Trailer Of The Week – Strippers Vs Werewolves

If you have ever asked yourself what would happen if Freddy Krueger got into a fight with a bunch of strippers played by girls from British soaps (in Croydon), here is the answer, via YouTube*. Read More

5-Word 365 #085 – Trailer Park Of Terror

My apologies, the last couple of days I have not really been trying my best here. It’s been a bit of a tricky weekend to be honest, but everything is back on track now. Well, that’s enough of my gabbing. It’s time for some good old nuttiness.

Trailer Park of Terror

Always watch the road, dumbass.

Six ‘troubled’ teenagers returning with their pastor from Bible Camp take shelter at a dilapidated trailer park after their bus crashes in the rain. Unfortunately, the trailer park isn’t as abandoned as it first seems. Bloodshed – and country music – ensues.

Is the first crazy undead redneck movie? Of course it’s not. It is currently my favourite though. And for a supposed grindhouse-y B-movie, it is surprisingly well made by director Steven Goldmann, from a script by Timothy Dolan. Goldmann’s day job since the early 90’s has been directing music videos (according to his Wikipedia page, he’s done 174) mostly for country stars like Faith Hill, Alan Jackson and Trace Adkins. Adkins himself shows up here as the devil himself, as well as contributing a song for the end credits.

Norma before. Cute as a button.

Cap’n Spoiler says, “Yarrgh, here be spoilers”

The flick opens with a 15-minute prologue set in 1981 that would make a pretty fair short film all by itself, but it also sets up our cast of soon-to-be-undead rednecks as the young and beautiful Norma makes a hasty deal with the devil in exchange for a semi-automatic shotgun, and takes her revenge on her fellow residents who just accidentally killed her boyfriend and have been steadily ruining her life for years. Jumping forward to 2008, we’re introduced to Pastor Lewis and his six young charges. If I had one complaint about this film, it would be the lack of any kind of development in these characters. They are basically just tropes dropped in to be grist to the mill. That’s their sole purpose in the film, yes, but even a tiny little bit of background would not have gone amiss. Even their names are only really mentioned once, in passing. There’s the goth one, the wussy one, the shoplifting horny one, the two who can’t stop having sex, and the overweight druggy one who will give head in a truck stop toilet for a noseful of coke. Admittedly though, she does get to be part of what is possibly the funniest amputation scene I have ever had the good fortune to witness. Seriously, it’s a blast. Unfortunately this lack of context for the kids kinda blows the ending a little, since Norma only spares [FUCKING YARRRRRGH!!!! – Cap’n] the last survivor because she reminds her of herself when she was young and alive, but this comes completely out of the blue as far as this character is concerned. The flick is barely 90 minutes long as it is; another five or six wouldn’t have hurt.

You can stand down now, Cap’n. Spoilers be gone.

Well there's a mood-killer if ever there was one.

I wouldn’t be giving much away by saying the plot liberally borrows from (or is “inspired by”) Herschell Gordon Lewis’ 1964 masterpiece 2000 Maniacs! except here it’s just a trailer park instead of a whole town. Actually, the film is adapted from a comic book series published by Imperium Comics, so I guess they’re the ones who are the Lewis fans. The style of the story and artwork can be traced all the way back to the old EC Comics of the thirties (think Tales From The Crypt). It’s really great stuff, and the filmmakers have done well bringing that style to life, right down to the blackly comedic tone of the banter between all the undeadnecks. I just made that word up; do you think it’ll catch on? The effects work is mostly good, if a little cheesy in places, but the fact that all the action takes place after dark makes a lot of it kind of difficult to see. Whether the makeups on all the other trailer park residents would have held up in plain view remains to be seen, although we do get some really good looks at Norma’s face, or lack thereof.

Norma after. She really has let herself go, it's fair to say.

