex is fleeting at best, like they added it as an after thought. My biggest issue is that I have a hard time calling this a gore film OR a sexploitation, the movie lacks either enough to be one or the other. Here’s the deal, on every death in the film they ramp up the violence or at least the perceived violence till right before he’s about to make his kill, then jump cut, GONE. They jump away for every death in the movie, had they shown the sick and depraved stuff that guy has planned for the girls then my instincts tell me that this would be ranking pretty high on my eventual “most disturbing” list. But with what it is, it won’t even place. Blood splattered on the walls makes a disturbing movie not!

There were a couple of little things I found disturbing, but I felt they were so minor that it didn’t really affect me the way a movie on this list should. The main problem with guy is this, he’s a narcissist, he spends a great deal of time looking at himself, talking about himself and in his secret kill room there are shirtless pictures of himself in different stages of rage/agony/mental distress, makes you wonder who took these pictures? They try to make the character more demented by letting you in on the secret that he has ties to the Nazis; oh did I fail to mention he’s German? Again this feels tacked on and doesn’t really have any bearing on the character as a whole. I will give him credit though, he is very creative with some of the kills and some of the implements of pain and torture in his kill room seem like they would hurt, especially the several sets of fake teeth he has (one has screws for teeth and one is razors, the only one they show him “use” are pointed). As I previously mentioned, he’s a photographer, which in and of itself has the potential to be terribly sleazy, but he doesn’t play this character sleazy. He plays him demented and it just doesn’t work.

The other minor thing I felt deserved a nod as disturbing is his obsession with the little sister. He stalks her and snaps photos of her, but it’s not a love type of obsession, it’s an obsession that in the context of the movie makes no sense. Maybe he wants to kill her? Maybe he wants to rape her? Who knows? All I do know is that he always seems to know where she is and that alone is a little disturbing. Also the only violence they show on screen is the little sister kicking guy’s ass, that’s it.

I can’t believe I almost forgot that guy has weird dreams. They mostly consist of this one woman who we’re to assume is his mother? Sometimes they’ll be of him covered in blood, but the one dream he has that is genuinely shocking and the filmmaker can only take partial credit for this. He has a dream that features actual footage of the 9/11 attack, Thankfully the filmmakers had the good taste to not use any of the footage of people jumping to their death or of the buildings falling, though to be honest it would have improved the film’s standings on my list.

There are a grand total of three things I enjoyed about this film. Two of them are cameos featured. Gunnar Hanson plays a very brief role as an arms dealer who wants to give guy $500 bucks to sleep with the little sister. It was fun to see him, but would have been happier to see him in a better film. The other cameo was Tony Todd, some of you may not recognize the name, but you’ll remember his most famous role. He played candyman.

(remember him now?)

Mr. Todd plays a porn shop clerk who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and takes a metal slug in the gut from guy after a botched robbery attempt (not from guy). The last thing I enjoyed was the gore/blood FX done by toe tag. These guys do good work and I really enjoyed watching the blood splatter even if you didn’t see what was happening to the person. Sadly however, this movie stinks worse than the piles of rotting corpses stacked in the basement on a hot summer day.

2 off screen kills out of 5

Disturbitude: 1, due to nothing in this movie being truly disturbing. Just some things that make you go hmmm.

Next Up: Pink flamingos…bring the whole family.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Black Dynamite - KUNG FU TREACHERY!

I may not have been old enough in the 70’s to appreciate blaxploitation in all its glory, but I am huge fan of the genre. I’ve seen all the classics and a large number of the not so classics. From Truck Turner to Coffey to Friday Foster to Petey Wheatstraw the devil’s son in law to the movie that started it all, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadaaasssss Song. Black Dynamite is nothing like any of these films, but also just like all of them. The spoof genre is sadly all too alive and well these days with a million and one “*insert genre here* movie”. Black Dynamite does one thing those movies all failed to do. It succeeds in being hilarious. It manages the tone, the pace, the style and the dialog of the classic blaxploitation films, but turns them just far enough onto its ear to make them funny as hell. The one other such spoof “I’m gonna git you sucka” is also hilarious, but fails in nailing the look quite as well as Black Dynamite does.

