Monday, December 29, 2008

Pink Eiga DVDs out now!



Those of you who watched the unforgettable Japanese Pink Film series at Fantastic Fest '08 will not want to miss out on the new slate of titles being rolled out by Pink Eiga. They will be officially released on January 14 but if you're smart you can go to www.pinkeiga.com and buy them now.

The first titles released are the delirious FF favorite S&M HUNTER and the highly regarded NEW TOKYO DECADENCE: THE SLAVE. Check out screencaps and trailers and all the goodies that Pink Eiga has in their overflowing vaults and you'll be looking forward to a great new era of insane sleaze.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Weird Wednesday Hall Of Fame: Claudia Jennings

When Maureen McCormick was here a couple of months ago I asked her about making MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS. She said (in front of the audience) that her strongest memory of making that film was waking up in bed with Claudia Jennings and Gary Graver after a cocaine bender! The mind boggles.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bill Landis is dead?

Bill Landis photo by Michelle Clifford

Our friend Bill Landis, editor/publisher/damn near sole writer (with his wife Michelle Clifford) of Sleazoid Express Magazine and author of the essential book of the same name, has died. Bill was here 5 or 6 years ago when the book was first published and we chewed the fat about exploitation for a couple of memorable days. Not only did he know his stuff, he lived it. He even worked as a projectionist and night manager on the deuce.

While the rest of us pick up the latest Blue Underground and Code Red DVD releases and watch this sleaze in the comfort of our homes, Bill and his early collaborator Jimmy McDonough (whom he later had a huge falling-out with, unfortunately) sought these films out on 42nd St. in the last decaying pits of perversion where they unspooled for armed and hostile raincoaters and popeyes. In the pre-video era that was the only way to see them and Sleazoid Express was the Variety of 42nd St. You can feel the thrill of discovery on every page. Landis would review the film AND the experience, so if a glue-sniffing masturbator fell out of the balcony it was recorded for posterity.

Not surprisingly he was a weird guy, his tastes were so far out of the mainstream he may as well have been living in another country. I remember at Tim and Karrie League's he was blasting some Charles Manson jams and telling a long complicated story about BLOODSUCKING FREAKS maker Joel Reed, which Bill's New Yorkese stretched into a silly-putty dipthong I'll always remember: Jwaal Reeeed. He made his surroundings as hectic and confusing as his inner world, which was like a Times Square of the mind.

Bill's early death (he was 49) is especially sad because as we get farther and farther away from that glorious time the living memory of it is leaking out of the world, either through death or the slow attrition of brain cells. Bill was its greatest chronicler, so bursting with stories that his fingers could never have typed them all.

I'd like to think that our Weird Wednesday and Terror Tuesday series at the Alamo are as close as we can get to the kind of rude, untamed world of 42nd St. That's my hope anyway. So long, Bill.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weird Wednesday Hall Of Fame: Jess Franco

Tio Jess shows how it's done.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Weird Wednesday Hall Of Fame: Henry Silva

The many faces of Henry Silva.


January February WW Titles and Writeups

The greatest day of Thalmus Rasulala's life, courtesy of FRIDAY FOSTER.

OK, you can go ahead and plan your life around these. Sponsored by the great I Luv Video.

CHAINED HEAT With Star Sybil Danning Live!
JAN 7, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. PAUL NICOLAS, 1983, 35MM, 95 MIN, R
Spend your Wednesday night locked in a squalid cage with a few dozen sweaty bad girls. Sound like fun? You bet it does! This is pure women-in-prison exploitation with all the catfights, steamy shower scenes and deviant sexuality you can handle. Maybe more! Linda Blair plays the new fish on the cellblock. With Queen of the Amazons Sybil Danning and CLEOPATRA JONES star Tamara Dobson as warring inmates. Kinky Stella Stevens cracks the whip as the captain of the guards and scuzzy John Vernon plays the warden (who has a hot tub in his office). Sharp-eyed viewers will also recognize the great Henry Silva. Others may disagree but I think this is a great first-date movie (but be sure to bring enough for her cab fare home just in case). Either she'll love it or she'll flee. What better way to separate the wheat from the chaff? After all, who wants to get stuck with a good girl? (Lars)

FLYING MASTERS OF KUNG FU
JAN 14, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. ARTIS CHOW, 1979, 35MM, 88 MIN, R
In her first film QUEEN BOXER, diminutive fighter Judy Lee demonstrated great acrobatic ability and superhuman stamina as she devastated a teahouse full of dozens of bad guys like a teenage tornado. Between QUEEN BOXER and this film, made seven years later, Lee a) learned how to act and b) got hot. So while this is an extremely cheap Taiwanese martial arts film with very familiar locations and costumes, Lee lights up the screen as "the Heartless Lady" who will stop at nothing to find her father's killer, even though the real culprits have framed her for murder and dispatched an assortment of colorful super-killers to stop her. There's a one armed swordsman, a female dart specialist played by the great Angela Mao, and best of all a guy who throws gnarly exploding metal skulls with his mind! Lee rips them apart and looks great doing it, like a deadly Asian Pebbles Flintstone. (Lars)

THE DAY TIME ENDED
JAN 21, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. BUD CARDOS, 1979, 35MM, 79 MIN, PG
A psychedelic sci-fi freakout you can bring the whole family to. This strange and awesome alien encounter film takes a pretty basic premise about an alien landing in the desert, adds some Sun Ra style transmolecularization and about $5,000 worth of intense basement special effects. The final product is as close to total happiness as you can get without actually opening up your skull and messing with the wires and shit. The plot concerns a family get-together on a western ranch spoiled by the appearance of a glowing green pyramid in the horse corral. Soon all manner of aliens and UFOs are showing up to alarm the family and to - I don't know how else to put it - fuck with them. These aliens can communicate with them telepathically, alter destiny and make everything really shiny and pretty. Best of all, there's no real explanation. It just happens. I'll be enjoying this one with a tall frosty mug of LSD. Won't you join me? (Lars)

SINTHIA THE DEVIL'S DOLL
JAN 28, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. "SVEN CHRISTIAN", 1968, 35MM, 78 MIN, R
This unusual sex film, made pseudonymously by Ray Dennis Steckler, the man behind THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES and RAT PFINK A BOO BOO, reflects a lot of the artsy eclecticism that drove the last golden age of American film. Under the influence of Freud and Bergman, Steckler enacts a ludicrous, heavy handed psychodrama about that old standby, an attractive young woman with a father fixation. This same material, undoubtedly appealing to older men, has been done a million times, with predictable results. But Steckler's "let's put on a show" energy shines through the thin fabric of the plot. For every talky exposition scene there's an amazing dream/trip/hallucination/fantasy sequence to make you forget the silliness of the material. Multiple exposures, slow motion, psychedelic make-up and costumes and the talented Steckler's camera work combine to make these bizarre scenes some of the best you'll ever see. With Austin's own Gary Kent as daddy in the flashbacks and the gorgeous pinup model Diane Webber. (Lars)

BLACK SIX
FEB 4, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. MATT CIMBER, 1974, 35MM, 94 MIN, R
"See the 6 biggest, baddest and best waste 150 motorcycle dudes!" During the golden age of the drive-in there was one genre that could always be counted upon to turn a profit: Biker movies. "Scooter Trash" epics like THE WILD ANGELS, BORN LOSERS, SATAN'S SADISTS, and of course the major studio stepchild EASY RIDER paid for any number of mansions in Malibu and the Hollywood Hills. The films were inexpensive to produce and were highly appealing to the young, mobility-mad white audiences who frequented drive-ins. Meanwhile across town, movies like SUPERFLY, COFFY, BLACK CAESAR and the like were packing 'em in at the inner city theaters. It took an exploitation genius like Matt Cimber (WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA, HUNDRA) to bring the two audiences together in this story of an all-black Vietnam Vet biker gang who take on a rival gang of racist rednecks. The Black Six are all played by NFL stars, and while none are polished actors they are loose and likable and when it's time to throw an unwise user of the N-word through a wall, they execute the playbook flawlessly. (Lars)

