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224 reviews in total 
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Horror porn & art house cult classic, 24 October 2014

As another reviewer said, "Through the Looking Glass" perhaps should not have been filmed as a hardcore feature. However, considering the outrageous subject matter, this is a film that would have a hard time avoiding the X rating..even without penetration scenes.

As far as 'porn films' go, to date i have only seen one other such film that is as good, and that would be Radley Metzger's porn masterpiece "The Image." "Through the Looking Glass," stars the classic beauty, Catharine Burgess, former Vogue model. Sumptuosly filmed in and around a beautiful mansion, Catherine is haunted by something from her past. She insists that there is some malevolent evil living in the house. of course her husband dismisses the idea. She has a beautiful young daughter who, for some reason, she seems to resent. And hidden in a dark attic, is a strange, ornate mirror, that Catherine is drawn to. Sexually frigid with her husband, the icy Catherine saves all her sexual energy for the mirror, which she enjoys masturbating in front of.

As this disturbing tale unfolds we learn the bizarre secrets of the mirror; a mirror that had hung in her bedroom as a young girl, that bared witness to a shocking secret concerning her own father. Adult film regular Jamie Gillis turns in an incredibly sinister performance as the evil, corrupt father. In fact the character that he creates might be the most corrupt, evil character in film history. The father, like this film, is totally amoral, and both might very well make more sensitive viewers feel somewhat sick.

This movie is a definite product of the 70's, and it most likely could not have been made before, or after that decade. "Through the Looking Glass" is obsessed with the subject of incest, and it is displayed here in the most graphic detail. This Gothic horror film culminates with a trip through the mirror, that takes Catherine to Hell, here portrayed as some nightmare of sexual violence and corruption. An early scene at a "mad tea party" had me thinking the whole thing might degenerate into cheap porn territory, but the film gathers momentum, and gets darker, and more disturbing as it reaches it's halfway point. It also gets more artistic, and more beautiful as well. Some might find this a depressing experience, and it definitely is NOT for the casual viewer. But for those with a taste for the surreal, the bizarre, or who just want to see something very different, might want to hunt down this gem. I've seen a lot of stuff from this genre, and nothing comes close to this outrageous piece of art house smut!

Effective study of a troubled marriage, 24 October 2014

It's really too bad that people think of "A Night In Heaven" as 'the male stripper movie,' because it's really not that at all. Yes the wife has an affair with her student, who happens to be a stripper, but this accounts for maybe 10 minutes of screen time. At it's center is a believable study of a marriage on the rocks, after a husband loses his job, and begins to completely alienate his wife. Lesley Ann Warren is good in her role as Faye, the wife who begins to feel insecure, and undesirable after her husband shuts her out. When she finds herself attracting the attention of one of her young, handsome students (Chris Atkins) she resists as best she can, but soon an affair ensues, that might possibly have some serious consequences.

The interesting thing about the movie is how the husband and wife interact. They have such different views of what is really happening. "A Night In Heaven" doesn't dissolve into a smutty exploitation film, nor does it deteriorate into some 'revenge flick' at the end. The husband is actually perceptive enough to see that his wife's affair was perhaps, his fault. Directed by the man behind the original "Rocky," some qualities of that film are evident here, as well as some themes. It's physical, and passionate, and it has a kind of urban grittiness about it. An odd, obscure film from the 80's, worth seeing for some quality drama and good performances...and yes, some very sexy scenes too..

Stark & brutal expose about prostitution, 17 October 2014

Having seen many films on the subject of prostitution, I can honestly say that "She Beast Market" is one of the most harrowing and bleak examinations of the subject. Sordid and sleazy, but somehow never exploitative, "Beast Market" focuses on 2 young women involved in the life of street prostitution. One girl is rather new to the scene, and therefore has retained a kind of naive innocence, while the second girl is much more jaded, and hardened by the life. One girl maintains hope that she will escape her brutal reality, while the second girl is completely resigned to this life. We also are witness to one of the most extreme cases of 'mother/daughter' competition, as the one girl's mother is also a prostitute, who is quite bitter and jealous of her daughter's youth and beauty. The two women despise each other and make no secret of the fact.

