Monday, December 31, 2012

Devil's Three (1979)

Bobby A. Suarez was, for those of you who have no idea, the best action director in the Philippines ever. Sure, we also had Cirio Santiago, who got some international fame with the help of Roger Corman's distribution. But Bobby was by far the most personal and eccentric of them both, with a healthy amount of violence and action and - maybe even more unhealthy - some very broad comedy tossed in for good measure.

They Call Her Cleopatra Wong and The One Armed Executioner might be his most famous films, and both of them got a nice DVD release a few years back. The lead in the first one was Marrie Lee and in other one Franco Guerrero, both created iconic characters in these productions. Bobby was wise enough to pair them together in Devil's Three, where Cleo Wong is back and with her she has a very fat fortune teller, Rotunda (Florence Carvajal) and the sissiest of sissies, Tony Del Rio (Franco Guerrero). They're hired by Devlin (Johnny Wilson) to save his daughters from a gang of evil kidnappers. Armed with their special physical abilities (in Rotunda's case, being fat and sit on people!) the go after the baddies with brutal force!

Devil's Three is more of a comedy than a straight-forward action flick, even if it's packed with fights and chases and stunts. But the focus is on the personalities of our three heroes. Cleo is the "normal", but who kicks ass like no one else. Rotunda and Tony Del Rio is very broad comic reliefs, but they work good because they are allowed to be heroes even if they're sickly obese or the silliest gay stereotype ever. They're funny and smart and can fight baddies almost as good as Cleo, but are allowed to be themselves. It's like Tony Del Rio mentions in one of the scenes, finally he can be the one he is without pretending to be someone else in his village. Its a rare, strong statement from a gay character in what's basically a exploitation movie. I easily can see Devil's Three as a both a cheap action-comedy and something with a message: the freaks shall inherit the earth.

While not as spectacular as They Call Her... and The One-Armed... Devil's Three still delivers a lot of fine action, some that even looks a bit dangerous. The fights are hard and look realistic because it's rarely you see padding or mattresses protecting the stuntmen and slow-mo is used where it fits perfectly, to enhance a few shots here and there. I don't know of Marrie Lee has a formal education in martial arts or if she's just acting (like many of our most beloved Hong Kong stars). Whatever she's trained in, she's doing it well and I still say she's one of the best and coolest action stars ever.

I have a hard time seeing something bad with movies like this. They're meant to be entertainment and this one succeeds with it without problems. I'm sure more than a few will have problem buying the comedy parts, but if you try to look beyond what you think is funny and open your eyes for some local form of slapstick (and we all know how special the Asian comedy can be) you might find something fun even here. And if not, there's enough raw, gritty b-action for everyone to love.

And... Happy New Year boys and gals. Cya in 2013!

/Ninja Dixon

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Alex Bakshaev's Videohunter (2012)

My favorite indie-filmmaker is Alex Bakshaev and I've earlier reviewed Naked Trip and Zärtlichtkeit. Now Videohunter is out. Bakshaev works with very small means and his movies are often built around silence, but has that important edge that so many serious independent filmmakers misses. They think it's important to be  pretentious without having nothing to say when it's always about the opposite. Being arty doesn't mean you need to be empty, and Bakshaev is one of the few that realizes this. Videohunter is close to nine minutes long and I watched it in bed this morning, while trying to figure out if I should wake up or not. I'm happy I watched it during those conditions. It's a very Europan, dreamlike story - as usual with nods to the geniuses of European cinema: Fassbinder, Franco, Rollin - but here I see more of Bakshaev himself than just inspiration from the masters. I sincerely hope that he one day, once again, makes a feature length movie. 

Here's a link directly to YouTube. I'm afraid my settings on this blog cuts almost haft the picture down below, and you can't miss a thing of this pearl. Or do what we all should do, buy the DVD from Carnie Films.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Märstageddon 2012: Battle of the Bloggers!

Look out, a bat!

A couple of times every year I meet up with Jason from Cinezilla and Jocke from Rubbermonsterfetishism to drink and eat a lot of sugar and fat and watch whatever movies we feel for at the moment. The last one of this meetings happen today, a very icy and slippery day - which mean I had to let them go to the store for some additional candy alone - because it was so icy and I have a tendency to slip and hurt myself, just like two years in a row during Weekend of Horrors in Germany. That's me. Totally incompetent at walking and the delicate art of keeping the balance. We had some very vague plan to watch something dark and nasty, but as usual our plans hardly works out in the end and we ended with up four pieces of mega-cheese instead of the grittiness we aimed for.

