Saturday, June 30, 2012

Taking a break

Yep, I'm taking a break for a couple of days (No, I'm not closing the blog).
Right now I see no point in blogging, writing about movies.
There's a trillion other better blogs about movies than mine.
Take a break from here you to.
The review of Macabre, yesterday, was post number 1000.
Maybe I should stay at that.

/Ninja Dixon

Friday, June 29, 2012

Macabre (2009)

The horror cinema of Indonesia is probably one of the most imaginative and surreal parts of the movie industry. Both India and Thailand is getting close, but Indonesia is unique. Since many years deeply rooted in local traditions and legends and with tons of very goofy, spectacular, violent and cheap horror experiences, from Suzzanna and Barry Prima to modern cheese-cinema like the works of Rizal Mantovani (Taring and Jenglot Pantai Selatan). Macabre is based on Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto's Dara, a short movie who also became a part of the anthology movie Takut: Faces of Fear (produced by Brian Yuzna), as usual under their combined name "The Mo Brothers". Macabre is very different from most other Indonesian horror movies I've seen because it ventures a dark and more serious territory, on the surface inspired by American slasher cinema - but with a visual style and violent punch from the French neo-gore cinema of later years.

A young newlywed couple, Adjie and Astrid, together with three friends, decides to go on a roadtrip and leave big city Jakarta for a while. As the evening comes a heavy rain starts and they nearly hits a young woman, Maya, who stands in the road. She's been robbed and as the nice folks they are they drive her home...where Dara awaits them. She's is the strict, stiff and unemotional mother of Maya, like a female robo-replica from the fifties - and it won't last long until our heroes understands that's something is terribly wrong and they all are in danger.. but then, of course, it's way too late!

Don't shy away from this movie just because the familiar set-up. This is a superior movie in every way possible compared to it's American modern counterparts. Macabre actually dares to have interesting and sympathetic characters, which hurts even more when they're killed and with a family of psychos that's so much more scary because of their lack of emotions. Except the basic concept  I never thought of American slashers when I saw the movie, instead I saw modern French horror movies. The atmospheric lighting, the stylish sets, the unpredictable characters. Even if not much explanations is given there's several really interesting clues that adds to a back story that I hope will be more examined in a sequel. It's also connects back to vintage Indonesian genre cinema, with the root to all evil based in the Dutch colonizers of Indonesia.

Shareefa Daanish is a new Suzzanna and the character of Dara is already a favourite of mine. Her original performance, with a deep slow voice, robot-like movements and shark eyes is stunning and scary, and fucking freaky. She owns the movie, even if her whole "family" is great in their own perverted, psycho way. I could watch Shareefa kick ass all day long and I sincerely hope she will play Dara at last once more, because she's so good at it.

If you want gore, blood and random graphic violence you've come to the right place. Macabre is a very bloody movie without being Schnaas-boring or cutting away to fast like most American "graphic" horror movies. This is French stuff, and if you've seen Inside, Martyrs, Frontier(s) etc you know what I mean. The effects is a mix between CG and practical stuff and most of it works very good. But the magic lies in the actors and the editing who helps every murder scene to be more painful than it really could have been with lesser talented people involved.

Macabre is a violent and nasty horror movie with the same quality as the French classics and with a stylish and modern twist on Indonesian horror cinema. It's a welcome addition to my collection and I think most of you would appreciate it. It's available uncut from the UK, so go get it before Dara gets you!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Little Deaths (2011)

I rarely skip the chance to experience a new anthology movie and when the food folks at Njuta Films suggested I should give Little Deaths a chance I decided to do just that. I'm very easily impressionable, like a little boy in a slingshot factory. And what better is a anthology movie built around three of my favourite themes: British social-realism, sex and violence. All in one! Little Deaths is a witty title, a direct translation of the French saying "La petite mort", a slightly macabre alternative name on the orgasm, the ejaculation. And it's a brilliant title on a movie that deals with deaths and orgasms. I wish I could have come up with that idea myself...

First out is House and Home. A rich couple is entertaining themselves by kidnapping and drugging homeless people and use them as sex toys. The second one is Mutant Tool, which deals with a special kind of mutant that produces sperm as a drug! The third one is Bitch, about a young couples very special and controversial relationship. I don't want to say so much about the stories, because all three of them are original and gruesome and is best experienced by watching the actually movie.

It's hard to say which of them I consider is the best one, because they have a similar quality but also very different. House and Home looks stunning and feature the best acting in the whole project. The interaction between Luke de Lacey, Holly Lucas and Siubhan Harrison is extremely good. Siubhan being the coldest bitch I've seen in any recent movies. The ending, a good one, still feels a bit rushed - and I really wanted to see more. Mutant Tool is extreme and mixes the traditional social realism of British cinema with Japanese perversions - and even if the budget is a bit low for the effects being used it's still a very successful concept with some neat twisted ideas. It also seems to be a sequel to Andrew Parkinson's 2001 feature Dead Creatures. Haven't seen that one for years, but I'll change that soon. Bitch, the last story, is probably the most low-key and even more realistic in terms of the visuals and acting and it feels like a slightly nastier and "sexier" Roald Dahl story (even if he for one could be very sexual in his work). It's the cheapest-looking (which necessary is not a bad thing) of the bunch, but still holds its own high quality and unique style.

Bad anthology movies can be the most boring movies made, because with several crappy stories in one movie it's extra painful to watch. Little Deaths is a damn fine indie-production, gory and graphic with impressive actors. None of the stories is perfect and could have used maybe yet another rewrite or more money to achieve their goals. On the other hand, I prefer movies with beauty marks - they're less calculated and reveals an even greater passion for storytelling and filmmaking than "perfect movies" (I'm looking at you, Mr Kubrick).

It's rare to see an anthology movie that dares to be darker and nastier, that refuses to fall in the trap to copy a masterpiece like Creepshow or the works of Amicus. It's kinda boring after a while to see yet another filmed comic strip, with ironic nudges and tongue-in-cheeks. That's why Little Deaths is even more needed in a film industry that rather makes fake-Grindhouse flicks than serious attempts at horror and other kinds of genre cinema.

The DVD from Njuta Films looks excellent - really, it feels like BD, and worth both a rent and a buy. Watch out for lots of bodily fluids, both red, white and... no, not blue. Just blood and sperm, like life itself.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

House of Wax (2005)

What the hell? A mainstream slasher starring Paris Hilton? Yep, that's what you can await when you're entering The House of Ninja Dixon! The thing is that I've always really enjoyed House of Wax, since I first saw it in cinema and nowadays on DVD (haven't upgraded it to BD yet - if it's even out on that format?). This is the first time in years I've seen it again thanks to Kit Gavin, of all people on this earth. He did some joke about Paris Hilton's brain and that triggered me to give it a new spin to see if it was as good as I remember it to be.

This House of Wax differs quite drastically from all the other versions out there and reminds me more about Tourist Trap than anything else. Not a bad thing if I can be honest, because this gives nice teen-slasher spin on the classic tale. This time a bunch of youths comes to small town after having engine trouble and gets killed one by one by a wax-masked killer. Everyone except Paris Hilton and the dude playing her boyfriend, she gets killed somewhere else. Sorry for that spoiler. But before they die they also realizes that the whole town is fake with wax figures as the only inhabitants... except the killer of course!

