Movie A Day! 141-151: Sprout Wings Super Soul Brother!

So much for getting the blog under control. This one looks longer than it is, but it’s still pretty long. I watched some double feature stuff that hit around the five film marks and didn’t want to split them into two blogs. So you get a little extra and I’ll try to get this thing back to the fives next time.


141 04-27 Supersoul Brother (1978) 2.5/5
“Wild Man” Steve takes a page from Rudy Ray Moore’s DOLEMITE playbook and tries to make a his own blaxploitaton action comedy. He fails in almost every regard. Steve plays a wino who gets picked up by a couple of thieves to be injected with a super serum so he can be used to rob a jewel safe. It’s dirt cheap, the acting is atrocious, but it does have it’s charms as both a spoof on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (the original title, and the one on the print on Vinegar Syndrome’s DVD is THE SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR NIGGER) and for the gusto of Wildman himself who tries his darn-dist to spin straw into gold and fails pretty much completely. A hell of a time capsule, and as the first in Vinegar Syndromes collaboration with the American Genre Film Archive, it’s going to be fun to see what they bring out next.


142 4-28 A Life In Dirty Movies (2013) 3.5/5
A pretty good documentary on Joe Sarno, one of the first and best of the sexploitation filmmakers at the dawn of the genre. This one mostly deals with Sarno at the end of his life trying to get one last film financed. I would of preferred more of an overview since I can only imagine some of the stories he has, but what we do have in here is still interesting. Having people like John Waters, Jamie Gillis and Annie Sprinkle on hand to discuss Sarno and his work also helps to keep the film moving. Now we need someone to tackle restoring Sarno’s surviving films.


143 4-30 Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers (1980) 3/5
Les Blank skips the profiles of people and goes straight to food and music with this one. It’s a history of garlic, showing many of the ways it is prepared as well as the folklore. Some of the fanatics come off a bit hippie dippy and crackers, but it is a fun watch. Since it’s literally about the food, this one is missing the heart found in his other pictures.


144 05-01 When Taekwondo Strikes (1973) 3/5
A pretty good chop socky feature starring Angela Mao about Koreans revolting against Japanese rule. Lots of different styles of martial arts are in view, and it also features Jhoon Rhee, known as the father of American Taekwondo. So there’s lots of fun to be had in this one.


145 05-02 Little Miss Innocence (1973) 2.5/5
146 05-02 Teenage Seductress (1975) 2.5/5
This is a pair of softcore features from Chris Warfield that Vinegar Syndrome put out in their DRIVE-IN COLLECTION. The first features a pair of hippie girls who shack up and torture an older music executive when he picks them up hitchhiking in LA. It’s the most porn-y of the two since they emotionally abuse him with constant sex, and it’s as sleazy as it sounds. TEENAGE though downplays the sex to be more messed up dramatically as it features a woman who is out to find her father that skipped out when she was born, in order to sleep with him and try to ruin his life that way. Did I mention it was messed up? Anyway, the pair are actually pretty decent watches since they play more serious than the usual goofy that is sexploitation, and are looking great in these DVD restorations.


147 05-02 Escape From New York (1981) 3.5/5
John Carpenter’s cult classic features a breakout role for Kurt Russell who stars as Snake Plissken who in the future dystopia of 1997 has to retrieve the President of the United States who has crashed into the prison island of Manhattan. It makes zero sense, but Carpenter and Russell totally pull it off. I don’t love this one as much as others, but I have no knocks against it, it delivers and the cast featuring genre legends like Lee Van Cleef and Isaac Hayes doesn’t hurt either.


148 05-02 Champagne For Breakfast (1980) 3.5/5
Chris Warfield again, this time with a later porno chic effort that manages to work. The script, about a guy who plays gay in order to get a job as a chauffeur/bodyguard to a young woman who has recently become vice president of an ad agency, genuinely works on it’s own both dramatically and as a comedy. The actors, featuring stars like Leslie Bovee, John Leslie and Kay Parker all have the chops to pull it off, they could of cut the sex out and still had a decent late seventies comedy. A short comedy though since ther is a ton of sex in this one, which makes the story working aspect of it all the more unusual. Typical of everything they put out, the Vinegar Syndromes presentation is top notch.


