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Elsa Fräulein SS (1977)
Could (and should) have been so much better
Elsa Fräulein SS was very likely shot on a shoestring budget, which is a real pity because the story definitely had something going for it. The war is turning on Germany, and Hitler decides to send a train of pleasure to the eastern front. Cunningly, it's actually a spying mission on officers who are suspected of being disloyal to the regime. Off course these are to be executed on the spot, without any form of trial or remorse being shown.
The premise could have made for a dark, grim exploitation movie with a message. However what we do get is relatively mild in abuse and violence, which makes it all rather tame (if not lame). Yes there is nudity to be seen, and some scenes are quite brutal but it never gets to a point where it is really upsetting.
People have vowed for a remake, which should then focus on the plot planned by Liselotte in my opinion. As she gains support against Elsa, we should be in for a much better finale than the film actually has now.
I Love Dries (2008)
Cheap and dirty, but not in a good way
Every now and then I lose myself in buying some dirt cheap DVDs, and this time it happened to be 'I love Dries'. It stars Dutch B-class celebrities who luckily do not take themselves too seriously, while controversial Tom Six of Human Centipede fame happens to be the director. So it definitely had something going for it, but don't be fooled as this is a real stinker!!!
Our perfectly healthy and fit Dries Roelvink is unable to flee a trailer, or outrun his overweight captor. So he gives in and makes love to a very unattractive woman repeatedly because she wants a child from him. Nobody seems to be missing Dries, not even the police who off course DO recognize him when stopping them over towards the end. And Dries just lets them get away with it too.
During the events we are subjected to lots of filth and general bad taste, adding nothing to the story besides putting you off. Picture quality and sound are also terrible, I estimated the production cost at 8.95 which is about the price of a 3-pack VHS tapes nowadays. It was quite a bit more, might be it had something to do with the master tape being stolen for some time.
We would actually have been far better off if the tape had stayed missing, but I made a start by safely locking away my copy so it can do no more harm. A well deserved 1 out of 10 stars and to be avoided like a heap of dog poop on the floor (those who have seen this will know).
Gruesome but first of all: great fun!
Although this movie isn't really a work of art it still delivers as a horror/comedy. We find seven employees from Palisade Defense on their way to an office outing somewhere in eastern Europe. Sure they're not welcome there and soon the killings start!
It are the most unexpected team members that stand up to the challenge and survive aided by some prostitutes (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! someone?). When Maggie and pothead Steve finally escape you'll really sense the feelings they've developed for each other during the ordeal.
This makes for a happy ending to a movie that is quite gruesome at parts. Quite nasty if your leg is almost chopped off by a bear trap and your colleagues make it worse by separating it completely! Putting it into the cooler of the van you're traveling with seems like a good idea, but off course it doesn't fit...
Might such sort of black comedy not appeal to you: stay away from this one. Gorehounds should also steer clear, but if you like modest gore combined with humor you're in for a treat. Severance delivers as a horror/comedy, and should be viewed as just being that.
I liked it a lot: 8/10.
Saint - you'll either love it or hate it (and I'm with the first)
Yes folks, this is one of those movies you'll either hate or love - no way in between! The Dutch version of Santa Claus has gone bad, and every fifth of December with a full moon he returns to go on a killer spree. But this time he faces inspector Goert, who has seen him murder his whole family before - and Frank whose friends have been murdered earlier that night leaving him the suspect.
After a double prologue we know Niklas was burnt because he robbed the people in the middle ages, and that he and his pirates (now black from the fire) come back on the day of their death if the moon is out! Now the moon is full again Goert is on high alert and indeed the killings start again. It leaves Frank in chains at the police with both his girl and friends dead but no one to believe him...
When they transport him to prison one of the most memorable sequences of the movie follows, Saint riding his horse across the roof tops of Amsterdam with the police in hot pursuit. It ends nasty - off course - and Frank is saved by Goert. The two join up to end Niklas once and for all, and more or less succeed with special forces thrown at them or not! But as to be expected there's an open ending to follow.
Dick Maas went through some trouble to get this filmed, but in the end he did and the result is rather impressive. Saint has an OK story and the CGI is better than to be expected for a (Dutch) film of this budget. Surely it's over the top sometimes, also at times it becomes silly but the result is really entertaining. Just leave your brains at the door and enjoy!
Dead Fish (2005)
Falls flat like... a dead fish
If the DVD-cover states that a movie is in the style of certain others you should already be warned! Generally it's a dead giveaway for cheap imitations or failed attempts to contribute to the genre. 'Dead Fish' is a clear example of the latter, with a great cast and good production standards but yet it still fails miserably.
The reason is simply because it's all a bit too improbable and over-the-top. We have Gary Oldman as the hired gun falling into love on first glance with a girl using exactly the same phone? Jimi Mistry as a pothead whose behaviour should have killed him long ago? Billy Zane whose character is the most unlikely secret agent you'll ever see? The coming back to life of Terence Stamp?
