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Feb. 2nd, 2011 @ 09:26 pm #27 - Ground Zero L.A. (1991) / #28 - Radioactive (1991)
Ah, when porn stars try to act. And I'm not talking about Sasha Grey or the legendary Ron Jeremy. Back in the early 90s, Buck Adams decided he wanted to make a porn action movie (yes, they do happen, but not very often since, oh, the late 70's.) So he unleashed this piece of cinematic trash on the world in two versions, hard and soft.

Jerry Butler plays a squirrelly terrorist who's stolen some plutonium, and is holding Los Angeles ransom for a billion dollars. Adams and Steve Austin play a pair of vaguely sleazy cops who seem more interesting in bedding sluts than hunting down the guys they're supposed to be stopping. And there are a bunch of generic female characters who seem to be chiefly there to be bedded.

This was made during a period where Adams was hopped up on a ton of coke and thinking that he was some kind of porno auteur. Whatever auteurist pretensions Adams may have had, Ground Zero L.A. falls about as short as you'd expect a movie made by a porn actor to. The attempts to build plot and suspense are undermined by the fact that most of the people in this movie can't act, and the fact that this was supposed to be a movie first and porn second is undermined by the fact that the softcore sex scenes run at about the same length as the hardcore, so aside from the standard insertion/bumping and finishes, you might as well be watching the porn movie. Overall, both are pretty godawful, but at least if you watch Radioactive, you'll actually be getting the porn. There have been decent movies that were simultaneously porn and actual movie. This is not one of them.
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Calvin and Tyler
Feb. 2nd, 2011 @ 08:18 pm #26 - Hell's Heroes (1987)
Current Mood: boredbored
Competent, unspectacular Italian Vietnam action here, featuring MST3K favorite Miles (and Miles) O'Keefe and Fred Williamson, directed by Max Steel(no, really).

O'Keefe plays Sgt. Darkin, a disgruntled vet who just wants to go home. After losing one of his men to a Viet Cong tiger trap, he is asked to escort a visiting Senator (Chuck Connors, in a literally five minute appearance). After mouthing off to the senator, Darkin ends up the only survivor of a Cong attack that kills Connors. Believing Darkin to be a coward and a deserter, he is sentenced to prison camp, a prison camp of 6, apparently. But after the camp is destroyed in an enemy attack, Darkin and his fellow generic movie soldiers (Bronx, Little Rock, Trash, and Fred Williamson (he's got a character name, but really, he's Fred Williamson)) attempt to make their way to freedom, slaughtering many Viet Cong along the way.

At least that's what it sounded like, anyway. The print I watched was somewhat murky and there was a lot of filtered day for night shooting, resulting in at least a third or more of the movie being very dark and hard to follow. On top of it, the plot is pretty dumb. The evidence of Darkin's 'cowardice' is captured by a TV crew, but the recording is shut off before the actual attack (which the news crew should have been around for), and his conviction seems to be more of a function to move what little there is of the plot along. This is pretty much just another generic Italian action movie, the kind that flooded video stores during the first big video boom of the late 80's. Stelvio Massi (the Italian director behind the Max Steel name) was a pretty competent action director and cinematographer, so it's disappointing that Hell's Heroes is so generic.
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Calvin and Tyler
Feb. 1st, 2011 @ 10:02 pm #25 - Nightmares (AKA Stage Fright) (1980)
Current Mood: amusedhighly entertained
One of the films covered in Not Quite Hollywood, this is a bit of glorious 80's slasher trash which doesn't skimp on the gore, and doesn't wait very long to get to it.

Helen is an aspiring actress starring in a stage play. 16 years ago, though, her name was Cathy, and she accidentally killed her mother in a car accident, because she was messing around with another man. Then she killed her father, less accidentally. Now, the other cast members are dying horribly around her while she tries to deal with her mental issues and falls in love with another actor in the show. Dealing with her mental issues, of course, by being the one killing all of her castmates because she's completely psychotic.

