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The Expendables 2 (2012)
Exactly what it should be
Arnold is awesome and hilarious, as is Bruce Willis, and scenes with their exchanges are the funniest parts of the movie. Chuck Norris delivers some awkward lines but when the action scenes roll around, he really shines. It's funny that he is does not like swearing in movies but has no problem blowing enemies to tiny pieces with his machine gun. Everyone else is good except Jet Li, who unfortunately vanishes after the beginning... this is sad because I am a huge kung fu fan... (although, Jason Statham and Nan Yu do provide some cool kung fu fights, they can't compare to a wushu master like Li).
Van Damme was the most pleasant surprise for me. Normally his line delivery garners a few laughs... not here though, he is ruthless and nasty, exactly how I like my villains.
The plot is so cookie-cutter that it's hardly worth mentioning (bad guys want hidden soviet plutonium, to sell to more bad guys... That's pretty much it.). So instead lets talk about the real reason you are going to see this... the action.
There are several action scenes that are all very fast and furious. They never overstay their welcome and it seems like every character gets equal camera time (except maybe Couture and of course, Li). Nobody gets shot in this movie unless quarts of blood spray from them and paint the walls. On top of the gun play there are some excellent knife fights, although one with Statham might be a little too "V for Vendetta-y", if you catch my drift. There are also hand to hand combat fights of both the 'kung fu' and 'brawling' variety.
There is a great fight scene at the beginning, then a better one in the middle, in a village and then the most excellent one comes at the end in an airport. This was great cause I feel like it's been too long since a modern action movie doesn't use the best action scenes up at the start of the film (like in Ninja Assassin). It had me leaving the theater sufficiently satisfied, so that was a big factor in me giving it a high rating.
Lastly and most importantly, the one liners. There are an abundance in this movie (as it should be!) and they range from lame and awkwardly delivered to amazing with perfect timing. One thing I didn't like was Arnold saying "I'll be back!" about a hundred times... yea, we get it, he was the terminator, but the man has plenty of other great one liners... use them too! On the other hand, one I did like was when a man get riddled with so much gunfire that he pretty much explodes to pieces, to which Stallone says, "rest in pieces", right on queue... now that's awesome!
Chopping Mall (1986)
I will try to keep this short and simple, like the movie.
Chopping Mall doesn't aim to do anything but entertain you. Sure there is gore, sex/nudity and language but it all comes off as completely innocent. It's not concerned with shocking or disturbing the audience, but instead it just wants them to have a fun time. And it succeeds.
The plot concerns a group of teenager who spend the night in a high-tech mall where weaponized security robots straight out of 'Gog' go haywire and start killing off the group one by one.
If that doesn't sound appealing to you, then perhaps this will. In the movie we get to see a classic mall from the 80s (the Sherman Oaks Galleria). This mall is filled with old stores, products and people that will transport you back to an era when the 'mall' was the place to be (much like Dawn of the Dead does for malls of the 70s). This is the most appealing aspect to me. If things get boring in the story (which they rarely do), I just look at all the retro stuff in the background. Corman also beefed this aesthetic up by lining the walls of every store with posters of New World Pictures movies! (Come on Roger... who the hell keeps a Wizards of the Lost Kingdom poster in the bathroom of a furniture store!?!?) But in the end, this is definitely a Saturday afternoon flick. You wont come out of it feeling any different than before, but that's not a bad thing. The world needs more movies like Chopping Mall, they are fun and that's it.. no deeper meanings, no shock value, no drama... just fun.
Look out for cameos by Dick Miller, Mary Warnoff, Paul Bartel, Gerrit Graham and an easy to miss one by Sir Angus Scrimm!
Killer Workout (1987)
There was a fitness craze in the 80s that probably all started with Olivia Newton John's "Let's get Physical" video suddenly working out became a cultural thing. People loved to get fit, not necessarily over concern of their heath but more because it was the "cool" thing to do. You see it in movies, TV, fashion trends and let's not forget the countless celebrity workout tapes with hosts from Fabio to Linnea Quigley. Another thing popular in the 80s was the slasher movie, and although by 1987 they were starting to die out it was still inevitable that a slasher movie be released that capitalized on the fitness craze sweeping the nation.
