Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Alive (1974)

It's Alive

Written & Directed by Larry Cohen

Frank Davis...John P. Ryan
Lenore Davis...Sharon Farrell
Lieutenant Perkins...James Dixon

Three words: Larry Fuckin' Cohen.

Frank Davis is awakened in the wee hours of the morning to find that his wife Lenore--who is very, very pregnant--is going into labor. After more than their fair share of dilly-dallying around the house, they head to the hospital where Lenore is fussed over by nurses and doctors, and Frank hangs around in the waiting room with all the other expecting fathers.

Ah, the good old days. Back when men were men, women birthed alone, and it was perfectly acceptable to smoke in hospitals!

The film takes its time here, which is fine, because this is where Mr. Cohen allows us to get to know Frank Davis. He's a well-dressed man, prideful, and perhaps a bit arrogant--he's in P.R., so that makes a bit of sense--but he has a lot of love for his wife, his young son Chris, and even for his unborn child.

But suddenly something goes terribly awry. Lenore knows that something is wrong with the child, despite the doctor's insistence that it's fine albeit gigantic! And with helpful advice like "Don't push, just pant!", the delivery is over before you know it. And, just like when Baby Jonny was deposited upon this earth, the newborn quickly kills all of the medical professionals in the room, shimmies up the stairs, breaks through a skylight on the third floor, and disappears into the night.

It seems 'gigantic' isn't the only term that could be correctly used to describe this child. Mutant; Aberration; Crime Against Humanity; An Affront to God; Those are all very suitable as well. Frightened and alone, the dangerous Davies boy cuts a path through the city, leaving a trail of dead in its wake...all because he wants to find his way home.

You know, kind of like Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, but with less fur and more bloodshed.

This movie has a bit of a cult following, and with good reason. As noted above, Larry Fuckin' Cohen! Which is to say nothing of Bernard Shittin' Hermann and Rick Dammit Baker! If that's not an Unholy Triumvirate, then I don't know what is! Plus, we've all seen literally dozens of movies that feature killer kids; but how many movies have you seen about killer babies? And newborns at that! I'm willing to bet, even with the sequels and the remake, it's still in the single digits.

This film does, admittedly, move a bit slowly at times, and it's not going to be for everyone. The grue is extremely subdued, mostly limited to a brush stroke of dried blood on someone's neck. And, although this movie was released theatrically (TWICE!), it almost feels like a Made-for-TV movie. Granted, a good Made-for-TV movie, but still. And there is perhaps a reason for that.

Despite the subject matter, and despite the fact that It's Alive was literally banned in some countries, it was only given a PG rating. PG!? That's what E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial was rated! Maybe Larry Cohen had a good hard think between the years of 1974 and 1978, or maybe the rating process had simply gotten stricter.

Regardless, Part II and Part III were both rated R.

As it should be, people!


View the trailer below!


1974
91 Minutes
PG
Color
English
United States

It's Alive is currently ranked #38,064 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

"Hunting and killing babies doesn't seem to be my specialty."
--J/Metro

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gruesome Twosome (1967)

The Gruesome Twosome

Written by Allison Louise Downe
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis

Gretchen Wells .... Kathy Baker
Rodney Bedell .... Dave Hall
Elizabeth Davis .... Mrs. Pringle
Chris Martell .... Rodney Pringle

Mrs. Pringle is a kindly old widow who owns and operates “The Little Wig Shop” near the university campus. At first it may seem that she's just a bit eccentric, always talking to her stuffed wildcat Napoleon, but truth be told she's just plain crazy. She lures co-eds into her shop with “Room For Rent” signs in the window and then sicks her animalistic son Rodney on them, who scalps the poor girls alive. Voila! Instant wig.

Kathy Baker is a college student and amateur sleuth (kind of like a brainless plastic Nancy Drew) who tries to divide her time between “solving” mysteries and dating her Alpha-male boyfriend Dave (kind of like a Richie Cunningham on steroids.) When she catches wind of the case of the disappearing school girls, Kathy decides to do a little investigating of her own, against Dave's advice of course.

And from there we cut back and forth between Kathy's misadventures and the continuing walk-in bloodshed over at The Little Wig Shop.