This is sleazy, gory stalk and slash at its finest. The plot isn't particularly important, and it's pretty clear from the very start of the film that Helen's off her rocker. It's an Australian version of the early 80's American horror films, and it's very successful at it. Highly recommended.
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Calvin and Tyler
Jan. 31st, 2011 @ 10:12 pm January wrapup.
Watched 24 movies in 31 days - 7 movies behind.

18 movies I'd never seen.
6 movies I'd seen before (though 2 were in different versions).

Best movie: Despicable Me
Worst movie: Shark's Cave.
Movie I'd recommend most in the month: Island Of The Fishmen.
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Laura Nyaah!
Jan. 31st, 2011 @ 10:06 pm #24 - Grotesque (1988)
Current Mood: amusedamused
More straight-to-video crapola from the late '80's. Linda Blair and her friend head up to Big Bear Lake to visit her parents. Her father(Guy Stockwell) is a Hollywood makeup artist who loves playing practical jokes. While on the way, they run into a VW van full of generic 80's punkers (including Robert Z'Dar and a Van Patten) who menace them, believing the house to have a secret stash of some kind. Later, the punkers invade the house and kill everyone except for Linda Blair, who escapes into the woods. But as the punkers chase Linda, someone or something is chasing them and knocking them off one by one. Turns out it's Linda's deformed cousin, who wipes out all but two of the punkers before being shot and killed by the police right in front of Tab Hunter, who is the deformed cousin's father. Linda dies before she can tell the cops what happened, though, and the punkers get off. So Tab has to exact his revenge, and there's a fun little final twist which makes the sort of standard 80 minutes that precedes the final 5 minutes mostly worthwhile, but then it blows it with a weird coda which makes no sense whatsoever.

Too bad that aside from Linda Blair and Tab Hunter, the acting veers from over the top hammy to just plain bad. Still, it's sort of an okay 80's horror movie, but hardly anything essential.
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Calvin and Tyler
Jan. 31st, 2011 @ 09:17 pm #23 - The Devil's Rejects (2005)
Current Mood: amusedamused
I have to say that I run hot and cold on Rob Zombie. I kind of liked some of what White Zombie did (More Human Than Human and Thunderkiss '65 are particular favorites) but his solo work leaves me cold. I didn't really care for his Halloween remake or its sequel (mostly because I think Michael Myers works better as a soulless automaton as opposed to a battered white trash kid), and I honestly didn't care for House of 1000 Corpses (as I recall, Laurene and I turned it off after about 25 minutes.)

But I really, really liked The Devil's Rejects. I'm not sure why, to be completely honest. The characters are just as white-trashy as Zombie's other films, and it's pretty graphic. But I just enjoyed it. I'm not sure whether it was Sid Haig's gleeful performance as Captain Spaulding or William Forsythe's near-psychotic lawman, or possibly the cast full of "Hey, look it's..." types. More likely, I think it's the fact that Zombie is subconsciously (or maybe not so sub-) aping The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but doing so in such a way that it seems a much more worthy successor than the terrible Michael Bay-produced remakes, and that The Devil's Rejects is a solidly enjoyable grindhouse throwback.

It's not for everyone, but if you can hack the grime, it's highly recommended.
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Laura Nyaah!
Jan. 31st, 2011 @ 08:50 pm #22 - Not Quite Hollywood (2008)
Current Mood: amusedentertained
Once upon a time, the Australian film industry didn't exist. And then it did, and when it did, it was a glorious land of exploitation, action, kung fu, and the occasional fine cinematic gem by Peter Weir.

Not Quite Hollywood is the story of how Australia's exploitation industry came to be, flourished, and then sort of vanished. It features many, many clips from the various films that came out then, split into four sections, sex films, gore, action, and road movies. It also features interviews with many of the filmmakers and actors involved in the movies as well as critics, politicians, and, uh, Quentin Tarantino.

