Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shriek of the Mutilated (1974)

Yeah, this is utter trash. Quite fun trash, but still one of those movies that not even the most retarded IMDB-user would write "At least better than those modern movies with CGI instead of REAL effects" about. Shriek of the Mutilated is another of those billions of Bigfoot-related movies (in this movie it's a Yeti though, but it's more or less the same thing - only that I think that a Yeti belongs in the Himalayas and not in some American backyard) that came in the seventies. It looks like a porn movie and the actors are on the same level, but still... it has some demented charm after all.

A couple nobodys arrives to a big house close to the forest. It's fall, and it's gray and rainy all the time. The only fun thing is their mission to catch the aggressive Yeti, which is a guy in a really bad Yeti-suit jumping around acting like he was a gorilla. Then they walk around, have long meaningless dialogues, a lot of trees and leafs, and when you least expect it, a non-gory Yeti-attack and finally a very stupid and silly ending that just don't make sense.

If you haven't seen any of these ultra-low budget cheapo-movies from the backwoods of the US, this can be a good start. It's not the best movie, but it's like watching a accident, it's hard to look away. The script is everywhere, the horror is nowhere, but unfortunately you are still there in front of the TV watching the disaster unfold. The actors pretending their acting in a school play, but they are older and more pretentious, and the person responsible for the lightning just decided to turn the lights at that the scene to make everything as bright as possible, and that's it. Simple, effective and very unsuccessful. The cinematography is okey most of the time though, but looks cheap and is cheap. Angles and editing is right some local TV-commercial.

Gore? Yes, as I mention there's nothing to talk about and the few drops of gore is badly edited and hardly visible. It could have been more spicy with some cheesy gore, a little bit more blood - not matter how badly executed it could have been. Just to make it a bit more fun to watch.

Do I sound very negative? Yes, but I also enjoyed this piece of trash - a lot. Sure, it took me two hours to watch it, because I always found good reasons to check my Facebook all the time. And get something to drink in the kitchen. Or play with the cat, cuddle with my bf, or just do something else. But finally the end-titles was rolling, and the last scenes was quite fun to be honest - and there's a reason for the Yeti to look so crappy... so overall, a fun grindhouse-flick which is trashy enough to see together with some friends - and not alone like me (my dear G preferred watching Apocalypto on his computer instead - good for him, bad for me).

So that's it. Quality all the way. I need to see more of these movies, just to get used to them. Or should I?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sick Nurses (2007)

Once upon a while I stumbles over a film that I never heard of, but who seems so twisted and fun that I just have to see it. Sick Nurses is a sick little movie from Thailand, but a sick movie with a lot of humour and tounge in cheek. It's part a parody/satire over the typical Asian long-haired ghosts, and also a very black comedy about how seven superficial nurses get what they deserve!

The hospitals favorite doctor is young, handsome and fucks all the nurses. He's also the leading bodysnatcher in the area, together with his nurses. He steals bodies from the hospital and sells in the black market. But with so many beautiful and egocentrical nurses around, there must be intrigue and fights - and when everyone think one of the nurses is gonna marry him, the other ones kill her and together with him they sell the body. Well, try to anyway. After having the body in his trunk for seven days, he's tired of it.... and so are the vengeful spirit of the dead nurse, who decides to take out her gruesome revenge in one bloody, dark night...

Yes, this movie is about a long-haired female ghost killing people. BUT... it's also a very clever and funny satire where the filmmakers toy with the clichés, twist them around a little bit and makes something that's more of a very black comedy than a pure horror movie. Sure, of course there's plenty of horror elements, but they are often so weird that they become more bizarre than scary. For exampel, one character gets her jaw ripped of and suffocated with a fetus! Another one kills one hundred faceless nurse-ghosts by stabbing them with a pregnancy test. Another one get's stuck in her handbag in a very special way. The ghost is painted black with slightly blonde hair and uses her power to make the characters to do outrageous stuff.

The style of the movie is also very cool. It reminds me more of John Waters, Wisit Sasanatieng and some people with less imagination would say the whole movie is a visual tribute to Mario Bava, and to a degree, even Dario Argento. There's splashes of strong colors everywhere, often red or green, the angles are stylish and there's a European feeling to some of the set-ups: static camera, and a lot of weird stuff is going on at the edge of the framing. Gore? Yes, but not THAT much. The first hour is virtually goreless, but with a lot of bizarre scenes, and then we're treated some delicious splatter-scenes with a lot of blood-spurting and some original digital and physical effects.

I think the movie is quite low budget, but the crew has done a great job making it look fantastic. The humour is fun, and sometimes very subtle with a lot of attention to details. The characters might me shallow, but that's part of the concept in the movie. Everything is about looks, fortune, power and sex. My favorite character is the nurse who tries to loose weight all the time by vomiting, and later she brushes her teeth and eating a suger-donut at the same time!

Fun, fun, fun. This is a small but almost brilliant black comedy, which will make many disappointed by distributors who tries to make it look like a grim and serious J-horror movie. Pearls before swine, to be honest.

Demons 2 (1986)

After watching the first one, I just had to take a look at the sequel Demons 2, a movie I've never been especially fond of. It's still not a great movie, but it's at least a little better than I expected it to be. Maybe I've just gotten older and realized that gore isn't everything... ha ha, who am I kidding? This is a frigging Demons-movie! It should have gore... but no.

This is more or less a blueprint of the first one, with some of the same actors, and just one a different location. Here the demon-plague starts when the sequel to the first productions movie-within-in-the-movie is showing on television. But this time the characters is trapped inside a high-rise residential apartment building instead. A birthday-party becomes a massacre when lovely Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni first watches the movie and gets attacked by a demon crawling out from the TV-set, and then we follow a gang of gym-monkeys (lead by an extremely overacting Bobby Rhodes), a pregnant woman and her husband, a little boy home alone and a couple of other meatheads.

The worst thing with Demons 2 is the lack of gore. Sure, there's some slimy-transformations and some creatures getting wacked, but still... this is a more or less gore-less movie with very little blood. This is really a pity, because the energy is high, the attacks are fun and creative - but seem less powerful because of this detail. The attack at the gym and the garage could have been a fantastic gore-fest, but instead it's just a bunch of half-naked muscles-cows screaming like little girls and nothing more. But on the other hand, the movie looks great and the demons are as cool as ever. The most freaky character is when the little boy becomes a demon! He's so bizarre, so damn creepy and strange. It's the best sequence in the whole movie, and the stuff after when a Gremlins-like monster is attacking the pregnant women is fun too.

Lamberto Bava seem to have more control over the direction here too, and it's a lot more coherent and thought through than the first movie. The lighting is a bit colder, less over-the-top and with more footage concentrating on tension rather than monster-mayhem. But I miss the gore, I miss the awesome decapitations and skin bursting like balloons...

Well, you can't have it all. But the lesson I learned today is that some movies actually gets a little bit better after a few years. It's not a better or more entertaining movie than Demons, but it's not a bad little monster-puppy after all.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thanks everyone!

No, I'm not gonna close the blog ;)

But I just want to say thanks with all my heart to you who actually reads this blog! I started to write in english last summer because I wanted to do something else than my old blog, try to focus more or less only on movies and the alternative genre cinema, DTV-movies and stuff that I like.

I know my texts are very uneven, but I'm one of those that has to write something everyday - even if I can't get the grammar correct or the spelling perfect. But I do my best and I learn every day (for example, the difference between "to" and "too"). It's an obssession to write about this stuff, and I guess that I will do this until the day I die, in one way or another.

One thing that's important for me is that people read what I write (and have opinions about it too), which I think is the point with a blog and the "art" of writing. To be honest, if I didn't have the amount of visitors I have now, I'm not sure I would write.

