1981

August 30, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – Escape From New York

ACTION MOVIE TIME MACHINE 
“Escape From New York”

                                                CLASSIC BAD-ASSERY

Welcome back to another trek on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Last time we met, we visited some of John Carpenter’s earlier work, “Assault on Precinct 13“. This time we are going to witness Kurt Russell in one of his most bad ass roles, as Snake Plisskin. Talk about “Expendables” eligibility. It would be a shame if Sylvester Stallone over looks Russell for “Expendables 4: Return of the R Rating”.

The year is 1981. IBM had just released the first personal computer capable of running Microsoft’s Disc Operating System (DOS). MTV hits the airwaves, debuting with “Video Killed the Radio Star”. U.S. President Ronald Reagan signs the top secret directive authorizing the CIA to recruit and support Contra rebels in Nicaragua. While all this was happening, Snake Plisskin is sent to Manhattan to rescue the President in “Escape From New York”.

THE SKINNY
The year in 1997, and United States is a war torn police state. With all the crime and violence of this futuristic America, extreme measures had to be taken. New York’s Manhattan Island has been transformed into THE high security prison of the nation. Just think of Alcatraz, but on steroids. There are no cells and no guards. The prisoners are free to roam the city streets and do whatever is necessary to survive. And once you go in, there is no coming back out. The bridges are mined and the waters are patrolled and protected by the National Police Force, a para-military like group responsible for keeping convicts from escaping, by any means necessary.

This is all fine and well until a member of the “National Liberation Front”, a terrorist organization, takes over Air Force One and crash lands the plane on the prison island. The idea being that the president, if he survives, will now have to get by as the convicts do within the confines of the prison that he unlawfully created.

It is at this time that Hauk, Chief of National Police played by Lee Van Cleef, brings in the recently arrested Snake Plisskin, Kurt Russell. Snake is a former military hero who has become tired of his leaders sending him on suicide missions that he always manages to narrowly escapes. He goes AWOL and becomes a criminal. Robbing the national reserve is what gets him caught.

Fearing that the President may be harmed if there is a military rescue mission, Hauk decides to send in a loan wolf. It becomes Snakes’ mission to sneak onto the island, locate and rescue the President, Donald Pleasence, as well as the documents and cassette tape that the President has with him. Then return all of the above to Hauk. If he does, Hauk will erase Snake’s criminal record forever. If he doesn’t, he will die.

In prep for the mission, a doctor injects two micro-explosive charges into Snake’s arteries. If he isn’t back with the president in under twenty three hours, the charges will blow, rupturing Snake’s arteries and he will internally bleed to death.

Snake uses a glider to enter the island, which he lands on the roof of one of the World Trade Towers. He begins to search the city for the President and it isn’t long before he begins to realize just how fucked this place is. The city is littered with murderers and rapists, there are crazy cannibal hobos who live in the sewer who come up at night to feed, and the locals are less than pleasant to out of town motorists such as our boy Snake.

Things get tense when the cannibalistic sewer dwellers try to have Snake for dinner, but fortunately for him Cabbie, Ernest Borgnine, shows up in his taxi armed to the teeth with molotovs. Snake questions Cabbie and learns that the President is alive and has been captures by The Duke of New York, Isaac Hayes. The Duke is the supreme ruler of the prison island and is planning to use the President as leverage as he makes his way across the bridge and into the free United States.

Through the help of Cabbie, “The Brain”, the Duke’s nerdy adviser, and Maggie, The Brain’s concubine, Snake manages to get inside The Duke’s compound and is thrown into a one-on-one in a gladiatorial battle to the death against pro-wrestler Ox Baker. This offers up a good distraction, as everyone would is eager to watch the legendary Snake Plisskin take on The Duke’s undefeated monster bruiser. This distraction affords The Brain and Maggie a chance to help the President escape.

After burying a nail covered bat in the back of Baker’s head, Snake catches up with The Brain, Maggie, the President and Cabbie, and together they make it to the Brooklyn Bridge. The only thing that stands between them and the free states are the countless mines that litter the bridge. To make matters worse, The Duke and his men arrive to foil their prison break and get out themselves.

As the clock ticks away, they fall one by one. Either by the hands of the other group or by the mines. Finally Snake, The Duke and the President find the wall that blocks the far end of the bridge. Beaten and exhausted, Snake engages the final boss and it seems like a losing battle. Just when hope seems lost, the President of all people, blows The Duke away. Way to pull your own weight Mr. President.

