We start this
“2 DVD Edition” with previews of other lovingly remastered smut films, including the Grindhouse Occult Collection
(The Sins of Reverend Star and Night of
Submission) and the triple-X version of Sybil, Sylvia.
Moving past some facial-fueled opening credits we find our hapless heroes Barney (Zebedy Colt) and Chuck (Roger Caine)
being dispatched to the airfield to repair some telephone equipment. Inspired by Chuck’s interest in the travel guide
Sexy Europe the pair stow away on a small plane, only to be caught and kicked out
Parachuting onto the site of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany they promptly meet
a friendly fraulein, Gretchen, who takes them to her place for beer and blowjobs. Well, one blowjob anyway, as Barney is the
odd man out when Gretchen shows a preference for Chuck’s American sausage.
Once Chuck frosts Gretchen’s ass there’s a wee bit of slapstick as the Americans fail to maintain jobs
at her father’s beer hall. Subsequently they get a job ‘bodyguarding’ blond beauty queen Miss Bavaria,
and misbehavior soon follows as the prize-winner doffs her sash and requests a massage. But just as Barney’s getting
into it, “Ach, American swine I kill you!” Miss Bavaria’s
mother, looking like Shelly Winters in a bright red Hindenburg sweater, comes storming in. But instead of bashing in Barney’s
skull, Mama begins pounding him in the face with her mammoth breasts. Which, inexplicably, are suddenly bare. Chuck meanwhile
gets some head from Miss Bavaria, who gets a gob in the kisser for her efforts,
and Mama kicks the American swine out into the street.
The boys’ next gig, as waiter and doorman at a mob-owned strip club, also affords sexy complications when Chuck
starts romping in the lederhosen of Leeza, the wife of murderous club owner Wolfgang. Running away from this fiasco the lads
find themselves in a whorehouse, and the unfortunate boys are forced into a sexual situation yet again. Even Barney gets his
rocks off this time as he and Chuck enjoy a pair of honey blondes in one of the red light room.
Somehow the Americans are then conscripted into working for a Joel Murray look-alike, but they bail out of this position
as well and wind up stealing a VW van and escaping to a ski resort in the Alps. And who should they
meet there but Gretchen and her sexy blond girlfriend Karen, who promptly invite the nice American boys to a party at their
Multiple orgasms later there’s a post-coital pool party at which wacky naked hijinks take place, all of course
leading to the second phase of the orgy. After many more big splashes there’s a water-wrestling grudge match with Wolfgang
that ends with what might be considered a spoiler.
A mildly amusing romp through the streets and whorehouses of Bavaria,
accompanied by German march and waltz music, Playgirls of Munich really delivers
on the triple-X front. There are literally loads of action scenes, and the bevy of hot natural German girls is a plus (with
most of them being blond to boot). I don’t know if I’m a huge fan of the screwball comedy-style porn, but at least
it doesn’t take itself too painfully seriously.
Extras on disc one include the After Hours Preview Vault and Trailer Vault, which in addition to the previews already
seen offer us glimpses of such throwaways as Busty Superstars of the 1970s and
Darian Caine Exposed, along with Golden Age smutfests like A Touch of Genie and Chic 69.
Disc two is all bonus material. We begin not with trailers but with a vintage set of loops that appear to be complete
8- or 16mm shorts (albeit sometimes marred by ridiculous dubbing). In Swedish Swinging
a hausfrau rides her aristocratic hubby’s “bratwurst” (“Get it? Mein dick!”) while their maid
peeps on them and gets hot pants. Pretty soon the maid is getting in on the action too, all three of them going at it while
an automated toy dog watches (?). Careful, there’s some raging bush in this one! In Sex
Boutique a pair of girls are shopping at Schwabylon (great name!), where trying on clothes means engaging in an anonymous
three-way schtup-fest with some guy whose dickhead looks like a crushed mushroom. Measuring
Meat begins with two young ladies looking at anatomy textbooks and comparing the size of their husbands’ schlongs.
Of course to make sure their measurements are truly accurate they have to call in the fellows and get them hard, and you know
where things go from there. Hey, is that a big ol’ genital wart on that guy’s shaft? Die Vereinigten Schweine not only features a Manson-approved anti-American political poster but also a meal so
lousy that the hippie krauts being served turn it into an orgy instead. One lone blond even performs the most acrobatic bottle
insertion I’ve ever seen. Finally, Danish Delight jumps right into some truly
frightening fellatio performed by a cadaverous looking broad. Other sex follows.
Additional “DVD Extras” consist of a sizeable After Hours Cinema trailer vault that includes the legendary
roughie Forced Entry and the hippie fuck-fest Fire
In Her Bed, complete with animated interludes.
1992 series goes way behind the scenes to take a truly in-depth look at the adult film industry. Utilizing on-set and behind
the scenes footage as well as interviews with the stars and starlets of pornographic films, hosts and adult film veterans
Alexis Devell and Ron Jeremy approach X-rated movies from a variety of angles.
The first installment provides a look at what adult film performers really like to do when they’re not in front
of the camera, as well as what happens onscreen. Performers such as Chantilly Lace, Samantha Strong, Honey Jarre, Sky Blue
& Tracy West, Peter North and Rusty are all approached candidly, and speak frankly about what turns them on. As not surprisingly
they’re a pretty experimental bunch. Public sex, lesbian sex, anal sex, rough sex, all of these topics and more are
addressed. Says Marcello, “I’m a tri-sexual – I’ll try anything. Once.” Our hosts even burst
into the restroom to talk to a nude Francesca Lee as she sits on the toilet. (Appropriately enough, she admits to enjoying
being on the receiving end of a golden shower.)
Also explored are problematic scenes: the occasional injury or miscommunication (“This says I do anal. I do NOT
do anal.”), even rare incidents of premature ejaculation, anal leakage, sudden menstruation, and drinking dick. Hygiene
products such as douches and enemas are explained in the context of scene preparation, as are lotions, lubes, sponges and
condoms. Permits and peeping toms are also briefly covered.
In part two the question is asked, “How do the friends and families of the adult actors and actresses feel about
their line of work?” Apparently they’re pretty much all right with it; Samantha Strong’s mother even borrows
a lot of the cash her daughter earns on her knees. Skip James’ family is supportive, and even slightly envious of the
fact that he was able to leave a high stress job and join the more lucrative field of adult entertainment. There are of course
exceptions: Chantilly Lace’s sister cried for two days when she found out, and her father still acts like he doesn’t
know anything about it. Sky Blue’s marriage was broken up shortly after the wedding when she met starlet Tracy West,
and now the two of them perform exclusively in lesbian scenes. About the rest of her family Sky says, “My parents, they
don’t talk to me much anyway.” There are multiple attitudes in between of course: as John Dough says, “And
if they do say something, well fuck them.” Several other performers, such as Shayla La Veaux, Peter North, Honey Jarre,
and couple Nick East and Naomi Thrust choose to keep their business to themselves.
Also covered in this chapter is dialogue and rehearsal, both necessary despite the performers’ general preference
to ‘just fuck.’ Adult film director and series creator Paul Norman (hey, wasn’t he the guy who used an underage
girl in Edward Penishands?) coaches a number of the performers, and talks about
how important it is for the actors to enjoy what they do.
“Alternative occupations of the porn stars” is the theme of chapter three, as we look at what other options
triple-X stars might explore if they weren’t in adult films, as well as what they did before making the lifestyle switch.
Chantilly Lace did makeup and was a teacher’s aide “for little Jewish kids”; Cal Jammer is also a carpenter
(a true woodsman!); Samantha Strong never had another job in her life and can’t imagine ever working for anybody else;
Tom Byron figures he’d be homeless, but also has rock & roll aspirations; Rusty was an escort; Paul Norman is too
entrenched to even consider anything else (despite having managed XYZ at one time); Shayla LaVeaux thinks, “I would
like to go to school and take, um, psychology, and go and take some computers and stuff like that,” but porn was, “Like,
my job out of high school”; photographer Ron Vogel has devoted about 40 years to the Industry (“I can’t
imagine myself doing anything but what I’m doing.”); performer Britt O’Connell and her husband John plan
to open up a scuba diving school; and John Dough was a bartender and restaurant manager, but makes it clear that, “I’ll
never get out of this business. None of us will.”
The crew behind the actors and directors is approached as well, to get perspectives from a production assistant, gofer
& maintenance man (“I had to stay late and clean up shit last night, so… (shudder).” “Keep up
the good work!” Jeremy tells him.), a makeup artist & feminine topiary artist, production manager, producer, and
Chapter four takes on the issue of couples: how does one partner feel about the other getting fucked silly on film?
And sometimes even watching it happen on set? Because a performer can’t earn as much if they’re only willing to
work with their real-life lover, jealousy is an issue that has to be addressed. But for the most part it doesn’t appear
to be an issue. In one case, even, Naomi Thrust is actually glad that her boyfriend Nick East works with other women, even
though she won’t work with other men, because otherwise his sex drive would ‘wear her out.’ Alexis Devell
gets turned on watching her girlfriend Shayla La Veaux fuck other performers, and vice versa. On the other hand, Samantha
Strong tells a story of a boyfriend so jealous that he tried to buy all of her movies back from the production company. Woody
Long admits to getting jealous seeing his girlfriend Celeste getting overly turned on in a girl/girl scene, while Tracy West
and Sky Blue are exclusive onscreen and off. When Jeremy asks Tom Byron whether his girlfriends ever get jealous, his response
is, “Well of course, but I don’t care.”
The second segment in this episode goes in search of the locations at which all of these adult videos are shot. Most
films are made in California’s
San Fernando Valley, but multiple other homes, mansions, studios and outdoor settings in Southern
California are utilized as well. Like Cher’s Malibu
neighborhood. And the Avocado Ranch. Again, precautions against nosy onlookers need to be taken. Nobody wants little kids
peeking through the fence at the double anal scene.
The final chapter focuses on the embarrassing mistakes that sometimes take place on set. Porno bloopers, if you will
(man, does that sound dirty). This expands upon the subject addressed in the first episode, as Jeremy asks Nick West about
a particularly messy backdoor scene with Francesca Lee. “They want to know about this because it’s real and it’s
honest. And funny.” Take your enemas, ladies! And always watch out for the pop shot in the eye. Items such as rubbers
and sponges and the frustrations of the technicalities involved can all interfere with arousal. Bleeding in a scene is never
desirable, neither are couples fighting on set. Sometimes there will be an issue with premature ejaculation or forgetting
lines, etc., etc.
Agents, managers, critics (such as adult film historian Jim Holiday), writers, designers, and salesmen, the other essential
characters behind the films, are also briefly examined. As are the sex shops that stock the films and other essentials. Visits
are made to a duplication lab and warehouse, etc. Something of a wrap-up, but not exactly a climax to the series.
If you’re buying or renting this thinking it’s a porno, you’d be mistaken. Although there are multiple
action scenes, these are remarkably non-graphic. There are no scenes of penetration, monster shots, or money shots to be found
here. (There are a number of clean up shots, though.) Lots of tits & ass, but no genitals to speak of. While the documentary
series is definitely all about the porn, it’s more about what goes into the films than what comes out of them.
And it does seem that certain people were made for porn. Not everybody looks good naked, and it definitely takes a
particular type of constitution to do an anal scene in front of 20 people. Or to be a jizz-mopper, for that matter.
A lot of scenes are repeated from chapter to chapter, but in the context of a series this may not be as noticeable
as it is when you sit down to watch all five episodes at once.
No promotional material came with Porn-O-Rama, so I’m unsure as to
whether this was released as a cable series or a straight-to-video effort. Moderately interesting stuff, but I can’t
help but think that there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than they’re letting on. There’s definitely
some white-washing taking place here, and we’re not talking about the money shot. Where are the real stories? The parties,
the drugs, the busts, the suicides, the lawsuits, the celebrity partners the Industry attracts? Hollywood Babylon this is not.
So, while one episode may be informative or slightly arousing, I don’t know if you really need two and a half
hours of the stuff. Can’t really recommend it too highly.
A 2012 film about demonic influence doesn’t
really have a fair chance at breaking new ground, given the decades of progenitors who’ve haunted this shore before.
But the filmmakers give it a shot here in THE POSSESSION, managing to craft a fairly watchable and at times slightly unnerving
film that plays out the expectations in as entertaining a way possible.
Robert Downey, Jr.-lookalike Jeffrey Dean Morgan
is Clyde, an unsettled chap who grows even more so when his pixie kid Emily (Natasha Calis) snatches up an ornate old wooden
box among a pile of other detritus at a neighborhood yard sale. Of course the thing turns out to be a dybbuk box, a sort of
reliquary prison for a malicious dislocated spirit – in this case Abizu, “Taker of Children” – and
The expected amount of otherworldly hijinks occur,
spiritual psychokinesis, demonic voices, swarms of bugs, eye-rolling, transmigration and other parlor tricks, often drawing
more influence from Japanese cinematic mythology (THE GRUDGE, THE RING) than the Jewish traditions the lore of the storyline
is rooted in. And there’s a bit of family melodrama as well, seemingly the sole reason for Kyra Sedgwick’s grim
appearance as Clyde’s ex-.
But even on the small screen this manages to impart
a sense of unease, right from the beginning as the red-lighted EXIT sign looms over the menu options. Creepy things start
happening right away and just keep on happening, the magnetic attraction of the mysterious box is as undeniable as HELLRAISER’s
Lemarchand Configuration, dizzying overhead shots lend to the dissociation of the grave and the ethereal, and modern touches
like the demonic MRI imagery and the iPhone flashlight app used in spooky situations bring current technology into the scene
without resorting to the go-to of a haunted computer virus.
And of course it all comes to a neatly messy end that leaves open the gaping maw of sequel potential.
Nothing unexpectedly earth-shattering,
but a solid Halloween movie that’s fun to watch for what it is. Although I seem to recall one of the producers, a guy
named Sam Raimi, getting more promotional credit for THE POSSESSION than Ole Bornedal, director of this film and the Danish
TV movie MASTURBATOR…
Fans of the captured female/B&D genres have a bonanza here with Ravaged Behind Bars, a two-hour festival of exploitation culled from the Sadistic Seventies.