And the list could be longer still, handy you're a locksmith if you carry a hit mans' phone who gets his orders from station lockers! On the positive side there's Robert Carlyle as the foul mouthed loan shark and gorgeous Elena Anaya as the love interest. But even they cannot save a movie that's just trying too hard.
Itao Itsuji no datsugoku-ô (2009)
Good Japanese take on The Shawshank Redemption
Although probably otherwise conceived, the first association you'll have with this film is that of The Shawshank Redemption. Nevertheless this isn't just a remake or (worse still) cheap copy of that great piece of cinema. The story develops around Masayuki Suzuki, a small criminal who turns out to be a real escape artist. However he gets caught along the railway time after time, being sentenced to longer terms and send to heavier guarded prisons again and again.
Only his warden sees through this, wondering why somebody so capable of escape is being caught that easily. Even after he's being promoted and starts working for the Ministry of Justice his interest for Suzuki stays. When surveying prisons because of the outbreaks he sees him again on the Prison Island, from where nobody has yet escaped. Will he try once more, or are there other motives to him for being there?
This movie depicts a grim picture of life in prison, with cruel guards beating inmates over everything. You'll feel sympathy for Suzuki because of it, even when his behavior seems stupid enough. However when his real goal is revealed, you really want him to succeed - and will pity him when it fails. A film that is able of doing this deserves praise, but don't expect to go home happy.
Io sto con gli ippopotami (1979)
Average Hill & Spencer comedy - with lions!
For the most part I'm for the Hippopotamus is a standard Hill & Spencer offering, consisting of mild comedy mixed with some fist fights. Like usual the plot isn't much to talk about, and mainly exists as to supply some bad guys for them to brawl with. In this case Jack Ormond and his gang of poachers, who are catching African wildlife which they want to sell to a Canadian zoo! Tom and Slim have to team up to prevent this whichever way they can, misbehaving themselves at lunch, putting up a casino scam and off course talking with their fists...
So far nothing we haven't seen from them before, and the quality too is as usual. Although dated, it has the just OK production values we're used to in a Hill & Spencer movie. Nevertheless it's among my favorites of their work, and that has to be because of the nice scenery together with all the wild animals. We get to see quite a few lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, ostriches and wildebeests. Not only nice to look at but they do interact with them in a respectful if not loving way which is quite an accomplishment while sending out a powerful message.
Well worth a watch for that alone.
Twin Daggers (2008)
Enjoyable martial arts movie with lots of plot twists
Bought the DVD of this movie at an outlet store for just a little over an euro - because of the promising cover. I know this is a bad way to select your films, so still went in without much expectation but was pleasantly surprised! The movie seemingly starts out with a few unrelated scenes in which we happen to get to know four assassins, which turn out to have made up a secret governmental team before. Scholar, Body, Ghost and Lex find themselves reunited by Kay, who wants to hire them to kill her twin sister Sue. Despite their disliking of each other, they are lured in by the $400.000 on offer and agree on a winner-takes-all deal.
Nevertheless they find it hard to accomplish their goal, because Sue is rather well protected, while conditions are that there should be no witnesses or others harmed. Also, Scholar grows quite fond of Sue and this complicates things further... Lots of double crossings and plot twists later things end up being rather different than you would at first expect.
Surely there are flaws in this movie as pointed out by others, for a start we've all seen better kung fu and the stop motion is a bit too much. Also the character of Ghost will not be to everybody's liking, but for myself I found him passable as a nut case murderer. The cross dressing of Lex at a given point is also far from believable but might still work.
Although this movie will certainly not win any major prizes, I was entertained for a complete hour and a half. The script is strong and the acting was good, with production values exceeding what you'd expect from a straight to video release. With better martial arts direction and the cross dressing removed it would even have been great, but as it is still scores a 7/10 from me.
Swamp Zombies!!! (2005)
High on my list of worst movies ever...
From this site I understand the movie cost $12.000 to make, of which most probably was used to hire Jasmin St. Claire for a small supporting role. However unbelievable she is as a hospital manager, her acting was by far best of the movie - and that's saying something. Most of the others looked bored or ashamed to be in it, delivering wooden performances and terrible dialogue.
Not that they were given much to work with, although the basic idea is interesting enough it's full of plot holes, goofs and continuity errors. For instance the storm that makes the thugs not disposing of the corpses correctly and takes out communication doesn't seem to affect the students in the forest one bit. And if you're attacked by zombies you'd forget about your towel and stuff, or probably fight given one turns out to be capable of some quite decent martial arts later!
The camera work isn't very good either, especially the lighting is bad. But it's easily topped by the sound which has a lot of background, poor cutting and a soundtrack that's actually quite good but blares through your speakers at times. Make-up is probably about what to expect in a movie like this, however there are no special effects to speak of and thus gorehounds will be disappointed. Some nudity is included, nevertheless this alone won't save the movie.
Overall one of the worst movies I've ever seen, inept at every department although the premise is good. That together with a few nice rock songs and some good looking ladies (certainly not all of them) save this from the lowest rating possible - albeit only just.