Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979)

I only ever had detention once in high school, that I can recall (the actual number may be greater, but that's my story, and I'm sticking to it). The sad part is I genuinely didn't do anything to land there that time (yes, really). You see, I was in Algebra class, seated in the back. Some kid sitting next to me passed a comment about a certain biological process that only women go through with regard to a girl in the class. Meanwhile, I was watching a different kid in front of me doing something stupid and let out a little chuckle. So when the girl complained about this guy's comment (and rightfully so), I was implicated, because I had been smiling when it went down. Of course, the vice principal didn't want to hear any of my explanation, and I spent that Saturday picking up garbage around the school grounds. I guess the vice principal never heard Abraham Lincoln's quote, "I have always found that mercy bears richer fruit than strict justice."

At Vince Lombardi High School, where "winning isn't the most important thing…it's the only thing," the student population…actually seems relatively well-behaved. Nevertheless, the school board has decided to elect Miss Togar (the severe-looking but still exquisite Mary Woronov) to be the new principal. Along with her henchman-esque hall monitors, Fritz Hansel (Loren Lester) and Fritz Gretel (Daniel Davies), she plans to bring the school under the iron heel of discipline. Opposing her is Riff Randall (P.J. Soles), a hardcore rock 'n' roller, whose only wish in life is to get her songs into the hands of her favorite band, The Ramones. With Riff is nerdy best friend, Kate Rambeau (Dey Young), who wants to get together with the drab Tom Roberts (Vincent Van Patten). Needless to say, the arrival of the actual, honest-to-God Ramones eventually brings everything to a head.

I would wager, when you inquire about non-concert films centered on bands, most people will cite either Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park or Can't Stop The Music. Often, they will do this in a groan-tinged voice while lifting their heads up to the heavens, pleading for mercy. The reason is obvious. Musicians, while still entertainers, do not necessarily (and more often than not just don't) make very good actors (Gene Simmons's role in Runaway excepted, of course – "They're loaded with ACID!"). Just watch one of the two films listed above, if you doubt me. That producer Roger Corman decided to change Allan Arkush's film from Disco High to Rock 'n' Roll High School (at the director's behest) and center it ostensibly on one of the progenitors of punk was a wise move, I think (though who wouldn't want to watch Disco High?). It goes without saying, the Ramones were no thespians either, but their attitude helps the film work when they're onscreen. They obviously don't take any of this seriously, and honestly, do you think Lee Mouton would allow himself to be force fed wheat germ and Brussels sprouts? Maybe. But Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Marky are just having a good time, playing their music, and collecting a paycheck, and their performances work for the film.

Like the Ramones' appearance and musical attitude, the film is styled after the "juvenile delinquent movies" of the 1950s (Rebel Set, Bloody Brood, and so forth). However, rather than commit heinous acts of violence in rejection of the rules of society, the teens in Rock 'n' Roll High School rebel through (silly as it sounds) fun. This, then, is the other side of the juvenile delinquency coin, because the kids don't want to destroy, they just want the freedom to do what they want to do, yet their rebellion is still overt. Similar to Footloose a few years later and so many others, it's the uptight (nay, Nazi-esque) bureaucracy that needs to be overcome. And it's the power of music which will do it. Of course, once the revolution starts, there's no stopping it, and anarchy reigns in the hallowed halls of academia. Playing into the wish fulfillment every teenager secretly harbors, Arkush goes down a list of things we all wish we could have/should have done while we were in high school. I mean, who wouldn't want to take a chainsaw to the permanent records we were all threatened with constantly? Who wouldn't want to throw the crappy food served in the cafeteria back at the servers (granted, they were just working with what they were given, but here you get the sense they enjoyed inflicting culinary crimes on students)? 

There's a ton of destruction on hand, but it's all fairly harmless. No one dies or (with two notable exceptions) even gets hurt. There's a gleeful sensibility at play in every frame of the film. Essentially, the filmmakers entice the viewers to just turn off, relax, and let the merriment wash over them. Arkush and company fill the frame with all kinds of visual treats, and the tight editing (the director was an editor for Corman, as seemingly almost everyone was at one point or another) keeps the pace fast. You're so busy trying to catch everything, the film has already moved three bits ahead of you by the time you've ingested the first one. So if the last joke didn't work for you, maybe the next one will, and there's not enough space between them to be sure whether you liked it or not, anyway.

Teenagers feel "different" (well, many do, at least). Even among their own peers, feelings of being an outsider are prevalent. This is something the Ramones have always reflected. They were unlike anything else in music at the time. They were freaks, and they capitalized on this to the betterment of all the other freaks around the world. That said, since a film solely about the Ramones being in town for a concert (wouldn't it have been interesting to have this film end like the Stones' Altamont concert? Maybe it does on some level) would probably not be enough to sustain itself (it would to me, but I'm weird like that and besides, it would pretty much be a documentary), we have the romantic subplots of Kate and Tom. Some slight sense of tension is attempted with Tom wanting Riff (even trying to tempt her into one of the finest "shaggin' wagons" I have ever seen) and Kate wanting Tom, but it's all a non-issue, really. We know exactly how everything will play out, and that's just fine and dandy, because when the Ramones are playing, we're all having a blast. Gabba gabba hey!

MVT: I'd like to give it to Woronov for her terrific performance as Miss Togar (just watch her subtle reactions to everything around her, and tell me she's not fantastic here), but I need to give it to the Ramones, if only out of respect for what this band did for rock 'n' roll and in memory of Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee. Rest in peace, guys.

Make Or Break: The Make is a terrific, extended scene involving a paper airplane flying impossibly throughout the school. It ends in a punchline so grievously bad (delivered by the late, great Paul Bartel), you can't help but laugh and love it.

Score: 7/10

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Episode #186: Inglorious Scoumoune

Welcome to another episode of the GGtMC!!!