SOMETIMES AUNT MARTHA DOES DREADFUL THINGS
FEB 11, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. THOMAS CASEY, 1971, 35MM, 95 MIN, R
Our explorations along the fringe of world cinema have led us to some strange places: Indonesia with its anti-colonial mythic avengers, the Philippines with its low-budget action and gaudy textiles, Nigeria with its camcorder excursions into ludicrous high drama; but closer to home there's a country with a film making culture as weird as any of those. That country is Florida. OK, maybe it's more of a state than a country per se, but trust us, they make some crazy ass movies. And with the possible exception of THE WIZARD OF GORE none is stranger than this one. Some guy named Abe Zwick stars as a brutal transvestite whose odd, codependent relationship with his (apparently heterosexual) roommate Stanley turns murderous whenever Stanley brings a girl home. There's a lot of blood and mayhem but the tone is oddly like a John Waters movie only with more palm trees. This one is really strange and really recommended. (Lars)

FRIDAY FOSTER
FEB 18, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. ARTHUR MARKS, 1975, 35MM, 90 MIN, R
Everyone knows the rough, tough ass-kicking Pam Grier of Jack Hill's great films COFFY and FOXY BROWN. But this classic from Arthur Marks (BONNIE'S KIDS, J.D.'s REVENGE) doesn't get mentioned very often. It's time to change that. Because this is one if the most unusual, fun soul cinema titles ever. It takes place in an alternate universe where virtually everyone is African American and the only whites are stooges or bad guys. Pam plays a photographer's assistant who witnesses an assassination attempt on Blake Tarr, the richest black man in America. When her best friend is killed under mysterious circumstances possibly connected to the shooting, Grier teams up with her harried and patient detective boyfriend Yaphet Kotto to get the story - and find the killer. Much less brutal and sweaty than the Jack Hill cycle, FRIDAY FOSTER presents Grier as a high spirited, quick witted knockout in the mold of a '30s screwball movie heroine like Myrna Loy or Barbara Stanwyck. For once Pam Grier is dressed, made up and lit like a glamorous star and not surprisingly she makes every other actress in Hollywood look like an anemic little wallflower. With an all-star supporting cast of black performers including Eartha Kitt, Godfrey Cambridge, Scatman Crothers and scene stealing Ted Lange as a pimp who really wants Grier in his stable. Music by Luchi De Jesus, who obviously just got one of those Peter Frampton voice boxes, because he uses it in every single song. (Lars)

GIRLS ON F STREET
FEB 25, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. SAUL RESNICK, 1966, 35MM, 69 MIN, R
Completely bizarre episodic expose about the numerous forms of sexual deviance that fester behind closed doors in a typical all-American skid row neighborhood. Shockingly frank and experimental in tone and execution. The visual vocabulary of the film includes carefully composed expressionistic scenes as well as the more typical "new wave by necessity" look of most '60s sex films: hand held camera, overlighting, the use of a narrator to hold the story together (and minimize expensive synchronized sound). As much as I love black and white '60s sex films, most of them are just slack, lazy excuses for nudity. This film is (literally) insane but every frame is fascinating. When the parade of perversion is over you'll need a shower. Or a flogging. Or both. (Lars)

There will also be a new feature at Weird Wednesdays and Terror Tuesdays where you can buy a reserved seat ahead of time for two dollars so you won't have to wait in line forever. If you choose not to buy the ticket that's cool too. Don't worry, we're not jumping the shark, it's just an optional service.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

This week - Umberto Lenzi's DIRTY PICTURES

Irene Papas vs. Pretty Colors

During the golden age of Italian exploitation cinema there were craftsman directors every bit as good as the humble (and not so humble) craftsmen of Hollywood's golden age like William Wellman, Clarence Brown, Woody Van Dyke and the like. They all worked in different genres as the market dictated and all could be counted on to provide films they could sign with pride. It's amazing to realize that at one time in Italy the following versatile guys were making movies: Sergio Sollima, Sergio Martino (and producer brother Luciano), Umberto Lenzi, Enzo Castellari, Mario Bava, Fernando Di Leo - and that's just scratching the surface. It was a time of great ferment. There was a lot of money and a lot of demand for new films.

In Lenzi's PARANOIA (ORGASMO) with Caroll Baker he played the first Altamontish dark chord of the end of the sixties. Italy always had an uneasy relationship with concepts like freedom and permissiveness. In PARANOIA two free young people tip a 35-ish self-destructive beauty over the edge. In DIRTY PICTURES the older woman traps the hippie couple in her web. It's a dark coda to the sixties as the two photogenic youths disappear and capsize into the voluptuous black storm that is Irene Papas. It's an ugly and fascinating film and if you care enough about these movies to read this blog you won't want to miss it.

Joe at Filmforno sure liked it but don't read it if you don't like spoilers.

Weird Wednesday Hall Of Fame: Al Adamson

Here's Al (3rd from right) with fellow vampires in HORROR OF THE BLOOD MONSTERS.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Polly Shang Kuan!

PSK, join the movement.

This little video says everything you need to know about my favorite kung fu actress Polly Shang Kuan. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lee Marvin, everybody


Lee Marvin liked to fight the Second World War. He fought it all the time! He fought it killin’ everyone that was coming up the highway. But then when I got in the picture he started just starin’ at me. And he stared at me and he stared at me. I knew something was gonna happen to me bad right then. And then he would jump right at me, jump right over to the sideways at me and there I was, fighting the Second World War. I’d go sideways over the couch, he’d go sideways over the couch. I’d jump over behind the couch and here he’d come Ku-thud, Ku-thud, Ku-thud so I couldn’t quite get away from him.—June Carter Cash

This week the Weird Wednesday presentation will be Lee Marvin in John Boorman's POINT BLANK, one of the best Hollywood films ever made and a totally bizarre amalgam of RED DESERT, Don Siegel and Vincente Minnelli. It's a film that could have never been made without Lee Marvin. MGM wasn't in the art film business but because Lee Marvin was such a bankable star he secured cast approval and final cut, then deferred them to Boorman. Together Boorman and Marvin crafted a film like no other.

Here's John Boorman's appreciation of Lee Marvin:



Follow through to the further chapters if you're interested.

And here's some great stuff from Lee Marvin himself:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Luv Video Pick Shelf for Nov 11.

Come Drink With Me!

Pop by I Luv Video to see tons of great new stuff. I changed out my pick shelf today.

Here's what I gots now:

Airport Blvd. Location:

RIDER ON THE RAIN
Charles Bronson plays a great, challenging multifaceted role in this strange Rene Clement thriller. With Marlene Joubert, Gabrielle Tinti and of course Jill Ireland. Much more cerebral and less sweaty than you'd expect. Great noir euroambient vibe too.

RUN ANGEL RUN
William Smith, with an unfortunate, ludicrous fake 'stache stars as a biker who sells his story to LIFE magazine and ends up on the run from his former bros. Directed by the late, great Jack Starrett. Some really strange, experimental editing going on here. Smith is awesome.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS AND THE FOUR MUSKETEERS
Richard Lester directed both of these films, which were originally conceived as one big, long film. When they were released separately Raquel Welch, and maybe others, sued the producers. It's a huge epic in a way but it feels really loose and spontaneous too. It turns out Lester used up to seven cameras to film every take, so the action and performances have great, lifelike continuity. And it's really funny. Cast includes Raquel Welch, Faye Dunaway, Charlton Heston, Christopher Lee and, as the musketeers: Michael York, Frank Finlay, Richard Chamberlain and the always drunk and violent Oliver Reed. Great!

HEROES OF THE EAST
Shaw Brothers master Lau Kar Leung directs what is basically a 30's screwball farce mixed with a hardcore martial arts extravaganza. Gordon Liu marries a Japanese woman who turns out to be a karate master. They have a number of philosophical disputes about the nature of martial arts, then she storms back to Japan. He sends her a playful "challenge letter" which is intercepted by a shit-starting ninja master. Pretty soon the ninja brings a whole delegation of Japanese fighters to answer Liu's challenge. Then, in a long series of fights, the weapons and philosophy of China's martial arts prove to be no match for Japan. The End.

