Movie A Day!: Wired Asian Action

Once again, I did not forget to post this or abandon the blog. I just flat out didn’t get much watch the week before last, so rather than post a 2 film blog, I held off. My blog my rules! So while the world burns, floods and possibly nuclear rains (if we have a nuclear war before I finish FALLOUT 4, I’m going to be pissed off. I’m really close!), here’s what I watch the past couple week. After the Vinegar Syndrome catch up, I’m back with subtitled foreign films to catch up with before the Scary Movie Challenge. “Subtitled Foreign Films” sounds fancier than “Yakuza/Kung Fu action films”.

Also impacting my movie numbers is my binge viewing of:


257 08/24 The Wire Season 3 (2004) 4.5/5   After the focus on the larger crime world in Season 2, Season 3 gets to what the series is really about: an indictment on the war on drugs. A west division major sets up a safe zone for the drug trade. It’s in the realm of fantasy, but damn if it doesn’t make for some thought provoking television. I’m not even getting into the stories of the cops and drug dealers that started in Season 1 are doing. It’s arguably the best season of the best crime show in television history.

258 08/25 More (1975) 2/5   Another low rent hardcore feature from Ralph Eli, this one manages to be more game to run a detective plot with Harry Reems investigating a murder and the widow basically fucking everyone involved. It’s so poorly made that it’s actually fun to watch, and has a stolen Led Zep soundtrack to boot. I can’t really recommend the triple feature that this is on, but it was kind of a fun watch regardless.

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259 08/26 The Boss’s Head (1975) 3/5   Second film in the New Battles Without Honor And Humanity series is more of the same. Bunta Sugawara is back, this time as a stray dog Yakuza that is fresh out of a seven year prison bit for doing a hit and getting caught up in Yakuza politics. It’s good for what it is, but failed to knock my socks off.


260 08/28 Last Days of the Boss (1976) 3.5/5   This one wraps up the New Battles Without Honor or Humanity series and I liked it best. It starts off sleazy before settling into one of the more action packed installments which helps it to stand out from the rest. Aside from the action, it’s the usual Yakuza intrigue. The New Battles trilogy of stand alone stories never reach the heights of the original, and end up being more of a tonal tribute. Good for what they are, but didn’t wow me.


261 08/30 The Killer (1989) 4.5/5   Revisited the film that put John Woo on the map and it holds up remarkably well. It’s corny as heck, but damn, those action scenes are still completely bonkers and it’s clear that it’s influence is still reverberating around THE RAID and JOHN WICK twenty plus years later. Chow Yun-Fat is the suavest mother fucker since Cary Grant and the only knock you can have against this film is that Woo followed it up with HARD BOILED which might be the greatest action film of all time.


262 09/01 Kung Fu Girl (1973) 2.5/5   When the DVD cover calls the film “Kung Fu Girl” and the film on the disc is called “None But The Brave” (imdb has it as “Tie Wa”), you know you may be in trouble. Ends up that this one wasn’t too bad. A country kung fu girl heads off to the city to confront the evil Japanese imperials that killed an adopted sister. It’s over long and the fights are clunky. What helps set it apart is the casting. Jackie Chan makes an unimpressive appearance in a small role early on, and Diamond Guy Jo Shishido plays the Japanese baddy which helps to make this one a little more interesting. Star Pei-Pei Cheng Manages to be both engaging and disappointing in that her kung fu is a little to dance-y/staged compared to other leading actresses like Angela Mao. So it all adds up to being mostly a miss.


263 09/02 Throat… 12 Years After (1984) 3/5   Gerard Damiano returns to Deep Throat, only not really. The tag line is “A Reflection NOT A Sequel”, only it has nothing to do with the original film. Which is probably a good thing since despite it’s fame, it’s actually pretty terrible. This one is basically an episodic film about a couple of couples figuring out their relationships. A great cast but it never really stands out as anything too special. (That said, the extra feature interviews on the Vinegar Syndrome disc make it worth picking up as they are more interesting than the feature.)


264 0/03 The Wire Season 4 (2006) 4.5/5   One of the joys of this series is wondering where it can go after the conclusion of a season. This one finds the focus shifting to the war on drugs impact on the school system. It’s the kind of thing I typically don’t like since it follow a group of kids. It’s handled so good, and with none of the fake emotional manipulation that these topics usually have. While this is going on, it the story continues to push forward with the political/police stories that are the base of the series. It might be the best season.