Damn, I'm getting lazy. But it's just so friggin' boring to write down a synopsis of such a generic storyline, and I guess most of you here knows exactly what's gonna happen anyway without having seen the movie. But what I want to say is that House of Wax still is a very good horror movie with very good directing by Jaume Collet-Serra. This was the first time I saw a more "realistic" style in a modern slasher movie, and with that I mean more handheld camera, naturalistic (yes, I think so) acting and a grittiness that haven't been seen for a while in big budget American horror movies.

Sure, the clichés is there: horny kids, stupid kids, retarded killer - but its till feels fresh and most of all, very brutal and nasty. I've seen more graphic movies with more gore and splatter, but Collet-Serra's steady hand makes everything so much more violent. The ideas is sadistic and the execution of them is even more sadistic. It takes us down an unpleasant mainstream-road where few of us have been before. Compared to some low budget movies, Italian shockers and Asian weird cinema this movie is a kids movie, frakkin' Teletubbies in comparison! But still.

One of the strongest assets of House of Wax is the actors, who's given much more time than usual to work with their characters and delivers a script with a lot more character development than usual. Hell, even Paris Hilton is quite good here and has one of the best deaths in the movie. I love how her character wants to confess something to her boyfriend, but never gets a chance to say it - and I guess she's pregnant, which makes her death even more powerful. But the best of the bunch is Brian Van Holt in a dual role, the redneck-charming Bo and the fucked-up Vincent. Bo is one of those characters I hate the most. Totally unreliable, but still damn charming and sympathetic - but you KNOW you shouldn't trust him and still you do!

The murders are all graphic and bloody, including a baseball bat toe the face that some people compared with Irreversible. When I watched it today I can't see the similarity - except the basic idea of someone bashing a baseball bat in the face of something - but it still packs a good punch, but is very far from the gruesome scene in Gaspar Noé's classic.

Fun movie, give it a shot again. Most of you will like it and even if it's long, one hour forty eight minutes PAL, it's never boring. 

Scanner Cop (1994)

Since Richard Lynch left us last week I've been thinking of watching and writing a few words about one of his movies. Scanner Cop, the third sequel to David Cronenberg's masterpiece (yes) Scanners might be an odd choice, but I find it fitting because it was in exploitation, DTV, trashy medium budgeted movies and other oddities that Richard Lynch always belonged. Make not mistake, he was always excellent and that's why many of these movies was worth watching. Produced by the legendary exploitation master Pierre David, Scanner Cop is actually not a bad movie at all. It's a lot better than Scanners 2 and 3 - especially the last one who became extremely silly.

Daniel Quinn, who could be the illegitimate son of Brad Dourif, plays Samuel Staziak, the son of a scanner. He also have the power, but after his fathers death a kind policeman, Peter Harrigan (Richard Grove) and his wife takes care of Samuel - who grows up to be a cop also. Suddenly normal people attacks and kills cops all over LA and there's a sinister force behind it all, the evil Evil EVIL doctor Karl Glock (Richard Lynch) who after being in a mental institution for many years wants to take revenge on the police force who stopped his experiments the last time. It's only Samuel who can go into the heads of the killers to find the man behind it all, but that also means he needs to stop taking the medicine that stops him from being... a scanner!

When Pierre David is the producer (and he also directed this one) you always know the movie WILL deliver in several ways: gore (or just cool effects), nudity and an interesting grittiness that makes his movies stand out from the rest of the DTV movies being produced. Scanner Cop has no nudity what I can remember now, but it has plenty of fun scanner-effects and hallucinations in form of a zombie, a vietcong soldier, Richard Lynch with a pulsating brain and a giant insect. The cast is fine, especially Daniel Quinn who gives it all in his performance. He both manages to look slightly perverted, when doing small harmless scanner-jokes, to frail and extremely dangerous when he's cornered.

But it's Richard Lynch who steals the show, as usual. Lynch, as you might now, wasn't an actor from the beginning - but after an "accident" involving LSD and gasoline he got his famous scared appearance, and a few years after he got his first part in Scarecrow - opposite Gene Hackman and Al Pacino and never stopped working after that. What's so special with Lynch is that he's not just an evil face, he actually could act. He could play human, show emotions - and had a sense of humour. He never lost his handsome looks and those eyes could pierce through the TV and fucking kill you if you didn't pay attention.

I always wanted to meet him and kinda hoped that he would show up at some nearby convention, for example Weekend of Horrors in Bottrop, but now it's too late.

Rest in peace Mr Lynch.
Richard Lynch 1940-2012

So Chuck Norris don't want me to see The Expendables 2?

If Chuck Norris don’t want gays in the scouts I guess he don’t want gay action fans to watch his movies?

This makes me feel even more tired when I read how “geeks” defends him because of some really bad movies he made thirty years ago.

They rather support a homophobic paranoiac than support gay friends/relatives and fellow gay geeks.

Ninja Dixon has never been a fan of Chuck Norris. Here we prefer real men.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm standing alone in the Easy Action zone!

Yeah, or maybe more like... "Bloooood Traaaacks! I'm standing alone in the dangers zone!"

Blood Tracks has always been an important part of my life and collection. I started out with the cut Swedish VHS, then moved on to a slightly longer Aussie tape, after that got fucked by the terrible and very censored French DVD and then finally came to heaven with the German DVD, under the name Shocking Heavy Metal.

Here you can see how damn cool it is! :D

Now the circle has closed, after so many years! Today I filmed (ok, just b-camera) an interview with two of the members of Easy Action, Bo Stagman (aka Zinny Zan) and Peo Thyrén conducted by journalist Stefan Malmqvist and produced by Stefan Nylén, former Klubb Super 8 co-worker and now at Studio S.

Blood Tracks is finally getting a FAT special edition, 2 disc with tons of interesting bonus stuff. I can't say that much yet, but it will be first and last release of Blood Tracks you need to own. It's that good. I don't know about English subs, but the movie itself and some other stuff will be enough even for you that don't understand Swedish.

Here's my review of the uncut DVD from Germany, a release that will be totally owned by the upcoming Swedish release from Studio S!

Kaala Patthar (1979)

My hunt for obscure non-American disaster movies goes on and now I've just seen Yash Chopra's Kaala Patthar (which triggered me to make a bad joke earlier today: "If you directly translated the Indian movie title Kaala Patthar from Swedish it would be Coold Boobhs in English. Kinda."). Often I find non-American disaster flicks even more fun than the movies they try to copy. All the clichés is there, but with a local flavours and with a lot more miniature effects made for lesser money. I've already seen and loved The Burning Train, and now it's time for a mine-disaster movie starring two of the biggest stars: Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan! Is it as good as The Burning Train? Read on and you'll see...

Kapoor is Ravi, a mining engineer who works for the greedy bastard Dhanraj (Prem Chopra). He's very critical to the safety precautions in the mine, but Dhanraj refuses to listen to him. One of the workers is the mysterious Vijay (Amitabh), a man with a past! He's a former boat captain who by accident, and partly being a coward, abandoned his ship during a storm and left the passengers. But the ship didn't sink and now he's on the run from himself, trying to make up for his cowardly behaviour. We also have Mangal (Shatrughan Sinha), a convict who escaped prison and his hiding among the workers... these and several other characters we get a chance to follow during their life and work around the mine, until the disaster strikes!

I've always wondered how these Indian movies can keep up the interest. This one, for example, is almost three hours long and when looking back at it there's nothing really special about the story. Don't misunderstand me, it's well-written - but the story is like most other disaster movies. Nothing unique, and still a movie like this keeps up the interest of the audience for the whole duration. I think that, more or less, Indian movies are like an episode of The Simpsons or Family Guy, two shows that crams a lot of intrigue into 20-24 minute long episodes. Why because they're not afraid of introducing twists after twists without much explanation. It just happens, with a line of dialogue or two getting the show going in the right direction.