THis week the Gents rise from bed (5am recording) to bring you another (in)glorious episode of the podcast you have come to love!!! This week the Gents bring you reviews of Inglourious Basterds (2009) directed by Quentin Tarantino and La Scoumoune (1972) starring Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Direct download: Inglorious_ScoumouneRM.mp3

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cinema de Bizarre Review of the Week: The Man from Hong Kong (1975)

Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith and Jimmy Wang Yu

Starring Jimmy Wang Yu ("Fang"), George Lazenby ("Wilton"), Hugh Keays-Byrne ("Morrie Grosse"), and Roger Ward ("Bob Taylor")

Country: Hong Kong, Australia

After cranking out a few made-for-TV movies and documentaries within the first couple of years of his career, legendary Australian director Brian Trenchard-Smith unleashed his first feature-length film onto the public in 1975 with THE MAN FROM HONG KONG (also known as DRAGON FLIES), and what a debut feature-length it was. It's as if he had a suppressed overwhelming desire to blow shit up on screen his entire life and this mash-up of Aussie Action and Hong Kong Martial Arts cinema was his chance to finally exorcise those demons. THE MAN FROM HONG KONG does have a plot, but we get it in between numerous scenes of car chases, foot chases, explosions, and extended fight sequences. While he'd go on to settle down in terms of the amount of action he included in his films, MAN FROM HONG KONG laid the groundwork for his style of filmmaking and established him as someone who has a genuine love for the Action genre and the stunt profession.

The film opens with a couple of undercover cops (Roger Ward and Hugh Keays-Byrne - both of whom would go on to star in MAD MAX a few years later playing people on opposing sides of the law) busting a drug courier (Sammo Hung) out in the middle of the desert. Yes, I just mentioned Roger Ward, Hugh Keays-Byrne, and Sammo Hung in the first sentence of this paragraph and I haven't even really gotten started yet. Anyway, there's a bit of a language barrier seeing as the courier doesn't speak any English, and so the cops bring in an Inspector from Hong Kong, Fang Sing Leng (Jimmy Wang Yu), to interrogate Sammo's character. Fang beats the information out of him, and an investigation begins for a local Martial Arts expert/socialite/playboy/crossbow enthusiast named Wilton (George Lazenby). Wilton sicks his henchmen on Fang, resulting in the aforementioned car chases, fights, and action sequences.

Aside from the all-star cast mentioned above, we have two very important people in the Australian film industry playing Lazenby's henchmen: stunt man Grant Page and none other than Brian Trenchard-Smith himself - in leather pants no less! Both of them get their asses handed to them by Jimmy Wang Yu, but they both put up a fight, especially Grant, whose scenes with Jimmy Wang Yu lasted a while, beginning with a chase out on the street and ending with an extended fight that starts in a kitchen of a Chinese restaurant before making its way to the dining area. To say that they absolutely destroyed this Chinese restaurant would be an understatement.

If I have a complaint about MAN FROM HONG KONG, it's that there isn't enough Roger Ward and Hugh Keays-Byrne. They have great chemistry as a pair of narcotics detectives who have a tendency to goof around, and they're believable as two guys who have developed a friendship through working with each other. There's also a bit of an odd couple relationship between the two that I personally would've loved to have seen more of a focus on. You have Ward's character who's always in a suit and tie, whereas Byrne is usually dressed like he's Robin Hood or something. It's not that they're screen time is limited or anything, but at a certain point they take a backseat as more of the film focuses on Jimmy Wang Yu's character as he beds Aussie women and fights crime. Speaking of which, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes stories that don't exactly paint the Hong Kong star in the most positive of lights, but that's a discussion for another time and place.

As I said, the film does have a plot, and it's a pretty basic plot about cops trying to put an end to a drug ring. At the end of the day, though, it doesn't really matter what this movie is about, and to be critical of the plot and storytelling is missing the point. MAN FROM HONG KONG is essentially a showcase of stunts that was made to entertain and "WOW" audiences, with a plot as a means of getting from one action set-piece to the next and justifying them. Anyone who's familiar with Brian Trenchard-Smith's work knows that it wouldn't be one of his films without some sort of vehicular destruction, and this film has plenty of those. I lost count, but there are at least three or four exploding cars in the film, not to mention a number of chase scenes and driving that would be better suited in a demolition derby than a highway. One of the early car-splosions in the film looks to have been the perfect accident as a rather large piece of the car flew at the camera like a frisbee and seemingly missed it by only a few feet. In another car-related stunt sequence, a car drives right through a fucking HOUSE and keeps going! Well, it doesn't make it very far, but it keeps going nonetheless. And explodes of course.

MAN FROM HONG KONG is obviously no CITIZEN KANE, but it's a fun, spectacular film that should hit the sweet spot for anyone looking to just sit back, relax, and watch something entertaining and macho that requires no emotional or mental investment. Not only that, but you get a cast of legendary genre actors in the film as well. It should also be said that George Lazenby is great as the villain and seems to be having a ball hamming it up on screen (when he's not on fire). Highly recommended.

Make or Break: So many to choose from, but I'll go with the final "boss battle" between Jimmy Wang Yu and George Lazenby.

MVT: The stunts. And this includes not just the set-pieces themselves, but the stunt people who executed them as well.

Score: 7.75/10

The Disc: It appears to be a cropped version of the original print. MAN FROM HONG KONG was shot in 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, and the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen are still in tact, but the sides of the picture are cut out. Also, the quality leaves much to be desired. Not a pristine DVD-quality print by any means, but it's watchable and still much better than a beat-up VHS rip or something. And be warned that the sound is incredibly loud, so if you normally have the volume on your television or sound system turned up, you might wanna start the film with the volume low and adjust it from there. Clear and audible, but loud. English with no subtitles.

Cinema de Bizarre
MAN FROM HONG KONG on Cinema de Bizarre

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bonus #39: Interview with Richard Glenn Schmidt from Hello! This is the Doomed Show

Welcome to another special bonus episode of the GGtMC!!

This week Death Rattle Aaron interviews Richard Glenn Schmidt of the Hello! This is the Doomed Show podcast, and

We hope you enjoy the conversation Gentle-Minions!!!

Direct download: DRAintRGSrm.mp3

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Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Friday, May 25, 2012

Little Cigars (1973)

What is it about little people that makes people laugh? I know the answer is obvious; their height. However, it makes me wonder why them playing a pivotal role in a film (mainly headlining one) makes that film jump to the top of viewers’ must-see list. I hadn’t heard of “Little Cigars” until yesterday. Immediately upon discovering it, I let it jump over other films on my list to be my next review here.

There was something about the poster and premise that caught me. A mob filled with midgets (don’t mean to offend anybody, just calling it as the film does) who assist a beauty in what appears to be a “Snow White” send-up was highly appealing. Though the film is not even close to being a send-up of “Snow White” (though there is a joke regarding said film), it does play up the mob factor. Just not in the way one would expect.