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Movie A Day!: Vinegar Syndromed

I was hoping to post this last night but getting back to work and having to work in the warehouse really laid me out. So I’m a day late. One day this blog might get back to it’s regular weekly posts. I know you are all worrying about it. Welcome, let’s have a look.

As promised last blog, I spent my staycation catching up on Vinegar Syndrome smut and sleaze. So it’s a mixed bag for those of you who hate this stuff. For those with a taste for the bad, it’s a real treasure trove.


247 08/11 A Touch of Genie (1974) 3.5/5   One of sexploitation legend Joe Sarno’s early hardcore efforts ends up being something that porno rarely is: adorable. It’s a skid-row version of I Dream Of Genie as seen through the eyes of Woody Allan with tons of Jewish humour and a self awareness to the porn industry at the time it was made. To the point where the humour ends up overshadowing the hardcore. A fun little film that won’t be for everyone but for fans of the genre is a bit of fresh air.


248 08/12 Matinee Idol (1984) 3.5/5   This one finds exploitation legend David F. Friedman writing a story about the trials and tribulations of producing adult films. It’s got a great cast but what sets it apart from standard hardcore fair is there’s a sense of fun to this that’s more in tone with the softcore features he used to make. The story comes first, and it mostly works.


249 08/14 My Chauffeur (1986) 2.5/5   It’s the 80’s and sex-romp comedies are still all the rage! Only this one isn’t really a sex-romp, it doesn’t seem to quite know what it is. A hip Valley Girl type gets the call to be a chauffeur and really sticks it to the patriarchy of old men at the Chauffeur club. Each job is an excuse for wacky shenanigans. There’s boobs. Penn & Teller get a chance to do some business that never really works. None of it really works. Maybe I’m too fussy. Or I’m jealous that she’s all hot over the rich jock asshole. 


250 08/14 Afternoon Delights (1980) 3.5/5   Early hardcore feature from Shaun Costello about a group of guys at poker night sharing stories about their ex-wives. It’s all an excuse for vignettes, but what elevates it from the usual is the vignettes are wonderfully sleazy and there’s a bitter-sweetness to the scripting. It doesn’t hurt that the cast is packed with all stars.


251 08/15 Snapshot (1979) 3/5   A nice little suspense thriller from Australia finds a young hairdresser swept up into the modelling world all while being stalked. It’s never knocks your socks off, but isn’t a bad film to spend your time with and a not bad example of a more straight film from the Ozploitation scene.


252 08/15 The Wire Season 2 (2003) 4/5   The second season picks up where the first left off with the unit in tatters and a new focus: corruption on the docks. The expansion of scope while continuing the story started in season 1 is really striking and well done. The politics are maddening and will change your worldview. It really is the best crime show in the history of television


253 08/16 Slave of Pleasure (1978) 4/5   This one is a sleazy gem of a film about a private eye investigating the disappearance of a housewife that got swept up by white slavers. It’s the kind of cheap, grimy hardcore that scared everyone back in the day, and it’s entertaining as hell since they really go for it. It doesn’t hurt that it has legendary sleazeballs like Jamie Gillis in it.


254 08/18 My Master My Love (1975) 2/5   Sometimes low rent sleaze is simply sleaze, which is the case here. Darby Lloyd Rains stars as a Mistress who’s business is interrupted by the arrival of her little brother. Aside from an appearance of Annie Sprinkle there’s nothing much of note to this one and it manages to be a bit of a chore.


255 08/19 Teenage Masseuse (1975) 2.5/5   From the same filmmaker as My Master My Love and just as cheap and low rent. I give it half a star more mainly due to Bobby Astyr being so hilariously over the top as the abusing dominant. The story works better too, a bored housewife gets swept up into a massage parlour. It’s good for what it is but nothing to recommend.


256 08/21 Red Roses of Passion (1966) 4/5   Vinegar Syndrome’s Sexploitation series kicks off with this Joe Sarno stunner. A woman relies on a psychic who is more witch priestess than flim-flam to get back at her stuffy relatives that she lives with. It plays more like a nightmare than a sex film, with that odd feeling more associated with David Lynch as opposed to David Friedman. It plays very strange, and if this is setting the tone of this series, it’s going to be a real knockout.