First out was Retribution, the 1987 (and it look VERY eighties) horror film starring Dennis Lipscomb. The DVD from Code Red is very nice, even if it's the R-rated version. But it's stilly pretty gory and violent (and the unrated versions of the kills is included as an extra anyway). It's a bit on the slow side, but when it delivers it Delivers with a big D. It's colourful and bloody and has some fun retro-style visual effects. The acting is another thing with this movie - most of the time it's very, very bad - or lets say, a bit over the top. Lipscomb makes the best of it and is good in 99 percent of the scenes, except those where he has to cry. Not his cup of tea, we could see. Anyway, a fun eighties time capsule and a fine DVD.

Next on the list was Bloodbath at the House of Death, the 1984 horror comedy starring Kenny Everett. This is the essence of a lame comedy, but it's so funny because the jokes is so damn cheap, and the atmosphere is sillier than Sillierzilla! And watching it with two friends - including Joachim who might no be the biggest fan of this kind of very stupid comedies - made an even better film. Some of the jokes, especially "Look out, a bat!" is still one of the funniest gags I've seen in a movie - and yes I know, it's hardly original and was probably written by a eight year old schoolboy. But it works. The timing is perfect and the acting from Everett and Pamela Stephenson is hilarious. It's also a bit bloodier and more graphic than I remember it to be.

The last feature we saw was John Frankenheimer's greatest mutant bear-movie, The Prophecy. Still a very amusing nature-runs-amok film from the happy days when a movie with a PG rating both could be bloody and quite disturbing. Made during the height of Frankenheimer's alcoholism, this is one cheesy rubber-monster-packed movie with some clumsy but well-meaning scenes of message and Robert Foxworth singlehandedly defining the typical seventies semi-sensitive alpha-male with his beard, social consciousness and curly hair. Like an awake Hugo Stiglitz. The monsters is awesome and it truly looks like an expensive movie - except when they're sending out some poor guy in a rubber-suit to run after victims. Then it's more like something from Ultraman!

And what a transition, because at the end we watched three episodes of Ultra Seven - yes, from the recently released Shout! Factory box. It might have less city-stomping scenes and more focus on... yeah, "story", but it doesn't take away the fun of this cheap and exciting show. It's more gloomy and serious than Ultraman, with more location-shoots and even some deaths and blood. But it's still a harmless family-friendly show.

That's all folks!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Inugami Family (1976)

I'm the first one to admit that I'm watching a lot of soulless crap. Most of what I'm watching never - NEVER - gets reviewed here, because it's too uninteresting. I think this is one of the reasons why I'm from time to time looses interest in writing reviews. These movies, the bad ones, works as (to quote Anton LaVey) "Psychic Vampires". They steal all my energy and points out how meaningless it is, this what I'm doing. The last couple of days, after a few weeks of writing nothing, I've been watching Japanese genre cinema and hey... this is very good for the soul! From Ultraseven (SO cool) to The H-Man and Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds. Original, fresh, fun, absurd and with a depth that a lot of other countries don't have in their art. So I decided to once again take down Kon Ichikawa's The Inugami Family from the shelf and give it a spin, and boy... this is freaking good stuff!

When it comes to the work of Kon Ichikawa I'm not an expert at all, but I would love some recommendations what to start with - preferably if it's out on a nice DVD or even nicer BD. What I understand this is not a typical Ichikawa film, but obviously he liked it enough to make a whole bunch of movies starring Kôji Ishizaka as the shy, maybe-maybe not incompetent, mumbling private detective Kindaichi (based on a hugely popular series of books written by Seishi Yokomizo). I would give my left arm to see the other Kindaichi films they made together. Anyway. The Inugami Family is the proud tradition of Agatha Christie and similar storytellers, and this time it's even more cliché: old man Inugami has died and seven months later his family, his three daughters with their three sons and the rest, gathers to open his will. The will is very complicated and it will work out the best for one of the family's branches if Inugami's new favorite girl, the young and innocent Tamayo Nonomiya - not belonging to the family bloodline - marries one of the sons. One of the sons is also hideously deformed after the war, but she has to choose what's best for her anyway...

Well, we all know what this leads to: murder, murder and more murder - everything in a delicate mess of intrigue and gossip and the question is if even the famous Kindaichi can solve this mystery before it gets even bloodier!