For many, referring to the Little Cigars as a mob is misleading. They’re a traveling circus act of sorts that purposely perform cheap routines to distract patrons and steal from them. The first time we see them performing, two members of the group sneak into the parking lot and rob civilians. Later, they not only convince patrons to buy an average candy bar with the promise of a better sex life (just go with it), but they snatch their wallets when they’re not looking.

Cleo (Angel Tompkins) gets involved with the gang when she steals from a gangster and hightails it. When Slick Bender (Billy Curtis) offers her a position on his traveling attraction, she initially turns it down (with a barrage of midget jokes). It’s not until the gangster’s cronies catch up with her that she takes Slick’s offer and becomes his mistress, so to speak.

It’s not until the halfway point that the film kicks it into high gear. For the first half, we’re drowned in midget jokes (albeit some funny) and lame carny acts. It’s not until Cleo and Slick decide to start elevating their thievery that the film becomes engaging. They stop hustling drunken hicks and begin robbing bars and banks. The midget jokes still exist, but they become a bit more fleshed out (such as the cops mistaking the Little Cigars for children).

What holds this film back from being a memorable film starring midgets (I know, not a huge class, but you get my point) is the direction of Chris Christenberry. As slow and monotonous the first half can be, he was at least setting the characters and story up. The gangster plot which drives the film may be dry, but it was serving a purpose. It was the catalyst that brought Cleo and the Little Cigars together. Too bad it becomes an afterthought. Once Christenberry remembers to bring them back into the story, he quickly dispatches of them.

Thankfully, he does replace them with entertaining sequences of Cleo and the Little Cigars partaking in heists. The two standouts being the aforementioned bar and bank stickups. The bar one is plagued with rudimentary midget jokes, though them being dispersed by drunken rednecks makes them tolerable. When the entire gang robs them clean of their illegal gambling money, they cheerily escape, but not before stating, “If gambling wasn’t illegal in this state, you could call the police!”

The more successful heist, in terms of humor, would be when they rob the bank. The citizens being held up initially believe the gang is using toy guns, as they refer to them as toy people. Once one of them shoots their gun into the ceiling, the crowd grows quiet down and shows sign of fear. This mostly makes up for the more ludicrous midget jokes, as the perpetrator’s finally got their comeuppance.

If Christenberry had focuses his attention solely on the Little Cigars and their heists, the film would have been more successful. The gangster subplot drags the film down and has it crawl through mud before finding it’s niche. The vastly superior second half does it’s best to make up for this, making “Little Cigars” a slightly above average film. It could have been much more, though.

MVT: Billy Curtis as Slick Bender. Though all of the Little Cigars are enjoyable, he is easily the standout. His tough exterior coupled with his stature and role are fun to watch. He doesn’t shy away from hamming it up, which makes the character work.

Make or Break: Their first true heist. This was the turning point of the film, converting “Little Cigars” from a slightly laborious task to an enjoyable heist comedy.

Final Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Suburbia (1983)

Evan Johnson (the late Bill Coyne) has had enough of his drunken mom's abuse. Alone on LA's mean streets, he soon finds himself with nowhere to go. Happening upon a venue where punk band D.I. is playing (one of their lesser songs, in my opinion), Evan is surreptitiously dosed by Keef (Grant Miner) and promptly passes out in his own vomit. He is picked up by Jack Diddley (Chris Pedersen) and introduced into the ranks of T.R. (aka the rather on-the-nose The Rejected), a group of punk kids living in an abandoned neighborhood off Interstate 605 (I believe towards the end of the line, but I'm not certain). The kids do what they have to do in order to survive but the out of work rednecks, led by Skokes (Jeff Prettyman) and Triplett (Lee Frederick, credited as Robert Peyton), want The Rejected gone one way or another.

Before Suburbia, writer/director Penelope Spheeris created The Decline Of Western Civilization, the seminal documentary many people feel is the best-made film about the world of punk rock (particularly punk rock in Los Angeles). Though I haven't seen it in at least a couple of decades, I would still agree with that sentiment (but I also recall liking Lech Kowalski's D.O.A., as well). There is a lot of the film that sticks with me even today. Of course, most music lovers who are unfamiliar with this film are almost definitely familiar with Ms. Spheeris's 1988 followup, The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years. I suspect most true punk rockers would have it no other way. 

The first and most obvious observation even the most casual viewer of this film will make is the one about family. The kids who form The Rejected all come from unhappy homes of some form or another. Sheila (Jennifer Clay) was abused and molested by her father (J. Dinan Myrtetus). Joe Schmo's (Wade Walston) father (Gavin Courtney) ignores his son, only focusing on his own desires for his live-in boyfriend (Robert A. Van Senus). They're all forms of innocence lost. When we're introduced to Evan and little brother Ethan (Andrew Pece), they're both engaged in carefree, childhood activities. Ethan rides around the driveway on his Big Wheel (an image mirrored later on, and one of the most iconic of the film). Evan reads a comic book in the living room. The television airs a program and/or movie about war (visualizing the constant conflict between young and old that runs through the film). These kids' lives are all tragedies in one form or another and to one degree or another, but if they weren't, they wouldn't belong with The Rejected. The abandoned house shelters the abandoned kids who become a family more caring for one another than their flesh-and-blood relations ever did.

The second observation would be the theme of the outsider the film carries. Beyond their outward appearance, The Rejected distances themselves from normality in space, as well, squatting in an abandoned house in an abandoned neighborhood. They steal from the more upstanding members of society, but that's strictly for survival. Their presence is enough to put adults on edge in general, and their open flaunting of polite society's norms and mores, provokes outright loathing by the likes of Skokes and Triplett. At the club (read: warehouse) where they see shows, the owner tells his spotlight operator to keep the light on any troublemakers so the police can pick them out faster. He'll take their money to see bands, but he doesn't trust them even slightly. Interestingly, the only adult who does stick up for The Rejected, William Bernard (Donald V. Allen), is not only a police officer but a black one at that. The rednecks don't like him because of his skin color (even though this is implied rather than stated outright), and the punks don't like him because of his uniform and his symbolizing of authority. 

