Movie A Day!: 2000 Mountain Moonshine Slaves!

Another week of existing! This one is a short post. All the Oscar noms I planned to watch got watched last blog and this week saw me catching up on other things. The week was also a real pain in the ass. Why does everything have to seem so hard?

The day of this post sees the passing of Bill Paxton. One of those actors who was great in everything he did. Probably best known as James Cammeron’s scene stealing dependable  in Aliens and Titanic,  I recommend checking out his directorial debut Frailty, as well as A Simple Plan and Near Dark as they are my favourites. And Fish Heads, of course. I already miss him.

This adds up to this one being short and sleazy. Blame Vinegar Syndrome and Arrow Video. At least one of the films is a bonafide masterpiece.


053 02/19 The Love Slaves (1976) 3/5   A drug dealing syndicate is snatching up women to hypnotize into love slave assassins and detective John Leslie is on the case. Not a bad hardcore feature from Bob Chinn, it never really fully embraces its sleaziness and doesn’t convince as a drama so it ends up a little flat compared to others in the genre.


054 02/20 Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) 4.5/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis follows up Blood Feast with his masterpiece, Two Thousand Maniacs! A group of Yankees get roped into the centennial celebrations of the southern town Pleasant Valley. It’s a rip on Brigadoon of all things, with the southerners wanting vengeance for Northern atrocities committed during the Civil War. It’s a gleeful mess of a film, with the infamous “Barrel Roll” scene being the height of ridiculous for any splatter film in the genre. An absolute must see.


055 02/22 Moonshine Mountain (1964) 2/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis does a hicksploitation with this one. A country singer travels to the mountains to get a feel for “real folk music”, gets all twisted up in moonshining shenanigans. It’s an absolute mess of a film that’s tonally flat out does not work. The southerners are all hick stereotypes and appear to be played for laughs. One of the girls characteristics is being sexually abused to the point that she’s practically mute, which is NOT funny, but not really depicted seriously either (despite a resolve near the end). Then there’s the bit in the last 3rd where shit is going down with the crooked sheriff that features a federal agent getting stomped to death and his body dumped in a still that is better fit for Two Thousand Maniacs since there is zero humour about it and despite editing is brutal to watch. None of it works with the usual Lewis knack of bad takes and stiff performances. With no gore or sleaze to heighten it, it ends up as a real patience tester of a failed comedy. If it’s supposed to be a comedy, Lewis says in the extras that he was asked to make a rip-off of Thunder Road, the moonshine hit with Robert Mitchum. This does not resemble that film at all.

That’s it for this week. I don’t have much to say. Last night a friend I haven’t seen in years do to a falling out contacted me out of the blue in separate straights wanting to borrow money. I don’t have it to give him. I don’t owe him anything, but it leaves a mixed, bad feeling of guilt and other things.

The world gets exhausting.

Movie A Day!: Blood Face

After a week of sunny skies and spring temperatures, today finds the sky back to the gloomy grey that is Edmonton in the winter. Perfect weather for hermit-ting up with movies and other things to distract from the political climate.

This post is a real mess theme wise. Friends who followed my Snapchat during the horror movie challenge will know that one of the greatest boxsets of all time arrived on my door step near the end, SHOCK AND GORE: THE FILMS OF HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS. After staring at it for months and frankly being intimidated by it, I finally broke down and cracked that sucker open. My plan was to watch one disc a week. Then the February pack from Vinegar Syndrome showed up three weeks early. And I’m still watching the Oscar best picture nominations. So your stuck with classy films, gore films from one of the worst directors of all times, and porno from one of the hardcore masters who literally helped create the porn industry.

This blog may be a psychiatric profile of a cry for help.