The Inugami Family is part murder mystery but maybe most of all an interesting and very dark deconstruction of a typical rich (and greedy) Japanese family. I promise you, there's multiple solutions to the murders and after each one it gets even more and more complicated. The calm camera studies the reactions of everyone in the shot, like I never seen it before. A couple of time the visual style reminded me of John Carpenter's The Thing: the paranoia growing bigger, the unexpected kills, the subtle music. Ichikawa also has some fun with the murders - all of them off-screen, until the final revelation at the end when we gets a chance to see every kill again, but this time with blood and goo. It's not terribly graphic, but enough to spice up a brilliant story even more. The style of the movie also reminded me of Mario Bava's Bay of Blood, with it's setting close to a dark lake - perfect to dump bodies in - and greedy family members sneaking around every corner.

The story is very complex and convoluted, and it takes 100 % concentration to watch this film. Because if you look away you might miss a clue or a twist, and to fully enjoy this story you need to know everything.

The Inugami Family, with its black humour, ghastly murder mystery and scathing satire - and don't forget the discrete use of homoeroticism - is one of my favourite Japanese movies ever and a true masterpiece. For those interested, Ichikawa remade it himself in 2006. I need to see that version!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds (1977)

After Toho closed down the Godzilla-shop in 1975, after Ishiro Honda's masterpiece (and a movie that also failed to gain enough audience) The Terror of Mecha-Godzilla and Gamera took a nine year long break after Gamera vs. Zigra in 1971, the Kaiju died away in cinemas (but continued to wreck havoc in television with armies of Ultramen, Kamen Riders and everything in-between in tight pants and spectacular helmets) and seemed to be a lost cause... until 1977 when Tsuburaya Productions and Rankin/Bass Productions co-produced the entertaining The Last Dinosaur (starring a very visibly drunk Richard Boone) and Toei tried their hands on one of the oddest pieces of Kaiju cinema so far, Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds.

Not technically a typical Kaiju movie with men in suits battling in miniature cities, instead it's another version of Jaws...or Grizzly, or Tentacles etc etc. A small tourist spot near a lake experiences odd disappearances and deaths and soon some scientists suspect there's a dinosaur swimming around there, hungry for human flesh. It starts of beautiful and quite scary with a woman falling down in a cave - after walking in a fairy tale forest, breaks a big egg in the fall and a huge slimy, yellow eye looks out at her. She screams and runs away and soon everyone wants to go to this little town to look for dinosaurs and monsters!

Already here the movie feels very off-kilter and has a very modern (for the time) look and characters who are more grown-up and cynical than everyone else who ever appeared in a Godzilla-movie - not to forget Gamera. There's not stupid kids or slapstick here, not talking monsters or colourful space aliens shooting rays of death against skyscrapers. The humour here is very adult and dark and that's also the feeling of the whole movie. This is not for kids and maybe it's goal to be aimed at a grown-up audience also made it less popular and confusing for the contemporary audience. Everyone expects most Japanese rubber monsters to be for kids, yeah? Not here. LODAMB is also quite gory with some torn off limbs, unexpected deaths and adults having problem with each other. No nudity though, which feels even odder when you look at the rest of the movie - because it belongs there.

The effects is all over the place, but as a fan of the Toho flicks I can't say they're less convincing here. They fit the genre and even if this is less "fun", the script is also dark enough to make the story work even with rubber and plastic filling the screen. Another fine detail I like is the inclusion of - I guess - the infamous suicide forest Aokigahara. I can't remember they're mentioning it in the movie, but it's located in the same era and fits both the look and the story. In LODAMB they walk through the forest and finds some human remains and the guide just laughs at it and explains that it's a common place for suicide. It's a macabre little twist and it's left like that without explanations. Check out the wiki page about Aokigahara, seems like a "nice" place.

When I first saw this film I wasn't that found of it, probably because I expected something more traditional - but I've seen it a couple of times since then and I like it more and more and now it's a Kaiju favorite. The dark themes, the blood and twists, the more mature characters, everything makes this a very fine example of Japanese genre cinema.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The H-Man (1958)

Ishiro Honda was, according me, one of the finest director to ever have lived and work in Japan. He began like everyone else, but after Gojira he became the leading special effects/monster/sci-fi guy - and he did it with the same flair, style and quality as his non-genre movies. In 1958 he directed one of the most interesting films in his career, The H-Man, who completely lacks a big rubber monsters who stomps Tokyo, but still contains one of the coolest creatures in his career: slime.