Black Dynamite opens with a fake malt liqueur add for “Anaconda malt liqueur “it gives you Oooooooooo!!!”(This is important later in the film so try to remember it). Then it immediately lets you in on the main story, in which Black Dynamite’s (an almost unrecognizable Michael jai white) brother Jimmy is murdered in a drug deal and it’s up to BD to find out what happened. The story is secondary to the satire and in this case that’s fine. Black Dynamite has everything you’d want in a blaxploitation spoof; bad dialog, visible boom mics, flubbed lines, pimps, hoes, martial arts, insane character names (bullhorn, cream corn, Chicago wind, and many many more) gangsters, black militants, crooked cops, etc etc. The other thing Black Dynamite has going for it is that it’s the single most quotable movie ever, I thoroughly suspect that if you watch this with a crowd of people you’ll all be saying stuff like “I AM smiling”, “KUNG FU TREACHERY”, “I threw that shit before I even walked through the door”, “I said URINE SAMPLE Jenny”, “but black dynamite, I sell drugs in the community” and “CREAM CORN NOOOOOO!!!!!!”.

Black Dynamite actually manages to succeed in a few areas where the originals failed as well. The dialog, albeit funny as hell, is also dead on accurate to the genre and the storyline is actually better than most of the original movies. I guess if you cram all the clichés of a genre into one movie you sometimes wind up making the best movies in said genre. The other area where it beats out the originals is that Michael jai white is actually an amazing martial artist. The stunts in the film are superb and even manage to pull off several sight gags during them. Now here’s my warning though, I think if you aren’t a fan of the blaxploitation genre you’re more than likely not going to get all the jokes, BUT, I also think the movie is funny enough on it’s own that this shouldn’t be an issue and the climax has to be seen to be believed. Let’s just say the conspiracy goes all the way to the top and the “conspiracy” itself is probably the best joke in the film. So go watch the trailer, if you laugh at all during the trailer you WILL like the film. I LOVED IT. Come for the jokes, stay for the action and while you’re waiting help yourself to one of the best Dolemite clones I’ve seen in a while (bullhorn) and remember “There’s no “i” in revoluti…no “i” in team”

(bullhorn is on the right)

5 nefarious government plots out of 5

Next Up: Julie and Julia - seems fitting after Black Dynamite...right?

P.S. this is seriously the funniest movie I’ve seen in 2009, if I had seen this before I made my best of list this would have been on it.

My Year in Disturbing Films: Week One! - The Begining of My End!

My year in disturbing film is my new weekly column where I devote a few paragraphs to the most fucked up films ever made. Each week I plan on subjecting myself to the most horrific and mentally damaging imagery my mind can handle. I can't promise you this won't be the week I wind up in the hospital...

Here is a reminder about my rating system for these films

The first attempt to damage my psyche irreversibly:

I spit on your grave – a grave experiment

What is the movie about?
Not much in the way of story in this one. A female author goes to the country to work on her book. She’s from New York, a fact that the guys in this film can’t let go of. “You come from an evil place”, quips Matthew, the mildly retarded character, but more on him later. She catches the fancy of the aforementioned guys and when she spurns their advances, they gang rape her, brutally. She recovers while they think she’s dead and she takes her revenge. This film takes the actions speak louder than words disturbitude.

Was the film disturbing?
The jaded observer could argue that by today’s standards the film is downright tame. I prefer to think of what the layperson would think of this, someone who doesn’t spend their days watching this kind of filth and depravity (I do speak of myself here). So to this end I invited a couple of friends to watch it with me. This film does have many aspects of it that are very disturbing when you think about them. It boasts the longest gang rape scene ever filmed. I have a film later in the year that may have the longest one on one rape scene ever filmed. I chose this film to do first because it deals with a topic I personally find very hard to watch and one, which comes up many times in this year of disturbing films. That of course being rape, rape is used in these films because it should evoke the basest of emotions and get you behind the woman who was raped when she seeks her revenge.