This movie covers it all; sadomasochistic johns, incest, back alley abortions, mental illness, and ultimately death for one tortured soul. The reason the production never seems exploitative is the fact that the sexual content, is so unpleasant, and the subject matter so incredibly grim..I can't imagine anyone being titillated by what is happening on screen, even though the sex is quite graphic at times. The most impressive thing about "Beast Market" is probably it's starkly beautiful black & white photography, which perfectly compliments the bleak storyline and landscape. Seedy apartments, sleazy bars and shadowy alleys come to life when photographed with this gritty black & white film stock. This is also a very sad movie, and I didn't expect to become so involved in the stories of these character. Certainly a masterpiece of it's genre, this is a very rare and obscure title, that should be seen by any fan of art house cinema, if the opportunity comes their way. Highly recommended.

Gorgeous, innocent erotica., 11 September 2014

Another one of those misunderstood films, that received a bunch of criticism, for all the wrong reasons. John Derek's "Tarzan, the Ape Man" was never meant to be a typical entry in the Tarzan genre, but rather this is pure erotic fantasy, from a woman's perspective. Rather than focus on Tarzan, this version of the tale focuses on Jane, her fears, and her desires. Beautifully photographed on location in Sri Lanka and the Seychelles, and featuring one of the most classically beautiful women of all time, Bo Derek, this film is a real treat for the senses. Leave your brain at the door, because "Tarzan, the Ape Man" isn't exactly an intellectual tour de force. What John Derek has created here, is the ultimate piece of escapist cinema. Much like his "Bolero," also featuring wife Bo Derek, this movie is very similar to the romantic novels written by women, for women, years ago. This is reminiscent of the classic romance novel "The Sheik," as it deals with a naive but adventurous woman, who is swept away by a man who society considers a "dangerous savage," a man who should repel, but instead fascinates. The problem with these films, is that they seldom find their right audience; men will flock to a movie like this, wanting to see a naked, beautiful woman in sexual situations, but they see the romance as silly and unrealistic. And of course, modern women might easily be offended by the portrayal of a heroine that is weak, and dependant on a man. Even though Jane is hardly weak, and for a woman from 1910, she really goes after her own dream, with unbridled passion. This movie is worth a look for it's sheer visual beauty, and to witness the on screen coupling of what is perhaps, the most physically perfect woman and man to ever grace the silver screen. Highly recommended for fans of erotic and escapist fantasy. As far as the classic Tarzan novels that this material is based on, this movie stays surprisingly faithful to the source material in many ways.

Solid remake of a kung fu masterpiece.., 6 September 2014

Seeing as how "Once Upon A Time In Shanghai" is a remake of my all-time favorite martial arts movie, "Boxer From Shantung," of course I held this one up against high standards. Well for the most part it succeeds, with it's many elegant, artistic touches. Here we have a visually impressive period piece, about a poor laborer who comes to the big city to find his fortune. What he finds is friendship, corruption, and ultimately betrayal. Here martial artist Philip Ng replaces the legendary Chen Kuan Tai in the role of Ma Yongzhen, the immensely likable peasant who yearns for power, but despises corruption. Ng is a great choice to play Ma, as he is a charismatic and handsome actor. It's not easy to compare to Chen Kuan Tai, but Philip Ng comes close. The fight scenes are fast and furious, and very well-staged, and for once we have a good story to compliment the action. The sets and the period costumes are beautiful and detailed as well, although I wasn't so crazy about the digital video look of this film. The colors are very washed out, and the film almost looks like it was shot in black and white. Still I highly recommend this remake, as there are so few good martial arts films being produced today. Fans of the classic 70's stuff should really appreciate this. I also strongly recommend searching out the original "Boxer From Shantung" from 1972. It is a true masterpiece of the genre, and surpasses this film in quality and artistry..

