Friday, September 28, 2012

Cyclone (1987)

The Cyclone the title is referring to is a motorcycle created by Rick Davenport (Jeffrey Combs) that doubles as a military weapon. It’s equipped with lasers, guns and six rockets. It can reach unimaginable speeds and perform practically any stunt. Even the helmet is decked out. It comes with a radar system that speaks and it also shoots lasers. It’s like a ten year old’s wet dream come true!

Making that wet dream even better is Teri Marshall (Heather Thomas), Jeffrey’s girlfriend. She doesn’t know of his government job. She soon discovers when two punks, Rolf (Dar Robinson) and Hanna (Dawn Wildsmith), stab him in the back of the neck with an ice pick while they were out at the club. They’re hired goons of Bosarian (Martin Landau, having fun chewing up the scenery), who wants the transformer to the Cyclone to sell. Why he wouldn’t want the whole bike is beyond me.

While this sounds like a ton of fun, and certainly is at times, it’s not quite the enjoyable experience I was hoping for. The Cyclone doesn’t get used to it’s full potential until the finale. It races around town for a bit (in quite a few montages that drag a bit) and gets in a wicked car chase at one point. But, the lasers and rockets and whatnot don’t get busted out until near the end. I understand why Fred Olen Ray did this. He was building up the suspense and hitting the money shot at the end. While I respect this decision, I feel he stumbled a bit on the way there.

The main issue with “Cyclone” is that it can be boring. A lot of the dialogue can be atrocious and I found some talk heavy scenes to drag. For a film that’s only eighty-three minutes long, it sure has a lot of padding. I’ll give credit to the actors; they do their best with the material. Heather Thomas can be a bit flaky at times, but she handles herself well and is the camera’s best friend. Jeffrey Combs is quite charming in his brief role as her boyfriend and the two surprisingly have chemistry together. Dar Robinson is a hoot as Rolf, while Landau is fun to watch as his boss.

Olen Ray adds some comic relief in the form of two bumbling cops played by Tim Conway, Jr. and Michael Reagan. While they do score some laughs (them falling asleep while on a stakeout made me chuckle), they felt woefully out of place. They add nothing to the story and only waste time. I’m not so sure if Fred was filling dead air or if he just wanted the two of them in his film. It’s quite possible the latter is the case and he penned them in at the last minute.

I need to quit bitching and moaning! While I had my fair share of issues with “Cyclone”, I also had my fair share of fun with it. Though the action sequences only appear sporadically, they deliver on the goods. Olen Ray doesn’t hold back in the finale and goes balls to the wall (replete with a gargantuan amount of explosions). I just wish the road there wasn’t so bumpy.

MVT: Heather Thomas. She may have been flaky in spots, but she was good overall and held her own. She played the eye candy up to the camera, but handled herself well when it came to the action. She was a good choice for the role.

Make or Break: The finale. It saved the film for me. Honorable mention goes to the car chase in the middle, where the goons’ car gets ripped in half.

Final Score: 6/10

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tourist Trap (1979)

I used to have an oversized teddy bear when I was a child. I didn't have a cutesy nickname or anything for him, but he was fun to play with, as he was large enough to be a giant villain of Galactus-ian proportions to my other action figures. It didn't matter to me that he was fuzzy, unarticulated, and had a permanent grin which rendered him utterly non-threatening. He also used to stay at the head of my bed (not that his rough, fuzzy exterior was comfortable to sleep on) at night. One evening, as I was falling asleep, I glanced over at the bear, and I swear to you, he was breathing. Naturally, this sort of phenomena has been known to occur sometimes to people in a hypnagogic state, but I know that as soon as I realized it was breathing, I was on full alert. Of course, I was also paralyzed with fear, not knowing if saying anything or moving would provoke this seemingly mild-mannered pal to attack. It was probably a matter of minutes, but it felt like hours that I just lay there staring at the bear. Eventually, I drifted off to sleep, and we never had another incident, he and I, but to this day I recall the sheer dread I felt that evening, and I had a somewhat newfound respect for the power my ursine pal could wield among my toys.

David Schmoeller's Tourist Trap opens with Woody (Keith McDermott) walking along a lonesome road with a flat car tire. He comes upon a lonely gas station (always a good sign) and searches the place for assistance. Wandering into the back area, he comes upon a bunch of mannequins, dolls, and so on, and unseen forces handily dispatch the young lad. Down the road a piece, Woody's pals, Molly (Jocelyn Jones), Becky (Tanya Roberts), Eileen (Robin Sherwood), and Jerry (Jon Van Ness), are searching for him when they come upon a rundown western museum (another good sign) owned by the crotchety old coot, Mr. Slausen (Chuck Connors), and Jerry's vehicle also mysteriously breaks down. Slausen takes the kids back to his place, but warns them not to go outside or to wander over to Davey's house down the back. What do you think they do?