It begins with Prisoners of Pain, wherein a
woman wearing what looks like a red prom dress sits chained up in a cell. A man in bondage gear feeds her dog food and finger-fucks
her while his royal mistress masturbates theatrically, and the prisoner is then allowed to go down on the mistress’
blonde pussy while the guard takes her from behind. To the strains of scum-punk metal the Mentors would have been proud of,
the red-headed prisoner sucks his black dick and is then laid out and fucked. During the screwing the mistress massages the
guard’s ass, and when he’s ready for her the prisoner is dumped onto the floor so that the black guard can vigorously
take his lady in the ass. For the finale he frosts the prisoner’s face.
Vile scumcore continues to pound away on the soundtrack as Roxbury Press Presents a chapter
of Girls Behind Bars, “Interrogation” featuring the luscious and lusciously
submissive strawberry blonde Serena. Chained up by the wrists, she’s stripped and whippedby a sadistic and horny female guard (after of course undergoing a thorough body cavity search), and the
rebellious vixen is flogged severely for resisting such treatment. Getting excited now the guard strips out of her uniform,
displaying a fetishistic black lingerie ensemble, and Serena is taken down and bent over a stepladder, the better to present
her inviting ass as a target for punishment. At last, in tears, Serena is released so that she might eat her captor’s
cunt as a final humiliation.
Domination Blue starts off with some horse-cocked bloke banging away at a broad in a prison cell. The old drunken hippie lady in
the next cell masturbates with a (Barbie?) doll, while another uses a fork handle and yet another uses a dildo. The collective
moans increase until the guy pulls out his uncircumcised schlong and unloads. Shortly thereafter there’s a bit of an
uproar just before chow time, and one inmate appears to pull Oliver Twist’s “Please sir, I want some more”
routine. Entering her cell the bald black guard gives it to her, with a heaping scoop full of chili ladled over his rhinocerous-horn
cock! Yellow grease smears her face as the woman works away for her sour cream topping . . .
When two female convicts making out in Jailhouse
Fuck are caught by the guards, they’re punished with canings and forced oral sex. One of the girls is frigged with
the cane handle and then fucked by a black guard, sucking the load from his shaft as some misleadingly benign flower child
music plays in the background. The other girl helps the female guard administer a double blowjob to the third guard, then
is stripped and enjoyed by both. The prisoner eats pussy while taking it doggy style, and when he shoots in her face the female
guard makes sure to rub it in real good.
In Peggy’s Prison Punishment a seedy-looking
couple drags young Peggy down to a seedy-looking basement cell, where she’s shackled, stripped, and searched before
the real fun begins. She catches a whippin’, is forced to eat hairy bush, and gets paddled and beaten right into the
next segment, all to the tune of some whacked-out Japanese pop that segues perfectly into “Hold On (I’m Comin’).”
Diversions, arguably the volume’s finest segment, features a young hippie chick caught up in some Eastern European jail.
Judging from the Clockwork Orange sound effects and bizarre camera angles she’s
also tripping on acid, which makes her interrogation and abuse all the more intense. Forced to suck a rifle barrel she’s
then tied upright and slowly, slowly undressed and caressed by the mod-looking female kommandant. A switchblade is brought
into play, first as a threat but then as an erotic toy as the female guard uses it to trace her prisoner’s shapely contours
and slice off her garter belt. When it looks as if the young prisoner is about to be subjected to a serious ass-fucking by
some of the men the kommandant spares her, treating her instead to some vodka, a strip show, and a bit of cunnilingus. Their
embrace becomes more fevered as the prisoner enthusiastically thanks her captor, at which point one of the male guards enters
and slides it into the kommandant’s ass to pound way from above as the prisoner eats her out below. When he comes he
does so all over the prisoner’s bare breasts, and she and the kommandant share a final impassioned kiss that closes
out the scene. Slower and sexier than other scenes in the collection, this piece of film will be arousing even to non-B&D
aficionados thanks to the fine-looking women, their lesbian chemistry, and the seductive Sixties soundtrack.
Some sharply dressed mobster cats descend into the basement of Invitation, the better to check out the training sessions taking place in their own private cell block. In one
of the cells a frowsy matron beats hell out of her coke whore-looking daughter, whose nude body renders forth many a loud
smack as her mother’s whip wraps itself around her squirming ass. Then she gets a smouldering stick pushed into her
snatch. In another cell a statuesque blonde, tied to a bed, has her clothing torn off and is mauled and eaten by a brutish
lout who, once he has her warmed up, slides it home, stroking away until he finishes on her belly. Right away he’s ready
to go again, and while he’s at it the older broad from the first cell slinks in to administer the victim a little syringe
full of suger. Then she starts undressing . . .
Mod music kicks up again for The Prisoner, and
a woman sitting around smoking begins to fondle and undress herself (not without a little bit of ass-scratching). Hand between
her legs the lady blows a few smoke rings and seems to be enjoying herself quite nicely, that is until some guy in an executioner’s
hood barges in and starts spanking her around. Hogtied, the lady wriggles on the floor like a fish out of water until she’s
returned to the chair for binding and ball-gagging. As more Japanese pop pours out of the soundtrack she does a little go-go
dance of frustration as the camera comes back again and again to linger on her fishnet stockings and her slim topless figure.
Placed in the straw-filled dungeon basement of an unspeakable cult, Sarah (yet another
acid-damaged hippie chick) is about to be subjected to the Rites of Uranus. Reeling
from the shock of having apparently killed the cult’s leader, as well as from whatever bathtub chemistry she’s
been absorbing, the girl babbles away almost incoherently until getting the hard-on she’s been begging for by some young
Jack Nicholson-looking dude. Sucking him hard she rides him to orgasm, and later awakens to find her cage door open. Wandering
out she’s soon caught by the other cult members, and after more nonsense and bondage Sarah is placed spreadeagled on
the temple altar to be fucked by another hippie as the high priestess caresses her with a sword-handled dildo, “The
Sword of Uranus!” “Hail Uranusites!” the high priestess drawls as she pushes it between the guy’s
ass cheeks, and soon he’s sheathing his own sword in Sarah’s ass as the priestess pokes at her as well. With that
kind of action taking place it’s not long before he cleanses her ass cheeks with his Uranusite seed.
Segue into the DVD’s bonus gallery, a collection of stills from the reels just viewed
as well as similar fare from assorted ‘specialty’ magazines of the S&M/B&D variety. (Some of which, particularly
the black and white ones, are quite striking. Literally.) Also included as extras are trailers for Prison Babies (young Seventies broads wear yellow-striped tank tops, play Ping-Pong, and eat pussy in prison)
and the Big Tit Superstars and Sadistic
Ravaged . . . plays into a number of fetishes, specifically the authority figure’s right to power and lust and the scenarios
of sexual domination which naturally follow. The hitchhiker, the whore, the hippie, the random female, all are easily captured
and brought ‘home’ for fun and games by the men (and women) cruising for victims. The stereotypically pale and
hairy Seventies skinflick performer look accentuates the realism of the ‘caged’ setting, and the score, apparently
added later to compensate for damaged or missing soundtrack on the original film reels, balances that realism with a wildly
surreal musical selection. It’s unusual to find a hardcore fetish compilation of this length, especially on DVD, so
those in the market for such a collection will find their money well spent. And given the variety of bizarre, albeit similar,
scenarios played out in Ravaged Behind Bars, it’s bound (chortle) to initiate
a number of newcomers to the fold.
John Cusack is objectionable enough on his own, but
give him an excuse to overindulge in affected histrionics as he shoots down the legend of disturbed Romantic poet Edgar Allan
Poe and you’ve got a cart wreck that even great gouts of digital gore can’t cover. By turns pissy, weepy, pompous,
hysterical, and completely ineffectual, Cusack even has a hard time acting like he’s drinking as he slithers through
the labyrinth of a serial killer’s lethal infatuation with his work.
At a low point his career, Poe’s literally got the shakes: he’s having a hard
time feeding his habits, his lady has been abducted, and all of 19th century Baltimore is at the mercy of his stories
as their themes are used to dispatch citizens rather than properly reflecting the author’s self-proclaimed brilliance.
And while this could have all been conducted with a certain Gothic flair it just…isn’t. No matter what he does
Cusack’s Poe is a miserable creature, and the artifice and staging of the production give it a cardboard box feel that
diminishes it even further. Even the facial hair displayed so prominently throughout is abundantly fake. (And I wasn’t
kidding about the digital gore.)
My interest in the picture reached carpet stain level before it was half over – if
I’d been watching this at the Cineplex downtown I would have joined the winos in the restroom to slug minis and wash
my hair in the sink to lively up the event. But I maintained, only to find the entire effort too pathetic to even merit a
sound bashing. Junior high school-level tortured artist melodrama right through to the end – which doesn’t come
nearly soon enough.
One solid lesson was learned from watching
this however: the importance of due diligence regarding the maintenance of one’s Netflix queue. Because if you’re
not paying strict attention to what you’ve got in the queue and what you’re watching streaming, you might accidentally
waste your time watching something lousy online only to find it in your mailbox THE VERY NEXT DAY. Fuck.
Directed by Count Zee
Come on, how can you not have some fun with a film called Redneck Carnage?
It starts with our first redneck, Zeke (E-Man), stumbling
across a glowing green meteorite out in a pasture. Cautiously approaching the alien object, Zeke is suddenly hit in the face
with a squirt of alien goo the thing emits. And, cautiously, he tastes said goo. And not unlike that other alien, Bjork, he
gets “A weird expression on his face...”
And without further ado, the carnage begins. Not wasting
a minute, Zeke takes his hunting rifle on down to the local diner and blasts hell out of slacker-looking patrons, employees,
and an apparently random government “fuckin' spook” type. Chunky Hickston County Sheriff Hank (Derral Reynolds),
Deputy Troy (Eric Fisher) and another government agent, Agent Z (Eli Cunningham) respond to the scene, as does Bobby (Kenny
Kalinowsky), who'd just left his slacker-lookin' friends moments ago. And there at the diner they find, of course, ZOMBIES!
(Some of whom are particularly alien-looking in day-glo makeup and blood.) More carnage ensues. (“What a bad day!”)
Zeke meanwhile continues his rampage, shooting some Santa
Claus-lookin' fuck and his (my notes say:) facial-wearin' wife. Agent Z imitates Elwood Blues, and there are, of course, MORE
ZOMBIES! (“This is ridiculous!”). Deputy Troy, Agent Z and Morgan (Macy Elizabeth), the only member of a roller
derby crew they bothered to save while commandeering their van, head off to rendezvous with the besieged Sharon (Elaine Jenkins),
holed up in the county morgue-slash-storehouse-slash-armory.
Elsewhere SWAT goes marching in, and elsewhere still cannibal
killer “Hector Lamb” (Don [DJ] Samuels) escapes his police escort and turns tables by munching on some of the
zombie creeps himself. And then the biker gang shows up.
According to Sharon, a “bubble” in a nuclear
power plant recently caused the deaths of numerous workers; in a desperate attempt at a cover-up, an experimental chemical
(Zagatasm #9 - “never used in a practical environment”) was used to “jump start” the corpses' nervous
systems with predictable results. Hearing that story was more important than finding the armory, and when the group finally
does get to the guns and try to sneak out through a basement tunnel they find it by now infested with, wait for it, ZOMBIES!
For some reason this inspires the group to split up; the
guys go looking for a way to signal the National Emergency Response Network, while the girls get caught by, escape from, and
are recaptured by Hector Lamb. Whom they then eat.
The parties regroup, there's a little Killdozer
action, some zombie-fu, a whole bunch of undead clown-lookin' extras get wasted, there's a smoke alarm masquerading as a flying
saucer operated by some colorful Teletubby party apes, and a whole buncha other randomness happens to bring the story to fruition.
“Jesus H. Christ. Where do they come up with this
Moral of the story: Don't go 'round lappin' up stray alien
There's a fair amount of green screen-looking shots, makeup
that at points looks like Kermit's facepaint, some half-hearted fight choreography... But throughout it all there is the spirit
of great fun, and you can't help but think this thing was a blast to make. And probably best viewed at a screening filled
with drunken redneck punks.
* (probably * * * if you can catch it big-screen)
After a standard
rasher of trailers, disc one of the deluxe double-DVD Rene Bond Roughie Triple Feature package rolls right into Rendezvous in Hell, directed by Jimmy De Knight. A vintage red Maverick pulls up at a gas station, and at gunpoint
some grease monkey is forced to…shammie his hands? A whole lotta confusing shit happens involving a white convertible,
a gunshot, and a bunch of people running around, and the next thing we know the Maverick is tearing ass through the streets
of Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, holed up in some shotgun shack, a couple of trashy dames are waiting for another pair of trashy dames. When
they arrive trash talk ensues, and it’s told that the ladies’ four ambitious and able-bodied boyfriends are even
now out knocking over a gas station. Instead of holding up a bank, or anything that would net them more than $96.00. “Welcome
to Hell,” says one of the broads, and she ain’t kidding.
With nothing else to do but read magazines, the chicks soon start getting it on with each other. And for the record,
none of these gals are top-quality felines. Even Ms. Bond’s looking a little sloppy here. So it goes without saying
that the cat-licking is none too arousing. (On an odd aside, one of the girls kind of looks like the little sister from Squirm.)
Much hairy bush-gnawing later, the gals’ old men come home and, having apparently blundered their feeble heist,
proceed to beat hell out of the broads with their belts. Or at least pretend to – there’s not a lot of fight in
A make-up makeout follows, during which the radio announces that during a recent gas station hold-up an attendant was
critically wounded. It turns out the guys in the white convertible were cops who gave chase, but the suspects got away.
Thinking fast, the guys decide to party. One girl breaks out the booze (well, she’s told to, anyway) while another
breaks out the boobs. And the jelly roll. Soon they all get undressed and couple up for some Pillsbury porking. A gooey cumshot
or two follows, and you can practically smell the romance.