Speaking of Norma, Nichole Hiltz does a really good job bringing her to unlife. She is the most fully realised character in the film, in fact she’s the only character with any sort of arc, but Hiltz gives her the full range from innocent high-schooler, to vengeful young woman, to evil seductress zombie-type-lady. For a movie of this type, it’s a hell of a performance. The rest of the cast do what they can, but none of them have anywhere near as much to work with. It’s always nice for a movie nerd like me to see guys like Tracey Walter on screen though, billed here as “Ancient Trucker”. For all you normal people out there, he was The Joker’s henchman, Bob in Tim Burton’s Batman and he crops up all over the place in B-movies like this, as well as getting the odd line or two in larger productions. For a musician with a fairly small acting CV, Adkins doesn’t embarrass himself as El Diablo. The portrayal is actually quite cool, and very fitting of the country aesthetic. If you put a devil like this up against Ghost Rider for example, that might be something worth watching.

Cowboy Satan. Or Tracy to his mother.

WTF Sunday is brought to you this week, as always, by Netflix* though I reckon this movie is one that I would consider buying, depending on the extras.

Finally, as a wise man once said, there are very few problems that cannot be solved by the liberal application of duct tape. The list of problems that can be solved this way now includes dismemberment after stepping on a landmine, provided you are already a redneck zombie that is. Don’t say you never learn nothing here at 5-Word.

*Still waiting for that sponsorship deal, fellas.

5-Word 365 #050 – Nude Nuns With Big Guns

50? I’ve done 50 of these things? Blimey. I’ve picked a cracker for my golden jubilee.

Nude Nuns With Big Guns

Yeah, I’m going to hell.

There are no words. So I’m not going to use any.

Well okay, maybe I’ll use a few.

What is there to add? Not a damn thing.

If you are anything like me, you decided whether you wanted to watch this or not as soon as you saw the title.

Don't worry, she had this coming.

If you are not anything like me, you’ll probably hate this.

Somebody really has this coming.

It ticks all the boxes for sleazy grindhouse movies: random nudity; excessive violence; swearing nuns; drug-dealing priests; rape; rapists getting their dicks shot off. Something for everybody.

"What do you mean there's naked nuns in this movie? Are they hot? I spend all my scenes by myself talking on this damn phone! Get me my agent"

Forgive my brevity today, but it’s late and I’ve been drinking all afternoon. Normal service will be resumed shortly. Adios muchachos.

5-Word 365 #043 – Ichi The Killer

Special thanks go out to Charlotte from the office today, for a loan of this week’s WTF Sunday DVD. This is another Takashi Miike masterpiece that has been on my radar for quite a few years and I’m glad I finally got around to it.

Ichi The Killer

Sweet Jesus, not the tongue.

Trust me, that will make sense. This movie has been built up so much as the holy grail of horrific movies but to be honest, it was hardly in a league of its own. I’ve seen a lot worse in films made both before and after. While the violence was arguably necessary in the context of these characters, I think there a lot of people who would really have got a lot out of the story but have been put off by the imagery.

Ichi is actually a bit of a supporting role in his own movie. The main protagonist is Kakihara (he’s the blond with the scarred face on the artwork), a Yakuza who’s boss Anjo has disappeared with all of the gang’s money. Kakihara is on the hunt for Anjo and eventually discovers that the man has probably been killed by someone called Ichi. Kakihara is a true sadomasochist who needs to inflict pain as much as he needs to receive it. The only person who could hurt him to his satisfaction was Anjo, which is why he needs to find him. As Ichi kills off more and more of the gang in ever more dramatic and messy ways, Kakihara starts to believe Ichi is the one he needs. Maybe Ichi is the only one violent enough to kill him?

The unrated version of Yellow Pages' "Morning After" ad was only ever shown in Japan.

This film is disturbing, that is true enough, but it wasn’t the frankly cartoonish bloodshed that bothered me; it was the depths of despair these characters go to – and actively seek out in several cases – that had more of an effect on me. The sexual proclivities and hang-ups, and the pervasive sexual violence as well, are what made this such an uncomfortable watch. The most (only?) sympathetic person in the film is Kaneko, one of Anjo’s bodyguards. He is a former police officer who was sacked from the force after losing his gun. It seems working for the Yakuza is the best job he can get as a single father with a less than stellar employment history. That’s the beauty of this film though: while you may not like them, and in fact are probably even repulsed by them, Miike and the writers Hideo Yamamoto (who wrote the original manga) and Sakichi Sato have made every single character in this world a fully-fledged person. A whole movie could be made around Kaneko, for example, without very much more in the way of character development.

