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  • Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992): I've seen this many times but upon this latest re-watch I was struck by how much of a train wreck this movie is. It's a really bizarre picture when you watch it. The acting is all over the place and it's not just Keanu. The production design and music and effects and all that great shit is absolutely fantastic. But the tone is all wrong from scene to scene. One scene is amazing and the next feels like a parody.

    Back to the Future: still holds up. I didn't think it was that funny though. Charming but not too funny.
    "Ah! By god's balls what licentiousness!"

    Marquis de Sade, The 120 Days of Sodom.


    • And now Back to the Future parts 2 and 3.

      2 still holds up. A lot of fun and I love how they use time travel to alter the past and future. Fun movie and I think the best of the trilogy which is not an uncommon opinion.

      3 is okay. The romance with the Doc and Clara grinds everything down to a halt. It's an over-long film too. It's at least 20 minutes too long. I remember re-watching 2 and I got through it without the urge to do something else. Halfway through part 3 I found myself checking my email and doing other shit. Not a terrible movie but not a great end to the trilogy.
      "Ah! By god's balls what licentiousness!"

      Marquis de Sade, The 120 Days of Sodom.


      • El mirí³n (José Ramí³n Larraz, 1977) - Marital drama centering on a man obsessed with seeing his wife with other men, however she isn't fully on board with the idea and struggles to understand his fetish which naturally causes strife. Considering the subject matter and Larraz being behind the camera, its a remarkably restrained and quiet work, looking and feeling very much like a soap opera. There's an interesting twist when the wife (Alexandra Bastedo) develops feelings for her younger neighbor, sparking jealousy in the husband, adding a new dynamic to his turn-on and the film ends on an ambiguous note that's still a bit downbeat. I don't see this getting as much fanfare as the likes of Vampyres or even Black Candles but nonetheless, a curious Larraz film.


        • Unusual for me, I watched three new films in cinema back to back.

          The Post (USA, 2017) [DCP] - 3.5/5
          Enjoyable political thriller/drama, extremely timely for its theme (freedom of press) despite being set in the 1970s. Also nice to see a film with a 68 year old actress (Streep) and a 61 year old actor (Hanks) as the leads.

          Ready Player One (USA, 2018) [DCP] - 3/5
          I went in fearing this might turn out Marvel superhero kind of action boredom, but Spielberg thankfully handles the material better, and it's also so plot driven (or perhaps race driven) that it never stops moving. As for the "retro content" this is very much 80s for the 2018 kids, that is, a film that embraces bits of past but never loses the modern perspective because "going full retard" would alienate the modern kids. And indeed, this is a film very much about its own time. The images may be science fiction, but the ideas are as 2018 as they can. And that's maybe not be a bad thing. Time will tell.

          Red Sparrow (USA, 2018) [DCP] - 3.5/5
          Unspectacular but enjoyable, story driven spy thriller. Quite hard hitting at times, although the pre-release fuzz about the film being "sleazy" was way exaggerated. This is only daring for a modern day mainstream Hollywood film, even paling in comparison to something like Basic Instinct. It is a film for adults, but the sex and rapes are very brief and nudity sparse. We do get a half naked (literally... the right half) Jennifer Lawrence though.


          • Savage Streets (USA, 1984) [DVD] - 5/5
            Vigilante diamond full of great lines, terrific music, the best villains of the 80s, and girls straight out of a Japanese pinky violence film. Excellent pacing and ace technical execution as well, minus perhaps the odd final 15 minutes which nevertheless manages to be wonderfully entertaining partly for that reason. 5/5 may be slightly more than the film deserves, but then, 4.5 just wouldn't suffice.

            Siege (Canada, 1983) [Hulu] - 3.5/5
            A pretty cool Assault on Prescient 13 variation. The police are on a strike when a group of fascists execute everyone in a gay bar, except one man who escape and seek shelter in an apartment. The MacGyvers in the apartment take the poor man in and start turning the apartment into a fortress against the armed attackers using anything they have or can turn into a weapon. Earns an extra half star for the theme and closing music alone. Aka Self Defence aka Night Warriors.

            Note 1: The Hulu version runs 93 min. There's a VHS rip on YouTube with a running time of 83 min, missing 10 min of character introductions from the beginning.
            Note 2: Although the Hulu version looks like a VHS era master, it's notably better than the version in Youtube)...
            Note 3: I believe this hasn't been released on DVD (?).


            • I'm watching The Valachi Papers right now...


              • JAWS - Still holds up, but I cringed at some of the dialogue: "Oh boys... I think he's come back for his noon feeding." Gimme a fucking break.