Over the radio it is announced that the gas station attendant has just died. That tears it for the black dude, who
jumps up and tries to split. But one of the white cats pops him before he can reach the door, and his girl gets shot as well
for daring to object. Well, at least that evens things out a bit. For dramatic effect the camera sweeps upward to zoom in
on…the stage rafters?
Rene and her fellow retire to a back bedroom to get it on in private. But as they get down to it they’re interrupted
by the fat bitch, who is apparently also crazy as she stabs them both to death without explanation.
One of the other ‘gangsters’ runs in and guns the girl down, then returns to the living room to watch the
last surviving couple have white trash motel sex in front of him. Hell, he even moves in for a piece himself.
After that, they all just sit around waiting for the sirens.
The second feature on disc one, The Partnership, begins with a sweet black
Cadillac picking up young Ms. Tucker in a suburban neighborhood. The Caddy is driven by Mr. Charlie Logan, who is collecting
his secretary in order that she might accompany him to a business meeting.
Cut to some garish fuck pad where some pretty young thing on a combination of drugs and a pretty older dame are lounging
on the couch. Big Bill comes in, hungover, shortly before Logan and Tucker arrive. Bill can only stand the briefest of business
talks, and brushes off Logan so that he can retreat to sleep it off. The older
broad, Lil, takes charge, leading Logan into another room and proceeding to lay
Out in the living room a new broad, Bridgit (Rene Bond), comes in and starts feeling up Ms. Tucker. When the prudish
secretary resists, Bill’s male assistant steps in to occupy Bridgit’s attentions. The stoned-looking girl meanwhile
goes into Bill’s room and starts playing with him. Everybody starts going at it, with lots of bushy oral foreplay. Everybody
except for Ms. Tucker that is, who’s content to play solitaire in the living room.
But after we’re treated to a pearl necklace shot, Tucker suddenly gets the hot pants. “I’m tired
of playing the old maid!” she declares, stripping down and climbing into bed with Lil and her boss. Jumping right up
on Logan’s Johnson, Ms. Tucker rides him until he spews all over her ass.
Still nude, all three run into Bill’s room and pile onto the bed for a goopy free-for-all. Much zits ‘n
ass later the film climaxes with a montage of money shots and orgy highlights.
Disc two’s feature film is The Heist. A doughy Goldie (Rene Bond)
and her John Joey have just called a girlfriend of hers to come over and join them in the sack. See, Goldie doesn’t
like it in the mouth, and her friend Gloria “doesn’t like it in the cunt,” so between the three of them
there’s a semi-swinging time on the horizon.
But that ain’t Gloria knocking at the hotel room door just now; two burly goons, Sam and Charlie, have tailed
Joey to Chicago from Los Angeles to
collect the cash he owes their boss, Big Mike. Joey’s got some of the money on him, but he’s a little short. The
muscle boys give him a week to pay it back, with interest, and instead of taking it out of his ass they’re gonna take
it out of Goldie’s. And Gloria’s, who couldn’t have picked a worse time to walk into the room. A sloppy,
softcore four-way follows.
Joey walks the streets, desperately scheming away, but the most he can manage is a petty liquor store knock-off. Advice
from a goon says, “You were big in the porno movie business one time. All you’ve got to do is shoot a couple of
reels and you’ve got the bread.” That’s a little more complicated than what Joey-boy was planning, but he
doesn’t really have much choice, seeing as how he’s got less than two days to tally up.
Setting up the hotel bedroom as a makeshift studio, Joey calls down for one of the hotel’s stenographers. Who,
of course, is more than eager to break into Joey’s world of “Hollywood.”
And after eight rums on the rocks, she does. (Now there’s a fun drinking game: how many drinks does it take until you’re
a porn star?)
Joey’s got her naked and spreadeagled on the bed in the very next scene. “You sure are a fine producer,”
she exclaims as he goes down on her for the camera. The sex is extremely unremarkable, by the way, with close-ups of the faces
taking the place of penetration.
Meanwhile, Sam and Charlie are still banging away at Goldie and Gloria, but it’s pretty much the same deal and
we really don’t care about that. Except for the fact that they get a call from Big Mike, telling them to pay a visit
to his daughter Candy there in Chicago after they’ve taken care of business.
Next thing we know the work is complete, and Joey hands over the reel of film to Big Mike’s boys. They airmail
the thing to L.A. so Big Mike can begin distribution right away, then swing by
to see the boss’ daughter. And who should they find but Candy, who just couldn’t be more excited about the beginning
of her new career…
A special footnote to this flick: although there’s no real sex or action to speak of (sure, there’s some
cunnilingus, but eating pussy does not a porn classic make), and the sound is terrible, man o’ man, what a mutton chop-o’rama!
Also on this disc is a truly massive trailer vault, providing greasy glimpses of the extensive 8mm Madness, Storefront
Feature, and Grindhouse Director Series lines of re-releases.
Grainy, poorly-dubbed, washed-out, sleazy, cheap sex action at it’s lowest. Yeah, these are rough all right –
rough on your sense of arousal, that is. Whoever put this together really reached down, back and deep for these soiled nuggets.
I guess in an archival sense that’s all right, but I don’t think most of the target demographic is watching this
in order to take notes on 20th Century stag, do you? Christ, each of these reminds me of the kind of bad porno
you’d pass around as a kid, knowing that while it really wasn’t that good, well, it was the only one you had.
Apparently Rene Bond had something of a following, thanks to the number of films in which she appeared. Not being a
particularly big fan myself I haven’t seen many of these outings, but the films presented here simply cannot be some
of her best. She is just not in fine form here, looking headed straight down the slippery slope to the sticky stool at the
end of a dive bar. All the liner notes have to say on the subject of her end is, “…Reports of her early death
appear to be true.”
One of the things the liner notes also mention a couple
of times is that this set of ‘saved’ films belongs to the “found in the trash, but don’t call it garbage”
family. Given the quality of the material and its place in the pornography kingdom, I’m very comfortable with keeping
it in the garbage family.
Additional bonus materials include a full color set of
liner notes and a fold-out mini-poster of the DVD cover.
from Blade Runner, Shakespeare, Dr. Adder,
David Bowie and countless splatter films, the filmmakers of Repo! have come up
with a schlock cabaret performance that melds gothic fetishism with the off-Broadway musical. Throw in a little painful adolescent
angst and you’ve got a big hit with the kids, right? Right?
Taking place in “The not-too-distant future,” Repo! plays out
in a world where organ failure is so common it has spawned not only an industry of organ transplantation but also of organ
financing: those who have organs replaced but default on their payments are liable to experience summary organ repossession,
with fatal results. Consequently voluntary surgery becomes the rage, but the industry’s need for a new anesthetic also
gives rise to the Oxycontin of the future, Zydrate. The addictive nature of the drug makes its users ripe for exploitation,
and the demand is so great that the street version of the painkiller is acquired from the heads of corpses.
The storyline centers around the conflict between two families: the more formidable are the Largos, whose patriarch
Rotti (Paul Sorvino) founded organ replacement giant GeneCo and whose children Luigi (Bill Moseley), Pavi (Ogre) and Amber
Sweet (below) are already vying for the mantle of ownership in light of Rotti’s own progressive organ failure.
The second family is the Wallaces, consisting solely of ailing young shut-in Shilo (Alexa Vega) and her surgeon father
Nathan (Anthony Stewart Head). Unbeknownst to Shilo not only is Nathan the most feared organ repo man in the field, but with
Rotti’s occult assistance he accidentally killed his wife (and Rotti’s old flame) Marni while looking for a cure
for the disease.
Internecine manipulation and antagonism follow, as do cross-clan alliances, with the blood disease of organ failure
perhaps (perhaps) serving as a metaphor for the dangers of… Incest? Playing god? Stage plays?
Once the dramatic climax of “The Opera” finally arrives we’re treated to an organ replacement revival
leading to an apparent lip-syncing horrorshow by Blind Mag (Sarah Brightman in a role that should have gone to Sarah Michelle
Gellar), Rotti’s contract girl and godmother to Shilo. (And a textbook example of how a performer should end an opera.)
But it’s not over yet, as the dysfunctional stage show continues to play out in increasingly traumatic fashion.
Well, traumatic to the senses of hearing and plot stereotypes, anyway. And then, “And so GeneCo’s story continues…”
Being a “genetic opera,” most of the lines in the film are sung, not spoken. And let me say right here
that a lot of them are just awkward and bad. Like, sphincter-wrinkling bad. (“I cannot be outside / I have a blood disease!”).
This gets old in a hurry. As does the sing-song carnival barker routine of our narrator The Graverobber (Terrance Zdunich,
who along with Darren Smith wrote the original stage play and screenplay); no matter how he tries, he’s no Frank N.
The story is also partially told in the cheap and trendy graphic novel style, taking a comic panel approach to plot
development. None too impressive, but it is easier to read than to listen to.
Of course fare this poor has to host actors exponentially more poor; enter Paris Hilton as Amber Sweet, the singing
trainwreck daughter of Rotti Largo. And from the moment she appears onscreen you can’t help but hope this plastic-surgery-disaster-in-waiting
is in for another House of Wax-style demise. Partially for the lifelong media circus,
but largely because I’d rather tickle my ass with a prickly pear than listen to her try to sing another note. (“I
don’t care! / It’s not fair!”)
Closely matching Amber’s awful performance however is Shilo’s discomfiting turn on stage with her gothic
Hannah Montana number (“I’m Seventeen!”). Enough said.
Lots of gory eviscerations and murders can’t fully disguise the fact that this is awful melodrama masquerading
as high art. You may be thinking, Just how bad can a bad costume drama really be? Well, this one’s so bad it makes the
fearsome Bill Moseley, veteran Chainsaw enthusiast and Devil’s Reject, look
like a spoiled vaudeville twat. It’s so bad it makes Cats seem like a good
idea. It’s so bad it makes Tim Burton’s films look realistic. It’s so bad…no, I won’t say it.
Bonus features include trailers and the featurettes “From
Stage to Screen” and “Legal Assassin: A Repo Man on the Edge.”
it is all meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but the taste this left in my mouth only reminded me of one kind of cheek.
Matrix saga continues with the fourth live-action Resident Evil film in the franchise, Resident Evil: Afterlife. The
fourth Resident Evil film (after the original, Apocalypse
and Extinction) written by Paul Anderson (director of the amazing Event Horizon), and the second directed by him, this one again finds the awesome and exquisite Milla Jovovich
(got doubts about that? watch The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, wherein
she goes through the entire film with an expression of orgasmic awe on her face) returning as Alice, the genetically enhanced
warrior woman tasked by fate with battling an army of zombies that have overwhelmed Earth and the Umbrella Corporation that
unleashed them. (Warning: Spoiler!)
Chapter four begins with super-bad ninja bitch Alice invading the massive Umbrella Corporation Headquarters in Tokyo
to do battle with the Japanese Umbrella Army. Wait, it’s actually a whole gang squad of super-bad ninja bitch Alice
clones, and they proceed to slaughter a shitload of Umbrellas in a battle during which hundreds of bullets and blades of glass
fly. No matter how many Alices are dropped, more of them keep on coming until a colossal purge of the facility results in
some kind of immense fission reaction that wipes out the entire complex (and most of Tokyo as well).
Bad guy Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) gets away in his Black Ops-style helicopter, only to find that the ‘real’
Alice has stowed away on board. They engage in some mid-air martial artistry,
but not before he injects her with a virus that immediately begins attacking and destroying the very ‘T-cells’
that give Alice her superhuman powers.
But Wesker still has his, and he gets the drop on Alice. So busy with his
melodrama is he however that he fails to notice the altimeter reading; by the time the aircraft’s warning system kicks
in it’s too late, and the collision course cannot be corrected. Alice alone
is seen stumbling away from the flaming wreckage.
“Six months later,” Alice
is piloting a two-seater towards Alaska and the safe haven of Arcadia,
a place that anonymous radio transmissions promise to be infection-free. She lands in an airfield that shows no signs of life,
but does discover the abandoned helicopter she watched Claire Redfield, K-Mart, and the other survivors take to the skies
in long ago. Glimpsing a figure running across her peripheral vision Alice gives
chase, and is suddenly attacked by none other than Claire herself (Ali Larter). Claire is in a savage and disheveled state,
and has some kind of spidery electronic device attached to her chest. Alice subdues
the wild woman and removes the device, but Claire remains hostile and apparently unable to recognize her savior.
The effects of the drug the device was feeding Claire gradually begin to wear off, and she slowly starts to regain
her memory in bits and pieces. The two fly back down south to Los Angeles, which
from a distance shows no signs of activity but for huge columns of smoke rising up from multiple locations throughout the
city. But as they get closer they spot distress signals, and fly over a group of survivors who have barricaded themselves
inside the city jail. Now surrounded by a horde of several thousand hungry zombies.
After barely making a very dicey rooftop landing, Alice and Claire meet the first living humans they’ve seen
in a long, long time. Banded together by necessity are Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), apparently the leader of the group, mechanic
Angel Ortiz (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), former producer Bennett (Kim Coates), the whiny useless pain in everyone’s ass,
Crystal, Wendell and Kenyo. And then there’s Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller), Claire’s brother, locked up in
the basement. Apparently the others found him in the building and didn’t put much stock in his story that he’s
not a prisoner, but instead a member of a military unit assigned to maintain order there who was knocked out during a prison
From them the newcomers learn that Arcadia isn’t the desolate haunt
from which Alice retrieved Claire, but an aircraft carrier moored just outside
the Port of Los Angeles. Unfortunately
Arcadia’s radio broadcasts ceased a couple of days before, and the crew
has been unresponsive to flares sent up by the group trapped in the city.
The survivors’ interest in reaching the ship is heightened by the breakthrough of their barricades, as the ghouls
tunnel up from the sewers beneath the basement and, aided by an undead Goliath wielding an enormous axe-hammer, knock down
the reinforced main gate on the ground level. In a bid for escape the group releases Chris from his Lecter-style holding cell,
based upon his claims to know of an escape route and a fully-stocked armory. But the armored Urban Pacification Vehicle he
leads them to happens to be missing an engine, and the armory is situated underneath two levels of floodwater.