149 05-03 Sprout Wings And Fly (1983) 4/5
150 05-03 Julie: Old Time Tales of the Blue Ridge (1991) 4/5
151 05-03 My Old Fiddle: A Visit with Tommy Jarrell in the Blue Ridge (1995) 4/5
Another trio of documentaries from Les Blank. SPROUT features fiddle player Tommy Jarrell, in his eighties when it was shot, telling stories of life in the Blue Ridge mountains (nearly all of them about whisky and death), and playing a ton of amazing fiddle songs. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and Jarrell is one hell of a storyteller. This Les Blank blu-ray set just never fails to please. JULIE was shot at the same time, and is a short film featuring Tommy’s older sister telling stories and singing a couple of songs, while MY OLD FIDDLE is more of Tommy playing and talking. As a whole, they are not only a entertaining films, but a record of a lost time.

See? It wasn’t so long and at least the movies were varied eh?

Movie A Day! 086-090 : Don’t

A blurb on the news just now showed a 30 year old cat. 30 years old. It was a cat, not a puddle of cat fur, but a live cat. I thought my old cat Dickie did good getting to 18-19. 30? I can’t get my head around it. Wouldn’t that be like living to 200? Who wants to live that long? I’m going to have nightmares.


086 03-08 Broken Oath (1977) 3.5/5
It’s international women’s day, so what better film to watch than one starring Angela Mao kicking the shit out of a bunch of guys? This one starts off pretty grim, with a woman having her husband killed, then sent to prison for his murder after she takes the eye out of one of the murderers while he tries to rape her. She ends up giving birth to a baby daughter while in jail, and that daughter grows up to vengeance obsessed Mao who learns martial arts and befriends scorpions as pets to poison those who get in her way. It’s a gonzo kung-fu flick, but a good one. My only complaint is they seem to lessen Mao’s role as it gets later in the picture when they don’t need to, she’s awesome.


087 03-09 Strangers May Kiss (1931) 3/5
Another Pre-Code classic, this one stars Norma Shearer as a forward thinking woman of the jazz age looking for love. It’s a melodrama, and soapy as hell, but delicious all the same. Not much else to say since plot wise, it’s pretty typical; woman throws away everything for a swaggering playboy, suffers for it. Shearer does a great job in the lead, showing both strength and vulnerability as the woman who can’t seem to get a break. It’s worth checking out if you like these kind of things.


088 03-12 Hi, Nellie! (1934) 4/5
This one is the third film in the latest pre-code set from Warner Archive, but it’s not much of a pre-code film. That said, it’s a hell of a newsroom type detective story. Paul Muni plays the managing editor of a newspaper who get’s busted down to writing the Heartthrob column (writing under the pseudonym “Nellie”) after miss-calling a story in which it appeared that a bank founder ran off with $500,000. It’s part daffy comedy, part investigative detective story, and one hell of a whirlwind. Paul Muni was one of the greatest actors to grace the screen, and there is nothing old fashioned about his performance here. Muni is easily ground zero for the type of performance that would be carried on by Marlon Brando, James Dean, Robert De Niro, and others. Really great stuff, this one gets a solid recommend.

Creature from the Black Lagoon
089 03-13 The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) 4/5
Monster movies were out by the fifties, replaced by Sci-fi terror for the atomic age. Giant bugs, alien invaders, and the king of them all Godzilla would debut the year that Creature came out. The Creature was the last of the Universal Monsters, the last iconic character to get it’s own series of films. Archaeologists find a weird fossil of a claw sticking out of a rock, and go in search of the skeleton. This leads them to the black lagoon off the amazon, and they discover that the creature behind that claw is actually kicking around. For a rubber suit, the Creature is amazing! Tons of under water action, and the actor/stuntman playing the creature do a great job giving him character. Lots of great set pieces, goofy scientific explanations, and a pair of leads trying to outdo each other, one pulling an odd Chuck Heston vibe, the other a ruthless not quite Kirk Douglas. Well worth watching, just like all the other monster movies from Universal.