I'm not gonna go into the story that much, except it's a beautiful and original mix of gangsters, night clubs, cops and slime - yeah, more or less a monster-noir packed with jazz and tough guys wearing hats. Of course everything is triggered by nuclear bombs and it lead to two scenes - directly after each other - that's very similar to what Luigi Cozzi did in his wonderful Contamination. The same dark and gritty atmospheric search of the abandoned vessel, resulting in the spectacular death for some of the people aboard - and then back to the lab where they try out the liquid on an animal, with terrifying result. In this one it's a frog, in the Italian film it's a rat. Cozzi is a big fan of Japanese genre cinema and I'm pretty sure he included it into Contamination as one of many tributes.

Like with Honda's later family production Godzilla's Revenge, The H-Man also shows us what a fantastic storyteller he is with a film that puts the special effects and terror in second place. The H-Man is first of all a gangster/crime movie, but with an awesome slimy twist. Godzilla's Revenge is, as you might remember, a very cute and well-made kids movie with a few pointless inserts of the Kaiju monsters fighting on an island. 

Usually when fancy schmancy nobody's with a PHD in fine arts laugh at Godzilla I always reminds them of how Honda and Kurusawa was dear friends, they often worked together and how much they respected each others work - even if they worked on the total opposite of the movie scale in Japan.

But I'm sure you won't get disappointed at the slime-sequences in The H-Man. This is class, and of course superior to the same years (in my opinion very weak) The Blob. The special effects here is fantastic and produced with a lot of imaginative ideas. This piece of slime moves around and behaves like no slime up till then - sure, some effects is a bit cheesy, the dancer who gets covered by slime comes to mind, but it's very realistic compared to the American counterparts. The melting people looks awesome also, often covered in shadows and the result is like from a horror movie.

The H-Man is a masterpiece of fifties sci-fi and manages to be adult and intelligent all the way through. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Panic Button (2011)

"I want to play a game", the ominous voice is familiar and with four characters locked up in a place they can't escape this can be considered slightly inspired by Saw, but Panic Button still stands on it's own two legs (or fly with it's own two wings, if you want to) and still feels quite fresh compared to some of the other Saw-rip offs flooding the markets since 2004. This is a British independent movie who quite cleverly tells a morality tale about social networking, especially Facebook - the story's version is called All2gethr, but is basically the same thing.

Here our heroes (or what to call them) wins a trip to New York through the site and during six hours they get a chance to win a lot of nice prices... if they're just honest. And guess what, this is social networking - no one is honest. I'm sure we can all agree on that. By answering very private question they can win cars, tickets, everything you can wish - but soon the honesty of the anonymous game leader creates some dangerous tension in the cabin...

I'm pretty sure some people can't stand this film, mostly because of some plot holes and the sheer absurdity of the set-up. But personally I find these twists good, because what I see is an escape-from-reality. I mean, I can accept Godzilla rampaging through cities without problems, so I have nothing against a film which kills Facebook-users on a private airplane over the sea. It's more or less the same thing. There's a story to be told and then there's no laws against improbable storylines. Thank Satan for that!

The best thing with Panic Button is the fine cast, which once again proves what brilliant actors the UK fosters. The four leading actors, Scarlett Alice Johnson, Jack Gordon, Michael Jibson and Elen Rhys are all excellent, very convincing. It's something about that tradition of realistic, toned-down acting in their traditions that still works so well (of course there's still sucky British actors, but you know what I mean). It's about them taking the job serious that makes it work. It might be a low-budget Saw-rip off, but they're still doing what they're paid to do.

How's the gore then? Not much actually. There's a blow-off head and an arm-chopping, but both of them is very fast and you can't see them properly either. It's more the ideas behind it all that makes it a bit eerie, especially what everything leads up to. Sometimes the budget shows itself with a set that looks a bit corny sometimes, a bit cheap - but if you ignore the details and enjoys the mental cat and mouse game I think you will enjoy Panic Button as much as I did.

Can't wait to see what director Chris Crow has up his sleeve with his upcoming The Darkest Day, also starring several of the actors from this film.