I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary. Many of the films in it are films I remember seeing on the cable when I was younger, and I saw quite a few movies that I am interested in seeing now. If you have a chance, and you don't mind a lot of nudity and gore, this is a good documentary to check out.
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Laura Nyaah!
Jan. 26th, 2011 @ 10:43 pm #21 - Secret Of The Telegian (1960)
Current Mood: amusedamused
On the last day of World War II, a group of soldiers escorting a scientist discovers that the scientist is carrying gold instead of papers. They fight, and one of the soldiers and the professor are left for dead in a cave. 14 years later, the 4 men who stole the gold are being killed one by one by a mysterious psycho called The Telegian, and the police and a reporter try to solve the mystery before he finishes the job.

This was a pretty entertaining police procedural with a nice mix of Toho sci-fi, directed by Jun Fukuda, who would unfortunately go on to direct some of the worst Godzilla films (the really bad early 70's ones). I watched the Brenco English dub of this, which was actually a pretty good dub for a early 60's film. If you have a chance to see this, it's actually pretty fun.
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Calvin and Tyler
Jan. 26th, 2011 @ 06:34 pm #20 - Star Wars, Grindhoused
Current Mood: amusedamused
So, this is a thing.

I don't generally get into the fan edits, because it's a rabbit hole, really. There are so many of them, but they're mostly the same 25 or thirty movies. But this popped up, and being the Star Wars nerd that I am, I had to have it.

Star Wars, Grindhoused, or War of The Stars, as it is titled, is fun if you're a Star Wars nerd or a fan of grindhouse movies. The person who made it took a nice 16mm sourced print of the movie and roughed it up, then cut about 40 minutes out of the movie, and added in 16 minutes of deleted footage as well as a few minutes of the fan film Troops. Some of the cuts are jarring, such as the deletion of the sequence where Leia puts the message in Artoo, or editing James Earl Jones lines from other films over Vader's dialogue. Some of them are amusing, such as a CG'ed blood splatter being added to the opening battle sequence. And some of them are just odd, such as a late-film mood shift that doesn't really add anything, just makes Luke seem like a dick. Oh, and R2D2 has subtitles, most of which make him into a sarcastic asshole. Along with roughing the print, the editor has made some interesting musical changes, such as exchanging the Star Wars march with Holst, or adding a 70's funk tune to the Death Star chase sequence.

If you're a big Star Wars nerd, this is something that you'll be interested in. If you don't really know that much about the films, a lot of the stuff will go over your head.
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Laura Nyaah!
Jan. 24th, 2011 @ 08:46 pm #16 - 19
Current Mood: lethargiclethargic
So, I got sidetracked for a few days, but I did watch a few things:

#16 and #17 were two versions of the same movie. #16 - Island of The Fishmen (1979) was a surprisingly entertaining pastiche of the Island Of Dr. Moreau, just with fish instead of animals, highlighted by a fine villainous performance by Richard Johnson, and which was shot at the same time and in the same house as the jungle-set portion of Fulci's Zombie. #17 - Screamers (also 1979) was the Roger Corman-ized edit of Fishmen, jettisoning all the good characterization and measured pace in favor of highlighting the gore and cutting 20 or so minutes to add a Joe Dante-lensed opening sequence that has fuck-all to do with the rest of the film. It also had the balls to have this as a poster/box art:

Photobucket

Never mind that nothing like this is in Island Of The Fishmen, and nothing like it is in the Dante-lensed opening either, just Mel Ferrer and Cameron Mitchell being gorily dispatched by someone wearing a Creature From The Black Lagoon costume. If you can, see Fishmen, forget about Screamers.

#18 - Shaolin Temple (1976) was a fine Shaw Brothers kung fu title. Basically a historical tale about the events that led to the burning of the original Shaolin Temple, but really a superior example of the kung fu training film. Fine perfomances by Ti Lung and Alexander Fu Sheng (unfortunately killed in a car accident at 29) highlight this Chang Cheh masterpiece.

#19 - Metropolis Restored (1927) - It's Metropolis. What else needs to be said, aside from noting that the restoration really fleshes out what was already a thick, deep movie experience. I watched it on the Netflix Instant View, but I will be getting the Blu-ray as soon as I can afford it.
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Laura Nyaah!