The Beast (2011)
Fairly solid Korean action thriller, 30 August 2014

"The Beast" as it's called in English, is a stylishly filmed tale about a soldier who discovers that his innocent sister has been kidnapped by sex traffickers. The girl has ended up on a web cam sex site, and it becomes her brother's mission to find her, before it is too late. This theme has been dealt with many times before, and in a more effective way, so "Beast" won't earn any points for originality. And despite the subject matter, there is actually no sex or nudity in this movie. Still, it is a very decent, and entertaining thriller, with some impressive fight scenes. The photography has a certain cold, grey look, which somehow suits the story. The buildings, the clothing, the hairstyles, are all very modern and industrial, and the main actor is very extreme-looking, with nice, angular features and icy, emotionless eyes. This is not art, but it's better than most action films coming out of Hollywood these days..worth a watch.

Obscure Thai/Chinese Martial Arts film, 25 August 2014

It's sad that this obscure martial arts film from Thailand gets confused with a different film, from Shaw Brothers that shares the same name, "King Boxer." This movie, released a year before that more well-known title, is actually the better film. Unlike Shaw productions, we have a film that utilizes real location shooting, rather than fake sets with artificial landscapes. So we are treated to quite a tour of beautiful Thailand, with some unforgettable imagery. In this way, "The King Boxer" becomes a kind of 'love letter' to Thailand and it's fascinating culture.

A Chinese man is visiting Thailand, hoping to get a closer look, and possibly a lesson in Muay Thai, the sport of Thai kick boxing. a beautiful Thai girl introduces him to her brother, who is a professional fighter, and the two become fast friends. The man known as "the King boxer" within Thailand, and internationally, becomes teacher to the young Chinese visitor. Of course King Boxer is soon challenged by a rather nasty Japanese martial artist, who is determined to rob the king of his title. And then it becomes personal, when his sister rejects the Japanese thug's advances. Some great, well choreographed fighting follows, culminating into quite a bloody revenge epic.

This film is unique in that it is very well-made, with a decent budget. Also the Thai angle is something different for a martial arts film. There aren't nearly enough Muay Thai films out there to compete with the countless Kung Fu movies that were produced at this time. "The King Boxers" is a very hard film to track down, but it is worth the effort..

Sleazy, but fun martial arts film, 5 August 2014

There is something about this Z grade martial arts flick that might make you want to take a shower after you watch it. A seedy, sleazy feel pervades every frame, and if you know about the LA scene of the 70's, and what was going on at the time, it feels even sleazier. Iconic martial arts master, and the "King of Cool," Jim Kelly made a handful of these movies, after his appearance in the very successful "Enter the Dragon," starring Bruce Lee. A lot of fans were disappointed that Kelly's ultra-cool character is killed off so early into that film, because we wanted more of this guy. And movies like "Death Dimension" give Jim Kelly a chance to show his stuff. Among these films, all of which are memorable and great in their own way, "Death Dimension" stands out as one of the cheapest of the lot. Filmed in the Nevada desert, and the glitzy Reno casino strip, on a very small budget, the movie still manages to be atmospheric and entertaining. Featuring a cast of cheap looking women who look like they were borrowed from a hardcore porn movie, as well as some truly mean looking men. There is an evil Haitian thug with a scarred face that will make your skin crawl. He likes to beat women and slice people's throats with his razor-like pinky ring. And the king pin scumbag is just called "The Pig," and he is truly a pig, in his skin tight polyester shirts bursting under the strain of his sweaty, big body. when Jim Kelly is on screen though, everything comes together, and we are reminded just why we are watching. Kelly's martial arts skills are finely tuned and hyper-energetic; the man is truly incredible to watch. Here he is partnered with Myron Lee, a Chinese undercover agent, and the two work very well off each other, kind of like the pairing of Conan and Subotai in "Conan the Barbaian." Some highlights include scenes of Jim Kelly walking around the neon-saturated Reno strip at night. The man is just so cool in everything he does. As far as the plot goes, well it concerns some evil bastards trying to get their hands on a machine that can freeze the weather in a concentrated area. It sounds a bit like the plot from "Black Samurai," another Kelly film that is actually better than this film. Anyway we don't watch these films for their brilliant story lines, do we? I recommend this movie for fans of exploit cinema and martial arts movies of the 1970's. It's good, sleazy fun.