 
090 03-14 Don’t Go In The Woods… Alone (1981) 3/5
This one won’t be for everyone, or possibly anyone reading this blog. A super cheap slasher about a group of kids getting killed by a maniac in the woods. That’s the whole plot too, 4 youg people, wandering around in the woods, getting attacked. Other people, also wandering around in the woods, get attacked as well. There’s no character development, mystery, nothing, just people getting killed. The kill scenes are more ambitious than they could handle, so they throw fake blood all over the place to compensate. Hence this one became an official “Video Nasty” back in the 80’s, despite being pretty terrible. That said, if you’re a fan of the genre, this one is so completely shit that it manages to be oddly dreamlike and “good” to watch. It’s not good, it’s not so bad it’s good, it’s mostly just bad. Bad on all levels, from acting, to the effects, to pacing, to flare from the film being loaded into the camera wrong. So I don’t know why I “liked” it. The Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray is as good as this film is likely to ever look.

Some good movies in this batch. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Creature at this point. It always entertains. Beautifully filmed. I finished Patton Oswalt’s new book, SILVER SCREEN FIEND a couple days ago. It’s a memoir detailing a 4-5 year period where he was hooked, bad, going to the movies. Racking up my kind of numbers. It’s a cautionary tale. I wanted to check off the films he lists in the back. I’m in deep, the movies will be the death of me.

Movie A Day! : 194-203 “Catching Up”

Right, time to get caught up with the movies! Despite the mood of the past couple weeks, I’ve kept up the movie watching. I’ll keep this introduction short since we have 10 titles to get through. Let’s do it!

194 08-07 Zatoichi’s Vengeance (1966) 3.5/5
Another Zatoichi film, another amazing time. This one finds Zatoichi once again trying to fulfill a dying mans wish and getting mixed up with Yakuza intrigue. This one was a little different in that on his travels he meets a blind monk that acts as his conscience and makes Zatoichi question his use of the sword. It helps add yet another nuance to the character, and draws out even more tension. It’s hard to believe, but Katsu continues to get even better as the lead character, becoming both badass and terrifying in the final moments of this one. So another recommend.

195 08-09 Rushmore (1998) 4.5/5
Revisited this one. I think this is my third viewing, and I continue to like it more each time. You would think that Wes Anderson’s style would make for a cold film, but the humanity and emotion on display in this is pretty much perfect, with performances to match. Has Bill Murray ever been better?

196 08-09 Hot Lunch (1978) 2/5
This is the second half of the double feature PEEKARAMA disc that featured BABY ROSEMARY. It’s by the same director, and is an attempt to be a goofy comedy that doesn’t really work as a comedy or a porno. Jon Martin does what he can as the lead, in a part that’s kind of like a reverse on the Candide model that is so common in this era of Porno Chic. He plays a bit of a doof who gets mixed up in all sorts of carnal situations. It just never works well enough to elevate it over the usual sex films.

197 08-10 Silicone Valley Season 1 (2014) 4/5
A new TV series by Mike Judge is always something I’ll check out. It’s only one season in, but I would say this might be his strongest work. He’s perfectly nailing start-up culture while also having strong characters that you end up caring about. It helps that a couple of my favourite stand-up comedians are doing some strong acting as well. The eight episode season ended perfectly with an epic dick joke. Can’t wait for season 2.

198 08-10 Patterns (1955) 3.5/5
Written by Rod Serling, and performed live on TV via the “Kraft Theater” program, this is a tough look at the corporate world. Basic plot is that of a young executive brought in solely to replace an aging vice president. Pitch perfect performances, including a masterful one by Orson Welles player Everett Sloan and a no holds barred look at American greed make this one a hell of a treat.

199 08-11 The Association (1975) 4/5
This is easily the sleaziest Kung-Fu film from the seventies I’ve seen. Basic plot is, a female detective is executed after killing a doctor who rape/murdered a patients wife when the patient could no longer pay for treatment. The executed detective’s squad go on the hunt to uncover the plot behind the murder, and holy hell is it sleazy! A female cult is giving illegal abortions (with a whole topless dancing ritual) that is accidentally murdering girls in a secret prostitution ring that is backed by high members of the government. With near constant nudity and a lead that looks like Bruce Lee with a perm kicking the shit out of everyone, this one was constantly entertaining and I’m guessing the best film in the 4-pack I bought for $10.

200 08-15 The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) 4/5
After Rushmore I decided to re-watch all the Anderson films I have since I’ve been slowly upgrading them to Blu-Ray via the Criterion Collection. This is the first of his to completely lock in the near dollhouse like style that he is known for. It’s starts off a little cold, but once you get use to the cast of characters, you get in deep.