The first thing you notice as this film starts is the Pino Donaggio score which feels more quaint than menacing. But as we all know, Mr. Donaggio is a professional, and by the end of the film his musical composition feels not only appropriate but sinister. No small feat. In line with this initial sense of whimsy comes a dichotomy between new and old value systems. As Jerry's car rolls up, we notice Molly in the back seat (okay, we actually notice Becky in her tight tube top, but work with me here). Molly is dressed in a pretty, white sun dress and a white sun hat. Compared to her friends, who are all considerably more dressed down (and with less actual cloth) than she, Molly is something out of a daguerreotype. She is the odd duck among her friends, and even though she does participate with them in things like skinny-dipping, she is visibly ill at ease with the act and separates herself physically from her friends while doing it. Slausen takes a shine to Molly instantly, and she is the only one of the troupe who he will call by name. This is emphasized constantly through the film, and Molly also seems to be the only one with whom Slausen even wants to speak at all. Of course, Slausen is also an old-fashioned fella, living with all he has left ("this junk and my memories") in the world and pointing out repeatedly that it was the building of "that new highway" which essentially ruined his business. 

The other characters are all fun-loving young folks who are just out to party, with all that entails. According to the rules of Slasher films (which hadn't been as stringently codified as they would be in just a few short years), this makes them the primary targets of the film's antagonist. It's a classic set up, and it is followed by the numbers. The characters are split up by the most specious of reasoning, taken to a remote location, and then murdered by a character-definingly-outfitted villain. The twist here is that the villain doesn't need to use his hands to murder his victims. Davey uses the multitudinous mannequins which litter his place. See, he has the power of telekinesis and uses it to make the dummies appear alive. It's an interesting idea to have the bad guy use the power of the mind to kill, but the structure and execution are so banausic, it detracts from the overall quality of the film, I think. Not enough to make it unworthy, but enough to keep it from greatness.

Have you ever been in a dark department store with nothing but rictus-wearing mannequins? Me neither, but they are certainly disquieting in their own right. For as much as they display any emotion (typically joy), it is unmoving, unchanging, and after a long spell of staring at you with dead eyes, unsettling. Over an extended period of time, the countenance which is supposed to instill a warm, inviting feeling instead inspires dread through its fixedness, in the same way that watching a beauty pageant becomes uncomfortable, because you know that the smiles on the contestants' faces are there strictly for show. The immobility masks what is inside, and that's where the horror comes from (not that beauty pageant contestants are scary…well, maybe they are a little). And when the mannequins turn as one to stare at their prey and their jaws drop open, it is chilling. Davey, then, wears a mask (or masks) which attempts to link him with the dummies. His mask is essentially that of a mannequin; smooth, white, and (perhaps most importantly) eyeless. This is not to say that Davey doesn't have eyes, but when his mask is on, we can't see them. This serves double duty. On the one hand, it keeps us from reading emotion on his face (the eyes being the most expressive feature on the human head), and it also deprives us of the much-vaunted "windows of the soul" eyes are conjectured to be (and they are; you can know a man's measure by looking him dead in the eye, I believe). Davey is not only a mannequin in look, but like his playpals, is in effect soul-less, a puppet pulling his own strings. His desire to be an imitation of life is scary, and the filmmakers would have been wise to play up these psychological aspects of the film. Tourist Trap is a good, creepy little movie, and one which is overlooked by a great many Horror fans. It is not one of the best, but (like its namesakes the world over), offers a pleasant and mildly thought-provoking piece of entertainment, if you're of a mind to give it a look.

MVT: The core concept is familiar enough and derivative enough to be comforting, but it is also just enough unlike other Slasher-type films (specifically with the telekinesis facet and how it's depicted) to make it stand out a bit from the pack.

Make Or Break: I know the Make is often the first scene with me, but that's only because it's a rarity that any other scene in a film encompasses the various aspects of a film and/or sets the tone for good or ill, like the first one or two can. This film is no exception, and the murder of Woody is a sterling example of what giving a viewer just enough of what they have to look forward to can do to keep butts in seats.

Score: 6.5/10

**Like this review?  Share it with a friend.  Hate it?  Share it with an enemy.**

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Episode #202: Pray for Death & Feedback

Welcome to an episode we put together under a bit of pressure, thanks to Netflix Instant we are always within reach of some genre goodness!!!

This week we cover Pray for Death (1985) directed by Gordon Hessler and starring Sho Kosugi!! We also cover all the emails that have backed up on us over the last while, wanted to get those caught up and hopefully the voicemails will also be caught up soon!!!

Direct download: Pray_for_Death.mp3

Emails to

Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bonus #48: Maple Glove TIFF Report 2012

Welcome to our TIFF Report for 2012!!!

We wrangled together a few selections for you this year with the help of Large William, Uncool Cat, Death Rattle Aaron and Lotep and they brought some Canadian charm for your earholes. Films discussed include Lords of Salem from director Rob Zombie, Antiviral from director Brandon Cronenberg and Sightseers from director Ben Wheatley.

Direct download: Maple_Glove_Report_TIFF.mp3
Sit back, relax and enjoy!!!

Emails to

Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Friday, September 21, 2012

The Substitute (1996)

“The Substitute” is what I like to prefer to as a pitch meeting movie. By that I mean it was an idea conceived by a board of Hollywood producers in a pitch meeting. They were shooting around ideas and somebody mentioned having Tom Berenger play a mercenary posing as a substitute teacher in a dangerous inner-city school. This is all an assumption mind you, but that’s the feeling I got.