Indian movies do the same thing, but for 2,5-3 hours and they're not ashamed about it. The inclusion of a musical number when the story starts to slow down and more or less unprovoked fistfights (or kung fu if the movie is more wacko) also speeds up the story. Kaala Patthar is a good drama, not great, with a cast of decent actors who brings some respectability to the film. A fight here and there, some romance - and bromance - music and intrigue makes it work for 165 minutes.

The interesting thing, if you analyze the story and the main antagonist, is that the disaster strikes during the last 25 minutes of the movie! These minutes has a lot of action and people getting drown in absurd amounts of water, but it also feels a bit rushed and I wish they could have started the disaster earlier to build up more tension.

Kaala Patthar is not the best disaster movie I've seen, but it's a good drama and well worth watching for aficionados of disaster-melodramas. You who's sceptical I recommend The Burning Train instead!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rollercoaster (1977)

It always irritates me when people are counting Rollercoaster as a disaster movie. It's not. With that logic we should call Dirty Harry a disaster movie. Or The Laughing Policeman. It has elements that would make it fit in as a disaster movie: a star-studded seventies thriller, a scene with some destruction. But that's it. Like Two-Minute Warning this is a good old thriller, and actually a damn fine one - even if I have one big complain about it. But more to that later on in the review.

George Segal is safety inspector Harry Calder, a man who has two problems in life: to stop smoking and to shut the fuck up. After a terrible accident - really a sabotage - happens at a rollercoaster, killing lots of people, he think there's something fishy going on. When a fire starts at another amusement park he really puts two and two together and gets himself involved in what is a case of blackmailing of five huge entertainment companies, all of them owning amusement parks. Soon he's up against a terrorist (Timothy Bottoms) who stops for no one, and now it's a personal game of cat and mouse...

What's the bad thing about this awesome set-up? I think you might have guessed it already. They put the most spectacular, violent, expensive and cool scene in the beginning - when the first bomb goes off and launches a dozen innocent life's to their death! Watch out for some nice dummy deaths here! It's a great sequence and it's a real shocker to start a movie with. Pity it all goes more...low-key from that, into a very well-written but not so spectacular thriller that lives on good dialogue and a wonderful cast. If you except those ingredients it will be no disappointment, but I remember as a kid watching this for the first time and slowly realized that "Yeah, it won't be any more violent than that first scene...".

I've a big boy now and I've learned to love the story and especially the very fine performance by handsome George Segal, who manages both to be a funny dude and a good typical seventies hero at the same time. He's cynical, human and witty. The whole movie is packed with good actors, and the usual one-location casting of Henry Fonda as the president... sorry, the boss of Harry Calder. Watch out for Helen Hunt, Steve Guttenberg and Craig Wasson in small parts - Helen as Calder's daughter and it took some time for me to recognize her. Richard Widmark, always a reliable tough guy, has a lot of good scenes opposite Segal.

Director James Goldstone, who later directed the mega-flop "When Time Ran Out..." for Irwin Allen, a very generic but still quite fun volcano-movie, does a good job here with establishing the characters and maybe mostly creating a sense of uncertainly around the calm, calculating terrorist played by Timothy Bottoms. I never grow tired of movies set in the seventies, and Goldstone both catches the grittiness that we love so much, but also that Disney-vibe of that "everything is okay" and "we're having ugly but still cool clothes."

The live performance by Sparks is always awesome in a slightly outdated way. Cool band, I have to agree on that.

Rollercoaster is a good thriller which begins on the top and slowly works itself to the bottom - but in a good way. The game between Segal and Bottoms is the highlight of the movie, not counting the dummy deaths of course!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Alien Origin (2012)

People who dismiss The Asylum for only making fast, cheap and bad productions only to cash in on blockbusters is totally missing the point. Not only are they spending a lot of energy defending and supporting huge business corporations who already have all the money in the world, they're also dismisses new exploitation. They're ignoring that this is what the Italians, Indonesians and Indians (three examples of many) always has done. Enzo G. Castellari's The Great White is just an old-school The Asylum movie to cash in on Jaws and Bruno Mattei did more or less exact copies of Aliens (two times!), Predator and other big movies just because he wanted to make money. I might be a socialistic-commie atheist homosexueal left-winger, but I would never whine over a small company ripping of a huge company to make a quick. Actually, I support it!

Alien Origin is not really a mockbuster though. It takes some inspiration from The River, Predator, VERY little from Prometheus, but is still an original production.

A journalist and her crew joins the military in Belize when they're going into the jungle to place surveillance cameras to catch drug smugglers. No long after they enter the wilderness they find a boat in the middle of the jungle and soon they understand that something is out there, watching them. After a few days they find a Maya temple and learns that two archaeologists have disappeared after entering a cave and they set to try to find them. And then shit hits the fan, as usual in this kind of movie!

Alien Origin is a hit-and-miss found footage film, it has a lot of good stuff and I absolutely adore the locations! I think it's shot in Belize and it boosts the production value enormously. There's gorgeous jungles, temple, cool cave and proper military equipment. To spice things up there's also two instances where they find other peoples video footage, so what we have here is more or less three found footage concepts in one movie - but the other two is of course not as long and detailed as the main footage, but even more interesting...

The actress leading the show, Chelsea Vincent, is also sympathetic and makes a believable performance. The militaries is a bit stiff and shy and I'm not sure if this is because not being experienced actors or if that's a part of their performance. But in the end it fits the show and works fine with the more open and enthusiastic Chelsea Vincent.

I need to complain also. I feel that they could have done so much more with the concept. More details and facts around the findings they make, more clear and imaginative use of the teachings of Erich Von Däniken, Ancient Aliens, the Maya culture and their legends. It's all there, but it feels like the filmmakers could have done some more research, made a couple of extra props or visited yet another temple ruin. The last half hour is too much running around shooting in darkness. I wish we could have seen more of the cool cave and the ruins. They should have gone the mystery route instead of the action route.

But you know, I like it anyway. I love the concept of found footage, of fake documentary stuff. It makes my imagination run wild and it's like a vacation from all the serious documentaries I watch, who has more realistic endings and a more boring view at the subjects. Alien Origin and the other gives this kind of mystery to me. I know it's fake, but it triggers my dreams and... yeah, hopes of adventures. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Wicker Man (1973)

This is not a review. This is a personal opinion masked as just another blog-rant about one of the best movies ever made.

Robin Hardy's classic thriller, The Wicker Man, really doesn't belong on Ninja Dixon - it's way to famous, to classic, to brilliant and not underrated - it's a respected masterpiece. But tonight I want to do an exception. I've seen it many times over the years, from VHS to two DVD's, both the UK special edition and the US wooden box. When the BD is released I'll buy it also. Of course.

I've been thinking to re-watch for quite a while now, mostly because I read a review earlier this year with the words "The Wicker Man is a movie about the clash of two religions", or something similar. These words got to me, they irritated me. They made me actually pissed off. Why? Because it's NOT about the clash of two religions. There's never anything about a clash, or a fight, or a whatever.

The Wicker Man is about one superior and older religion totally owning the other religion, and the other religion is of course that newbie called Christianity. Let me explain one thing first. I'm an atheist. Almost a militant atheist. I loath organized religion. I despise it. Personal belief is something completely different, I can't stop anyone from using their own brain to something so silly. But I can try to stop churches and organizations from using their religion to as a power tool.