                JAWS 2 - Solid sequel that I enjoyed a lot more than the last time I watched it. Some of the attack footage is incredible. It's too long, though.

                JAWS III - An abomination. I bet Spielberg cried after he saw it.
                Why would anybody watch a scum show like Videodrome? Why did you watch it, Max?


                • The American (USA, 2010) [Hulu] - 4.5/5
                  Quiet, lonely hitman (Clooney) retreats to a small Italian town by the mountains and starts working on a new assignment. Atmospheric, beautifully filmed and impressively low key film which reminded me of the most meditative of Italian action films and westerns, as well as Charles Bronson and Jean Pierre Melville, although I cannot pinpoint any specific reference movie. A stunningly good film.

                  The Thing (USA, 2011) [Hulu] - 2.5/5
                  Unnecessary, but entirely watchable prequel focusing on Norwegian camp. Great locations, nice to see actual Norwegian (well, Danish too) cast as Norwegians, and there's a wonderful tie up with the original film at the end. They also came up with a clever new "creature identification method". That being said, although professionally made, the chilling atmosphere of Carpenter's film is nowhere to be found, showing the creature in full CGI assisted detail at every single encounter doesn't make the film better, and all characters except for "Lars" (the bearded guy chasing the dog at the beginning of Carpenter's film) are forgettable, especially Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the compulsory added American lead. There are a few other Americans in the film as well, none of whom should be there (It's a film about Norwegians. It should star Americans, right? No?).

                  Olympus Has Fallen (USA, 2013) [Hulu] - 3/5
                  Dumb, occasionally incomprehensible but fun action thriller. The hero keeps putting himself in a disadvantage by feeding the enemy with information for no reason at all (why the hell did he let them know that he had found and saved the kid?). Also, who the hell did the CGI for this film? Most 1990s video games had better graphics. We get CGI planes, CGI helicopters, even the bloody cars are CGI. All that being said, the gunplay action inside the White House easily delivers the thrills and Butler makes a good, 80s style hero.


                  • I was doing my laundry and decided to watch Aftermath. Aside from the terribly placed stock scream at the beginning it's a very well made short that holds up. For me, it invites comparison to Un Chien Andalou.
                    "Ah! By god's balls what licentiousness!"

                    Marquis de Sade, The 120 Days of Sodom.


                    • Decided to familiarize myself with WiP films... lets see if anything good comes out of this...

                      The Big Doll House (USA / Philippines, 1971) - 2/5
                      A relatively standard WiP film, misses its potential by being shot in the Philippines yet taking place almost entirely within four walls. The action packed climax and supporting star Pam Grier provide some fun, though. Producer & director duo Roger Corman & Jack Hill did better with the follow up The Big Bird Cage (1972), which wisely set most of its action outdoors, and Pam Grier went on to star in an even better film Black Mama White Mama (1973) which was helmed by Philippine director Eddie Romero (producer here). Sometimes referred as "rough" for containing a handful of torture and violent scenes, this is mild stuff compared to Japanese films of the era, unfortunately so also technically and artistically. The genre may be to blame partially: there's just not that much mediocre filmmakers can do with a closed setting like prison.

                      Women in Cages (USA / Philippines, 1971) - 3/5
                      The second and best film in Roger Corman's WiP "trilogy". Pam Grier co-stars not as prisoner but sadistic lesbian head prison guard with a discipline dungeon designed for aesthetically pleasing torture, giving the film a Teruo Ishii kind of swing. The film was actually called "Female Torture Demon Pam" (no kidding) when it premiered on video in Japan. The actual heroine however is Jennifer Gan, a surprisingly cute red head Jane Fonda lookalike who is so fish out of the water (both the character and the actress) that it becomes more amusing than irritating. You forgive her for being more concerned keeping her boobs covered than protecting her life, though her naiveté is frustrating. The look and feel of the film are far more Asian than American, perhaps due to Philippine director Geraldo de Leon who has a better visual eye (and a welcome lack of sense of humour) than Jack Hill. The action is clumsy, but the film is such a charmingly cute exploitation product that a bit of clumsiness (almost) works to its benefit.