So thanks you everone that reads this, that follows me, links to me, comments on my posts or just lurks around somewhere there in the background :)


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Remembering Zelda Rubinstein - Chock, Episode "Kött" (1997)

Few people know that recently departed Zelda Rubinstein once starred in one episode of the failed Swedish TV-series Chock. Every episode is filled with famous Swedish actors, the host is the greatest of them all - Ernst-Hugo Järegård - an the production itself is so terrible bad. It looks good, at a first glance, but after a while you realize it just looks like a school production. The direction, this time by Anders Lennberg, is generic and has no personality at all - just boring - and the dialogue is stiff and ridiculous. My dead uncle could have done it better.

The story itself is not that bad in this production, but it's a shame they couldn't have done it better. There's no tension at all, just half of the storyline is interesting - and that part of the story is what this post is about: Zelda Rubinstein. It's a weird feeling seeing Zelda playing a horrible, controlling little person, acting against Jan Myrberg (the other actor that do a good work) and watching Swedish TV-classic Hylands Hörna. She never utters a word, communicating only with gruntings and facial expression - and Zelda rules here. She's the best, the most bizarre, the most real, the only scary thing in the whole episode.

I can't recommend Chock to anyone, but if you find it - buy it only for Zelda Rubinstein's sake.

Zelda, have fun were ever you are...

Demons (1985)

There's not much to say about Lamberto Bavas Demons, except it's extremely stupid - and extremely entertaining. The idea is just to get a bunch piece of meat inside a big cinema and unleash the demons on them. Nothing more. There's not side stories (if you don't count the ugly gang of punks that enters the cinema a little bit later), and the characters are flat and shallow. It took four screenwriters to come up with this story, and they didn't focus on characters or story.

The gore is plenty, colorful, graphic and slimy. It's also a very cryptic story, with no explanations to what's happening - which is okey for me - but it would be fun to get some clue who started it all, and why it's all connected to the movie within the movie (a movie that are even more retarded than the main feature!). Michele Soavi shows up in the beginning, in the movie they're watching - and in the end, dying a terrible death. He's obviously connected to everything (and so seem that freaky woman that works in the cinema), but nothing more is said about their connection.

But it's all about action and gore anyway, so why care about story. I've heard Lamberto Bava said many times that he don't like gore, but that's not visible in Demons. Every time I watch it I forget how gory it is, with throat-rippings, decapitations, limb-chopping, slime-spurting, stabbings, stranglings and everything else under the pale moonlight. It's a bit plastic, but still made with energy and a lot of blood. There's a couple of shots during the end when one of the characters are driving around on a motorcross and shopping demons to pieces with his sword that somehow echoes more modern Japanese splatter-cinema.

I think the final twist underlines the whole movies stupidity, when they are stuck in the cinema with no way to get out... and suddenly a helicopter crashes down the ceiling and they can climb up through the hole. No warning, from nowhere. A helicopter. I guess the screenwriters gave up there and just used the first idea that they could come up with.

No, don't misunderstand me now. I love Demons, it's fantastic gory fun splatter-flick from the eighties. It's creative, visual, gory and never boring. Bava directs with flair and style, the sets and lightning are superb - and you sit there with a big smile all over you face, hopefully with a beer in your hand and with good company.

Zelda Rubinstein RIP!

LOS ANGELES — Zelda Rubinstein, the diminutive character actress with the childlike voice who was best known as the psychic called in to rid a suburban home of demonic forces in the 1982 horror movie "Poltergeist," has died. She was 76.

Rubinstein, who also appeared as the mother figure in a high-profile mid-1980s public awareness campaign in Los Angeles aimed at stopping the spread of AIDS, died Wednesday of natural causes at Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles, said Eric Stevens, her agent.

Rubinstein was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center about two months ago after suffering a mild heart attack, Stevens said. "She had ongoing health issues and unfortunately they finally overtook her," he said.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Great White (1981)

Isn't it ironic? Vic Morrow stars in Castellaris rip-off on Jaws, Great White. Universal and Spielberg gets pissed off and sues the distributors of Great White, and prohibits them from ever show Castellaris movie again in the US. One year after the movie had it's short (but successful) run in theatres Vic Morrows decides to sign up for the Spielberg-produced Twilight Zone and gets decapitated for real during the shooting! Was it revenge from Spielberg? We’ll never know…

Anyway, Great White could have served very good as an official sequel to any of the Jaws-movies. The style and setting are almost identical (but with more slow-mo) but of course the budget is lower, the dubbing is cheesier and the dialogue is terrible. Still Castellari shows a lot of style, and even substance during a couple of moments, and effective copies some typical Spielberg-moments (the father-son relations, the beach-montage and so on) and ad some of his own touches too. All his favourite actors shows up (his brother Ennio Girolami, stuntman Massimo Vanni, cool guy Romano Puppo) and the rest are doing quite good performances.

Well, Vic Morrow chews the scenery more than Robert Shaw ever did, but is fun to watch and it’s still a great character. James Franciscus is one of the most underrated actors in the history of cinema. It’s easy to just see him as another Charlton Heston-clone, a handsome man doing his job so the movie can lead to another paycheck, but I would say he was a damn fine actor. He was a good hero in a lot of cool movies from the seventies, and even of the script was weak, he injected some human emotions and development in his work. He needs to be rediscovered.

The shark-attacks? Not bad, but as usual with Jaws-rips there’s a lot of boring stock footage (I have nothing against stock footage, but not in shark-movies) that never fits with the rest of the scene. But when the “real” shark shows up, it’s a really cool and gigantic rubber-shark that eats everything (including helicopters and cameramen). The shark is very plastic, and kinda stiff, but it’s so big that you forgot details like that fast.

Great White is not Castellaris best movie, but it’s a fantastic little Jaws-copy that I like to watch from time to time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Devils (1971)

There's many movies I love, many movies I would have love to be part of in some way. But if I could choose one, only one... it would be The Devils. I could do the laundry for the actors, be a free extra for the whole shoot, cook coffee for Ken Russell or try to calm Oliver Reed every time he got drunk and angry. Why? Because The Devils is one of the most impressive movies I've ever seen - from the sets and acting, to the script and controversy. It's just right up my alley in every way.

Oliver Reed is Father Grandier, a priest - or something higher - who are the local sex symbol in his little town. He loves women, and don't hesitates to have sex with them if that's the offer. The evil, crippled, Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Logue) wants to crush the city by destroying Grandier, and finds out that Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave) in the local convent is having weird sexual hallucinations about Grandier, and Richelieu uses this to claim that Grandier is a warlock and in collusion with the devil!

So far an ordinary historical drama, but this is so far from that as it could be possible. This is a biting and strong satire over the hypocrisy in the catholic chuch (and probably religion in general), and it's not the least subtle. The catholics are evil, greedy and more or less crazy. So even our hero Grandier, but he at least dares to criticize the church and stands for his own weaknesses and mistakes. He admit that he loves women and like having sex with them, but he also compares that with what the church do to get more power. Grandier is such a complex person, a rather unsympathetic man that we for once can understand. It's well written character and Oliver Reed is not acting, he IS Grandier. 

The further the movie goes, the wilder the catholic church acts in their ways to prove that Grandier is guilty. They lie, they kill, the torture... just to let the world know that their god is the only god and the only god to follow and be scared of. At the end there's a huge orgy, led by the inquisitor Father Barre (a brilliant Michael Gothard), how joins the party himself just to prove how strong the devil is...

The Devils has so many striking scenes that I just don't want to tell to much. This is a magnificent movie that dares to fuck the authorities in the ass, proudly too. You have desecration of christ, the cross, the church, there's violence and sex, nudity and more sex. The language is foul and graphic, but has something to tell. It's powerful words coming from the characters. I must mention Vanessa Redgrave, who plays the hunchback Sister Jeanne. She has strong sexual urges and only dreams about Grandier, even in that way that Jesus transforms to her in a vision and they have sex in the shadow of the cross, in the dirt. Vanessa gives it all, and it could be one of the most brave performances I've ever seen. She's stark raving mad, no doubt about it, but Vanessa is so brilliant that I'm not sure I've anything like it (maybe Isabelle Adjani in Possession, which is as good as it can get).

