Month: October 2014

October 31, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – 1990: The Bronx Warriors

ITALIAN

Lace up your Chuck Taylors and throw on a flannel shirt, we’re taking a trip to the ’90s. A ’90s of a PARALLEL TIME!
The year is 1982. Both funny man John Belushi and guitar shredder Randy Rhoads pass away.  Rocker Wendy O Williams sues several Milwaukee police for physical abuse endured while she arrested. “Ghandi” and “Conan the Barbarian” share the silver screen – now that’s a fight I’d like to see. And the compact disc is debut.
All aboard! The “Action Movie Time Machine” is dialed into the time stream of “1990: The Bronx Warriors”, a film that predicts the post apocalyptic world of New York City in 1990.
THE SKINNY
The film is set in the post apocalyptic New York City of 1990. The Bronx, where our story unfolds, is controlled by several vicious gangs who patrol their territories and coordinate their Technicolor outfits for maximum bad-ass-itude. The gang related crime has become so great that all attempts to restore law and order have been unsuccessful, and the Bronx is now regarded a “no man’s land” by the authorities. All of this we learn from the films “Escape from New York” style prologue.

 
The film begins with seventeen year old Ann, who has runaway from her Manhattan Catholic school and found her way into the Bronx. Soon she is discovered and attacked by one of the many colorful gangs following in the footsteps of such films as “The Warriors”. Her attackers are the Zombies. A gang who’s mode of transportation is roller skates. Their weapons are white hockey sticks and they wear matching white Stahlhelme (Nazi helmets). Soon Ann’s attackers are confronted by a rival gang,  the Riders, who are nothing more than a biker gang. the Riders dish out a bit of the ol’ ultra violence to the Zombies and Trash, The Rider’s leader, takes Ann as his biker bride. Ann doesn’t seem to mind. She and Trash hit it off and spend the following days making underage love.

Ann has escaped a world of privilege and power to live in… the Bronx. She could have used her family’s money and influence to go anywhere in the world, but she chose the Bronx. The gang infested – ghetto-ass Bronx. Why you ask? Well she is running from responsibility. Once she turns eighteen she will inherit the family business, The Manhattan Corporation, which is the largest single company in the United States. In short she doesn’t want her life devoted to the  board meetings and conference calls of a god sized entity that influences the decisions of first world countries and owning those of the second and third. Instead… she chooses the Bronx. That’ll show that stuffy old board of directors.
In order to get Ann away from danger and back into Catholic school, the vice-president of the company sends in a private contractor, a man who goes by the name Hammer, to infiltrate the Bronx, track and retrieve Ann. The Riders learn about Hammer when he gets a little too close to the gang while doing some recon. He happens upon a member of the Riders and his lady getting’ busy in a stairwell of an abandoned apartment building. Hammer shoots them both point blank in the chest with a shotgun. The noise alerts Trash and the rest who search the building and chase Hammer but can’t catch him.
Around this time another of the Riders turns up dead. This time at the hands of the gang known as the Tigers – a gang of well dressed pimps. He was found trespassing on Tiger territory, so The Ogre, leader of the Tigers played by Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, removes his heart as a punishment. In the process, The Ogre discovers that he was wearing a “gizmo” (a police issue tracking device). This news gets back to the Riders and causes them to quarrel among themselves. Some think it’s all a lie and The Ogre is moving in on their territory. However, Trash has had a long conversation with Ann, who believes all these killings are connected and are the doing of the Manhattan Corporation. Trash devises a plan to  take his best men, travel through the other territories and meet with The Ogre. With The Ogre on his side, the gangs could team up and smoke out Hammer and whoever else has ties to the Manhattan Corporation.

Along the way, Trash and his men encounter several other gangs who they must defeat. First the Iron Men – a gang of face painted, tap dancing theater types, then the Scavengers – a nomadic group or club wielding barbarians and finally the Tigers who they have to fight their way thou before they earn an audience with The Ogre. When they do, The Ogre and the Tigers are on board.
Meanwhile, Ice, one of the Riders, has been making a power play to lead the gang. He has made a deal with Hammer – telling him Trash’s plan to team up with The Ogre. Ice then meets with the leader of the Zombies, who’ve captured Ann, and convinces them to use Ann as bate to draw in Trash and eliminate him for good.

Everything comes to a head when The Ogre and Trash arrive at the Zombies’ hideout. The Ogre takes on the Zombie leader while Trash frees Ann and gets his revenge for Ice turning traitor. They then battle their way out against the entire Zombie gang before they return to the Tiger’s territory where they, together, defend themselves against a Hammer lead invasion of police armed with flame throwers.
This invasion is an all out slaughter. People are set on fire left and right. Over half of the people who bite it in this entire film die here in this final scene along with The Ogre, Hammer and even Ann. The only survivor is Trash, who rides out into the sunset dragging Hammer’s body by his motorcycle. The End.
THE VERDICT
“1990: The Bronx Warriors” comes from Italian director Enzo Castellari and I believe THIS is the reason it falls into both the good and bad categories. While it isn’t original, which I’m sure you figured out for yourself from my referencing of several other similar films, but it is original enough in it’s own right. It is well filmed, acted and scored but has a distinct European feel to it which detracts from it’s action packed potential. It’s a bit subdued compared to American made action films of the same vintage.
Being an Italian film made in the States, the film is largely made up of an Italian speaking cast who have all been dubbed, which makes for some pretty interesting lines of dialogue… Or, maybe it’s the script that has been translated which makes for the interesting dialogue. Anyhow, one of my favorite  lines came from Trash when the Riders were discussing some planted evidence found where Hammer killed the two with his shotgun; “Look, it could be a pile of shit outta somebodies asshole!”. Weirdly specific when he could have just said; “Look, it could just be bullshit for all we know!”.
Speaking of Hammer. Why didn’t Fred “The Hammer” Williamson play the character Hammer? Sure Fred looks better dressed as a tough guy pimp, but with a name like that it just makes sense.
 