We've got all the H.G. Lewis signature items here: bad acting, over-the-top gore, and pretty women all rolled up into his usual blend of so-bad-it's-good cinema. Lewis was never a great film maker and he'll probably be the first to admit it, but he was the goddamned best at what he did. Gruesome Twosome is exactly what you would expect: mindless entertainment for the bloodthirsty masses.

Lewis fans rejoice.

This Something Weird DVD release comes with audio commentary by Herschell Gordon Lewis himself, a Gallery of Exploitation Art, a short vintage documentary entitled Wigs-o-Rama, and the excellent theatrical trailer.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Animated mannequins; Pajama party watussi; Old school KFC; Planting a bone tree; Sloth and Michelob beer; Clever Coca-Cola product placement

View the trailer below!


1967
Unrated
72 minutes
Color
United States
English

Gruesome Twosome is currently ranked #50,887 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

"Oh Yes... Our Wigs Are Made From Genuine Human Hair, And How!"
--J/Metro

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bad Lieutenant (1992)

Bad Lieutenant


Written by Victor Argo, Paul Calderon, Abel Ferrara & Zoë Lund
Directed by Abel Ferrara

The Lieutenant…Harvey Keitel
The Nun…Frankie Thorn
Jesus…Paul Hipp

I know that this film is supposed to be a study of what happens when those who uphold the law are worse than those whom they are trying to catch. I know that it is also supposed to have a spiritual undertone about the power of forgiveness, repentance and retribution. And I know that this is basically Ferrara trying to out-Scorsese Scorsese. What I don’t know, however, is how this film has built up the reputation that it has.

Havey Keitel is the unnamed angry, violent, hard-drinking, cocaine-snorting, crack-smoking, heroin-shooting, drug-dealing, prostitute-nailing, masturbating, chronic-gambling, baseball fanatic Lieutenant who shakes down suspects and has the occasional vision of Jesus. More often than not, he can be seen engaged in some sort of illegal activity or immoral debauchery, even when supposedly “on the job.” And this is the man we trust to keep the streets safe?



The “plot” doesn’t begin until the Lieutenant is placed on the case of a nun who has been brutally raped, but she has forgiven her attackers and refuses to identify them. This film actually could have been interesting if it had dealt with this more, but basically it’s Keitel watching baseball on television, listening to baseball on the radio, or talking about baseball with other cops for an extremely dull 90 minutes. The soundtrack is comprised mostly of sports talk radio, and the lack of music makes it seem gritty and real. If the high life is as boring as this portrayal, Bad Lieutenant could quite possibly be the most effective PSA ever. The drug use, coupled with a decidedly unattractive shot of Keitel’s floppy Johnson, brought with it an NC-17 rating, which only served to fuel the hype that the movie itself can’t live up to.

Maybe I just don’t “get it” because I’m not from New York, and I’ll probably be banned from a whole slew of super-elite genre circles for condemning this cult favorite, but that’s the price you pay for honesty.

If you want Scorsese, rent Scorsese. Taxi Driver this ain’t.

View the trailer below!


1992
NC-17
96 Minutes
Color
United States
English

Bad Lieutenant is currently ranked #8,463 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

"You raped a holy thing."
--J/Metro

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Monster Maker (1944)

The Monster Maker


Written by Pierre Gendron & Martin Mooney
Directed by Sam Newfield

Dr. Igor Markoff...J. Carrol Naish
Anthony Lawrence...Ralph Morgan
Patricia Lawrence...Wanda McKay
Bob Blake...Terry Frost
Maxine...Tala Birell

Igor Markoff is a doctor of the mad scientist variety with a fairly twisted back story, whose specialty is the study of Acromegaly—a progressive glandular disorder that causes the bodily extremities to enlarge to gargantuan proportions. His method of dealing with those people who disfavor him is to inject them with a concentrated form of the disease (not available at your local Walgreens) and let nature run its course. Markoff’s obsession with science is rivaled only by his ever-growing obsession with his late wife, which is the driving force behind the film.

When Markoff sees Patricia Lawrence, the already-spoken-for daughter of a world class concert pianist, he’s struck by her uncanny resemblance to his fallen spouse and vows to make her his new wife. When her father Anthony dares to interfere, he’s transformed into the monster that Markoff made.