Jack Hunter and the Lost Treasure of Ugarit (2008)

I have a soft spot for Indiana Jones rip-offs. It's a safe bet most of these movies, with their jungles and deserts, hidden treasures and action scenes, has something for everyone. Of course they're cheaper, tackier, sillier - but still, they're just doing what Indy did: celebrating the good old adventure stories of the past. I'm still a huge fan of J. Lee Thompson's King Solomon's Mines (starring the one and only Richard Chamberlain), even if the sequel - shot at the same time - more or less sucks. Sky Pirates, from Australia, is another favourite - and who can dislike Antonio Margheriti's forays into the genre during the early eighties? By chance I found a box a couple of days ago, titled "The Adventures of Jack Hunter" and I just couldn't stop myself. It's a mini-series and for it's home video release it's been divided into three feature length movies:  Lost Treasure of Ugarit, The Quest For Akhenatens Tomb and The Star Of Heaven.

Ivan Sergei plays Jack Hunter, an adventurer specializing in finding rare artefacts and his dream is to find everything belonging to Ugarit, some ancient civilization. In this long adventure he roams around Syria, Egypt and Turky together with cocky lady Nadia Ramadan (Joanne Kelly) and comic relief sidekick Tariq (Mario Naim Bassil) and their nemesis is an (what else?) evil German guy named Littman (Thure Riefenstein, who strangely enough recently shot a movie for the production company I work for!). On their way they meet corrupt militaries, elderly archaeologists with hidden agendas and a couple of hidden, underground temples!

Jack Hunter is a TV-production but surprisingly enough it's a lot better than a lot of other similar productions I've seen. The budget it sometimes not the best, some scenes feels very rushed and the special effects is uneven in that wonderful SyFy Channel-way we love so much. But instead it boasts a lot of action, some very nice temple-sets and actors who might not be the best actors in the world, but seems to have a lot of fun instead. Ivan Sergei is okay, but feels both a bit young and a bit too handsome to be an experienced adventure (but on the other side, real-life TV-adventures like Patrick Spain from National Geographic's Beast Hunter is VERY cute and fuckable - sorry - so I might be wrong). The other actors is at most okay, including Thure Riefenstein who does his bad guy routine in his sleep again. But that kinda belongs to this form of entertainment. It's not fantastic, but still not bad. It's competent, Sunday afternoon entertainment.

It also steals quite shamelessly from Indiana Jones with Jack Hunter walking around in the exact same clothes, experiencing the same form of adventure (but no ancient traps, sorry) and doing his routine against the other actors just like Harrison Ford would have done it. There's a few lines of dialogue here and there that's almost lifted directly from the old movies. Yes, I know that Indiana Jones "stole" a lot from old movies, but in that case Spielberg and Lucas always was open about the homage-part - in this case, and others, it's just Indy that's been the inspiration.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Jack Hunter! A lot more than I expected. Unoriginal script, but it works and it's never boring or feel padded with unnecessary scenes. It's just fun, fun and a little bit more fun. But don't expect it to change your world. This is just a nice, long, vacation for the brain and nothing more. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Haters Gonna Hate: Ninja Dixon's the Top Ten of 2012!

Hey! Another year has passed and it’s time for yet another silly Top Ten list of 2012! I don’t like doing lists because it reveals my bad taste in movies, but I only live once and at least one or two of my choices will make someone upset. That’s what makes my heart tick a little bit extra. And no, I just don’t care if a movie has been released at some obscure festival during 2011, it’s the official release that counts. I’m not gonna list them in any particularly order, because in my humble world its very hard to say that one movie is slightly better than the next. So, are you ready?

The Innkeepers
- Ti West impressed us all (but not you, I know – so don’t bother) with House of the Devil and even if The Innkeepers is a very different movie it’s still an original, smart and very atmospheric ghost story, close to be just an indie slacker-drama. Which is fine by me, because the story makes me care about the characters and believe me, I was sitting on the edge of my sofa the whole movie.

- This years surprise was, without a doubt, this Irish sleeper, THE best monster-comedy since Tremors with the same quality of the humor, drama and characters. The effects is stunning and fun, but in the end it’s lovable characters and fine dialogue that makes this Grabbers this years biggest winner. And most important, it jokes about alcoholism – but never jokes about alcoholics.

- This will be the original “haters gonna hate” on this list, but I totally fell for this amazing, visual and crazy motherf**king film. I just don’t care if something doesn’t add up in the end – because it’s a FILM! It’s not reality. It’s a saga, a fantasy, and I’m just not nerdy enough to even care about plot holes. One negative thing I can say is that the power diminishes on the small screen compared to what I saw in the cinema.

