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Campy Steckler Porn, 20 April 2014

Teenage Massage Parlor (1976)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Porn film from director Ray Dennis Steckler takes place in, as the title suggests, a massage parlor where the teenage girls are doing more than just rubbing backs. Considering Steckler wrote this and considering it's a porn from the 70's, needless to say there's really not too much plot going on here and in fact I'd say there's zero. Pretty much we get several couples messing around in a variety of positions and this lasts the entire 54-minute running time. As I continue to go through all the films of Steckler it's becoming clear that he never wanted to do a "normal" film and instead he'd work inside various genres and do things his own way. That's certainly true here as well as his other porn movies because they're just weird and campy to say the least. This includes several scenes that are just downright funny including one where one of the teenage workers wants to play hot dog so she uses the man's "part" and puts it in a hot dog bun and then we get the ketchup and relish. As with other porn films from Steckler, he really doesn't even try to make them erotic and for the most part the sex scenes are poorly shot. Once again it appears he's mainly interested in the money shots as many of the oral scenes start just at the time the guy is finishing. For the most part this is one of the more entertaining films I've seen from the director since it actually moves pretty quickly and there's some campy charm in the performances and dialogue.

Searching for Kennedy's Ship, 20 April 2014

The Search for PT 109 (2003)

*** (out of 4)

What should Bob Ballard do after finding the Titanic shipwreck? Why not go after the historic PT 109, which of course was the boat John F. Kennedy was on. Everyone should know the story but the small boat was hit by a Japanese ship, exploded and everyone was thought dead. Kennedy ended up getting the survivors to a small island but with no help coming he turned into a legendary figure with what he did in order to get discovered. The documentary tells that story but also follows Ballard as he and his crew try to locate where the ship went down. Also interviewed are two of the men who eventually discovered Kennedy and helped them reach safety. Overall, this is a pretty good documentary, although it lacks the drama of the original search for the Titanic. Perhaps there's just not as much mystery or poetic hauntings of Titanic but there's no question the search for this was entertaining. There's a false discovery that puts Ballard on the right track that was also interesting to see as was everything that's in the sea where these ships were found. The underwater photography was extremely good and we got some terrific images of the sunken ships. The re-enactment footage was also well-done and shot.

Worth Watching, 19 April 2014

Addicted to Fame (2012)

*** (out of 4)

In 2005 director David Giancola began work on a low-budget science fiction spoof that was clearly headed straight-to-DVD without much fan fair but then Anna Nicole Smith happened. This documentary has all sorts of behind-the-scenes stories because the film, ILLEGAL ALIENS, turned out to be a gigantic publicity boost when Smith's true life horror show put it on the map. At first it was all good publicity because of Smith's case over her late husband's will was heading to the Supreme Court but soon it took a darker turn when her son and eventually her were dead. ADDICTED TO FAME isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination but I thought it was quite fascinating simply because you really haven't gotten to see a film like it. Yes, there are some good documentaries out there dealing with low-budget filmmaking but none of them featured a media storm like Smith and it's interesting to see what having someone like her in your movie can do. Not only that but the last year of her life was just so strange and bizarre that it brought on all sorts of stories that just put more fuel on the fire. I really thought it was fascinating getting to hear from the director and producer of ILLEGAL ALIENS who were one day benefiting from the news and then the next being destroyed by it. The film also offers up a lot of stuff from the shooting of the movie and it's clear that Smith wasn't very pleasant to work with and caused all sorts of problems. Is ADDICTED TO FAME an exploitation movie? Are they taking advantage of Smith's fame and death? I'd say so but then again so has every other television station, newspaper and magazine. The difference is that those here actually worked with the woman on her final picture.