Granted, the punks also do things meant to intentionally instigate shock and outrage. They throw roadkill in someone's dryer. Jack whips an empty bottle at a bus. Razzle (The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea, credited as Mike B. The Flea) dumps a slushie into a jar of pickled eggs at a convenient store. If they kept their heads down, they wouldn't be messed with, but that attitude is antithetical (if you can use a term like that in regards to punk rock) to how the kids feel. The only thing they believe in is the concept that there is "No Future" for them, so who cares? Adults have polluted the planet, killed scores of their brother men, and become complacent. This heavy nihilism is represented in the film via randomized violence. The very first scene of the film has a toddler being ripped apart by a Doberman Pinscher (one of a pack of feral dogs that live near The Rejected's house and a representation of the punks as well as their enemies). Later, a security guard is accidentally shivved at a show. Naturally, if the film starts off that bleakly, it cannot end well. And it doesn't, but if this is the only future The Rejected can conceive of, then it is the only future they will realize, even though they fight back to hang onto the family they have created to the end.

One of the great things about the film, and very much to Spheeris's credit is the level of authenticity that permeates the entire thing. Everything about what these kids do and how they act feels genuine, and the scenes at the live shows absolutely capture both the fun and the frenzy that would go down. Granted, none of The Rejected is much as far as acting chops, but everything they do feels honest, and I would argue that this is what holds the film together and engages the audience to invest in the lives of these miscreants. The filmmakers care about these characters, and this caring is evident in every frame of the film.

I can't help but ponder what this film would have been like had it been made in the late Seventies, when punk was in its infancy and literally anything went. By the time Suburbia was made, punk rock had become codified to a large degree. To be in the scene was to be both without and within a communal system (an example from the film is the insistence that the kids get branded in order to stay at the house). There were do's and don'ts to the way you looked and acted, and some of the people who prided themselves on being different had a tendency to look down on those who didn't fit that mold (sound familiar?). This is not meant as an attack on punk rock nor on any of its adherents, but it's difficult to not acknowledge that the movement had become its own enemy as much as anyone outside it. Punk was started by and for those who felt different. The problem is, when everyone is different, no one is.

MVT: As a time capsule, Suburbia captures the attitude of the LA punk scene as well as any documentary ever could, and unlike most other movies about punks or having punks in it (check out the exhaustive tome Destroy All Movies if you want to track down more), it never comes off like an act or strictly for some visual flair or as shorthand for a menacing figure. The film believes what it says.

Make Or Break: I'm going to have to go with the first scene. It's shocking, frightening, and grim. But even more so because it can happen at any moment without a reason.

Score: 8/10

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Episode #185: Forbidden Blacktop

Welcome to this week's episode of the GGtMC!!!

This week the show is sponsored by and we have a couple doosies for you guys this week!!! We go over Two Lane Blacktop (1971) directed by Monte Hellman and Forbidden Zone (1983) directed by Richard Elfman. We hope you enjoy the episode gang because we had some great conversation on this one!!!

Direct download: Forbidden_BlacktopRM.mp3

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Monday, May 21, 2012

The Count Gore De Vol Interview

Conducted By: Justin Bozung
Host Of The Mondo Film Podcast

Dick Dyszel aka Influential horror television host Count Gore De Vol is a living legend.  Beloved by millions of horror kids that grew up on the east coast in the 70's and 80's, Dick created one of the greatest horror hosts that ever graced the television airways.

 Over the years, Dyszel has also ran a slew of other characters down your local television antenna.   He created the classic, children's show host Captain 20. Dyszel also carried on the namesake M.T. Graves prior to creating Count Gore De Vol.  Dick also followed in the steps of NBC Today Show mainstay Willard Scott, and took on the role of the red haired, Bozo The Clown.  Over the last 15 years, Dick's been running strong, he was the first horror host to take his show onto the internet for everyone to watch many years ago during the dial-up age. Setting a trend that is so common today -- people need not grab their remote control any longer to check out any horror host imaginable.

In 2010, Dyszel and Count Gore De Vol were the subject of a wonderful documentary film directed by C.W. Prather, EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN. Dyszel also took part in the 2010 Horror Hound convention, horror host reunion, which featured the largest assembly of horror hosts in one spot on planet earth.   After years of hard work, Dick Dyszel is finally getting the acknowledgement he deserves.

JUSTIN: You grew up in Chicago, what made you wanna get involved with television and radio?

DICK DYSZEL:  I loved television.  At an very early age, I had a television in my room.  I had an uncle that was a television repair man.  As a kid, I was also taping myself doing radio plays. I've always been interested in media

JUSTIN: Were you around Chicago during the '68 Democratic convention riots?

DICK DYSZEL:  Actually, I was working.  I had to make a delivery to the hotel the day after.  I was a college kid with long hair, and I was working at a printing firm, and I was supposed to deliver the voting ballots. I was a little nervous. I went down there, and there was smoke all over, and blood on the sidewalk.

JUSTIN: How did you make the move from Chicago, into Kentucky where you created the M.T. Graves  character?

DICK DYSZEL:   It's just like anything else.  I went to college at Southern Illinois.  So you have to go where the jobs are.  I went to school down there, and we had first crack at the markets there when jobs opened up. I worked for a while in southern Missouri as a D.J at a country and western station. About six weeks in, I started to hate the music.  A friend of mine in Kentucky told me about a job opening, so I called and hassled the guy, and I got hired.  The radio station had a construction permit for a T.V station, and I wanted to work in television.

JUSTIN:  So how did you develop the M.T. Graves?

DICK DYSZEL:  Well you have to understand something.  There was no internet.   I was from Chicago, and I didn't even now that Jerry Bishop was doing Svengoolie back in Chicago, and I was at school just six hours away! So when I saw the movie intro's at the T.V station for a film called NIGHT OF TERROR with M.T. Graves, I just decided, why re-invent the wheel, they're already familiar with M.T. Graves. We only did the character for a year.

I was anchoring the news at 10 p.m. on Saturday night.  So I had only twenty minutes to get into the Graves make-up and jump into the coffin.  And that started to wear thin on me.

One night, I was doing the news, and I had a really bad headache. I just wanted to take a nap, so I went into the prop room, and there was this coffin, so I just got in and tried to take a nap.  So I laid in it, and the station manager's wife was visiting, and she walked into the prop room, and she opened the coffin lid, and there I was laying there, and she just screamed.

JUSTIN:  Was it difficult for you to transition from M.T. Graves into Bozo and Captain 20 over the course of those character's runs?

DICK DYSZEL: Not really. Bozo came first. It was my first acting gig. I had to go to Bozo training for a week down in Dallas, Texas.  It was cool.  To switch between Bozo and Captain 20 was easy.  Bozo was copyrighted, so you had to act a certain way.  The others where mine.  My wife just told me that Count Gore  is an extension of my own personality. 

