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Toxic Zombies (1980)
Kill the hippies !
14 December 2000
Released as "Forest of Fear" in the U.K , this little known gem has an undeserved bad reputation. Our action starts with a group of hippies farming our friend "the killer weed" high up in the hills. The Feds are aware of the activities and employ the local crop duster (an alcoholic misogynist (a nice combination)) to go and spray a payload of weed killer on the fields. This is no ordinary weedo thou , its an untested souped up DDT varient that they unleash on the unsuspecting hippies. The crop is sprayed , the hippies run , covered in the dust and vomiting blood , the crop duster stoned on cheap booze gets out of his plane , covered in the dust. And pretty soon the dusters fat wife falls victim , a family in the mountains on a trip and the evil (and now bloodthirsty (as blood is the only thing that can quench their devilish thirst) hippies run amok ! So it has wobbly sets , some we can see the top of, hokey acting , but who cares its an interesting film and a more productive way of spending an afternoon than watching a "Jim Carey" film.
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Short Eyes (1977)
Effective but Dated
13 December 2000
"Short Eyes" is an interesting film, it has many good points but at the end of the day it suffers from being viewed with the experience of 23 years of other films between the viewer and the production.

Even looking at it based on dramas of the time , it would have been dated then and a moral hodge podge of "hippy" sentiment without the real "streetwise" attitude that it needs and wanted to so much. It even has a dreadful prison "sing-a-long" (only included because Curtis Mayfield leads the scene (otherwise it would not have been shot !) , the song itself is so well produced , and without having a wild track added makes you laugh at the pretentiousness of the scene rather than take it seriously.

Having said that thou , it still has one or two scenes that shock , and I did not expect the ending that we got , and I did like it and would recommend it to everyone , but as long as they understand the time it was from , its a good film but time is not being kind to it.
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Forced Entry (1973)
Not a film to be taken lightly
10 December 2000
This has to be one of the most brutal films I have seen , regardless of the more well know films along this theme (House by the Edge of The Park , Last House on the Left) , "Forced Entry" by its low production values , obtuse direction that is meant to leave you wondering what the hell went on , and the most bizzare inclusion of hardcore scenes , that were the most unplesant I have seen in years. It stuck out as a little know and heavily derided work. I dont think it could be classed as a "Adult Film" (as in pornography) because you would have to be one sick individual to get aroused watching this. That is where a lot of the contraversy comes from , and I was amazed that it was included in the film , and it would have been better without the hardcore rape scenes. We get the idea of what is going on , but having 8 mins of him forcing a woman to give him oral sex and then cutting her throat (and we do get to see the money shot) , had dubious overtones. But then again the subject matter is not one that should be glossed over , rape is an evil crime and I have never seen it put across so well , if brutally as in this film. So I was in two minds about it, I did like and and thought that it went to places that film makers are rarely brave enough to go , but then on the other hand I could see people taking it the wrong way. But you should make up your own mind and see it .
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Velvet Smooth (1976)
She's smoother than Honey (and velvet)
23 November 2000
This little known film is worthy of seeking out . So o.k the production values are limited and the walls move when they close doors , but don't yours ? Our heroine is the foxy detective who is trying to find out who is breaking in to a local drug tzars turf , with plot lines skipping all over the place she soon learns not to trust anyone .. why was she hired in the first place..whats the alteria motive of the gang leader. Velvet soon discovers the truth and unleashes a whole can of "whoop ass" on the hapless baddies. Its not the best but its a hell of a lot better than the worst , and our leading lady..whoa !
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Dementia (1955)
AT Last !