You should watch The Devils as soon as possible. Prepare for something completely unique, something that will follow you forever. You should also watch it, write about it, love, hate it... what ever you want, just because the church/hypocrites/Warner don't want this movie to be seen. 

Spread the word.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Tournament (2009)

Okidoki, here's the deal. Every seven years 30 of the worlds best assassins gather in a small town somewhere for a tournament. The last one alive wins a load of money, the honor and are more or less expected to do it again next time. Ving Rhames plays Joshua Harlow who won the last time, but now he's back for revenge - because someone killed his wife, and he wants blood. The place is Middlesborough, UK. An alocholic priest, Joseph MacAvoy (Robert Carlyle), is mixed up in the action and bonds with the Asian female killer Lai Lai Zhen (Kelly Hu). They have 24 hours to survive, and kill as many killers as possible...

Wow, fuck hey wow. Why is this movie - The Tournament - not more famous? A British action movie that is violent that... that's violent. Really violent. You have exploding bodies, heads going off like melons, shot and cut of limbs, squibs-o-rama super deluxe, huge explosions, wild stunts, a bus/truck chase that could have been from one of the best PM Entertainment Group-movies ever. It has some minor drama, some good acting, Scott Adkins with a beard, Ving Rhames screaming and spitting at the same time, nudity and more gore. It's also well made, looks big and expensive without getting shallow and... it's really a fucking shame that it's been dumped DTV without much attention. 

As usual, I'm not saying that it's a movie that will change the world or change your life. It has some message, but it's hidden under a deep think cover of blood and guts, fancy guns, fire and stunts. Robert Carlyle and Ving Rhames are the only characters with real depth, and both are doing fine works between the action. Afterwards you will find yourself stuffed with good entertainment, but slowly you will also forget about the movie and the characters. This is a product only for action, blood and gore - and watch with that in your mind and you'll have a helluva time.

I'm just so surprised that such a creative action movie is so... anonymous to the world. I'm sure it went to cinemas in some countries, but this is one of those movies that would have open so-so and then grown over the weeks. I'm not talking Avatar here, but at least as a cool indie with the action-heart at the right place. This is the wet dream of a boy, but not about Suzy next doors, but all about total mayhem, total "awesomeness" (I'm still quoting the boy now, I try not to use that word to often) and a perfect movie to gather the guys around, open a few beers and have a great time.

Okey, enough with the hype. Watch it.

I'm willing to pay for a copy of this movie

This is Arne Mattsson international thriller Mannen i Skuggan from 1978. It also has the following english titles:

A Necessary Action
Black Sun
Man in the Shadows

I've been trying to find it for many years, but no luck. I don't know, but it should be released on video somewhere in the world! I'm quite sure it was shot in English, so it was never meant to be a pure Swedish movie.

So, if you know where to locate it, maybe you have a copy yourself, know where to download it... I'm desperate - Let me know!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Olle Björling - a part of the swedish cult film legacy

Here's Olle Björling, a man I known for some years now. I ran in to him yesterday at Monkey Beach and decided to honor him with a post here at Ninja Dixon. Even for foreign fans of the cult cinema he's an interesting face, and he has a lot of stories to tell about all the projects he's been involved in since the seventies. 

One thing I want to ask him more about is how he and Arne Mattsson together with Rod Steiger was working on a Nazi-themed thriller in the end of the sixties. The producers, Americans and English, couldn't decide of the hero would be American or British and soon the whole movie was cancelled. Arne and his team already had shot some footage, but it's since long lost. 

Yes, Olle was a long-time collaborator with Arne Mattsson, probably one of the best directors ever to come from Sweden. He's famous of his erotic dramas, nasty thriller and movies with strong criticism towards society, government and cultural elite. Olle was always there, providing some of the most memorable characters in Swedish film history. Edgy, dangerous, controversial. You should see the stuff in Vilgot Sjömans Tabu (1977) for example, few actors would have done that. 

Here's some examples from Olle's long career.

Yngsjömordet (1966) is one of Arne Mattssons masterpieces, a grim and graphic historical movie about the last woman to be executed in Sweden. He fate was later, weird enough, mixed up in the scandalous trial around "Obducenten och Allmänläkaren" in the eighties. Olle has a small part as the assistant to the executioner. 

Next year, in 1967, Olle shows up in Arne Mattsons stylish thriller Mördaren - En helt vanlig person. Set on a train an with a murder to solve, Olle spend most of his time in the coupe making out with Christina Carlwind. Not a bad way to earn money I guess.

In 1973 he makes one of his most popular roles, in a movie quite well known for fans of European cultcinema (and it could be quite a good double feature together with They Call Her One Eye): Dirty Fingers. Olle plays a real perv, sucking on a comforter, having razors on his gloves and raping innocent women!

Vilgot Sjöman is probably one of Swedens most controversial directors with movies like I'm Curious Yellow for example. But in 1977 Tabu was released, which makes Yellow look like Tranformers 2 in comparison. Olle plays a pedophile, and the rest of the movie is filled with characters that never have been show so graphically in a movie before. The highlight is Heinz Hopf (from They Call Her One Eye, among others) as a sadistic leather gay man whipping naked men in the park. I hope one day it will be released on DVD.

In 1986 he also shows up in a small part in The Girl, an erotic drama/thriller with Franco Nero and Christopher Lee. I haven't seen it, but Olle does his job in the first fifteen minutes of the movie and is easy to find.

Olle has mostly been on the theater during his career, and is retired now. But if you see him on the street, say hello and you are guaranteed to hear some amazing anecdote from one of his cool movies. I will end this post with the VHS-cover to Dirty Fingers, where Olle is immortalized as his razing-waving maniac :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Living Dead Girl (1982)

It always surprises me when people refer this as a vampire-movie. Because there's no vampires here, just a living dead girl (a zombie...). So, now that's out of the way. The Living Dead Girl is together with Grapes of Death and Lips of Blood my favorite Jean Rollin-movie, and it's one of those few movies that's getting better and more powerful for every time you see it. The story borders to ridiculous simple, but sometimes that's the only thing you need.

The beginning is not only tortuous, it's absurd. A couple of guys are dumping toxic waste in the basement of a castle. An earthquake makes the toxic to pour out and resurrect a Catherine Valmont (Françoise Blanchard) from her grave. She rises and kills the men in bloody ways, and then walks up to the castle, her former home (so here you see, she's a zombie, not a vampire). The castle is now for sale, and one responsible for that is her eternal love Helene (Marina Pierro). When they find each other again, the blood starts to flow - because Catherine needs blood and fresh human meat to survive...

This is such a beautiful movie, both visually and story. You have all the typical Rolling-themes: lesbianism, a castle, the French countryside, blood and the sad truth of eternal love: you'll never survive it. It's almost like the script is improvised. The story moves organic from scene to scene, and the slow pace never get's slow. It feels like a minute of watching for every ten minutes of real movie. The dialogue is awkward sometime, but also ad-libbed, and I like that a lot. It becomes naturalistic, and yet the the words can be stilted sometime. The two leading actors, Françoise Blanchard and Marina Pierrio is perfect, and are far away from some of the other talents occupying the story. No one is bad, but it's easy to see where Rollin put his heart and soul. 

I guess this is Rollins most violent film too, a lot more graphic stuff than his other masterpiece Grapes of Death. The gore is bloody, disgusting, graphic and sometimes cheap - but it's powerful, and it feels painful and terrible. I would never like to die like this, screaming for a long time and with a pale French woman looking with those big eyes at my bleeding wounds. This is poetry crossed with splatter, and it warms my heart and soul that a movie such this one exist. This was the first movie by Rollin I ever saw many years ago, and it's stayed with me since then. One of the few movies that I fell in love with at first sight. 