042 02/12 59th Annual Grammy Awards (2017) 3/5   I don’t know why I watch these but I always find a reason to. Ends up this year was pretty good. Katy Perry debuted a new song that’s actually kind of a clever protest, Lady Gaga performed metal with Metallica (my excuse to watch this years awards, her halftime show at the Superbowl was amazing) and aside from a dead mic on Hetfield, she rocked. Lady Gaga may be the the legendary performer of this generation. She can sing anything and do so convincingly. The real highlight though was oldie rappers A Tribe Called Quest who performed as an assault unit, attacking Trump (President Agent Orange, as dubbed by guest Busta Rhymes) and it was exhilarating. Oh, and Beyonce did a really artistic performance piece on black womanhood. I think. So yeah, despite all this fun, it still managed to feel like it would never end.


043 02/12 Blood Feast (1963) 4/5   Exploitation legends Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman invented the splatter genre with this one. The effects are primitive at best, the acting not so great and while people always say Ed Wood Jr. was the worst director of all time, I think Lewis fits the crown better since there is a unenthusiastic workman like feel to Lewis compared to the glee in a Wood Jr. picture. That said, it’s an irresistible picture. I’ve forgotten how many times I’ve watched it, but I love it more each time. People joke about the effects, but they really aren’t that bad compared to the regular make-up. The grey hair on younger actors looks like they rubbed a bar of soap on their heads. That’s far more unforgivable than creating a more than decent tongue being yanked out of a girls head effect. I like to think so anyway. This one is a must see (along with the other films in the “Blood Trilogy”, I’ll get to those later) for anyone with an interest in horror history.

scum_of_earth_poster_01
044 02/13 Scum of the Earth (1963) 3.5/5   1963 was a pretty big year for Herschell Gordon Lewis. Not only did he invent the gore film, he was one of the first to put out a film that would be known as “Roughies”. Roughies were the horrible children of the “Nudie Cuties”, instead of wholesome nudist camps full of nubile innocents, roughies were more urban and had pervos creeping on and corrupting women. This one was about a porno photography outfit that hoodwinks High School girls into being models before getting them to shoot nude and then blackmailing them to do hardcore. It’s very innocent despite that description since actual porno wouldn’t be shot for nearly a decade and the brief nudity in the picture is actually sort of tasteful with the real rough stuff happening off camera. Shot in black and white it actually looks classier than it is, and ends up being one of Lewis’s more accomplished pictures. Sexploitation would keep on pushing after this one, Lewis would mostly drift into gore (which based on his final film, the hardcore Black Love, is a very good thing…). Well worth checking out as it doesn’t have some of the pacing issues Lewis’s films tend to have.


045 02/14 Lion (2016) 3.5   A young Indian boy gets lost and ends up adopted by Nicole Kidman’s terrible haircut that is a perfect representation of Australia in this Oscar pick. I quite enjoyed this one in that it sticks with telling the kids true story without getting too over the top with the melodramatics (I think) and without the “Forrest Gump-Ness” of Slumdog Millionaire. Don’t think it was best of the year stuff though.


046 02/14 Carving Magic (1959) 4/5   This one is an industrial short about a guy hosting a dinner party and wows his dickhead friend with his turkey carving prowess. Why would I watch a carving instructional film? It’s on the Blood Feast blu-ray as an extra! It features Blood Feast star William Kerwin as the guy who learns how to carve, but more interesting is that Harvey Korman plays the dickhead friend, this being his first film role. I love Harvey Korman! Go watch Blazing Saddles again and see what I mean! This one was also legit educational, I think I might be able to carve a turkey properly now!


047 02/15 Moonlight (2016) 4/5   This one is about a kid growing up and navigating himself through Black Miami culture. I really liked this one in that it’s the kind of film that is usually made about white people in that it didn’t have any black genre trappings despite dealing with lower income/gang/drug culture. Dead solid performances that ring true in that they are frustrating to watch. There’s no hand holding the audience. I wouldn’t mind if this one won.


048 02/15 Slaughterhouse (1987) 3/5   1987 seems a bit late to try to pull a rip on Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but when it’s as fun as this one, why not give it a go? A bunch of cool kids decide to hold a party in a foreclosed slaughterhouse. Unbeknownst to them, the owner and his deranged son (who talks in pig-squeals) have decided to kill the people who fucked him over business wise. It’s all an excuse for some typical 80’s slasher mayhem and it delivers which is all you can ask.