There it is. Back to normal for me and my movie watching. I’m going back to the subtitled films. Try to clear the docks since October is coming, and you know what that means.

Movie A Day!: Hell’s Creed Hungry Reunion on Wheels!

We managed to not get ourselves into a nuclear war, so I guess it’s movie time.

A real mixed bag with this one. I’ve jumped back into the Herschell Gordon Lewis Shock & Gore set, continue with the Forbidden Hollywood Volume 9 set from Warner’s of Pre-code films, got in a never ending wrestling event and went Hollywood over the weekend with a side of Vinegar Syndrome’s PeekARama series. Something for everyone? Probably not.


084 04/03 Hell’s Highway (1932) 3.5/5   Pre-Code gem starring tough guy Richard Dix as a con on a chain gang. Made to show the brutal treatment of prisoners, chain gangs were still a thing in 1932, it’s hard to watch now and not think of the private prisons still using prisoners as slave labour. I’m a sucker for prison pictures and this one was a pretty good one.


085 04/03 She-Devils on Wheels (1968) 2.5/5   Herschell Gordon Lewis does his take on a biker gang picture with this one about an all girl biker gang that’s running wild. It’s a great premise but Lewis fails to pull it off. It’s too chaste when it should be wild and sleazy, and Lewis is too incompetent to film a biker picture since you can barely hear any dialogue when the bikes are running. More of a curio than a good picture in his catalogue.


086 04/04 The Cabin in the Cotton (1932) 3/5   A not bad pre-code film starring the completely forgotten Richard Barthelmess as a worker growing up on a cotton farm (post-slavery) and torn between loyalties with the “Planters” who own the land and the “Peckerwoods” who work it. Obviously I couldn’t help snickering every time someone was referred to as a “Peckerwood”, but aside from that the only real draw in this one is it’s an early Bette Davis picture. Bette steals every scene she’s in as the owners hot to trot, privileged daughter, because of course she does. Otherwise there’s not much to note. Director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, to name drop just one absolute classic from his filmography) does a decent job, African Americans are shockingly shown as sympathetic and not too stereotyped for the time, and lead Barthelmess has one dumb expression on his face the whole time and fails to rise to lead the picture, or stand a chance against Queen Bette. Interesting only for Bette, and seeing her take complete control over the picture.


087 04/05 When Ladies Meet (1933) 2.5/5   An overly talky play adaptation about a woman author who has fallen for her married publisher in a very modern way. Not much else happens. Second billed Robert Montgomery and third billed Myrna Loy steal the show as the author and the boy she’s refusing for the publisher. For what it’s worth, with the main problem being Alice Brady as Myrna’s best friend in the comedic role who is the kind of annoying, privileged eccentric you want to strangle. Another case of people being in better things, watch Loy in The Thin Man, and check out Montgomery’s progressive noirs Lady in the Lake (filmed in first person POV!) and Ride The Pink Horse, which he also directed.


088 04/06 Just For The Hell Of It (1968) 2/5   HGL really starts scraping the barrel with this one. Some youth gang is wandering around breaking stuff and basically just being a bunch of assholes for no reason. It’s an attempt at creating a new genre (so claims HGL), but is so completely pointless and inept that it does not work at all. Only good thing was the theme song (written by Lewis) and an extended band performance near the front that is pure filler, but pretty good filler.


089 04/07 Creed (2015) 4/5   I think the last thing any Rocky fan thought they’d see is another Rocky movie. Switching things up and focusing on Apollo Creed’s son is a stroke of genius, and the film really works well as both a character study and a boxing picture. There’s not much to say, it hit’s all the standard plot points of a Rocky picture, it’s just done really well with a touch of class. The boxing scenes are exceptional and allowed to stretch with more artistic touches that works surprisingly well considering how gritty and realistic the rest of the picture is. Worth checking out, especially if you’re a Rocky fan.

Sherlick Holmes / Reunion [DVD]
090 04/07 Sherlick Holmes (1975) 2/5   Harry Reems stars as the title character who creates a time machine that transports Watson and himself to 1970s Times Square where they have to fuck their way back to Victorian England. Nothing too redeeming about this one which is most likely a weekend wonder with the highlights being how poorly made it is. There’s something charming about releasing a film where you can hear the producers feeding the actors lines, but that charm only goes so far. It’s more interesting than good.