I don’t mean for that to be a negative. If anything, it being a pitch meeting movie is a positive thing. The whole reason I was attracted to the film was because it was about Tom Berenger as a mercenary posing as a substitute teacher in a dangerous inner-city school. Throw in a well-rounded cast (with the likes of Ernie Hudson, Luis Guzman, Diane Verona, Glenn Plummer, William Forsythe and Marc Anthony) and I was sold. The only thing I was worried about was how they’d transplant Berenger into the school.

Thankfully, they introduce him into the school fairly well. In shades of “Kindergarten Cop”, Berenger plays Jonathan Shale, a mercenary reeling from a botched mission. He returns home to his beautiful girlfriend, Jane Hetzko (Diane Verona), who works as a teacher at a dangerous inner-city school. She’s been having complications with Juan Lacas (Marc Anthony), a vicious student of hers that is the leader of the Kings of Destruction (which sounds more like a wrestling stable than it does a gang). When a random thug breaks her kneecap, she’s convinced he set the whole attack up.

To avenge her, Shales infiltrates the school as James Smith, a substitute teacher who has more degrees and PhDs than humanly possible. With his band of mercenaries, which includes Luis Guzman as a sniper and William Forsythe as a crazed gun nut (which seems like it was written for Gary Busey), they try to uncover a drug ring. Not only do they do that, but they begin a gang war and even teach some of the students. It’s “Stand and Deliver” meets “Rambo”.

While the film is entertaining, it does have it’s faults. Mainly in the direction of Robert Mandel. He takes the film dead serious, which is admirable. Quite often this tone works and makes not the only the action more exhilarating, but more engaging as well as he develops the characters. However, there are certain scenes that should have been played tongue in cheek that weren’t. This results in unintentional hilarity and a few face palms. A good example would be Berenger’s deadbeat line delivery that he obviously wants to be a tad cheeky, but Mandel doesn’t.

I was going to avoid spoilers, but in order to truly tackle the film’s main fault, I have to reveal information. It’s kind of predictable anyway, so I don’t feel too bad. Ernie Hudson, who plays the principal, is revealed to be behind the drug ring. While there’s nothing wrong with this turn of events (it makes sense in context), Hudson is too likable to hate. He tries his best and Mandel gives him material that’s heelish, but I found it too hard to boo him. He’s like a huge baby face in wrestling that’s turned heel, but nobody boos him. They try their best to make him despicable, but the crowd loves him too much.

It’s easy to brush these qualms to the side and enjoy the film. Despite the serious tone, Mandel does know he’s making an action film and delivers on the goods. The final shootout is exciting and fast paced. It helps that it’s set in a high school, a setting I’m a sucker for (which is strange, considering I hated school). As mentioned earlier, I was especially engaged in them as I grew to like the characters. As tacky as Smith connecting with the children is, Berenger and company made it work with their good performances. Even Forsythe, who goes way over the top, is enjoyable because he knows he’s chewing up scenery.

I’ve heard many people call this film a guilty pleasure. It’s not a guilty pleasure for me. In order for a film to be a guilty pleasure, it has to be bad, but enjoyable in spite of that. The “Leprechaun” films are a good example of that. “The Substitute” isn’t bad. It’s a solid action film set in a high school. Nothing more, nothing less. It may have it’s faults, but it delivers on it’s promise.

MVT: Tom Berenger as Shales. This is his film and commands the screen every time he’s on (which is about ninety-eight percent). He’s extremely likable and actually connects with the young actors posing as his students.

Make or Break: The final shootout. A film like this relies heavily on the finale, as that’s what everything’s built up to. Mandel could have easily dropped the ball, especially with Hudson as the main villain. He pulls it off well and even gets a bit creative with some explosives.

Final Score: 7/10

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Episode #201: Island of Lost Joysticks

Welcome back Gentle-Minions!!!

This wee we bring you our episode sponsored by and it was Sammy's turn at the helm for this recording. Sammy chose Island of Lost Souls (1932) with Charles Laughton and Joysticks (1983) directed by Greydon Clark. Head over to the website and buy some films from Diabolik, they are a great bunch and have been very gracious to us.

We also go over what we have been watching and we discuss the wonderful madness that is a Horrorhound Weekend.

Emails to

Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Weasels Rip My Flesh (1979)

Forming the Mustela genus, the weasel is a short, slender, and fairly predatory critter. Its reputation as a sneaking little thief gave the animal's name a derogatory connotation it has kept to this day. If you put a ferret, a mongoose, and a weasel in front of me, I admit I would hard-pressed to be able to distinguish between the three (never mind that they are all members of the same family of mammals). None of them is viewed as being particularly pleasant, but neither have any of them ever been considered man-killers. As a matter of fact, other than being kind of cute, most people probably don't think of a weasel as much more than a stole that you wouldn't want to consent to wear. 

And yet, Pauly Shore insisted on taking "The Weasel" as his self-ascribed nickname. When Mr. Shore hit MTV in the late 80s, I concede I had a certain begrudging liking of the man. Some of his material was actually pretty funny, I thought. That said, the perpetual stoner act and the whiny, singsong delivery could grate on even the most steely of nerves, and his movies are truly dogshit. Yet the man managed to carve out a niche for himself, regardless of whether or not he could ever (or would ever want to) live down the monster he created and perpetuated for so long. In a sense, then, The Weasel is immortal.