But if I had to choose a religion, I would choose the some ancient pagan belief. No, I have no reason to sacrifice human beings - but hey, human sacrifice is still used in Christianity, just in a different way - through war and terror. What I like about it is the freedom, the humour, the idea that nature and animals is higher than us humans.

The Wicker Man is the ultimate deconstruction of Christianity (and related religions, as Islam and Judaism) as a strong and powerful tool. It points out so well the extreme weakness of the believers and how easy they can be manipulated.

Sergeant Howie isn't intelligent or down-to-earth. He's just stupid. And a perfect lamb to the slaughter.

Train Week: The Cassandra Crossing (1976)

One of the first DVDs I ever bought was the UK widescreen release of The Cassandra Crossing, and that might tell you something about my love for train- and disaster movies. It's also a fitting final movie in Ninja Dixon's Train Week because to me it's one of those movies I revisit from time to time and it never fails to entertain me. Maybe it's one of those movies only for us that appreciate disaster movies filled with well-paid stars, but he story itself isn't half bad and the typical criticism against government and military that was so popular in 70's cinema is very evident here. Probably a way for producer Carlo Ponti to cash in a little bit extra on the anti-establishment trend, but it still works quite good.

Three Swedish "terrorists" from the Swedish Peace Movements infiltrates the World Health Organisation building in Geneva, but everything goes wrong and they get shot - inside a secret laboratory. One of them, played by Lou Castel, escapes but is infected with a deadly disease! He manages to get aboard the train to Stockholm and soon he's spreading the illness to the other passengers. A representative from the US government, Mackenzie (a tired Burt Lancaster)  shows up and takes control over the situation and he decides that the only way to deal with the illness is to quarantine the train - and maybe, just maybe, kill everyone aboard!

The Cassandra Crossing is a very competent and maybe a bit to calculated disaster-drama with an awesome cast of both superstars and has-beens (and I love has-beens). Just casting Richard Harris and Ava Gardner as an ex-couple who really loves each other is brilliant. Or Lionel Stander as the conductor... OJ Simpson (when he still was someone people liked) as a priest, or Martin Sheen as Sophia Loren's toyboy! Lancaster is always good and his nearest man is John Philip Law. Add Lee Strassberg, Ann Turkel, Ingrid Thulin, Ray Lovelock and you have one of the best casts in a disaster movie ever. It might not be as good or awesome as Mark Robson's masterpiece Earthquake or John Guillermin's luxurious The Towering Inferno, it's has a more gritty and European feeling and the sense that the government officials doesn't care about us anyway - far from the heroic stars in the two movies mentioned aboved. Maybe The Cassandra Crossing is more connected to the conspiracy thriller in theme and style, something the final scene echoes quite much.

What I never noticed before is the strong holocaust-theme of the movie. Not only because of concentration camp survivor Kaplan (Lee Strassberg), but rebuilding of the train to an air sealed container, the oxygen pumped into the train, which looks like gas, the trip through Poland and into Germany and the sounds of the guards screaming "Achtung!" outside. The movie gets darker from this moment and and ends in disaster for many of the passengers.

As an action-adventure this is a great movie. The fantastic aerial footage on the train and locations looks just stunning and that in combination with some train-climbing stunts, a nice explosion and lots of shoot-outs and even some blood and graphic violence this is a winner. The highlight is the final, and I don't wanna ruin it for you - but it has a lot of very cool and violent scenes (that was cut from the US video version that was released in the eighties) and really good miniature effects and big scale destruction.

The Cassandra Crossing is one of those real underrated thrillers that never seem to handle the bullying from the Hollywood big shots, but if you find the widescreen version on DVD - buy it! A good, spectacular train movie  and one of my personal favourites. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Train Week: Amok Train (1989)

From the director of Iced, Jeff Kwitny, comes one of the most underrated gore movies of the eighties (together with the amazing Spider Labyrinth): Amok Train, also known under the stupid title Beyond the Door III. Produced by our favourite schlockmeister Ovidio G. Assonitis, this co-production between USA, Yugoslavia and Italy delivers everything you would like from a movie: gore, nudity, miniatures and a train! I still only have the old Dragon DVD, but I guess I should buy the US DVD sooner or later - or just pray to Satan to make this be released on blu-ray! That would be awesome, yeah? Oh, the story? Well, as you can hear from the title this fits directly into Ninja Dixon's Train Week and it's probably the most absurd movie of the bunch!

A group of stupid American students goes to Yugoslavia to see some ancient old tradition out in the backwoods. Professor Andromolek (Bo Svenson) welcomes them, but we soon understand that he's not that nice! He's really after one of the girls, who happens to have the sign of the devil on her as a birth mark, and the professor wants her to fornicate with Satan himself to bring antichrist back to the world... or something. Anyway, they manages to escape and jumps aboard a train - the Amok Train! Soon they're getting killed one by one from supernatural powers, all connected with the train! Blood! Gore! Limbs! Gore again!

As you can see Hostel wasn't first with bringing stupid kids into Eastern Europe to be killed in gory fashion. This is the mother of all movies that tries to make us believe that this is the most dangerous part of Europe (it's not, believe me - try Stockholm a Saturday night instead). It's also a great movie. Not when it comes to the story or acting, but the gore! The atmosphere! The locations! Everything is perfection. Most of the movie is set on a dark dirty train and they manages to make it look repulsive and disgusting. The totally over-the-top gore sets the tone for the whole movie and prepare for a lot of latex getting ripped apart, lots of blood and brutal deaths.

I don't wanna sound like teenage gorehound here, but the gore IS fab. Or do teenage gorehounds use the word "fab"? I have no idea, but I love that they actually don't shy away from the creative deaths. They show everything in glorious details and it looks quite nice. Sure, clearly fake heads and stuff like that, but it's graphic and nasty. The scene where the train driver gets his head squeezed off under the train is fantastic, but so is every death here. Fans of miniatures has a lot to see here also. They are cheap and primitive but adds a lot of colour to the almost fairy tale quality of the locations and story. In one insane sequence the train leaves the track and crashes through a forest and into a lake - just to kill two characters! It's excessive silliness but also one of the reasons this movie works so well.

I can't say so much about the acting. Like some of you might have noticed I never been a fan of Bo Svenson. There's something contrived over his acting and he seldom seem happy with what he's doing. Not even here, which is odd because he has a chance to wear a rad goaty, a cape and worship Satan. I would have loved such a job!

The Yugoslavian setting boosts the production value a lot and this movie looks a lot more expensive than it probably was. A very underrated production and one of my favourite train movies. Give it a chance, will ya?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Altered Species (2001)

Let me reveal what the goal in my life is from now on, to find and watch (of course, what else?) every movie directed by Serge Rodnunsky. Who is Serge Rodnunsky? I don't know, but according to IMDB "Serge is constantly writing and working to improve the depth and interest in his stories and characters". He also directed at least forty feature length movie since 1990, mostly crap... eh, I mean independent movies. I'm impressed. Really. I love people who take the matters into their own hands and do what they want to do. Just a pity he's not more talented, but hey - I'm not the one to complain, I've produced three feature length movies and that's it. Just got me broke! Oh, there's a review to be written also! Sorry! Altered Species (aka Rodentz) belongs in that category called "creature features" and here we have a very nice creature, giant rat!

A bunch of drunk over-aged students wants to party and what's they best way to get some action? Right, drop by their friend Walter - a young scientist and assistant to someone more famous old fart. But things go crazy when he accidentally lets out the rats, and the rats is infected - or if they drank something (whatever, really) - and is spreading like wildfire (I always wanted to use that metaphor) in the building. One of them mutates and grows big like motherf**king bear! And then most of them die. The end.