I can't enough recommend this masterpiece of French cinema. This is an amazing piece of art, and the best thing is that it fits both lovers of arthouse AND exploitation, and of course for us that dig both.

God damn, Jean. Give me more. Please.

Sherlock Holmes vs RoboDragon vs T-Rex vs Giant Octopus!

Yes, The Asylums next mockbuster finally has a trailer, and of course I'm gonna buy Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes as soon as possible :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wake of Death (2004)

I must be honest. For many years I hated Jean-Claude Van Damme. I couldn't understand why people actually watched his movies. Sometime I could agree that they where mildly entertaining, and sometimes really good. Hard Target for example. But except that one, only shit.

Well, I grow up. I'm 32 years old and has a sometimes a beard, partner, my own apartment and a lousy cat that don't respect me at all. All that is about getting older. And one other thing is trying to accept that I actually enjoy Van Dammes work. Some if it is pure trash, like Derailed. Or The Order. Universal Soldier 2. But what the hell, a lot of it was really fun. I mean, I was one of the few that actually loved Knock Off and Double Team. Silly movies, yes. But good entertainment. 

But sometime, after Van Damme wasn't the big shot anymore in the biz, something happen. It began with Maximum Risk. A good, solid action-piece with a good script, some good action and competent direction by Ringo Lam. It got that great combination of euro-action and Hong Kong-mayhem. And I loved it. So, was it hope for Van Damme? The answer was yes.

Replicant wasn't a big masterpiece, but it was better than many of his bigger Hollywood-pieces. The main surprise was the acting. Because suddenly Van Damme could act. I told this to people. They laughed at me. But I said to them, there's a very good actor inside that well trained body. And somehow, during the way, I got another proof: In Hell. This prison-movie was the most gritty and violent that Van Damme has starred in. His acting was the best in the movie, maybe not a surprise, but it was good. Fucking good. He also had a big beard, went to the toilet and the fights where raw, graphic and "realistic". No ten minute fights, just short brutal ones with blood and crushed bones. And I said to myself: what the hell? What’s happening? What does Van Damme has that Dolph Lundgren and Steven Seagal don't have? Don't get me wrong, I love those to guys, but with Van Damme it was something special.

And there was Wake Of Death. The DVD-cover makes it look like an ordinary, shoot-in-Bulgaria-action-flick. Really crappy. But I saw the trailer once and it felt different. It's hard editing a trailer to make it look like an ordinary Van Damme-flick when it isn't. So I searched the internet. Found some positive reviews... and I realized I need to get this one.

Van Damme is a middle-aged security man, Ben Archer. He's having a middle-aged wife and a little son. He loves them both. And he's very tired of his work. We get flashbacks from another boring day. Aggressive people and drugs. So he quits his job, gonna spend more time with the family. His wife, played by the charismatic Lisa King, works as a social worker for INS and after they find a lot of Chinese refugees on a boat she takes one of the home, Kim - a little girl. But what we, the viewers, know is that she's hunted by her dangerous triad-boss father, Sun Quan, played by the great Simon Yam.

Sun Quan kills Ben's wife and then the hunt is on. Be wants revenge, and he asks his old friend Max, an old man in a wheelchair, to help. So with the help from Max and his husband/partner/friend (it's VERY unclear) and a younger man, maybe Ben's brother, Ben takes a very bloody and brutal revenge on Sun Quan's men and every other that stands in the way.

Wow, I got really blown away by this movie. I'm special you see. When I watch a really good movie I take the whole day, because I don't want it to end. I take break, cook food, surf on the internet. So it took me maybe five hours to watch Wake of death. Not because it was boring, but because this is the best Van Damme-movie so far and one of the best modern revenge-flicks I've seen. And the best action movie I've seen this year.

Okey, I'm hyping it up here. I can feel it. So see it with low expectations. But I stand by my opinion. It's fabulous. The best thing with this movie, action-wise, is that it's nothing funny. Nothing is funny at all. The violence and fights are brutal and bloody, people are feeling pain. And Van Damme is so up in his fury that after every bloody outburst, he's getting down. Depressed. Weak. Crying. And then the bloodthirst is there again.

But it's good action. Lotsa fine kicks, a great motorcross-chase in a mall, bloody shoot-outs, brutal beatings and probably the most perverted and twisted torture-scene ever filmed for a straight-to-dvd-movie. A man stuck with tape to a chair. And then there's two old French men with a big fucking drill. And those are the good guys. 

If Gaspar Noé or Michael Haneke was directing a Van Damme-movie, this is it.

The music is really good, and the Ennio Morricone-score (not his western themes) is really smooth and beautiful and fits the movie perfect when it's necessary. Except that there's some interesting and experimental drum 'n bass jazz-esque songs and some good electronica. I want the soundtrack.

The visual look of the movie is very dark, high contrast and more handheld camera than steadycam, which I prefer. The colour-tone is realistic and gritty, and there's probably no sets involved, only location-shooting. Or maybe sets, but they're very well constructed.

I'm hyping it. But that's because I love it and got very moved by Van Dammes and the other actors performances. The action was great and the rest was better. There's some stuff that ain't that good. The plotline is a bit confused sometimes, some characters just shows up and disappear and it feels like some sequences got lost in the editing. Which is sad because I felt that this had been a perfect movie if there were some more character-developments. As usual, the asian people is portrayed as slimy, bad, ugly, mean sadists, and sometimes the logic in that is a bit weak. But there's still nothing bad about the acting itself. Simon Yam is very cold and mean as Sun Quan, and his powerful presence is good thing for the movie and story.

So here's a message to Oliver Stone, Gaspar Noé, Johnnie To and other interesting and provocing actors: go get Van Damme. He's getting better and better, his looks is more rough and hard, and his acting is very powerful. I mean, I think I've never liked him before because he doesn’t seem that interested in delivering one-liners and act in really stupid action movies. He's a much better actor than that and is more good with out the silliness. He can act for real.

That's something that even great Dolph and always chubby Seagal never can.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Far Cry (2008)

Okey, let's roll out the cheesy-popcorn-entertainment-movie of the week, Uwe Boll's Far Cry! You know, I'm sure a few of you are very upset about Uwe destroying the legacy of some game here, but I just don't care. At all. Far Cry belongs beside BloodRayne and Alone in the Dark, just wacky unpretentious violent action-movies that have nothing to say except to deliver some explosions, some silly dialogue, gore and slow-motion. And I just love that so fucking much!

Til Schweiger plays Jack Carver, a german ex-soldier working as a captain at some lake in Canada (at least it's shot in Canada). His friend, Max Cardinal (Ralf Moeller) work's nearby at a island, guarded heavily by military. On that island, no one else than Udo Kier experiments to transform ordinary soldiers to super-soldiers, not capable of dying and that can go on killing and fighting without any rest or food. A female journalist, Valerie Cardinal (Emmanuelle Vaugier), the niece of Max, arrives to write a story about the island... and soon she and Jack is trapped on the island, trying to get out alive!

First of all, there's one weak thing with this movie: the comedy. It's a little to much comedy for my taste, but if you ignore that you have a very entertaining and violent action movie - far from the big Hollywood-productions of course - but with three excellent action sequences, some gore and a very high body count. Most of the movie is on this Canadian island, and the location look kinda cheap. Like an Italian action movie from the eighties, at least the outside of the secret lab. The inside is more fancy and echoes Resident Evil and stuff like that. 

The first big action scene is a car chase in the forest, which feels old-fashioned and I'm not ashamed to say that I think it's very good. Explosions, stunts and good editing. The next one is a boat chase, not as intensive but it works damn fine and Uwe makes a lot out of very little. The last 30-40 minutes it's a blast. Some graphic gore, lot's of squibs, people that are thrown around in slow-mo (Uwe never misses to include a cool shot, and that makes this movie so awesome) lot's of action. Don't expect The Matrix though, this might be more for us nerds out there that want's more old style action.