The other topic this film touches on, but in a much more comical sense is the mentally handicapped. Only one male character is portrayed as weak and not in control of what he’s doing and this is the mentally challenged Matthew. He’s the fall guy, the butt of every joke and surprisingly, the reason this whole event takes place. At the beginning of the film he delivers groceries to the woman, he finds her attractive and when he goes back to his friends brags that she showed him her breasts. It’s at this point that the guys decide to do poor Matthew a favor and get the girl for him. Their attempts to pick her up are described sarcastically by one friend as “the definition of subtle”. One day the woman is sunbathing lying in her canoe and the guys decided it would be fun to drag her off downriver.

This is where the gang rape scene begins; they start off by taunting Matthew to rape her. They did get her for him after all. When he doesn’t do it, the leader of the group (Johnny) decides to do it himself. Then they let her go and she stumbles through the woods a little bit, naked and dirty. She thinks she’s gotten away and she stumbles across the guys again where the next guy (Andy) promptly rapes her by having the other guys hold her over a rock. Squirming yet? Because it’s only half over, Sorry. At this point they leave her again and steal her boat so she can’t use it. She manages to make it back to her home and gets to the phone to call the police, GUESS WHAT? They’re there and this time Matthew decides he’s going to go through with it and does a strip tease while the other guys hoot and holler, but can’t finish because everyone is watching him. Stanley, the last guy (seriously, who wants to go FOURTH in a gang rape?), he goes a different route with it and orally rapes her, then beats her to a pulp. They leave, yet again; only this time when they get outside Johnny finally comes to the realization that they can’t let her live. So you already know whom they send in to kill her, yup, Matthew. He chickens out and just wipes some of her blood on the knife and tells the guys he did it. This was a big mistake; only he doesn’t know it yet.

Not sure if I mentioned it, but the entire rape scene, or all four really, is approximately 28 minutes. That’s a lot of chair squirming, made me feel like Nicholas cage in the trailer for 8mm.

Two weeks go by and, as if superhuman, she heals entirely, no bruising, no scars (that’s not true, she had a scar in one scene, but it goes away somehow). Really it is amazing how fully healed she is, I blame it on movie magic. The revenge half of this movie is much easily to watch than the rape scene, though one scene does make you squirm quite a bit, especially if you’re a guy, more on that in a minute. Let’s start this where she does…

Matthew, poor Matthew, he just liked this girl and didn’t know how to express himself. Did he truly deserve what he gets? Of course he does, she lures him to her house, not very hard since he’s her grocery delivery boy. Offers him sex, has sex with him, then puts a noose around the poor bastard’s neck and hangs the son of a bitch. Remember that I spit.. is a feminist piece so I will be using man hating phrasing for this half of the review. Next up is Johnny, she lures him off to the woods and is going to shoot him, too good of a fate if you ask me! He somehow talks her out of it by explaining to her how she’s a whore (?) and she takes him home to give him a bath, yes you read that right, she takes him home to give him a bath. Of course this is where her true plot comes out and once she has him relaxed she begins to pleasure him with her hand and once he puts his head back in relaxation the prick loses his. A hard scene to watch (pun intended), as the blood shoots out and he realizes what has happened. She locks him in the bathroom and he bleeds out

At this point there’s only about 9 minutes left to the film so it becomes obvious that the final kills have to happen simultaneously and the filmmakers don’t disappoint. She takes Andy out with a conveniently dropped axe, that he conveniently dropped in her boat and Stanley gets his guts ripped out with a motorboat propeller in a scene that would have much better with modern special FX, but they did well with what they had. After Stanley dies she rides off down the river. Credits roll, leaving my other friend to ask the one question on everyone’s mind “but does she finish her book?”

5 bathtub castrations our of 5

Disturbitude: 7, due to the rape and the castration scenes, the rest of the movie is tame enough to let you mellow out between the two big events. No need for therapy after this one.

Next up: Murder-Set-Pieces - Dieser Film ist Schlecht