Altered Species puts the words "altered" and "species" in the same category as "incompetent". I'm rarely mean at movies, especially low budget flicks because I know the work behind them, but this's... how shall I put it? Slow? Dim-witted? I would have hated Altered Species if it was made with a tongue-in-cheek approach, but it's serious. Deadly serious, and that makes it even more entertaining. The actors reads their lines and acts like this is IT! THE MOVIE that would bring them fame and money. I've been there myself, so I know what I'm talking about. Maybe they just close their eyes a little bit and pretends that it will be an OK movie, just hoping and wishing for something good to come out of this.

But they got f**ked.

Serge Rodnunsky directs with the hand of a confused high school student, drunk on beer from yesterdays frat party: he really don't know what he's doing there. The framing of the shots, the angles and editing is all very awkward. Very few shots fits together to a whole working scenes and feels like thousands of little snippets, stolen from other movies and made up to look like they belong together. Do you understand what I mean? There's just no thought behind the camera.

The best thing with Altered Species is the mutant giant rat. It's cheap and ugly, stiff and less convincing than the rabbit-suit in Night of the Lepus. They've shot the monster in weird angles and with rapid editing to hide the fact that the suit is a disaster. But it's still a man-in-suit! And we all love that! And when he finally gets his paws on the victims it gets bloody and graphic, ripped off limbs, gnawed off faces. Stuff like that. Wonderful, cheap and very entertaining.

I HATE the expression "So bad it's good", and I still hate it. This is a bad movie, it's an incompetent movie. But it's also saved by some of it's stupidity and a fun, albeit crappy monster.

I wonder what's next in line? Serge Rodnunsky, here I come!

Train Week: Tezz (2012)

I started this train week with Junya Sato's 1975 classic The Bullet Train and when I wrote that review I still had no idea that I would watch a Bollywood remake a couple of days later! Tezz sounded interesting, had good actors and the story was vaguely similar to The Bullet Train. But it took me a just a few minutes to realize that this was the exact same movie, just with the action boosted and more musical numbers.

The story is basically the same, except here Ajay Devgn plays an honest Indian business owner who works and lives in the UK without permit and also hires other Indians how hasn't got a permit to work and stay in the country. When he's busted his whole life is destroyed and he's forced to leave his family and is ruined. So he decides, together with two companions, to take revenge on the society with placing a bomb on the train to Glasgow and demanding a couple of millions to not let the bombs go off - because they will go off if the trains goes under a certain speed....bla bla bla, just read the synopsis on The Bullet Train instead.

Tezz is very much like any ordinary Hollywood-remake. The scenes that are smaller chase and action-scenes in the original are here blown up to ridiculous show-pieces of stunts, car crashes and shoot-outs. Far from the low-key realistic approach The Bullet Train has. This is of course nothing wrong, as long as it's entertaining and keeps us entertained. Shot in the UK it also look bigger and more expensive than usual and most of the UK (aka non-Indian) cast is actually good - which is a rare thing in Indian movies where taking the first white person in the street seems to be the foremost casting-decision.

I've loved Ajay Devgn since I saw him in Singham, but here he plays a much more normal (but of course extremely talented martial arts fighter... don't ask, he just is!) man, with a lot of the machoism gone and some human emotions instead. Anil Kapoor is his nemesis, the police hunting him, and is also excellent. You could see him in the surprisingly entertaining Tom Cruise ego-trip Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol recently.

The action is really good very James Bond-esque, especially the lengthy motocross chase and a Parkour-styled chase by foot. Lots of old-school stunts, which is something I appreciate from time to time (but not a must, the story is most important not how they do the stunts). The fights is also in glorious over-the-top Bollywood-o-rama style with people flying far and far away after being hit plus some ultra-slowmo intercut with normal speed á The Matrix. The biggest disappointment is that much of the excellent stuff on the train in the original movie is scaled down and most of the thrills is on the ground far away from the speeding train.

Like I mentioned above this is a scene for scene remake of The Bullet Train which means they even copied a technical mistake! Yes! In Bullet Train a character gets shot in slowmo but due to a technical problem that sequences got overexposed and looks totally surreal, but works fine and is dramatic enough for the filmmakers to keep it in the movie. In Tezz, in the same scene, the exact same thing happens - but the overexposure is created by processing the image to look the same! Fun detail, and I doubt director Priyadarshan had any idea about this!

Tezz is a fun and spectacular, but very generic and mainstream action movie. Don't listen to the idiots that claims it's a copy of Speed and The Taking of Pelham 123 - because it's not. They just copied The Bullet Train and nothing else!

Spasmo (1974)

Umberto Lenzi, one of the most underrated genre directors of our time, created his own little sub-genre of giallos during the late sixties and seventies, the driven to insanity-thrillers! Often very little blood or nudity, instead focusing on the path to madness and the unexpected twists that lays ahead. I haven't seen Spasmo until today, why I waited so long I have no idea, but sometimes destiny makes you choose a SyFy channel original instead of that unwatched Italian thriller and when that happens time after time it's just best to let it take some time until the perfect day comes - like today.

Robert Hoffman is Christian Bauman, a successful playboy who owns a big piece of his late fathers plastic's company. The chairman is his brother, Fritz (Ivan Rassimov). During a stroll at the beach Christian finds a woman laying in the sand. It's Barbara (Suzy Kendall) and they quickly hook up for some fun. But when she's preparing for bedtime Christian is attacked by a man and kills him. They escape, finds a house that Barbara claims to be a friends house. But an elderly man and a young woman shows up, and things is starting to get extra weird!

I don't want to tell you more about the plot, but it's a very classic set-up, we've seen it a couple of times before - but with a couple of twists I never could have expected. Most of the movie is Hoffman talking and looking and suspecting that something strange is going on, but like the pro Lenzi is the story works fine with intelligent directing and a new twist or red herring everything things is starting to be slow. I love how the movie mostly is set in the sunlight and how it still creates an amazing aura of paranoia. This is Lenzi at his best, and in the interview on the DVD he seems very proud of these early bloodless giallos. I've had a feeling for a long time that he's not so fond of blood and gore, and it was just something he was forced upon by horror-starved producers.

Spasmo is a movie with very little violence and blood, except a grim murder-by-car, and Lenzi choose to have it that way to make it stand out from the rest of the thrillers being released. And I think focusing on a clever script and the mystery behind it all without stopping a murder-scenes was a smart idea. A movie like Eyeball would be a lot weaker without the blood and violence, but Spasmo is a very different kind of breed. The thing is that I got completely fooled and when it comes to watching movies and getting the rug pulled from under my feet is very rare. I expected, like a damn smartass, that the ending would be so and so - and yeah, part of that was right, but then two other twists was tossed in front of me and now the story even got better. It's a story of immoral people doing immoral stuff, but hey - that's what the world is all about, so I bought it completely. Bravo Lenzi!

The score by Ennio Morricone is worth mentioning also because it is - like the movie itself - quite discreet and not the usual orgy of emotions and bombastic melodies. It's close to anonymous, but it's so important to follow the story and dialogue that I think a "bigger" score would steal the attention. And we don't want that with masterpieces, yeah?

I like using the word masterpiece or underrated, and I do it in this review to. But I always mean it, because there's too many accepted masterpieces that's just overrated bullshit. Safe movies, boring movies. Movies that follow that almost mathematical script- template to the brink of insanity. Lenzi, and many of his low budget colleagues knew that with breaking the expected they could reach out to a much more interested audience.