                      For reference, my old review from last year

                      The Big Bird Cage (USA / Philippines, 1972) [DVD] - 2.5/5
                      Philippines set WiP film with a tongue in the cheek tone; part 3 in Roger Corman's "trilogy". Entirely watchable and rather entertaining, but once the film is over you're not left with much. As exploitation it's quite tame, and obviously lacks the kind of energy and state of art visuals you'd find in the best Japanese exploitation films of the era. That being said, it's well enough made and features nice outdoor locations and a colourful cast. Pam Grier is great, unfortunately just about the only female in the film who keeps her clothes on (somewhat). The script features one clever twist: the male guards are all gay so the women can't seduce them!
                      Sweet Sugar (USA, 1972) - 2.5/5
                      Sloppy women on a (sugar-cane) labour camp film plays out like a Russ Meyer tit flick with constant cleavage (star Phyllis Davis) for the first third, nudie scenes (naked swimming, doctor's examination etc.) for the second and machine gun action for the third. Laughable dialogue and performances provide some fun and the film keeps rolling towards its action climax at a passable pace. Also included is a mad doctor (Angus Duncan) who conducts human experiments and throws "primitive cats" at prisoners - a genuine Dr. Evil character. I generally detest the misguided notion of "so bad it's good" (films like Women in Cages certainly don't fit the bill as they're just plain good) but this movie perhaps has a bit of that in it.

                      Black Mama, White Mama (USA / Philippines, 1973) - 3/5
                      Though not a Roger Corman production, this is essentially a superior version of The Big Bird Cage (1972) with similar cast and story (two female inmates chained to each other on the run, one of them affiliated with a revolutionary movement) but with more action and nudity and a slightly better flow except for the Sid Haig parts. As its predecessor, the film benefits from exotic filming locations (The Philippines), spicy Pam Grier (showing skin a bit more generously that last time) and the fact that it doesn't waste too much time in the prison. Eddie Romero helms. Light but fun.

                      Savage Sisters (USA / Philippines, 1974) - 1.5/5
                      Tame American International / Filipino actioner isn't really a WiP movie, but places it's protagonists behind the bars for the second quarter. Were there enough hard edged exploitation scenes it might set off the sloppiness, but instead we are treated truckloads of Sid Haig comedy, poor girl's Pam Grier Gloria Hendry and not even nudity (plenty of cleavage though). The plot is about a box of money rebels, bandits and the army are all after. Director Eddie Romero did much better with Black Mama, White Mama (1973).

                      Caged Heat (USA, 1974) - 1/5
                      This frustrating piece of satirical chicken shit cinema was the directorial debut by Jonathan Demme, who had already scripted a couple of shot-in-Philippines WiP films for Roger Corman. This film is much different not only for its unexotic US setting but also for Demme's attempt to place himself above the genre by filling the movie with quirky irony, silly theatre play scenes, slapped-on-top violin music and artistry, strange voices, even a fart joke during an action scene. Humour and self-irony are not forbidden, but you can't do a decent genre film if you don't have enough balls and respect for the genre to do the real thing.


                      • The Hot Box (USA / Philippines, 1972) - 2/5
                        Not quite a WiP film but women in captivity nevertheless, again shot in the Philippines and scripted by Jonathan Demme. A group American nurses get kidnapped by South American rebels trying to overturn the government. Action and plentiful bath scenes ensue, but not much exploitative edge since the kidnappers are essentially good guys. While more action packed than some others, the film is just so mediocre that it fails to make any kind of impression. One of the problems is that there's too much focus on the rebels instead of the girls who remain too passive in the action scenes.

                        Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (Canada, 1974) [DVD] - 2.5/5
                        Mean spirited exploitation film mixes soft core sex with sickening human experiments that dominate most of the running time. Not exactly an enjoyable film, but certainly a memorable one. It's interesting to see how it differs from similar Japanese films (e.g. The Joy of Torture) which were technically and artistically superior, but also aestheticized and eroticized the violence against women to no end. Ilsa is much grittier and less sexy, making it feel sicker (although the opposite interpretation would also make sense).

                        Barbed Wire Dolls (Switzerland, 1976) [DVD] - 1/5
                        I was under the impression that this was supposed to be a real movie, but it turned out to be a porno (and not even a good one). Or at least I think it was a porno; the Japanese DVD I rented was so badly fogged that I couldn't tell for sure. It was advertised as "hair nude" version but since beavers are still outlawed and the film only features about one hair shot as opposed to seven hundred beaver shots, that promise ended up meaning not a damn thing. This was my first Franco and would be the last if I didn't have another damn Franco disc lying on my table. Maybe it's time to put my recently renewed fire insurance to use?