Except the comedy I can't complain so much, it's a fun movie with lots of action and violence. The actors are good and seem to have fun, Udo Kier is good and I hope the open ending leads to a (at least!) DTV-sequel. I want to see more super-soldiers killing people in ultra-rapid!

Crazy, silly, a bit stupid and well made. This is a movie for us that likes our DTV-action juicy and gory.

Galaxina Entertainment - New DVD-company in Sweden

When every DVD-company in the world are in trouble, the Swedish ones flourish like never before. This is the third company from the same gang of people, but each one with different owners. Studio S, Njuta Films and now Galaxina Entertainment. No website or movies revealed yet, but I know that's some interesting stuff is coming. The owner is a woman with very, very good taste. 

More news on this when I know more :) Or just ad them on Facebook and you will probably notice any news even before I do ;)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Altin çocuk (1966)

So, finally it has arrived: Altin çocuk, Onar Films latest release - and it's a packed DVD! Only a limited release, 500 numbered copies, this will be a collectors item. And not only because it's such a small release, but because it's a darn entertaining Turkish take on our favorite agent 007. But this time it's boyish superstar Göksel Arsoy as Golden Boy and longtime villain in Turkish cinema, Altan Günbay, as the Blofeld-esque baddie.

The movie starts like all movies should start, with a striptease. A woman is dancing/pleasing herself in front of a mirror, until Golden Boy himself comes into the picture and kisses her, and this goes one for the whole pre-credit sequence. Suddenly a man in a diver gear comes into the house and kills Golden Boy! But don't worry, it's only a double that's being killed, an enemy agent trying to get some secret information... and the man in the diver gear is the real Golden Boy.

The Turkish secret service awards him with a nice trip to London, where he literally seem to have one girl in every corner. He just drives around in his fancy sports car, drops one girl of and pick another one up! He ends up with a Swedish blonde at a hotel and just enjoys life. But a colleague in Turkey gets killed trying to inform their bosses about a terrible plan! Four women are escorting Golden Boy to the airport, and off he goes to new adventures.

It's of course the bald Altan Günbay (complete with a white cat in his lap) who's gonna destroy Turkey with a nuclear explosion, and the only one that can stop him is... yes, you guessed it... Golden Boy!

In a way there's not much going on in this movie. The plot is primitive and easy to follow, Golden Boys walks and drives around, gets into fights and shoot-outs, saves women, have sex with them, they get killed and he continues his hunt for the bald baddie. But at the same time it's an effective story, there's no boring scenes, just stuff that we wants to see in a spy-movie like this. It's like a Bond-movie on a hard diet. Chases, fights, semi-nudity, nice locations and an evil bald mastermind with a white cat. I love it. Yes, even a Swedish Bond-gal! Sorry, Golden Boy-gal!

Yeah, the budger are lower than most of the Italian movies in the same genre, but except the language there's not much difference really. It looks good, and the director Memduh Ün stretches the budget, and there's a lot of creative editing and angles, which makes this Turksploitation a lot more slicker than some of the other examples from the same era. Göksel Arsoy is in most of the scenes in the movie, and he's an odd Bond-copy. He looks like a mix between Jon Voight, William Shatner, Conan O'Brien and a school boy, and yes... a bit wimpy. But he's great in the action scenes and confident with the ladies, but it takes a bit of time to get used to his presence.   
What's really cool is that Onar Films has dug up a wonderful print. It has some print damage, and misses a frame or two here and there - but the sharpness, the contrast. Most of the time this movie looks and sounds great. Remember that it's a very obscure movie too, so a DVD like this is a dream!

As usual with Onar Films there's a lot of interesting extras. First of all we have two new trailers, once for a lost Kilink-movie which looks very interesting and dark. It's basically one scene, and it's a grim scene. I don't want to tell to much, watch it yourself. The second one is for Ringo Gestapo'ya Karsi, which looks extremely absurd. There's cowboys in it, and a member of the gestapo... and some whipping. And action. And more cowboys! I have to see it! Turkish Intrigue is a good article about Turkish spy-movies and then there's the usual filmographies and biographies. But the best thing is a 16 minute interview with Altan Günbay, who talks about his work in Turkish cinema. He starred in at least 140 movies (most of them as a villain) and tells how he was forced by producers to keep his shaved head for movie after movie, how he later found out that he was in a Sean Connery-movie and the state of Turkish movies today. Great little interview, and it's hard to believe that this nice old man was spitted at, got chairs hurled after him and a lot more because he always played the villain. 

After thinking a little bit, the final of the movie echoes The World Is Not Enough a lot. Both have the finale in Istanbul, in the bay, close to a house/castle on an island. Golden Boy/Bond goes underwater to stop the nuclear device to explode. After this Golden Boy also breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience with tongue in cheek and a smile. Just like Lazenby later did in On Her Majesty's Secret Service...

Altin çocuk is a cool movie and the DVD is great, so don't hesitate, buy it at Onar Films now!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Sanctuary (2009)

I've started to believe that the ONLY people that can be involved in good fighting-movies from Thailand are:

1. Tony Jaa
2. Panna Rittikrai
3. Prachya Pinkaew

Maybe not in that order, but you get my point. Why? Because these three people, whatever they get involved in, knows how to show a good spectacular fight without trying to imitate either Hollywood or Hong Kong. I'm not saying that The Sanctuary is a total disaster, not like Hanuman: White Monkey Warrior, but it still far away from Ong-Bak, Ong-Bak 2, Tom yum goong, Born to Fight, Chocolate, Somtum... yes, even Mercury Man!

Michael B plays Krit, a looser that works at a temple. One day his twin brother finds an old vase buried in the ground and sells it to a shabby antique-dealer for 20000 bath. But someone wants to know where he found it, and kills him after a fight at a car scrap. Not long after this some evil foreigners - lead by Patrick (Russell Wong) and continues the dig. The fine two more vases and plans to sell these to some rich bastard somewhere. Krit and his new friend, a female archaeologist, wants to stop them of course...

Wow, want can I say? It started production in 2006, ran out of money and this is the result. Not really that good. First of all, the story lacks energy. There's logical wholes that Michael Bay would envy, and people just talk without having something to say - which is the worst kinda dialogue, because it makes the movie seem so much longer. Michael B is okey... but he overacts way to much, and looks sometimes confused. Russell Wong (who's the only real good actor here) has four henchmen: two Germans who can't act, a very stereotype gay guy that can't act and a long-haired dude which is okey and actually look a little bit dangerous. Mix with this is some uninspired nationalism and religion, which never works because it never seems to have a heart. 

But the most important thing is the action, yes? Well, it's not bad action. It's just to little Thai and to much modern Hong Kong. Don't expect any fancy wide wonderful shots of cool stunts and hits, here everything is hidden away in the editing. Sure, there's some cool bits here and there, but way to little. Michael B can fight, but is stiff and unfocused compared to Jaa. Some of the stuntmen is better, and shows some really nasty falls that seem to hurt. We have two bigger fights in the final, a couple of chase scenes earlier where Michael B is beaten up, the famous car scrap-scene - which is a disappointment, and a fun sequence with some typical exploding huts, big squibs and stuff that Born to Fight is filled with during all it's ninety minutes. 

Do you remember that cool scene in the house, where Michael B fights with swords inside a house? Lot's of cool stunts? There's a piece of it in the new trailer too. Well, it's not in the movie actually. At all. Maybe it shows up in the sequel? I have no idea, but I doubt there will ever be a sequel.

A few good action scenes don't make a good movie, and I just can't recommend The Sanctuary at all. Sad, I know. But that's life.

Ninja Dixon is on... Facebook!

It's a bit embarrassing actually, because time after time I've promised myself to never become a member on Facebook. But now it happen... but it's not me, it's Ninja Dixon - no one else :) I'm no genius when it comes to communities, so I will try to figure out what to do with this.