091 04/08 Wrestlemania 33 (2017) 2.5/5   I stopped watching WWE last year when it became apparent that Vince McMahon was going to buy his wife a position in the Trump administration. That and the product is so bloated that the amazing performers are largely wasted. This Wrestlemania confirmed my decision. I found pretty near the whole thing dull as dishwater (so dull I nearly forgot to include it on this list). The highlight was the return of the Hardys and the only reason I watched it was to see Undertaker in what may be his last match. I would’ve preferred a better opponent than Roman Reigns, but it was a serviceable last match. I won’t be following it after this. Lucha Underground is a ton more fun without the 7 hour a week time commitment.


092 04/08 The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 2 (2015) 3/5   I found this one to be the weakest of them all. Main problem is it felt padded to hit a two hour running time. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just plods along which weakens the later moments that are supposed to hit harder. On a whole, I’d give the series a 4 out of 5.

093 04/08 Reunion (1976) 2.5/5   This one see’s some high school classmates being invited to a island estate for a reunion that takes a darker turn. If this one committed more to the dark turn instead of the sex it would of really elevated this one to being something special. As it is, it’s pretty typical low budget porn for the era.

It feels like I’m never going to finish that Shock & Gore set. I’m averaging a disc a week. they’re so packed with special features, and I watch them late at night before bed, I’m going to be glad to finish it and move onto other things. Don’t get me wrong, they’re fun as hell even if they aren’t very good. It might be too much of a good thing. Aside from that, a pretty big week! It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten in 10 films in one week.

Until next time.

Movie a Day! : 104-111- “Get Up Off Your Ass and Show Yourself!”

Right, time for a round up. Here are all the things I watched last week. It was a short week blog wise since I tend to start a new week with Monday, but I watched a whole bunch of films over the weekend seeing as to how a video game I’m trying to complete has gotten boring and I’m dragging my heels on it.

Here we go!

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104 05-02 The Making of Nashville (2014) 3.5/5
This is the feature length documentary found on the blu-ray of the previously mentioned “Nashville”. It’s good, with lots of neat stories though no real behind the scenes footage. Anyway, between, the film and the additional extras (the Robert Altman interviews are must see), I give this disc a 5/5. Criterion really know how to put out a movie.

105 05-02 Sadie (1980) 2.5/5
Back in February I watched a Rita Hayworth film called “Miss Sadie Thompson” in which she plays a former dance hall girl (prostitute) who gets mixed up with a missionary while stuck on an island on her way to Australia to start a new life. This is a porn version of the same story. Directed by porn legend, “Johnny Wadd” director Bob Chinn, who you will know as the basis of Burt Reynolds character in “Boogie Nights”. Anyway, the story actually works as a porn, and he cleverly updates the villain from being a missionary to being a ultra right wing senator bent on censorship and what not. Surprisingly, the film seems more intent on telling the story instead of the sex scenes, which are all over quickly and seem per functionary to meet distributor guidelines instead of driving the film. The problem of course is the shit porn acting and the incredibly cheap island set that is used that ends up making this look like a dirty high school production that doesn’t really work as a non-sex film or a “proper” porno that has a story as an excuse for the sex scenes. It’s probably this weird thing that makes it kind of interesting.

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106 05-03 The Great Gatsby (2013) 3/5
I am not a Baz Luhrmann devotee. While I liked his “Romeo + Juliet” , “Moulin Rouge!” was lost on me and I couldn’t bring myself to watch “Australia” (Mad Max is all the Australian history I need). All that said, this one was pretty good. The performances are all fine, and the story, I‘m guessing, is well told. I never read the novel. My only problem is in the execution. While “Rouge!” left me flat, it was a lush, colourful picture. This one is too, but it’s all CGI, and the type of CGI that screams “I AM CGI! LOOK AT ME! CGI!” and when films rely on digital effects like this in such an obvious way it draws me out of the picture. Much more than hearing Jay-Z on the soundtrack of a movie that takes place in the twenties. So it’s “The Pretty Good But Not All That Great Gatsby” in the end. The blu-ray has a trailer for the 1926 version, I want to see that one.

