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This film was just downright depressing for me as a sleaze-movie lover and a fan of the great Lee Marvin. It had all the right elements, but the director, Yves Boisset, really screwed this film up. I blame him for everything that is wrong with it. His direction is so sloppy and third-rate I couldn't even tell what the hell was going on half the time. It could have been an interesting, if somewhat disturbing, black comedy. As other reviewers have stated, there are similarities between this film and Marvin's Prime Cut, but that film found a good balance between the repulsive and the humorous. This one fails on almost every level. It isn't even worthy enough to go into detail of its flaws. Also, Lee Marvin is totally wasted in this film. Once the first 5 minutes are over he is given absolutely nothing to do. Boisset had this incredible actor in the twilight of his career to work with. He could have made it into a sort of Last Great Film for the man, a study of a bad guy at the end of his life played by an actor famous for playing bad guys near the end of his life. Instead, that honor goes to Gorky Park. But I guess none of that really matters as Marvin was very sick during the making of this film, and you can tell. He seems tired, bored, and physically he looks haggard and ill. You can practically see his skull through his skin. This is NOT the way you will want to remember this great actor, so please, if you like Lee Marvin, do yourself a favor and honor his memory by never ever watching this movie. You have been warned.
The Glory Brigade (1953)
Decent war melodrama
This film is a decent war melodrama as well as a vehicle for star Victor Mature. It tells a somewhat engaging tale of an American platoon cooperating with a Greek platoon during the Korean war. The filmmakers use the distrust these platoons have for one another as a comment on racism and, ultimately, a slightly heavyhanded lesson on looking past differences to work together against a greater enemy. But the film has some rousing battle scenes, few and far between as they may be, and it's heart is certainly in the right place. The acting is mostly good, especially from the intensely watchable Lee Marvin, who is the primary reason I saw this film. He is my favorite actor and I jumped at the opportunity to see this little seen movie which is not available on home video at present time. He plays the demolitionist in Mature's platoon, just one of several random soldiers, really. Lee's role is small, but he does the most he can with the character and screen time he has. Fans will be interested to note that Marvin's character wears glasses, one of the few times he has ever been seen wearing them in films, or anywhere else for that matter. All in all "The Glory Brigade" isn't much better than fair, but Marvin and Mature fans may want to check it out.
Zombi 3 (1988)
A 5.0 rating?! You're kidding. This movie is BAD.
I'm a big fan of horror flicks, and zombie films are a particular favorite of mine. That said, Zombi 3 is one of the absolute worst films I have ever seen. So needless to say I really enjoyed it, it's the best bad movie I've seen in a long while. The story has some similarities with Dan O'Bannon's "Return of the Living Dead", but whereas that film was intentionally funny, this one is the opposite. It has some of the most laughable acting I've ever witnessed, especially from the main scientist character. His scenes with the General were just hysterical. Also, the effects are subpar and in many cases sloppy, and the death scenes are often just downright stupid. This, of course, makes it all the more fun. POSSIBLE SPOILER - The worst is the scene where the guy opens the refrigerator door and sees the severed zombie head, which then opens its eyes and somehow FLIES OUT OF THE FRIDGE (obviously pulled out ineptly with a bit of string), latching onto the guys neck, killing him. Zombie heads have the ability to float in the air now? It defies every law of physics known to man, and it's one of the most absurd things ever filmed. That's just one of many really goofy moments in the idiotic mess. I can't believe it's gotten so high a rating here. If you are a fan of bad movies, do yourself a favor and rent this sucker.
Al TV (1988)
I wish this was available on video...
I remember AL TV from way back when I was a wee lad and a pretty huge Weird Al fan and I can still vividly remember some parts of this puppy. It actually aired on MTV for a few years, not just '89, with a show coinciding with the release of a new AL-bum. The premise was that Weird Al hacks into MTVs broadcast and takes over the airwaves for an hour, and it's one of my favorite things the guy has ever done. The funniest thing he would do was play a cheeseball music video and provide a hilarious and often mocking running commentary to it. This preceded both Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Beavis and Butthead, both of which sort of borrowed this schtick. I don't know if Al was really the first to do this, but it's the first time I can remember seeing something like that. He would also take an interview with a big star or musician, like Sting, and re-edit it, adding footage of himself in as the interviewer. Like at one point in the REAL interview, Sting wiped his nose, then a second later moved some hair out of his face, so Al adds himself in saying, "Ok Sting, pick your nose then wipe it in your hair." Cut to Sting doing this very thing. It's a lot funnier than how I make it sound, really. That's just the only example I could think of (I saw it MANY years ago). Then of course he played a lot of Weird Al videos, and other wacky videos as well, like "Beautiful World" by Devo and the immortal classic love song, "Fish Heads". Eat them up, yum. There are also dead-on parodies of the 80's era MTV promos, complete with celebrities like Billy Idol going "I want my AL TV!" Not to mention the skits, like the one where he horribly smashes his adorable pet "Harvey the Wonder Hamster" to death with a mallet. You can forget how dark and mean Weird Al's humor can really be sometimes. In short, AL TV is a really funny experience that I wish was available on video. If any of you rabid Al fans out there know where I could get my hands on a copy, lemme know. Viva Yankovic.
Manhunt in Space (1956)
I saw Manhunt in Space..........