Due to the fact that they used a genuine disease, and that they used the victim of said disorder to enact fear rather than evoke sympathy or raise awareness, this film toes over the line of horror and into the field of exploitation. Despite this, and despite even the use of a pitiful looking “diseased” dog, The Monster Maker just hasn’t aged well, and appears to be relatively innocent and naive to our jaded eyes, and thus not even thoroughly enjoyable as a guilty pleasure, but rather just another insignificant bleep on the radar screen. If you want to see what sleaze used to look like, there are plenty of other better places to look.

1944
Not Rated
62 Minutes
Black and White
English
United States

The Monster Maker is currently ranked #131,186 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Friday, August 21, 2009

Noise (2004)

Noise


Written by Lance Doty
Directed by Tony Spiridakis

Joyce...Trish Goff
Charlotte...Ally Sheedy
Hank...Giancarlo Esposito
Stephen...Michael E. Knight
Elliot...David Thornton

Joyce Chandler is a pretty little waif out on her own for the first time, a recently divorced recovering alcoholic with a new job as a copy editor, a new apartment, and a new upstairs neighbor. The neighbor, Charlotte Bangkroff is, in essence, one crazy bitch, stomping about, screaming about mice, and blasting her stereo or television at all hours of the night. When friendly request for peace and quiet go unheeded, Joyce begins losing sleep, which throws her whole world off kilter. Her work suffers, her personal life topples, and she even begins drinking again. She decides that something needs to be done, but the question is what? And how far is she willing to go for the fabled 8 hours?

The cast each pull off their parts well, especially Ally Sheedy in full-on sociopath mode, and the film works well on all technical levels. However, the sleep deprivation and its effect on Joyce’s physical as well as emotional state could have played a better role, which would have enhanced the feeling of her torture.

Granted, there are no ghosts, goblins, slashers or boogeymen in this film. You won’t walk away terrified and you won’t have nightmares. But the situation Joyce found herself in is a real-life horror that one can not appreciate unless you’ve been there yourself. Speaking from experience, the sleep deprivation is bad enough, but the worst by far is your loss of control, feeling as if you have no shelter, no solitude. When you are unable to block out the outside world with the walls of your own home, it’s not just your space that’s being invaded. It’s you as well.

A well done thriller, for fans of Single White Female and the like. Worth a watch, if just to see a painfully obnoxious women’s support group sully their good name by discussing “fucking” with “cocks” and “cunts.” Quite frankly, I’m offended.

And going back for seconds.

2004
Rated R
84 Minutes
Color
English
United States

Noise is currently ranked #45,240 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Zombiez (2005)

Zombiez


Written & Directed by Zachary Winston Snygg

Josephine...Jenicia Garcia
Terry...Raymond Spencer
Steve...Randy Clarke
The Doctor...Jackeem Sellers

Pretty little Josephine is a construction worker that findz it difficult to make friendz, but she haz her husband Steve, and that’z all she really needz. Then one day from out of the blue, she witnessez three brutal cannibalistic killingz in rapid succession. Initially she’z held as a suspect, but soon enough it’s obviouz that she’z a victim. What else could she be, when she’z the only survivor in a city overrun by the undead?

But these ain’t your daddy’s zombies. No more pasty-faced corpses lumbering slowly through the graveyard, moaning incoherencies and tearing the flesh from the living with their bare fingers. These zombies travel in posses, walk with a crunked-up swagger like Nelly after sippin’ too many ‘Tussins, and they’re just as likely to gat you with a four-four as they are to shank you with a cleaver, sickle, power tool or shiv. Forget the mumbling. These zombies will talk your living ear off, and then pick it up off the ground and chew on it. In fact, if not for the title of the film, I probably never would have known they were zombies at all.


Unfortunately, Josephine’s acting chops aren’t up to the challenge of holding the film upright by herself, with no help available from the large ensemble of bit-part reanimated actors. And the storyline—what little there is—is incoherent at best, something to do with tearing down the forest, meat pies, and a man in a giant chicken suit, I think.

The second ‘Z’ in the film’s title is a dead give away that it is aimed toward what the studio execs call ‘the Urban audience.’ It’s also a dead giveaway that they believe said audience to be an uneducated, easily-pleased and racially stereotyped lot. “Replace the S with a Z, slap a couple of rap songs in there, and top it all off with interstitial screens that define important phrases for the dummies in the audience. The kids will have to watch this pandering crap, right?”