And hey, the movies still lives on! In 1000 years movies like Spasmo will still be talked about on the net - and Sound of fucking Music will be forgotten.

Mark my words.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Train Week: Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995)

This might be the first full review of a Steven Seagal movie on Ninja Dixon. I'm not a big fan of Seagal, I find him boring as an actor and martial artists, but some of his movies is entertaining and has a huge amount of graphic violence. That's enough for me. The first Under Siege is actually one of the best Die Hard scenario-movies out there (and I heard the first draft was a Die Hard sequel) and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory is a surprisingly entertaining and spectacular sequel - and the only Seagal movie I've seen in cinema! It always takes some courage to admit that I actually like this one (and Belly of the Beast, but don't tell anyone!). But believe it or not, I'm just an ordinary guy, like everyone else...

Casey Ryback (Seagal, who else?) is back. This time for a train trip together with his niece Sarah (a very young Katherine Heigl!). Of course a gang of terrorists hijacks the train and controls a deadly satellite from it - because two of the passengers carries the codes to take over the satellite. Don't ask. Just accept this. Anyway, it won't take long until Ryback goes Jason Voorhees on the terrorists (among them the awesome Everett McGill!) and he gets some help from a "funny" porter and of course his niece can kick some ass to. That's about it.

A story thin as every other Die Hard scenario movie, but what makes this so damn entertaining is that it's set on a train. This is good for many reasons:

* People fighting outside the train.
* Dummy deaths.
* People falling from train which ends in dummy deaths.
* More people fighting on the outside of the train.

That's more or less what I expect and want from an action movie set on a train, there's not need for anything else. You know it's dangerous if you put stuntmen on the outside of the train, it's hard to fake and Under Siege 2 has plenty of roof-action and dummies falling and getting crushed by the train. There's also a great stunt when some poor sucker falls from the train and hits some tool shed by the side of the track, goes through it and lands in a pile of rubber stones. All in one take. Awesome.

Of course every scene is totally ridiculous, but that's just nice because I don't want a social-realistic drama when I watch a movie called Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. I want gory and graphic action, and this show has plenty of it. Lots of knife-stabbings, squibs, broken limbs and burning people. I'm not saying that this is a masterpiece, but it is in the terrorists-on-a-train genre. It just delivers so much stupidity and violence that it's hard to resist.

Steven Seagal is still in good shape (like G said when he first saw Seagal in this movie: "Ah, this is before he started to drink!") and probably makes one of his crappiest acting-performances ever (Well, he wasted a good opportunity in Machete by not acting at all. Stupid fucker!), but his desperate tries to say serious lines and look sad is a sight to behold and part of the fun. He handles the action better and he gets a lot of chances to kill people in a lot of creative ways.

Under Siege 2 is sadistic entertainment, one of those movies that only could have been done in the nineties. I miss that period of ultra-expensive ultra-violent close-to-republican crap-shit-turd flicks. They had their charm and is a nice reality-escape. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Train Week: The Bullet Train (1975)

I reality I hate trains. I just see them as a one long coffin of boredom, and it takes forever to get somewhere. Not to mention the smell, the screaming bastard-kids and the over-priced restaurant. Have you noticed that the first hour often is quiet nice and cozy, but then the smell and dirt creeps up on you and when you finally arrive you're a germ-bomb of sweat, dirty and the stench of seats that reeks of twenty years of farting!  The only nice train I've been on is one between Shanghai and Beijing. Extremely clean and nice people. We shared compartment with a gentleman from the anti-piracy bureau there. He had a collection of 3000 bootlegs himself at home. But all my complains is nothing compared to what the passengers and crew have to experience on... The Bullet Train!

Sonny China, in a glorified cameo, is the captain of the super-fast bullet train. What he don't know is that a group of three men have planted a bomb underneath the train and it will explode if they gets under a certain speed! Now it's up to the control central and the police to figure out where the bomb is, where the terrorists are and save the day. But it's not that easy, of course, and soon there's just one person who knows how to disarm the bomb and he's not gonna turn himself in!

That's the basic storyline of The Bullet Train, but it has a lot more that makes it in may ways superior to American counterparts. First and most important, the characters has more layers than just being heroes and bad guys. After a while you actually feel for the main bomber (the excellent Ken Takakura), you can understand his pain and why he's doing it. This very important because then you have something else to care about and the scenes when the police is searching for him gets even more interesting and filled with tension because you're on his side during those scenes. I kinda liked him actually, and it's very far from the over-the-top scene-chewing "acting" by Dennis Hopper in the similar movie Speed (I need to see that one again actually).

Like many Japanese movies the filmmakers (this movie is produced by Toei) often used miniatures to boost the vision of the movie and Bullet Train is no except. It took me a while to realize that many of the train shots is miniatures! Sure, after a while you notice them quite clearly but they still looks great. Even if this is a disaster movie that actually lacks traditional disasters there's three sequences with exploding trains and those scenes looks awesome. There's some non-train action spliced in-between the drama also but it's the grittier, seventies style. Handheld camera, some blood and explosions.

The Bullet Train has a seriousness that you could find in slightly silly movies during the seventies and this makes it so much better. I have no time in watching movies that jokes away a good story, and The Bullet Train actually is really good with a lot of tension and thrills. There's a sequence when they need to transfer something from one speeding train to another that works so well! But it mainly lives because of the characters and the humanity in them. The DVD released by VCI is the shorter, dubbed, international version. It still works very fine and after a while you get used to the corny English voices. The original version seems to be released in the UK on DVD so I might have to get that one sooner or later.

Watch it, for the tension and for the wonderful actors!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Train Week at Ninja Dixon!

In real life I hate trains. Or being on a train for six hours feeling like an animal on the way to the butcher. But I LOVE trains in movies and therefore I will have a a train week at Ninja Dixon! 

Sometimes I even buy a movie if there's only one awesome train-sequence in it, like Sholay, Dark of the Sun, The Swarm and Inglorious Bastards. But the best movies have trains all the way through. Pity I've only released the fantastic Bollywood disaster drama The Burning Train, but I might find something else from India...

Anyway, hope you enjoy this and remember that it's #TrainWeek on Twitter

Ninja Dixon

Friday, June 15, 2012

Virus (1980)

I first watched Virus (aka Fukkatsu No Hi) ages ago on some obscure x-rental I bought for a ridiculous amount of money. To be honest I wasn't that impressed at the time, probably because I was very much into more special effects-drive disaster movies like Earthquake or Meteor and Virus is more or less the opposite of those films. The version I saw was also the short 108 minute cut, edited so stupid westerners around the world would appreciate it more - but when I finally now sat down and watched the original version, in widescreen and with all the lost scenes I understand that I've been missing out a minor masterpiece during all these years. Don't expect an action-adventure or traditional disaster, this is a very Japanese drama with an impressive international cast of character actors.

To recap the story in this movie is just boring, but if you want to know it's about the world being infected by a virus, the Italian flu, who's more or less unstoppable. One country after another is dying and we're following the few survivors, scientists taking shelter on Antarctica. In the White House the president (Glenn Ford) is spending his last days together with his closest friends and foes, a UK submarine and it's captain (Chuck Connors) is travels the seas to find survivors and around the world everyone we love is dying... or killing themselves.