There were two other things that seemed strange that I would like to point out. The first occurs when The Ogre and The Tigers pay the Riders a visit to tell them about the “gizmo”. The whole time this scene goes on, there is a drummer playing. No, I mean the drummer is sitting next to the Riders, beating the skins all alone and I don’t know why he’s there other than he is REALLY good. Why set up your drum kit in the middle of nowhere just to play for a biker gang? Did the Riders call him ahead of time to let him know when they would be there, or does he always practice there and today there just so happened to be some heavy gang related shit going down?
 
The second thing occurs when Ann is being rescued from the Zombies. As she watches Trash beat up some Zombie gang members in slow motion, she starts to breath heavy and her lip quivers. She is totally turned on by Trash’s brain bashing machismo. Then, moments later, as Trash is talking to Ann, who is sitting on the ground, we see the back of Trash and his mace like weapon poking out from in front of him. It just so happens to be at Ann’s eye level and she can’t take her eyes off of it. This is phallic as all hell. Leave it to an Italian filmmaker to come up with a way to turn that scene into a hidden moment of sex.
 
So in the end, it’s unfortunate that “1990: The Bronx Warriors” isn’t very original, but it is also too good to be bad. I feel that this could easily be a forgotten cult classic if it was able to stand out more from it’s peers with more than odd dialogue and sexual innuendo. In my opinion it should have been a full blown grindhouse flick with boobs and blood galore. Maybe it’s sequel “Escape from the Bronx” has a little more to offer.
Again, it’s not a bad film. Maybe if you’re bored with “The Warriors” you should give this one a try.
I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

October 31, 2014

Yet Another 31 Nights of Halloween: The Stuff

The Stuff: Tasty
87mins – Comedy/Horror – 1985

Looking for a unique film for Halloween?
Here you go! Ladies and Gentlemen, The Stuff!

One of the best satires that’s really a horror film at heart. Michael Moriarty leads this delicious film of mysterious goo that is pouring out of the earth. For some odd reason an old man takes a taste right away to see what it is. This white thing pouring from the earth taste amazing. Corporate America takes a taste as well and what we get is this new craze sweeping the nation.
America buys it by the ton, replacing all other foods with this new food called… The Stuff!

“It’s smooth and creamy. It’s low calorie and delicious. And it kills. It’s The Stuff!”

Everyone becomes addicted to The Stuff that turns them all into zombie like creatures. Everyone must eat The Stuff! If you don’t soon they will make sure you do!


One night, a kid named Jason notices the new food, The Stuff moving in his fridge.  He tells his parents and they don’t believe him. They have already been taken over by The Stuff. He runs to the grocery store to warn the people but no one believes him. This creates a story that runs in the paper, which an ex-FBI agent, David Rutherford notices. Rutherford is played by the amazing and extremely tall (6’4”) Michael Moriarty.  Rutherford during this time is investigating The Stuff when the news about the boy comes his way. Along with Nicole (Mad Men like promoter), these three are the world’s last hope to pull them from this controlling goo.

Will they stop it or is the nation over as we know it?!

The story works and it works well. It feels like the body snatchers, the blob and a comedy about America’s consumerism all rolled up into one. It’s a very unique film that is just a flat out great film. Yes acting is rough and the effects are of their time. But there is so much more here then a horror film, but a satire about this country and its need to consume the latest greatest fad. It feels like it could happen and honestly isn’t that far fetched of an idea, even thou it might seem extremely absurd. I could see this working today maybe with food or medication. An evil corporation finds something that they want to make a ton of money on, so they bribe the FDA and get their product into everyone’s hands even if it has deadly side effects. As I watch this I see a commercial for a pill that can kill you. The side effects out weigh the job of the pill, so why is this available then?

See it’s not too far out!

The look of The Stuff is great. I love the design of package in this film. Strips of pink, light purple and brown circle the pint container creates an iconic movie prop.

Please watch this film. It’s an intriguing film that balances comedy in the right way. Yes its funny that a food could take people over but I find it even more funny that the need for consumerism is sadly the realest part of the film.

Side Notes:

On Netflix as of now, no reason to not watch this!

Garrett Morris (SNL) pops up and he is fantastic onscreen. Originally Arsenio Hall was considered.  
To create The Stuff, a lot of Häagen Däzs ice-cream and yogurt was used.

Yummmmy

October 31, 2014

Yet Another 31 Nights of Halloween: Mirror, Mirror (Amazing Stories TV Show – S1:E19)

Okay so I’m going to try something a little different here. In the late 80’s, Steven Spielberg came out with a TV show called Amazing Stories that seems to ether grab a ton of flack or a ton of love. I never really watched the show, maybe a totally of two episodes of which I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about. I do remember the show and that opening but not a bit of memory regarding the episodes. So since Amazing Stories is on Netflix, I’m going to pick a couple of episodes out of order strictly do to the crew and actors that appear in that episode.

