Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ghost Galleon (1974)

This one went under a whole slew of titles including Ghost Ship Of The Blind Dead, Ghost Galleon, Horror Of The Zombies and many more but to keep things simple I like to call it Blind Dead 3 which it also went under.

Personally I am a fan of The Blind Dead movies but this one is by far the worst of the bunch. This time around the skeletal, Templar-Zombies are aboard an old ghost-ship which is apparently "in a different dimension". Some bikini models are lured out of the fog and into the old-time galleon where the zombified Templars will feast on their flesh. Trust me, it sounds a lot better then it really is.

The main problem with this installment in the series is that there is way to much talky talk and not enough violence and gore. The whole thing tends to get a bit tiring with endless scenes of creeping around the old ship and constant chit chat.

 Jesus Franco veteran Jack Taylor shows up in this one as the mastermind behind a publicity stunt that is supposed to bring the models wealth and fame but he seems to come off more like a crime-lord. The truth is that his character doesn't bring much to this film either. It all comes off pretty weird and confused and in the end it makes for a pretty forgettable experience. The only things worth noting in the film is a couple of bikini clad bimbos and of course the awesome looking zombies themselves. There is a bit of gore in a decapitation scene where we watch the Templar's munch on the flesh of a pretty blond girl but other then that even the zombies seem pretty confused. Wait... If these guys are hungry for human flesh why did they just throw that girls body overboard? Maybe they have some pals down there on the ocean floor like in Lucio Fulci's Zombi.

Ghost Galleon is only worth owning for those who want to complete their Blind Dead collection. It is offered on many public domain DVD packs for about a dollar and that is probably all it is worth.

Nymphomaniac (2013)

Lars Von Trier the director of Antichrist (2009) yet again paints a depressing picture. While I haven't seen any other films from Von Trier aside from this and Antichrist, I think its safe to say if there is anything that he is good at it is artistically portraying depression and humans emotional turmoil.

Like Quentin Tarantino's KIll Bill, Nymphomaniac was broken down into two separate volumes. This was done because of the ridiculously long runtime. Clocking in somewhere around five and a half hours long in its uncut form, Nymphomaniac does exactly what the title hints at. It follows the life long struggles of a sex addicted woman who has lived a life of lust, pleasure, pain and despair. Was it necessary for the movie to run over five hours long? Of course not but you know how these artsy-fartsy guys are... Nymphomaniac does come off a bit self indulgent but I think it still makes for an interesting watch, especially if you are into art type films.

   The thing that I liked the most about this movie is the same thing I liked about Antichrist. There is this sort of rebellious vibe that flows thru the dark storyline. Lars Von Trier is not afraid to break the rules. Nymphomaniac breaks just about every rule you can think of. Every taboo is laid out in front of us and the film forces the viewer to confront these sensitive issues first hand. As the film progresses it gets darker and darker until it comes to somewhat of a predictable ending. We deal with child sexuality, masturbation, the loss of virginity, interracial sex, incest, necrophilia, sadomasochism, pedophilia, lesbianism, murder and many more taboo subjects.

The final product is shocking, sexy, disturbing and very very depressing. It is shocking in its subject mater with very outrageous scenes that most directors wouldn't even dream of shooting. It is sexy with its artistic sex scenes. Apparently Nymphomaniac was originally intended to be an all out porno film. While it still holds onto many pornographic images it comes off more like a sexy art film. It can be very disturbing at times with some really sick and uncomfortable scenes. The main one that sticks in mind well after viewing it is the incredibly graphic home abortion scene. This scene is graphic enough to turn the stomach of the most jaded horror fanatic. Lastly it is pretty damn depressing. The entire movie gives a sense of hopelessness. The constant downbeat tone makes Nymphomaniac a stand out entry in cinema.

    I have read many negative reviews on this one, mainly from sniveling cry-babies who don't like the fact that there is pornographic material inside. All I can say to those wimps is, go watch a fucking Disney movie or something. I'm not even trying to say Nymphomaniac is a masterpiece or anything. It certainly has its flaws but it is still way more interesting then 90 percent of the watered down crap that comes out these days. I give credit where it is due and if for nothing else I would like to applaud Van Trier for not being another sappy ass-whipe who just wants to please the masses. If the film offends you... Good! I'm glad someone out there doesn't mind hurting your weak little feelings. I found it to be intelligent, with excellent thought provoking dialogue which at the very least is informative on strange subjects I would probably never have read into on my own. It is also pretty nice to look at with very nice camera work blended with a melancholy soundtrack. I am looking forward to seeing more from this man.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

One-Armed Swordsman (1967)

One-Armed Swordsman is a groundbreaking Kung Fu film released by the Shaw Brothers. Heavily influenced by the Japanese Samurai Films. It is also the first of all the cripple-kung-fu films. Due to its subject mater of a one-armed martial artist it was also the movie that made it okay to show blood & gore in Kung Fu films.