Over a long tracking shot of trees (presumably filmed from a car window or bicycle), some voice (seemingly recorded on a cassette and played back) goes on about life, the universe, and everything in what can only be described as a purple, cryptic style. We then cut to a couple of young women walking up a flight of stairs. This is followed by a shaving-cream-covered hand brandishing a knife and stabbing somebody who doesn't look like anyone else in the film nor like the two women we have seen so far. Next thing we know the credits pop up. We're then shown a model rocket on Venus scooping up some slime and failing at re-entry to Earth. The radioactive payload from the ship is picked up by two idjit kids who accidentally dump it in a rabid weasel's burrow. Things go downhill from there.

Thus goes Nathan Schiff's Weasels Rip My Flesh, the young man's first short feature film (it only runs a little over an hour, but what an hour). That he was able to do what he did at the age of sixteen is admirable, to say the least. I don't know for certain if the film ever played in any actual movie theaters, having been shot on Super-8 film for about four hundred bucks, but if it did, then I have to give even more credit to Mr. Schiff and company. For a budget under four figures, it looks like it was made for two, and the film violates every single rule of filmmaking known to man. The sound "design" is different in every single shot, and it usually starts with dead silence at each cut. Add to that the varying degrees of background noise (including the camera motor) in every second of the runtime, and you have something that defies any sense of professionalism. The special effects make the cardboard volcano you probably built for a school science project look like Rob Bottin's work on The Thing. Shots are either out of focus or completely unconcerned in the least with any sort of composition. Despite this monumental level of incompetence (let's call it "learning on the job"), though, I found myself giving in almost completely to the film. I came to anticipate the jarring drop-offs in sound, the wildly erratic noise levels, the editing that evinces a dearth of shot coverage. To my utter amazement, I found the flaws forming a bizarre diegesis for the story and characters, and came within a hair's breadth of buying into this world, despite its constant, unintended attempts to repel any involvement with the audience on anything other than an ironic level.

The film's title is derived (I like to think) from the September 1956 issue of "Man's Life" magazine, which contained the story "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" written by Mike Kamens and which sported a typically lurid cover painted by Will Hulsey depicting a man being savaged by a horde of the animals and even hauling off with one in his grip to swat at the others. Of course, more people probably know the title from the Mothers of Invention album from 1970. Having never read the short story nor listened to the album, I can only assume that Schiff changed more from his inspiration than simply altering a past tense verb to a present tense one. But they all make visual use of the weasel as a fairly bloodthirsty bugger. The weasel FX are nebulous, to say the least. Our first glimpse of the sick little guy puts one in mind of the type of squeaky toy you would buy for your dog (who knows, maybe it was?). Once he is irradiated, though, the animal becomes a lumpy, brown thing, resembling more a massive, non-fibrous bowel movement than any kind of extant creature (though it does have a mouth, I'll grant it that). Schiff isn't shy about pouring on the fake blood mixture, and some of the gore (which is plentiful) comes dangerously close to being pretty effective. And if you thought the giant weasel didn't look like a giant weasel, wait until you see the weasel man, which looks like a giant Mr. Hanky with a bunch of brown pipe cleaners jutting from its mouth area. As trash cinema goes, this comes very close to being king of the mountain.

At its heart though, keeping in mind the source material which apparently motivated the film's story and title, the film is very much a throwback. It owes almost everything (except for one of the most derivatively awesome endings ever put to film) largely to Science Fiction films of the 1950s. From the opening monologue which would most likely be placed at the end of one of the older films, to the mad scientist angle, to the giant monster created from radiation (okay, it's radiation from the planet Venus, but it's still radiation), Weasels Rip My Flesh is fully ensconced in films of the past, and I believe that this is where the film conjures the majority of its charm. You can tell at a glance that this was made by a person with a genuine love for movies, even though you can also tell at a glance that he didn't bother to study said films so much as he took the parts of the films that he thought were cool and put them in his film, regardless of whether they belonged or whether they were accomplished with any sort of technical polish. This film can in no way, shape, or form be called good, but it is fun, and I would be willing to bet that all the ripped flesh contained herein will undoubtedly leave psychic scars on its future viewers. I know it did me.

MVT: The spirit of the venture is paramount, and it is infectious. That it got put on film quasi-successfully is nothing short of amazing, but that it actually managed to leave me smiling is miraculous.

Make Or Break: The Make is the opening sequence which is like a cudgel to the head, yet still manages to draw you in, because I guarantee you will be absolutely befuddled by what you've witnessed and intrigued to see more. 

Score: 6/10

**Like this review?  Share it with a friend.  Hate it?  Share it with an enemy.**

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Suburb Murder (1992)

Suburb Murder is an ugly slice of Category III Hong Kong cinema, mostly forgotten amidst the Ebola Syndromes and Sex and Zens of the world. It doesn't deserve to be rescued from obscurity but it is an interesting feature for maybe those who enjoy lurid films from the uglier side of Italy for example. To put Suburb Murder into context, it is a slice of true crime cinema, following the formula set by Dr. Lamb where there is a crime story based on real events and you have the police investigation and subsequent confession and flashbacks to evil deeds.