Mirror, Mirror: Entertaining
Season 1, Episode 19 (March 9, 1986)

The reason why I picked, Mirror Mirror was because of the involvement of Sam Waterston (The Lead), Dick Cavett (plays Himself) and Tim Robbins (The Phantom).

Also believe it or not…

This episode is Directed by Martin Scorsese…Yes that Martin Scorsese!

This episode is about a horror novelist who doesn’t believe in the subject that he writes. But he quickly begins to reconsiders this as he begins to see a man tying to kill him. The only time he see this figure is when he looks into a reflective surface, which shows the man gaining on him with the intent to strangle him.

 

It’s not a bad story for a 24 minute show. I found the 24 minutes to be very entertaining, might not be the strongest story ever but so far it’s my favorite out of the four that I’ve watched. Keep in mind this show is called Amazing Stories yet so far I haven’t really seen an amazing story. They’re mostly okay stories with a good twist. Maybe this is mostly why I’ve seen Amazing Stories get more flack online then love.

That said…

Scorsese does a good job. He keeps the 24 minutes fast and fun. Believe it or not that wasn’t the main attraction for me, that honor was given to the great Sam Waterston as Jordan Manmouth. Every time he is acting he just steals the scene if its Law & Order or The Newsroom, he just steals it with his presence. He plays a guy who just losses it and you can believe it. He really does steal that scene and even more made this episode flat out entertaining.

Defiantly give this episode a check out.

Side Notes:

Dick Cavett plays Dick Cavett and I enjoyed the little addition of him to the story.

Tim Robbins is also along for the shows as The Phantom, although you couldn’t tell who the hell was  really playing the villain to save your life.

October 25, 2014

Yet Another 31 Nights of Halloween: Go to the Head of the Class (Amazing Stories TV Show – S2:E8)

Okay so I’m going to try something a little different here. In the late 80’s, Steven Spielberg came out with a TV show called Amazing Stories that seems to ether grab a ton of flack or a ton of love. I never really watched the show, maybe a totally of two episodes of which I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about. I do remember the show and that opening but not a bit of memory regarding the episodes. So since Amazing Stories is on Netflix, I’m going to pick a couple of episodes out of order strictly do to the crew and actors that appear in that episode.
Go to the Head of the Class: Enjoyable
Season 2, Episode 8 (November 21 1986) 60 mins
The reason why I picked Go to the Head of the Class was because of the involvement of Christopher Lloyd as Professor B.O. Beanes, Bob Gale (teleplay), Alan Silvestri (Music) and Robert Zemeckis (Directing). Yes the majority of those who worked on my favorite movie of all-time, Back to the Future.

Right off from the start this has the Zemeckis look. The opening is classic Zemeckis just like Back to the Future, it tells a lot about the character. We start off on the TV that slowly comes out showing our main character’s room filled with pictures of a girl. We start to pan down from a window with a basketball and baseball bat, band posters, stickers, a phone going off and a clock. Our main character (Peter Brand) picks up the phone to find a screaming mother yelling at him about being late for school.

Cut to a shot of Peter Brand jumping out the window running to school, its so McFly like and that is just too damn awesome. 

The next scene is where Christopher Lloyd comes into the story. He plays a teacher who is pretty hard on his students. Seeing a student crewing gum, he questions the student who quickly swallows the evidence. The Professor then picks a piece of gum from under the desk of the student, ask what is this then? The student says thats not the kind I chew, which in a silly way catches the student in a lie. So he requires the student to swallow the random piece of gum. I love this scene a lot because Brand is trying to sneak into the classroom during this time. The way the whole scene flows just reminds me of Back to the Future, which isn’t a bad thing mind you. Alan Silvestri scores this episode just like Back to the Future. When Peter falls into the grave around the 18:20 mark, just listen, it just screams Back to the Future and damn do I loved that. 

Regarding the story it’s definitely not the strongest but still enjoyable to watch. It’s a revenge plot after Brand and his best friend; Cynthia Simpson (Mary Stuart Masterson) gets caught with the same paper. Brand takes the blame and is punished in front of the class by the Professor. So the two decide to cast a deadly spell on the Professor which doesn’t go to plan. I really enjoyed this episode mostly because it felt so Back to the Future like. That said Go to the Head of the Class was still enjoyable to watch especially with Halloween around the corner.
October 24, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – Warlords of the 21st Century

TEXTBOOK

Well I hope you enjoyed last weeks look at real life spy stuff which concluded our “Double Vision“ series. And believe me, those weren‘t the only or the strangest action movies featuring doppelgangers. At least “Double Trouble” had actual twins. Not like that 1988 flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. Speaking of which, I hear there will be a “Twins 2” in the not too distant future… so… there’s that.
This week we shall be doing something out of the ordinary. We will be traveling through both time AND space to explore the alternate timelines of humanity. Timelines that haven’t been as fortunate as ours. All aboard the “Action Movie Time Machine”. I have locked onto the time stream of “Warlords of the 21stCentury”, aka “Battletruck“.
The year is 1982. A wave of terrorist attacks are committed in France by Carlos the Jackal [see The Assignment], Michael Jackson Moonwalks into children’s hearts with “Thriller” and “E.T.” & “Tootsie” battle it out to be the top grossing film of the year.
THE SYNOPSIS
Our film begins in 1994, “the near future”, after the fallout of what is called the Oil Wars or World War III. The “Battletruck”, a futuristic armored personnel carrier/semi thing,
is barreling down some forgotten country road in middle America, even though it was filmed in New Zealand, when it comes upon a horse drawn pickup truck with two men transporting fifty gallon drums of diesel. The Battletruck runs the pickup off the road before Straker and his soldiers file out and begin interrogating the men, asking them were they found the diesel. Much like the “Mad Max” films, gasoline is rare and is often fought over.
 