This one follows a young man with the really cool name of Fang Kang who's father was killed while protecting his teacher against a gang of kung-fuers. His father leaves Fang a sword which is broken in half and the grateful teacher takes the young boy under his wing and trains him in the ways of martial arts. Fang Kang isn't exactly excepted by his teachers disciples and in an argument gone wrong his fellow brothers and teachers daughter choose to sear off Fangs arm. This gory scene was probably pretty shocking for Chinese audiences back in the 60's. The blood squirts all over the place as our hero stumbles thru the snow with a severed limb.

Our One-Armed hero is brought back to health by a horny farm-girl who allows Fang to practice martial arts and master the techniques as a one-armed lefty. Its not long before Fang is slicing thru his enemies, chopping hands off and throwing arrows thru opponents heads. Throughout the film Fang struggles with the idea of living a peaceful life as a farmer or to be a bad-ass who can break any man in half with the use of only one arm. Luckily for us he seems to lean more towards the more violent life.

   One thing that makes this one so much different from the average Kung Fu flick is the fact that our main character is never seeking out revenge. In fact he fights his final battle to protect the ones who did him wrong. He even saves the life of the bitch who cut his arm off. Fang Kang has got to be one of the most forgiving and righteous characters in cinematic history. At times it almost gets annoying. You just want to see him take his stump of a sword and get some vengeance but that never happens.

One-Armed Swordsman would spawn a few sequels, remakes and ripoffs. It would also inspire films like The Cripple Masters and The Crippled Avengers. While the Kung Fu might not be overly amazing in this one the bloody mayhem and influential style makes it a must see for fans of Kung Fu films and the Samurai genre. Its a perfect blend!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Doc Of The Dead (2014)

What a piece of shit this is! Doc Of The Dead is supposed to be an in depth documentary on zombie films and the zombie obsessed phenomena that has taken over America.

 The lame-brains behind this crap-fest attempts to go back in history and look at the origins of the zombie film. Well they do go back and look at stuff like White Zombie and even a bit of the 50's stuff like Invisible Invaders then of course it brings us to the George A. Romero flesh eating zombies of modern day. What it fails to do is mention any of the rare cult films in the genre. No mention of people like Lucio Fulci or the Tombs Of The Blind Dead or Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. Instead it sticks with the oh so familiar Hollywood zombie films that the teens at the local mall probably have saved on their cellphones and the retarded zombie-loving youth who go on zombie-walks and do zombie car washes. God help us! As if this wasn't all bad enough Doc Of The Dead is jam packed with the worst music I have ever heard in my life. We get a bunch of shitty songs and really awful comedy segments with typical zombie film cliches. How about you show some cool scenes from the few good zombie films there are out there?

Personally I think the zombie genre as a whole is complete shit. Of course there are some great movies in the genre, like Romero's films and some of the splattery 80's stuff like Re-Animator but no other genre has ever spawned so much crap. Any dick-head with a camera chooses to make a zombie flick as their first feature. All they need is a cellphone and few equally retarded friends. Even the slasher genre has not spawned as much embarrassing shit.

The thing I found most interesting about this thing was that all of the old timers like Romero and Tom Savini are on the same page as me. They don't understand this obsession with zombies and these are the few guys who did it right. What is a zombie fan anyway? Is it someone who likes horror movies? Of course not! They are dumb teeny-boppers who discovered The Walking Dead on television and delved into some of the modern crap like Shaun Of The Dead or worse yet these crappy cgi infested zombie movies that they shit out every other day into our equally crappy multiplexes.

Wash off your zombie makeup, take that dumb bumper sticker off of your car and throw away your zombie survival guide. For anyone who are into the classic zombie films from the good ole days, don't waste your time with Doc Of The Dead.

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Sappy Hollywood love stories is usually not my bag but this one is a bit different. The nihilistic and downbeat vibe makes Leaving Las Vegas an interesting watch.