201 08-15 The Erotic Adventures of Candy (1978) 2.5/5
As you can guess, this is yet another take on the Candide films! Hooray! This one follows college girl Candy on her quest to learn about sex and features her getting taken advantage of by every guy in sight. It’s not as good as the PRETTY PEACHES films I reviewed previously, mainly due to tone. It’s pretty straightforward stuff with the main draw being the cast of superstars like John Holmes. It’s not enough to keep the film interesting though.

202 08-16 Elvis : Aloha From Hawaii (1973) 4/5
Seeing as it was the anniversary of Elvis’s death this weekend, we gave this one a view. I’ve seen it dozens of times. It’s not Elvis’s greatest performance, but his last great one. He whipped himself into shape for this, which was broadcast via satellite all over the world, a truly epic event. He looks and sounds great. Seeing how the mention of his name these days is basically a punchline, it’s easy to forget how devastatingly good he was at interpreting a song. It’s all on display here, and well worth a look.

203 08-16 The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) 3/5
This one is a remake of a film noir from the forties that I watched last year (and gave 4 out of 5). Featuring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in the lead roles of lovers with murderous intentions, it captures the grime and tone of the era it depicts, it just never fully works. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just never held my interest like the original did. It also seems to go on too long. It’s from 1981, but it feels like a seventies auteur film (which makes sense seeing as it was directed by Bob Rafelson, who directed Nicholson in FIVE EASY PIECES, a superior film) and it’s energy peters out will before it ends. So watch the original (with the stunning Lana Turner).

Not a bad week of movie watching, with some pretty great titles and a couple of fun revisits! I hit the two hundred film mark by accidentally re-watching THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS which might mark the first time I’ve hit a milestone type number with a good movie. Keep your eye’s peeled for a second post later this week to catch us right up!

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Movie a Day! : 123-129 – The End of May

Right, having started binge watching “Breaking Bad” has cut into a lot of my movie watching, which is why there was no post last week. Plus it’s the end of the month, so I figured let’s wrap it all up. Was everyone okay? My lack of posting didn’t cause anyone concern?

First, let’s look at the movies I watched the last week of May. A really good documentary and some kick-ass Kung-Fu beside the usual porn and garbage!

123 05-25 Rewind This! (2013) 3.5/5
This one was a really good documentary on the rise and fall of VHS. It concentrates on the collectors, but also gives a good history of the first VHS/Beta tapes, sell through etc. I love these type of documentaries, as they both make me feel relieved that my collecting isn’t as insanely nerdy as others, and jealous of other collectors nerdy achievements and that they’re not seen as losers and have a peer group to hang with and stuff. I wonder what that’s like? Hanging out with a group of friends?

124 05-25 Miss Nymphet’s Zap-In (1970) 2.5/5
So, in 1968 a new sketch variety comedy show appeared on American television called “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” It was pretty hip stuff, very sixties and made fun of American pop culture while celebrating it. It proved to be popular enough that the Godfather of Gore himself, Herschel Gordon Lewis, decided to go back to his nudie cutie roots and make a sexy spoof. This is the result. So painfully bad and cheap that Lewis used a pseudonym. When I say “bad and cheap” I of course mean by Lewis standards, which were shockingly low to begin with. We’re talking cheaper than Ed Wood here. Basically it’s a quick series of the worst puns and jokes disguised as skits, interspersed by staggeringly high/disinterested topless go-go dancers, and a group of people walking in a circle and fake freeze framing while shouting “ZAP!” Being from 1970, it’s completely out of touch with the audience it’s trying to attract. Too stupid for the comedy to be a draw, and with softcore transitioning to hardcore, to tame to draw the perverts. Actually, it’s too stupid to be anything but a curio really. The version I watched was in pretty rough shape, so Vinegar Syndrome gave it away! Free movie HERE! (Pay if you can)

125 05-25 Breaking Bad Season 2 (2009) 3.5/5
Not as exhilarating as the first season, but still a damn fine show. Nuff said.