Running battles occur throughout the prison complex as the invasion intensifies, with the more disposable characters
being dragged away into the zombies’ larder. Bennett shows his true colors by shooting Angel and taking off in Alice’s
plane, and some rather improbable escape routes are taken by the remainder of the group through which they somehow manage
to make it through the storm drains and nab a boat at the marina. (But not before a good end level-style boss battle with
the axe-wielding behemoth – the only disappointment being that we never get to see the monster’s face, covered
as it is, Jason Voorhees-style, in a burlap sack.)
Motorboating out to Arcadia the diminished band finds the safe haven on
the sea apparently deserted. Even Alice’s plane, crashed on the deck, is
empty. According to the ship’s log, the entire crew abandoned ship in the lifeboats just two days ago.
Descending to Hole 87-C in the bowels of the ship the group finds a cavernous storage facility filled with stasis chambers
containing the bodies of other survivors being maintained by the Umbrella Corporation for experimentation. K-Mart (Spencer
Locke, a token figure who appears on-screen maybe five or six times) is among the guinea pigs, and she is released to join
the small crew. But also waiting down below is Wesker, whose new boy Bennett holds a gun on Alice as the Umbrella man explains
how he was brought back by the T-Virus. His strength and speed have been increased exponentially, the only drawback being
that he needs a constant influx of fresh human DNA to keep the virus under control. Wesker doesn’t see this as a disadvantage
at all, however, and is in fact looking forward to ingesting Alice at that very
As Wesker is joined by his mutant attack dogs Alice is joined in battle
by the Redfields; Wesker’s evil Keanu Reeves impersonation isn’t quite sufficient to save him however, nor Bennett
who is locked into a sealed chamber with several undead bodies. (Another disappointment: although we hear Bennett’s
screams we don’t actually get to see his undoubtedly grisly end.)
There’s another improbable sequence in which Wesker somehow escapes the ship, but doesn’t, and the hope-inspiring
end scene of freed survivors gathering on the deck of the Arcadia is overshadowed
by an entire fleet of Umbrella army helicopters soaring in for an attack landing. And they’re led by a queen bitch who
has her sights set on Project Alice…
There are loads of super-cool slow motion action sequences where people and projectiles fly through the air during
numerous scenes of carnage, keeping the action level high and intriguing. The undead seem to have been evolving as well, some
of them, even the dogs, now being able to split their maws and extend a clutch of hungry tentacles which gives them a certain
hint of Cthulhuana which is really pretty wicked.
The film is fun to watch and maintains a fairly high pace, so it’s definitely entertaining despite some less
than top-notch acting. Worth seeing, if maybe not a must-have for the home collection.
Bonus features include commentary by director
and producers, casting and action segments, a bunch of previews, and a “Sneak Peak of Resident Evil: Damnation,” “An Original CG Motion Picture Coming Soon in 3D.” This appears to
take place in WWII Eurpoe, but there aren’t a lot of scenes or plot information there however. I always did hate those
full-length CGI films anyway: it’s like sitting through a 90-minute video game that you don’t get to play.
* * *
Directed by Nigel Wingrove
“In the Midst of Life We Are In Death.” Produced by infamous UK horror/fetish studio Salvation Films, Sacred Flesh looked to be a blasphemous combination of theology and perversion taking place in the ripest of settings,
an Inquisition-era convent.
Credits play out over “Piss Christ”-style imagery, which opens up into the courtyard of a verdigris-stained
abbey wherein the Reverend Mother (Moyna Cope) is refuting gossip by the younger nuns that their Mother Superior (Sally Tremaine)
is possessed by the Devil. There is something troubling Mother Superior however, and be it “devils or her own dementia”
her ravings of visions and lush improprieties committed by the sisters inspires the Reverend Mother to send a missive to the
Abbot, Father Henry (Simon Hill), requesting his intervention.
Accompanied by his squire Richard (Christopher Adamson) Father Henry sets out on horseback to investigate, relating
along the way that similar outbreaks of hysteria have been springing up in convents all across England.
Father Henry uses these events as examples in support of his generally low view of women, especially nuns whose obsession
with chastity interferes with what he considers their only real qualities of value.
Mother Superior, meanwhile, continues to experience her troubling visitations. Finding herself before the throne of
Mary Magdalene (Kristina Bill), set against a shifting backdrop of illuminated manuscripts, Mother Superior is engaged by
the biblical whore in a debate involving hypocrisy, desire, “latent carnality” and temptation. Counteracting these
dangerously mind-opening discussions Mother Superior is also regularly visited by the figure of Sister Death, a skeletal figure
in a nun’s habit who encourages/warns her to maintain chastity in mind, body and spirit.
Arriving at the abbey Father Henry meets with the Reverend Mother and quickly learns more about the madness flooding
the region’s convents. All of their holy concern hasn’t yet made an impact upon Mother Superior’s condition
however, as within her cell she continues to battle personal demons of fantasy and denial. As she prays over specific examples
of the sins of her sisters, these sins take form in lurid golden-hued flashbacks of nuns yielding to “the Devil’s
tentacles,” succumbing to temptation and desire and giving in to acts of masturbation, lesbianism, bondage and more.
We witness the joint confessions of Sisters Mary and Helena, who submit to the temptations of each others’ flesh despite
their attempts to beat out the flames of desire through flagellation. As she envisions the Sisters’ lusty embraces this
spectacle, real or imaginary as it may be, causes the Mother Superior herself to try and drive her own sin out with a cat-o-nine
And let us not forget Sister Catherine’s tryst with Fathers James and Peter – “For them her body
became a vessel for their corrupt seed.” Cue fantasy sequence of the young nun giving confession, and from there being
pulled into a vile three-way with the horny priests. In true cenobite fashion, yet: “We will help you to resist desire.
But first you must know desire, and this we will instill in you.”
Or the instance in which “popular” Sister Helen, Sister Theresa and Sister Jane are all getting it on,
excluding the jealous Sister Anne. Who, in a fit of envy, decides to get one of the Sisters busted for frigging herself at
night. In return the remaining Sisters capture and “punish” Anne in a scene straight out of a gay pulp magazine.
(Props, bondage, habits and all, this scene is pretty steamy for a softcore shoot and will definitely leave some Catholics
As always the Mother Superior’s visions of these lecherous acts are just a bit too vivid for the old girl to
bear. In between scenes of fevered eroticism Mother Superior continues to lose points in her rational arguments with Sister
Death and Mary Magdalene alike, and caught between these figures of her psyche representing the extremes of her vows and her
desires, Mother Superior is forced to make a final choice.
Mother Superior – martyr in the making, or simply another frustrated institutionalized nympho? Can’t say,
that’d be cheating.
A contrived excuse
to display lesbian nuns in action… I like it! Softcore porn with religious trappings doesn’t make for a bad watch
at all, eagerly appealing to lowbrow fans of The Dwarves while at the same time offering enough theosophical argument to appease
the pretentiously arty crowd. Which, in all likelihood, will comprise a larger portion of the audience. While Sacred Flesh most definitely has its charms, the picture is a little too fancy and soft to be a riveting denouncement
of the sexual oppression of organized religion. To truly reveal the torments of those battling with their conscience on the
brink of damnation, something crossing Caligula with Salo and utilizing extremes of harder sex and more severe punishment would be needed to convey the peaks and depths
of ultimate physical and moral conflict. As it stands Sacred Flesh is too busy
being a high-minded art film to really get inside one’s soul and wrestle with the Devil.
Which isn’t to say it’s not a good looking film, or an intriguing one. With its fine photography and production
the film is a well-made and visually appealing one, one that as stated above has the capacity to appeal on multiple levels.
The plot may be fairly shallow, but it does provide an ample playground for the script’s ramblings on temptation and
redemption. There is actually some rather good anti-church propaganda laid out here, as along with getting in any number of
good lines against the oppressive institution the church’s rigorous standards of chastity and obedience appear to lead
to acts more depraved, and mental conditions more troubling, within the institution than outside of it. And the sex scenes,
while definitely of the softcore variety, are still considerably more erotic than some.
A good film then, but not a great one, Sacred Flesh perhaps won’t
join the list of “taboo” underground classics but ought to make a fine background screening for any number of
The DVD comes complete with trailers (a lesbian nun “teaser” as well as a full and explicit theatrical
version), images from promotional materials, soundtrack packaging and storyboards, and a wide variety of photo stills (some
of which are quite sexy) and behind the scenes snapshots. (Not to mention the option of an audio commentary to the widescreen
You can tell this one’s gonna be good, because not only is it called Satan’s
Blood (AKA Escalofrio; fucking Satan’s Blood, man!) but you see bush
within the first five minutes. After that the balding Satanic monk who’s been nuzzling the victim’s bare breasts
sacrifices her to the dark lord, making Satan’s Blood a most promising piece
of exploitation horror indeed.
Once the credits play out we find pregnant couple Ana and Andres Baker tooling around town trying to decide how to
spend the holiday. On the street they meet up with Bruno and Mary, ‘old friends’ of Andres’ that he doesn’t
remember at all. Inviting the expectant couple back to their place for wine and cheese, the old friends lead Ana and Andres
to a remote chateau far out in the middle of the country.
And that’s when the strangeness starts; Mary locks up the visitors’ dog Blackie and eats face-first from
what looks like a sterling silver doggie bowl of raw meat; Andres can’t recognize himself in the class photograph Bruno
shows him, even though his name and address are penciled in on the back amongst a series of strange symbols; and the only
parlor game they seem to have in the house is Ouija. A morbid round of questioning the Mystifying Oracle follows, with unpleasant
intimations made all around until Ana is driven to collapse.
By now of course it’s after dark and a severe storm has set in, leading the hosts to insist that their guests
stay overnight. In the middle of the night Ana, looking for her dog, is attacked and nearly raped by the bearded bum who’s
been skulking about the grounds since they arrived. She fights him off and runs back upstairs to Andres, and as they seek
out their hosts to find out just what the hell is going on they find Bruno and Mary in front of the fireplace in the midst
of some nude Satanic ritual. For some reason the visitors are easily enchanted into joining them; there’s some chanting
and the rubbing on of oil, and before you know it there’s a full-on (softcore) Satanic orgy taking place.
Afterward the couples retire to their respective bedrooms for more sex, however Ana’s evening is disturbed by
the sound of the derelict who nearly raped her getting murdered by another shadowy figure. And a bloody-mouthed antique doll
walking into the room toward her. And Mary coming into her room with a knife; but instead of stabbing Ana, Mary assaults her
sexually, and when a panicky Ana stabs Mary in the back she wakes up from her nightmare in a cold sweat.
Ana somehow manages to get back to sleep, but the next day she and Andres find that they’ve slept well into the
afternoon. Not only that, but the house is deserted and their car and dog are missing. Looking for something to eat the couple
finds a room filled with witchy objects, including a photograph of them that they don’t ever remember having taken.
The hosts return with their new friends’ car, and despite the offer of lunch the guests are by now more than
ready to say goodbye. Unfortunately their car won’t start for them. As the men tinker with it, under Andres’ growing
suspicions, Ana finds Blackie hung up on a meathook in the kitchen.
As the guests try once more to leave they’re called back inside by a gunshot and a scream – Bruno has apparently
shot himself. He dies even as Mary goes to fetch a doctor, and all the physician can do is pronounce him dead, utter a Satanic
sacrament over his body and leave.
Puzzling over all of the rather strange things they’ve witnessed over the past two days Ana and Andres suddenly
notice that they haven’t seen Mary around for a while, and breaking into a bathroom upstairs they find her in the tub
with her wrists slit. They bandage her up as best as they can and put her to bed, but when Mary wakes up and starts demanding
death in a demonic voice Andres loses it and strangles her.
As the panicked couple hurries to erase all trace of their presence at the house a very pale Mary comes downstairs
with a revolver, and in the ensuing struggle Andres is shot in the arm and Mary is killed, again. They carry her up and put
her back in the tub, only to find that Bruno’s body has disappeared when they return to the first floor.
Racing outside the couple finds that their car finally starts for them but…Ana has left her bag inside. As Andres
goes back to retrieve it a revenant Bruno approaches; Andres is saved from Bruno’s obvious bad intentions only by Ana’s
rushing in and shooting the zombie in the face.
The creepy walking doll appears again, and Andres blasts its head into shards of porcelain and blood. With this the
entire house seems to scream, as shutters slam and doors lock. Running through the damned house Ana and Andres manage to escape
through the kitchen, but before leaving they can’t resist opening up the large refrigerator that’s been secretively
locked throughout the entire film: it’s filled with blood, meat and a human head.
The couple flees in their car, running down another sinister figure that’s been lurking around the grounds, this
one a Satanic-looking monk. Somehow they manage to find their way back to the city through miles of darkened country road,
arriving at their apartment only to find it empty – stripped clean. Seeing the young couple’s distress their neighbors
kindly invite them into their apartment…an offer which just might close the Satanic circle Ana and Andres have been
traveling through this entire time.
Not a perfect film perhaps, but as a haunted house picture loaded with Satanic symbolism it does manage to satisfy
on numerous levels. After all, it’s hard to go wrong with violent murder and Satanic orgies. And the ending only reinforces
the whole ‘villa of the damned’ theme that’s been building throughout the entire film.
In the process
the film treats viewers to some great cinematography, capturing medieval gargoyles and statuary in a city park and providing
most atmospheric shots of the unwelcoming country home in windy weather. This DVD features a crystal clear “Brand new
Hi Def digital master” of the 1977 uncut European version of the film in both English and the original Spanish.