With the President rescued and Snake’s micro-explosives are deactivated, Snake commits one final act of rebellion. Remember that cassette tape that was so important? Well, on it was an explanation of how to create nuclear fusion that the President was going to share with the world. A gesture that would end the war. Our ol’ pal Snake had other ideas. He switched the tape with one he found in Cabbie’s taxi. As the President speaks live via satellite to the entire world, swing music can be heard instead of the recipe for cheap nuclear power. Please allow me to “slow clap” for Snake as the credits begin to roll.

THE VERDICT
Movies like “Escape From New York” really became defining of the ’80s. So many films from the era were dark, dirty, violent and bleak. I love ’em! Crime was on the rise, people thought Satanic cults were sacrificing babies and there was the ever present threat of total and complete annihilation brought on by soviet nukes. It was a good time for movies, and for thrash metal.

One of the strengths of this film, is also one of it’s weaknesses. This strength/weakness is Snake’s twenty four hour time limit. Every time I watch this movie, I distract myself from it by wondering what the rest of the United States is like. It’s mentioned that the country is at war, but with who? What about other criminal factions within in island? How involved is the “National Liberation Front”?, ect… I feel that these ideas would have been explored if the story were allowed to unfold more organically. But instead, it is forced along by the deadline. This is fine, but I just wish there was more. So many things are referenced or off handily mentioned. There is a whole world here and I want to learn about it.

In “Escape From New York”, we see another one of Carpenter’s unlikely heroes facing unimaginable odds of carrying out a plan of which he is thrust into. Snake is a strong silent type, who again, manages to be relatable. An “everyman” who appeals to it’s male viewers, and even maybe a little to it’s female viewers. After all, Snake is pretty dreamy. I think every guy who watches “Escape From New York” deep down thinks of himself as Snake. Minus the eye patch.

I love how Carpenter adds elements to his characters personality or back story that hints at a deeper point. Rarely is there blatant subtext in his films. Subtext is there, but it’s more of an attitude than a message. We see this with Snake’s distrust of the government and the military. Being a former military man himself, he known how far shit rolls down hill. But there is no grand speech or parody of any real world events. Just Snake being really pissed off at the powers that be, with his cynical anti-establishment view.

I’ve always appreciated this. Carpenter’s films aren’t preachy, and because of it his viewers, whatever their personal beliefs, are free to take in the material and interpret it their own way. This sort of thing really gives his work legs and is just one example of what a great story teller John Carpenter really is.

In conclusion, I highly recommend “Escape From New York”, as it is a work of classic bad-assery. Snake is great, the story is great, the effects and miniatures are great, the atmosphere is great, and even the soundtrack is great, again. Hmm, I wonder why that is.

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!

April 2, 2013

Sneak Preview: Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead – Ode

*I’d like to thank aintitcool.com for putting on this sneak preview of the film down in Miami, FL, and of course for bringing Bruce Campbell.*

I’m not one for April Fool’s pranks. I find them annoying, stupid, and most of the time, ridiculous.  But there are times when one happens, and its wonderful.  It’s even better when you are going to see one of the most classic horror films of all time, 1981’s “The Evil Dead” with Bruce Campbell in the audience introducing the film and conducting a Q&A after the film.  It’s even better when the film starts, gets about a minute in, and the film breaks, revealing the trick, which I had a sneaking suspicion was coming.  April Fool’s, you’re not here to watch “The Evil Dead” ’81, you’re here to watch “Evil Dead” 2013.  Truly, truly awesome, and now I’m lucky enough to bring you kids a review of the as-of-yet-unreleased “Evil Dead” remake, which is an ode to everything wonderful and right with horror remakes.

Everything you’ve heard about “Evil Dead” is warranted; it’s a brutal, bloody, gory, sick, twisted, squirm-inducing nightmare.  In the best way possible.  While, as a rule, horror remakes are usually unnecessary, I really thought “The Evil Dead” was in need of a tune-up.  Coming out three years after “Halloween” and merely a year after the genre game-changer “Friday the 13th,” “Dead” made it’s mark as The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror.  It was low-budget, gritty, and a new take on the slasher genre.  It had the demonic spirit of “The Exorcist” but the wink-wink-nod-nod of “Friday the 13th” and even some old Herschel Gordon Lewis films.  However, if you look at “Dead” now, it seems dated.  You can tell that it only took them about $300,000.00 to make the film.  Still, I believe in keeping a classic, a classic, and not messing with a good thing.  Come some 30 years and two sequels later, a new vision of “Evil Dead” is about to be unleashed nationwide, and with the blessing of Sam Raimi and Mr. Bruce Campbell, I can honestly say we got a winner.