But anyway, you are welcome to ad me if you want to - and give me some hints which groups that are good to join for example. 

Here's the link to Ninja Facebook :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Antropophagus (1980)

After seeing Antropophagus for the second time on DVD, I'm even more convinced that this is a good movie. In some moments even a great movie, if you compare to other gore/slashers/splatters from the same era. I mean, the story is nothing to talk about: a bunch of people goes to an island and finds themselves killed one by one by a mad, disgusting cannibal (George Eastman of course) and nothing more than that. Sure, there's some back-story and even some minor character development - but the rest is just simple, good old fun entertainment. 

It starts bad. I never liked that beach-scene with the German tourists. The acting is crap, the cinematography and direction is uninspired and the whole scene is more or less unnecessary. Or they could have done something funnier, maybe inside a house so Joe D'Amato could have light the scene a bit at least. Now it's just danish dogme on the beach and nothing more. But then something happens. The main characters is pretty boring, even Tisa Farrow in her last role, but D'Amato really tries to get some atmosphere going. He even tries to scare us. From the deserted village to the spooky old house, D'Amato hits every mark and does it good.

The first great scene is when the woman is jumping out from the wine barrel, and after that there's some really good stuff going on. George Eastman (or Luigi Montefiori as some people know him) is creepy and scary as the tall cannibal. He's like a nasty version of Frankensteins Monsters, and seem to play it that way with his long arms hanging down and that innocent, retarded way of handling dead corpses. He's also very brutal and intensive when the killings start, and I could be mean to say this is his best performance ever - but I mean it, he really is that monster.

The gore is cheap, but a lot more fun in D'Amato's and Montefiori's next opus, Absurd. There's bloody bites, stabbings, throat-rips and a lot more - plus the infamous fetus-scene. Last time I saw the movie I wasn't that impressed by it, but now I felt uncomfortable watching it. Which is good of course, and it made the whole movie stronger.

Antropophagus may have an empty script, but it's ends up a fantastic little gore-film with the help of talented people both in front and behind the camera.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dolly Dearest (1991)

I've been restless the last hours, because my partner is finally coming home after being away to Poland for a month now. It's hard to concentrate on anything, so I picked out Dolly Dearest from the collection and gave it a shot. I never felt interest in seeing it, because I thought it would be a totally rip-off on Child's Play, but no. And yes. The only reason this movie was made was that Child's Play was a big success, which is fair enough. But what the original don't have is an old Maya temple and a whole gang of evil dolls trying to take over the world.

Sam Bottoms is Elliot Wade, who just bought a doll factory in Mexico (?!?!?!) and planning to start a new life there with his wife (Denise Crosby) and two children. But as soon as the visit the rundown factory the daughter finds a doll that she really wants. It becomes her best friend, and she starts to get more and more aggressive and moody. What the family don't know is that a and old South American spirit, maybe the devil himself, has escaped from his crypt and taken over all the Dolly Dearest-dolls in the factory! And now, everyone must die!

It wasn't that bad. The producer is Pierre David, Canada's Roger Corman it feels like sometime. He always puts out okey, but seldom unique movies and I'm always entertained. The good thing here was to stay away from the whole serial killer, city-thing like in Child's Play. A Mexico-setting and an underground temple is good, and makes it more fun visually. But I reacted directly to this idea to move to Mexico and take over an old doll factory that the family never have seen before, which seems like a very stupid idea and a bit far-fetched. 

The effects are quite good, and the doll herself looks creepy and the illusion of her coming alive works for me. Not much on the gore front though, expect when a character gets his hand stuck in a sewing Machine. Dolly Dearest also has slick look and could pass for a bigger horror movie, if it was made in the eighties and had even more gore and killer-dolls.

Anyway, not bad, but nothing I would watch again.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Art of Dying (1991)

I've only heard bad words about Wings Hauser as a person, but as an actor I like him a lot. Now I've also seen The Art of Dying, a very wicked little movie that he starred and directed in for PM Entertainment Group. The colorful script is written by Joseph Merhi, the "M" in PM. In away this is both the opposite and the perfect movie to accompany (the brilliant) Vice Squad. There's the gritty, sleazy LA, seedy characters and a lot of sex and violence.

Wings is Jack, I police working for the vice squad (I guess). He's really a nice dude to those that deserves it, and has always strong and funny female partners. He's also a bit to violent to people who attack him, and starts the movie with throwing a woman out from a window. But the girls on the street like him because they can trust him, and he also want to help them to a better life.

But LA is LA and a city like that without a perverted murdered or two isn't a real city. In this case we have a psychotic gay couple, Latin Jerry (Mitch Hara) and Roscoe (Gary Werntz). Roscoe is a director, a real autour, and tries to catch the reality on celluloid. So together with Latin Jerry he finds young people who wants to be movie stars, recreate famous movie scenes and kill them for real in front of the camera.

When two of Jacks girls is found dead, he's going after the last person he saw them with, Latin Jerry...

Don't expect a normal thriller, or horror, or cop drama. Wings Hauser and Joseph Merhi has created something very odd. It's close to a black comedy, but not funny, and it borders to European arthouse... maybe, or maybe not. It's hard to describe The Art of Dying, but it's damn fine movie. I like this way of playing with conventions and genres, because it surprises me. It's a weird love song to LA, but still a slightly pessimistic view on what became of this old glamour-town. At the same time it's a satire over pretentious directors, the silly autour-myth and over those who come to LA to find fame and money.

Wings Hauser smiles in most scenes here, even when it's more dangerous stuff going on. I'm not sure if it Wings himself that showing how fun it is, or if it's Jack who actually enjoys his job so much. After seeing Wings going after women like a bloodthristy predator, it was fantastic to see him doing the opposit thing here. In smaller parts we see Sarah Douglas and the weird Michael J. Pollard, both are more extended cameos and are fun. The killers, Mitch Hara and Gary Werntz, are delicious over-the-top and playing the gay-angle both with realistic tenderness and like characters from a comic book. It's a tough job, but they made it without making it seem homophobic or cliché. 

It's also quite violent, with some minor gore and blood, for those who like that, and of course there's nudity and sex in a lot of different forms. But what stands out most is the love for LA, the freaky, sleazy, wacky LA.

In the final scene Jack and his girl is walks away, and a man in pink tangas and on rollerskates flies by into the night.

Just another day in LA, baby.

Avalanche (1978)

I read a comment on the IMDB by someone who was an extra in this movie. He was ashamed, and really didn't want to admit that he was as a part of Avalanche. It's sad that he reasons that way, because even if it's low budget and very cliché, it's still one of my favorite disaster-movies ever. Rock Hudson plays David Shelby, a millionaire who's building a luxurious ski resort up in the mountains. Photographer and environmentalist Nick Thorne (Robert Forster) is not happy with how Shelbys men are cutting down trees around the mountains, just to get a more spectacular view over the scenery. But Shelby is stubborn and want to go on with the creation of his winterland, and the next day they will open the big ski slope, have a competition in figure skating and much more... so nothing can't go wrong, except... AVALANCHE!!!

Director Corey Allen and screenwriter Frances Doel throws in every cliché in the manual, and makes them work a lot better than some of the bigger movies in the genre. What could have been quite boring, is instead a effective disaster-thriller with low budget and high ambitions. It could be easy to joke about big names like Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow slumming in a b-grade Roger Corman-movie, but both (and not only them, this is a very well acted movie) makes the best of it and injects some warmth in their characters. Robert Forster, always good, plays a role that was in every Corman production during these day: the conscious hero, protecting the nature and innocent. He even steals to make a good thing, saving maybe a few peoples lives.