Suburb Murder is a little different in the fashion that it is much rougher than its siblings, more crude around the edges and more interested in baring flesh that exposing the black heart of a mad killer. Basically the story follows a young thug called Kang who is caught after a murder/rape and is interviewed by police, going over his rotten childhood and involvement in a group of young hoodlums. Kang and his buddies are generally just scum, participating in several rapes and assaults throughout the picture. Spending the whole film in the company of such scum is what and just about all Suburb Murder offers. an attempt is made to humanize Kang, showing his broken home and he is given a ray of light through a close friend and a blossoming relationship but this comes after he is shown to be an ugly rapist so why should an audience give a fuck about him? when his girlfriend and friend fall prey to a pair of drunk white guys you're left not giving a fuck.

But, this is a moment of extra carnage and that's what Suburb Murder and films of its type are all about, bared flesh and exploitation. So I welcomed the crude melodramatics with open arms as it led to people getting beaten with rocks, nipples being chewed off and violation by way of a tree branch. Add in some very ugly men in their pants fondling some pretty rough looking women and you have a neat little package from the cellar of Category III cinema. The film contains little in the way of familiar faces but Cat III actress Lily Lee has a cameo so that adds half a point. Mostly favorable to trash hounds however even they might be put off by the film's odd structure which doesn't really convince or the terrible gun fight which gets shown twice.

MVT The general sleaze of the film.

Make Or Break The discovery of the corpse in the opening moments, it'll either draw you in or send you running.

Score: 6.5/10

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Fabulous Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (1977)

King Kong (1933) is hands down one of my favorite movies of all time (and arguably one of the best ever made, not that I’m biased).  It succeeds as an adventure picture.  It succeeds as a monster picture (and how sad is it that the spider pit scene doesn’t survive as anything other than a few fascinating stills?).  It even succeeds as a love story (bestiality aside).  Over the Thanksgiving holidays in my youth, WWOR-TV out of Secaucus, New Jersey used to show not only the original Kong, but also the lighter but no less fun Son Of Kong and the exceptional Mighty Joe Young.  The day after the Kong fest, they would play some Toho daikaiju eiga, though the lineup that sticks in my mind included King Kong Escapes and King Kong Versus Godzilla.  

Back to the point, what really makes Kong such a fantastic character is he has personality to spare.  As a performance created mostly by a one-foot-tall puppet, the giant simian manages to go through a range of emotions and sell them all.  There are live actors who to this day cannot convince me that they’re not robots, yet a piece of aluminum, rubber, and rabbit fur is capable of bringing an audience to tears.  Even the fabulous Rick Baker, whose ape makeups have fooled watchful eyes, couldn’t quite wring the same emotions out of his creation in the John Guillermin version of the story in 1976.  Naturally, this didn’t stop less talented creators from trying to convince viewers that primate costumes barely one step up from Don Post get-ups (man, they were great) were in fact giant apes, invariably to hilarious results.  From Konga to Mighty Peking Man and everything in between, convincing ape suits have been the exception rather than the norm.
A mysterious man in an old age disguise (or is it?) wanders into a book store where Dr. Otto Lindenbrock (Kenneth More) peruses the shelves.  Taking an enigmatic guide (written by the never-glimpsed Arne Saknussemm) from the old man, Otto ropes his niece Glauben (the truly beauteous YvonneSentis) and her beau, soldier and all-around wimp Axel (Pep Munné), to join him on an expedition to Mount Sneffels in Iceland, where a portal leading to the center (sorry, centre) of the Earth is located.  Bribing stoic shepherd Hans (Frank Braña) with sheep (yes, really), the group descend into a world filled with not only wonders but also with dangers.

 Juan Piquer Simón’s Jules Verne’s The Fabulous Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (aka Where Time Began, aka Viaje Al Centro De La Tierra) is yet another in a long list of adaptations of fabulist Jules Verne’s famous story.  Verne has been linked with cinema almost as long as there has been cinema (just ask Martin Scorsese or better yet Georges Méliès).  His work is tailor-made for the film medium, loaded as it is with visual wonders.  Despite the dubiousness of much (but not all) of Verne’s science, his concepts were set and written in a time when discovery was still very possible (in a broad scope sense of the word).  The world was vast and large sections remained unexplored.  Consequently, Verne’s tales would be about probing a certain aspect of the world (and the universe) and pondering the possibilities of what could be out there awaiting man.  It didn’t matter whether or not a ship like the Nautilus could take on a giant squid in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.  It didn’t matter that a cannon can’t launch a manned missile From The Earth To The Moon.  It didn’t matter that traveling Around The World In Eighty Days in a hot-air balloon would be a foolhardy venture at best.  What matters is that the concepts invite flights of fancy.  The stories are about the power of imagination and the fueling of the sense of wonder we all have inside us (admit it, you do) more than they are about rendering the astonishing with verisimilitude.  Any adaptation, then, must also maintain such a sense, and Simón’s film does, or at the very least it does halfway.