Nicolas Cage portrays a shattered man who heads to Las Vegas with plans of drinking himself to death. Literally! He bumps into a prostitute played by Elisabeth Shue who is equally damaged. Together the couple try their best to except one another for who they are and try to look past each others flaws. This is pretty hard to do when one has no desire to live outside a shabby relationship in Las Vegas. Nicolas Cage is great as the drunken lunatic he depicts. Aside from Barfly, I can not think of another film that showcases a helpless alcoholic in such an entertaining manner. Come to think of it Leaving Las Vegas and Barfly would probably make for a pretty good double feature.

We get plenty of drunken antics including falling thru glass tables, wake & shake withdrawals and just a whole slew of alchy ridiculousness. Elisabeth Shue does get topless for the cameras which is also not a bad thing and there are a few other naked ladies on display as well. This one sports some really twisted characters and when it is all said and done it is not your average romance flick. Sure you can enjoy this one with your best girl especially if you are into doomed Bonnie & Clyde type characters but I would imagine that Leaving Las Vegas would go best with people who like to drink. While this one might be a bit more dramatic then Barfly it still holds some of that comedic charm.

The Ghost Walks (1934)

Boring title for a boring movie. This 1930's sleeper is kinda like a really crappy version of The Old Dark House. A group of annoying men are trapped in a rain storm and take refuge in the nearest house. Naturally the house is a giant mansion occupied by more obnoxious characters.

It turns out that the visitors will become a personal project for the mansions occupants. They have written a horror play and without the newcomers knowledge they act out the script. Ghosts pop up and people run about in what comes off like a bad Abbot and Costello impersonation. We end up with a classic example of the-boy-who-cried-wolf when a real murderer pops up and starts killing the house guests. The guests think its all just another prank until the films climax when we see the killers face for the first time. The biggest problem with this public domain oldie is that the audio is so muffled that we can barley hear the dialogue. Throw in some really blurry and washed out black & white images and the whole thing becomes a drag. Perhaps if there were a slightly better print this thing might be more watchable but I highly doubt it.

Beautiful Darling (2010)

This not so amazing documentary takes us thru the short life and times of Andy Warhol "superstar" Candy Darling.

Loosing his/her life at 30 years old to cancer Candy Darling lead an interesting life to say the least. This transgendered barbie doll thought of herself as a sex symbol and a superstar but the reality of Candy Darling's short life was a bit of a downer. Having songs written about her by Lou Reed and being a staple player in Andy Warhol's factory of freaks, Candy lead a fast paced life of sex, drugs and what she thought was stardom. In the end she left this world a cult icon at most.

The documentary itself is average to say the least. The most interesting parts include interviews Warhol himself and Paul Morrissey, director of cult classics such as Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, Andy Warhol's Bad and many more. We also have interviews with punk rock legend Jane County and John Waters.

I suppose the biggest fan base for this movie would be drag queens and Warhol fanatics. For me personally the life of Candy Darling is not quite interesting enough for a full length documentary. However if you are really into chicks with dicks and Andy's speed-freaks then this one might be worth looking at. Look for a really cool scene at the factory with Dennis Hopper.

Nekromantik (1987)

Nekromantik is completely disgusting, shocking, tasteless and out right disturbing. Naturally it is one of my all time favorites.

The first time I saw Nekromantik I was completely and totally disturbed. This film struck a nerve deep inside me that very few horror films have come close to. The strong impact it had on me has stuck with me all of these years and oddly enough it still shocks me to this day. It is kind of funny because within the film there is a conversation about desensitization and how it works. They talk about how teenagers who watch very brutal horror movies become desensitized after time. Well I watch horror movies on a regular basis for over 18 years now and I am still completely repulsed by this film. Nekromantik is a sort of cross between an art film and the nastiest of horror movies. It is extremely low budget and the lack of money totally shows. Still the depressing images, beautiful musical score and totally bizarre storyline makes Nekromantik a masterpiece in its own right.

This sick and twisted tale follows a young necrophiliac who has the perfect job of cleaning up road atrocities. Naturally the sicko takes home human remains to his equally demented girlfriend. Its not long before we watch the happy couple rolling around in bed with rotten corpses and living out all of their fantasies. When our main character looses his job and the couples corpse supply is cut off the woman takes off with the cadaver leaving our main character in a depressed state. The rest of the film is a downward spiral into madness as we watch him kill helpless animals and masturbate with the organs, kill hookers and have his way with the dead bodies and slaughter anyone who stands in his way. Things get worse and worse until our necrophile reaches a final enlightenment. What happens in the end has to be seen to be believed. They just don't get much sicker then this.