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107 05-03 The Seductress (1981) 3/5
This is the second film on the double feature PeekARama disc from Vinegar Syndrome that featured “Sadie”. Also directed by Bob Chinn, this is a more traditional porn. Basic plot is that of a woman who works with a guy in seducing men and filming them so that their wives can blackmail them for divorce. Ends up she’s a junkie (which means she’s unreliable), and figures out she can get even more money by blackmailing the wives into sleeping with other men for additional blackmailing. It’s all very convoluted. Way more convoluted than it should be. Still a cheap production, but it works better than “Sadie” did since it doesn’t rely on sophisticated staging that can’t be provided on a cheap set and the plot better serves the necessary inclusion of sex scenes.

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108 05-04 TNT Jackson (1974) 3.5/5
Cheap-o “Pam Grier” type knockoff about a woman who travels to China (The Philippines) to find her brother, only to discover he’s been killed by a drug gang. so she has to use her Kung-Fu skills to kick the shit out of everyone. It’s pretty damned great, with laughably corny fights, hilarious dialogue and unnecessary nudity. Add in some ridiculous gore, and this one is a fun watch. It should be noted that to my memory, not a single thing on that poster is represented in the movie other than Jeanne Bell herself.

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109 05-04 Firecracker (1981) 3.5/5
This is the third film of the same set with “TNT Jackson”, and “Too Hot to Handle”, which I reviewed last blog. I had low expectations, but it ended up being a lot of fun. Another film where a woman goes to the Philippines (actual Philippines, not pretend China/Chinatown Philippines), this time to find a missing sister, and has to use her Kung-Fu skills to kick the shit out of everyone. This one is by the same director as TNT, and features Vic Diaz in a larger supporting role than he usually gets. I should have started a tribute page to Vic Diaz, taking pictures of him in all the films shot in the Philippines that he ends up in. Anyway, this one is as corny as the last one, with the difference being that the lead actress is actually a pretty good martial artist. On par with a Cynthia Rothrock anyway, so the fights are actually pretty good.

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110 05-04 Used Cars (1980) 3/5
This was one of the very first VHS tapes dad brought home when we got our first VCR around 1983. I wasn’t allowed to watch it, though I do remember watching it for some reason. I hadn’t seen it since. Prior to making the pop culture hits with “Back to the Future” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, Robert Zemeckis put out this raunch comedy. I’m guessing “National Lampoon’s Animal House” kicked off this trend of comedy, were guys are total guys and do wacky pranks while trying to get in girls pants. This one features Kurt Russell as a salesman for the titled Used Car lot, in battle with a rival car lot owner who’s trying to take over his land. As dated as it feels, it still offers some great laughs and the entire cast is pretty likeable as well. That said, it’s definitely a “Bro” type comedy. Still worth a watch for a chuckle. Plus it has Guy Caballero himself, Joe Flaherty in a supporting role.

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111 05-04 The Altar of Lust 2.5/5
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. The title makes it sound like a Satanic thing, but it’s not at all. The basic story is about a young woman (played by, no joke “Erotica Lantern”) who escapes from Sweden after being raped by her stepfather, and winds up in New York very sexually confused. This is all told via the device of her talking to her psychiatrist, so the sexual vignettes stream out from that. It’s absolutely dreadful production wise, in that no dialogue was recorded. It’s all dubbed and read in a monotone that has to be seen/heard to be believed. It’s so bad, that when the psychiatrist talks, they show the woman reacting, and vice versa so that you will never see a line of dialogue coming from a persons lips.

That said, it IS entertaining and interesting. The director is Roberta Findlay, who with her husband Michael made the notorious roughies known as “The Flesh Trilogy”. Here she wrote, filmed, produced and directed (and I think dubbed) the picture, so it’s interesting since it is from a woman’s point of view. Usually softcore stuff like this is very male centric. Also, this one is from the period where softcore would turn hardcore, and as the picture moves forward, the scenes get harder until eventually you see Harry Reems (a year before “Deep Throat” would make him a star) receive oral. So it’s a bizarre time capsule of the period, and of the filmmakers literally pushing the boundaries of censorship within the film, pre-porno chic. Which is why I’m giving it 2.5 out of 5 instead of a 1.5-2, since it really is laughably BAD bad.

 

So there it is, more movies than most watch in a month! It’s ridiculous that I have more to say on dumb movies like “The Altar of Lust” then most other things I enjoy. My pick of the week is “TNT Jackson.” I’m such a sucker for blacksploitation at this point that I’m probably considered racist. The movies are just so goofy, they’re irresistible damn it!