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Dave (Brandon Salkil) is a 24-year-old loser who scrapes a living
painting digital erotica for sci-fi geeks. When he's not creating his
'art' (oh, the agony and the ecstasy of painting alien semen in zero
gravity), he's busy masturbating while eavesdropping on his sexually
frustrated, pregnant neighbour Esther (Nicole Gerity), who lives in the
apartment below. It is while he is knocking one out to the sounds of
Esther's self-gratification that he suffers an unexpected heart attack.
After surgery, Dave is informed that he has poor circulation and desperately needs a replacement heart if he wants to go on living. His solution: sell his soul to the devil in exchange for a new organ, one that, if he looks after it properly, can give him eternal life. The only problem is that, according to the small print in the contract he hurriedly signs, he must now feed his new heart two humans a week in order to keep it pumping.
Of the three films I have seen by low-budget horror director Dustin Mills (the others being Kill That Bitch and Bath Salt Zombies), this is easily my favourite. It offers up the same sort of lurid content to be found in the other two filmsbargain basement gore and gratuitous nudity from a selection of tattooed womenbut it also has a wickedly dark (and often very silly) sense of humour that makes it all the more irresistible.
Taking his cues from such low-budget classics as Roger Corman's The Little Shop of Horrors and Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case, Mills has crafted a delightfully warped tale thatin addition to a chatty tentacled heart with one eyefeatures such demented delights as a chubby tattooed bird being pulled down the loo while taking a leak, a couple interrupted by the heart's killer tentacles while having sex, a perverted demon called Belial who offers to fart on Dave while he cranks one out, and an Evil Dead-style splat-stick finale that sees Dave attacking the monstrous heart with a carving knife.
Even though this is utterly deranged, lowbrow nonsense, all shot on a micro budget, Mills' script is surprisingly well written, his cast put in reasonable performances, and the director displays a keen knowledge of his craft, employing an impressive range of film-making techniques.
6.5 out of 10, rounded up to 7 for having the nerve to make the monster so laughable when we finally get to see it (a nod to the shonky nature of Henenlotter's creature in Basket Case, perhaps).
Six years before his successful mission to free POWs in Rambo rip-off
Missing In Action (1984), Chuck Norris starred in Good Guys Wear Black
as John T. Booker, leader of a special commando unit known as The Black
Tigers, who are also tasked with rescuing POWs from Vietnam. Booker,
however, isn't victorious this time: dropped into enemy territory, he
and his men are unable to locate any POWs, but do find themselves under
heavy fire from the VC with no chopper to fly them out. It would appear
that they have been set up.
Five years later, and Booker, having escaped from Vietnam with just five of his men, is now a professor teaching political history who also test dives Porsches in his spare time. When sexy reporter Margaret (Anne Archer) begins to question his involvement in the top secret Black Tigers mission that went so wrong, and the other surviving Black Tigers start to be assassinated, Booker decides to investigate.
Twenty five percent action, seventy five percent political intrigue, this early Norris vehicle is bound to disappoint those looking to see the star kicking major ass. After the explosive opening mission, things really slow down as Booker uncovers a dismal plot involving devious secretary of state Conrad Morgan (James Franciscus), who has labelled the The Black Tigers as double agents marked for death in order to fulfil a deal he made with the North Vietnamese at the end of the war.
Mostly talk, with sporadic bursts of mediocre action, Good Guys Wear Black is a largely forgettable movie, with the exception of Archer, who looks absolutely smokin', and a cool stunt involving a flying kick through the windscreen of a car (although it is clearly not performed by the star, but rather a stuntman wearing a bad Chuck Norris wig and 'tache disguise).
In 'M is for Mastication', an episode from the 2014 horror anthology
'The ABCs of Death 2', a user of the recreational drug known as bath
salts turns into a flesh-eating zombie. But low-to-no-budget SOV horror
director Dustin Wayde Mills got there first
Mills' 2013 film Bath Salts Zombies sees a potent and highly addictive strand of the designer drug (developed from a missing chemical weapon that sounds suspiciously like the one from Return of the Living Dead) being pushed to junkies, with precisely the same results: the user is transformed into a violent, uncontrollable monster with a hunger for human flesh.
Working with very little cash but lots of enthusiasm, Mills brand of horror is unashamedly lowbrow, his films designed to appeal to fans of splattery trash, with lots of cheapo gore and gratuitous T&A. However, for a purveyor of such gleefully lurid entertainment, Mills also displays a remarkable sense of style and creativity: Bath Salt Zombies might feature full frontal nudity, severed breast and penis gags, and a crazed ghoul that eats peoples' faces, but it also sees the director experimenting with some surprisingly impressive film-making techniques, including a neat POV sequence complete with 'blinking eye' effect, cool slo-mo shots, experimental use of colour filters, and time-lapse photography. There's also a highly stylised comic-book inspired smack-down between the main character and a SWAT team. For such a cheap production, this is ambitious stuff indeed.