Straker kills one of the men outright to teach the other a lesson, and with the lesson learned he agrees to show them where the gas is located. As they travel, the nameless man explains that his father was in the military and as a child he learned where there was a secret military refueling station and that station is where he and his friend retrieved the diesel. Once they arrive, Straker kills the nameless man and has his men begin fortifying the military encampment.

Corlie, a young and attractive captive of Straker, makes a break for it during the night. But come morning Straker’s men have tracked her and are closing in. Never fear, Hunter is near! Hunter, Michael Beck from “The Warriors”, comes to the rescue and on a steel horse he rides. He pulls his motorcycle around and picks up Corlie just in time to escape Straker’s men. Seeing that she has been injured, Hunter takes the young lady to a village called Clearwater, where she is brought into the fold and put to work in the orchards

Meanwhile, Straker has regrouped with his men and has followed in the direction where Hunter was last seen, which also happens to be in the direction of Clearwater. Once in Clearwater, Straker kills those who resist, strips the men of their weapons, loots the villagers possessions and conscripts them all into his fighting force. For a long time now Straker has been traveling and looting, while growing his numbers by force. As Straker barks orders, Corlie quietly escapes the village by horse and seeks out her moto-protector Hunter.
  Again Straker engages in hot pursuit and arrives at Hunter’s farm house just as the lovemaking of Hunter and Corlie comes to an end — I bet you didn‘t see that coming. Straker and his men attack but Hunter and his bitty manage to escape. A lengthy motor chase ensues through the “American” forests before Straker and company give up and return to his military diesel base camp.
Back at Clearwater one of the villagers has a change of heart and captures Corlie himself to give to Straker as a peace offering. Hunter knows that he is now the only one who can save the village as well as Corlie from the evil grip of Straker.
With the help of the villagers, one of which is John Ratzenberger from “Cheers”, Hunter builds some armored rat buggy over night which he uses to attack and destroy the diesel depot. AGAIN, a chase ensues with Hunter racing to the second stage of his plan with Straker following in the Battletruck. I know I’m not the only one who thinks “Battletruck” is a stupid name for anything right?
Hunter hops onto his motorcycle, loops around behind the Battletruck and with a homemade rocket launcher, blows a hole in the side of the Battletruck. Hunter then climbs into the gaping hole, fights Straker and his men one by one before escaping with Corlie. The now unmanned Battletruck careens off a cliff and explodes into a fiery wreck when it hits bottom.
The film ends with the people of Clearwater rebuilding their village and Hunter riding off into the sunset. The End.
THE VERDICT
So, “Warlords of the 21st Century” isn’t exactly bad. It has an evil bad guy, a heroic loner and a damsel in distress, which are all set in a post World War III apocalypse. It follows the traditional three act story. The acting isn’t great, but again it isn’t exactly bad and the film doesn’t rely heavily on special effects that would otherwise look cheep due to the films low budget.
Ya see, all that stuff I just mentioned is fine and well, but none of it makes this movie anything more than derivative and textbook. Not only is this film inspired by, influenced by or just a plain rip-off of “Mad Max”, and to some degree “Escape From New York”, it also spiritually rips off countless fantasy pictures. If it weren’t for all the cars and modern weapons “Warlords of the 21stCentury” could have easily taken place in the ancient past and been about a man trying to save a village from marauders and rescue the princess from an evil sorcerer. Whether it takes place in the future or in the past, this story is one that has been told in hundreds of films, and honestly, manages to keep from standing out against any of them.
“Warlords of the 21st Century” isn’t the only one. Allow me to illustrate how unoriginal many of these post apocalyptic films are by sharing descriptions of similar films found on IMDB;
Robot Holocaust
A highly unlikely band of heroes traverses a post-apocalyptic wasteland to rescue a scientist from the tyrannical Dark One and his army of robots.
The Book of Eli
A post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind.
Steel Dawn
In a post-apocalyptic world, a warrior wandering through the desert comes upon a group of settlers who are being menaced by a murderous gang that is after the water they control.
Cyborg
A hired fighter living in a plague-ravaged apocalyptic America sets out to rescue a young girl from a murderous gang called the “Pirates”, and exact his revenge against their leader who killed his family.
What do they all have in common? A lone survivor, or small group of survivors, defends a village or small community from marauders before venturing out to save the princess, scientist, book or water. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all, even if it has robots or a plague.
I never quite figured out why Straker was so interested in Corlie. I guess he was in love with her or something. I kept waiting for there to be a reveal that she was the daughter of the President — captured as a trophy during the Oil Wars or something. But no. Just a pretty girl and nothing more.
“Warlords of the 21st Century” isn’t original, and because of that, it isn’t worth viewing unless you’re a sucker for this sort of low rent fare. Again, it isn’t exactly bad. But you will be able to predict what is about to happen next, every step of the way.
I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

October 23, 2014

Yet Another 31 Nights of Halloween: American Horror Story: Freak Show

FINALLY

AHS: Freak Show – Finally

I would have written this article the week this show premiered, but the more I write reviews about the pilot episodes for shows, the more I realize that that is a pretty flawed review, case in point, my initial take on “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” but there are also times when I’m right, case in point, “The Bridge.” This isn’t about me being right and wrong however, this is about me finally getting a show that I thought I would like, and low and behold, despite a few flaws here and there, I actually enjoy, albeit, I can only enjoy it for one season. “America Horror Story: Freak Show” combines the mythic qualities of the traveling side show, an interesting cast of characters, and of course, one of the creepiest depictions of a clown since Pennywise. I’m finally on the “American Horror Story” bandwagon.