Guadalupe Store:

FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION: JAILHOUSE 41
I don't know why everybody doesn't talk about this movie every day. It's a huge landmark classic. You can't be cool unless you've seen it. Ostensibly a women in prison film it becomes a howling vortex of psychedelic Noh expressionism. So weird. So great. So not rented out? What?

DEATH CURSE OF TARTU/STING OF DEATH
DEATH CURSE is OK but STING OF DEATH is what I'm about. Made in Florida dopiness about a mad scientist who somehow makes a jellyfish monster. At least I think that's what it's about. You watch it and tell me. With Neil Sedaka, horseman of the apocalypse.

COME DRINK WITH ME
Not a typical Shaw Bros. film, if there is such a thing. This was made by one of the greatest film dudes ever to make films, King Hu. Check out his A TOUCH OF ZEN too. This is beautifully soundstagebound, like a little Joseph Cornell box. Star Cheng Pei-Pei is just heartbreakingly adorable and cute and sexy and deadly. The action is like a dream. A perfect little jewel of a movie. Also known as BIG DRUNK HERO.

KING OF THE ZOMBIES
Dumb '40s B-movie. Completely forgettable in every way except for the performance of Mantan Moreland. Moreland excelled at playing the archetypal "easily scared man". Unfortunately a lot of people cringe at his performances because in addition to being "easily scared" he's "black". If he happened to be easily scared white man Mantan Moreland many more people would consider his humor funny. But no matter, Mantan Moreland was really really funny. And the proof is right here. Rent it. You'll laugh.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT and FREEZE BOMB

This scene was cut out! Shiiiiiit!

Last week's showing of DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT went OK I guess. Unfortunately the print was mangled and my two favorite scenes were missing. If you didn't know what you weren't getting it was probably still fun but if you've seen the film you know that the blood bath scene and the love scene between Rosalba Neri and Mark Damon are pretty key parts. Also, a number of people were asking why Rosalba Neri was billed as Sara Bay. She did several films with that pseudonym towards the end of her prime, including LADY FRANKENSTEIN. I think she was trying to generate some US marquee appeal, which would be tough with such an ungainly name as Rosalba Neri I guess.

Even though the print was cut I think any time you can experience Rosalba Neri on film on the big screen is like a kind of religious experience and I enjoyed every second. It's apparently in the public domain and you can watch the whole thing here.

FREEZE BOMB is pretty appealing too. I've tried and tried to identify the appeal of Al Adamson movies and I can't quite put the pieces together. He's not a skilled director but he gets all the shots together to tell the story and works with good people like cinematographer Gary Graver and stunt coordinator Bud Cardos. The cast in FREEZE BOMB is pretty good too. Odd Job and Terry Moore are really bad (but entertaining) but Jim Kelly, George Lazenby, Aldo Ray and Patch Mackenzie as the lab assistant with the implanted microchip are all good. Also notable is the great stuntman Bob Wall as the Haitian henchman. But that snapping turtle is nightmare material. If I saw one of those in my neighborhood I'd move away.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

DRESSED TO KILL... What is it?

De Palma, shake well before understanding

Watching DRESSED TO KILL again this past week with a great audience got me thinking about what a really strange film it is. It's like a scrapbook of shock and detection.

In a sense all movies are about movie-making. Especially movies made by the movie-mad. So maybe the kill - when the movie goes into the red - is the representation of Hitchcock's mighty peak of visual invention and style. And the follow-up detection by Keith Gordon, playing a character who, like teenage De Palma, builds computers for his science fair and toys with cameras and voyeurism; is like De Palma's attempt to cope with and understand his own fascination with the magic. And his teaming with Nancy Allen (Mrs. De Palma in real life) is kind of like entering into a gender-balanced collaboration to explore these themes.

As De Palma says in this incredible interview, he is a visual stylist and that's the first and foremost motivator of his work. It's easy to understand why people would take the murder personally, since the filmmaker is thought to build a doll house that delights him. The furor is a furor against De Palma for refusing to be god or a moralist. Is the death punishment for transgressing against marriage and family, against seeking fullness and joy? It would be hard to find other expressions of that in De Palma's work so I doubt it. Can we take him at his word when he says that he prefers watching women on the screen and finds the sight of a woman in peril more emotionally engaging than the sight of a man in peril? Unless a filmmaker is as skillful at obfuscating these kinds of tensions by creating a harmonic framework of other tensions around them, he or she is walking a long wire. That high-wire act is yet another source of the intricately engineered tension of DRESSED TO KILL.

His bisecting of the frame, either with a true split screen, or with a subtly artificial split-diopter (allowing foreground and background to stay in sharp focus) replicates both the split in Caine's personality and in the filmmakers perspective, as does the very active shade between point of view and omniscient views of the action. Here De Palma shows his mastery of Hitchcock's greatest lesson - never let them go. In a suspense film, the screw shold be kept turning. And this is a screwed and chopped suspense film.

I was very happy to hear from Bryan Poyser of the Austin Film Society that AFS will have an Early De Palma Essential Cinema series in the spring. It will stretch from GREETINGS through CARRIE and I'm pretty pumped up about it. Also, if you haven't seen PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, it should be your Halloween night movie, no doubt about it.

Next week (this week?) we'll have the incredible Rosalba Neri (remember how she steals the show in 99 WOMEN?) in THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT. It is a triumphantly Euroambient film and Neri is like a goddess or a celestial phenomenon. See it!

Rosalba Neri

Saturday, October 18, 2008

REDNECK down, DRESSED TO KILL coming up

Telly Savalas prepares to accept his Oscar for REDNECK

This past Wednesday we had the great pleasure of watching one of our most volatile actors, Telly Savalas, explode in a shower of high-energy emotive sparks. He shows zero restraint. It's a nutso, psychotic performance. And Franco Nero's there too, though Savalas gives off so much power the other stars tend to get lost in the coma of light around him. I don't think I'll ever lose the auditory memory of Mark Lester yelling "mow SKEET ohhh!"

Quality stuff.


This week we'll be watching one of my favorite films by one of my favorite filmmakers: Brian De Palma's DRESSED TO KILL. I still remember the controversy it caused. I saw it at Earl Vanderheyden's house (his parents had Showtime and mine had HBO, it was really either/or back then) and thought it was the scariest, most intense thing I'd ever seen. I didn't see it again until 6 or 7 years ago and was struck by how funny it is and how much the story of Keith Gordon's investigation parallels the filmmaking process itself, and his obsession with getting to the heart of a Hitchcockian murder recalls De Palma's own celebrated status as the Hitch of the '70s and '80s - a constructor of shock machines, but also a reverse-engineer of shock. It's a really good film and you want to see this on the big screen if you're here. It's still controversial and doesn't get dragged out (heh heh) for a lot of theatrical screenings.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

November December WW Titles and Writeups

POINT BLANK, Lee Marvin vs. color.