Bonus features include an informative essay by Pete Tombs about the Spanish “S” rating for sexually provocative
and often violent films such as this one, including the reminder that the producer of Satan’s
Blood was Juan Piquer Simon, director of the wonderfully infamous Pieces. Another
extra is an alternate opening in the form of an uptight ‘informative’ lecture, there’s a stills gallery,
and a documentary entitled “The Devil’s Disciples: Gavin Baddeley on 20th Century Satanism” which
I skipped over once I realized it was a narrative by a CoS member.
mysterious doin’s a-transpirin’ at Ms. Beezle’s Diablo School for Girls, as all who venture there come to
learn. Chicks are disappearing all over the place, and when ditzy reporter Kelli Summers and hapless coed Misty Mundae enter
Diablo’s blasphemous halls to investigate or enroll they become enmeshed in a demonic web of murder, Satanic intrigue,
and, gasp!, lesbianism.
that’s the film in a nutshell. Not too abominable in concept, no, but in execution this fucker is practically agonizing.
The entire film is like the start of some bad porno, but without the porno part following as a payoff after the dimwitted
T&A you’ve just been made to endure. Instead all you get are some mildly cute but thoroughly annoying girls (also
featured are Darian Caine, Barbara Joyce, Ruby LaRocca, and Cherry Moonshine) showing off nips and bush while simulating oral
sex and object insertion as they engage in uninspired lesbian fakery (other than a brief token appearance by Factory 2000’s
William Hellfire the ‘action’ is strictly girl-on-girl) and a little bit spanking (how racy!). To make matters
even worse some of these scenes are incredibly long, making what would be overly lengthy shots in a real porno seem practically
unendurable in this watered-down format. Even the “Satanic” angle is played down so much as to be practically
nonexistent, removing any hope of occult interest or fetish from a film that could have used all the help it could get. So
basically what you’ve got here is a sub-par softcore slutfest of the lowest variety (when not making the concerted effort
to keep their knees closed (how enticing is that?), some characters even pretend to have sex with their pants on, for fucksake!),
something to be avoided at all costs by anyone with a libido or the faintest of interest in Satanic cinema.
after all of the bad words above about the project, I’ve gotta say that the poster for Satan’s School For Lust is pretty fucking cool as an appealingly sleazy bit of lesbian sexploitation art.)
a bonus feature, the Satan’s School For Lust DVD comes with director West’s
first film, Blood For the Muse. A black & white video treatment of West’s
own “cult horror comic” of the same name, Blood For the Muse is an
independent no-budget flick that manages to be a better picture than West’s later more “mature” work.
Blood . . . doesn’t
start off on a strong note, opening up with what looks like some bad pulp adventure stage play from the Forties. (An amulet
sought after by various stereotypes is used to summon up “The Muse,” with dire results.) But this melodramatic
cheese is quickly shut off as Josh’s (Josh Robinson) boss tells him to quit watching that crap (titled Cincinnati Smith
and the Temple of the Dark Muse) and get back to work. As he stocks the shelves of the cult video store where he works, Josh’s
inner monologue tells of his resentment of the daily grind and his aspirations toward higher, more atavistic ideals. When
not at work and cursing all of humanity, Josh fucks call girls in his basement apartment then feeds them a drug overdose,
stabs them to death, and buries them at an abandoned drive-in theater. Not just for fun though – he’s actually
trying to find the proper ritual necessary to summon Melpomene, The Muse of Tragedy. His efforts so far haven’t been
successful, as they lack the true element of fatal melodrama that The Muse requires (dead fat hookers just don’t cut
if with Melpomene), but after dispatching a number of victims (including the topless “special appearance” of Penthouse
Pet Tammy Parks) Josh meets Sara (Tina Krause), the new chick in town. As they get closer Josh begins to fall in love with
her, but also comes to realize that it is precisely the sacrifice of this very love that just might satiate The Muse . . .
while the expected tragic ending may be a bit underdone, Blood For the Muse still
has a fair number of things going for it. Despite its morbidly generic philosophy it’s a much more honest and watchable
picture than the DVD feature, at least trying to present a story rather than losing itself in watching girls pretending to
get it on with one another. The visuals are fitting to the story, aptly illustrating Josh’s work and bloody home-life
as well as the sprawl of urban decay in which the tale takes place, there’s a decent gothic soundtrack that at times
approaches a Julee Cruise/This Mortal Coil style, and on the side of gratuity there’s plenty of blood and breasts to
be had throughout. The running blend-in of the Cincinnati Smith picture, which very closely matches Josh’s own quest,
does get a bit stale, but this is perhaps meant to reflect Josh’s hopeless confusion of reality and adult comic fantasy.
The acting is none too stellar however, which is perhaps to be expected, and the halting, somewhat stereotypical dialogue
(“There are things about me you probably couldn’t understand . . .”) often comes around to a preachy self-indulgent
theosophy. But a number of films have fared far worse, and while it may be no champion on its own, as a decent first effort
that literally overshadows its flashier softcore feature Blood For the Muse is
a most welcome bonus indeed.
What could be better than a good haunted house movie? (Aside from a haunted-house-in-outer-space movie along the lines of
Alien or Event Horizon.) How about a
good haunted madhouse movie? I’ve heard differing opinions regarding this modern classic, but have to stand by it as
a milestone in the genre for a number of reasons.
away the film takes an unusual turn in its choice of protagonists and setting; a HazMat elimination team headed by Gordon
Fleming (Trainspotting’s Mother Superior, Peter Mullan) is bidding on a contract
to strip out the enormous Danvers State Hospital, a psychiatric facility operating from the 1870s to 1985 and still standing
thanks only to its landmark status. The old institution is a massive place, with mazes of multi-leveled staircases, floors,
and hallways creating a dark and dusty labyrinth that seems to stretch out for miles (the 500-acre grounds even include a
750-plot cemetary and a sizeable Civil Defense shelter), and it's filled with decades-old waste and toxic insulation. The
job seems to speak to Gordon right away, and desperate for the work he undercuts a competitor’s bid and gives the caretaker
a ridiculously short estimated time of completion. And with that the contract is his . . .
Work begins. With considerable protective measures Gordo’s crew begins tearing out asbestos and clearing away other
residue from the antiquated facility. The team consists of Gordon’s right-hand man Phil (David Caruso), cocky wise-ass
Hank (Josh Lucas), the deeper-thinking and more educated Mike (co-writer Steven Gevedon), and Gordon’s inexperienced
young nephew Jeff (Brendan Sexton III), a.k.a. Mullethead. Under pressure to finish the job on time a hefty $10,000 incentive
has been promised to the team upon completion, a prize that has every man watching the others carefully to insure that nobody
fucks up and blows the bonus. On top of the tension already existant in a situation requiring that massive amounts of hazardous
material be removed in a short amount of time, as work progresses it becomes increasingly clear that each member of the team
has his own agenda and/or personal conflict.
Adding an additionally unsettling aspect to the job is the lunchtime revelation that one
of the contributing causes to the hospital’s demise were the accusations of Satanic ritual abuse a patient developed
during the course of her “treatment” at the institution. It was Mike who volunteered this tidbit of information,
and a little later on during a hunt for the building’s circuit breakers he comes across the storeroom for patient files
and is drawn to a set of tape recordings of therapy sessions with a patient named Mary Hobbes. Diagnosed with multiple personality
disorder, Mary is intriguing enough to make Mike remain after work and play the first of these reels, listening to the alter
known as “The Princess” take over when Mary breaks down under her doctor’s questions
While working one of the hospital’s subterranean passages Hank makes a discovery equally as intriguing as Mike’s:
a smattering of century-old coins leads him to a cache of hidden treasure concealed behind some loose brickwork. Stashed away
in the little alcove are a score of coins, along with rings and other items of alluring antiquity. Interrupted by a summons
from his walkie-talkie, Hank replaces the fortune for future reference and hurries off as the camera pans back from the inside
of the vault, revealing it to be located in the nether regions of the hospital morgue.
meanwhile is back at the reel-to-reel tape player, listening as the fifth session with Mary brings forth another personality,
this one calling itself Billy. Perhaps inspired by this research, during lunch that afternoon Mike contributes graphically
to the mealtime discussion of institutionalization and lobotomy.
that night Hank returns to the treasure trove and examines his haul by electric lamplight. Among the stash of old coins are
antique spectacles, crucifixes, pocket watches, lockets, medallions, even glass eyes. And some human hair. Also among the
items is a curiously-shaped implement, a long thin spike with what appear to be finger grips at the butt end. As Hank leaves
with his tote bag full of booty he’s startled by a series of noises; as unnerving as the place is during the daytime
the hospital is twice as creepy at night, and a spooked Hank is soon running full-tilt through the gated hallways, lighted
only by his jumping flashlight. Just as he reaches the stairwell leading up to the ground floor another light flares, there’s
a gasp, and the screen goes black.
Hank doesn’t show up for work. Having lost his girlfriend to Hank some time ago, an event Hank can’t seem to let
him forget, Phil pushes the notion that the unreliable asshole simply bailed out of the gig, and a quick call to the ex- seems
to confirm this. Gordon doesn’t take this new development lightly, as his aura of calm professionalism has been slowly
eroding under not only the demands of the job but the pressures of his wife and newborn daughter as well. Apparently this
stress has jeopardized his contracts in the past, and it looks like it could now put the current job in danger as well.
this friction Mike goes back to the vaults and tracks down Mary’s paperwork, finding her file marked “Deceased.”
As Mike listens to another session and continues paging through the records, growing evidence points to some violent but as-yet-undisclosed
tragedy. A related shot establishes that Mary’s grave is indeed one of those in the hospital’s burial ground,
near to which Gordon is now on the phone with his wife, asking for her forgiveness. At the end of the day Gordon confesses
to Phil that his domestic situation is growing increasingly volatile. In fact he’s been sleeping in his van lately,
and his dreams are plagued by images of violence and of the hospital.
Gordon rolls up to the hospital just as Phil’s working on his first major buzz of the day. It’s looking like a
strained and weary morning, and as Gordon drives on Phil finishes the joint with, “It’s going to get ugly . .
.” This could happen sooner than later, as Gordon happens to overhear Phil telling Mike about their boss’ domestic
problems, and giving his opinion that the old man needs a vacation.
Jeff is checking the circuit breaker, continually overloaded by their tile-ripping machine, when he comes across Hank. He’s
just standing in one of the stairwells, repeating the same phrase over and over: “What are you doing here?” When
he sees the blood on Hank’s fingers Jeff runs away to fetch the rest of the crew, and despite Phil’s adamant assertion
that Hank cannot be in the building they all set out to look for him. By the time they return to the stairwell Hank has disappeared,
and an argument over his girlfriend’s supposed statement that he went to Vegas is cut short by the sound of running
footsteps. Splitting into two search parties the men soon become completely separated, as Mike goes straight to the tape player
to listen to the ninth session with Mary, Phil leaves Jeff on a landing and descends into the tunnels of the building on his
own, and Gordon hears voices. Outside, the generator sputters out of fuel and dies, plunging the depths of the asylum into
darkness. This sends the nictophobic Jeff running through the hallways in a fit of screaming as he tries to outrace the dying
lights, just as Phil finds Hank cowering in a deep corner, naked and still repeating himself.
goes out to refuel the generator, and as the power returns Mary’s final personality, a sinister and silken-voiced alter
named Simon, explains to the doctor exactly what happened to Mary’s brother Peter, and the rest of her family, so many
years ago. As the gruesome tale spills out Gordon finds himself standing in Mary’s old room, where he sees some disturbingly
familiar and desperately out-of-place photographs. Phil finds him there in turn, and from the look on his face there's about
to be a rather serious confrontation. Jeff has made it outside to the van by now, but as he tries to calm himself down he’s
approached very rapidly by something or someone unseen . . .
Sitting out in the van, Gordon is called inside by Phil over the walkie-talkie. A suspenseful hallucinatory conversation follows,
over the body of Hank who is lying semi-conscious on the floor with the lobotomy probe buried deeply in his eye socket. Hank’s
replacement Craig (cameo appearance by indie horror filmmaker Larry Fessenden) arrives on the scene, just in time to have
the instrument driven into his own eye. The tape of Simon’s voice can be heard again, those Luciferian tones joining
other auditory emanations as the killer stalks past the bodies of the crew, flashbacks of murder providing the causes of their
demise. The camera pans across photographs pasted to a cell wall with blood, this composition mirroring the collage arrangements
created by the inmates, as Simon’s voice speaks its final chilling words and a haunting acoustic folk guitar melody
plays out with the credits.
of the hellish consequences of working life in the modern world, or just a good psycho story? Both, actually, just as both
haunted house story and psychotic breakdown are what make Session 9 such an excellent
and atmospheric picture. You’ve got all the scary trappings and spookhouse effects of a good horror show, but with a
much more rational and conceivable set of root causes for the homicidal violence that explodes at the end. All the dead voices
speaking and things going bump in the dark serve to heighten suspense on a supernatural level, while still maintaining a mounting
tension within the drama of the ‘real-world’ characters and situations. Each of these characters have their individual
flaws and weakness of personality, all of which are not only well developed but rubbed more raw as the anxiety of the situation
increases. And as the stress factor grows so too do the number of hallucinations, ably conveying to the viewer the instability
of the characters and their predicament. When the end moments do come they’re so viciously blunt, bleak, and mired in
hopeless reality that they’re actually more frightening than any ghost story. (Although the ending is left open to interpretation;
did the ‘ghosts’ of Danvers influence the murders, or was the setting purely incidental?)
the story is the film’s brilliant cinematography, by D.O.P. Uta Briesewitz, which brings forth the institution’s
haunted aura in a very compelling manner. Atmospheric shots of the hospital’s massive remains (not just the decaying
bodies of the buildings themselves but their old therapeutic facilities, medical devices, and traces of former patients in
the form of artwork and abandoned belongings littering the dilapidated semi-lighted spaces) are equalled by impressive aerial
photography that captures the asylum and its grounds, demonstrating not only what a grand old institution Danvers was but
also the size and scope of the task Gordon’s crew has before them.
A particularly good Website concentrating on the Danvers State Hospital is Michael Ramseur’s
site “The Castle on the Hill” at www.angelfire.com/id2/DanversStateHosp/ . The history of the place, its people, and its practices is incredibly well-researched
and presented, and Ramseur very capably evokes a tortured institutional atmosphere that brings to life not only the horrors
of insanity but also of the aesthetic beauty of the environment (if you haven’t seen the film or photos of the grounds,
Danvers is a sprawling and majestic place, a remarkable piece of institutional architecture that, situated as remotely in
the New England woodlands as it is, is truly awe-inspiring). Not only is the site full of original illustrations of the institutions
and its haunted grounds, but Ramseur links the facility also known as “The Witches’ Castle” to the Salem
witch trials as well as to the work of H.P. Lovecraft (known therein both as the Danvers Asylum and Arkham Sanitarium).