“Freak Show” is essentially the story of murder and mayhem in a small Florida town in the 1950s. The added twist is that Elsa Mars’ Freak Show is in town, making them the prime suspects. Meanwhile, conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler are under investigation for the murder of their mother, but are spirited away by Elsa to join her troupe of freaks. What we find out that no one else knows yet, is that the actual culprit of the murders, or at least most of the murders, is Twisty, a wandering clown who loves magic tricks, juggling, stabbing people with scissors, and abducting children.

The main complaint that a lot of people have about “AHS” is the extreme violence, and radical psycho-sexual aspects of the show. I mean, people, you kind of know what you are getting into when watching a show about depraved and disturbed people; you are going to see some crazy sh*t, it’s just the way it is. Growing up watching horror my whole life, there is very little that can disturb me, but I guess since the (mainstream) horror genre has, for all intensive purposes, been de-balled, it’s all the more shocking to see shocking things on TV. But I mean this is FX, their motto is literally “No Limits.” Where is the surprise here people?

If you are a seasoned “AHS” vet, there are plenty of actors that you’ll recognize from previous seasons, including Sarah Paulson, who I think steals the show as the conjoined Tattler twins, Jessica Lange, who is going all out in her final season of “AHS” as Elsa Mars, and Evan Peters as Jimmy Darling, the Lobster Boy, who has probably already given a few ladies a new idea to try in the bedroom. One of the bigger additions to the cast, no pun intended, is Michael Chiklis, who plays circus strongman, Dell Toledo. Being a huge fan of “The Shield” it’s great to see Chiklis back on a network that gave him his most well known character, Vic Mackey. What gives the show even more cred is the use of actual “freaks” in the cast.

In an ultra-PC world that is so sensitive about the perceived needs and wants of those less fortunate, it’s an interesting idea to use actual sideshow performers as many people I’m sure see this as a form of exploitation. When Todd Browning’s “Freaks” was released in 1932, the uproar was unprecedented. Normally people would have to go to an actual circus freak show to see this assortment of oddities, but Browning put it right in everyone’s face on the silver screen. Over 80 years later, we are seeing the same thing on Hulu, VOD, and live on Wednesday night right now FX. The other humorous thing is that you would think that people would be up-in-arms about the exploitation of real “freaks” on a show, but the real backlash is from actual clowns about the portrayal of Twisty the Clown. Zeitgeist of the times is most certainly at its funniest when people are worked up more about clowns than what people used to find reprehensible nearly a century ago.

While I generally enjoy “Freak Show” so far, there are a few things that I find simply off-putting, namely the misguided and just plain weird musical numbers. Not knowing much going into this season, the first musical number to me sounded natural and fit in with the era the show was working within. However, the next musical number, which was a re-working of the Fiona Apple “classic,” “Criminal” complete with a mosh put and a midget crowd surfing…..yeah. I assume this will be a theme throughout this series, and it really takes me out of the moment. Combining the “Glee” elements with this show just seems like pandering to a few fans.

Where this season will go, and how far it will go, intrigues me to no end. The characters that are being created are rich and seem to have a lot of history to tell and the simple contrast of peaceful suburban life in the 1950s being disrupted by a serial-killing clown and a troupe of carnies creates a mood of dread and excitement.

Fun Fact: In 1991, Jim Rose Circus, a modern day Freak Show, plays the Lollapalooza Festival, starting a new wave of performers and resurgence of interest in the genre.

October 18, 2014

Yet Another 31 Nights of Halloween: Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama

TRASH

Sorority Babes – Trash

I’ve brought this up before in the past, but trash cinema and my childhood are very closely linked. Between “USA’s Up All Night” and “Monstervision” my formidable years between the ages of 8-13 were spent staying up until around 3 am when the TV would finally turn to color bars, watching horror, exploitation, and other trashy films all night. Rhonda Sheer and Joe Bob Briggs were my TV aunt and uncle who would come over ever Saturday night and show me the films from their private selection, and while that sounds creepy and borderline grounds for starting a police investigation, I wouldn’t give it up for anything. This brings me to this review, and a film I’ve been talking about reviewing forever. It’s the cult “cult” classic from 1988, “Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama.”

“Sorority Babes” is the classic yarn about horny teens who just want to see some naked sorority girls. On this night, The Delta Delta Delta Sorority are having their initiation, and you know what that means; whip cream and paddles of course. Babs, the house mistress of Tri Delta, along with Frankie and Rhonda are putting their new initiates, Lisa and Taffy, through the ringer. This brings us to frat boys, Calvin, Jimmie, and Keith who decide to crash the party, but are caught by Babs. Seizing the opportunity to further embarrass Lisa and Taffy, Babs suggests that they have to go to the local mall with the boys and steal a bowling trophy to complete their initiation.