20 November 2000
Finally after a long wait we can see the original version of "Dementia" which was re released two years later as "Daughter of Horror" , cut by two minutes and featured the notoriously bad voice over by the unknown (outside america) Ed McMahon , which was added as the re releasers thought that the public would not understand what was going on , it did the opposite and has unfairly given the film a bad reputation. Since the re release was shown , the film itself has pretty much disappeared and only terrible prints on the 1957 version have been available , giving a brief glimpse of what this film could have been. But now the full version has been released by Kino Films on DVD. The print is stunning (compared to the previously available anything would be preferable), and the restoration of the nightmarish "jazzey" score is fault less. "Dementia" and "Daughter of Horror" (it was given a more salatious title to get audiences in) are both on the disc...with some great extras its worth a look. The story itself is a living/dreaming nightmare , the boundaries are jarred from the first scene as we pan in from the empty street into the apartment window and track up to the bed. The Gammin wakes and looks as if she has just had a bad nightmare , she gets up and walks over to a drawer , opens it and pulls out a switchblade , she looks down and sneers , pockets the knife and goes out into the night. From here on we either know that she it totally insane or that she is out to protect herself or both. We follow her journey into bars and meetings with pimps and flower sellers. I wont tell you anymore about it , otherwise it will spoil the fun of finding out for yourself but this film is a must and belongs on any serious collectors shelf.
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15 November 2000
This is a low budget gem, it looks as if it was shot using the most basic equipment, the production values are non existent but the story of the deranged vietnam vet is one that stays in the mind for a while after viewing. Our hero goes on a killing spree, its a few years after he has served in nam and broke and depressed he decides to visit old friends. What could be more fun, what more could snap you out of a fit of depression than visiting ole buddies. Well this guy has different plans. Check this one out.
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Oh ....
30 October 2000
Dont get me wrong I love Stecklers films , "Rat Fink a Boo Boo" , "Thrill Killers" , "Wild Guitar" , "Super Cool" all have a pervading feel of fun and to be corny the "joy" of just making a film. But sadly "Sinthia" is one of his lapses into the adult movie genre. He has made sine full length hardcore films which have to be the most un-erotic scenes committed to film. It seems that "Sinthia" was his practice run for the lamentable pap that was to follow a dozen years later. The girl in question is having strange dreams and see's a lot of hackeyed hallucination sequences and people trying to look scarey with little more that painted faces and paper plates with hair. To be honest the plot didnt grab me at all and the film wanders between soft core orgy scenes (with hideous people) and running around on the beach. Its 100 % worse than his later films "The las vegas serial killer" and "The Chooper" (Blood Shack) and made me feel disappointed that from the same mind that gave me some of the original film I have ever seen came this run of the mill sort core trash. For archive value to fans of Steckler its a must , I was told for years before I saw it how bad it was and how that even I would hate it, but thats never put me off before but for once I have to say that im sorry I didnt listen to advice , but then again im glad I have seen it.
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Button Moon (1980– )
"Were off to Button Moon , Follow Mr Spoon , Button Moon"
27 October 2000
This was on of the oddest kids programmes from the early 80's. Mr Spoon (a wooden spoon with a big nose) and his wife and child lived under the gaze of Button Moon (a large yellow button) which they went up to in the space ship that our hero Mr Spoon had made. Basically it was hand held wooden spoons over a black velvet backdrop being moved about with a narration , and i know that i was too old to be watching it when i did but it was hypnotic. A very strange one indeed that has to be seen to be believed.
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Like a Stepping Razor im a walking tiger
27 October 2000
This tragic documentary tell the tale of the all too short life of one of the greatest country men in the world Peter Tosh. Told by interviews with his mother , father and friends it charts the meteoric rise to fame of Peter from "The Wailing Wailer" to "The Wailers" , his disillusionment with Marley and the pro christian stance that Marley took in his music to his solo career and his fights with various record labels. It ends in an all too familiar tone with the execution of Peter by some thieves in his house and the chilling words that from a young man Tosh thought would be the last he ever heard "bumbaclat" , and the sicking joke that these were indeed the last he heard before a bullet ended his great life. Its a very hard to watch documentary for it shows the gap that has been left in so may lifes and echos the murder of King Tubby in 1988 for similar reasons. Watch this and find a glimpse of a great man
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Ivor the Engine (1975–1977)
"Come on Ivor"
21 September 2000
In the seventies the creative talents of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin gave us a multitude of childrens classics , my favorites change from day to day but Ivor the Engine is one of the best.