Sooner than later, we got rid of Bozo, and I started focusing on Captain 20.  That character was responsible for the length of my career.  When  you change owners at a television station, the new owners want to play games.   And they fire everyone. But Captain 20 was so popular, that they couldn't just let me go.  Captain 20 saved my bacon!

JUSTIN: One thing I was disappointed with in the EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN (2010) documentary was that you never had a "low" point.  Like Count Gore involved in Thai hooker scandal or something like that.

DICK DYSZEL:  There wasn't any.  Back in the early Captain 20 days, some reporter tried to do me in, but couldn't, it was nothing.  One thing I've always tried to do was keep my professional and personal life separate. I mean, people  I went to church with had no clue what I did for a living.   That was fine with me.  I just wanted to have fun, do my job, make a little money, and live my life.  Did you know that Willard Scott was our first Bozo?  He got fired, cause he broke the Bozo rule. Which is something you never let people know, Bozo's identity.  Cause there is only supposed to be one Bozo.

JUSTIN:  Where did the actual name Count Gore De Vol come from?

DICK DYSZEL:  I get asked that often.  People say, that I ripped off the author Gore Vidal.  Maybe I did, maybe I didn't.  I walked into the station manager's office one day, to talk.  I saw on his desk a book about Lincoln written by Gore Vidal.   We talked about changing the M.T Graves name.  So we fussed about it for a few minutes.  Then finally I just said, " I don't care, how about umm...Count Gore De Vol."  And he loved it.  Now if the book influenced my thoughts, I don't know, I had never read any of his books, but I did every day drive past a funeral home named the Devol Funeral Home for two years?  I don't know....

JUSTIN: How did you get involved with Don Dohler and the film NIGHTBEAST (1982)?

DICK DYSZEL: Well, originally that film started out as a film called, THE ALIEN FACTOR (1976)..  I was tied in with the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. I was helping to promote them.  I met Don through them.  So I had Don on the show, and we have fun.  We started talking about the fact that they are making their own film.  So off camera, jokingly, I said, "How come you didn't ask me to be in your movie?"   So we started talking, and Don re-wrote the part of the mayor in the movie, and we did it.  It was fun, and it created a long friendship with Don.   So I did the mayor in THE ALIEN FACTOR and NIGHTBEAST.

JUSTIN: You sell Count Gore shows on your website.  And there are a ton of collectors out there that swap your shows collector to collector, do you know if any of your Captain 20 shows are still out there?

DICK DYSZEL:  There are clips on You Tube.  Some of them are from the later 80's shows.  People used to record their kids on the show.  You have to understand, until 1980 there where no real Captain 20 shows.  He was just a segway character that appeared in promos. All the Captain 20 stuff in the EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN is all there is.  Well,  I may actually have one complete show somewhere.  

In those days, no one cared about archiving this stuff.  It wasn't until 3/4 tape came out in like '76 that people realized you could put something of quality into archive.  And even back then 3/4 tape was like fifty dollars.  This happens at the networks too.

JUSTIN: How has television changed in the last 20 years?

DICK DYSZEL:  The only constant thing in life is change.  Technology changes fast.  The only change that upset me, was like back in the mid 80's.  The management of the station universally dropped almost all types of production people, and hired only employee's that are geared toward marketing and sales.

JUSTIN: How did you have the foresight to predict that internet horror hosting would be popular?

DICK DYSZEL: Well, as you know, my Count Gore show was the first on the web to stream.  I really didn't have a clue that it would take off.  People were finding me online. Sending me things like, "Why don't you start a Count Gore site?"  So I started looking around, and I kept finding horror host tribute sites.   So a friend of mine created a site for me.  And I really liked the site, but it was still a tribute site.  And I wanted it to have some interaction.   So I started thinking "Can I do my show on the internet?"  At that time you really couldn't cause of the bandwith limitations.   So we decided to do audio at   I went to conventions and started interviewing people, and streaming the audio on my site. 

I had to learn web design too.  So I started teaching myself web design, and I was interested in the internet.  So as the internet speeds got better, we started to upload small videos, and then as it got faster and faster, this has enabled us to do full shows on the web.

JUSTIN:  Did you ever think years back that all this time later, you'd have an impact on people's lives?

No. I was just hired to do a job.  When people contact me know, I tell them, thanks, cause I didn't know there was anyone on the other side of the camera!

JUSTIN:  Over the last five to eight years, there's been a real interest in horror hosts again.  Can you share some thoughts on how and why that happened?

DICK DYSZEL:  It all comes down to the internet.  There's always been hosts.  Before the net, even in the host downtime, there was always public access hosts.  But with the internet, all these people started popping up, saying that I'm doing this over here, and other there.  So I started telling people that they should keep going.  At the Horror Hound convention in Indianapolis in April 2010, it was so amazing to see 83 horror hosts all in the same building.  How incredible.  It's access, internet, syndication across the U.S.A.  The websites are great.  It's incredible, the energy, professionalism, these hosts are putting in.

JUSTIN:  What do you think the appeal of the horror host is?

DICK DYSZEL:  Well, people wanna be on television. Some people are actors and entertainers by nature. Most of these folks are also great musicians.  I'm not, and it makes me wanna cry.  I can't play an instrument worth a darn.   So it's the perfect outlet.  The need to perform.  And being a host gives them a secure outlet, with support from others.

JUSTIN: Are you the greatest horror host of all time?

DICK DYSZEL:  Oh God No.  I don't think there is a greatest. There can't be a greatest. How can you define that? You're looking at a very small world.  I'd say Zacherle is the best.  He's the sole survivor of the first generation. He's still active. He was in Famous Monster's magazine, he's recorded horror albums.  I mean, c'mon. I've just been lucky. I was in the right place at the right time.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cinema de Bizarre Review of the Week: Mad Foxes (1981)

Directed by Paul Grau

Starring José Gras ("Hal Walters"), Laura Premica ("Silvia Godo"), Andrea Albani ("Babsy"), and Peter John Saunders

Running time: 01:16:48
Country: Spain, Switzerland

MAD FOXES is a sleazy revenge movie involving a group of rowdy bikers with a Nazi fetish and a womanizing bachelor who's forced to get in touch with his violent side. Oh, and there are a couple of Krokus songs in the movie too. When the film opens we're introduced to lead character, Hal, who's taking his girlfriend out to a nightclub to celebrate her 18th birthday (mind you, Hal is in his late 20s or early 30s). Character development? Fuck that shit! Throughout the film, there's not a lot of information provided on Hal other than the fact that he has a different girlfriend for every day of the week, but in the opening nightclub scene it's at least revealed that he has "fans". So apparently he's famous, but for what I have no idea. Whatever the case, as Hal and his barely-legal babe leave the club, they're brutally assaulted by a biker gang in a scene that will prove to be shocking for anyone who goes into this with no expectations - and even with the anticipation of a nasty exploitation movie, it does go just a bit too far. Despite the fact that there's rape involved, it's almost amusing to watch because of how absurdly it's presented. It's hard to take this biker gang seriously when one of them has pig-tails and another looks like his entire body is vibrating as he's penetrating Hal's gal.