Upon arrival at the mall, the group meets Spider, a punk rock chick with a propensity for profanity. Unbeknownst to the group, Babs, Frankie, and Rhonda have followed them to the mall and look on in the security room. Having finally found the trophy, the deed is done, but with a little bad luck, the trophy falls and unleashes a horrific entity; an imp with a soulful voice willing to grant wishes. Of course these wishes come with a price as the imp transforms Frankie and Rhonda into his demon brood and orders them to kill the rest of the group. After hiding and hearing some exposition from the mall janitor, Calvin and Spider devise a plan to capture the imp and save the day.

This film is by no means to be taken seriously, hell it’s barely a horror film, it’s pure 80s trash at it’s best. The lighting is shoddy, the effects are iffy, the camera work is sub-par, the acting is laughable, the premise is ridiculous, the nudity is well……great, and that is what makes this film so much fun. It’s the epitome of “so bad, it’s good” and it’s one of those guilty pleasure flicks that I’ll never forget. It’s like Saturday Morning Cartoons; some people grow up on different things in life, I happened to grow up on trashy 80s films that aired in the wee hours of the evening.

Aside from being ironic in my last paragraph, there are a few things to point out in this film. One, the lead, Calvin, played by Andras Jones, looks surprisingly like River Cuomo from the band Weezer. The resemblance is uncanny, and looking further into the film, namely it’s soundtrack, I find it spooky that in the credits there is a song called Killer Love by Kurt Cuomo. Just an odd coincidence that likely means nothing, but I find it funny. The other thing is that this film stars Linnea Quigley, one of the premier B-movie Scream Queens of the 1980s. Quigley plays Spider, the hardcore punk rock chick. Not sure why I’m throwing that out there, but while she is billed as one of the stars, and if you like her in this film, you’ll love her in “Return of the Living Dead” as Trash. It’s okay…..I’ll wait.

Moving on, all in all, this film is great fun if you are open-minded enough to giving “Sorority Babes” a chance. I feel like this is a film trapped in time, and would be lost to a generation that is looking for torture porn and found footage horror. There are slick odes to other films throughout, and while it’s cheesy and otherwise pretty cheap looking, its nonetheless a fun time and a trip down memory lane.

Fun Fact: The trophy, although appearing to be metallic, is actually made of balsa wood.

October 17, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – The Assignment

DOUBLE INTRIGUE

Alright, enough goofy action comedies about twin brothers separated at birth, weight lifting, JVCD splits and taking bubble baths together. This time we’re visiting a film featuring real life spy stuff and espionage, “The Assignment“. I first heard about this flick back around ‘99 when I was staying up late to watch “skin-emax”, and instead stumbled upon this. Oh how those were the days… All aboard! The Action Movie Time Machine is now departing.
The year is 1997. Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear during a boxing match. The world mourns the loss of both Princess Diana, Mother Teresa & Notorious B.I.G.. The “Titanic” sails again, this time at the box office and “Batman & Robin” proved to be the worst Batman film of all time. All this and “Carlos the Jackal” was brought to justice in “The Assignment”,
THE SKINNY
“The Assignment” begins with Lt. Cmdr. Annibal Ramirez, Aidan Quinn, who is spending his shore leave traversing the narrow streets of Israel when he notices that he is being followed. He ditches his things and makes a break for it, but as it turns out, the person following him isn’t the only one. There is a group of people working together to track and capture him. Once he is captured, he is brought to a dank and dirty apartment where he is beaten and interrogated by an unnamed man, Ben Kingsley, who keeps calling him Carlos and “The Jackal”.
 
At first Annibal pretends to be a tourist, as are his military instructions if he were to ever be detained in a hostile environment, but after a while he understands that he has been captured by some form of Israeli military and starts to explain who he is and how they can contact a naval liaison to corroborate his story. He is detained for several more days before he is set free.
Weeks later Annibal returns home from a long stint at sea when he is visited by Jack Shaw, Donald Sutherland, from the CIA. Jack has come to recruit Annibal for some highly sensitive spy work. Why Annibal? After all there must be scores of highly trained special ops types ready and willing to take on this assignment, right? Well none of them share the face of a notorious terrorist for hire, Carlos “The Jackal”. Somehow Annibal and Carlos are doppelgangers.
After some convincing, Annibal travels to a remote facility in Montreal, Canada. Here he takes on the alias Miguel, begins learning all that he can about Carlos and receives a crash course in spying from Amos, the very same man who interrogated Annibal in Israel. Amos and Jack have been tracking Carlos for years, but have never been able to apprehend him. Now with “Miguel” on their side, perhaps they can get the drop on him.
Miguel’s training consists of memorizing the names on tombstones, counting condiments in a refrigerator, breathing in cheap cigar smoke and eating gallons of oatmeal a day until it gives him the shits. I don’t know about you, but it all sounds like high tech spy stuff to me.
As a child Carlos’s father, who he hates, smoked the cigars and now as an adult when he smells the same cigars it drives him nuts. The same goes for the oatmeal. As a child he and his mother were poor and there was little else to eat. This is all an attempt to get Miguel inside the head of Carlos. He had to endure as a child, and now as an adult he can be selfish and impose his will on others. This sort of personality trait is the sort of thing that will make him a believable Carlos to the people who know him best. As for the condiments and tombstones, these are tactics used to get Miguel to be more observant of his surroundings. To be able to piece together the whos, whats & wheres from his environment.
There is a scene in which Miguel’s “mock wife”, Jack, told him that she is spending the week out of town with family and now Miguel has two minutes to casually look around a mock kitchen and living room, and report his findings after time expires. He drinks from the milk carton, looks in the trash and has a seat on the couch. Miguel’s learns from this that the milk is fresh so it must have been purchased recently. Too recently for her to have been out of town. There was a book of matches in the trash from a bar down the street. The couch has a cushion turned over and smells of cheap aftershave. Miguel explains that she never left town. She also met a man at a bar and brought him home, then had sex on the couch. After which Miguel smiles and asks Jack, “…are you fucking my wife?”.