Let's see The Joker try this trick!

When it comes to filmmaking technique, this is an astonishing piece of work. During the climactic rooftop fight sequence there is a bravura speed-ramping shot for example, five whole years before Zack Snyder’s 300 popularised the idea to the point of saturation. When I called the gore cartoonish, I meant in terms of scale. The execution is excellently done though, with a mostly seamless blend of practical and CG work. From listening to Bey Logan’s typically effusive and well-informed commentary, I was actually surprised by how much of the blood was computer generated. There is not one duff note among the cast either. I have to single out Tadanobu Asano (Kakihara) and former Miss Singapore Alien Sun, who played Karen, the frankly twisted sort-of girlfriend of the Yakuza man. Asano isn’t even recognisable from his latest role as Hogun, one of Thor‘s Warriors Three, and by some miracle he manages to make this psychotic lunatic someone that you almost root for, while Karen is the most cryptic character in the flick. Switching languages mid-sentence between Japanese, Cantonese and English, you don’t even know where she’s from, never mind what her ultimate motivations are.

Don't they make a cute couple though?

Miike has left the ending of the film deliberately mysterious. There is no clear answer given to the question of how much of what happened really did happen. It is left up to you to decide for yourself, much like the decision of whether to watch this in the first place. For me, I am glad I did.

5-Word 365 #022 – Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl

Yes, it’s Sunday. Day of rest, day of worship (for some of you), day of laundry (for most of you) and day of bat-shit crazy movies (for me). This week, I have hit up Lovefilm* for a cracker from Japan.

Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl

What Twilight should have been.

From the director of Tokyo Gore Police comes this opus of high school crushes, sexy nurses, competitive wrist-cutting, and blood. Lots and lots and lots of blood.

And skulls. There are a some skulls too.

Cap’n Spoiler says: “Yarrgh!”

Sorry if this is a bit recap-heavy but I can’t talk about this flick without explaining the story a bit, so here goes. Monami Arukado is a new transfer student in love with a boy in her class named Jyugon. She is also a vampire, and takes advantage of the Japanese tradition of girls giving their crushes chocolate on Valentine’s day to present Jyugon with a truffle she has made, filled with her own blood. I bet you can’t guess what happens next? No family baseball games and endless mooning around for Monami, oh no. This girl gets straight to the point. Unfortunately for her though, Jyugon already (sort of) has a girlfriend: Keiko, the vice-principal’s daughter. Keiko doesn’t take too kindly to some transfer student stealing her fella, and winds up fighting Monami on the roof of the school. I bet you can’t guess what happens next? Actually, you probably can. Don’t worry, that’ll change soon enough.

Despite being vice-principal of the school, Keiko’s father is a bit of a wuss. He’s also the science teacher and he’s afraid of the some of the other faculty, so Keiko’s attempts to get him to use his position to get her out of trouble don’t always work. This meekness is all just a front though. When he goes down to his secret lab under the school he becomes (wait for it – and this is so awesome it has to be capitalised) DR KABUKI FRANKENSTEIN! He is working with the school’s over-sexed and very sexy nurse to carry on the work of Victor Frankenstein and create life from death. To assist his research, Nurse Mikado brings down students for them to hack up then put back together in increasingly odd arrangements. Surprisingly his experiments do not succeed, until Nurse Mikado brings him a drop of Monami’s blood that was left behind in her office. This vampire blood has all sorts of nutty effects on the stuff in KABUKI FRANKENSTEIN’s office, including turning a bunch of screws into living screw-worm creature things. Now I know you didn’t guess that was happening next.

Yeah, I don't know what the fuck this thing is either. But hey, sexy nurse.