A real cheap, pointless and poorly constructed piece of cheese that uses zombies as a thinly disguised allegory for gang violence. Very thinly disguised, especially toward the end. It does, however, gain a hipster point for the mention of jazzster Charlie “Bird” Parker, and a pervo-point for having Josephine trot around in her panties a bit. So if that’s all it takes to get your mojo going and your money walking, by all means…knock yourself out.

2005
Rated R
83 Minutez
Color
English
United States

Zombiez is currently ranked #56,095 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

I'm bad, cuz I got a 'Z' in my name!
--J/MetroZ

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tamara (2005)

Tamara


Written by Jeffrey Reddick
Directed by Jeremy Haft

Tamara Riley...Jenna Dewan
Bill Natolly...Matthew Marsden
Chloe...Katie Stuart
Jesse...Chad Faust

Shy and mousy high school student Tamara is the ridicule of all her peers. She takes it as most do in her situation: by keeping quiet, staring at the floor, shuffling her feet, and when the situation calls for it, running awkwardly away. But when her attempt at a kiss is rejected by her English teacher Mr. Natolly that she has long harbored a crush on, she decides that enough is enough and heads home for a little harmless witchcraft. She conjures up a love spell, and when Mr. Natolly calls the next day to set up a little rendezvous, she's sure that her magic has worked.



It is, of course, just the 'cool kids' (i.e., the thickheaded douchebag football players and their plastic cheerleader sex-toys of the week) playing a cruel trick on her. Tamara is left humiliated, made into a public spectacle and then, in a twist of fate, suffers an accidental death.

But if a lifetime of horror fanaticism has taught me anything, it's this:

You can't keep a good witch down. Any when you try, you just turn a good witch into a bad one.

Shy and mousy high school student Tamara returns fully souped-up and highly sexualized in a manner that may make the less-than-stable among you begin to see murder as a viable alternative to the singles bars. But before you get any deeply disturbing thoughts in your addled brain (and before I end up on some sort of FBI watchlist), I must advise you against it.



You see, Tamara comes back...and she's hungry. But forget about the cafeteria's chicken fried steak or the pigs-in-a-blanket made out of last month's mystery weenies. Tamara is hungry for just one thing: revenge.

While it may initially seem like your run-of-the mill Hollywood Horror catering to underagers (and the soundtrack will only further that impression), I was actually somewhat impressed. First of all, it was rated R which is quite an anomaly in this day of PG-13 Pretty Boy pablum. And sure, the major players were pretty...but they could all hold their own in the acting department, too. Even the special effects were surprisingly good, and the death scenes are bound to make you grimace on more than one occasion.

To be honest, this movie doesn't push any boundaries of the horror genre as a whole, and it isn't going to show you anything you haven't seen before. But, it may very well push the boundaries of the Teen Horror subgenre, and will definitely show you a thing or two you've never seen in one of those films. For instance, that threesome-into-a-twosome scene in the bedroom would NEVER have made it into a more Hollywood outing.

Now, it seems that most people who watch Tamara compare it to Stephen King's Carrie. But I assure you that comparison is entirely unfair.

It's more like Stephen King's Sometimes They Come Back.

Starring Carrie White.

View the trailer below!

2005
Rated R
98 Minutes
Color
English
United States

Tamara is currently ranked #13,651 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

"Shut up, you barren bitch!"
--J/Metro

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weird Keywords

Just an off-topic, off-day post...

I checked my blog stats at Google Analytics for the first time in ages, and was surprised to see that my Quantum Leap post is far and away my most popular thus far. What was even more surprising, though, were some of the Internet searches that brought people to my site.

Here are my favorites, in no particular order.

  • freddy krueger- janitor- child murderer- springwood abandoned power plant images
  • ass trap 2 pics
  • big roach traps people short film
  • ghost in the machine love corral
  • girl comic belly expansion freddy krueger
  • sex slave whippings
  • she's hip like a peach
  • silky prison
Silly me...I didn't even know they made a sequel to Ass Trap!
--J/Metro

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hatchetman (2003)

Hatchetman


Written and Directed by Robert Tiffi

Claudia...Cheryl Renee
Molly...Nina Tapanin
Star...Mia Zottoli
Sonny...Jon Briddel
Rob...Chris Moir
Curtis...Darren Keefe

Anybody who has seen an episode of Stripperella knows that tension runs high among the ladies of the stage pole. But when a serial killer in a skull mask begins hunting and butchering the girls of a California strip club with a hatchet, the dancers are forced to band together—somewhat—for protection, as any one of them could be next. Hottie Claudia’s homicide detective boyfriend Sonny is deep in the investigation, but who could be the culprit? Daniel, the first victim’s disgruntled ex? The geeky obsessive manager of the apartment building where all of the strippers inexplicably live? The deviant greasemonkey leering at the girls from the parking lot? Or perhaps even the slimeball strip club owner?