049 02/17 Arrival (2016) 4/5   I really enjoyed this one. I had heard it compared to Contact (another one I really enjoyed) but Arrival really is it’s own thing. Aliens have come down and language specialist Amy Adams has to figure out how to communicate with them. It leads to a thoughtful Sci-Fi that is actually pretty rare in these days of action blockbusters. Good stuff, I wouldn’t mind if it won Best Picture.

050 02/17 Parochial Passion Princess (1975) 2.5/5  Depraved hardcore short from Alex deRenzy about a teen prostitute. No one does sleaze like deRenzy, you have to give him credit.


051 02/18 La La Land (2016) 4/5   Hollywood finally does a traditional musical. That’s how this one is billed. The opening number had me cringing since it was so modern Broadway in style, thankfully the film settles down and ends up being really good, and yes, pretty traditional. I don’t think it works quite as well as it wants to- it never reaches the insane dancing fever pitch of the classics- but it’s welcome all the same.


052 02/18 Babyface (1977) 4/5   Feature length film by Alex deRenzy about a guy who gets shanghaied into working in a brothel owned by women for women clients. One of the sleaziest films I’ve seen, it practically is checking off a list of triggers for things deemed politically incorrect and will make you feel squeamish watching it. It’s also done with so much showmanship and glee that it’s hard to be mad about it. deRenzy was a master at this stuff and this one was one is no exception.

So which one should win best picture? I honestly don’t know. None of them wowed me. None of them are bad films, more a case of none of them feeling particularity exceptional or memorable. The only one that really feels like a broken thumb is Hacksaw Ridge, and that’s due to the first half being so schmaltzy. The second half in the war is brilliantly over the top. If I had to pick one I’d go with Moonlight since it’s the only one that didn’t have something in it that made question the filmmakers choice, with Arrival, La La Land and Manchester By The Sea following. Yet despite that, I think I enjoyed Hidden Figures best but found the film technically problematic. It looks like this years Oscars will be mostly blah for me since I don’t have a horse in the race that I really  want to see win. It’s not the first time, and wont be the last.

Which is okay, I got more terrible movies and Gilmore Girls to keep me company.

Until next time.

Movie a Day!: Hidden Money

The week of this viewing saw the weather go from a paralyzing -20C to breaking within 24 hour period yesterday to 5C. There’s a subconscious stress level living in a part of the world with such weather fluxes that one never gets used to. We just enjoy not having to dress so that the environment wont make you euphoric before killing you. It’s too early to know if this warmth will last. Which adds to the stress.

As threatened last blog, this week saw me balancing the classy 2016 Oscar noms with the usual sleaze people typically don’t admit to watching in public if they ever hope to have a long lasting relationship. If I’m going to be alone, I might as will be free!


033 02/05 Fences (2016) 3/5   Denzel Washington directs and stars in this story about a working class stiff trying to keep things together in lower income Philly during the 50’s. Great acting and an interesting slice of black life that isn’t usually shown in the movies keep this one mostly interesting. My issue with it is it’s based on a play and the constant dialogue (very theatrical dialogue with all the beats you would find on the live stage) with little action or change of scenery pretty much keep this one on the stage. I prefer my movies to feel like movies as opposed to adaptations like these and despite at how good this one is.


034 02/06 Hidden Figures (2016) 3.5/5   The fun thing about watching the Oscar Best Picture nominations is I have done zero research and am going in mostly blind about what these movies are actually about. This one was a pleasant surprise. It tells the true story of 3 black women who were key figures doing the big work during the space race. The blatant racism and misogyny as depicted in 1961 NASA is infuriating to watch today, but they never hit you over the head with it in an over the top way. I found some things problematic, like the modern music choices (I’m guessing at the insistence of Executive Producer Pharrell…) and some little bits of “sassy tropes” that seemed like caricature and kind of took away from how smart these women actually are. (That could be my white old guy bias, persons of colour, please correct me.) None of it is enough to be completely distracting though, and in the end, it’s a damn fine film and one that deserves to be seen.