- I just don’t understand how this “German Giallo” can have been released without people all over the world not knowing about it. A stylish twist on Suspiria, Deep Red and every other Italian thriller from the 70’s… and with a good amount of gore and nudity, wonderful visuals and excellent acting (most of the time anyway). I predict it will be next years sleeper hit on DVD and blu-ray everywhere.

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning
- WTF? The trillionth sequel to Universal Soldier? Yeah, exactly. But you who have seen this knows why. An original dark twisted story right down the depths of the Universal Soldier saga, part Apocalypse Now, part mega-violent martial arts. Great actors, breathtaking BRUTAL fights and a very fresh take on something that could have been really, really bad in the hands of the wrong people.

- Ditching Hollywood, ditching bigger budgets and making Livide. Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury was brave enough to follow their own path and make this impressive fantasy-horror-drama with nods to classic Italian and French horror (Argento and Rollin comes to mind) and do something so drastically different than their modern classic Inside. Beautiful and haunting.

- I’ve really thought this over… and Sinister, with it’s weak ending, is one of the best horror films of 2012. It’s not without flaws – not only the ending – but the atmosphere is fanastic, the acting fine and the set-up, the concept of the film with the disturbing super 8 footage is SO good. It’s a nice twisty story and it’s always entertaining, but I wished it could have stayed with a more basic, down-to-earth mystery than what we got now. Can’t wait to see what they’ll do with the sequel.

Father's Day
- After a lot of trouble and problems Father’s Day finally got released on DVD and BD and it’s a movie worth waiting for. Similar in mood to last years The Taint, but with even more intelligence and edgy satire, gore and action – and one of the few neo-grindhouse films that’s succeeded to give us characters to care about. Sure, it’s also cheap and silly, trashy and tasteless – but made with heart and passion. Good stuff!

The Bay
- I really liked V/H/S and Evidence, but The Bay was the fake footage movie (made like a mockumentary this time) that made my day. It has a realistic feeling and never goes over-the-top, and that might be the reason I like it so much. I’m familiar with the breed of parasites used in the story since earlier and it’s nice to see them used in this story. But yeah, it could have used more gore and monsters – but what can we do?

- This super-cheap Norwegian folklore-horror got a great reception at the Monsters of Film in Stockholm earlier this year. A claustrophobic intelligent horror movie which takes a fine Scandinavian myth and makes something interesting of it, instead of the normal creature feature. Don’t except something big and spectacular like Troll Hunter, this is closer to European 70’s cinema than blockbuster Hollywood.

And... Some Guy Who Kills People, as a bonus - because me, the idiot, forgot to include it in the top ten of 2012! Excellent black comedy with a serial killer theme, smart and with some stunning performances - including legend Karen Black! Deeply recommended!

Close but not close enough: Evidence, V/H/S, The Tall Man, Attack of the Werewolves, The Raid. Good and great movies, stuff that I own and will watch many more times – but they didn’t make the list. Regarding The Raid – yeah, awesome movie, but I felt more attached to the director and stars earlier movie Merantau. The Tall Man can be seen as a disappointment, the ultimate anticlimax – but I like that they actually did what they did. Evidence takes the found footage-concept and makes it totally insane, V/H/S is a lot of fun of but is weaker because one or two crappy stories. Attack of the Werewolves is a damn fine Spanish horror-comedy, much like Shaun of the Dead, but Grabbers is still the best on in the genre this year.

The honorary title goes to Supermen of Malageon, an awesome Indian documentary about a filmmaker and his team in the working town of Malageon who makes their own local blockbusters. Heart-warming and funny, one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in years.

And he worst one? Well, I don't like to bash movies but one specifically movie that includes the words "Dear", "God" and "No", is among the worst and most untalented shit I've seen this year. I rather dip my cock in the frying pan than watch it again.
So, that’s it darlings. What do YOU think is the best movie of 2012?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Frankenstein's Bloody Terror (1968)

I'm a softie. I feel, when watching any random movie with Paul Naschy, that he was something special. One of the few really passionate geeks out there, on the same level of geekiness as Luigi Cozzi and Mario Bava. Fans of all thing genre, especially the non-realistic, fantasy-injected genre cinema with more heart than money. Frankenstein's Bloody Terror isn't a Frankenstein-movie. The American distributors added a very, very, very silly pre-credit which explains that the Frankenstein family evolved into the Wolfstein family and that's it - the monster of a mad scientist suddenly becomes a supernatural wolfman.