To quote a hottie from another film…"I’ll never tell."

With lots of lovely ladies, decent special effects, passable acting and—to put it bluntly—nipples aplenty, Hatchetman isn’t breaking any borders of the genre, nor is it winning any awards. But by taking the slasher film back to it’s 1980s roots of masked maniacs, helpless women, last girl standing, mindless boobs and bloodshed, it turns out to be a rather enjoyable guilty pleasure, and not a bad way for Freddy and Jason fanatics to squander a quick 90 minutes.

Be sure to keep an eye out for a very special guest appearance from a Furby.

2003
Rated R
Color
United States
English

Hatchetman is currently rated #115,113 in DVD's at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blue Velvet (1986)

 Blue Velvet

Written & Directed by David Lynch

Isabella Rossellini .... Dorothy Vallens
Kyle MacLachlan .... Jeffrey Beaumont
Dennis Hopper .... Frank Booth
Laura Dern .... Sandy Williams
George Dickerson .... Detective John D. Williams

We open up to the idealistic suburban neighborhood of Lumberton with green grass, red roses, white picket fences, and Bernie Wayne's "Blue Velvet" playing in the background. Seems like a perfectly sane place to live, but as David Lynch shows us, the dark side is all too often hiding just below the surface.

Jeffrey Beaumont has come home from school to help out at the family hardware store following his Father's heart attack. Coming home from the hospital, he finds a grisly discovery in a field near his house: a human ear. He puts it in a small paper bag and delivers it to the hands of Detective Williams at the police department (who reacted all too calmly, if you ask me.) Williams promises a full investigation, but they seem to be getting nowhere.


Intrigued by the mystery, Jeffrey coaxes Sandy, the detective's daughter, out of some privileged information. A nightclub singer by the name of Dorothy Vallens is somehow tied up in the mess. Playing Junior Detective himself, Jeffrey discovers that Dorothy is no suspect but actually a victim. Her husband and son (Don and Donnie) have been kidnapped by a local madman named Frank Booth and Dorothy has been having sex with Frank in order to save their lives. It was Don's ear Jeffrey found in the field, cut off by Frank as a warning.

Inadvertently, Jeffrey finds himself sucked into the seedy underbelly of Lumberton where he sees and partakes in things that haunt him forever after. He also finds himself falling for both Dorothy Vallens and Sandy, one who brings out the good in him and one who brings out the bad. He wants to follow Sandy's advice and go to the police with the information he gathered, but it seems they're involved in this as well.


If the town of Lumberton seems familiar to you, there's a good reason. It's very similar to Lynch's other burg Twin Peaks. You've got the logging trucks, the retro diner, the chanteuse on stage, and Kyle MacLachlan running about sounding philosophical. Had they changed Jeffrey's name to Coop, this could have been a prequel.

Don't let the name fool you. Blue Velvet is a dark and dirty crime drama, thriller and cult classic from the infamous David Lynch. Kyle MacLachlan is dead on as always but Dennis Hopper delivered the standout performance as the screen's most “F-word” obsessed madman. The delivery was slow and deliberate but so well done that you never find yourself bored. In fact, a faster pace would have destroyed a movie of this caliber. It's an excellent introduction to those just discovering the strange world of David Lynch because it's surrealistic enough to seem like a beautiful fever dream but not so much that it remains incomprehensible.

See this movie!

If you own the DVD, go to the main menu and highlight 'Play Movie,' then press 'Left' on your remote control for a short and pointless Easter egg.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: The chicken walk; Double Ed; The Candy Colored Clown They Call The Sandman; That hologram guy from Quantum Leap;

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: Isabella Rossellini (Dorothy) was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history in 1995; Kyle MacLachlan and Jack Nance (who played Frank's cronie Paul) both went on to work with David Lynch again in Twin Peaks; Brad Dourif (Frank's other cronie Raymond) voiced Chucky in all 5 of the Child's Play movies;

1986
Rated R
120 Minutes
Color
United States
English

"Now it's dark..."
--J/Metro

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's Award Season

Well, for me it is, anyway.