As one would probably guess, Nekromantik doesn't exactly have a happy ending. Or at least not in the Hollywood sense of happy endings. During the 75 minute runtime we see car crash victims, Human entrails are pulled from bodies, a cat is put in a garbage bag and smashed into walls repeatedly, we have a half-assed decapitation when a man has his face chopped in half with a shovel, a woman is stabbed in the guts with a switchblade, lots of corpse-fucking, close-ups on urination and in what might be the grossest scene in the movie we see a rabbits throat slit and then skinned in very gory detail. Nekromantik is not for everyone. It is for those who can handle the worst of the worst. The blend of art, beauty and violence makes for a very downbeat experience and I think its safe to say that many would not understand it. However if you like this sort of thing you don't get much better then Nekromantik.

Director Jörg Buttgeriet would go on to do a sequel to this. Nekromantik 2 is equally violent and disturbing with very brutal scenes of murder and necrophilia. It is also way more polished then the first film. Still I think the original packs a harder punch when it comes to the artistic flow and general feel of the film. Still everything in Jörg Buttgeriet's filmography is worth looking at.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cropsey (2009)

Around my parts in Long Island there is a right of passage that all teenagers must go thru to prove they are tough. It involves going to Kings Park abandoned insane asylum and exploring the creepy buildings. Apparently the teens of Staten Island have the same test of manhood. The only difference is that their abandoned loony-bin has a bad-ass urban legend behind it. That is the legend of Cropsey!

 When I learned that the teenagers of Staten Island have a similar favorite pass time I was naturally interested. When I learned of the infamous serial killer "Cropsey" who dwells in the underground tunnels of the abandoned buildings and snatches young kiddies off of the streets to cut them up, I was even more intrigued.

When I hear the name Cropsey the first thing that comes to mind is the gory 80's Slasher film The Burning. Well just like the stalk & slash 80's classic Cropsey is a fictional character. He doesn't exist. However they say all legends have some truth behind it and I guess it has never been more evident then in this case. It just so happens that there was a homeless sadistic killer who lives on the grounds of the psyche buildings and kidnapped young children off of the streets and butchered them. His name is Andre Rand.

This documentary explores the abandoned loony-bins of Staten Island as well as the urban legend of Cropsey. It eventually leads us to Andre Rand and does its best to make sense out of what really went on. Andre Rand was a strange individual who prayed on the mentally retarded. Having an odd connection with the mentally disabled from his younger years when he worked as an orderly in the nut-house, he felt a strange compulsion to kill these children.

The documentary itself is a bit of a mess and like many of the murder victims there is never really any closure. At times it gets confusing and a bit hard to follow. The information is hard to process as the narrator jumps back and forth in year. I wouldn't necessarily say Cropsey is a bad movie but it certainly isn't very good either. The subject matter is interesting enough but the clumsy approach and anticlimactic ending left a bad taste in my mouth.

The film makers behind this thing would go on to do a much better documentary in 2014 called Killer Legends which looks at some of the world most grotesque urban legends and searches for the true events that may have inspired them. I would say skip Cropsey and take a look at the later film for a much more coherent and better made doc.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)

With the success of the infamous American slasher film Silent Night Deadly Night the British would release their very own Christmas slasher just months later.

Instead of a madman running around in Santa outfit slashing up teenage boys and girls like in the American classic, This one showcases a psycho killing anyone who wears a Santa outfit. Ah very unique right? I guess I can relate to this killer to a certain degree considering we both hate Christmas and just about everything it stands like. However unlike this mask wearing nut-bag I don't stalk the streets looking to put a blade into the guts of Santa Clause. I will hand it to whoever thought up some of these murder sequences. Each one is different from the last and it does make for an interesting slasher movie. In the most memorable scene the killer castrates a man in a Santa costume while he takes a piss at the urinal. The blood shoots into the pisser and the fat jolly bastard bleeds to death right there in a dirty public bathroom. Hows that for Christmas cheer?

 Another Santa has his brains blown out the back of his head while another has a spear shoved thru his face. We have meat-cleavers to the achy-breaky skull, eyes are gouged out, another is burned alive in his car, plenty of stabbings and of course some prevy Sanat action.

I have never seen a good copy of this movie. Not even in the VHS days. It can usually be found on dollar-disc multi-packs but the prints are usually very dark and washed out, not mention they are probably cut. The fact that the film quality is so bad and I still enjoy this movie says something to me. Perhaps it is worth it to upgrade to the Mondo Macabro DVD for optimum Santa killing pleasure.