FREEZE BOMB
NOV 5, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. AL ADAMSON, 1978, 35MM, 90 MIN, R
AKA DEATH DIMENSION. If you have a medical condition that makes it unwise for you to laugh your ass off for an hour and a half, then we urge you: PLEASE STAY HOME. Because FREEZE BOMB could be your grim reaper. This Al Adamson Bond ripoff may well be the worst action movie ever made not starring a chimp, a midget or Lorenzo Lamas. Jim "Black Belt Jones" Kelly and Myron Bruce Lee (Myron?) are the kung fu fighting heroes out to stop a supervillain named The Pig from developing the "freeze bomb" which turns victims into ridiculous looking snowmen. Along the way Kelly and Lee have to deal with various double-dealers and scumbags who are also after the secret formula. With George Lazenby, Aldo Ray, Terry Moore, and Harold "Oddjob" Sakata as The Pig. Oh yeah, there's a mean-ass snapping turtle too. If you miss this one you better have a doctor's note. For real. (Lars)

TARZANA THE WILD GIRL
NOV 12, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. GUIDO MALATESTA, 1969, 35MM, 87 MIN, R
How do you know when you're a total hardcore freakazoid case? One very good indicator might be: you're out late on a Wednesday night watching an Italian naked jungle girl movie in a theater full of sex maniacs. That might be a tip-off. And what an Italian jungle girl movie! In fact we'd like to propose that if you only watch one jungle girl movie this year, let it be TARZANA, THE WILD GIRL. Now, if there's another movie genre that has as little regard for logic, continuity, and plain common sense as the jungle girl movie I don't know what it is. But when the Italians get their hands on it...oh boy. Any little bit of coherence that Hollywood may have inadvertently left intact is flushed down the commode and the movie is free to deliver all those delicious jungle girl goods: gorgeous topless jungle girl -- CHECK; listless drunken chimp -- CHECK; grainy mismatched stock footage -- CHECK; wild "native" dancing -- CHECK; Weird Wednesday Nirvana -- CHECK! Starring Yugoslavian beauty Femi Benussi as Tarzana and a whole lot of other people you've never heard of. Hot damn! (Lars)

POINT BLANK
NOV 19, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. JOHN BOORMAN, 1967, 35MM, 92 MIN, NR
It's hard to believe this surrealist nut-hammer of a movie was made at all but we're so glad it was. Lee Marvin, probably the coolest man ever to put fist to face, stars as the last of the "hands-on" gangsters. When he's double-crossed and robbed of $93,000 by his wife and best friend on the orders of the big bosses, he goes on what may be the greatest (and certainly the most colorful) rampage of all time. He breaks down door after door and puts his business in the street - along with his clever catch-phrase, "I want my money back." The problem is, the new breed of criminals are all organization men who hide behind desks and tax shelters. Nobody can believe he's that bent out of shape over a measly 93 grand but he's a man who lives by a code and he won't stop until he gets what's his. Sounds good huh? Now factor in the fact that the movie is relentlessly experimental, full of fragmented narrative devices and a bizarre primary color scheme that's as insane as it is brilliant. It was billed as a pop art gangster movie and it's certainly a feast for the eyes but at heart it's a primal showcase for the walking (and walking and walking) spirit of vengeance played by the great Lee Marvin. With Angie Dickinson at her most beautiful - the scene where she tries to beat up Lee Marvin is unforgettable. Also stars slimy John Vernon, Caroll O'Connor and Keenan Wynn as Hamlet's father. Miss this one on the big screen and you have fucked up, Charlie. (Lars)

SUGAR COOKIES
NOV 26, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. THEODORE GERSHUNY, 1973, 35MM, 89 MIN, R
Atmospheric New York psychosexual thriller starring the great Mary Woronov and directed by her then-husband Ted Gershuny. Mary and Ted made several films together and all of them are nasty little things, full of mind-games, kink, and hateful, argumentative characters who live to screw over everyone in sight. This is the best of their collaborations. It takes place in the soft white underbelly of the New York porn industry. A scumbag porno producer accidentally (?) shoots his biggest star while she fellates his revolver and enlists his lesbian enforcer (Woronov) to help him cover up the crime and find a new star. She complies with vigor, and even has a long sex scene with the new starlet (a high point of the movie.) It's a tense, sick melodrama full of shifting allegiances, revenge, and triple-crosses. Also starring busy Lynn Lowry (SHIVERS, I DRINK YOUR BLOOD) and a bunch of the Warhol stock company. Oliver Stone was an associate producer but was unable to fuck up this movie. (Lars)

BONNIE'S KIDS
DEC 3, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. ARTHUR MARKS, 1973, 35MM, 105 MIN, R
The thinnest plotline imaginable (two foxy sisters hit the road after killing their lecherous stepfather) is pushed as far as it can go. And I mean AS FAR AS IT CAN GO. As tasteless as it is fun, and it's a fuckin' blast. If you thought THE CANDY SNATCHERS was horrifying and offensive, you might want to sit this one out. If, on the other hand, you thought THE CANDY SNATCHERS was a religious experience beamed down directly from the brain of almighty God for the benefit of humankind -- well, then you might want to wear a diaper for BONNIE'S KIDS, 'cause you're gonna SHIT! A slam-bang frontal assault of sleaze. This will be one of the greatest moviegoing experiences of your life. Mark my words. (Lars)

DIRTY PICTURES
DEC 10, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. UMBERTO LENZI, 1971, 35MM, 90 MIN, R
Leave it to Italian genre king Umberto Lenzi, whose decadent, pessimistic master stroke PARANOIA wowed Weird Wednesday audiences earlier this year, to find the worm in the big juicy apple of seventies free love and permissiveness. In PARANOIA a beautiful older woman was terrorized in her home by a young couple leading to madness, senseless violence and death. This time it's the older woman (the great Greek actress Irene Papas) who gets the upper hand as she sets a trap for two beautiful young Brits (Ray Lovelock and Ornella Muti), who have been funding a lawless rampage across Europe by making amateur porn and selling it as they go. Like all the best Lenzi films, DIRTY PICTURES is full-blooded in its both its sleaze and cinematic invention. (Lars)

WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA
DEC 17, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. MATT CIMBER, 1976, 35MM, 88 MIN, R
A perfect illustration of the sort of freedom filmmakers could have in the arena of low-budget films. This ragingly weird movie about a waitress' psychological disintegration into castration mania could certainly have never been made in a Hollywood studio context and it's a gigantic anomaly even among drive-in films. Millie Perkins (THE SHOOTING, DIARY OF ANNE FRANK) plays the tormented woman whose repressed memories of childhood abuse begin to surface in some pretty undesirable ways, compelling her to pick up a razor and go after some of the men she sees on TV everyday. While it was marketed (when it was marketed at all) as a psychotic slasher film, it has as much REPULSION and PERSONA in it as PSYCHO. Written by Robert Thom (writer of WILD IN THE STREETS and Perkins' husband) and directed by the underrated Matt Cimber (THE BLACK SIX, HUNDRA). An unforgettable moviegoing experience. (Lars)

MAGIC CHRISTMAS TREE
DEC 24, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. RICHARD PARRISH, 1964, 35MM, 60 MIN, G
Special seasonal reprise of the Christmas-killing hit! Here it is: the evil holiday movie we’ve all secretly been waiting for. It made its producers wealthy men and turned a generation of children into santaphobic sociopaths. We are still paying the cost. It’s a very strange film and we’re not sure why anyone would make it, but two words come to mind: Malicious Intent. Why else would the young hero be abducted by a witch and forced to uh, plant Satan’s magic seed in his backyard? The seed grows into a tree that gives him three wishes. Then the kid abducts Santa Claus, straps him to a chair and abuses him until he gets all the toys in the world. Plus there’s a long race between a lawnmower and a turtle and more tomfoolery presided over by the powers of Darkness, including the appearance of a giant who says inappropriate things. We cannot be held responsible for any lasting trauma. (Lars)

Speaking of Mary Woronov, here she is going on the attack against Warhol superstar International Velvet:

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Joe Sarno - Man of Greatness

Thanks to everyone who showed up for the epochal Joe Sarno double feature of two films that were considered lost just a short while ago. Joe himself, slower in speech but still sharp in his 87th year shared some of his priceless insights about film-making, transferring his vision to the screen on a tight schedule and with a mixed bag of performers and the psychological underpinnings of his very pro-female sex films.

Here's some video of his appearance. Thanks to Anne for filming:

Monday, September 29, 2008

This week's Joe Sarno Double Feature is now FREE FREE FREE!

Joe Sarno and collaborators

No doubt due to the giant financial hit and general exhaustion wrought by the back to back Fantastic Fest/ACL juggernaut, ticket sales for this Wednesday's 9:30 Joe Sarno screening of ABIGAIL LESLEY IS BACK have been slow. But since we want as many people as possible to see this movie and this great man we are making the whole double feature free. That's right. Get here at 9:30 and stay through both ABIGAIL LESLEY and ALL THE SINS OF SODOM with the great Joe Sarno in attendance, sharing his philosophy about filmmaking and the stories of the films themselves.