The fantastical elements of the film kick in once the characters reach the underground ocean, and when they do, I feel fairly confident in stating that they can be enjoyed on multiple levels.  The rubber puppet monsters are cheapjack in the extreme, but they are still monsters, and that counts for a lot.  A fight between two Plesiosaurs (?) is actually quite violent, with chunks of meat being ripped out and blood roiling the water.  The absurd giant ape (certainly a ripoff of Guillermin’s King Kong, though a large man-ape is mentioned very briefly in Verne’s story) will prompt flashbacks of The Mighty Gorga, I’m sure, but the scale and sets are handled relatively well.  Also, there are a number of composite, forced perspective, and matte painting shots which are better than some stuff being done on computers today.  The filmmakers never succeed one hundred percent in convincing the viewer that the expedition is actually inside the interior of the Earth (except for the scenes obviously shot in caverns), but the effort is definitely there, and that really goes a long way.  There are also elements like the character of Olsen (Jack Taylor, exploitation cinema’s answer to William Fichtner before the question) which are truly intriguing but are brushed aside, amounting to little more than teases.  The film’s major problem is that it takes its sweet time getting to the interesting bits, but it does so without managing to flesh out its characters in the slightest or building much tension, which we need in order to keep us hanging on.  And once it gets to the dinosaurs, giant mushrooms, and so on, the film gives them all short shrift, rushing as it is to reach the end.  So, what could have been some low-fi, dirt poor fantasy instead comes off like a highlight reel of same.

More’s Lindenbrock (and we won’t get into spelling variations or name changes between the written work and this) seems completely unfazed and mostly uncaring about just about everything in the world as well as what he witnesses underground.  It makes it difficult to believe that he is a man as interested in exploration as he claims to be.  Hans also is granite-like in mien.  Even when he gets to embrace a lamb towards the film’s end, his countenance betrays no sense of joy whatsoever.  Conversely, Axel and Glauben do nothing but show emotion (usually delight and awe), being (as they must have been) the audience’s point of view characters.  There are no complex emotional moments whatsoever in the film, for good or ill.  Some would argue that’s because the film is aimed at children, so these things need to be kept simple.  I would argue that’s horseshit, and most children not only understand the meaning behind subtle acting, but they probably intuit it better than many adults.  The problem is most kids would be bored to tears by this film, so the filmmakers’ simplifications are essentially for naught.  And that’s kind of a shame, really. 

MVT:  The special effects are the meat and potatoes of the film.  Unfortunately (and frustratingly), they are not dwelt on at any length, depriving the audience’s inner child from fully satisfying itself.

Make Or Break:  The Make is the first monster scene, while the gang is still in the caverns.  A five-and-dime dinosaur pokes its head out of a pool of thick movie fog.  It lights the fuse which doesn’t quite fizzle but certainly never “goes boom.”

Score:  5.75/10
**Like this review?  Share it with a friend.  Hate it?  Share it with an enemy.**

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bonus #47: Some Horrorhound Weekend Insanity

Welcome to short recording we did on the floor at Horrorhound Weekend Indy 2012!!!

We didnt have a lot of time for recording at the convention, you get so caught up in seeing everybody and it doesnt seem like the right thing to do to record people and take them out of the element they are in....however...we found some time to squeeze out a bit of material.

We hope you enjoy and we hope you can make it to one of these sometime in the near's like family for us and we know you will feel the same way.

Direct download: HHW_Insanity.mp3

Emails to

Voicemails 206-666-5207


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave (1971)

There is a cemetery near where I live.  Actually, there are quite a few (no shock there).  In one of them, though, there is a somewhat unorthodox mausoleum.  The cemetery is not that large (it measures about three blocks long and goes back another two [not city blocks, mind you]).  Anyway, the mausoleum I’m thinking of sits at the rear of the cemetery.  The family name I cannot recall, but inside the crypt is a statue of a demon.  Why this particular sculpture sits inside a mausoleum in a Christian cemetery, I haven’t a clue.  The rumor is that that the man buried there was a Devil worshipper (yes, I know it makes no sense), and that on the night of a full moon, the statue’s eyes glow.  Here’s what I can tell you; I have seen the statue.  It does exist and from what I recall, it definitely is of a horned person.  Whether that would be Satan, a satyr, or a reproduction of Michelangelo’s Moses statue is uncertain (I was about ten or so when I saw this thing).  The eyes didn’t glow when I saw it, but then again, I don’t remember if it was a full moon out that night, and I would probably swear that they did anyway, the human mind being as suggestible as it is.  

Lord Alan Cunningham (Anthony Steffen) is a swinging widower who likes to pick up redheaded hookers, bring them back to his castle, torture, and kill them.  Nice guy.  Creepy brother-in-law, Albert (Roberto Maldera) knows about these attacks and extorts money from Alan regularly.  Alan’s friend Dr. Richard Timberlane (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) wants Alan to get help for the seizures he has when he thinks about his dead wife Evelyn (which is a lot).  Cousin George (Enzo Tarascio) takes Alan to a party, where he meets, falls in love with, and swiftly marries Gladys (Marina Malfatti).  After moving into the castle alongside wheelchair-bound Aunt Agatha (Joan C. Davis), though, Gladys soon begins to get the feeling that Evelyn may have some unfinished business with Alan.

