Friday, August 14, 2009

September October WW Titles and Writeups

Sponsored by the great I Luv Video!

SEPT 2, MIDNIGHT, $1, DIR. JAMES HONG, 1979, 35MM, 89 MIN, R
Holy shit! This outrageous farce, directed (and possibly written) by longtime character actor James Hong, is like a wholly American distillation of late-period Luis Bunuel. Good taste is roughly elbowed aside and black-humored perversity reigns inside as we are introduced to lovely young Carol (Kristen Baker), a police academy cadet who has family problems. Her gross father is always on the make for her, her mother drinks like a sailor on a three day shore leave, and her model-airplane obsessed retarded brother wants to marry her. Fortunately she has her police work, which largely consists of dressing like a hooker and being groped by perps, that is when she’s not being groped by the other cops. Her problems aren’t confined to home and work though, even when she tries to spend a little quiet time with her hot-rodding boyfriend, she’s dragged from the car by a gang of amorous 8 year olds (while the theme from THE PEOPLE’S COURT blasts on the soundtrack). When she seeks religious counsel, the family priest tells her he’s gay, and that “all Hitler needed was a hug”, which only serves to confuse her. But the confusion is just beginning as things really get strange. (Lars)

Al Adamson is at it again. The man who brought us CARNIVAL MAGIC, DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN and THE DYNAMITE BROTHERS is back. This time it’s with a movie advertised as a biker movie. But, truth be told, the bikers are just tacked-on set dressing for an otherwise difficult-to-market movie about Nazi counterfeiters. If you can figure out what’s going on in this movie you should go to Washington and get shit straightened out because you’re a genius. Fortunately there are a lot of unintentional laughs and one absolute skull-mashing cameo appearance. As a couple of the characters enjoy a little Kentucky Fried Chicken, an uncomfortable looking Colonel Sanders shows up and makes small talk about chicken for a minute or so and then disappears! It’s that kind of a movie. The biker action was filmed at the Spahn Ranch, home of the Manson Family. With Broderick Crawford, John Carradine, Jack Starrett and Adamson favorite Vicki Volante. (Lars)

As the theme song says: “Rodeo and cattle herding, cheating on your wife - free-for-alls and barroom brawls, they’re all part of life... Time for you to grab a gun and put away your toys. The game that you’re about to play just ain’t for little boys.” The poster for TEXAS LIGHTNING promises a souped-up, fast paced action movie along the lines of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. That’s what the producers wanted, anyway. What they got from wild man director Gary Graver, was a story of generational discord along the lines of classical tragedy, with fine performances from Cameron Mitchell and Maureen “Marcia Brady” McCormick. So to appease the drive-in crowd they added some bad gags, a wet T-shirt contest and turned the film into one of the most mind-scrapingly inappropriate things imaginable. Somehow, it works. Graver, a talented cinematography who worked with everyone from Orson Welles to Al Adamson, was a party maniac. When McCormick was at the theater last year she recalled waking up naked in bed with Graver, actress Claudia Jennings and a massive pile of blow. That’s the life! (Lars)

This year Fantastic Fest welcomes hugely prolific auteur Jess Franco, a man who has carved out a special place in film history with his wholly uniqueoeuvre of sex films.We will show a selection of Mr. Franco’s films during Fantastic Fest and present him with our first Lifetime Achievement Award. This special pre-Fantastic Fest presentation was made possible by the generous cooperation of Blue Underground. The works of the Marquis De Sade have provided the spark of inspiration for some of Jess Franco’s most memorable works. This film, made during his fruitful association with English producer Harry Alan Towers, is among Franco’s best, and one of his own favorites. It’s the story of a teenage girl, played by the lovely Marie Liljedahl, who enters the cruel and corrupting orbit of her father’s mistress and her slightly insane half-brother when she visits their secluded island retreat for a weekend. The adventurously shot film, full of lugubrious set pieces, is a joy to behold. The gorgeous psychedelic dream world Franco creates makes the viewer feel the blood-racing excitement of sexual abandon, an uncommon achievement in sex films, as anyone who has laughed and yawned through a number of them will assent. Featuring Franco regulars Maria Rohm, Paul Muller, Jack Taylor and Christopher Lee, who later claimed he didn’t know it was an adult film. (Lars)

An encore Fantastic Fest presentation. Since its inception, Fantastic Fest has provided a forum for screenings of the most outrageous Japanese “pink films.” In the world of the ”pinku eiga”, filmmakers are essentially turned loose with a small budget. As long as the resulting film contains the requisite amount of sex and nudity (i.e. a LOT), the creators can seemingly get away with just about anything. Last year, S&M HUNTER shocked and awed a Fantastic Fest audience of jaded international sophisticates, who thought they’d seen it all before. S&M HUNTER is an exercise in manga-style outrageousness guaranteed to offend everybody. The black-clad S&M Roper is a kind of bondage super hero who has a supernatural genius for tying women up in configurations that leave them helplessly aroused. When the all-girl gang The Bombers, kidnap a man for their personal sex toy, S&M Hunter accepts a mission to infiltrate The Bombers’ hideout and show them the ropes. It should be noted that S&M HUNTER is a hugely politically incorrect film, loaded with swastikas, delirious patriarchal anxiety, Catholica used for sexual purposes and worse, but few will be able to resist its spiraling craziness for long. The climax, in which the rope-mad antihero employs a 200 foot tall construction crane to execute his bondage masterpiece has to be seen to be believed. Not for the weak! (Lars)