This one comes complete with some Brit-Tit and an incredibly sleazy scene that takes place in a sex-booth. Where a stripper watches the killer rip into yet another Santa Clause as the blood splats across the plate glass. Typical of Slasher films from this era, they try to hold back on the killers identity till the very end but it is of course a sort of generic and predictable type ending.

Still Don't Open Till Christmas is good slasher-fun with enough sleaze and gore to keep fans of the genre happy. I would like to see this on a double bill with Silent Night Deadly Night. Thats the Christmas spirit.

Bettie Page Reveals All (2012)

Okay all you perverts & Bettie lovers, here's the one we've all been waiting for. This is possibly the best Bettie Page movie to date and as the title says Bettie Page does reveal it all.

 Over the years I have collected quite a bit of Bettie Page movies, stag films and documentaries including the infamous Irving Klaw bondage stags and the slightly less raunchy Bunny Yeager stuff but this one offers up the all the grit and dirt and of course plenty of NAKED BETTIE PAGE! Yowza! In this documentary we have an in depth interview with the queen of bondage. She tells her insane life of sexual abuse, partying, modeling and even her decent into madness, where she spent nearly ten years in a mental institution for repeatedly stabbing her landlord. In one of the most memorable moments Bettie recalls an abduction in New York City where six men held her captive and forced her to preform oral sex on each and every one of them. This is pretty intense stuff. I guess its almost reasonable that she went bat-shit crazy and took a knife to someone. She was also molested from childhood by her pedophile father who apparently would have intercourse with chickens and other farm animals.

   While all these filthy stories from the past is interesting and all the thing that makes this one so special, or at least for all us perverts is the previously unseen nudie pictures of Bettie. According to the documentary Bettie Page hated two things. That was cigarettes and alcohol. Only once in her life has she been drunk and she was taken advantage of to the max. When some sleazy cameramen gave Bettie a bit too much booze they convinced her to take the only pictures of her career that she would regret. Bettie Page drunkenly lay spread-eagle and bares it all. If for no other reason this one is worth owning for the stills of Bettie Page and her hairy beaver. Aside from these gloriously trashy pictures Bettie Page Reveals All also sports a huge amount of naked cheese-cake photos and films of the worlds favorite pin-up model.

This is a must see for anyone who loves Bettie! If you don't love Bettie you might be another weirdo who digs farm animals or something. See this... You wont regret it!

The Freakmaker (1974)

Originally this one was supposed to be called The Freakmaker which is the more suiting title but for some odd reason the producers felt it would work better as The Mutations. Not quite sure I agree with them. At any rate this one takes Tod Browning's Freaks and gives it the 70's treatment with violence and nudity amped up.

Freakmaker is a strange little exploitation flick. Its not necessarily strange just because of its odd subject matter or the fact that we will ogle human deformities and killer plants. Its odd because it was all done so well. We have beautiful lighting, very nice cinematography, excellent direction and big actors like Donald Pleasence. Granted Pleasence may not have been a super star at the time or anything but it is still strange to see such a professional approach at a film that most would probably consider a piece of trash. Due to its production value Freakmaker plays a bit like an art film masked as a exploitation movie. Leave it to the British!

Donald Pleasence plays a mad scientist who has discovered some new Mutations is carnivorous plants. He bribes the deformed ringleader of the local freak-show to abduct beautiful young girls as subjects in his new experiments. The demented scientist is turning the victims into a sort of half human half plant but as I mentioned these plants eat meat. Its not long before the giant plant monsters are roaming about and munching on the flesh of bums and street trash. This one comes complete with plenty of midgets including Michael Dunn who I remember best as the necrophiliac dwarf in Dr. Frankensteins Castle Of Freaks. We also have a deformed dwarf who calls himself the human pretzel. Lets just say his appendages move in all the wrong places. We have the alligator woman, a monkey woman, the bearded lady and even the human skeleton which is nothing more then an anorexic woman. Aside from the freaks there are also quite a few naked ladies on display in this one which is always nice and there is a touch of the red stuff for all the gore-hounds out there. However the real highlight of this movie is Popeye! Popeye is famous for his ability to pop his own eyes out of his skull. Yuck!

Certain scenes are directly lifted from Browning's Freaks and others seem to be completely unique. There are also elements of Eyes Without A Face (1960) to be found within and perhaps a touch of Day Of The Triffids.

While I wouldn't exactly say that The Freakmaker is a great example of cinema, it certainly is strange enough for the average exploitation fan. Check this one out for fun with drooling freaks, mad scientists and knife wielding dwarfs.