What ensues is a lot of back-and-forth between Hal and the biker gang as they try to one-up each other at everyone else's expense. Hal first recruits a Martial Arts instructor to get revenge on the bikers, and so they - along with the instructor's entire dojo of Gi-wearing Karate practitioners - show up at the bikers' lair (which looks like an amphitheater) and hand them their asses in one of the most sloppily-choreographed brawl sequences I've ever seen (most of the Karate kicks look like goose-steps). The bikers later recover and go after certain people who are close to Hal, with the film getting progressively more violent as it builds to one of the most unexpected was-that-supposed-to-happen? endings I've ever seen.

What I described above might make this sound like just another in a long line of exploitation movies that revolve around revenge, but you really have to see this film to truly appreciate how "special" it is. For one, it has - hands down! - the most hilarious dubbing I've ever heard in a film. EVER. There's never a point in the film where the voices even come close to matching the lips of the actors (all of whom were speaking Spanish when shooting the film), and even the voices themselves add to the overall hilarity. If someone were to watch this movie unaware of the fact that it's foreign, they'd probably think the dubbing was some sort of joke, as in a group of people got drunk and recorded themselves ad-libbing every single line in the film. Speaking of which there's some awesome dialogue like:

Silvia: "Would you mind giving me a lift?"
Hal: "You mean take you?"

While it's incredibly entertaining, the problem with the dubbing is that it's such a huge factor in the film's presentation that it's quite possible it would have the feel of an entirely different film if one were to watch it in its original Spanish language. It's almost impossible to judge this film when it comes to the acting and the screenplay, because unless you've seen the original Spanish-language version and can understand the language (or if someone out there has made accurate fan-subs), who's to say that most of the bad dialogue wasn't improvised or exaggerated by the voice actors? Regardless, there are moments of bat-shit insanity throughout the film that defy language, and to even get into them in detail would be quite the task. Nazi fetishism, graphic sex, a pointless scene of BDSM, tons of ultraviolence, genital mutilation, bikers who barely know how to operate motorcycles, poorly-executed Karate, a protagonist who impresses women by shooting at commercial airplanes. And Krokus! MAD FOXES is a must-see for fans of biker movies and bizarre exploitation.

Make or Break: The first rape scene. There are a lot of great scenes throughout the film, but it's the first rape scene outside of the nightclub that lets you know exactly what kinda film you're in for, and it also establishes the idiotic bikers rather effectively.

MVT: The sleaze. The sex and violence in the film make it memorable. True, a movie of this type should have sex and violence anyway, but the fact that it's taken to the extreme on a few occasions, with seemingly no governor in regards to how far the filmmakers and actors were willing to take it, makes it that much more memorable than your average exploitation movie. Otherwise, I'd go with the dubbing, but that's not so much a credit (or discredit depending on who you ask) to the film itself as it is the product.

Score: 6.5/10 - However, If I were to rate this movie based entirely on its own merit, I'd give it an 8.75/10.

The Disc: Anamorphic widescreen! It's a DVD rip and great quality, albeit a tad compressed-looking. The sound is great as well. English language with no subtitles. Judging by the DVD menu that pops up after the end of the film, it looks to be a rip of the German release. It should also be said that the film is uncut. The running time for the film is approximately 76 minutes, but there's an extra 13 or 14 minutes of trailers, which are worth checking out if you wanna see Lina Romay and Brigitte Lahaie naked, as well as one or two other films starring a few of the actors from MAD FOXES.

Cinema de Bizarre
MAD FOXES on Cinema de Bizarre

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dead End City (1988)

I would only recommend “Dead End City” to two groups of people. The first being those who have run the gamut on the thugs taking over subgenre. The others being those who have devoured the tastier Robert Z’Dar projects. Both are utilized here, but not to their full potential. There are delicious nuggets of both, but a lot of vanilla content in between.

The film starts out very promising. Gangs have overtaken the town with the police force not being able to strike back. Their solution is to simply give up their property to the gangs and ship the victims off to a refugee camp. Jack Murphy (Greg Cummins) doesn’t want to give up his factory due to it being a family heirloom. Begrudgingly, his coworkers (including a blind man who constantly forgets he’s blind) stick with him to defend the factory.

The gang that wants to overthrow Jack is The Ratts, led by Maximum (Robert Z’Dar). Despite him being the leader, it’s clear he’s not running the whole show. I won’t spoil who is, but it’s pretty obvious. This limits Z’Dar’s screen time, which is a huge deficit. Despite him seemingly phoning in his performance, he still brings the Z’Dar charisma that is entertaining to watch. Nobody will mistake Z’Dar for a splendid actor, but he has tremendous screen presence!

More time is devoted to Jack and his crew, which gets beefier with the arrival of Opal Brand (Christine Lund), a television reporter who brings along her crew. They’re plan is to get a quick, biased story on Jack and his coworkers, framing them to be another gang. When a real gang demolishes their car (it looks like a wrecking ball hit it), they’re stranded in the abandoned factory, as well. There’s also a hyperactive gentlemen who drops by to hide out, but he’s disposable (enough that I don’t even care to look him up).

The first action sequence, which takes place before Opal’s arrival, is extremely entertaining. Jack and company have a shootout with The Ratts that’s a little different from the norm. Our heroes stay locked up in the factory, poking holes in the walls to shoot out of. The walls themselves can be easily shot through, which poses a problem for Jack and the rest, but it obscures them from the Ratts’ view.

Once this scene ends, the film goes downhill. It never reaches the depths of drudgery, but it becomes very rudimentary. Jack and Opal fall in love, despite having no chemistry; we get to learn about the rest of Jack’s crew, who aren’t that interesting (outside of the aforementioned blind man); we learn who’s really behind the operation (which is about as surprising as a hooker having venereal diseases); Z’Dar gets limited screen time to plot with his cronies. We still get the occasional action sequence, all of which are good. They just go from diverse to average.