Faithful follower W.I.E.C. of the great When Is Evil Cool blog has bestowed upon me the prestigious 'Honest Scrap' award.



Okay, I don't know how prestigious it is, but it's still pretty damn cool.

Apparently in order to claim the award, one has to follow a few simple protocols. The first of which is linking back to the site of the person who gave you the award (see above).

Secondly, you must give the award to a certain number of other blogs--seven, nine or ten, depending on where you look. Just to fuck with the numbers even further, I'm passing the award onto SIX others. Because I'm an asshole like that.
And, finally, I'm required to list 10 honest things about myself. So, consider this my acceptance speech. In other words, prepare to be bored.

  1. I smoke like a chimney. And I don't apologize for it to anyone.
  2. I curse like a sailor. And I only apologize for it to little children.
  3. I haven't driven a car in more than 5 years. Don't call me a pedestrian. I prefer 'Foot Soldier.'
  4. I write poetry and prose.
  5. I have difficulty discerning why my wife doesn't realize that she's too good for me.
  6. My three favorite bands at this instant are the Velvet Underground, the Decemberists, and the Wu-Tang Clan. I'm either diverse or wishy-washy.
  7. Dean Koontz's reliance on intelligent dogs and Wes Craven's reliance on booby traps piss me off beyond all reason.
  8. I read so much it gives me headaches. Some of my favorite books are House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, Ubik by Philip K. Dick, Vurt by Jeff Noon, Frank's World by George Mangels and pretty much anything by Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, and Kurt Vonnegut.
  9. I am the sole office employee/receiving associate/currently acting-manager of a small town retail chain. And I loathe every minute of it.
  10. I have lived in Kankakee, IL; Phoenix, AZ; Triad, CO (twice); Greeley, CO; Denver, CO; Alvin, TX; Phillipsburg, KS; and Dodge City, KS. I'm a bit of a nomad at heart.
There you have it. Ten boring facts! And believe it or not, I really had to drag the depths of my mind to come up with those.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled program...

--J/Metro

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wilderness Survival for Girls (2004)

Wilderness Survival for Girls

Written and directed by Eli B. Despres & Kim Roberts

Ruth...Jeanette Brox
Kate...Ali Humiston
Deborah...Megan Henning
Edward...James Morrison

Ruth, Kate and Deborah (the naive girl-next-door type, the troubled-but-sexual rebel type, and the beautiful-but-studious type respectively) are best friends fresh out of high school, headed into the mountains for a little drinking, a little drugging, a little half-nude sunbathing, and maybe even a ghost story or two. It seems that eight years ago, two high school girls were killed only a few miles from where they're staying. The marijuana, the isolation, the tree branches scraping against the window, and the dead fox they found in the freezer (seriously!) combine to form a wretched sense of dread and paranoia that proves to be warranted when a drifter intrudes upon their cabin.



Sounds like the setup to a generic slasher flick, doesn't it? A generic slasher flick that I was fully prepared to watch and enjoy for what it was. So imagine my (pleasant) surprise when this turned out to be an intelligent, smartly written little indie thriller in which you never know what to expect.

For instance, this strange man that comes bursting into their cabin? You would expect that he would begin terrorizing the girls, correct? Well, what if I told you that didn't quite happen? But something else, something you don't typically see, does happen. And every ten minutes or so from there, the tension is ratcheted up one more notch, leading to a gravely sensible (if somewhat anti-climactic) conclusion.


I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and never once wished that it was indeed the slasher flick I initially thought it was. The actresses did exceptional jobs, and the characters were fully realized. I not only accepted their actions--which tended to dig their hole deeper and deeper--I believed that in those particular instances in real life, others would be capable of making those same choices.

Hey, I didn't say they were wise choices. I just said they were understandable choices.

The true story here is what goes unsaid; the motivation of all the characters, and what's running through their heads. There are hints of back stories never fully told, but you can grasp them if you're paying attention. Subtlety isn't something we Americans are used to, but when done well, it works wonders.