                        Tropical Inferno (Switzerland, 1976) [DVD] - 1/5
                        Another Jess Franco WiP film. Compared to his earlier movie Barbed Wire Dolls this one tones down the porn and replaces it with very nasty sexual (and non-sexual) torture. Don't be fooled by the cool title either: most of the film is set indoors; only towards the end we get a bit of swimming in a river and a crocodile. That's it. What a mean spirited bore.

                        Escape from Hell (Italy / Spain, 1980) - 3/5
                        Surprisingly enjoyable jungle prison film is the very definition of exploitation with (frequently naked) female prisoners consumed by the heat, sadistic guards, snakes, even heart failures when they're not engaging in sex scenes bordering pornography. Just like the better Italian cannibal films this is a relatively well made, stylish and slightly mean spirited film that knows what it is and throws a menacing score on top to underline it. It could use trimming (at 93 min its 15 min too long), but there's something so charming about its honest trashiness that it can only receive a recommendation. Unsurprisingly, BBFC banned the film upon its first release attempt in 1980, probably for displaying the women's mistreatment in a slightly too appealing manner.

                        Chained Heat (USA, 1983) [DVD] - 1.5/5
                        Bizarrely popular WiP film feels like a director fired from The Bold and The Beautiful helming a group of Dolly Parton's porny cousins in DTV production in 1983. Linda Blair's boobs are presumably the main appeal here, however it is John Vernon as a horny pornographer warden who comes out more entertaining. Everything else from story to acting, cinematography, score and 80s hairdos are either dull or irritating.

                        Women's Prison Massacre (Italy, 1983) [DVD] - 2/5
                        Semi sleazy WiP thriller does well by introducing a pack of psychotic male prisoners who are temporarily placed in a women's prison about 25 minutes into the film. The score isn't half bad either, if extremely repetitive, and the ending is zombie film gory. This could've been a good film had they remembered to wrap up the opening 25 minutes (there's a build up for something that never materializes) and if the rest didn't drag. The thriller vibes are there, but every other shot is too long and the film could've lost a good 15 minutes from the 89 minute running time. Still, it's more watchable than some of the duller and more sexploitative entries in the genre.


                        • Originally posted by Takuma View Post
                          Decided to familiarize myself with WiP films... lets see if anything good comes out of this...
                          Also check out Bruno Mattei's THE JAIL (on Czech and US dvd). I enjoyed it heaps but you'll probably give it 0.5/5. lol. It's a mix of WIP, cannibal, jungle and gore actioner. One of Mettei's very last.
                          2019: The only blog to survive the nuclear holocaust


                          • I watched THE MACK and THE GETAWAY yesterday. THE MACK was a first for me and a very enjoyable one. It had a somewhat more realistic tone to it than most blaxploitation films, and the main character wasn't a "hero" but a lowlife scumbag. He did luv his mum, though. The reg. 1 has a good 45 min doc about the film.

                            I've watched THE GETAWAY (Sam Peckinpah's original, not the remake) many times over the years. I taped it off TV in the '80s and watched my fullscreen tape repeatedly. It's been many years, tho, and I got a reg. 1 DVD fairly recently. So nice to finally see the film in widescreen. Unfortunately, there's no real extras other than two commentary tracks. Is there a good blu-ray I wonder?
                            2019: The only blog to survive the nuclear holocaust


                            • I have a Blu of The Getaway that has a very nice transfer but I don't remember what the extras are. What is weird is it's a US release but the menu is all in Japanese. I bought it used, locally, for just a few bucks.

                              I watched The Passage last night on an HD movie channel. I have the Blu. It's pretty cool film & worth checking out for the wild ending and if you like perverted SS nazi's.


                              • Secret Games II: The Escort (Gregory Dark, 1993) - One of the more obscure entries in Dark's 90's softcore cannon and one of the more ambitious that sets a high benchmark for the genre. Not really an "erotic thriller", more of a heady drama (though its got the "erotic" bit down, yeesh!) featuring moments of fourth wall breaking with the main character addressing the viewer via videotape, though there is a brooding feeling throughout, as if said main character, played wonderfully by Martin Hewitt by the way, could snap at any moment. Interesting from a structural standpoint, constantly flashing back and forth between past and present, the inherent cleverness fully coming into play during the final moments and aside from three brief scenes, the entire film takes place in one house, giving the film a strange, hermetically sealed off type of vibe. There's some fascinating commentary on the subjects of sex and relationships, the philosophy spouted by Hewitt at the end of the film will no doubt have many branding him an asshole, which he sort of is but really, he does have a point.
                                LA PASIÓN ESPAÑOL: THE EROTIC MELODRAMAS OF VICENTE ARANDA (1991-1999)