The film opens with a crudely animated intro that I found rather perplexing (and which almost had me turning off before the film had really got started), and Mills does struggle to keep the momentum going at times, but I still had enough fun with this flick to recommend it to fellow gore-hounds and fans of underground horror.
When I originally saw NBK back in 1994 I didn't enjoy it very much: I
think it overloaded my senses. Now, years later, having experienced a
lot of extreme cinema from all over the world, I've come to appreciate
the film for what it isa daring, experimental, psychedelic, surreal,
audio/visual trip into a world of psychotic violence that delivers
symbolism, social commentary, and sheer excess in spades. It's a film
that, in all honesty, I probably need to watch a few more times with
the director's commentary turned on to totally 'get it', but at least
now I can see what some, if not all, of the fuss was about.
Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis play Mickey and Mallory Knox, two psychos in love, who lead a trail of terror across America, becoming icons of popular culture in the process, glorified by the media, worshipped by a generation for whom exposure to violence has become an everyday part of life. Working from a story by Quentin Tarantino, director Oliver Stone uses a vast array of film-making techniques to tell his tale: black and white imagery, canted angles, strong lighting, over saturated colours, grainy stock footage, hallucinatory animation, crisp 35mm film. The effect is both chaotic and unsettling, mirroring the messed-up psyches of its central characters.
Not only is the film a feast for the eyes and ears, it also provides plenty of food for thought: Is the media guilty of promoting violence? Is killing simply in some people's nature? Are those representing the law sometimes as corrupt as those they are chasing? Is Juliette Lewis as mad as she seems? Is the Rodney Dangerfield sitcom sequence one of the most disturbing scenes ever filmed?
In the smoky vastness of space, a strange planet rushes towards Earth
on a collision course. Scientific genius Dr. Alexis Zarkov (Frank
Shannon) has built a rocket ship in which he intends to travel to the
speeding planet and somehow alter its trajectory, but is unexpectedly
joined on his mission by American football player 'Flash' Gordon (Larry
'Buster' Crabbe) and his blonde travelling companion Dale Arden (the
absolutely gorgeous Jean Rogers), whose plane has been forced out of
the sky by an electrical storm.
Flash Gordon was, in its day, the most expensive serial ever produced, and wowed audiences so much that two further serials were made in quick succession (Trip to Mars in 1938 and Conquers the Universe in 1940). These days the crude special effects, bizarre costumes, stilted acting, meandering scripts and static direction seem extremely primitive, but it is for precisely these reasons that I enjoy the serial so muchit's all just so much cheesy fun (there's also an element of nostalgia: they used to air these on Saturday mornings during my school holidays).
Space Soldiers, the first adventure for Buster Crabbe's daring space explorer, is divided into 13 chapters packed with punch-ups and sword fights, imaginative settings, crazy creatures (Orangopoids, Tigrons and Fire Dragons, oh my!) and silly sci-fi contraptions, each ending on a 'thrilling' cliffhanger that leaves the hero in mortal danger (although each successive chapter would see Flash easily escaping peril to fight another day).
Greek sponge diver Mike Petrakis (Gilbert Roland) and his son Tony
(Robert Wagner) are struggling to make ends meet in the over-farmed
waters of Florida. After diving in the 'glades, angering rivals Thomas
Rhys and Arnold Dix in the process, the pair decide to try their luck
on the dangerous 12-mile reef. When Mike suffers a fatal accident, he
leaves Tony to take over the business, who, with help from Rhys' feisty
daughter Gwyneth (Terry Moore), decides to pay one more visit to the
A corny, 1950s, escapist romantic adventure set on and under the ocean, Beneath the 12-Mile Reef is most renowned for its stunning Cinemascope underwater visualswhich is great, unless you happen to be watching one of the many poor public domain DVDs out there, in which case the sub-aquatic action is almost as dull as the tiresome 'Greeks versus Conchs' drama that takes place out of the water (actually, I doubt a perfect transfer would have improved matters much, such is the corniness of the script). Also failing to impress is Bernard Herrman's predictable score: nothing says 'underwater' like a glissando on a harp, and Hermann uses this trick at every available opportunity.
Undercover LAPD policewoman Christie Love (Teresa Graves) is sent to
Florida to keep an eye on Helena Varga (Louise Sorel), girlfriend of
organised crime boss Enzo Cortino (Paul Stevens), in the hope of laying
her hands on a ledger that could bring down the kingpin's entire drugs
Get Christie Love! is a 1974 made-for-TV blaxploitation movie inspired by the likes of Coffy, Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones. While star Teresa Graves certainly makes for a likable and attractive lead, she simply cannot compete with her big screen counterparts, the TV format watering down the elements that make the genre so much fun: the nudity and violence. Where Coffy strip off for sex before blowing a hole in her enemy with a shotgun, Love simply gives her opponents a pathetic karate chop and cuffs them. Her clothes remain on throughout.