126 05-25 Lady Whirlwind (1972) 3/5
So after the near constant complaining I’ve been doing recently over the “4 Action Movie Pack” set with the Gary Busey movie, I ended up buying a “Martial Arts Marathon” double feature disc by the same company. I will NEVER learn from my mistakes! This one is the second movie in the set, based on the cover art, but the first film on the disc based on the menu when you load it. It’s a proper 1970’s Hong Kong, Kung-Fu picture, so the first thing you have to do is turn on the shitty English dub track and turn off the subtitles. The only way to watch these is via the bad, Australian sounding dub tracks. I don’t know if the film is more dramatic in it’s original Mandarin, I will never know since I love watching these types of movies with the shitty dubs. Basic plot is “Lady Whirlwind” is after some guy who broke her sisters heart, causing the sister to commit suicide. Ends up the guy has his own vendetta going, and he asks Lady Whirlwind to hold off on kicking his ass so he can kick some other guys ass and fulfill his vengeance vow first. So it’s really convoluted, and the bad thing is that once the guy shows up, the film follows him more centrally than Lady Whirlwind. Which is a shame since Lady Whirlwind is really kick ass and the girl don’t need no man taking over her film! That said, the fights are pretty great and the movie moves and that’s good enough since I’m going to blow my brains out if I type “Lady Whirlwind” one more time.

*Just found the above poster. To cash in on “Deep Throat” it was released as “Deep Thrust”, despite not having anything remotely sexual in content. LOVE IT!

127 05-29 Hapkido (1972) 3.5/5
This one was the second film in the set with “Lady Whirlwind”, and boy was it good! Released the same year and also featuring Angela Mao, the basic plot is that of a trio of Chinese Hapkido students returning to China to open a school to help the Chinese people living under ruthless Japanese occupation. Of course, their peaceful plan doesn’t last long and a series of excellent shit-kicking Kung-Fu fights proceed. One of the trio is Sammo Hung, looking impossibly young and holy hell can he fight. This double feature set was a steal at $10, which is a good thing since I just received a 4-pack of martial arts movies from the same company. Remember, if it’s 70’s Kung-Fu, WATCH IT WITH THE SHITTY ENGLISH DUB!

128 05-30 Pretty Peaches 3 : The Quest (1989) 3/5
This is the second film in the Vinegar Syndrome double feature by Alex de Renzy. This one is again as much of a remake as opposed to a sequel, with the plot being pretty much the same. In this one Peaches (played by Keisha) is once again having confusing sexual dreams and heads out on a spiritual quest of sexual enlightenment. This one definitely has a cheaper budget, and framed for a direct to video release. That said, it actually has better production design, with the first few sex scenes having a surprisingly glossy and surreal look to them. The performances are on the whole better, with Jamie Gillis as a “Jimmy Stewart” pervo preacher and Jack Baker is genuinely hilarious as a tricky pimp. Being made this late in the 80’s, and on the cusp of the gonzo revolution, this one plays a bit like a last grasp by the filmmaker to make a proper narrative feature. He would make a few more in the 90’s, but will primarily concentrate on loop carriers that feature the word “anal” in the title under the pseudonym “Rex Borsky.” Anyway, it’s a lot better than I remember it from back in the 90’s when I more interested as porn as a device than a form and it should be interesting to see de Renzy’s earlier films since I’ve only seen a handful of his work.

129 05-31 Eat My Dust (1976) 3/5
This one is a Roger Corman produced car crash comedy. There was a bunch of car crash movies in the 70’s, “The Gumball Rally”, “Smokey & the Bandit”, lots of them! This one stars Ron Howard as a kid who steals a stock car off a track in order to impress a girl, and they take off on a massive car chase. It’s actually not bad considering the only reason Ron Howard agreed to star in it was for the chance to direct his first movie which ended up being for Roger Corman. We’ll get to that one next blog.

There it is! Corman!, Kung-Fu! TV! Wowsers! Let’s look at my totals for the month:

26  Watched    24 First Timers   0 In Theaters

Rats! I’m still off for a stupid movie a day! Sadly, most of it is due to added responsibility from Dad being so sick, he’s been in hospital since January. Which isn’t fun. Of course, watching a TV series is going to cut into the watching too. These days though, TV is better than most movies which is why I haven’t lost any sleep about not going to the theater.

Movie of the month: It’s a tie. I’m going with “Wolf of Wall Street” and that shitty “Bulletproof” with Gary Busey. The goddamned thing HAUNTS ME! Runner up is “Pretty Peaches 2” and “Rewind This!”.  Oh, and “Hapkido”. That one was pretty awesome too.

This month sucked, bring on June. I’m debating having a dark period for the summer where I turn off Twitter and Facebook. If I do, I’ll keep posting this blog.

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