I saw "Manhunt in Space" on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (ep 413) and even Joel and the Bots could barely cut down on the deep hurting brought on by this clunker. It's really just a few episodes of the 50's kiddie show "Rocky Jones Space Ranger" cut together and there is certainly no shortage of laughable special effects, cheesy sets, even cheesier costumes, not to mention wooden performances and standard bad sci-fi "realism" (oh, apparently the only apparatus you need to walk out into space is an aquarium placed on your head). All this and I'm not even getting into the blatant homoeroticism in the relationship of Rocky and his sidekick Winky, who at one point actually talks about "the gay nightlife". Yikes. When Winky talks about "riding the rocket" you won't be thinking about space travel. It sounds like I'm overselling this thing a little so make no mistake, this is not so much a "so bad it's good" film as much as it is a "so bad it makes you want to claw your own eyes out" film. Don't see "Manhunt in Space" unless you are a rabid sci-fi completeist, or unless of course you are accompanied into the theater by a guy and two puppets. All I learned from it is that in the future people will communicate through Jimmy Dean sausages.
Hell in the Pacific (1968)
For those of you who didn't like the ending...
Not much more can be said about this outstanding film that hasn't already been said. It really is one of the finest meditations on war and the nature of men ever made. Boorman's direction is amazing, Conrad Hall's cinematography is luminous, and Mifune and Marvin are forces to be reckoned with. I did notice however that some of the reviewers had some issues with the ending. I thought I might just pop in here to let those of you who don't know, the DVD of "Hell in the Pacific" features an alternate ending that may be a bit more easily digestable, yet is no less powerful than the original ending. In fact in some ways it may be better. Watch the movie with both versions of the ending for an interesting example of what a difference the conclusion of a film can make. Viva Lee Marvin.
Basket Case (1982)
My favorite movie of all time (spoilers)
People often ask me what my favorite movie of all time is, and my answer is always the same; I always crack a disturbed little smile and my eyes light up at the prospect of being able to talk about my favorite movie ever, and I say, without a hint of sarcasm, Frank Henenlotter's "Basket Case". And they always say, "Huh?"
"Basket Case" is, I think, the greatest independent movie ever made, and perhaps the last great midnight movie. Originally produced as a quick 42nd street horror cheapie, it is actually a very thoughtful, well done, poignant, and, indeed, tragic film. Watch how brilliantly Henenlotter lays the movie out to the viewer, right from the start. A man in upstate New York is stalked and killed by...something, something we don't see, something horrible. Blood sprays on a manila file during the murder, this manila file being very important. Already the audience is engaged. Who was this man? Why was he killed? What killed him? And Henenlotter using the blood spray to not only reveal, but also help the audience remember the the folder later in the film, is a bit of pure genius. The film just rolls along from there like gangbusters as we cut to New York's Times Square (via 1980 in all its filth-coated glory), where we meet Duane Bradley (Kevin VanHentenryck) as he takes a room at the Hotel Broslin and acts very shady about the large basket he is carrying. In room 7 he settles in, and we see once again the blood splattered folder, as well as Duane drop about a dozen hamburgers into the basket, from which ravenous chomping sounds emit. Again, Henenlotter is keeping the audience on their collective toes. Who is this kid? What is his relationship to the murder? And most importantly, what's in the basket, and what is his relationship to that? I don't want to give anything else away even though most of you probably already know the story, but for those who know nothing about the film, the storytelling is a true twisty treat, and Henenlotter's directorial style is very quirky and unique.
I can vividly remember seeing this movie when I was a wee lad very late on USA Up All Night, way back when Gilbert Gottfried was hosting, and even when it was edited horribly, I was still absolutely spellbound by it and immediately went out and bought it. I was a twisted little kid I guess. It stayed with me throughout the years and is still a movie I watch annually. It's a total cult movie lovers dream, complete with wild gore, whacked out characters, great overacting, scenes that are simultaniously funny and scary, a wonderful setting in the scummier corners of New York, but with the tourist stuff thrown in too (hey, dig the Twin Towers in that one establishing shot), even jumpy stop-motion animation that Henenlotter has said is something like Gumby on acid. I see something new in it every time and it hasn't lost a gram of it's power.
At heart "Basket Case" is really a story about brotherly love, and all the complications that go with it, loyalty, jealousy, betrayal. A sort of sicko coming-of-age film about growing up and moving on and how thats not always so easy for some. It all builds up to a genuinely tragic and yes, even moving ending (well, I was moved). Henenlotter, against all odds, really gets you to care to care about Duane and that little inarticulate piece of rubber known as Belial.
Something Weird Video released a DVD of this movie a year or two ago with a bunch of cool extras and a brand new transfer that made me appreciate the film even more. For years I had been watching a crappy video of the film that was incredibly dark and muted. I never knew what I was missing because I just thought this was how the film was shot, but no, it was a bad transfer of the film. The new transfer of the film looks amazing, showing Henenlotter had better mastery of the camera in this film than previously thought. It's sharp and crisp and the colors are vivid and rich. If you see this film I strongly advise you seek out the DVD for full enjoyment/appreciation.
Basically, I really love this movie. I could go on about it for days and dissect it shot by shot, and I sort of feel like I already have. Go out and see it right now. I also strongly recommend Henenlotter's other films, the "Basket Case" sequels (especially part 2), "Frankenhooker" (his flat-out funniest film), and "Brain Damage" (his most thought-provoking film). Viva Belial!