Bad Throwback to the 90's, 19 April 2014

Illegal Aliens (2007)

* 1/2 (out of 4)

Three aliens come to Earth and take the form of hot women so that they can battle evil aliens that are already here and planning on some destruction. ILLEGAL ALIENS is a mostly forgettable picture that managed to pick up some "fame" when its star Anna Nicole Smith died before its release. The film is pretty much a throwback to those cheap "B" straight-to-video releases of the 1990s, something that Smith was quite familiar with. Overall this here is basically just a mix of CHARLIE'S ANGELS and MEN IN BLACK with a few winks to other films including THE TERMINATOR. Was the film awful? Well, yes, but I think that was somewhat the point as the film certainly isn't meaning for anyone to take it too serious. This is obvious just by the extremely cheap special effects and just take a look at the flying pigs early on. After seeing the pigs flying through space, if you're still expecting something serious then you need to check yourself. With that said, the biggest problem with this movie is the same problem as so many other low-budget pictures and that's the fact that it just keeps dragging on for no good reason. Remember the good old days when a "B" movie could be bad yet fun? Remember they ran just over a hour? Well, this bad "B" movie clocks in at 96-minutes, which is about thirty minutes too long. I can't help but think this thing would have been so much more entertaining had the scissors just been taken to it. As for the cast, for the most part everyone is exactly what you'd expect from a film like this. Smith, in her last film role, is pretty forgettable as she really doesn't add anything to the picture, which is somewhat strange considering how she usually had no problems drawing attention to herself.

Good but Far From Perfect, 19 April 2014

John Lennon: Love Is All You Need (2010)

*** (out of 4)

If you're looking for a masterpiece of a documentary or a film that's going to feature all around great interviews and information then this here certainly won't be for you. However, if you've seen countless documentaries on The Beatles and Lennon and you just want more then you'll probably want to check this thing out. While you're not going to see anything you haven't seen before or learn anything you don't know, this documentary is at least entertaining and gives one a pretty good overview of the life of Lennon. We hear about his early rebel days, him getting into music from his mother, the early bands and of course the creation of The Beatles. From here we learn about some of their biggest moments and a large portion of the film takes a look at the backlash after Lennon commented on Jesus. We also get to follow him through the break-up years and finally his death. Overall LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED is a pretty good film that manages to keep you entertained. If you've never seen a documentary on Lennon then this here really wouldn't be that bad of a place to start because it has some very good archival footage and it at least gives one a great idea of who the man was. The biggest problem here is that there's not any music, which of course is a big negative. Another problem is that we really don't get too many interviews with those close to him in later years, although there are some nice interviews with people who knew him early on including his first wife.

Face of Evil (2003) (V)
Another Bizarre One from Steckler, 17 April 2014

Face of Evil (2003)

* 1/2 (out of 4)

This 64-minute film from Ray Dennis Steckler was considered lost for many years and I really couldn't find much information on it outside of an interview that the director gave to the website CrazedFanBoy. In the interview the director talks about his friend Will Long playing the lead but the actor ended up dying shortly afterwards so the project went on the back burner. For the most part it really does come across as a complete film in regards to the action as we basically just see Long walking around and killing various women. There's no sound, no dialogue and we're just given some horrid music, which is a real negative because this thing might have been somewhat better had Steckler really been able to finish it. As is, the movie isn't going to be worth viewing by most except for fans of the director. I found it interesting because there's footage from two of Steckler's porn movies (RED HEAT and SEX RINK) added in here as the "killer" is basically "watching" people, which is the footage from the movies. Considering Steckler denied making these porn movies, it's clear that wasn't the case. The film is pretty hard to watch in its current form due to it not really being complete but fans of the director will still want to check it out. It seems the footage here was shot in the 1970's, although the copyright at the end states 2003.

Slashed... (2003) (V)
Watch Red Heat Instead, 17 April 2014

Slashed... (2003)

BOMB (out of 4)

Even the most hardcore fan of Ray Dennis Steckler is going to have a hard time defending this thing. From an interview the director gave, apparently he started filming a movie with his girlfriend Lovie Goldmine but she left town before it was complete. Apparently they shot some of the start, middle and end of the picture so Steckler pretty much took that footage and threw in mostly footage from his 1975 porn film RED HEAT. The end result is a pretty awful film that probably ranks as the director's worse. At just 31-minutes it's really hard to take this thing serious because I'd guess that 25-minutes of the footage is from RED HEAT. I'm not exactly sure why these "bonus footage" wasn't just thrown away or kept in a vault somewhere and especially when you consider there's not too much of it. Did we really need to see the new footage here? Why sit through so much footage of RED HEAT when you could just watch that picture (and it's not too bad)? SLASHED... really doesn't have a single thing going for it, although fans of the director's THE Hollywood STRANGLER MEETS THE SKID ROW SLASHER will enjoy seeing actor Pierre Agostini here. It seems the footage here was shot in the 1970's, although the copyright at the end states 2003.