What impresses me the most is that Avalanche probably had a budget around 1-1,5 million dollars, and the a normal producer would be lazy and just do the necessary stuff with that money. But here we have a movie that looks bigger, have a lot of extras, many special effects (though very uneven) and lots of action. Maybe that was the reason that it was big hit? This was at the end of the disaster-era, and I'm sure it was a big risk to take at this time. But Corman and his crew puts in a lot of entertainment. Not counting the avalanche, there's some very cool skiing footage, a mini-version of Death Race 2000 - but with snowmobiles and a lot of soap opera style drama. The way we want a good disaster-movie to be. 

When the avalanche finally hits, it's impressive and cheap. It's a wild mix of new footage of people getting crushed, stock footage from nature documentaries, miniature work and visual effects. The later effects is most of that time not that good, but works because the editing is so effective and there's always a new victim to focus on in the next cut. This avalanche is also the most intensive I've seen in a movie, and there's a lot of cool and violent scenes that, judging only by content and not the quality of the effects, are among the best I've seen in the genre. 

Now when Shout Factory has bough the rights to fifty of Cormans movies, I really hope that Avalanche is in there somewhere. Because it's now, when I watched the Australian Umbrella-disc, that I understand what a crappy version that is! Fullscreen, almost vhs-quality and a dark and murky print.

Give me a restored version now, or I will send Rock Hudson ghost on you all!

Finding the key to Uncle Jess

There's a new member at Avmaniacs, Jan Zbik, a polish (and you know I have a soft spot for polish citizens) Francophiliac (someone who loves Jess Franco), and he mentioned that he's been in the cult-movie biz for a long time, but first a year ago found the key to Jess Franco. I liked that symbol, because a key is what you need to understand and love not only Franco, but most of your favorite directors. It can take time, and when you have that rusty/golden/new/old key in your hand and unlocks one movie, you finally understand those other movies from the past.

For me the key was A Virgin Among the Living Dead, Franco's 1973 masterpiece. I've seen other Franco-movies before that one of course, and some was great and some was not so great. He was just another director in a big wide world of eurocult. But with Virgin I understood that Franco means art, it means trash, it means passion. With trash I mean that sometime his work is sloppy. For Franco it seem to be more important to make a movie, make as many movies as possible, than just make one perfect movie. I'm with him on this, because making movies is a drug, it's magic. It's something you deep inside never wants to be without. Uncle Jess could make a few movies in a month, no perfectionism, but a lot of passion.

In Virgin there's parts that look very cheap, very trashy, very exploitative - but they intercuts with pure cinema poetry. There's a scene where one or two of the characters seem to float in the air, outside the house in the garden. That made it for me, and after that I saw that movie - and the rest of Franco's filmography - with completely new eyes. I never had a problem watching any of his movies after that, even those that he made just for simple survival. 

I also think that part of the Franco-Key was DVD. For the first time I could see clear, sharp, versions of his movies. Cinematography is very important in the stories he tells, because he's a much more visual director than a script-bound one. He can, like Welles and Hitchcock, tell a story only with the camera (just check out Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein), something very few directors can. But most important with Franco, he uses instinct when he makes movies. Not everything is logical at first, but often - when you've watched a certain amount of his movies - you'll get that key too.

So, what's your key? To Jess Franco, or to any director of your choice?


3 x PM Entertainment Group

Right now my focus is very much pointed to slick action movies from the nineties, of course produced by PM Entertainment Group. I love these movies and though they can be hard to separate sometime, they're still some great popcorn-movies that deserves more recognition. First out is The Silencers (1996), a Men in Black/X-Files style action-movie where Jack Scalia plays a bodyguard that gets his object killed. The whole thing leads to a secret operation where the US government tries to open a portal to another dimension. The stunts in this movie is amazing, from the scene where a guy throws himself into a moving subway-train to the great, great freeway-chase with tons of explosions and a cool fight on top of a truck. The second half of the movie looses some of it's energy, but it's still great entertainment.

The next one was Executive Target (1997). Michael Madsen plays an ex-stuntdriver who gets forced to kidnap the president. I still think it lacks energy between the action-scenes, but I'll have to live with that, because the car-chases - three of them I think - are fucking great. I'm not sure how many cars that gets destroyed, but it feels like PM's most expensive movie and the stunt work is truly one of the best I've seen in a movie. It's weird how little known a movie like this is, and that it (I guess) was released direct to video! This could have been a cinema release with maybe some more famous actors, or some more work with the scenes in between the action. 

Last movie out is the charming, but far from perfect, The Sender (1998). Another sci-fi with UFO's and black ops. Michael Madsen has a daughter with alien-DNA in her, and the US government wants her to experiment on. But a female alien (dressed like Don Cheadle in his Egyptian style in Boogie Nights) comes to the rescue. It lacks the action, but has three big action-scenes where the first one is the best. It's another truck going rampage on the streets with multiple crashes and a fight on top of it. Great stunt work. But this time the story focuses more on the sci-fi aspect and there's more spaceships and secret underground bases than nonstop-action. But it's still okey, and it delivers the entertainment at least.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The new movie from Uncle Jess

I just couldn't stop myself a couple of days ago when I read about Uncle Jess new movie, Paula-Paula. So I bought it.


3 x Jack the Ripper

As some of you know, I love movies about (or only related) to Jack the Ripper. I don't care about if they are serious or blahablaha, that's for boring nerds. So lately I've been watching not less than three Ripper-productions. I have no wish to even write a fat review for each of them, because they are similar in the theme and sometimes even twists. First out is Whitechapel (2009), a British mini-series about a copycat trying to recreate Jacks murders in Whitechapel. For you who knows your british crime-shows, you know what you get here. Some social realistic drama, some mystery, some chases, some tension. Not bad at all, and even if the ending is slightly... not perfect, it's still a very fine production. The funniest thing is that it centers around the Ripper-fandom, and it's a lot of Ripper-tours, books and web pages. 

The second one I saw was 1997's The Ripper, a TV-movie with Patrick Bergin in the lead. It's the most nasty version of the three, with some bloody scenes and a good atmosphere. But it's still a TV-movie, and never gets that big feeling. You never seen London in any wider shots (expect a short one in the beginning), and there's a lot of obvious sets. But as usual, when it comes to the UK, there's nothing wrong with the acting and the script is good. There's no mystery for example, the killer is known from the beginning and sadly enough it's the silly, and kinda boring, Royal conspiracy that's the main theory here. But watch it for the acting and atmosphere, just don't expect anything new.

And finally we have the fifth (I think) movie version of Marie Belloc Lowndes book The Lodger, this time set in modern day LA and with an extra twist or two. I read a lot of awfully bad reviews of this flick, but it was far from as bad as I heard. Storywise it's similar to Whitechapel with copycat roaming the city, trying to recreate the murders in detail. In this version there is a mystery, and there's several suspects. I like the idea they have here, but it's not used in a really good way. David Ondaatje never brings any tension to the story, and for once is the European style (lighting, sets, camera movements) not good here. It should have won to be more "Hollywood". But still, not a bad movie and Alfred Molina is great in the lead.

This is how a hallways should look when you come home...

The Sender, The Lodger, Eden Log, The Ripper, The Last Winter and Executive Target. Low and high, good and bad. I have an inflammation in the foot, so I can't hardly walk, so this will be perfect viewing material for a couple of days now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Commando Mengele (1987)

"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do", Lukas 23:34.

Yes, if I was a Christian, a believer in the supernatural, I would have used these words when watching Commando Mengele. The brain-trust of Eurociné, Andrea Bianchi and Jess Franco uses all their power to create a magnificent turd of a movie - and I love every second of it, every fucking frame. Every cliché, every failed squib, every non-choreographed fight. Everything.

Antonio Mayans, lacking the huge fake-mustache he has in Sadomania, plays Marc Logan, a happy guy with a happy girlfriend - until the day they decides to go up to that heavily guarded fortress on the hill. She get's killed, he's sad for exactly... two seconds, and then a curly-haired acrobat named Mr Agility takes care of the body and they are friends forever! And yes, in the fortress lives Doctor Mengele (Howard Vernon) and he's plans to create a super-race of people by injecting chimpanzee-sperm into women and creating retarded half-apes. Something like that.