Emilio Miraglia’s The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave (aka La Notte Che Evelyn Uscì Dalla Tomba) is a Giallo, but it really doesn’t feel like one at the start.  For the better part of the first forty minutes or so, all we get are scenes of Alan having seizures and whipping hookers in the torture chamber in which none of them is uncomfortable to be, inexplicably.  As such, there is no real mystery or anything to pique a viewer’s interest, with the exception of how Evelyn died, and even that isn’t addressed overtly in this portion of the film (though anyone who has ever watched a movie before can make a pretty good guess).  From this first half, one expects the film to be about Alan’s maniacal doings, basically a sleaze and torture film.  Thankfully, though, the story does pick up in the second half, but in all honesty, getting to the interesting part is fairly difficult, seeing as there’s nothing all that interesting going on to maintain interest, and the plot follows a repetitious cycle of events.  

Anthony cannot let go of Evelyn, most prominently signified by the portrait in his bedroom of which he refuses to rid himself.  This leads to his obsessive behaviors.  He will not allow anyone with red hair in the castle (humorously, the five maids Aunt Agatha hires look identical, all the way to their blonde afros).  He is instantly attracted to Gladys and even desires her sexually (he wouldn’t allow a redheaded prostitute to kiss him, but he has passionate sex with Gladys), and the viewer gets the idea (based on previous experience) that part of the reason is her blonde hair.  His murderous episodes serve a dual purpose.  On the one hand, they allow him to take control of a situation that he couldn’t control the first time around.  On the other hand, they allow him to take out his anger on surrogates, something he never had the chance to do when his wife was alive.  And while the toll his wife’s death took on him is prevalent throughout the film, after Alan weds Gladys, his violent outbursts seemingly cease (seizures excepted) and are (somewhat disturbingly) never brought up again in any significant way (essentially allowing him to abrogate responsibility for these crimes). 
The film uses flashbacks as both exposition and a reinforcement of the unreliable narrator facet on which the film is built.  We see a naked (we assume) Evelyn lilting through a misty glen.  Under a pine tree, she falls into the embrace of a naked (we assume) Alan.  And again, these sequences serve multiple ends.  The first is as an allusion to the biblical Garden of Eden, a time when everything was perfect, and there was no such thing as sin.  The second point is as suggested explanation for why Alan is the way he is now, and an idealistic interpretation of events which may or may not have happened, as well as something which is unattainable in the real world for Alan.  Yet a third point offers that these images only exist in Alan’s head, and are false, merely more symptoms of Alan’s sickness.

Despite the daunting first half, the film does come into its own once the supernatural elements enter play.  Early on, Aunt Agatha arranges a séance, wherein Alan sees an image of Evelyn and passes out, but this episode is shrugged off as being one of Agatha’s patented unfunny practical jokes.  It isn’t until Gladys informs Alan that she got his evening milk from a maid with red hair that suddenly avenues open up in the viewer’s mind.  The puzzle deepens through the rest of the film, and it plays heavily on the angle of revenge from beyond the grave.  Of course, this means characters are going to start dropping like flies, and here’s where there is an interesting twist on a traditional Giallo convention (it was interesting to me, anyway).  Those familiar with this subgenre know that the hidden killer is often only depicted on screen via his (or her) black gloves.  In this film, we do get the gloves, but they are yellow.  Giallo gloves for a Giallo film.  Of course, an observant watcher of the film will have a pretty good idea of what’s going on and by whom by the time things get interesting, but by that point, you’re along for the ride, and there are still several wild twists which I guarantee you will not see coming and make the film worthwhile to see, but it’s in no way one of the classics of the subgenre.

MVT:  Miraglia’s direction is slick, professional, evocative, and effective.  He is stylish or subdued as is necessary, and knows when those times are, though he could admittedly use some work on his pacing.  Personally, I’ll be seeking out more of his films in the future.

Make Or Break:  The Make is (as stated above) the moment when Gladys lets drop that the maid she met in the kitchen had ginger hair.  Something is up, and now the viewer actively wants to know what and how.  It provides the impetus for the momentum which will drive the film through the remainder of its runtime, right up to its lunatic finish.

Score:  6.25/10

**Like this review?  Share it with a friend.  Hate it?  Share it with an enemy.**

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Episode #200: The Death Wish Trilogy

Welcome to our all-star action packed 200th episode of the GGtMC folks!!!

We have been doing this show for 4 years now and we wanted to do something special for episode #200, something that just oozes with the GGtMC way of we thought Bronson, violence, insane gang members with questionable fashion tastes and more Bronson!! We dive into 3 of the Death Wish films, the trilogy that we consider some of Bronson's most immortal moments in cinema.

But we didnt want to do this episode alone, just Will and I, no we brought the thunder and asked Rupert Pupkin from the and Miles from Show Show to join us for this amazing episode. We had an absolute blast talking vigilantes and Cannon films....sit back and enjoy!!!

We also get an awesome piece of feedback from many of our listeners who contributed to a special piece that Jake McLargeHuge put will blow your mind and bust your gut.

We want to thank all of you that have been with us from the beginning or just listening for the first time for all the support you have given us and the community we have all built with our love of cinema, here's to 200 more episodes and all the J&B you can drink my friends!!!