I can't go much further in my discussion without giving anything away, and the fun of this movie is not knowing what to expect. You wouldn't very easily forgive me if I ruined that for you. So just take my suggestion and give this puppy a home. If you don't go into it expecting a fast-paced, kill-a-minute Friday the 13th clone, you just may love it.

Hell, even if you did go into it expecting a fast-paced, kill-a-minute Friday the 13th clone, you might still love it.

Lord knows I did.

2004
Rated R
78 Minutes
Color
United States
English

Wilderness Survival for Girls is currently ranked #61,504 in DVDs at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Friday, August 7, 2009

Matinee (1993)

Matinee

Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Jerico and Charles S. Haas

John Goodman .... Lawrence Woolsey
Simon Fenton .... Gene Loomis
Omri Katz .... Stan
Lisa Jakub .... Sandra
Kellie Martin .... Sherry
James Villemaire .... Harvey Starkweather

It's 1962. Gene Loomis—looking like the official Doogie Howser M.D. body double—is the new kid in town, as he usually is thanks to his military father. Rather than make friends that he's going to have to say goodbye to before the year is out, Gene opts rather to obsess over horror movies, often dragging his young Howdy-Doodie of a brother along with him. Gene is more than excited when he hears that his favorite director, Lawrence Woolsey—the man responsible for The Eyes of Doctor Diablo—is coming to town for the premiere of his new movie, Mant (“Half man, half ant, ALL TERROR!”)

The Cuban Missile crisis suddenly rears its ugly head, and word gets round that Gene's father is in the Navy. Now all of his fellow high schoolers have questions for him—“Do you know what's going on over there? You have to! You live on base!”—and he finds a friend in Stan and perhaps something more in Sandra. Soon enough, Woolsey rolls into town—a wonderful cross between the hokey William Castle and the masterful Hitchcock. The kids, of course, are there for the Mant premiere and trouble breaks loose in the form of an angry juvenile delinquent (sporting a leather jacket, duck's ass haircut, and really bad poetry), a collapsing balcony, and a number of “False Apocalypses.” I hate to spoil the endings, but this time I have simply got to. Are you ready? Here goes:

The world…does not end.

Granted, Matinee is by no means a horror flick. It is a family-friendly picture and a com-dram combination whose key scenes just happen to take place at a horror movie. So why include it here? The lengthy clips from the fictional Mant (which are plentiful in the final third of the film) work as an excellent spoof/homage to the atomic paranoia and big-bug drive-in creature features that were so prevalent during that era. They were so well done, in fact, that had I not known better I would have believed that Mant was a genuine flick from a genuine director. Worth the price of rental alone.



Matinee is the type of film you probably would have enjoyed as a child, and if you did, you would probably still enjoy it today. Definitely geared towards a teenage audience, if you've got kids, bring this one home and make everyone happy. Until the bomb drops that is.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: horrible beatnik poetry; AtomoVision and RumbleRama; and am I crazy, or is that Shaun Hunter from Boy Meets World running around with Stan and company?

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: Omri Katz (stan) also starred in the TV series Eerie, Indiana


Screw the trailer for Matinee! View the trailer for Mant instead!


1993
Rated PG
99 minutes
Color
United States
English

Matinee is not available through Netflix, which is a crime against humanity! It is currently ranked #82,645 in DVDs at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, or buy it today!

"Grown-ups are making it up as they go along, just like you."
--J/Metro

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Man Bites Dog (1992)

Man Bites Dog

(C'est arrivé près de chez vous)

Written, Directed and Starring Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde, Vincent Tavier


Man Bites Dog doesn't beat around the bush. From the very start, it unapologetically kicks you in the testes and refuses to stop until the closing credits begin to roll.

Who is this stranger on a train being filmed by a documentary camera crew? And why, pray tell, are they filming him? He doesn't seem so interesting, the way he's just standing there, looking as dull and normal as any regular Joe that you might happen to pass on the street. Like this woman coming here, for example, walking past him. Is she any less deserving of a...

Wait...why is he grabbing her? Why is he forcing her through that door? And why aren't the filmmakers doing anything!?

Because everyone is just doing their jobs.

The man is Benoit, and he is a serial killer. The camera crew is filming a fly-on-the-wall documentary about him, following him from victim to victim and recording it all: the hunting, the killing, the disposal of the bodies, and even the tricks of the trade.