Valentino (1951)
A Legend Revisited, 3 August 2014

Even though this biopic of the great Rudolph Valentino isn't always accurate in the retelling of his life, there is something about it that makes it a very enjoyable film to watch. Maybe it's the lead actor's close resemblance to Rudolph that makes it so fun. Leading man Anthony Dexter is the absolute image of Valentino, at least physically. Absent though, is the Italian accent that unfortunately, we are not really familiar with anyway, as Valentino is from the Silent Film era. The film begins with Rudy's voyage from Naples to New York city, traveling by ship with hundreds of other Italian immigrants, hopeful of a bright, promising future in America. Of course, in true Hollywood style, they have written in a fictional love story, that begins on the ship, and follows Valentino throughout his short life. Of course this isn't how things really happened, but I suppose the film makers felt they needed the injection of old fashioned romance to sell the film, as Rudy's actual life wasn't quite so 'romantic.' However once you get beyond the imagined romance, the rest of the tale is mostly accurate. We can see the film legend sleeping in the park upon his arrival to the city, as well as his early days as a dance hall gigolo, where he would work older, wealthy women for their money while romancing them on the dance floor. And the movie doesn't shy away from showing the resentment that other men had towards the Italian, whom they taunted with ethnic slurs as they questioned his character. Later Valentino's career is nicely documented as we see him land the coveted role of Julio, from "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," the huge hit that made Rudolph Valentino a star. Even his lesser known films are touched upon, and the viewer is treated to a nice look inside "Falcon's Lair," the actor's legendary mansion. Finally, Rudolph's early death is tastefully, and accurately handled as well. He died of quite ordinary, physical circumstances, and it happened quickly. I believe this is all so fascinating to watch, mainly because of Dexter's haunting resemblance to Valentino. At times we almost can believe we are looking at the real star, and to see him as he would have looked on Technicolor film, is the most fascinating at all. Filled with opulent settings and 1920's fashions, and much romance, this 1951 film really is a must-see for fans of the matinée idol. I don't believe this film has ever been properly restored, and the only version that exists is one with very faded colors. It's a shame, because I'm sure it looked beautiful when the print was new. I don't see a restored version being released any time soon, as this is quite an obscure title. But for fans of Rudolph Valentino, this is truly a film to seek out.

Jewel In the Grind House Crown, 31 July 2014

Who is cooler than Jim Kelly? And what film defines the genre 'grind house' better than "Black Samurai?" This bizarre, James Bond/Blaxploitation/martial arts hybrid has it all; impressive fight scenes, gorgeous women, beautiful exotic cars, foreign settings, and off the wall soundtrack, combined with a story so out there, you will wonder if someone put a rufie in your drink. Acting and screen presence are two different things, and Jim Kelly might not have been the strongest actor, but this man certainly had an indescribable screen presence. Here Kelly portrays Secret Agent Robert Sand, A karate expert who becomes embroiled in an outrageous cat and mouse game, when his girl, who happens to be the daughter of a far Eastern Ambassador, is abducted by the eccentric and insane, terrorist-like 'Warlock,' an inventor of a dangerous weapon called "the Freeze bomb." Warlock is of course, also involved with a top drug cartel and human trafficking as a way of funding his terrorist activities. Jim Kelly must battle midget assassins, as well as voodoo ritual murders. This could easily be high comedy..but the beauty of this film is that it is played serious throughout, and you will find yourself absorbed in this bizarre action film.

For those who truly appreciate the grind house/exploit genre, this film is a shining example. It possesses this extreme nostalgic style and feel, and it looks beautiful. it has a way of taking the viewer back to his childhood, to another, forgotten time. The cinematography is gorgeous, and just riding around with Kelly in his purple Ferrari is going to make you feel like a better person just for having seen this diamond of a film. It's a bit sad to see that some people poke fun at this movie, and others like it. These people clearly have zero understanding of this underrated genre of film making. After seeing just a few Jim Kelly movies, I have placed him up there with Bruce Lee, as one of my all-time heroes. Unfortunately some truly unsavory characters have seen fit to butcher this iconic film for it's DVD release, by censoring it, and even more unforgivably, by adding stupid overdubs to some fight scenes, in an effort to make the movie look stupid. Presently I am searching for an uncensored VHS of "Black Samurai," which has got to be the Holy Grail for fans of exploitation cinema.

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