3.5/10, rounded up to 4 for IMDb.
A Fistful Of Dollars, the first in Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy (the
others being For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the
Ugly), is the film that seriously kick-started the Spaghetti Western
craze, introducing audiences the world over to a far grittier Wild West
than they had ever seen in a John Wayne movie. It's also the film that
made a star out of Clint Eastwood, who, as The Man With No Name,
established himself as the go-to guy for a badass anti-hero with a big
Clint, all stubble and squint, rides into the town of San Miguel on his mule, and begins to play the two gangs that run the place against each other, making himself a 'fistful of dollars' in the process. At the same time, he helps local beauty Marisol (Marianne Koch) escape her torment as bandit Ramón Rojo's plaything. Introducing the style that has since become synonymous with director Leonegritty violence, extreme close-ups of twitchy faces juxtaposed with lengthy long shots, much inspired by Japanese film-makersthe film is a visually impressive and utterly engrossing piece of cinema from its iconic opening credits sequence (accompanied by a classic Morricone score) to its corpse strewn finale.
Asked which condemned man they wish to set free, the people of
Jerusalem vote for thief Barabbas (Anthony Quinn), leaving Jesus of
Nazareth to be crucified. Barabbas returns to his life of crime, is
arrested and sent to the sulphur mines, and eventually becomes a
gladiator, but slowly begins to believe that Jesus might have been
someone very special and probably deserved to live more than he did.
Needless to say, he feels a bit guilty.
Several years back I posted on IMDb's "I Need To Know' board, asking whether anyone could identify a film featuring a scene set in a mine where the main character could be seen 'riding' large containers of molten metal transported by a pulley system. Someone suggested 'Barabbas'. Being a fan of sword & sandal/epic biblical adventures, I bought the film on DVD, thinking 'What have I got to lose?'.
Now I know: time and money.
Not only is this NOT the film I was looking for, but it's incredibly dull as well. Made just two years after William Wyler's multiple Oscar winning blockbuster Ben-Hur, Barabbas clearly hopes to emulate that film's success with an impressive cast, lavish production values and wonderful cinematography, but fails thanks to a dreadfully miscast lead in Anthony Quinn (who looks old and unfit), a ponderous, heavy-handed script which labours the religious angle, a dreary pace and a lack of decent action.
Ben-Hur might also have been guilty of over-doing the melodrama at times, but it had Charlton Heston in his prime, a compelling story, andmost importantlythat chariot race (the pathetic gladiator fights in Barabbas simply cannot compare, despite Jack Palance making for a great 'boo hiss' baddie).
3.5 out of 10, generously rounded up to 4 for the brutal stoning of Barabbas's ex-lover Rachel (Silvana Mangano) and for the camel that keeps shaking its head while making funny noises.
I've yet to see Tiptoes, the film from which director Matthew Bright
was fired (and, sadly, his last movie to date), but I've found
everything else by the film-maker to be hugely entertaining thanks to a
unique off-kilter style that appeals to my sense of the bizarre.
Bright's distinctive approach is very much evident in his debut
Freeway, an unforgettable spin on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood:
the twisted plot is extremely exploitative and suitably lurid, the
characters are grossly exaggerated, the direction is lively, and even
though the fairytale is known to most, I'll wager you've never seen it
told quite like this.
Reese Witherspoon plays white trash juvenile delinquent Vanessa Lutz, who, after her streetwalker mother (a hilariously OTT turn by Amanda Plummer) and crack-head stepfather are arrested, escapes from her social worker to go looking for her grandmother up North. En route, Vanessa experiences car trouble, but is aided by good samaritan Bob Wolverton (Kiefer Sutherland), who offers her a lift. What Vanessa doesn't realise is that Bob is the serial killer who has been slicing up hookers on the I-5 interstate, and he plans to do very bad things to her (AFTER he's killed her, of course!); unfortunately for Bob, Vanessa is more than capable of protecting herself.
What follows is a darkly humorous tale full of surprises, memorable characters, extreme violence and great performances, not just from Witherspoon and Sutherland, but also from an excellent supporting cast that includes Dan Hedaya, Brooke Shields and Brittany Murphy. The film also benefits from a quirky score by Danny Elfman that suits the demented material perfectly. Any film that features the star of 24 with a messed up face and a poop bag, and the star of Legally Blonde hiding a makeshift knife up her holiest of holies is easily worth a 9/10 from me.
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