The story is simple. Two gypsies accidentally awakens a werewolf, who - after killing them - goes after the villagers and infects Naschy, doing his old Waldemar Daninsky part, and makes him the new wolf in town. He seeks help from a famous doctor, who turns out to be a vampire and the battle beings. There's also something with a young loving couple and some old farts (their fathers) rambling stiff lines to each other.

Yeah, it's a bit of a mess - but it's also Naschy's first foray into werewolf-cinema (I just don't count that other "lost" movie, I seriously doubt it got made) and he sprinkles the story with the soul of American horror comic books rather than the old Universal monsters. It's basically lit like a story right out from EC Comics and with a story so wild it could be one of those poverty row monster flicks, but with more colour and very fake RED blood. I love it. It's god damn hard to NOT love, because there's so much fun stuff going on.

Naschy himself is big and bold and takes a big bite from every scene he's in. When he's a werewolf he's just furious and aggressive and just a marvellous fucking monster. One of the best. Maybe THE best werewolf ever existed (yeah, even better than Lon Chaney Jr). I think it's because Naschy goes so far down in the animalistic rage, the sexual tension between him and all the victims. Naschy just doesn't bit people, he almost rapes them - men and women - with his whole body and bodily fluids spurting in every direction. Naschy IS Waldermar Daninsky, he owned that part.

What I miss with this crazy production is - actually - the more straight forward storylines that he used in later movies. Daninsky is such a good and interesting character that he deserves something more than just chaos. Frankenstein's Bloody Terror is a fine movie, fun and silly and filled with love and coolness, but it's still the first trembling step of a master.

Give it a go. But remember that there's a lot of other adventures with Daninsky that's better and bloodier. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Executive Action (1973)

It takes two persons to create a conspiracy. Yeah, that's it. Believe it or not. A real damn conspiracy. Nowadays most people with a "critical" viewpoint on life, politics, science etc etc seem to think that a conspiracy needs to be something big, almost supernatural. Something where everyone is involved - especially government, medical companies, mega-companies and so on. But the only thing that needs is at least two people planning to do something towards a third part. I'm pretty sure that's what happened regarding the murder of JFK. It's not the first time and it's hardly the last time. The myth of "the lonely crazy gunman" that sticks it ugly head up and takes over the "serious" media and opinions of know-it-all's has taken over and no other theory is worth investigating in-depth. No wonder madmen and querulants shows up and makes an even bigger mess of each famous case. There will never be a solution of the JFK-case. Never. Neither sides is especially convincing, but one thing is for sure: it's very unlikely Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

Oliver Stone's JFK (and I find that an excellent film) wasn't the first conspiracy thriller dealing with the case. The French I As In Icarus did it in the end of the seventies and in 1984 the Kris Kristofferson thriller Flashpoint used it as an interesting twist. But first of all who dealt with the assassination was Executive Action. I'm not counting movies like Seven Days in May or The Manchurian Candidate who just had similar themes. Executive Action deals with it in a very frank and open way: JFK was killed by assassins hired by rich, conservative republicans who was afraid to loose to much money on his politics. We follow the training of the killers, the planning conducted by a bunch of almost anonymous businessmen, lead by Burt Lancaster and Robert Ryan (both famous for their fight for civil rights, democratic values and as far as possible from being republicans - which also reminds us how personal this movie is, it's more than just a thriller - it's a statement).

The story is mixed with documentary footage and goes on until the murder and what happens after that... and it all ends with a montage of all the innocent victims who died mysteriously the years after the assassination.

This is a brave and bold statement, but everyone involved seem pretty sure that this could be a possible solution - and I tend to agree with them. But enough about my personal opinion. Executive Action is foremost a fantastic thriller, very low-key and realistic. It has all its legs on the ground and never goes to far in its theories. It's an unromantic and quite cynical view at what could have happen. Even the acting is toned down and very realistic. I love Robert Ryan and here he's doing on of the last performances in his career (maybe the last) and his flame is still burning, even if he probably knew he had lung cancer at this point. There's not one single bad performance in the whole film, and watch out for Dick Miller and Ed Lauter in supporting parts!

While not a mystery in the classic 70's conspiracy style, Executive Action is still a minor masterpiece and a must for everyone interested in the genre to see.