From the epic archives of the Nikkatsu
Roman Porno Collection comes True Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell. And from the title, sensational as it is, you
have a fair idea of what to expect. Especially from 1970's-era Japan...
Mournful Japanese pop music plays as city scenes pass by,
seen from above the shackled hands of passengers riding inside a bus. You can tell before the song is even over that this
is going to be an unusual picture, as when one of the prisoners has to urinate and is removed from the van and led out into
a field to squat, the decadent pastoral quality of her urine dripping from the reeds is heightened by the tracking shot of
the tether leading to the grip of her handler. Yes, she is a woman...and she is going to jail! The bus rolls on, and eventually
the high iron gates of Women's Juvenile Hall close behind it.
In short order the ladies are unloaded and read the rules,
issued their uniforms (“You get two pairs of panties...you won't get any replacements” - this one will cause problems
in the foreseeable future), given their gynos, and locked up in what will soon become Sex Hell (at least we hope, right?).
Finding herself alone in a holding cell, our protagonist
Houjou Mayumi (Kozue Hitomi) flashes back to the attentions of her doctor lover back home in the first of a series of unpleasant
memories of the events leading to what may be an unjust incarceration.
After that, it's straight into general population. New
arrivals Mayumi, Matsunaga Harumi and Ishii Kazue are dumped into a cell already holding a number of other women, including
Hiromi (Seri Kaori), who seems to be queen bitch of the cell block. Right away the torments begin, as after the initial interrogation
Mayumi is accused of thinking she's too good for the rest of the bunch and subjected to the “Juvenile Hall” (held
down and pissed in the face) and the “Plucked Chicken” (pubic hairs plucked out one by one). The brief catfight
that follows is put on hold by the guards, and it's back to doing time as usual.
Inside the walls relationships develop and fall apart,
time is passed in ways one might expect, and there are, of course, moments of unpleasantness. Slowly an escape plan develops,
and the soft-spoken Mayumi decides to cut herself in for a piece of that action. In the process she decides to take over as
boss when Hiromi gets thrown into solitary confinement. Her first defining act is to forcibly give another inmate, Rie, an
abortion by kneeing her repeatedly in the stomach. For this Mayumi is dropped into solitary as well.
When a guard makes the mistake of unshackling Hiromi for
sex she manages to escape with his keys and, knowing that Mayumi has been placed in a nearby cell (because of a surprising
change in alliance), release her as well. The two convicts decide that together they will complete the original escape plan
and find their way back to the world, each with her own violent agenda: Hiromi to pursue the course that put her away in the
first place, and Mayumi to take care of some unfinished business...
Several additional scenes play out of course, including
a memorable last caress, but that would entail spoilers aplenty.
And there you have it, everything a horny salaryman might
want: items smuggled inside vaginas, catfights, tales of past misdeeds, lesbian bathplay, pissing, lesbian nipple frottage,
vaginal-looking surgical wounds, more catfights, glory hole sodomy by the guards, improvised sex toys, testicle twisting...
All of this, and remember, it's only Juvenile Hall!
But while 35 years ago this would have seemed rather extreme,
especially in the States, in the current climate of ultimate perversion wherein it seems every title attempts to outdo the
last, it's really rather tame on the scales of both sex and violence. (The softcore sex scenes, which can be sensual or cold,
rely heavily on T&A, as in keeping with Japanese cinematic tradition there isn't a pubic hair to be seen [in situ,
at least] and absolutely no visible penetration.)
It's still extremely watchable however, for can any story
fail to be intriguing when it features all of the classic elements of sex & violence (further episodes of which are enacted
during flashback sequences), escape, and revenge, wrapped up in the by-now-well-known 'women in prison' package? And many
surrounding elements, such as the use of snow to both emphasize the cold, harsh nature of the situation as well as to liken
the imagery to Japanese printing and painting, on top of the love stories that develop and disintegrate within and outside
the bars, are quite well handled. There are some amusing lines (“I'll make her look like a panda – she'll be pitch
black around the eyes!”; Q: “What are you doing?” A: “Making a rice penis.”) and even a bit
of fairly funky Japanese porno soundtrack to boot. Altogether it's almost like the seedy Asian exploitation equivalent of
the spaghetti western; a fine entry into a genre that just won't die.
Just don't be expecting any super hardcore foreign XXX
action – even if it is from the Caligula-esque sounding Roman Porno Collection.
Sex Hell also features Hiromi Maya, Aoki Machiko,
Mizusawa Rie and Misuzu Emi. Tattoos by Kawano Kouyou – a hallmark of quality right there when this is observed in the
Special features include liner notes by Jason Sharp (author
of The Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema) and “Newly translated removable English subtitles.”
Opening up with cross-cuts between an ultra-hot girls aerobics team workout and the gag-inducing hazing of some underclassmen,
Sex is Zero tells you right from the start what’s on its menu: tits and vomit.
And as we all know, that’s entertainment!
“The highest grossing Korean comedy of all time” takes place at SunjongUniversity, an institution
excelling, apparently, in the twin disciplines of physical education and law. Across this hallowed campus unfolds the tale
of lovesick Eunsik, an awkward and, due to his having to complete his military service prior to entering the realm of higher
education, older first-year law student. The object of his affections is the stunning young Eunhyo, star of the school’s
nationally ranked ‘fitness team.’
The culmination of this infatuation is complicated by any number of things, chief among them (aside from Eunsik’s
physical and social awkwardness) being the attentions of big man on campus Sangwook. As he too woos Eunhyo their cliques and
those of other assorted oddballs intermingle freely, allowing for any number of sex, hijinks and sexual hijinks with unpredictable
and often unpleasant results. Suffice it to say, Eunsik has his work cut out for him; SunjongUniversity and its surrounding culture aren’t quite as daffy and carefree
as might be expected. To say any more would definitely skew the potential viewer’s perspective, so the rest of the plot
details will be left unspoiled.
There’s much inspiration drawn from American teenage sex comedies here, from Fast
Times at Ridgemont High to Road Trip and beyond, but somewhere in their eagerness
to ape the simpleminded Yankee sex romp the filmmakers took too careful notice of the more dramatic aspects of some of these
gems (Fast Times… in particular). This gives the attempt at lighthearted
idiocy an underlying sadness that detracts considerably from the physical comedy and mood of horny exuberance inherent in
all of young adulthood.
mistaken, there is still a tremendous amount of ridiculously crude behavior, some of which is truly hilarious. You can expect
a full serving of the eating of disgusting things, jumping out of windows, screwing, screwing blow-up dolls, drinking, puking,
masturbation, groin injury, panty shots, experimental aphrodisiacs, theft, people getting hit in the head, trips to the hospital,
etc. One scene in particular, that of a mousetrap gone horribly, horribly wrong, had me laughing out loud.
But the film’s
principal shortcoming is that it’s billed across the board as a comedy; and while much of the film does consist of slapstick
and T&A, gross-out humor and the like, at heart it’s a dead-serious take on the pitfalls of young love and the very
graphic consequences thereof. Handled with a blunt harshness not likely to be found in a Hollywood
film, comedy or otherwise, the melodrama that unfolds works to considerable effect against all of the film’s comedic
intentions. It may be that there’s a cultural barrier at work here, one that requires the insertion of a morality play,
or it may be Eunsik’s perfection of the role of tragic clown, but by severing the mood as often and abruptly as it does
the dramatic weight of the picture makes the film seem painfully longer than its 96-minute running time. The film does achieve
a sweet ending, but it’s one that is not achieved easily.
really sure what audience to suggest this to; mixed bag as it is, perhaps it’s to remain most appreciated in its homeland.
Aside from offering
subtitles in both English and Spanish, Sex is Zero comes with extensive (“Over
100 minutes”) bonus features, including a “making of” featurette, interviews and biographies, commentary
in both English (by Mike McPadden & Mr. Skin) and Spanish (by Jesus “El Pelos” Olivera), bloopers, deleted
scenes, trailers, poster & still galleries, production notes and press kit, not to mention a cover sticker and full color
Robert Downey, Jr. returns as Sherlock Holmes…and
he’s not happy. Holmes just doesn’t seem to be having a very good time this time around, even in drag. Maybe it’s
all of the formaldehyde he’s been guzzling. Or maybe it’s the fact that his alleged arch-nemesis, Professor James
Moriarty (Jared Harris), is about as colorless and threatening as a slab of wall putty. Jude Law, as Watson, simply endures,
even when his wife Mary is abducted by Moriarty as part of his scheme to roil the Baker Street boys.
Traveling everywhere but to significant points of interest, A GAME OF SHADOWS is perhaps one of Ritchie’s tamest offerings
yet, simply lacking the color and charm of the first Holmes outing. With a plotline of 19th century terrorism that
seems to outscale the cinematic capabilities of the filmmakers (somewhat surprising in this case), the viewer is often forced
to do with backroom shenanigans and obligatory dramatic train scenes. The requisite cleverness and defiance of logic only
reinforce the notion that this might have been better left as a dimestore pulp. Even the always-enchanting Noomi Rapace can’t
help much, as little twists and turns tie it all up a little too neatly in a little gray package. Holmes fans would be better
off sticking with Ritchie’s first feature, Downey fans might be better served with KISS KISS BANG BANG, and those who
don’t give a rat’s ass either way aren’t missing much here.
like some dimly-lighted subhuman gay S&M snuff session, Sixteen Tongues…doesn’t
get much better.
Adrian Torque, half-cop half-dungeon master, stays at the shitbox Sappho Motel, where a motley crew of other damaged
goods also resides: derelict sex surrogate and ‘assassin’ Ginny Chin-Chin, decaying hacker Alik Silens, “psychic
hobos” and other wasted electro-trash all haunt the sex ad-splattered hallways of the flophouse. Adrian and Ginny each
have their own plastic surgery disasters to cope with; as the result of a terrorist bombing he’s got skin grafts of
living human tongues (for some reason), and she has clitorises embedded under her eyelids (for some reason). Even Alik has
been modified for her work, given implants that allow her to physically jack into an operating system’s mainframe.
None of this does anybody any good however; they all simply crawl around fighting with and fucking each other in loopy
ways. After extended periods of shittiness, Torque, his psyche as unhealed as his scarred body, finally goes apeshit and carves
off Ginny’s sexy eyelids before going on a shooting spree throughout the motel. Gunning his way toward Alik, instead
of blowing her away he leaves her to fry her own brains out on a circuit overload. There’s the final clumsy funhouse
shootout, and at last it’s all over.
There may be something in here about the desensitization of society to sex and violence, but it’s so clumsily
handled that it, like much of the storyline, is extraneous. You can see within the first few minutes that this experiment
in cyberpunk pulp-porn is a dismal failure; a stream of pointless narratives against a constant background of pornographic
and semi-pornographic imagery, Sixteen Tongues does a fine job of detailing just
how dreary the future of depravity can be. Hell, by the time the term “bacterial psychodrama” gets brought up
its well clear that the phrase perfectly sums up the entire film.
Me, I’ve got no time for fancified low-budget angst, and this looks to me like a director taking his sweet time
coasting on the minor success of his first uninspired feature, Shatter Dead.
And to think, somebody actually spent seven years of their
life on this attempt at creating a “whole new cult classic”; it feels like it takes almost that long to sit through
“Supplemental Data” features include alternate
audio tracks, production/blooper footage, visual effects, deleted scenes, make-up and costume, and trailers. None of which
I managed to find the time for.
Some friends of
mine and I play a game with lousy DVDs: we’ll pawn them off on each other by sneaking the DVD into the other party’s
collection when they’re not looking, then just wait for the mystified complaints to start rolling in. Sometimes this
can be amusing (Hey, where’d this tranny video come from?), and sometimes it’s mildly disappointing (Hey, free
movie! Oh…). But some DVDs are so lousy that they’re not even worth the anti-treasure hunt element; somebody will
basically just slap you in the chest with the thing and say, “Here. Enjoy.” Slaughterhouse
of the Rising Sun came to me via the latter route, so my expectations admittedly weren’t very high. Still, I was
intrigued. From the back cover:
In the summer of 1972, Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun was about to premiere to an eagerly awaiting world. However, the dreams of a
generation were shattered when director Vin Crease murdered the film’s Executive Producer and the only existing reels
After a three decade search, the master print was finally
located in an opium market outside of Karachi,
Pakistan. Thanks to the miracle of modern digital technology, this eerie
tale of an adult movie superstar who falls in with a nomadic family of killer hippies, can now find its place in the new millennium.
This special limited commemorative 33rd anniversary
edition includes, “Losing the Light” – a tribute to the late Vin Crease, the fully re-mastered and uncut
version of Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun and unused scenes from the work print
which managed to survive The Great Freebase Fire of 1971.
Sounds like a bit of crap, yes? But it also sounds like it could be kind of interesting: Johnny Wadd meets the Manson
Family, or total goof? My money’s on goof, but hey, not only was the price right but I didn’t even have to clutter
my Netflix queue with the thing. All I’ve got to lose here is time.
Starting the film gives us a little more sensationalist background:
During the summer of 1972, the original negative of
Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun was seized by the authorities after the writer,
director and star, Vin Crease was incarcerated for the vehicular homicide of Executive Producer, Benjamin P. Mankiewicz.
Perceramborol Productions now proudly presents the fully
restored master of a motion picture that has been lost and cruelly neglected for over 30 years.
As Vin Crease himself put it before his untimely death
in a California State Mental Facility, “Some things are beyond space, beyond time and cannot be stopped…”
The picture opens with a blood-spattered blonde wearing only a slip stumbling through the dark woods, making her way
toward a sluggish creek bed. Her inner monologue provides a glimpse of her troubled mindset: “Maybe this isn’t
happening…Maybe it’s only a dream.” “When did it all start to fall apart? When did it all go to hell?”