While keeping with the spirit of the original film, we follow five teens who have decided to head out to the middle of nowhere to a cabin in the woods.  The added twist this time around is that they are there for an intervention for Mia, played by Jane Levy, who could be America’s newest Scream Queen, a heroin-addict who just suffered an overdose.  I liked the fact that the teens are in the woods for a reason, because in films like these you always get a lot of red herrings, namely the Necronomicon, which is unnamed in this version, but you should know what the Necronomicon is at this point, where you have to suspend disbelief nearly the entire film, and don’t worry, you’ll have to do it anyway for most of this movie, in a good way.

While the story is reasonably strong for the genre, the violence and gore is ramped up to 11, and it’s wonderful.  The gore effects are great, and I was surprised to see that WETA was behind some of the work, and it makes sense, because some of the effects are right out of “Dead/Alive,” before Peter Jackson got all Hollywood on us genre fans.

As a horror film, “Evil Dead” is fine, a bloody-romp in the vein of what most people are used to out of the horror genre these days, as a remake, one of the best ones made.  And while I use the term “remake,” “Dead” is more like a re-imagining of the original.  There are various odes to Raimi’s masterwork, including our heroine wearing a Michigan State sweater, to the old car that she is also sitting on.  We even get some chainsaw, yes, a chainsaw, what would an “Evil Dead” movie be without some chainsaw.  With all that being said, if you’re a purist, go into “Evil Dead” with an open mind, and have fun with it; there are plenty of odes to the original, and if you’re new to the world of Ash and the Deadites, do your homework and watch “The Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn” and “Army of Darkness” (the primitive screw-head next to me kept calling it “Evil Dead 3.”  I wanted to tell him to go home because his mom called, and he had chores to do, plus it was a school night).  2013’s “Evil Dead.”  In a world full or remakes and bad ideas, its nice to see they got something right.  Hail to the King, baby…..

Fun Fact:  Look closely at the car Mia is sitting on and you’ll notice that it’s an Oldsmobile Delta Royale 88, the same car used in the original “Evil Dead” trilogy. Which begs the question, could this possibly be a sequel as opposed to a remake, or just coincidence?

February 8, 2013

London Calling: The Great Muppet Caper

The Great Muppet Caper – Whimsical

My first exposure to The Muppets wasn’t any of their movies, it was actually “Muppet Babies” which for me, still goes down as one of my favorite cartoons of all time, and the best cartoon of the 1980s.  There was nothing wrong with it; it had “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones”, and pretty much any pop culture reference that you could think of at the time.  It was smarter than the kids that were watching it, and for my money, still holds up pretty well.  The Muppet movies didn’t really come around for me the first time around, in fact I remember watching most of them on VHS when my dad recorded them for me.  Think about it, “The Muppet Movie” was released in 1979, and to say the least I was the last thing my parents had on their mind at the time.  However, when I was old enough to know how to operate the VCR and go through the stacks of VHS recordings that we had in our house, it was that fateful day I popped in 1981’s “The Great Muppet Caper” starring all of your favorite Muppets; from Kermit the Frog to *John Cleese, yes, John Motherf*ckin’ Cleese is in this movie.

Like most Muppet fare the plot is going to include plenty of hijinks, celebrity cameos, and humor that goes well over the intended audiences heads, including one in “Caper” that refers to a guy cheating on his wife.  Jim Henson had some balls on him.  Any who, we open “Caper” with our three heroes, Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo in a hot air balloon talking about the opening credits.  Next thing they know their balloon is going down right in the middle of a crowded street which breaks out into our first musical number.  Further hijinks ensue that involve a case of mistaken identity, stolen diamonds, and a love triangle between a frog, pig, and Charles Grodin.  Good clean family fun.

What stands out, like most Muppets movies, are the songs.  The highlight is “Happiness Hotel” that has the sound of a blues, zydeco, and a big band mash-up that works perfectly and will be stuck in your head for days.  Some of the other songs get a little sappy, but there’s still a whimsical element to the music that can appeal to the young and old alike.