The training continues with Miguel learning how to fuck from a spurned lover of Carlos. Let it be known — this lady is a freak. Miguel has reservations about cheating on his wife, but ol’ Jack always knows just what to say; “Don‘t think of it as cheating on your wife. Think of it as fucking for your flag”. Lol I love this movie.
As the film approaches the final act, the plan is finally explained to Miguel. Since assassinating Carlos outright will result in retaliatory attacks from his fellow terrorists, Miguel will pretend to be Carlos to discredit him with his Soviet connections and in turn let them take him out. He, as Carlos, will sleep with one of the real Carlos’ mistresses and convince her to do some banking for him. The banking involves accepting a wire transfer from the CIA into her account and then out of her’s and into Carlos/Miguel’s. This is something that will get the attention of Soviet Intelligence. This combined with a public meeting between Carlos/Miguel and Jack solidifies the counter intelligence story that Carlos is being paid off by the CIA to share with them what he might know about the Soviets.
You pretty much know how this is going to end, but because I think you should give this flick a watch, if you get a chance, I’ll try to save some juicy details about the finale. Just know that there is a face to face fight between Carlos & Miguel, some secret spy code words, as well as double lives are lived.
THE VERDICT
“The Assignment” is tame by the standards of ‘80s action movies. However its real life esthetic has always been something that I’ve enjoyed. The way Annibal is trained in Canada has always fascinated me. How he was pushed to his limits — forced to remember seemingly unimportant information and taught how to interpret it. And of course how Jack and Amos teach Annibal to react to the smell of cheap cigars and oatmeal the same way Carlos would, but forcing him to smell and eat it constantly.
This is the sort of thing I imagine real life spies might have to do in order to blend in and survive.
Released right around the same time as “Goldeneye”, “Mission Impossible” and “The Saint”, I was introduced to a new brand of action movie. Sure, Bond had been around for thirty or so years but most of those films leaned more toward traditional action fare than what I was now getting familiar with. Besides, Bond always had fun but unrealistic gadgets and one-liners that I’ve grown to expect and love in Bond films, but I can’t take them all together seriously.
This films story is as entertaining as it is interesting. I was surprised to lean in recent years that “Carlos the Jackal” is a real person who was arrested and convicted in ‘97 for killing several French police. The Carlos from “The Assignment” is a little more colorful, and I don’t think there was ever a plot to discredit him by using a double. But oh well. If you’re interested, you can learn more about the real Carlos here.
The acting is great, and with Ben Kingsley and Donald Sutherland, how could it not be? The special effects are mostly good but from time to time they show their age. There are a several explosions that are super-imposed. While they do look obvious, they also don’t look awful. It was the ‘90s after all. Even space aliens hell-bent on blowing up the white house super-imposed their laser blasts [“Independence Day“].
 
If you are at all interested in spy/espionage thrillers then “The Assignment” is for you. I highly recommend It.
I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, “Awfully warm for this time of year.”
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor

October 14, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – Double Trouble

DOUBLE ENJOYMENT

Man, the action movies of this vintage were really reaching with this gimmicky subject matter. All the straight forward stories about alien hunters in the jungle and war vets returning to NAM to “take pictures” had all run dry and Hollywood writers must have been looking to cartoons for inspiration. All aboard! Out destination today is 1992…AGAIN! If I’m not careful the year 1992 is going to get stuck in the internal memory of the time machine and I’ll never be able to escape the early ‘90s.
The year is 1992. Peter and David Paul, aka “The Barbarian Brothers“, are identical twins who spent most of the ‘80s body building in Southern California before making the jump into acting. They had a gig driving a “D.C. Cab“, they hung out with “The Flamingo Kid” and even starred in a film that seems to have been titled after then, “The Barbarians”. As the ‘90s began things were really looking promising for the Barbarian Brothers and they even landed a role in the film we‘ll be visiting today, “Double Trouble“.
THE SKINNY
This films begins with Peter, Peter Paul, making a phone call to the police from a plush high-rise apartment in the dead of night. Who is he calling? The police. Why is he calling them? The apartment has been robbed…by him. I’ll admit this isn’t the smartest thing I’ve seen a criminal do, but much like the “Wet Bandits”, this is his calling card.
 
Moments later he is apprehended on the roof by detective…umm… David, David Paul, Peter‘s twin brother. He isn’t so much apprehended as he is shot by David. The two start bickering about how Peter can’t stay out of trouble and how David takes life too seriously. David gets frustrated and shoots Peter in the arm. Peter stumbles, falls off the roof and makes his escape.
This doesn’t matter much because a day or two later Peter is up to his old cat burglary tricks when he heists a collection of valuable diamonds. Again, Peter calls the police but this time he asks them to send David. Peter tries to get even with his bro for shooting him by setting a booby-trap but instead gets caught in it himself.
 