Wrapping some chains around her neck, it appears that she intends to drown herself in the shallow water before the scene shifts…
Back in time, to the set of a homemade skin flick where a dwarf is doggy-styling the confused young woman, Jennifer
Jams (Cheryl Dent, aka Rhonda St. John), who is dressed up in Catholic schoolgirl garb. Yes, it looks like things started
falling apart a long time ago for our lady of the creek. And going to hell as well, as suddenly Jennifer starts to hallucinate,
seeing a little blonde girl in the corner asking, “What are you doing, Jennifer?” This vision unsettles our already
unsettled porn star and she freaks out, banging the dwarf viciously in the nuts and clawing his face so badly that she has
to be pulled away and restrained by the film crew.
“Six months later” Jennifer is in a mental hospital, still seeing the little girl despite being treated
with Perceramborol, a ‘state of the art’ psychoactive medication. Her doctor tells her that even though her co-star,
“Mr. Nasty Nat,” isn’t pressing charges, he himself is still concerned about Jennifer’s ‘sexual
compulsions’ and the cries of “Help her!” that she uttered during her little psychotic episode. Despite
these reservations however Doc still decides to sign Jennifer’s release, provided she agrees to move back into her parents’
home and maintain a strict regimen of medication.
While the opening credits roll Jennifer takes a little road trip, driving out to her folks’ place and finding
lots of opportunities to take pit stops during which she can display some devotion to her oral fixation (with ice cream, bananas,
lollipops, etc.).Finally pulling her red VW Bug up in front of her parents’
home, Jennifer flashes on some childhood memories and decides that, “This isn’t my home…I don’t belong
here.” Blowing off her parents and her promises Jennifer heads out into the hills, driving along a one-lane road through
a desolate and arid scrubland. Where she is promptly run off the road by some horny drunken truck-driving rednecks.
Her car stalled out on the shoulder Jennifer takes off into the hills on foot, with horny white trash in hot pursuit.
Just as the boys catch up with her however a dune buggy driven by some crazed hippie cat pulls up and runs the rednecks off,
chasing them down so the crazed hippie chicks in the back can throw nets over the would-be rapists and beat their asses with
a nail-studded baseball bat.
The buggy comes back for Jennifer, and hippie cat Damon Grey (Vin Crease) lays on the charm until our little girl lost
agrees to spend the night at his ‘place.’ As Damon drives back to her car to pick up Jennifer’s medication,
Jennifer herself is escorted to “base camp” by foxy psycho flower girls Violence Onelove and Guilty Karma (named
in the closing credits as Michele Morrow and Ryan Rogoff, respectively, but listed as Carol Fountainhead and Linda Suzanne
on the cover credits). However, slightly overwhelmed by the combination of medication, desert sun, a close call with a Deliverance-type situation, the hippie chicks’ psychobabble and the ‘psychedelic’
paintings on nearby rock formations, Jennifer falls behind as the girls laughingly skip on ahead.
Reaching camp sometime after dark Jennifer finds a small clan of weirdoes playing around a campfire. Damon shows up
with Jenny’s meds, sporting an upside-down peace symbol tattooed on his throat and a pair of walking braces (a remnant
of his being ‘the last polio victim,’ and evidence that he has been ‘chosen by God,’ as he will later
relate). And after sampling a pot of something bubbling over the fire (tended by Doc Warlock [Michael Schuster, aka Marty
Reeves]) he asks if anyone else would like to sample some “liquid bliss.” Jennifer is more concerned about celery
and chicken than she is about peyote, so she goes on ahead and takes a ladleful. And promptly trips the fuck out.
Not helping much is the old lady who looks like a toad sitting by the fire and telling desert horror stories of mutilation
and perversion. (Shades of “El Espectro”!) In particular she tells the trippers about the abandoned house on the
edge of the woods just north of Highway 9, the occupants of which all seem to have met colorfully grisly and curious ends.
Things get weird, Jenny pukes, Damon pulls some love & death shite out of his ass, Jenny runs off and passes out, and
when she wakes up the first thing she sees is a VW van filled with freaks from the night before coming to collect her.
The gang takes Jennifer to the local garage as promised, and even as she receives the troubling news that it will take
$300.00 and a week to fix her car the mechanic’s transistor radio is reporting an increase in the number of random murders
in the area. Murders that now appear to be related to the recent “Hollywood homicides.”
It appears that Jennifer is stuck with the group for now, going along with the crowd even after Damon makes a point of asking
the old grease monkey which way Highway 9 is.
All pile back into the van and get high while they head for the ‘Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun.’ Along
the way they pick up a hitchhiking reverend, who gets freaked out and finished off (by cult member Westy Westerman [J. Scott
Shonka, aka Chad Weaver]) when he gets offended by the hippies’ lack of propriety and jumps out of the van in the middle
of nowhere. Jennifer, stoned and asleep in the back of the van, misses this last bit.
There’s a dreamlike flashback sequence of the hippie brood cavorting through a house littered with slaughtered
bodies, a la 10050 Cielo Drive, and before long the van pulls up at the
accursed old house. Jennifer starts to bond with the hippies, particularly Sabbath Jones (Heather J. Thomas, aka Mary-Kay
Woods), as they explore the place and frolic in the creek out back. But when she sees a Barbie doll floating in the water
Jennifer flashes back to the drowning death of her sister, the little blonde girl she’s been seeing since the beginning
of the film. She had just been telling Sabbath about it moments before, but in her story her sister died by accident; in the
flashback Jennifer is holding her sister’s head underwater.
Jennifer runs back to the house, which seems to ripple in slow motion all around her in a visual echo of her discombobulated
state. She falls into a faint, and as she lies unconscious the ‘family’ discusses her fate. Jennifer experiences
a sepia-toned dream sequence in which she’s undressed and costumed by the elegantly clad hippie chicks, only to be horrified
upon finding a knife clutched in her bloody hands.
Shocked back into consciousness, Jennifer wakes up to find herself apparently alone in the house. Looking out of the
window she sees the spectral image of her sister down in the yard, but when she runs outside all she finds is a bloodstained
doll lying at the base of a tree. And some cat who looks like Marilyn Manson’s dad, coming across heavy with some spooky
gibberish that doesn’t help Jennifer’s state of mind at all. When he starts cutting himself Jennifer decides she’s
had enough, clobbering him with a rock and leaving him to stumble away into the river, presumably to drown.
Going back to take another look at the blanket-wrapped form the strange man has shown her, Jennifer opens the bundle
to find Sabbath lying inside, dead. The rest of the family comes strolling through the yard just then, and casually blames
Jennifer for their sister’s death. And with a little headfucking it is decided that they will hold a séance to talk
to Sabbath in order to find out if Jennifer is as innocent as she claims.
Candles and pentagram are prepared upstairs, and as Damon calls upon the spirit of Sabbath Jennifer again relives the
death of her sister and again, not surprisingly, freaks out. Running away through the darkened house Jennifer is chased by
the hippies: somehow Westy manages to get gutted, but the two crazy bitches are still right on Jennifer’s tail, one
of them carrying a harpoon at the ready.
Warlock catches it too, his brains bashed out by an unseen someone or something, and the same happens to Guilty when
she’s tripped on the attic stairs by a ghostly figure. Violence gets it outside, strung up by her neck by an invisible
force. Jennifer, relatively unharmed, wanders past the dead girls’ bodies and into the opening scene – where Damon
clocks her with one of his crutches and knocks her out.
When she wakes up Jennifer finds herself tied up next to a fire pit with Damon ranting at her. (“You have completely
fucked my shit up here Blondie!”) He blames her for the deaths of his people, but Jennifer denies it, begging him to
trust her. Damon, either because he’s fresh out of followers or because he recognizes something otherworldly about the
girl, is willing to forgive her. Even to partner up with her, calling her the “Queen of the Underworld” and asking
her to, “Just be my Black Widow Mama!” But he still needs to know about the murders. And as if in answer to his
questions, from out of the forest around them emerge several glowing apparitions…
In the bloody aftermath that follows something of a revelation is reached, and certain forces and events come full
circle. Dot, dot, dot.
Initially there was a bit of confusion on my part regarding the actors’ names: the ones listed on the DVD cover
do not match those in the film’s credits (except for Vin Crease). So in the bonus segment “Aftermath” (supposedly
filmed in 1975) when Linda Suzanne and Carol Fountainhead and Rhonda St. Claire and Chad Weaver (with bottle in bag) all talk
about how fucked up and drugged out the entire filmmaking process was, it wasn’t entirely clear who was who and what
their real names were. (Look up Rhonda St. Claire and Cheryl Dent and see who yields more hits.) Not that it matters a great
deal, I suppose, as they all do a fine job of making the entire production, and its director, seem cursed from the very beginning.
As do the cast and crew members interviewed in “Losing the Light,” a mini-documentary wherein sound guy
Jeff Darby, editor Adam Levine, Mary-Kay Woods, Jim Powers (Reverend Rich), Marty Reeves and producer Jonathan Stein talk
about the myths surrounding Vin Crease and Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun. Stories
of dope and hooking and orgies at “The Palisades House” are piled on top of other crazy shit, and Vin is again
painted as a fucking lunatic. (“I’m glad he’s gone,” says Darby.) The story of Manciewicz’s
death is expanded upon, as Levine regales the camera with the tale of how Vin took all prints of the film from the producer’s
home and then ran him over three times. (“I still haven’t been paid,” he moans.) The ‘story’
appears in print as well, it being reported in a carefully unnamed newspaper that, “Yesterday at approximately 3:33pm
Writer/Director Vin Crease was taken into custody in Laurel Canyon by the LAPD, after he was found sitting in the driver’s
seat of a stolen Plymouth Charger. Underneath the car was the lifeless body of Benjamin P. Mankiewicz, a third generation
producer.” After which, it is said, Mr. Crease was sent to a CountyHospital
for “psychiatric observation.” (This on the day of the film’s ‘premiere,’ even!)
Also tacked on is “Cuttings,” a set of deleted scenes that includes an overly long hippie jam session around
And there you have it. Whatever ‘it’ is, exactly. And what ‘it’ is may not be exactly what
it seems. On the surface what you’ve got here is what appears to be an old horror flick, influenced in equal parts by
dope, reports of cult activity and other old horror flicks. Nothing too stirring, sexy, or even violently gory here (yes,
there are tits and blood, but not in excess), just some moderately weird shit. And for a flick that touches upon such elements
as midget porn, peyote and cult murders, frankly, I would expect something that ranked a little higher on the far-out and
fucked-up scale. Despite the concept and settings, and a moderate degree of technical accomplishment and acting ability, the
movie is only mildly atmospheric and doesn’t really satisfy on any level of originality or ingenuity. It comes off as
just another old horror flick made by a cast and crew who the Sixties were not particularly kind to. But is it really?
Multiple sources on the Internet state without qualification that Slaughterhouse
of the Rising Sun is not, in fact, a remnant of the Seventies. Instead it is asserted that this film doesn’t date
back any farther than 2005, but was given the gimmick of a decades-long background story that conjures up fantastic details
such as homicide, insanity and drug abuse to give the B- film a little touch of provenance in the vein of urban mythology.
The multiple pseudonyms throughout the production serve to support this notion (why else all the titular prestidigitation?),
as do some of the deleted scenes found in the “Cuttings” section: some of these snippets haven’t received
the ‘faded home movie’ treatment that the rest of the film has, and instead of appearing in scratched, grainy,
worn-out color they are as sharp and bright as if just relayed from the high-definition digital camera that shot them.
Con or no con? Again, my money’s on goof. So, a bonus point for the effort in constructing the elaborate back
story legend(s), but aside from that there’s really nothing special to be found here. Although I think someone else
may be finding this on their shelf sometime in the near future…
Perceramborol Productions, Inc.
Directed by Jess Franco
a female publishing agent, Carla, drives out to the villa of the Balasz family in an attempt to acquire the rights to a piece
of their family history.
After a vision of the titular Snakewoman, seen dancing lethargically dressed in her double-headed serpentine tattoo
(which, it must be said, looks more goofy than seductive), Carla lets herself into the mansion and confronts a pair of Euro-hippies.
Telling them she’s looking for Andros Balasz, father of Oriana Balasz, when Andros is not immediately available Carla helps herself to a bath. During which Andros
magically appears, catching her in the nude, and invites her down to breakfast.
As Carla dresses, the Snakewoman jumps through her open window to pose and hiss ridiculously before vanishing. And
it’s here, over a quarter of an hour into the film, that you know for certain that your time is being wasted. That this
‘erotic fable’ is in fact a poorly conceived sex joke with no real point to it but to show off some shabby softcore
lesbian love story. That, and to cash in on the name of a “cult” director whose ‘genius’ dried up
long ago and whose status is debatable at best.
Anyway, at breakfast Carla is joined by a shady priest/doctor who tells her that Andros is the
rightful heir to the estate of Oriana Balasz, who died in 1945. He also mentions that many others have tried to purchase the
estate, but all have failed. What he neglects to mention is that he’s keeping an hysterical woman who claims to suffer
sexual visions and visitations from her ‘mistress’ locked up on drugs.
Returning to her room Carla finds the naked Snakewoman lying in her bed. When asked the tattooed girl says that she
is the 87-year-old Oriana, and that Andros is her father-in-law. She then asks, “Do you like
my ass?”, the furry cleft of which Carla could not help but admire. Passing up this invitation Carla tells the Snakewoman
that she would “Like to acquire all the rights to Oriana Balasz’s catalog. The songs, the films, everything.”
Snakewoman doesn’t seem interested in business however, offering instead the notion that, “The ass is the universal
sex organ.” There’s some more back and forth, but instead of getting it on Carla goes off to get some sleep alone.
Dr. Priest and his young ward, Alpha, have another fruitless interaction in which the girl again raves about her magical
lady. Drugged and confined, Alpha is visited by Snakewoman for a lengthy lesbian encounter.