While the setting of the movie takes place in London, it could really take place anywhere.  This isn’t “The Muppets Take Manhattan” where the city is almost as big a star as The Muppets, but you still get a chuckle from some of the dry British humor we all know and love.

If you’ve only seen 2011’s “The Muppets” with Jason Segel and Amy Adams, which is fine in it’s own way, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to “The Great Muppet Caper” that has plenty of mad-cap antics and no cheap Disney tie-in’s.

*Disclaimer:  Of course I know John Cleese isn’t a Muppet, but he might be the king of silly walks.

Fun Fact:  Score one for the U.K.  “The Muppet Show” premiered first across the pond, September 5th, 1976.  It premiered 22 days later on the 27th in the U.S.

December 1, 2012

Double-ovember, For Your Eyes Only

For Your Eyes Only: Roger
127min, Action, 1981

Twelfth Bond film

Villain: Aristotle Kristatos, Blofeld 

Bond Girl(s): Melina Havelock,
Countess Lisl von Schlaf,
Bibi Dahl

I’ve always said that there really hasn’t been a bad Bond film. Nope they’re all good. Sure we have a few weak ones, but over 50 years that’s pretty damn unbelievable.

Roger is a fun Bond to watch. But he did seem to get old for the part, to the point I believe they should of started over. For Your Eyes Only should of been the last for him. Because I honestly think this is one of his strongest films and I believe you should always go out when your on top. To give you an idea, after this was Octopussy (1983) and then A View to a Kill (1985) (his final). So yeah should of left on FYEO, but hey it is what it is so…

Intro: Don’t care for that intro. Could of been better, really so much better. Blofeld killed Bond’s wife, should of been a better revenge intro…Thou the song is pretty good. In fact its so good it still plays on the radio to this day!

The first half of For Your Eyes Only is a bit weak but the last half is Roger at his top. Roger is everything but a serious Bond, but here he gets there a little bit. It is his Bond’s most serious and I like that.

The film has some thrilling scenes in it. The two big ones are the Ski Chase and Cliff Climbing sequence. Before this was Moonraker, which is what it is. It was a big film with big special effects. For Your Eyes Only went back to the realistic approach and that felt refreshing.

I picked Roger as my word because when I watch this film he’s the one that really pulls everything together. This is do to the some what serious approach we get from Roger’s Bond and I like that. Also when you look at that poster the first thing you notice is Roger, right? Yeah that would be a little sarcasm.

All in all Rogers best film.

Just a side note: Two actors that appear in this film are on HBO’s Game of Thrones, that’s pretty neat I think!…Or not, man I’m a loser!

October 31, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Burial Ground

Burial Ground: Italian

(1981, 85mins, Horror)
Introduction:
The most famous unknown Zombie film!

Never would I thought I would review the classic Burial Ground. In a way it is a honor or maybe its not 😉

Sex, Zombie, Sex, more sex. Italian zombies and Italian sex!

Part 1: My first viewing

Years ago a group of my friends and I went to B-movie festivals late at night. Once every month we would go and watch 4-6 films. It would go way into the next morning, luckily usually it wasn’t a school night so it was cool with all the parents. The reason we went was because some films got so bad, they became extremely funny and had a ton of blood like,

Zombie Holocaust 

Prom Night
Blood Feast
Silent Night, Deadly Night
and More!
Burial Ground is one of my favorites that I saw there. And to see this and many films at a theater is a experience I will never forget, simply the greatest! Burial Ground left us all talking about that damn kid.
James: “You look just like a little whore, but I like that in a girl”. 
Part 2: Story
Burial Ground is a film by Andrea Bianchi. It stars mostly unknowns except two people. The beautiful Mariangela Giordano (The Mother) who is a Queen in the world of B-movies. And Peter Bark (The Son) who is a 25 years old guy playing a child. It’s extremely creepy on screen, for all the wrong reasons. I’m not even 25 yet and the fact they used him as the “child” blows my mind, just look at his face. I read the reason they used him was because of the Italian laws at the time. Do to all the sex, children could not be used in films. In fact this film might seem to have a ton of sex but it really doesn’t. During this time a ton of horror films had a lot more sex. But its the son that really makes this film a classic B, we will talk more on that later.

In the start of the film a scientist is studying the “undead” and during this time finds the undead. The zombies kill him and the film cuts to a group of couples coming to stay at the castle. It’s that fast.