For my money Joe Sarno is the key figure of '60s and '70s sexploitation. Others may have advanced the medium and codified the cliches but Joe Sarno was the first filmmaker in the movement to make personal art out of sex films.

THIS IS A BIG, BIG DEAL. Don't miss it.

About ABIGAIL LESLEY.

About ALL THE SINS OF SODOM.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Oz, Pink, Sarno, Boston - We can't be beaten!

You better believe S&M HUNTER rocked some asses.

Fantastic Fest is over. I worked over 90 hours last week and 70 or so the week prior, which left me with little time and even less presence of mind for blogging. But it has been a great time. 2 weeks ago we had DARK AGE, the Ozploitation movie about the giant crocodile and the Aborigines. Mark Hartley, who directed the doc NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD joined us for that one. If you didn't catch NQH at Fantastic Fest be sure to see it at the Alamo or, if the release doesn't shake out for us - on DVD. I worked both screenings of it at FF and had seen it prior so at this point the movie's theme song, "We Can't Be Beaten" by Rose Tattoo is tattooed into my brain. Watch the video here and share my affliction:



The other Oz titles were Russell Mulcahy's super-'80s stylefest RAZORBACK and two Brian Trenchard Smith classics with BTS himself in person, MAN FROM HONG KONG (brilliant!) and TURKEY SHOOT (flawed but crowd-pleasing). I watched MAN FROM HONG KONG 3 times and each time it got better for me. I really think it's one of the all-time action classics.

The Pink Retrospective also went well. The films were all quite distinct, with GUSHING PRAYER being the high point for me. S&M HUNTER was probably the crowd favorite though - and it rivalled MAN FROM HONG KONG for cultural insensitivity. At BLUE FILM WOMAN there were a few walkouts, maybe people who didn't realize there were going to be long sex scenes in the movie.

During any other month the appearance of one of my greatest heroes, Joe Sarno, would be all I could think or talk about. With Fantastic Fest and ACL going on everything has been curiously muted but let me amplify: JOE SARNO IS COMING TO TOWN! JOE SARNO! Don't miss either screening - ABIGAIL LESLEY IS BACK at 9:30 or ALL THE SINS OF SODOM at midnight. Everyone seated for ABIGAIL LESLEY will be able to remain seated for ALL THE SINS OF SODOM, so no line waiting.

Also, if anyone will be in Boston next week, come check out my act at the Brattle Theater. I've programmed a big-ass "grindhouse" series for them. I'll be there for some of the screenings so if by some weird chance this blog is read in Boston, come say hi.

Schedule for the Brattle series here. Scroll down to October 1.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Video Interview

A couple of gents from Austin Is Rad came over to the offices the other day to talk about Weird Wednesday, Fantastic Fest etc. Here's that video interview. If only I'd brought a comb to work.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pink Films, Ozsploitation, the Tingler and me

I've alluded a bit in this space to Fantastic Fest. It's a gigantic international film fest that I and all my Alamo colleagues have been spending a huge amount of the last few months programming, planning and coordinating. The effort has been huge. I plan on taking a 46 hour nap at some point, but in the meantime I wanted to let all the readers of this blog know about some of the programming work I've been doing on this and recommending a few things highly to each and every one of you. Well, most of you anyway.

First and foremost there's a Japanese Pink Film retrospective. It's my highest recommendation of this fest and really one of those film events you'll beat yourself up about if you miss.

About Pink Films:

Almost everyone has the same tingling response to the bright, shiny world of Japanese pop entertainment. It tickles the roof of the mouth like ginger-ale. But for hardcore addicts, that's just the gateway stage. The terminal phase is the Japanese pink film. More than just sexploitation movies, they're like the entire culture's autoerotic asphyxiation reveries. Filled with crushing weirdness and experiments on the extreme edge of filmmaking, the pink films provide much greater insight into the nation's character than the mannered civilities of mainstream films, largely due to the fact that young film-makers are given the freedom to go as far out on the chain as they want to, provided they expose the requisite number of
naked bodies onscreen. And they must strike a pretty resonant chord since they're still going strong, as evidenced by some of our favorite Fantastic Fest titles of the past few years like UNCLES PARADISE and THE GLAMOROUS LIFE OF SACHIKO HANAI.

This year we'll be showing four pink films that as far as I can discern have never been shown in the U.S. before. Click on the links to read all about them:


BLUE FILM WOMAN, Monday September 22 9pm, South Lamar

GUSHING PRAYER, Tuesday September 23 9:30pm, South Lamar

A LONELY COW WEEPS AT DAWN Wednesday September 23 8:50pm, South Lamar


S&M HUNTER Wednesday September 23 10:15pm, South Lamar

Special thanks for the last two titles to the new, exciting company Pink Eiga, which is bringing tons of pink classics to the DVD marketplace very soon. Check their site out here. It's probably only safe for work if you work where I do.

All of these screenings will feature insights from Jasper Sharp of midnighteye.com, who is the acknowledged expert on the subject. He wrote the book on it as a matter of fact. And you'll be able to buy that book at the screenings. He and Marc Walkow of Outcast Cinema have worked very hard with me to make this series the event of the century - so be there. You can just straight-up buy tickets for these if you don't have a fest badge.

Ozsploitation: Nature's Revenge, The Road and Explosions

The other big retrospective I've been working on (with my invaluable colleague Zack Carlson) is the Ozsploitation retrospective. This year, Fantastic Fest is dedicated to making everyone we know into giant, committed fans of Ozploitation cinema. That is - the peculiar brand of exploitation films that bubbled to the surface in Australia in the '70s and '80s. Certainly the best known are the MAD MAX films but those didn't emerge in a vacuum. The industry was already pumping out films as rude, tough and resourceful as the primal Aussie himself, kicked out of the British Isles for being ungovernable, forced to carve out a livelihood in the most hostile terrain on earth. While Australia has its share of classic arthouse-worthy fare in the manner of PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK and BREAKER MORANT, it was the cheap action, horror and titty films that really made the Fosters go down easy.

Films in this series are the big FREE outdoor screenings of MAD MAX (This Friday! Outside at Lamar) and THE ROAD WARRIOR (next Friday also at Lamar). Hopefully you know already that these movies are 900 km. per hour ragers and unmissable.

The other films in the series may be a little less familiar but they are totally crucial. If your grandmother tries to stand between you and these screenings, hit her in the face with an axe. You'll be glad you did and will never regret it.

DARK AGE (Click on show name for description, Ritz Wednesday Sept. 17, Midnight FREE and Lamar Sunday Sept 21, Lamar 8.50/6.50)

RAZORBACK (Click on show name for description, Ritz Thursday Sept. 18, Midnight FREE)

THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (Click on show name for description, Ritz Wednesday Sept. 24, Midnight FREE with director Brian Trenchard-Smith Live and Lamar Monday Sept 22 8.50/6.50)


TURKEY SHOOT aka ESCAPE 2000 (Click on show name for description, Ritz Thursday Sept. 25, Midnight FREE with director Brian Trenchard-Smith Live)

The other main thrust of my repertory programming duties at Fantastic Fest 2008 has been arranging a couple of TINGLER screenings in Percepto at the theater. The screenings feature the documentary SPINE TINGLER, all about the great showman William Castle.


The screenings take place on Wednesday Sept 24 at 4:30pm and Thursday the 25th at 5pm. The theater will be rigged with a highly experimental Percepto set-up in which a (hopefully) non-lethal electric shock is administered to select members of the audience at a crucial point in the film. If you have a pacemaker, don' t even show up because we'll laugh you out the door.

Even if you don't have a badge you can buy tickets for this incredible double feature by clicking here.

See you there, I mean here.

KIDNAPPED COED Tonight!


Toooooo-NIGHT! KIDNAPPED COED is a pretty remarkable little shot-in-North Carolina movie that really brings the wood. Hero Jack Cannon is an amazing, conflicted existential hero. But you'll see.