These are the coloured versions (originally made in black and white Postgate and Firmin went back to their original prints and colourised them after the widespread introduction of colour t.v's in the 70's) and are just as valid as the original, if not more so as more people saw them the second time round.

Ivor the little welsh train, no speaking, but communicating through his funnel with various tones. His train driver and friend Mr Jones and the assorted charectors from the village including the tiny fire breathing dragon that lived in Ivors engine. These are timeless and should be watched again and again.
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American Experience: Coney Island (1991)
Season 3, Episode 11
What does it look like now ?
20 September 2000
This is a great little documentary about the life and death (several times) of the worlds most famous amusement park "Coney Island". With footage from the 1890's of bathers on the beach when it was just becoming popular to the era of Weegee (whose photograph of the same beach with hundreds of thousands upon it is legendary)and the various fires and developments that were show pieced on this remarkable island. For one I didn't know that incubators for children were developed at coney island in one of the "future" parts. The film also contains one of the most brutal pieces of film I have seen with the public execution (via electricity) of an Elephant, yes an Elephant.

This is well worth digging out and will serve as an accurate representation of a time that now seems so long ago.
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More than a commercial
20 September 2000
This is the longer version of what is usually shown. "New York Lightboard Record" is the sequence that is released on the superb collection of his work by the B.F.I It would be good to have a release of the full version as cuts from it only give you a taste of what you could have.
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He's a nifty 50's Binman
20 September 2000
Lamarr (with quiff this time) gives us his ideas and aspirations for want of a worse word for the next century as we pass out of the last. His stand up work and T.V work has improved 100% since the days of "The Word" (but then again he still held his own against Terry Christian), Lamarr seems relaxed and able to go off on decent tanjents. Worth a look if the BBC decide to put it out on video.
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Murders at the Chicken factory
20 September 2000
This has to be one of the most cutting edge film's made to date , its wholly surreal and has a dreamlike quality that hypnotises me. When i first saw this film I don't think I blinked , then I watched it again straight off, it has an addictive charm that should be open for everyone too see, why its not being picked up by a distributor I will never know. The plot is an odd one , a mixture of industrial terrorism (who killed the new headless mutant chickens that yeild so much meat), Romance , Perversion and just plain odd. In the opening scene in a hotel while a prostitute is being brutally murdered we cut to a man covering his head in tape , someone pouring out toothpaste and various hideous rich people snorting with laughter. From the start it gives the message that everybody is mad, with their hidden psychosis and more obvious ones. Going any further into the plot will spoil the film so I will say nothing. Its worth trying to find this one , I got mine in Greece in the late 80's , but there must be some out there , somewhere.
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Early British Animation
19 September 2000
Animated Cotton is a 6 or so minute short , A man fiddles around with a small piece of cotton thread , it dances out of control and wizzes around his house , this is cut in with the cotton on black backgrounds making spirals and patterns. Its a great early example of people experimenting with a new format "film" , its funny and technically sound for its time. I have no idea if its released or not as I restored the negative from the original nitrate and made a print for the BFI, I hope that one day it will resurface so more people can have access to this forgotten gem.
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The Baldy Man (1995– )
Baldy does it again
19 September 2000
From the character created in the famous "Hamlet" cigar ad (a man with fetching hair in a passport foto booth) spang this short series of silent slapsticks revolving around the same bald guy , played with real style by the great scottish comic Fisher (Rab C Nesbitt / Naked Video), check them out , its a highly underrated series
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The Black 6 (1973)
19 September 2000
Matt Climber brought us the underrated "Butterfly" with Stacy Keach and Pia Zadora , but this seems to be the turkey that they should have talked about. Now im not saying that a young white director cannot make a film that revolves around predominatly black characters , but Climber cannot. From the old 70's blaxploitation school of white directors with some issues of their own that need to be dealt with this is of the same ilk. Bad script , Bad idea , there are dozens of similar films made a damn site better and without making the leads into uncle toms for the audience. Poor
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Kostnice (1970)
You can smell the death
19 September 2000
Svankmejer made a diversion from his vivid world to make this short , mostly non-narrative film. We are taken on a journey to one of the most horrificly spellbinding building in the world , which has been made from the skull's,rib's,legs,breastbones etc etc of thousands of bodies, to form the arches and doorways and to generally adorne this building.. With frantic jump cuts , a soundtrack that seems to ring in the ears for hours afterward and his own style give us a truly original way of seeing this macabre building. Watch this and then go for a walk in the woods , alone.