One compliment I must give director Peter Yuval is in the scene where Jack, having learned who’s behind the operation, goes back to the factory. When he enters, all of the dead bodies from earlier are still strewn about the building. He tiptoes over them to get to his destination. This is a small blip on the radar, but one that I really enjoyed. It was a nice, tiny touch that Yuval made that showed he was trying to be creative.

“Dead End City” isn’t a bad film. It’s definitely entertaining in spots. However, it plays by the book too heavily after the first act and has some serious dry spots. Using Robert Z’Dar a bit more would have helped, as he was his charismatic self as Maximum. He may have seemed a bit less energetic, but still fun. If you haven’t explored most of his catalogue, I suggest starting with “Trained to Kill”, “Maniac Cop” and “Tango & Cash”. If you haven’t seen many gang films, I suggest starting with “Vigilante” and “The Warriors”. If you have seen those, then seeing “Dead End City” is at least worthwhile. Just not something you need to rush out and find.

MVT: Despite not being featured as heavily as I’d hoped, I’ll still choose Robert Z’Dar. He may be phoning it in, but he’s still a lot of fun as Maximum and gives Jack a good foil.

Make or Break: I almost want to say the first action sequence made the film for me, but the arrival of Opal Brand (which is a terrible name, by the way) broke the film for me. She didn’t add anything outside of a bland love interest and led the way in dragging the film down with lame character exposition.

Final Score: 5.5/10

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bonus #38: Interview with Joe Dante

This week, West Coast Gent, Rupert Pupkin presents an old interview he did with the great Joe Dante in early 2010. The interview was originally done for and featured in the April 2010 issue of Paracinema Magazine. Rupert got to sit down in person with Mr. Dante in this, one of the first interviews he ever did. Dante's GREMLINS 2 has just hit blu-ray an Rupert highly recommends it. And don't forget, Mr. Dante is also the main guru behind the phenomenal website Trailers From Hell, which you can find at

Direct download: BSIntJDrm.mp3

Emails to

Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974)

Deke (Adam Roarke) wakes Larry (Peter Fonda) from his slumber (and the arms of Susan George's Mary) in order to go rob the local supermarket (managed by the always wonderful and uncredited Roddy McDowell). However, Mary (only ever intended to be a one night stand from Larry's perspective) inserts herself into the situation, and the reluctant trio is off on the run from the police. Enter unorthodox cop, Captain Franklin (the late, great Vic Morrow), whose tracking skills and gruff demeanor are legendary in the local sheriff's department (run by The Thing From Another World's Kenneth Tobey). Armed with a map and a fairly intricate plan, Larry, Mary, and Deke tax each other's patience and frustrate the fuzz at every turn.

The opening credits to John Hough's Dirty Mary Crazy Larry roll over various shots of thoroughfares and even a shot of a moving train. Mostly these shots were taken by helicopter, but they all emphasize two things: roads and movement. These are the two key motifs running throughout the film, and their symbolism defines its characters. The road can mean various things (and I would argue that the more you think about them, the more movies you can find that actually fit the paradigm of a "Road Movie," whether any driving takes place at all or not). Sometimes it means freedom, and that's part of what it means for the three protagonists. Larry is a former Nascar driver, and Deke was his mechanic. For them, driving is living, and (ironically enough), they want to get back to the place where literally driving in a closed circuit is the closest they can get to ultimate sovereignty. For Mary, it's the freedom to move ahead with her life. For Franklin, the freedom of the road equals lawlessness, and it's his job to control the roads in his jurisdiction.

Additionally, the road personifies the human desire to run from our past. Larry has fallen from grace in the world of competitive driving. Deke let his alcoholism strip him of his pride and helped deprive Larry of his career. Mary is running from past entanglements with the law. Like sharks, then, they must keep moving forward, or they will die. As long as there is macadam under their tires and gas in the tank, they can escape from the bindings of yesterday. But is the constant need for movement less from a well-considered game plan with a verifiable goal in mind (though they say it is, we know it isn't true), than from a noisome desperation brought about through their own doing? They strain against shackles they have placed on themselves.

Deke, Larry, and Mary all cling to their dreams tenaciously. Each of them suffers a type of tunnelvision which only serves to keep them down and will eventually do them harm. Larry only cares about driving. If it doesn't have anything to do with cars or driving, he doesn't want to know from it. With the exception, of course, of sex, which he will also run out on if it means getting behind the wheel of a fast car. Deke seeks redemption from the bottle, but he goes about it in a circumscribed way and through an odd sort of austerity. He doesn't like deviations from the plan (Mary being the biggest one), and he tries to be a voice of reason throughout the film, though he knows his pleas fall on deaf ears. Mary has found what she believes is a kindred spirit in Larry, and she refuses to let him go. Even after she's treated poorly by both men, she's always quick to forgive them. Franklin also suffers from this type of outlook, though his "White Whale" is whatever perp he's tracking down. Like a pitbull, his grip is like iron once he's clamped down. But unlike our antiheroes, who scurry about the county's backroads and byways like mice in a maze, Franklin has a view of the whole maze from on high, and he will use this knowledge against his enemies.

As we all know, conflict is the cornerstone to story. Without it, there's no dramatic tension, and the results are usually lifeless and uninvolving. Dirty Mary Crazy Larry is rife with conflict, but it's more telling about the title characters than anything else. Mary and Larry behave and treat each other like children. Almost the entirety of their dialogue to each other is taunts, barbs, or nitpicks. Disregarding for a moment, some of the more demoded colloquialisms, the fact that these two found each other is mystery, but that they were made for each other is undeniable. As with children, the two care only about their immediate wants (I want to play chicken, I want sex, I want a drink, etcetera). Like a boy pulling the hair of the girl he likes, Larry and Mary's running argument serves not to distance them from each other but to draw them together. This has been a staple of cinema for decades (just look at the old screwball comedies, if you don't believe me), and here the verbal sparring is as funny as it is fast-paced. 