KIDNAPPED COED!
Rated R; 76min; Director:Frederick Friedel (1976)

In the ‘70s, Times Square was a seedy open-air sex and drugs marketplace. And the real hot-spots were the 24-hour movie theaters where double features of kung fu, horror, and sex films unreeled 24 hours a day for audiences composed primarily of bitter, sociopathic males. Think Travis Bickle from TAXI DRIVER and you’re on the right track. It was an audience for which no extreme was too extreme. The audience of “popeyes” would sit through showing after showing of gory horror, amputee porn and worse, sniffing glue and smoking dirt weed. There was enough existential nausea in any given foot of Times Square to make Jean Paul Sartre toss his crepes in the nearest clogged and overflowing urinal. So KIDNAPPED COED must have hit Times Square like an artillery shell. You can imagine the smell of record cleaner in the theater; you can almost hear the sound of the butterfly knives clacking shut as the crowd watches in rapt admiration. Not since the films of Jean-Pierre Melville had there been an antihero quite like Jack Cannon, a self-loathing kidnapper whose victim is stolen away from him by the mob, leading to a bloody showdown. This is tough stuff, rough around the edges but gooily primal. If it had been made in France it probably would have been acclaimed a masterpiece of postwar alienation. Thank God it wasn’t made in France but in the number one country on Earth - USA America. (Lars)


I was hoping to have lots and lots of time to devote to blogging since the Fantastic Fest guide went to press but I was deluding myself. Of course there are tons of tiny little details to be taken care of. So if you've been kind enough to follow this blog please continue. I will make much writing soon.

As always, thanks to the great folks at I Luv Video for making Weird Wednesday possible week after week.

Monday, September 1, 2008

BEYOND ATLANTIS this week at Lamar!


Please note, due to AGLIFF, Weird Wednesday will be shown at the big, spacious, roomy, large South Lamar Theater. Here's the trailer which I just uploaded.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Luv Video Pick Shelf 8/30

I changed out my pick shelf after too many weeks at both I Luv Video locations yesterday. By the way, I hope some of you have started checking out I Luv Video since it became the WW sponsor. Their website has also gone from being (very nearly) the worst site on the internet to a valuable resource: www.iluvvideo.com

My picks:

AIRPORT:

UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT
All the great black actors who weren't in FRIDAY FOSTER are in this. Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby are great as two working class buddies who get robbed in a stickup at an underground casino, then have to retrieve a winning lottery ticket from the gangsters who stuck the place up. These two Joe-Sixpacks are totally out of their league but they con their way into the world of the gangsters. Not a perfect movie - in particular the tone gets pretty goofy by the ending - but a lot of fun.

SCREAM BABY SCREAM
Some of you may remember CONVENTION GIRLS, and maybe also - though it wasn't as good - REVENGE IS MY DESTINY. The man who made those was Florida's Joseph Adler and this is probably his best movie. It's a psychedelic horror film made for a tiny budget but with a lot of cool shocks and such a fun sixties feel (and a really sexy heroine). It's the old "mad artist keeps a dungeon full of mutants that he paints and becomes well known as an abstract artist" plot but it rocks like a peninsula full of alligators.

RETURN OF THE TIGER
A satisfying kung-fu film made and set in the crazy Hong Kong seventies. I don't remember much about it other than I loved it - as much for its ambient qualities (great clothes, the soundtrack cleverly constructed of a bar or two of various American funk instrumentals) as for anything else. Paul L. Smith, who played chainsaw man in PIECES and Bluto in POPEYE is the main American bad guy and he's supposed to be a kung fu master, which is pretty hilarious.

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED
By far the best Hammer Frankenstein movie. CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is pretty good and FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN has its moments but this is the scariest one. Peter Cushing is incredible as the doctor/monster. He's a really bad guy and his performance is surgically precise. Of course Terence Fisher's direction is great. Like Fritz Lang he tells the story visually first and lets the words fill in the spaces - but you could watch this without sound and get the whole story.

GUADALUPE:

INGA
Early Joe Sarno masterpiece starring Swedish sex kitten Marie Lilljedahl. Sarno has always had a lot to say, even though the market was pretty non-demanding. Look at the amount of human interest and storytelling he fits into this film. And as always, it is an erotic film, that is to say the subject matter is that crossing place of human beings that is sex. An brilliant and original filmmaker.

SPASMO
This giallo is some sort of experiment in reducing human actors and actresses into a series of lines and planes. The whole style of the film is mechanical and fascinatingly detached. After a while I was expecting the whole thing to be revealed as a dream but the movie never let me off the hook. It's weird as fuck and I don't understand what Umberto Lenzi was going for at all but I'll take it. With Robert Hoffman, Suzy Kendall (!) and weird-looking Ivan Rassimov.

WITCHFINDER GENERAL
Most of the AIP sixties horror movies were candy-colored concoctions of swirling mist, tacky looking castles and Vincent Price going nuts. They're great. I love them. After a few years of these AIP took the show on the road to England and surprisingly gave the 24 year old Don Siegel freak Michael Reeves a chance to direct. Reeves instantly alienated Vincent Price by criticizing his acting and making him tone down his performance. Reeves and Price hated each other throughout, but it's the best work either did. This movie is dark, muted and doom-suffused. It's not fun per se but it's undeniably major. If you haven't seen it. Now's the time.

CATMAN IN LETHAL TRACK
Just watch it. And learn how to curse like a pro.


Catherine And Co.

This French sex comedy (in a classical mode) may have seemed like an odd choice for WW. It was, actually. It's a truly elegant, extremely European comedy of manners and mores. It seemed oddly highbrow, even though it was a sex movie all the way.

I enjoyed the hell out of it and the audience seemed to as well, despite the almost-total lack of bad taste. Credit screenwriter Catherine Breillaut with feminizing and humanizing what could have been a pretty silly film.

After the show, one longtime WW-goer said that the movie had ruined Jane Birkin for him because it showed too much of her. It's true that she has kind of an ungainly, clumsy body, her profile isn't classical and her teeth are huge and irregularly spaced. All the more proof that there's nothing more boring on the screen than perfection. In the '50s when the Hollywood film industry had finally assembled a stable of perfect Natalie Woods and Grace Kellys, whose faces had the sort of perfect symmetry that could be measured and standardized, Europe invaded with a whole assault force of thoroughly imperfect "sex goddesses." Silvana Mangano, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti, Anita Ekberg and of course Brigitte Bardot made American arthouses much more inviting for audiences of males starved for sensuality and "earthiness". Most of the above actresses could never have gotten a screen test in Hollywood, except as a casting-couch stratagem. The European beauties had something much more thrilling than aesthetic "perfection" (whatever that means) and I feel the same way about Jane Birkin. When she's onscreen it's hard to look at anything else and her style of dressing and undressing and slouching around elegant parties is so insolent it's gorgeous.

By the way, Weird Wednesday/Terror Thursday super-regular Chris Popkoff has written up C&C in his excellent blog, Who Put The Pop in Popkoff? Check it out. Here are some clip and save photos of Jane Birkin, and sometimes Serge Gainsbourg - who's also pretty kickass - and will get even more kickass once the hipsters get over him.



Saturday, August 23, 2008

My hometown, uh grindhouse

As much as I hate using the overexposed word grindhouse (which was overused even before the movie came out), I don't know how else to describe the Booker T in my hometown of Rocky Mount N.C. I never went there (I'd be shocked if any white person did, considering the old-south segregated mentality that persisted even into the '80s) and it was always mysterious to me as a child, I remember the movies on the marquee always had the word "Black" or "Dragon" in them. It closed down in '82 or so. The Booker T didn't list showtimes in the paper and they always ran double features.

I found this photo on Flickr while feeling nostalgic for the old hometown.

WONDER WOMEN

Rare surveillance photo of Nancy Kwan hiding out in Mexico after WONDER WOMEN'S release

Yeah, WONDER WOMEN!

By the way, I hope to be back as a more regular correspondent and a more regular person. We finally got the Alamo Sept/Oct calendar and the Fantastic Fest guide done so my time will hopefully be a little freer and I can do things like post blogs, sleep with both eyes closed etc.