Ever wonder the proper method of weighing down a dead midget in order to sink him in the river? Well, wonder no more. Benoit is here to answer all your questions. He loves to talk about his trade. In fact, he loves to talk about anything. From music, to poetry, to art, to zoology, to philosophy, to archaeology, to aesthetics, to cinema, to politics, and all subjects in between. He seems to be knowledgeable in all subjects (or, at the very least, opinionated on all subjects). I can't help but wonder if this is how Sartre's Self-Taught Man spent his nights.

The documentary crew is, of course, guilty as sin. First as voluntary witnesses, then as mere accomplices, but, before long, willing participants. It seems that being that close to the darkness is bound to cast a few shadows upon you.

Man Bites Dog is, obviously, a commentary on the media and how they sensationalize and coldly glorify real life violence. That is to say, if it bleeds it leads. We know that Benoit is the villain here (although he is an oddly likable character, much like many serial killers are reported to be). What we're supposed to be doing is asking ourselves, how guilty is the media?

Comparisons here to Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers are inevitable, but in the end, not worth the trouble. While both films have their merit, Stone's take was too over-the-top to be taken as a serious statement, like a Tex Avery cartoon on Owsley's Best Acid. Man Bites Dog, while still a dark (midnight black, actually) comedy, is much more subtle and as such, harder to shake off at the end. In fact, its closer in tone to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer than anything else, with perhaps a dash of Heathers thrown in for spice.

Filmed on a shoe string budget in gritty black-and-white, complete with occasional handheld shudder shots and questionable editing techniques, it even feels like a documentary, so it has a false authenticity that tickles the nerves. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's realistic, I will say that it is as realistic as a decent dark satire can be before it becomes something else. With graphic depictions of deplorable violence, rape and other crimes against humanity, this movie isn't for everyone.

But for those that this movie is aimed at...boy, are you in for a treat.


View the trailer below!


1992
NC-17
95 Minutes
Black and White
Belgium
French (with English subtitles)

Man Bites Dog is currently ranked #45,788 in DVDs at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

Monday, August 3, 2009

Frozen Alive (1964)

Frozen Alive

Written by Evelyn Frazer
Directed by Bernard Knowles

Mark Stevens .... Frank Overton
Delphi Lawrence .... Joan Overton
Marianne Koch .... Helen Wieland
Joachim Hansen .... Tony Stein
Walter Rilla .... Sir Keith
John Longden .... Prof. Hubbard

Frank is an American scientist stationed in Germany with his partner Helen. They're working with cryogenics, freezing chimpanzees alive and bringing them back into animation months later, unharmed and unaged. They present their research to the World Health Organization and announce that they would like approval to move onto the next stage: suspending a human being. Frank and Helen are denied, and so work goes on with the chimpanzees.

Eventually, Frank talks his team into going along with the human experiment anyway, using himself as the test subject. As they're prepping Frank for the freeze, his drunken wife Joan accidentally shoots herself in their home before the eyes of Tony, her fancy-pants boy toy. Tony flees the scene and her body is discovered on the floor by the cleaning lady.

The police suspect Frank is involved in Joan's death, and he is revived for questioning. It doesn't matter though, because Tony comes forward and confesses what happened before Frank even regains consciousness.

And that's about it.

My initial reaction to this film was, “What the hell was that supposed to be?” It's movies like this that make you realize that the only interesting science is mad science. This film is slow, boring and tedious with pointless side-stories and relationships that ultimately go nowhere, much like the film itself. It was nothing more than a breezy romance story involving two scientists deceptively billed as a horror/sci-fi flick.

Tag this bastard's toe. Frozen Alive is better off dead.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Smoking at the W.H.O.; Dual spectacles; Zorro the lounge lizard; Drunken bitch; German Dragnet; Bank vault laboratory;

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: Mark Stevens (Frank) was once up for a spot on the Canadian Olympic Diving Team but a back injury incurred on the high springboard cost him the position; Mark Stevens was such a rebellious rabble rouser that was kicked out of every school that he ever attended, both public and private;

ALSO KNOWN AS: Der Fall X701; Human Factor;

1964
Unrated
80 minutes
Black & White
United Kingdom/West Germany
English

Frozen Alive is currently ranked #29,553 in DVDs at Amazon.com. Read more about it at the IMDB, rent it at Netflix, or buy it today!

--J/Metro

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