So, we’ve got Keiko dead after falling off the roof, and we’ve got Keiko’s father now able to make life out of death. Enter Frankenstein Girl! Now of course it would be too easy to just reanimate Keiko’s body, so he sends Nurse Mikado out to get some parts for improvements. She comes back with the forearms of the captain of the school’s winning Wrist-Cutting team, and the lower legs of the leader of the Ganguro girls – time for a brief anthropological detour. Ganguro is a subculture among teens and early twenties girls in Japan that involves heavy fake tans, bleached hair and white makeup around the eyes and lips. The word ganguro translates literally as “blackface”. In Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl, the filmmakers have taken that literal translation to its absurdist extreme and made the Ganguro girls wannabe Africans. They have afro wigs and prosthetics on their faces to change their features. Do you remember those Superman cartoons from the 40s where the Man of Steel was in Africa? The ones that people now pretend never existed because of the representation of the Africans? Well it is this image of Africans that the Ganguro girls are trying to emulate. It has to be seen to be believed. Now I’ve read some reviews that called this movie horrifically racist because of its depiction of black people. Whoever wrote these reviews probably didn’t have the subtitled version, since there aren’t any black people in the film. Without understanding the story, I could see how that misapprehension occurred, but the filmmakers are actually taking a satirical swipe at the ganguro of Japan, and those who appropriate the superficial trappings of another culture as their own, without knowing the underlying essence of that culture itself. As I mentioned before, this film is Absurd. Subtlety has no place in this world. Okay, detour over.

I want to make some sort of Spinal Tap joke here. Suggestions on a postcard please.

So, KABUKI FRANKENSTEIN has managed to rebuild his dead daughter while weaponising her in the process, and the stage is set for the final battle between Monami and Keiko for the heart of Jyugon (remember him?). Bloodshed ensues.

But first, hugs.

Cap’n Spoiler says: “Yarrgh, spoilers be gone.”

The story of this flick came from the manga of the same name. I’m no fan of manga so I’m really the wrong person to ask how faithful an adaptation it is, but as a movie in and of itself, this almost defies conventional criticism. I mentioned before about absurdist extremes, well, that’s is essentially what this whole flick is. Personally, I loved it. The general atmosphere is the same heightened bonkersness as in Tokyo Gore Police and The Machine Girl (I mention these specifically because they are recent films of a shared lineage that I happen to have seen) but there are plenty of others like them. A quick search on youtube will give you enough trailers to either make you want to move to Japan or to never watch another film as long as you live. RoboGeisha is probably next on my list. 

Ahhh, Japan.

I also watched The Boondock Saints 2 today. It’s a bag of shite, but at least Troy Duffy has reined in some of his more excessive instincts this time. He still can’t hold a camera still for more than a second and a half without swirling around someone, but this outing does have a bit more charm than the first one, thanks mainly to Clifton Collins Jr and Julie Benz (let’s just admit it; these two are usually the best thing about whatever they happen to be in).  Everyone is still desperate to point out that they aren’t gay, however. Hmm. It does have a couple of cool moments, particularly the assault on Yakavetta’s apartment. Although Duffy has clearly never been to Ireland.

*And nope, still no free subscription. Sort it out Lovefilm, or am I gonna have to switch to Netflix?

5-Word 365 #015 – Humanoids From The Deep

It is time for the second edition of “WTF Sundays”, this time featuring a bit of Doug McClure goodness from 1980.

Humanoids From The Deep

Or “Monster” to its friends

It isn’t quite as common now, but back in the 70s and 80s films changed their titles more often than I change my socks, sometimes even after release. Roger Corman is particularly known for this. He would change the titles of his scripts just to attract a better class of actor or investor! It makes you wonder what he was calling this when Doug McClure and Vic Morrow agreed to star. This film is referred to as Humanoids From The Deep in Netflix’s catalogue, but the on-screen title card calls it Monster. I think I prefer Humanoids; it’s more garish, less generic. Combine that title with “starring Doug McClure and produced by Roger Corman” and you have a recipe for glory.

And glory is indeed the result. It seems that the salmon-canning company upstream from the town of Noyo have been meddling with nature and have accidentally created a race of half man/half salmon with a fondness for fresh dog meat and the ripping of flesh from men and bikini tops from women. The opening scene features probably the most incompetent fishing crew that ever existed, but it’s okay because after three minutes they’re all dead. The young kid falls overboard and gets eaten and the rest of them blow up the boat while trying to fire a flare gun. You see what I mean about incompetent?