Direct download: Episode_200_Death_Wish_Trilogy.mp3

Emails to

Voicemails to 206-666-5207


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hollywood Cop (1987)

Director/Writer: Amir Shervan
Cast: David Goss, Julie Schoenhofer, Lincoln Kilpatrick, James Mitchum, Troy Donahue, Cameron Mitchell, Aldo Ray

When you think of memorable action film henchmen, Goldfinger’s Oddjob, Lethal Weapon’s Mr. Joshua, and Al Leong from roughly 90% of 1980s action cinema spring to mind. Unfortunately, not every worthy henchman gets the notoriety he deserves. Animal, the bearded and oft-cackling henchman in 1987’s Hollywood Cop, falls into this category not simply because of the film’s relatively low profile, but because director Amir Shervan failed to include the actor’s name in the credits. This was but one in a flurry of egregious errors in Shervan’s American directorial debut, where the hair is feathered, the aviators are polished, and the jeans and jackets are a little on the snug side.

The audience gets its introduction to Animal in the film’s opening scene, where members of a gang are gathered poolside at the Feliciano mansion before an important operation. Feliciano (Mitchum) has carefully planned the kidnapping of the son of Joe Fresno, a former associate who screwed him out of a large sum of money. He demands that no one be left alive with the exception of the mother. Animal assures him that he’ll “kill them all” and then cackles maniacally. In response, Feliciano asks that the rest of the gang keep an eye on Animal because “he’s strange.”

Shortly before the kidnapping, single mother Rebecca (Shoenhofer) is grappling with the latest of her son’s mischievous outbursts. Little Stevie is washing a goat for the third time that day. Perhaps this is forgivable since they live on a ranch, but chronic goat-washing is the type of behavioral problem endemic to single-parent households. On the bright side, the kidnapping itself is a rousing success. The gang guns down several fleeing ranch hands before wrestling the terrified boy from his screaming mother’s arms. Raises for everyone!

Rebecca is left with a ransom letter demanding $6 million and forbidding police involvement. To whom can she turn for help? The police, of course. She crosses paths with L.A. cop John “Turkey” Turquoise (Goss), fresh off a recent rape and robbery bust that leaves three perpetrators dead and one officer violently ill after witnessing a beheading. Turkey is that ultra-rare breed of cop who works by his own rules and is regularly chastised as a loose cannon by superiors Capt. Bonano (Mitchell) and Lt. Maxwell (Donahue). From what I can tell, he doesn’t live on a houseboat however. Turkey and his partner, Jaguar (Kilpatrick), take Rebecca’s case and vow to bring her son back safely.

Having seen Shervan’s Samurai Cop a few years ago, I expected Hollywood Cop to be its sloppier and even more inept grandfather since it was filmed two years beforehand. Instead, I was surprised to find that this was the (slightly) more polished of the two. While so many of Samurai Cop’s weird moments could be attributed to an inexperienced cast, Hollywood Cop is chock full of grizzled veterans. Mitchum looks bloated but is suitably irritable as crime boss Feliciano, while Mitchell and Donahue do a bit more than cash checks in their limited screen time. The real standout here is Lincoln Kilpatrick, who looks like he’s having a blast as the oversexed and appropriately named Jaguar. Had blues legend Billie Holiday not encouraged him to pursue a career in acting, it's unlikely that he ever would have found himself performing alongside Sidney Poitier in the original Broadway production of "A Raisin in the Sun," or oil-wrestling two busty chicks in a completely unnecessary nightclub scene here. Thanks again for everything Lady Day.

The film’s action scenes are lively, for the most part. The foot pursuit near the beginning of the film which introduces the audience to Turkey leads to a severed hand and subsequent decapitation, both by machete. The shootout sequences contain some of the most wildly inconsistent behavior in the midst of gunfire I’ve ever seen. In one instance, a baddie writhes and twitches after taking several shots before sliding down a staircase to a (dead) stop. That’s reasonable. Just a few minutes later though, his cohort takes a shot to the arm and winces as if pressing on a fresh sunburn. During a climactic gun battle, Turkey shields Rebecca from gunfire by lying on top of her on the ground. This kind of selflessness would be admirable were it not for him sticking his ass in the air in a seductive manner. To quote a Beastie Boys lyric: “in the animal kingdom, they call it presenting.”

This was Shervan’s first American production, and it shows. Actors routinely talk over one another, a boom mic is visible during a scene without any dialogue, and he frequently films scenes with obstructive objects -- such as counter-tops and asses -- in the foreground. Shervan also spends much more time than is necessary on Stevie’s captivity and as far as child actors go, he’s pretty awful. Most of his lines occur in an attempted conversation with a Doberman guard dog. Yup.

Make or Break: The lone car chase near the back-end of the film. Sure, the vehicles Shervan chose are the types of shitboxes you'd inherit from a deceased grandparent. There's little flow, no real sense of danger, and the camera angles are pretty dull. However, even a scene as plodding as this still results in a ramped car, a man on fire, and a carsplosion within a 40-second time-frame. As an intersection of Shervan’s desire for visual bombast and his inability to properly execute it, this sequence was a clear make.

MVT: Director Amir Shervan. Even when the execution is clunky, his approach to filmmaking is sincere and the results are entertaining. When his dialogue is unrealistic and his characters' actions are inconsistent with acceptable human behavior, we dig him all the more for it.

Score: 6.25/10

Hollywood Cop isn’t a good film by most standards but like so many other action films of the 1980s, its charm lies in its flaws. This is “beers and buds” fodder and a pretty enjoyable watch for what it is. Even if you don’t dig the action, the bearded thespian behind the Animal character is a revelation.