Gorgeous Claudia Jennings lit up our screen a few months ago as the revenge-obsessed Cajun wildcat Desiree in GATOR BAIT. Her nearly wordless portrayal of a quasi-mythic swamp wraith is memorable, but audiences could be forgiven for thinking her a limited actress. However, in the rollerderby classic UNHOLY ROLLERS she turns in what a very impressed Roger Ebert called the “hardest, most vicious female performance in a long time.” She plays the kind of Barbara Stanwyck/Joan Blondell gum-chewing working class heroine that Hollywood excelled at depicting before the Production Code stepped in and made screen women all soft and wifey. Here Jennings rises from a dreary life working in a cat food factory to become a rollerderby queen who skates to win, no matter what the script says. She drinks cheap beer, curses like a sailor and generally doesn’t give a fuck. Sadly, Jennings, who died in a 1979 car crash, didn’t get any other parts this good. Written and directed by Vernon Zimmerman, who later made the excellent FADE TO BLACK and provided the screenplay for TEEN WITCH. Edited by Martin Scorsese. (Lars)

From Greece comes this amazing, kinky, violent psychosexual soap opera. When good girl Nadia investigates her sister’s death she finds out that sadistic pimp Nick is behind it all so she straps on the leather and whips and beats him at his own game. Full of unspeakable perversions, dark secrets, two-way mirrors, orgies and 40-weight sleaze. There’s even an adorable pussycat, who purrs and licks her paws as the worst kinds of depravity unfold in front of her. Sounds great, huh? But for me the best part of this movie is the CONSTANT cigarette smoking. A rare treat that you won’t find anywhere else. Who else is bringing you Greek S&M revenge movies? It seems like a good opportunity to formally beat our chests and announce that when it comes to providing high quality sexploitation cinema we are the alpha gorillas. Other theaters around the country may chew the bamboo and act tough but they know that if they try to come near our females they will be beaten senseless with a thighbone. (Lars)

The best of Roger Corman’s seminal Edgar Allan Poe adaptations. This is the biggest, most lavish of all the American International Poe pictures, and all the pretty colors and extravagant sets certainly enhance the entertainment value, but it could have been filmed on black and white super 8 film and it would still be a joy to behold, thanks to the great Vincent Price. He is at his eye-rolling, emotive best here as a feudal count, who throws huge, depraved parties for the local debauched nobility. When the plague arrives, in the form of a Bergmanesque hooded figure dressed all in red, the count throws the biggest masquerade ball of all with the stipulation that no one wear red, and raises the drawbridge to keep the contagion at bay. Will a red-clad emissary of death find his way into the party? What do you think? Filmed in England as a tax dodge, with many fine English actors including Patrick Magee, Hazel Court and Jane Asher. The spectacular art direction is by longtime Corman cohort Daniel Haller and the excellent cinematography is by Nicolas Roeg. (Lars)

Stephanie Rothman has provided some of the most memorable Weird Wednesday movies: THE STUDENT NURSES and TERMINAL ISLAND, and this is possibly her weirdest - a one-of-a-kind aquarian sex-vampire epic. Though made in America, the film incorporates a lot of the techniques we associate with artsy European horror movies - an emphasis on storytelling through color, slow psychedelic dissolves, and that old standby: abundant nudity. There’s a school of thought that horror movies need a strong sexual component, whether explicit or sublimated, or they just don’t have the desired impact. Clearly Rothman has attended a few classes herself as this movie is all about vampirism as a sexual dynamic. And Celeste Yarnall as the bloodsucker of the title provides a clear sexual focus for this movie about a vapid bleached blonde California couple who find themselves ensnared in a vampire’s desert lair. Better than you’d expect and possibly the only vampire movie to successfully incorporate dune buggies. Featuring a completely unexpected cameo appearance by legendary Delta bluesman Johnny Shines, who performs “Evil Hearted Woman”. (Lars)


Aaron Abolt said...

Can't wait for this. Coming back to Weird Wednesday is possibly my favorite thing about fall. I got to see Masque at a theater a few years ago and it was amazing. People don't know what's about to hit them. Also happy to see we're getting more from the director of Student Nurses. That was one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

What a great line up! I told James Hong about it and he really liked your review of his film. I'm sorry I missed you out here in LA but I was working non-stop on Inglorious Basterds. Cheers amigo, I wish I was in Austin!
Joe D

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