That said, Ms. George has a tendency to overplay her reactions, and her performance in many of these scenes gravitate toward the bug-eyed (in an obvious play for the much-coveted BEM Award). Granted, in quieter scenes she makes up for it with a fairly nuanced interpretation of Mary's vulnerabilities. Deke, by contrast, is quiet in his animosities, and Roarke truly nailed the art of the slow burn in this film. As someone who dwells on things (to his detriment, surely), it's interesting that he is the one who stands up for Mary late in the film. While everything is still a game to Larry, Deke realizes the value of Mary's friendship first. Morrow is the soul of "crotchety" (as he almost perpetually was in all his films), but his Franklin is also an outsider among the sheriff's department. He refuses to wear a badge, he lets his hair grow out, and he criticizes his boss and the bureaucracy that he feels stifles his ability to do his job. This makes it sort of odd that Franklin does not appear to identify with the three criminals he's pursuing. One possible explanation would be because he holds himself above everything else. His egotism is up there with the greats, and even though he can see the whole map from the air, it is only from the ground that the chase and its devastating effects can truly be appreciated.

MVT: Fonda and George share a real rapport in the film, and even when you feel like slapping them for the petulant children they are, you truly cannot help but be engaged with their criminal pursuits and root for them at the same time.

Make Or Break: Though the first shot of Mary is extremely brief, and she and Larry have already met, they still have a meet-cute at the robbery site that gives the film its overall feel. Make.

Score: 7/10

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Episode #184: Dressed to Kill

Welcome to our sponsored show and feedback spectacular!!!

This week Large William chose the Blu Ray of Dressed to Kill (1980) directed by Brian was fun discussing this classic with the Large One and dissecting De Palma as much as we could in an hour or so. We also get into a good chunk of feedback and have a little too much fun for the time we were recording.

Direct download: DtKRM.mp3

Emails to

Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bonus #37: Interview with Grant Page

Welcome to a special bonus episode of the GGtMC!!!

In this episode Death Rattle Aaron interviews one of the cinema's greatest stunt men, the one and only Grant Page!!! For those not familiar with his work you should hunt down the films Stone, Stunt Rock, Death Cheaters and Road Games to name but a few. Grant is one of cinema's great treasures and we are honored that Death Rattle Aaron did this interview for your listening pleasure Gentle-Minions!!!

Also check out Grant's book Man on Fire: A Stunt of a Life:

Also check out Aaron's blog at

Direct download: IntGPDRaRM.mp3

Emails to

Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Friday, May 11, 2012

Grunt! The Wrestling Movie (1985)

I can’t quite tell if Allan Holzman and his writing crew (Anthony Randel, Lisa Tomei and Barry Zetlin) are respecting professional wrestling or mocking it. There are quite a few times in “Grunt” where they lampoon the sport and it’s ridiculous rules, as well as making most of the fans come across as moronic barbarians. The reason I can’t quite tell if this is insulting or not is because wrestling fans ourselves tend to joke about both of these traits.
My question may still stand, but I like to believe that “Grunt” is respecting the business. After all, the wrestling matches themselves are well choreographed. The camera may go a bit haywire in spots, but the action is still visible (for the most part). This chaotic style of filmmaking works well during the battle royal at the end, where grounded wrestling takes to the sidelines for an all out brawl.
For the most part, the wrestling featured in the film is of the violent variety. We open with a battle between “Mad Dog” Joe DeCurso (Greg ‘Magic’ Schwarz) and “Skull Crusher” Johnson (Victor Rivera). The world title and a twenty-five thousand dollar purse is up for stake. It’s a bloody and brutal contest that sees the two combatants decimate each other with punches, kicks, chairs and other various foreign objects. When Johnson’s head gets stuck between the ropes (think Mick Foley, who lost his ear this way years later), “Mad Dog” accidentally dropkicks his head off. That’s right, the contest ends via decapitation.
This right here makes me believe that Holzman may be slandering the sport. It’s not so much the decapitation, as it is the following joke (a funny one, albeit). There’s controversy immediately following the contest, but so much on “Mad Dog” as a murderer (though that’s touched upon, as well). Many are concerned on whether or not Johnson should be stripped of the title. For six long years, he is still dubbed the champion. That is until the president strips him of the gold and puts it on the line a battle royal.
In the midst of this, “Mad Dog” disappears. A new wrestling sensation known as “The Mask” (Steven Cepello) arises and dominates the competition. Many believe that “Mad Dog” may be hiding under the mask, as the wrestling style and body features (such as tattoos) strike a strong resemblance to the former king of the ring.
This prompts a director (Jeff Dial) to begin production on a documentary which is meant to unravel this mystery. He contacts Dr. Tweed (Robert Glaudini), the president of the “Mad Dog is The Mask” fan club (which you can be a member of for only twenty-four dollars a year), to assist him. They tour the country, though mainly just the state of Georgia, following The Mask around and interviewing wrestlers, managers, ring announcers and fans on the subject.
Once again, the question arises on whether or not Holzman is insulting the business. I’ve already mentioned the fans’ mistreatment, but haven’t touched upon the ring announcers and commentators. Most of the men and women in this field either hate the business (such as the ring announcer who wanted to be a psychologist) or are dimwitted (such as the female announcer who proudly states, “I haven’t seen a match this bloody and violent since I started watching wrestling six months ago!”). One wrestling reporter even breaks down and insults the profession immediately following one of his reports.
Whether or not Holzman is respectful to the business or not, he does craft a genial, colorful and often times funny comedy. He does stumble in spots, leaving open too many plot holes (though that may be a strike against the inconsistencies of wrestling storylines), creating the occasional lulls and one questionable wrestling match between two female wrestlers (whose only purpose is, in my opinion, is to prove that wrestling and this film isn’t sexist). There’s also a scenario where “The Mask” shows up on Wally George’s show, “Hot Seat”, that is more embarrassing to watch than it is to enjoy.
Where “Grunt” fails, it exceeds in creating entertaining wrestling matches (my favorite being between “The Mask” and “El Toro”), quite a few funny sequences, a rocking soundtrack (I guarantee you “Wrestling Tonight” will be stuck in your head for days) and a slew of wrestler cameos (including Dick Murdoch and Adrian Street). I may doubt the film’s veneration for the sport, but I can’t deny that it’s a lot of fun!
MVT: The wrestling matches. The camera may go a bit haywire, but the wrestling itself is well choreographed and entertaining.
Make or Break: I’m actually picking the match between “The Mask” and “El Toro”, as opposed to the opening bout between “Mad Dog” and “Skull Crusher”. Simply put, it’s well put together and shows that, at the very least, Holzman knows how to film a wrestling match (the haywire camera is barely seen in this bout).
Final Score: 6.75/10