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The Ugly Ones (1966)
19 September 2000
Released as "The Ugly Ones" this is a highly overrated italian western. Its slow (not interestingly so), Badly Filmed (although the print I saw was damaged) , Diabolical acting that even bad dubbing does not take away from and a plodding plot that the saturday b serial westerns of the 1940's would have been proud of. From the same time came a group of highly polished or just plain original versions of the theme that america had been churning out for 3 decades. The italians revived the genre , breathed life into it, but this monstrous waste of time seems to be a cyst on the backside of the industry that was chopped off , but not quick enough , it made the screen.
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Svankmejer's Triumph
19 September 2000
This stunning short, in black and white and shot in widescreen is one of the best examples of the marriage of film and sound , the sounds affecting the images with bass and tibre. The man who plays the organ seems to literally bring the house down and walls open up and close , breath and moves as if the music has given them life. Simply superb.
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Never take your hands off the handle bars
25 August 2000
This is a great little short by the man that brought us "Hold me while im naked" and "Thundercrack". It's two film's in one for the most part but it works. He was approached by the "Horray for Kids" (oh dear) people to film a convention, needless to say what they got was hardly suitable for children. With great sound bytes from 50's romance records , as his quirky technique he produced a film more about the break up of marriage and the death of his children and wife in a car crash (not based on fact) , the car being driven by a shop dummy "A motor car has too big eyes too see where it is going and if you dont use your own big eyes you know where you'l be going" is sung heartily as the threesome become roadkill , done with a great slow mo of a kiddies three wheeler falling to the ground. There is so much compacted into the twenty or so minutes that I cant do it justice so track it down and have a look at what im going on about.
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Synchromy (1971)
Open your ears and let them see
25 August 2000
McLaren mixes coloured horizontal bands of varying width (depending on the tibre of the music) across the screen. Albeit basic visuals he mixes visual pace with sounds represented by thin and thick stripes ,it looks like how you would imagine hard drives to sound like when processing information. Great stuff
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Milligan does it again
25 August 2000
Wow what was Andy thinking when he made this. A costume drama gore romp with the usual mix of wobbly sets, superb acting and the best chase scene I have ever seen. One of the charectors (I cant remember which one) jump's onto a horse and off he goes to say the buxom wench from the evil clutches of the sadistic Lord.On horseback he goes from left to right , towards us and away, crossing the line a good dozen times , which gives the impression of his going in circles , unintentionally hilarious. With the usual mix of cheap gore and ludicrously un erotic sex scenes this is another must for anyone interested in the world that Milligan created
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Mosaic (I) (1966)
Grandstand Bat and Ball
25 August 2000
I hate to say it , but this is my least fav McLaren of films , he walks on and places a small white ball in the centre of the screen , it slowly darts off and when it hits the sides of the screen it divides (with a great static sound though) , each time it divides and the divisions divide etc , you get the picture. Dont get me wrong on a good day I like it , but it cold be a few minutes shorter , minor quibbles but its not one of his best , but even that makes it head and shoulders above a large part of the animation genre. It is a grander version of the old Grandstand Bat and Ball video game none the less.
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Not just a commercial
25 August 2000
New York 1961 , Time Square. People lookup at the lightboard at an ad for Canada. This is more than just a run of the mill lightboard ad though , McLaren's ad shows off his talents with this relativly new source at the time to give a hypnotic message about the wonders of Canada, mixed in with peoples reactions this is a great little film. Almost a social record of the time with the cutting between the two sources its a must for anyone interested in his work. For anyone interested an excerpt of it is on the suberb tape "Selected Film" released in the u.k , check i t out.
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