A Must for Springsteen Fans, 17 April 2014

Blood Brothers: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2000)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

I can't imagine any fan of Bruce Springsteen being disappointed with this wonderful behind-the-scenes look at the making of his Greatest Hits album. Not only do the tracks have to be picked but the E Street Band are brought back into the studio for the first time since the Born in the U.S.A. days so that they can add some new tracks for the album. Fans of Springsteen and his marvelous band are certainly going to love this look of what it's like in the recording studio. Fans are going to get treated to some "new" material like Secret Garden, Back in Your Arms, High Hopes (which wouldn't get officially released until 2014), Murder Incorporated and This Hard Land. It's fascinating getting to see Springsteen as he works these lyrics into workable music and one of the best moments happens during a vote on how to present Secret Garden, which turned out to be a huge hit when it would get released. Another great segment was when they were talking about which tracks to include on a Greatest Hits album and there's a wonderful joke about what would happen if Thunder Road was left off. There's no question that there are some wonderfully entertaining moments here and most of them deal with all the things in the recording studio. It's pretty amazing to hear how long it was since the band had played together but they hit it off right from the start.

Nice Documentary on Nigerian Filmmaking, 14 April 2014

Nollywood Babylon (2008)

*** (out of 4)

Entertaining documentary taking a look at the Nigerian film industry, which is actually the third largest in the world only trailing the United States and India. The documentary starts off by telling us that there are nearly 2500 films produced there each year with the majority of them costing less than $15,000. From this point on we learn about the history of films in Nigeria, the lack of places to show them, how religion and politics play a huge part in the films that are made and we even get to meet filmmaker Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen as he starts filming BENT ARROWS. Overall I was happy with this film although there's no question that it's a tad bit uneven at times as it jumps around in the story it's trying to tell. There are many subplots discussed here and the majority of them are quite interesting including the death of movie houses and why there's only three theaters and none of them play movies from Nigeria. This leads to another interesting topic and it's how the poor are really the ones buying up these movies and we get to hear from some fans who say they watch three or five a night. It's also interesting seeing the filmmaker go about shooting his picture on which is obviously a very low budget to say the least. Seeing how the films are shot was very entertaining and it certainly made you want to check out some of the films. At just 74-minutes the film starts to lose some steam as certainly subjects drag on a bit. Still, those interested in cinema from around the world should enjoy this.

Chained (2012/I)
Effective Atmosphere and Performances, 13 April 2014

Chained (2012)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Bizarre (what else?) film from Jennifer Lynch about Bob (Vincent D'Onofrio), a serial killer cab driver who kidnaps a woman and her young son. The mother is murdered on the spot but the kid is chained up and held as pretty much a slave. One the kid gets older (Eamon Farren) he's let off his chain with the killer hoping that he will now follow in his footsteps. CHAINED has some very effective moments and overall it's certainly worth seeing but there's still no doubt that there are some flaws to be found and I also think the film starts to run out of gas towards the end. I think the greatest thing about the movie is the atmosphere created by the director. She certainly knows how to build up a creepy atmosphere and I thought she perfectly nailed this as well as the setting. The movie takes place in a rather dark, old and creepy house and I thought Lynch did a great job at giving the viewer an atmosphere to where you can actually smell the death in this house. I thought it was quite effective when there really wasn't any violence going on simply because you know what's in the basement. Another plus is that both D'Onofrio and Farren are so good in their roles. There's no doubt that D'Onofrio steals the picture as the deranged man and there wasn't a single scene where you didn't believe him in the part. Julia Ormond has a brief but effective role as well. The film contains some pretty graphic violence at times but it never really crosses the line into something you'd expect to see in a "torture/porn" flick. As I said, there are certainly some flaws in the picture but the biggest problem I had is that it runs out of steam around the fifty-minute mark because the entire build-up is whether the kid will turn into a killer. I thought a little more insight into his mental state could have helped things as the entire plot gets dragged out a bit too much. Still, CHAINED is a pretty effective movie at times that fans of the genre should enjoy.

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