Oh and everyone just happens to be horny at the start.
10 mins into the film we get the first sex scene where Michael (the son) peeks into. It is shot extremely weird, with a shadow getting bigger and bigger on a door till you see its him. The shot last a good minute which is way too long. Somethings happen happen and then another sex scene outside comes up. In the grass a zombie pops up from the ground, which is really cool. In fact not all but some of the zombies look really good. The makeup is pretty fantastic with maggots crawling all over. This really stands out in this film as the only good thing. I would like to note this happens about 20 mins into the film, so the film dives directly into zombies right away. Which I believe is do to the weak storyline, I guess they figured they needed to keep the viewers attention so they add two sex scenes and started the film with zombies. And it does work, it did on me. 
But…
Lets be honest here the story goes nowhere and not much gets accomplished in the film.

Mark: “You’re getting a raise out of me alright, but it has nothing to do with money”.
Part 3: Peter Bark (The Son)

I wanted to talk about him. Really not sure how but his IMDB page had a very good-straight to the point Bio so lets use that.

Mini Biography

Peter Bark was a supremely creepy and unnerving Italian midget thespian who bore an uncanny resemblance to a diminutive Dario Argento. He was reportedly born in 1955. Peter achieved his greatest enduring schlock cinema cult popularity with his unforgettably freaky and disturbing portrayal of Michael, a bratty, annoying and unhinged little boy who has an unhealthy Oedipal and incestuous relationship with his overly doting mother in the deliciously cheesy Italian zombie splatter cult classic “Burial Ground.” Alas, Bark’s regrettably sparse other movie roles were uncredited bit parts and he subsequently never became the major celluloid star he deserved to be. However,
despite this unfortunate tragedy Peter Bark nonetheless remains a much beloved figure amongst hardcore aficionados of choice trashy early 80’s Italian fright feature fare.
IMDb Mini Biography By: woodyanders

That really says it perfect!

Part 4: Son and Mother
1st Scene 
After stopping a rush of zombies into the castle, Michael sits with his mother on a sofa. Michael and his mother begin to make out with the classic porn moaning this film seems to use a lot of. Michael starts to touch his mother on her chest and says how he misses her breast like when he was younger. He begins to put his hand up her dress. The mother finally snaps out of it and slaps him across the face. Michael then runs away saying,




Michael: [after making sexual advances on his mother] “What’s wrong? I’m your son!”

He runs into Leslie, one of the girls who came to the house. She at this point is a zombie, clearly she is ( anyone with half a brain can see that) but Michael is so dumb he doesn’t see it. Leslie gets closer and closer.

The film cuts to the remaining group of people which to me becomes a classic laughable moment in any zombie film. The group decides to let the zombies in because as they say, we can stay out of reach because they’re slow.

Guess what was NOT a good idea?

2nd Scene 

The mother finds Michael getting eaten by Leslie (No shit Michael couldn’t tell?). She runs over to him and begins to cry, during this time Leslie the zombie sits there eating his flesh and not caring about her. First time I’ve seen a zombie gave up a juicy human.
We cut back to the group regretting the decision as they run away from the zombies.
3rd and most famous scene!
The group runs into the mother covered in blood crying about her son.  A few more minutes go by in the film and the gang seems to run around in a circle, why they just don’t take off is beyond me. They find a monastery near the castle and enter. And guess what, the monks are all…
Zombies!
Some leave and enter another damn building. This is where the movie ends. I will not tell you anything so you can watch it for yourself but it is stupid. Thou to end the Mother-Son weird relationship 
Michael comes walking in. The mother runs toward her stupid zombie son. Everyone yells No he’s dead! She apparently doesn’t see it, like Mother like Son. She holds him rubbing up on him. She allows his hands to pull out her left breast. She says, “go ahead, just like when you where younger”. He begins to suck on it, then bites down pulling the nipple off the breast!
Yeah some crazy shit.

Part 4: Wrap up.

This film is part of the many Sex/Zombie films that came out during this time. Mostly done by Italians, the voice dubbing is part of all the things that make these films funny. I think this is the very first “Smart zombie” films ever made. The zombies do work together and also use weapons. It’s the reason, along with the famous mother and son scene, I picked this film. It’s a staple in the history of Zombie films and one I think you should see.  I mean if all the moaning they used for the women sound like someone having sex isn’t enough, then what is anymore!!!
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