When the monsters’ first two victims are a kid and a dog, you know that anything can happen and NOBODY IS SAFE! Speaking of explosions, a lot of stuff gets blown to shit in this flick. There’s the aforementioned flare gun incident; a car goes off the side of a bridge into a river and goes boom; we even get a Molotov cocktail with a yield in the kilotons, but when your story is about fish-men on a killing spree basic chemistry often takes a backseat.

A 21-year-old Rob Bottin did a good enough job with the gore effects and the Humanoids on what was obviously a limited budget – they come out of the water as 5 feet of slime and teeth – but once we get to the climactic battle at Doug’s house, man-in-suit syndrome really kicks in. The sting at the end is a piece of work too, though it is arguably a direct rip-off of homage to a classic film from a couple of years earlier. To say any more would spoil the surprise.

Face/Off, the prequel

The score by Avatar’s James Horner is effectively manic during the big carnival massacre at the end, but tends to overload the earlier, stalking scenes a bit. Had it been a little more restrained the movie could have been much more eerie.

Since this is a Corman flick I suppose I’m expected to keep track of these things, so here’s the tally:

Boob count: 3 pairs, with 1 repeater.

Thank you, Roger Corman

Ripped-off head count: 1

Creepy ventriloquist’s dummy count: 1 (AND ITS EYES MOVED WHILE IT WAS SITTING BY ITSELF IN THE CORNER!)

DAMN YOU, ROGER CORMAN!

 

5-Word 365 #008 – Bare Behind Bars

Since I plan to be doing this for a whole year, it would get boring for both of us if I just watched the same type of films for 366 days. So, once a week, I’m going to watch and write up the first crazy-ass flick I spot on Lovefilm Instant*. This week, that flick is…

Bare Behind Bars

Good, wholesome, Sunday afternoon fun

Imagine, if you will, that John Waters and Sergio Leone had a love-child, and that love-child made a women-in-prison exploitation movie full of lesbian orgies, murder, torture, white slavery, a nurse hooked on sniffing ether, and some of the finest moustaches ever committed to celluloid. The result might be something like Bare Behind Bars.

Available "used" on Amazon.com.

Made in Brazil in 1980, this features all of the above to a ludicrous degree. Thirty two years ago this was probably a truly shocking film; today, it’s just kind of funny for the first hour at least. Written (probably in about an hour and a half) and directed by Oswaldo de Oliveira, this movie has got every cliché you can think of, and a few more besides. 

The cast includes such sexploitation luminaries as Maria Stella Splendore and Marta Anderson as Sylvia the slave-trading warden and Barbara the bonkers nurse, respectively. Barbara in particular is a character for the ages. Here is a nurse in a prison who presumably had to undergo some kind of selection process to get the job, but who can’t take your blood pressure because she thinks the cuff goes around your neck. After finding a straight razor being stored in the traditional way, she punishes the inmate by giving her a naked massage then produces a remarkably anatomically-correct dildo carved from a pineapple, that she calls The Eighth Wonder of the World!

...and don't get me started on the naked watermelon scene.

About an hour into this flick, three of the inmates (including Barbara’s new friend) escape. This is the point where you might want the kids to leave the room. What has only been mean-spirited and sleazy up to now suddenly takes a turn for the seriously fucked up. The delight with which these escapees murder an entire family and then defile the bodies just so they can raid the wife’s wardrobe is really unsettling. This is followed by an unexpected hard-core scene before the cops and/or unsuspecting boyfriends turn up and the survivors end up back inside.

Sexploitation films were never known for their subtlety, but this is almost gonzo in its randomness. The white slavery subplot in particular appears to be just an excuse for some quaint lesbian frolics by the beach. Oliveira is either a complete hack who had never even read a screenplay before, never mind written one, or he is some kind of savant who decided to play with the genre and see what he could get away with.

This is an odd film indeed. I don’t think I would ever want to watch it again, not on my own at least. It would make for one hell of a drinking game though. And what higher praise is there than that?

 

*Do you think if I mention them enough, they’ll give me a free subscription? I’ll keep you posted.