Virus is a nice feel-bad movie, most of the time. Kinji Fukasaku did a couple of big mainstream movies, all of them much less personal and edgy than his smaller movies. But somehow he actually manages to inject a big fat dose of cynicism and darkness in Virus, which makes the already bleak story even darker. It almost borders to parody when a Japanese radio crew (one of them is Sonny Chiba in his only scene) is listening to a eight year old child who commits suicide alone on a boat somewhere or when the nurse takes a small boat and a little surviving boy, feeds him with a deadly pill and drives into the sunset to die. The whole movie is packed with tragedy, no one is spared.

The sense of hopelessness and being abandoned by all kinds of higher forces reminds me of The Submersion of Japan, one of my favourite feel-bad movies ever, but in some way Virus is even bleaker, effectively killing all religions and beliefs in supernatural powers by just showing how reality is. The image of Jesus on the cross, laying on a church floor with the skeleton remains of his former followers is a striking message of atheism. The whole movie breaths "We're all alone and no one is going to save us!" and that's of course the reality. That's how it is. Forget the rapture, prepare to rotten.

The cast is very fine and even notorious rotten actors like Bo Svenson makes it work better than usual. The finest of the bunch is the Japanese cast, not surprising it's a Japanese production, but even Glenn Ford - who during this time often worked with one of his eyes steadly on the paycheck - is really damn good. Others, like George Kennedy (What?! George Kennedy?! In a disaster movie?! I didn't see that one coming!!!!), Edward James Olmos and Henry Silva (Rod Steiger seem to channel his performance in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks) does a good job.

Virus is filled with strong imagery, but I think the final scenes, when Masao Kusakari almost seem like walking back in time, through ancient civilisations, through dead religions, through the past until he reaches his goal, is the most powerful sequence in the whole movie. It's a sign both of a humanitarian view on life, death to religion and maybe even a way to find what we've forgotten and start all over again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gunda (1998)

Ever since I started watching movies from India, Gunda has always been in the background. And I've never understood people opinions about it. Take a look at the IMDB comments and you'll read stuff like "a classic tale of revenge and social correction", "Amazing performances with THE best storyline", "A work of art", "Awesome!! Watch it to believe it!!", "A Masterwork!! Genius and Unique" and so on - and I can't figure out if people are sarcastic or not, because everywhere else on the web I find long articles that describes how bad this movie REALLY is. What the hell is going on?! Because Gunda IS bad. Very bad, but it's so damn entertaining and absurd that I can - to a certain point - understand the love for it.

Mithun Chakraborty is Shankar, a worker (in the harbour, I think...), an honest man with a lovely sister and a hard-working dad, a nobody inside the police force. He's stuck between the local baddies, lead by the moustached Bulla (Mukesh Rishi), his gay (but no one seem aware of this) brother Chutiya (Shakti Kapoor) and a bunch of other colourful characters. Shit hits the fan when Shankar's sister is married to a man who suddenly is a pimp, forcing her to have sex with Chutiya - who manages to rape her to death after taking a sex-drug his brother gives him! Shankar becomes furious and starts taking a gruesome revenge on everyone involved in his sister deaths, and more or less every other bad guy who comes in his way!

This sounds like a typical B-grade Indian action-thriller and it is - but it's also extremely over-the-top. Not just the cheap and tacky action scenes, but the dialogue (I understand we who don't understand Hindi misses a lot when reading the subtitles) and the performances. We're not talking anything subtle here. Everyone is screaming the dialogue, rolling their eyes, standing talking towards the camera like they are on a stage. This might be part of the concept of Gunda, but it certainly looks and feels very strange and bizarre. Some of the actors uses this well, like Mukesh Rishi as Bulla. He also looks cool and he completely owns the screen. Kapoor is fun, but the gay-thing just seems a bit too forced and everything gets even more confusing when he turns to a raving heterosexual rapist during the last half of the movie! Mithun looks, to be honest, tired and not focused. He's never in the character and kinda sleeps through many scenes. He reminds me of Hugo Stiglitz in Nightmare City, a man wishing to be somewhere else.

The best thing with Gunda is the crazy action sequences. Not good by any means. They are sloppily made and the primitive editing doesn't help, but that's just cool because it brings a refreshing trashiness to the visuals and it's always nice seeing people flying in slow-motion, doing backwards jumps, spurting blood and screaming like they never died before in a movie. Every scene tries to outdo the last one. Just when I thought Mithun beating a guy into the ground (like in a cartoon) the final comes! Dozens and dozens of rickshaw's attacks Mithun - who defend himself with a rocket gun who magically reloads itself with a new rocket over and over again, shooting the rickshaw's to pieces and then, by hand, defend himself against all the surviving drivers and Bulla himself in the end.

It's a parody. It feels like that anyway, and I love it. Never seen anything like it.

Vulgar, violent, over-the-top, bloody and very trashy, Gunda is a very entertaining piece of Indian trash-cinema who deserves its place in cinema history. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Flashpoint (1984)

The most superior genre of them all is the conspiracy thriller and the golden age of these was during the seventies when paranoia roamed the world, mostly the United States. Therefore the majority of the best conspiracy thrillers was made there - which is kinda interesting, because I think it was Costa-Gavras Z who really started the new trend after a few years hibernating after the JFK murder and John Frankenheimer's masterpiece The Manchurian Candidate. The genre waned during the end of the seventies and lived a confusing life for many years, with many fake new starts. Flashpoint was the first cinema production from HBO, starring Kris Kristofferson and Treat Williams, but I actually think it has an interesting TV vibe over it - in  a good way of course, because this is a brilliant little conspiracy-themed thriller.

Kris Kristofferson is Bobby and Treat Williams is Ernie, two Texas border cops and best buddies. Kris has his impressive stash of drugs in his locker and Ernie has a tendency to show up with a brutal hangover every morning. But deep inside they're good and decent guys who just happens to enjoy life a little bit too much. One day Bobby finds a car buried in the desert. It has a dead body, a rifle and a bag with 800 000 dollars in it. It has also been there at least twenty years. Bobby wants to take the money but Ernie makes them start to investigate the money and driver first so they know what the money comes from. Soon they understand that "someone" knows that they're doing and that the dead driver had a very special mission and now "someone" don't want this story to be told...

Flashpoint is one of those dusty, dirty, manly movies - often starring Kristofferson, but it's also a lot more complex and smarter than most of the dusty, dirty, manly movies set in deserts out there. First of all, it totally lives on the fantastic chemistry between Kristofferson and Williams. The old bear and the young otter (yes, that was also a gay reference if you know the terms used in some of the sub-cultures), best buddies forever. The first scene, Williams in a shower in something that could be misjudged as masturbating ends very surprisingly with Kristofferson's rugged paw coming into frame touching Williams face. My partner, G, who no idea what I was watching (and didn't care either) asked me if it was a gay-themed movie. So even if these two gentlemen lays down women, the only one they care about is each other. It's a pretty unique and interesting buddy-story.

But this is foremost a thriller, a very interesting twist on the conspiracy thriller. It could have been a separate storyline in, for example, David Miller's excellent 1973 Executive Action (a review I wrote in Swedish), the first movie to bring up the theories around the JFK-murder. A movie you MUST see, suitably in a double feature together with Henri Verneuil's I as in Icarus (1979). Flashpoint is set on a small place, in an area which leaves no room for cat and mouse. It's a conspiracy thriller told the traditional American way, like a western. The violence is rough and bloody, the men are quite - but not without emotions. One of the best scenes is Kurtwood Smith, a federal agent on a mission, talking to Kristofferson in almost a desperate way - like everything is hopeless, everything has lost its meaning. Everything, the crime, the murder, the rapes, is there for a reason - to give jobs to all the agents, cops, guards, soldiers.

An interesting viewpoint, more topical today then before.