WONDER WOMEN is pretty awesome. I hope some people came to WW for the first time this week because I think that movie encapsulates a lot of the really great things about these kinds of films. It has a sort of '60s comic book craziness and improbability while never (well, rarely) becoming overtly comic.

I really love Ross Hagen as the gravel-voiced hero. He plays that kind of macho superman with just the right amount of humorous observation. The brain-sex scene is flat out hilarious, particularly played against Nancy Kwan's cold veneer. Kwan herself doesn't fare so well in low-budget movies generally, her acting effects are limited largely to being beautiful, and in the hands of a quickie camera-crew she isn't lit for glamour and she comes across as stiff. Still, the role calls for a woman who stands a little apart from her flock, so it works fine.

The army of female assassins is notable for two actresses, Maria de Aragon, who seduces and (almost destroys) Hagen, and beautiful blonde Roberta Collins as Aragon's antagonist. De Aragon was in director Robert V. O'Neill's BLOOD MANIA, which I like too but the part she's been able to capitalize on most was the role of Greedo in STAR WARS! Collins was a dependable fixture in all the best exploitation films - her taste in role selection was impeccable. She played prisoners in Jack Hill's BIG DOLL HOUSE and Jonathan Demme's CAGED HEAT. She was Claudia Jennings' sex-mad roommate in UNHOLY ROLLERS, Matilda the Hun in DEATH RACE 2000, and she lit up EATEN ALIVE, THE ROOMMATES and THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA in small roles. A pretty impressive variety of films.

One element about Filipino-shot exploitation I neglected to mention is one of my favorite: bug-eyed, perpetually stoned-looking character actor Vic Diaz, who plays the cab driver. Diaz was so funny and reliable that he ended up getting cast in 90% of all American/Fili productions. Every time I see him it's like seeing an old friend.

Thanks again to I Luv Video for being super awesome and sponsoring Weird Wednesday. Check out Robert V. O'Neill's first feature THE PSYCHO LOVER (produced by the Isley Brothers!!!!???) in the Something Weird section of the Airport location.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sept/Oct WW titles and writeups


With free typos. Gimme little holler if you like.

BEYOND ATLANTIS (SOUTH LAMAR)
SEPT 3, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. EDDIE ROMERO, 1973, 35MM, 91 MIN, PG 1973
One of the superprime made-in-the-Philippines movies. As East Eddie, a scuzzy pimp who contrives to steal a massive stash of sacred pearls from primitive islanders, Sid Haig has never been cooler or balder. This movie also scores major '70s exotica points with its wild analog synthesizer-flavored score, amazing underwater mating dances, jaw-dropping tropical locations, and of course the mind-altering textiles we've come to expect from Filipino movies. For some reason the goddess/princess of the island tribe is a stone fox Amazon Barbie-doll blonde while everyone else is brown-skinned with giant ping-pong ball eyes! Whoa! Why can't all movies be this fun? With John Ashley, Vic Diaz, and Patrick (son of John) Wayne, who can't act but has his dad's cool walk. (Lars)

KIDNAPPED COED
SEPT 10, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. FREDERICK FRIEDEL, 1976, 35MM, 76 MIN, R
In the ‘70s, Times Square was a seedy open-air sex and drugs marketplace. And the real hot-spots were the 24-hour movie theaters where double features of kung fu, horror, and sex films unreeled 24 hours a day for audiences composed primarily of bitter, sociopathic males. Think Travis Bickle from TAXI DRIVER and you’re on the right track. It was an audience for which no extreme was too extreme. The audience of “popeyes” would sit through showing after showing of gory horror, amputee porn and worse, sniffing glue and smoking dirt weed. There was enough existential nausea in any given foot of Times Square to make Jean Paul Sartre toss his crepes in the nearest clogged and overflowing urinal. So KIDNAPPED COED must have hit Times Square like an artillery shell. You can imagine the smell of record cleaner in the theater; you can almost hear the sound of the butterfly knives clacking shut as the crowd watches in rapt admiration. Not since the films of Jean-Pierre Melville had there been an antihero quite like Jack Cannon, a self-loathing kidnapper whose victim is stolen away from him by the mob, leading to a bloody showdown. This is tough stuff, rough around the edges but gooily primal. If it had been made in France it probably would have been acclaimed a masterpiece of postwar alienation. Thank God it wasn’t made in France but in the number one country on Earth - USA America. (Lars)

DARK AGE
SEPT 17, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. ARCH NICHOLSON, 1987, 35MM, 91 MIN, NR
Part Of the Fantastic Fest "Not Quite Hollywood" Ozsploitation Retrospective. Seriously, Australia seems like a cool place to live. Everybody seems pretty cool. There are beautiful beaches. Outlaw culture is honored and respected. There's one huge downside though, everything that walks, swims or crawls can kill you within 8 seconds. The ocean is full of Great White Sharks, the venomous snake population is tops in the world, there are all kinds of creatures that taxonomists have never been able to get close enough to to even slap a latin name on. Most disturbingly, there are giant crocodiles the size of eighteen-wheelers roaming the marshlands. Or so the makers of DARK AGE would have you believe. Fortunately, the film is so boomingly well directed, acted and shot you'll be willing to believe just about anything. Not only is the giant crocodile at the center of this film hundreds of years old, he is venerated by the Aboriginal Australians as a sacred spirit. Enter the great Aussie actor John Jarratt (WOLF CREEK) as a ranger assigned to kill the croc after it ingests some poachers. Instead of killing the beast, he makes plans to capture and relocate it - but the whole plan is jeopardized by the most incredibly scuzzy outback reptile hunters imaginable. Their one-armed leader lost an arm to the crocodile and takes it all pretty personally. With David Gulpilil and Burnam Burnam as the Aborigines who join up with the ranger and his lady against the bad guys. Fantastic, highly recommended. (Lars)

MAN FROM HONG KONG with Brian Trenchard-Smith Live
SEPT 24, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. BRIAN TRENCHARD-SMITH, 1975, 35MM, 111 MIN, R
Part Of the Fantastic Fest "Not Quite Hollywood" Ozsploitation Retrospective. From now on whenever anyone asks me what the most berserk orgy of action and violence ever placed on film is I'll be honor-bound to answer THE MAN FROM HONG KONG. If a car crashes and explodes in this film (and it will, don't worry) you'd better believe it will explode with 5,000 megatons of TNT power. When our special guest Brian Trenchard-Smith was filming this movie in Australia he got complaints from Soviet Cosmonauts in space who said it kept them awake at night. With 75 car chases, 17 throat-ripping death fights, 437 burning-man scenes and one dopey hang-glider this is truly a memorable exercise in pedal to the metal excitement. And director Brian Trenchard-Smith, who not only directed the film but plays a pornishly-bedecked henchman, will be here in person to explain how and why. Stars Jimmy Wang Yu as the "tough cop who learned every trick in the book and then threw the book away" and erstwhile James Bond seatwarmer George Lazenby as a dandyish crime boss with a bulletproof mustache. Stunts by the madman from dingo-land Grant Page, who appears desperate to end it all in a progressively greater and greater aggregation of death-defiance. (Lars)

ALL THE SINS OF SODOM with Joe Sarno Live
OCT 1, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. JOE SARNO, 1968, DV, 91 MIN, R
Presented by Retro-Seduction Cinema. Thought lost for many years, Joe Sarno's ALL THE SINS OF SODOM is back, and playing in front of an audience for the first time in over 30 years. Sarno's genius is that he builds realistic situations stealthily. The cheap sets may lull the viewer into thinking he's watching just another dodgy sex movie but as the narrative progresses, the situations become not only realistic but universal and mythological. Not only do you care about the characters. You are the characters. I know it sounds like I'm enthusing too much but seriously, be here. See it for yourself. (Lars)

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME
OCT 8, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. GEORGE McCOWAN, 1979, 35MM, 98 MIN, PG
In case you haven't heard, STAR WARS was a big, huge monster hit on an unprecedented scale. For years afterward cheap space operas swept through the multiplexes, promising so much on the poster and delivering so, so little. I'd like to say that this film is the exception but it's not. Fortunately it's an entertaining, though confusingly jumbled, mix of sexy space ladies, a wisecracking robot (ugh), special effects that look like they were filtered through a burlap sack full of ass and the great Jack Palance, looking stronger than a locomotive full of steroids at age 60, as the evil robot lord Omus. If you drink enough generic cough syrup before the movie, you'll swear you're really in space. That's our guarantee to you. (Lars)