After spending the night in the jail house, Peter cuts a deal with O’Brien, the chief of police, played by James Doohan of Star Trek fame. Apparently Peter overheard some juicy information the last time he was in prison, some of which helped him find the diamonds he tried to steal. The rest involved Philip Chamberlin, Roddy McDowall, a diamond exporter who the police suspect is using his exporting connections as a way to traffic drug money. O’Brien decides to team Peter up with David and let them work together to dig up dirt on Chamberlin.
 
As the brothers investigate they learn that Chamberlin has paid off all the right people, including city council who approved the plan to build a subway underneath the nearby diamond exchange. He then made friends with Kent, the man in charge of the subways construction. The plan is to use the unfinished subway to blow a hole in the wall of the diamond exchange’s underground vault. It’s just an old fashioned robbery. I guess the police shouldn’t have been so concerned with Chamberlin’s drug money trafficking.
Once the brothers are hip to Chamberlin’s plot they rush to the diamond exchange, but it’s already too late. The diamonds have been stolen and Chamberlin and his goons are headed to the airport to skip town. The twins follow.
Once Chamberlin and the rest arrive he shares a celebratory toast with his criminal cohorts. The funny thing about criminals thou, they are greedy and can’t be trusted. Chamberlin poisoned the champagne so he could wouldn‘t have to share the booty.

Chamberlin grabs the diamonds and heads to his private plane but surprise, the brothers beat him to the punch in a way that only Barbarian Brothers or a Mentos commercial could. The plane is upside down.
Now the typical cat and mouse chase ensues before David corners Chamberlin and blows him away. The blast from David’s shotgun throws Chamberlin’s body through a plate glass window in a display of true detective work that would make Dirty Hairy proud.
With another case closed, David stops to wonder where his brother is. And that’s when he notices, the diamonds are gone. As the credits roll David chases Peter into the early morning sunrise. The End.
THE VERDICT
“Double Trouble” plays better as a comedy than a straight action movie. Hmm, am I experiencing déjà vu? Didn’t I just say that about “Twin Dragons“? The sheer absurdity of these two walking behemoth twin brothers pitted against each other in typical odd couple fashion doesn’t do much to help the poor acting and less than amazing plot that was later stolen for “ Die Hard with a Vengeance“.
But I have to admit, it’s pretty entertaining all things considered. The Barbarian Brothers share good comedic timing and some of the humor isn’t half bad. The jokes are low hanging fruit in most cases but it was enough to get a few genuine laughs out of me.
I also enjoyed all the familiar faces. James Doohan and Roddy McDowall are great. Even David Carradine was kind enough to make an appearance as an old prison friend of Peter’s. Here is someone I bet you forgot existed, Bill Mumy. He plays one of Chamberlin’s enforcers, but you might remember him as the little boy from the “Lost in Space” television show or the episode of “The Twilight Zone”, “It‘s a Good Life”.
 
So, in the end I can’t say “Double Trouble” isn’t all that bad, even though I expected it to be. In fact I had more fun watching this than I did watching both “Twin Dragons” and “Double Impact“. Go figure. I guess you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover even if it’s cover is a muscle-bound pair of twins who probably shouldn’t have been actors.
Now I bet you‘re wondering what happened to the Barbarian Brothers right?.. Right?! Well they went on to star in a few other films, their last being “Twin Sitters” from 1994 in which they play baby sitters who get caught up in all sorts of hilarious hijinks. Oh but that’s not all! They also recorded the “Twin Sitters” soundtrack and on four of those songs they rap. LOL Why? WHY, DID EVERYONE RAP BACK THEN?! I guess there weren’t many good ideas in the early ‘90s. I blame everyone’s struggle to kick their cocaine habit — a remnant of the ‘80s.
 I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

October 12, 2014

Rant Corner (Ep.1) – “Gotham” or: How I Learned to Stop Caring for anything on TV and Developed a Drinking Problem.

In chemistry, beer is an organic compound in which the hydroxyl functional group is bound to a saturated carbon atom. At Simplistic Reviews we take that chemistry and mix it up with a RANT!

Funny writing that Dr. Stranglove title brought me back to a date I once was on.
Do you have time for a story?

Go to    (1) for Yes       (2) for Get on with it!

(1) Okay good…Well on my date, the girl asked me about my favorite movie. I told her, “Back to the Future”. She said her favorite was Dr. Stranglove. I explained I loved that film dearly including its beautiful hilarious long title. She responded with Stranglove? “Well, yes the whole thing” I said with a fork placing the chicken in my mouth. She said, “It’s not that long”. I in a state of wtf said, “Yes, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”. She responded with, “That’s not the title, its Dr. Stranglove…” I waited for the “or how I stop”. It never came just like a god bless you after a sneeze. I got up and walked away. Never to speak to her again.

I’ll have to tell you about the Back to the Future Date next time.

So Saturday and Sunday Cartoons are no more. Don’t worry we have something to fill up that time slot for ya, how about a Drunken Rant?!

Justin pops open some Firestone Double dba why because it’s vintage bitch! And since it’s our first episode of our Rants, we figure we spend a little more money on the production value because we love you and we at Simplistic Reviews love all that is intoxication. Yes some say its a problem we say it adds to the production, and you need it especially when dealing with Fox’s, Gotham

(2) Oh…god… do you need that alcohol when watching that thing called a show.

P.S. I was pretty loaded in this, enjoy! 

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY


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