Flashpoint is an excellent thriller with a top-notch cast and a great Tangerine Dream score. Really something I can recommend!

Support Dyke Hard!

I usually never do this, but this time I'm gonna encourage you to support Dyke Hard! Last year I shot a small part in this rock'n'roll, queer, action-ninja-musical for director Bitte Andersson! If I knew about the movie earlier I would forced myself WITH non-dangerous VIOLENCE upon the production to get a bigger part! But hey, that's the punishment for being stuck in a fucked-up miserable job at the time without now knowledge whatsoever about this awesome, cool movie! The visual effects is also done by Martin Borell, one of the special effects wizards behind the monsters of Attack the Block!

They have a Kickstarter project to be able to finish the last... stuff! :)

This is the first trailer, with an intro from Bitte Andersson (also known from Lloyd Kaufman's Poultrygeist) and Alexi Carpenteri - Mr Leather Europe 2011!

And I know you all wanna see it, so here's a behind the scenes photo from the shoot with me and Johan Sundell as a very cute bear/prison-couple :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Santo: Infraterrestre (2001)

Once upon a time I was asked by a big organization (nowadays in Sweden, who gathered fans of American wrestling together for joy and fun, to write a guest piece for their homepage. I did, and after that I realized that 99,9 percent of all wrestling fans is dim-witted and completely lacks a sense of humour. Some of them even threaten to kill me. If you know Swedish you can read it here at my old blog! I became more happy many years later when I finally sat down and watched my first Santo movie and saw how many fantastic and love-filled fans of Mexican movie wrestlers there was out on the big interweb and got hooked directly. I still refuse to watch actual wrestling, but the Santo (and Blue Demon) films are fantastic and passionate action/wrestling/horror/sci-fi flick with more passion than everyone on together. It's still kinda hard to find Santo movies with English subs, but here and there you can find them and today I have Santo:Infraterrestre a chance, starring Son of Santo (aka Hijo del Santo), where they tried to reboot the Santo franchise in the same old cheap way as possible. This could have been good...

In ancient times the local extra terrestrials had to flee underground when a big meteorite hit earth - and now they want their earth back! Lead by Blue Panther, a wrestler, they try to infiltrate society. The only one who can stop them is Santo! Our hero quickly discovers that his new wrestling-nemesis Blue Panther is an alien (he doesn't black and he has too quick movements) and together with some brave cops he tries to solve that mystery. But one surviving witness to an alien attack, a little annoying boy, is in danger and now it's up to Santo to protect him from the underground alien terrorists!

This could have been very good, but Santo: Infraterrestre only stops at charming and kinda lingers there the whole movie until it's over and too late to do something about it. It's not the cheap production or the lack of production values, that's something that you can find in most of the vintage Santo films, it's the lack of competent directing - mostly at the action front. Son of Santo is good in the ring, but he lacks his fathers competence to fight in a normal, non-soft, environment. The fights, especially the so-important final fights, are weak and uninspired and it just makes me angry to see Santo always looking where to fall or avoiding to not hurt himself on something dangerous.

When Santo Sr fought his enemies in secret labs, in caves, in kitschy living rooms, he more or less destroyed the sets with cool somersault into furniture... and other wrestling moves that I don't know shit about. Here it's just... blah... and then nothing. Santo Jr isn't in the movie that much either. Much space is taken by the boring cops running around shooting bad guys with the worst fake muzzle flash since... that movie I made for fun with some pals eighteen years ago. The bad CGI doesn't bother me at all, it's not that much anyway and it's has enough of cheap plywood sets for fans of the old and unconvincing.

Yeah, I sound very negative now - and yeah, I'm disappointed because with some more talent this could have been a fun little movie. Or at least a lot more fun and exciting than it is now. Maybe the director and producer didn't trust in the Santo trademark, afraid it would be too silly for a modern audience?

Well, let me tell you one thing: Santo never becomes out of date. Never. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Banglar King Kong (2010)

Finally on Ninja Dixon, the legendary - the obscure - the awful - the amazing... Banglar King Kong! I'm proud to say that I think I've seen every King Kong movie, every rip-off and every similar movie made (except The Asylum's King of Kong Island, but I need to watch it soon!). The original King Kong was one of the first movies I ever saw and it still haunts me since I was 4-5 years old and it was aired on Swedish television. Because I have a smart and cool mother she let me see it and since then I've been obsessed with monsters, big apes and miniature destruction. Thank you mom.

But back to Banglar King Kong. You all now the story and I have no intention to tell you what everyone already knows: female scream queen, boat, island, big ape, hero (with a nose that literary becomes invisible because of the bad picture quality of the movie), mad director, show in big city, ape climbing up skyscraper and falls down. This version is an interesting combination between the 1933 and 1976 version, the best of both shows so to say. Even if I have nothing against the message-heavy seventies version it's nice to see that they just aimed for simple (and I mean Simple with a capital S) entertainment and lots of silliness instead of going the more serious root.

Actually, if you turn of the colour on your TV - and the sound - this would look like a real silent movie, complete with unsteady and light-sensitive cinematography and actors doing their best to be as far away as possible from acting in a realistic way. Prepare for a lot of scene-chewing and dramatic poses and rolling eyes!

The effects ranges from bad to terrible with a crappy ape-suit (according to the filmmakers purchased from the US, so we can once again blame that country for all the horrible things in the world!) and very, very, very simple blue screen effects and miniatures that's so primitive I'm not sure I would like to call them miniatures - maybe just "cardboard boxes with holes in them"? It's interesting to see that it actually works and the sole reason for that is that the effects are crappy all the way, every single one of them - except those few shots that are actually stolen directly from the 1976 version, and they fit in anyway.

I also need to come out from the closet and say that I prefer bad musical numbers before good ones, and Banglar King Kong has plenty of badly staged, moronic and tacky sing- and dance-numbers for the whole family. Often shot with a handheld camera, very few other dancers, simple choreography and even the most pointless supporting characters gets a chance to rap - or what ever they try to do. And I love it. I love Love LOVE it! I mean, if I can participate in one of these musicals number then they must be good!

Banglar King Kong is one of those movies that can be used to separate real cult movie fans from fake ones. The fake ones are those who only have seen (brilliant) movies like The Evil Dead, Halloween, Re-Animator, Hellraiser, Dawn of the Dead etc and claims to be fans of subversive, original, odd, exploitative cinema. But they can't even get through a movie like an unsubbed monster-mash like Banglar King Kong or a three hour slasher-epic with kung fu fights from India. They're too lazy and therefore they just belong to those mainstream "cult movie fans" who happily share specific scenes on Facebook from Banglar King Kong but never dares to the watch the whole movie.

I might be making fun of some movies here, but remember one thing: if I didn't love them I wouldn't watch them. What's the point of watching (and writing about) movies you dislike or even hate? I love primitive movies because I'm tired if big, smart productions. Along the way a lot of love and passion disappears it seems.

Banglar King Kong IS incompetent and extremely silly but it has a lot of trashy love to share with us all. I wish it was easier to find, but with the stolen footage, music and story I guess it will never get a proper release outside Bangladesh - or even inside the country.

If you want to see a lot of cool screenshots (and read a superior review), head over to Tars Tarkas for an impressive piece of in-depth analysis of Banglar King Kong!

I think I can see a nose. Not sure.

The clothes! The Clothes!!!! Arghhhhh!!!!!

One of the spectacular dance numbers!

The comic - and slightly disturbing - relief!

A sad native.

Miniatures... kinda. Almost? Maybe? No!