REDNECK
OCT 15, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. SILVIO NARIZZANO, 1975, 35MM, 89 MIN, R
Telly Savalas and Franco Nero play a pair of wisecracking screw-ups who botch a jewel robbery, kill some people and accidentally take a young boy hostage. Pretty soon they're tutoring the kid on the finer points of being a complete psychopath. Savalas, never noted for his actorly restraint, is like a runaway downhill ham-train as the ruthless killer Memphis while the nattily mustachio'd Nero is a bit more subdued as Mosquito, the (relatively) sympathetic one. Along the way there's a side-trip into what-the-fuck land with a bit of the old inappropriateness we've come to know and love so well. Hard-edged, violent, idiosyncratic... not your usual Italian crime movie. I'll be quaffing tumblers full of J&B Scotch at this one so stay out of my way and don't be grabbing on me! (Lars)

DRESSED TO KILL
OCT 22, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. BRIAN DE PALMA, 1980, 35MM, 105 MIN, R
“If this film succeeds, killing women may become the greatest turn-on of the Eighties!” - Women Against Pornography leaflet, 1980. When DRESSED TO KILL came out it created a firestorm of controversy. Womens' groups marched on theaters, gay rights groups protested, reviewers savaged it as an unnecessarily violent rip-off of all of Hitchcock's best ideas. They were all wrong. DRESSED TO KILL is one of the funniest, cleverest essays on the art of the suspense film, and a superior example of the form. It's the only American giallo thriller and it stands with the best work of Argento, Bava, Lenzi and Sergio Martino. The film was a huge hit and shot its vile seed deep into the brains of millions of people in theaters throughout America and later as a late night staple on pay cable. Angie Dickinson, Michael Caine, Nancy Allen and especially Keith Gordon (even though he looks like Harry Potter) are all fantastic but the spotlight is on writer/director Brian De Palma. He was very busy throughout the '70s and by the time he made DRESSED TO KILL his reflexes and instincts were tuned up tighter than a drum. Like a kinky behaviorist, he runs the viewer through a sleazy maze of sex and death while constantly exploiting the audience's sophisticated cinema-consciousness. Think you're smart? De Palma's smarter. He virtuosically demonstrates 37 positions of mind-fucking before letting you have your cigarette. It's a true classic, and an unmissable big screen event. (Lars)

DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT
OCT 29, MIDNIGHT, FREE, DIR. PAUL SOLVAY, 1973, 35MM, 80 MIN, R
Just in time for Halloween, an Italian sexy vampire lady movie starring the smoketacular Rosalba Neri. The dusky, olive-skinned Neri ran off with nearly every movie she appeared in, no matter how insignificant her part. She has a way of melting your eyeballs with just her tiniest nostril-flaring glance. She's basically sex personified. And this is one of her best roles. She plays a Countess Bathory type who bathes in the blood of virgins to stay beautiful. But when vampire hunting twin brothers show up, will some other stuff happen? Looks like you'll have to show up to find out because all we remember is the sight of Rosalba Neri rising naked from a silver bathtub covered in the blood of virgins. Oh, and there's an awesome Dracula ring. And a bald guy. (Lars)

Also of note:

ABIGAIL LESLEY IS BACK IN TOWN WITH JOE SARNO LIVE
OCT 1, 10PM, DIR. JOE SARNO, 1975, 35MM, 96 MIN, R
Presented by Retro-Seduction Cinema.
Wow. That's all we can say about Joe Sarno's mind-blowing erotic masterpiece ABIGAIL LESLEY IS BACK IN TOWN. It's the story of a quietly desperate suburb, the kind of staid, puritanical, thoroughly unhappy town full of attractive but aimless couples that provides so much kindling for the flames of lust in Sarno's films. This time the torch is lit by the titular town tramp Abigail Lesley, who was hounded out of town two years earlier after being caught with a married man. When she comes home again, all those unresolved erotic demons rise, stretch and begin their frolics anew. This movie is chock full of sex but Sarno is careful to provide an emotional framework so that when the pieces start to fit together (literally) the viewer is carried away into the bacchanale. Even though the film was shot cheaply and quickly, the Sarno magic is all over it. (Lars)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

NINJA ANNIHILATION WAR tonight. Ritz. 7.


Can't wait to hear everybody's thoughts about NINJA ANNIHILATION WAR which we ganked from the Thrifty Scotsman Flea Market in Oxnard last summer.

Lars & Zack Present
NINJA ANNIHILATION WAR - FREE!

Rated R; 90min; Director:Fung Brothers (1987)

Location: Alamo Downtown

God knows the '80s weren't perfect. It was the decade of rising budget deficits, illegal U.S. intervention in Central America, widespread failings of the infrastructure and social safety net and Duran Duran.

But it was also the Decade of the Ninja. While the black-garbed messengers of death have appeared in films for a long time, they were usually hiding behind ornamental potted palm trees or clinging to the ceiling...it took a sharp eye to spot them.

But thanks to martial art moviemaking mavericks like The Fung (pronounced 'fang') Brothers, they shimmied their way into the video stores and late night cable TV stations of America. These multi-thousand dollar spectacles usually starred whatever Caucasian actor happened to be in Hong Kong at the time (generally as an Interpol agent masquerading as a ninja). They were relentless cut-and-paste jobs that combined scenes from unrelated films into a dense fabric of digressions, flashbacks, minor-character subplots that go on at baffling length and - of course - demonstrations of pole-spinning, star-hurling prowess. They are head-scratching meta-constructions of the Global Mind circa 1985 and we love them.

So when we found an obscure 3/4" video master at an Oxnard California flea market labeled "NINJA ANNIHILATION WAR" we clearly had to have it. After exhaustive research, we've learned that it has never before been released on video or even theatrically. When the blood-red Ninja tide rolled back out to sea this was the one left flopping on the beach - and it's a goddamn masterpiece.

Now, through the miracles of modern technology, we've had it transferred to digital video and are going to share it with you. It's difficult to synopsize the off-the-wall, maniacal plot so we won't even try. But trust us - if you're a fan of the brand of cruel and unusual films we offer at our weekly Weird Wednesday and Terror Thursday screenings, you don't want to miss NAW!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Coming in October




I'm gonna do it. I've been thinking about it for a long time and now I'm gonna show it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dying over here

Sorry about the paucity of posts here. I haven't lost interest, just buried in a huge amount of theater and fantastic fest work so - keep checking in.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

PUZZLE aka MAN WITHOUT A MEMORY TONIGHT

Senta Berger. Vicious.

Come on out tonight for an interesting noir/giallo about a guy who has amnesia (or does he?) and is running from some crooks (or is he?) because he killed a guy (or did he?) and has some drugs stashed (or does he?). It starts at midnight (or does it?).

Weird Wednesday: PUZZLE
Midnight, Ritz, Rated R; 92min; Director:Duccio Tessari (1974)

This rough-edged yet stylish Italian giallo thriller stars Luc Merenda as an amnesiac, newly returned to Italy and his wife (the incendiary Senta Berger), trying to put the pieces back together. Wherever he goes death follows - he’s being blackmailed for reasons he doesn’t understand - and with every piece of the puzzle he finds out something new and disturbing about himself and his past. The particular appeal of the Italian giallo thriller is the counterpoint between the often strangely beautiful visuals and the dark violence and psychological tension underneath. The best giallo film-makers externalize the characters’ central conflicts in the atmospheric settings, sweeping the viewer into an often bizarre, nightmarish fantasy world that’s oddly appealing. Director Duccio Tessari balances an eye for angles and locations with a great feel for suspense timing. Written by genre Grandmaster Ernesto Gastaldi. Recommended. (Lars)

Thanks as always to I Luv Videoooooo!