Killer Workout AKA Aerobicide is such a movie and to my knowledge, it still is the only fitness themed slasher movie in existence.
It starts with a semi-shocking mishap in a tanning booth. Then we are immediately thrown into the middle of a workout routine where about 30 gorgeous babes in spandex are getting fit and showing off their tight bodies. This is, essentially, what Killer Workout is about following a series of murders that take place in this gym (Rhonda's Gym) by a safety pin wielding mad person, then getting to see a sexy workout montage set to corny synth music over and over .
This is not a bad thing if you are into cheesy b-grade movies like myself. In fact, this is one of the more delightful bad movies I have ever seen. The movie moves at fast pace which keeps your attention. Acting is pretty bad from all parties, but some performances like Marcia Karr's are hilariously over-the-top. Plus, even if the acting is bad, chances are they are still beautiful to look at (you might even see some gratuitous nudity). The plot is pretty uninspired but it works and there are even a few surprising twists towards the end.
All in all, the movie is bad but it has a lot of charm. It offers plenty of laughs and if that is not enough to convince you to see it, the abundance of sexy people working out in spandex might. The movie is also a time capsule that lets us see just how ridiculous the 80s fitness craze got.
In the end, Killer Workout comes highly recommended for the bad movie enthusiast, others might want to stay away.
Don't see it for the gore, see it for the scares!
Antropophagus from director Joe D'Amato is a pretty notorious movie, mainly for making it's way onto the infamous UK "Video Nasty" list. When your hear about this movie you probably hear about its gore, mainly 2 infamous scenes that cemented its place in the list. I think this reputation hurts the film though because, in all honesty, the gore in this movie is pretty weak (except one scene that I will get to). People go into this movie expecting a very nasty and extremely gory horror movie but come out pretty disappointed at the shoddy gore effects and extremely slow pace...Well, that's because they overlooked all the great and more subtle things that the movie DOES deliver on.
First off, this movie is creepy, a combination of atmosphere, music and a wonderfully over-the-top performance from George Eastman make this movie one of the spookiest Italian slasher flicks I have ever seen. Scenes of characters exploring darkened corridors by candle light are some truly creepy scenes and sort of remind me of more classic horror movies from decades before. There are also some really great jump-scares too. The cat is cheap, but effective, the girl popping out of the wine barrel is definitely effective and lastly, the scene at the end where Eastman's character emerges from the well nearly stops my heart every time I see it! There is some fantastic atmosphere in this movie as well, the deserted Greek town is beautiful but haunting, whether they are walking through the halls of a house or the streets of the town there is always a feeling of something not quite being right.
The Music heightens the creepiness of all the scenes so well. Some might consider it to be annoying but I would call it nerve-wracking. Finally, and most important, is Eastman's character... this man is disgusting, disturbed and definitely somebody you would NEVER want to meet in real life. He towers over everyone with his immense stature, the make-up is excellent in giving him a monster quality. His performance is so over-the-top but it provides the energy the movie needs to keep it going.
If there is one thing that I think sets Joe D'Amato apart from the rest of the Italian horror directors, it's the way he ends his movies. All his movies I have seen contain a wonderfully shocking and over-the-top climax. I think Antropophagus has the best climax of all too. I will try not to give too much away but basically Eastman's character reveals how truly mad he really is (as if he could be any madder) and in a fit of insanity we finally get rewarded with the one truly excellent and extremely disturbing gore effect that wont leave your mind for days to come.
Everything else is pretty standard when it comes to Italian exploitation but I do think it's worth mentioning that there are some above average performances from Tisa Farrow (Zombi 2) and Zora Kerova (Cannibal Ferox) that make the characters a little more likable than your average slasher.
In the end, I think Antropophagus is a really great Italian horror that should be appreciated for it's scares, not its gore. Don't listen to the hype, cause it's misleading.