035 02/07 Don’t Answer The Phone (1980) 4/5   A Vietnam vet is bonkers and going around strangling pretty girls and stalking/harassing a radio therapist in LA. This one was downright nasty and mean, with a ton of sleaze to boot. Which means it was great and really delivered! That’s how it works with genre films, the more they live up to their depraved expectations the better. I didn’t make the rules! Anyway, it fits right in with Maniac, The Toolbox Murders, and other Taxi Driver style horror films from the era.


036 02-08 Hell or High Water (2016) 3.5/5   A couple of brothers can’t seem to shake Jeff Bridges giant, float-y head, based on the promo above. In actuality, a couple of brothers go on a bank robbing spree in Texas and ridiculously old Texas Ranger Jeff Bridges has to try to catch them. Seriously, if Bridges gets anymore growl-y he’ll be forced to play wolf-men for the rest of his career. They say this one is a modern western, but it’s not really. Can there even be a modern day western anymore? It is a really good modern day crime film though that takes place in the south. Everything rings pretty true, performances are top notch, there’s a bit of business that is a little extraneous (they seem to be setting up a female character only for her to vanish without a trace) but otherwise it works well enough to keep you interested. It also plays with a bit of the stereotypes that are found in these “western” films which helps keep it current and more than a smadge political. Good stuff, but I don’t think it’s “Best Picture” material.


037 02-10 Hacksaw Ridge (2016) 4/5   The true story of a war hero medic who entered World War II as a conscientious objector and refused to carry a weapon. First half plays like a rehash from better films, mainly Full Metal Jacket. The second half when they go to war redeems it though. This one has the action in the Pacific and anyone who’s seen a documentary on the pacific war knows it was one of the most brutal theatres. The film does not shy away, and actually seems over the top if you didn’t know better. It’s great stuff. The only real problematic thing with this for me is it’s directed by Mel Gibson. Old Mel has proven himself to be a piece of shit anti-semite. Like Polanski and Woody Allen I find myself conflicted with these guys, separating the person from the film, that kind of thing. That aside, dude knows how to direct an action picture.


038 02-10 A Place Beyond Shame (1980) 2.5/5   Poor Seka has fears about sex so she’s sees a therapist to unlock her sexual prowess. Directed by adult legends FJ Lincoln and Sharon Mitchell, I was hoping for more to this than basically being a loop carrier.


039 02/11 Manchester By The Sea (2016) 4/5   Casey Affleck stars in this one as a working class guy who is struggling to get his life together and has to take responsibility for his nephew when his brother passes away. So it’s a pretty heavy drama and the main draw for this one is the brutal reality. It never really gets sentimental, which makes it great in my book.


040 02/11 Blue Money (1971) 4/5
041 02/12 The Affairs of Aphrodite (1970) 2/5   A duo of films directed by Alain Patrik, Blue Money was a real surprise. Produced by Bob Chinn, this one was their first crack at a legitimate movie after toiling away in the world of softcore. The film is about pornographers struggling to get their films made while avoiding the vice squad. What makes it so interesting is that it’s actually made by pornographers who were actually dealing with the arrests and vice issues at the time so there’s a ring of truth to this as opposed to typical exploitation fair. It makes for a really well done character study that really fits in with other films of the New Hollywood era. Patrik would drift away from softcore films to pursue acting, and Bob Chinn would move on to discovering John Holmes and creating the Johnny Wadd series that was referenced so heavily in Boogie Nights.and cement his place as one of adult’s greatest filmmakers.

The Affairs of Aphrodite is pretty typical softcore dribble about a princess kidnapped and forced into Aphrodite’s harem. Mainly of interest on this disc in being the type of film that the lead in Blue Money would of made, since it was literally made by the same director/star. 