Marc contacts nazi-hunter Ohmei Felsberg (Fernando Rey, in one of those charming one-day-cameos) who sends his colleague Aaron Horner (Jack Taylor) to help Marc and his friends (the acrobat, a chubby old guy in a wimpy sporting dress, a crappy hyperactive martial artist and some tech-guy who can do everything)! And there's a love story too. It think.

Wow, this is such a lazy, sloppy and shabby production. The actors seem to act in their own clothes, which makes everything just look Dogme, and the camera is just filming them doing stuff. No special fancy camera moves, just reacting to movements and trying not to miss people when they walk into the scene to say their lines. Written by Jess Franco and directed by Andrea Bianchi, none of them at the height of their career (has Bianchi ever had a height in the career?), they could probably have let the cleaners at the hotel do the work for them.

Chris Mitchum looks like a zombie, a crippled zombie, but is still suppose to be a master kung fu-master - which is seen in cheap slow-mo a couple of times. Howard Vernon do his job, but nothing more, and the same thing with Mayans and Rey. The rest don't do their work at all! Well, Jack Taylor maybe. He's always good. As usual in the production of Eurociné everything looks like it's been shot in the hotel garden and in the rooms belonging to the actors and crew, but here they also have a one or two villas who make everything look a bit more expensive. The action is more fun than usual, but very bad at the same time. Many chases, corny fights, squibs (finally a Eurociné where they could afford squibs!) and even some very cheap explosions (one of them are so weak that parts of the car is being pulled away with visible wires and very slow too!)... not to forget the grenade launch that never shoot away the grenades!

In Commando Mengele everything looks cheap, are cheap and will always be cheaper than my ex-boyfriend. But you know, I like it. I've seen it a second time now, and even if a 94 minute movie took me 180 minutes to watch, it's still entertaining and trashy in that charming way that only European movies shot in South American can be.

I mean, if this was released on blu-ray, I would buy it! Wouldn't you?

Tunnel Rats (2008)

I've never made any secret that I like Uwe Boll and already from the beginning understood what he was up to. Hell yes, I even enjoyed House of the Dead - a silly, stupid and 100 % entertaining trash-movie that perfectly knew what it was. What irritates me nowadays is that some critics still complaining about Uwe, just for the sake of it. He could go out there and make a new... Casablanca and they would find something to moan about. Slowly some people out there has started to understand the talent of Uwe and also actually give Seed, Tunnel Rats, Postal, Stoic and the upcoming Rampage good reviews.

When I did some research about Tunnel Rats I read the review at DVD Talk, and it's a positive one... but the reviewer just has to nag about something, and throws in some empty words like this:

"The basic story was sketched out, but the actors developed their own characters and wrote their own dialogue. It explains a lot, and I have to cut the production some slack for a creative choice that is either incredibly gutsy or incredibly lazy." - really, would he even have mention it being lazy if this was Lars Von Trier or De Palma?

"Its as if Boll reached a point where he couldn't contain himself any longer and had to push it over-the-top; unfortunately by doing so, he's spit in the face of every man who served in one of these platoons." - This reviewer haven't watched the movie! Really, those words are just retarded. There's a deep respect for the characters, both Americans and Vietnamese - but I'm sure this person just wanted a mainstream, no criticism-kinda movie.

"...but most revealing is his research into making "Tunnel Rats," which sounds to have been nothing more than reading a few books about the Cû Chi tunnels." - Yeah? What should he have done? Do they really expect a low budget movie to spend money to Vietnam and do research in the actually tunnels? I'm sure a fuckload of movies has been based on research in books.

"The most horrifying aspect of the interview is learning that Boll plans to do at least two more dramas, based on real-events, one about Darfur and one about an incident in a prison regarding rape and torture. Boll explains that the improvised dialogue approach will be utilized in these films as well. I shudder to think of the end result if "Tunnel Rats" is any indication of how he handles real-life." - Okeeeey? The movie is good, the dialogue works fine... so why should it be a bad thing for him to make two more movies in that way?

And so on. This guy think it's a (quite) good movie, but probably afraid of the Boll-bashers out there and a lack of journalistic integrity, he writes a lot of shit that he never would if James Cameron did or said the exactly same things.

Well fuck him. Tunnel Rats is one impressive and very violent Vietnam-movie. It's tells the story of a platoon specialized in cleaning up and destroying the underground tunnels that the Viet Cong uses in the jungle. The ad-libbed dialogues are great, and don't seem forced or weird. The actors are excellent, and with having a strong director leading them the acting is very coherent and fits the story perfect.

It's in South Africa too, which works better than it should. The jungle is slightly different, but the overall feeling gives an eerie illusion of being in an Asian jungle. But the story itself, the action and characters takes away any thoughts on the location. This is a good movie. The action? Well, it's not an action movie by any means, but it has one bigger jungle battle where the gore and blood flows between the trees. Actually, the whole movie is quite brutal and the effects by Olof Ittenbach is really nasty.

But most of the time we spend the story down in the tunnels with the soldiers, both Americans and Vietnamese. It's dark, claustrophobic and violent. In one scene a soldier has to cut up the body in front of him to be able to move forward for example. Great idea, and very unpleasant too. This movie shows no mercy, and there's no happy Hollywood-ending - thanks for that - so prepare to feel slightly uncomfortable after watching this flick.

Okey, sorry for my ramblings about that other review, but I get easily pissed at stupidity - and I can't accept that people have other opinions than me ;)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Five Golden Dragons (1967)

Harry Alan Towers was a genius. I've never been bored watching a Harry-movie. Sometimes they've been bad, but still entertaining and good quality. Five Golden Dragons is a very charming and witty thriller set in Hong Kong, and who deserves much more attention. But first, the best joke in the movie:

- You are a dragon, aren't you?
- It's not only dragon, I think it's broken!

Well, it's actually funny, but if you don't laugh you just don't understand the genius of Robert Cummings. Here was close to sixty, but looks like... forty with a face like fortyfive and a body like thirty. And he moves like he's twentyfive! I haven't seen much of Mr Cummings, only his work with Hitchcock - but I never expected him to be so funny! Sure, many of the jokes are corny and silly - but the timing, there's the magic with this guy.

Okey, the story. A fat guy name Gert (which must be short for Gertrud, jokes Cummings at one point) arrives at Hong Kong but is followed instantly by Klaus Kinski! I would be scared if Kinski followed me, especially when it ends with cruel, brutal death! But before Gert dies he leaves a note to the taxidriver, a letter to Mr Bob Mitchell at a luxery hotel in Hong Kong. Bob (Cummings of course) have no idea what this is, but when he finally reads the letter - the only text is "Five Golden Dragons" - he get's involved in a conspiracy of murder, women and a secret society of master criminals!

I don't want to tell you more, because this was a much funnier and smarter (well, kinda...) movie than I thought it would be. The locations are wonderful, and they're shot with the assistance of Shaw Brothers. Roy Chiao, a great character actor in many Hong Kong movies, plays a quite big role as a police officer and in cameos we have both George Raft and Christopher Lee! For those who enjoy ladies we have Margaret Lee, Maria Rohm and Maria Perschy! The script, written by Towers under his alias Peter Welbeck, is never boring and the twists are great. I'm not sure, but a lot of the visual jokes from Cummings is probably improvised and I'm sure there's dialogue that's ad-libbed.

But the main reason to watch this movie is Robert Cummings. The guy's a blast and with the wrong actor in this role the comedy would be terrible. But it's not, thank's to destiny, Towers and whatever reason Robert was cast.

The DVD I have is a very nice Italian disc, anamorphic widescreen, nice colors and sharpness, very little print damage and Italian and English language tracks. Recommended!