So basically my picks for best picture are between Blue MoneyDon’t Answer The Phone and Manchester By The Sea. Says where I am at this point in my terrible life. If I had to pick a fave, I’d probably lean to Hidden Figures or Manchester By The Sea. Next week I should have the rest of the nominations watched so maybe I’ll love La La Land as much as everyone else in our currently free world.

Movie A Day 2017! Gymnasium Blood of Taboo Terror!

It seems that starting this blog back up in the year of 2017 might of been a bad idea. It appears that we live in an era where your social media posts will be investigated in order to allow your movement from country to country. Not that I’m planning to travel mind you, it still seems like a good idea to delete everything. I’ll see how this all pans out. Maybe I should code this so it looks like all I watch are christian dramas instead of horror movies and old porn?


028 01/29 Gymnasium Jim (1922) 4/5   Last blog I mentioned the Mack Sennett set that was taking me forever to get through. It’s films like this one that make it all worth it. Billy Bevan stars; sharp eyed horror fans will recognize him from bit parts in Universal’s Monster horror films like The Invisible Man. Bevan plays a mechanic who is trying to woo a girl while getting caught up in a fight to steal his inheritance. The plots just an excuse for 20 minutes of non-stop, surprisingly complicated gags. So while lacking in some of the sophistication that the big three (Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd) brought to their shorts, Bevan more than makes up for it in energy.


029 01/31 Blood Mania (1970) 2.5/5   A title like that sets some high expectations. Sadly, this one doesn’t meet any of them. A woman is teaming up with her deviant boyfriend to knock off her father for an inheritance. It’s best described as either a shitty horror movie with no blood or a mediocre melodrama that tries to spice things up with some cool horror stuff at the start and the end. The only thing that really saves it is it’s relentlessly sleazy with unnecessary nudity.


030 02/02 Point of Terror (1971) 2.5/5   This one was the second feature on the same disc as Blood Mania; being produced by the same person, Peter Carpenter who also stars in the pictures. This one he plays a nightclub singer who’s willing to do anything to get that big recording contract. Like Blood Mania this one is more of a melodrama than a horror or spook film. I enjoyed this one a little more, mainly due to all the corny songs and dance numbers. Carpenter is actually quite good and it helps to hold your interest.


02/04 Super Mario World (1990) 3.5/5   Finally finished this one. I say finally since it took me all week in small chunks and I found it really hard. Which is annoying since it’s made for kids, right? I’m getting soft in my old age. That said, it’s an amazing game and despite being 25 years old doesn’t really look or play dated. The Super Nintendo might of been the greatest console of all time.


031 02/04 Gilmore Girls Season 4 (2004) 3.5/5   Oh those crazy girls! This one sees Lorelai busy trying to build and open her dream project, The Dragonfly Inn! Rory is off to Yale and there’s surprisingly little shenanigans. Most of the drama of the season is with Lorelai’s dad going into business on his own and taking on a partner who Lorelai ends up dating. This season is a bit of a drop compared to the first three and some of the quirks are wearing a little but it’s still worth watching since the writing and acting is so solid.


032 02/04 Taboo 4 (1985) 3.5/5   The Taboo series is one of the most iconic in adult and easily one of the more creepy ones to watch. This one really gets over the top with pretty near every variation of incest happening. It’s awkward to watch, but also a really accomplished film. Jamie Gillis stars as a therapist that specializes in incest issues and really puts in a career best acting performance which makes the scene with his daughter all the more disturbing since there’s no shit porn-acting to make it all ridiculous. The Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome is great, featuring a new interview with Ginger Lynn in which she reveals that she wasn’t comfortable with the film back in the day and still isn’t. Sleazy stuff for sure.

You can tell that this post features movie watching from the end of the month since it went from silent films to sleazy porn. I get my Vinegar Subscription at the end of each month and it gets priority! Don’t worry though, next blog will have some class. I’m taking a Gilmore Girls break to watch Academy award nominations. And the rest of my Vinegar Syndrome pack, so it wont be all classy.