Meanwhile Carla has a dream flashback to her initial assignment to secure Oriana’s archives. This includes watching
an old black & white Third Reich-era cabaret performance of hers, with no shortage of risqué beaver shots. As Carla dreams
naked in her bed, Snakewoman again comes pouncing into her room and crawls into the sack with her where more simulated vampire
lesbian action is had.
Breakfast the next morning is a queer affair, one which includes mother’s milk in the coffee. Carla is informed
by Andros and Oriana/Snakewoman that the Balasz legacy is not for sale at any price. However there
was a final film made by Oriana, a masterpiece of perversion that has never been seen…
Carla winds up back in the city, confused and disorganized. She is told by her female psychiatrist that she has been
missing for days, with the police looking for her, and has lost all of her belongings. The doctor ships Carla out to her lakeside
estate for some much needed rest and relaxation, but while again dreaming naked Carla is visited once more by the Snakewoman
for another bout of ‘bloody’ lovemaking.
Carla’s writhing is interrupted the next morning by the doctor, who has Carla’s publisher Tony on the phone.
For some reason the Balasz estate has decided to release everything to them, including a love letter to Carla from Oriana.
As the Snakewoman attacks Alpha’s doctor, Carla and her doc head back to the publisher’s office to watch Oriana’s
In the overly dark clip the starlet gets it on with another
woman, then tears into a rubber phallus between a man’s legs, reveling in the flow of ‘blood’ that her pointed
teeth produce. As Carla stares at the video screen, hypnotized, she thinks she hears Oriana call her name. Suddenly the two
are together again back at the villa, and the film is finally over.
Two words: utter shit. The most enormous waste of time
I’ve been subjected to in recent memory. In every way. And my life is much the poorer for it; Franco has obviously been
sucking from the same retarded turtle dick as Jean Rollin. I’d have said “Spoiler ahead” earlier, but with
something this pretentious and lazy that’s kind of a given.
The story is overly drawn-out and needlessly complex; the
jumpy timeline that is utilized so often by directors attempting to fancify their substandard productions by making them seem
deeper through timeframe manipulation is in full evidence here, and as usual it just doesn’t help. Instead it just makes
an interminable story seem that much longer.
Snakewoman doesn’t appear to be so much an ageless
sexual force as she does some stoned gypsy nympho. There are some mildly sexy scenes, true, but the softcore nature of the
production makes them all look overly staged and fake. On top of that there’s the poor lighting to contend with, glare
alternating with shadow to provide an uneven visual experience which the jerky progression of the story does little to enhance.
In Spanish with English subtitles.
Snakewoman comes with standard extras such as a stills gallery and preview
trailers. But it also contains the bonus 1998 feature film Dr. Wong’s Virtual
Hell. This flick is self-described by director Franco as “An all out farce,” but as many of his films could
be considered farcical this means one of two things: 1) It will be fucking hi-LAR-ious, or 2) To quote Killface, it will be
“The absolute monarch of all bum-snackers.” We’re going to find out, but I think you can guess where I’ve
got my money down.
A take-off on the Fu-Manchu films, Virtual Hell begins on a difficult note
with the narration being provided by some character with a lisp and a thick oriental accent. As there aren’t any subtitles
available the lead-in and much of the following plot description are literally foreign.
On top of this, portions of the film are approached in comic book style, with oddly colored still frames featuring
shadowy figures and word balloons used to flesh out the story. Emphasized at times with what sound like Sesame Street voices.
You know, coming after the time-killing Snakewoman I really don’t
have a spare portion of my life to devote to another 97 minutes of poorly assembled experimental film, so I’m going
to watch most of this rickshaw wreck on fast forward. And if I miss something at speed, well, chances are I would have missed
it anyway. I’ll tell you right now, clear and engaging this film is not.
So you’ve got some solarized scenery. More bad accents. Hey look, there’s some tits. And a bunch of guys
in ‘Chinaman’ glasses watching a burlesque act. Lesbian frottage and simulated rimming. Some spanking and whipping.
Now a hefty middle-aged woman is showing her bush. There’s a fake blowjob. The thought balloon for one of the stage
show voyeurs says it best: “…zz zz zzz…”
Finally there’s some sort of meeting or confrontation between Dr. Wong and private eye Nelly Smith, both with
associates in tow. The result: the film is over. Thank fuck.
To summarize: bad coloration, bad accents, bad lighting, bad sex, bad plot, no point. Enough said.
A scenic drive
along the beautiful coast of Italy
leads Austrian sisters Ursula (Barbara Magnolfi) and Dagmar Beyne (Stefania D’Amario) to an upscale seaside hotel. Ursula,
evidently the sensitive one, is immediately put off by a pair of Arabian lawn jockeys in the lobby, displaying a spoiled rich
little girl mentality that will become as much of a motif in the film as her stunning green eyes. Dagmar, the sexy one, can
barely wait to get to suite 14 to shed her dress, revealing nothing underneath
but garter belt, hose and panties. As Dagmar continues her striptease she graces us with some full frontal nudity, which,
thankfully, she will do again and again throughout the film. Ursula, on the other hand, is content to lay out her stuffed
animals and photographs.
That evening the sisters are escorted to the hotel’s nightclub by manager Roberto Delleri (Vanni Materassi) to
see Stella Shining perform. There they are introduced to swank young macho Filippo Andrei, who Ursula simply scowls at. After
also being introduced to Stella the girls return to their room, where Ursula rants about her dislike for the hotel and the
people in it. She predicts doom and terror as a nipple pokes out of her evening gown, while “Daghy” fixes her
a dose of chloral hydrate. However Ursula’s pessimistic outlook winds Dagmar up so much that she ends up taking the
sedative herself, going to bed and letting Ursula prepare her own fix.
Outside in the night a stranger picks up a hooker and pays her to perform with her boyfriend. A lurid sex scene follows,
after which the hooker gives some bills to her boy and kicks him out of her room. The watcher, unseen by the boyfriend, now
steps out from behind the curtains. But when the hooker asks, “Instead of just looking why not have a nice fuck too?”
the gloved figure attacks her. A phallic shadow appears on the wall, hinting of the sexual violence yet to come.
The next day when Ursula hears of the murder she falls into a faint. Upon awakening she vehemently insists that they
leave the hotel, coming off as childish and unstable in the process. An argument between the sisters ensues, involving Filippo
who Ursula believes Dagmar will go to bed with even though she’s convinced that she herself will be killed by him. Filippo,
meanwhile, is seen stalking and robbing another guest of the hotel.
Fed up with Ursula’s tantrums, Dagmar haunts the lobby waiting for Filippo to return. In the process she sees
Roberto pay off Stella Shining for some unexplained service. Ursula comes down in a slightly better mood, and over lunch the
two of them talk about the search for their mother, with whom they want to share the inheritance left to them by their father.
Ursula is slightly sour on the subject however, being resentful towards her mother for leaving their father and shipping the
girls off to boarding school at a young age.
Afterwards the sisters find a medieval chapel, where Ursula speaks in delusional metaphors to a blind figure of Christ.
Filippo has still been running around town on dubious ‘business,’ and upon returning to the hotel he is about
to reward himself with a shot of heroin when Stella walks in on him. Telling him that she’s tired of his jealous lover
routine, and that she won’t put up with a drug addict, Stella lets him have it and then walks out on him.
Outside, an underage couple who were turned away from the hotel wander the grounds until they find their way into an
open catacomb beneath the hotel tower. Being teenagers the first thing they do is make out. Soon they’re completely
naked and boning in the bone room. That is until a shadowy figure with an elaborate dagger appears and slashes the boy’s
throat. The killer then approaches the girl, casting the same menacing shadow seen on the wall of the dead prostitute.
Romantic intrigue continues despite a growing police investigation. Filippo tells Roberto he wants Stella all to himself,
while Roberto’s wife Vanessa tells him that she wants a divorce and half of the hotel with it. It seems that Vanessa
is willing to trade the unfaithful Roberto in for her young lesbian lover Jenny, but Roberto doesn’t sound prepared
to let it go that easily.
Back in their room, Ursula derides Dagmar as Daghy prepares to go out with Filippo. But as Dagmar goes downstairs she
sees Filippo chasing after Stella again, leaving her to settle for Roberto’s company. While Ursula suffers another hallucinatory
fit (“Papa!”), Filippo races after Stella in a winding coastal chase. When they finally stop Filippo insists upon
accompanying Stella to see her ‘cosmetics supplier’ Walter, after which Filippo forces the singer into his convertible.
“You’re spending the day with me, Miss! We’ll have lunch and then we’ll fuck! And I don’t care
if you don’t feel like it!”
Dagmar returns to the suite, and as Ursula is feigning sleep her sister strips down and plays with herself in the bed
right next to her. As Dagmar runs a gold chain between her thighs Filippo, still in the company of Stella, starts aching for
And pert little Jenny, sprucing up wearing only perfume
and a scarf, receives a visit from the dark stranger. Jenny seems to recognize the caller, and instead of receiving instant
death she places a seductive phone call to Vanessa, encouraging her to come over as quickly as she can. When Vanessa arrives
she and Jenny make sweet love under the eyes of the hidden stranger. But once Vanessa leaves, the stranger steps out of the
darkness and it looks like curtains for Jenny.
Unable to get a hold of her girlfriend the next day, Vanessa
blatantly accuses Roberto of paying her off and running her out of town. Roberto is less than sympathetic, and vague threats
of ruin are cast in his direction by his wife. Later Ursula finds Vanessa praying, and leads her down into the crypt before
running away in another one of her fits (“Papa!”). When Vanessa finds Jenny’s mutilated body she flips out
too, and heads directly to Roberto’s office to blame him for the murder. When she finds Jenny’s ankle bracelet
in Roberto’s cigar box she becomes even more certain that he killed her. Roberto explains to her, and to Filippo who
has tagged along, that he found Jenny naked and “torn to pieces” in her room. Fearing for the hotel’s reputation
he decided to simply “make the body disappear,” also getting rid of her belongings to make it look like she just
up and left. Vanessa doesn’t buy it, but Filippo is willing to play along and keep quiet, just so long as he gets some
drugs out of the deal. You see, he’s figured out that Roberto is having heroin smuggled into the country disguised as
the cosmetics that Stella so frequently picks up, and now he wants a regular taste.
A doctor who looks a more than a little bit like Charles
Bronson comes by to check on Ursula, and after prescribing rest for a “temporary physical collapse” he and Dagmar
have a drink on the terrace. In asking about the death of their father, the doctor is told by Dagmar that Daddy committed
suicide after his wife left him due to the impotence he experienced after a nervous breakdown. And it looks like some things
run in the family…
While Dagmar confers with the doc, Filippo confronts Stella
about the heroin business. Blackmail is on the rise, and to take her mind off of the fact Stella goes to bed with Roberto.
Afterwards, back in her own room, Stella is confronted by the killer. The big penile shadow grows large across the wall, and
Stella gets a goodnight kiss from a gloved hand.
Later Filippo again accosts Roberto about the drugs, but
when they go to Stella’s room to score they find her sprawled out naked, her loins splashed with blood.
And now the secrets and plot twists begin to come out.
People are not at all who they appear to be, and more than one confrontation takes place. And the killer is…well, you’ll
just have to find out for yourself.
A sleazy slice of giallo
pie indeed. La Sorella… is a very picturesque film thanks to copious nudity
and scenic shots of Italy’s architecture and oceanside
cliffs. As an appropriately sordid tale of tarnished wealth there is plenty of gratuitous sex and full frontal action to be
seen here, but for a film with a theme of a mysterious rape-murderer this could have been considerably more violent. The murders
nearly all take place off-screen, and the bodies really aren’t as “torn to pieces” as the hysterical characters
might indicate. But it is entertaining, it does contain the essential elements of exploitation, and it is pretty fucked up.
Check it out if you get the chance.
di Ursula is a 1978 film presented in Italian with English subtitles. Region-free.
* * *
& Video Wurks – www.lfvw.com – P.O. Box 289, Hampton Bays, NY,
Directed by Toby Wilkins
purely love this; monster movies are a dime a dozen these days, with indie, low-budget or small/no name monster movies being
a dime a gross. But when you see one that you don’t really know anything about and it turns out to be frankly amazing,
well it can make your night.
gas station, rural Oklahoma. On a lazy humid afternoon the attendant pulls out
a lawn chair and a bag of potato chips and sits down outside to enjoy the lack of traffic. As he does so he’s disturbed
by something in the grass and gets up to take a look. When he does so he’s viciously attacked by what looks like a cross
between an animal pelt and a dirty cactus, brutally savaged as his screams for help go unheard.
Elsewhere an SUV passes a warning marker for a Mid-State Oil Experimental Extraction Field Site. The vehicle continues
on to a camp site where Seth (Paul Costanzo) and Polly (Jill Wagner) disembark and prepare to tent up. Theirs is clearly a
case of opposites attracting: Seth is the bookish biology PhD candidate, while Polly…is just a hot chick who likes camping
and fucking under the stars.
As the couple playfully sets up, another couple is having car trouble nearby. Dennis (Shea Whigham) and Lacey (Rachel
Kerbs) are on their way to Mexico so that she can detox when
their truck craps out on them. Leaving most of their gear Dennis pushes the vehicle into a ditch and the two set off down
the road together on foot.
When Seth and Polly accidentally shred their tent in the process of trying to get it assembled, at Seth’s urging
they leave the campsite in search of a motel. Along the way they spot Lacey stumbling out of the brush along the side of the
road, and while trying to decide what to do they’re carjacked by the pistol-wielding Dennis.
An ugly hostage scenario follows, one that leads the foursome to a nighttime rendezvous at Sherman’s:
on the dark road their car struck something, something spiny, which not only shredded a tire but also ripped open the coolant
lines. And shortly after a harrowing encounter with the alien roadkill they’re forced to stop at the deserted-looking
service station when the check engine light goes on.
As Dennis and Polly pick up supplies and Seth pumps gas, Lacey struggles with the restroom door. When she finally pushes
inside she finds the attendant on the floor, blackened and bloody with bizarre spines growing out of his body. “Kill
me,” he says, as his body undergoes a series of seizures that snap and nearly sever his limbs.
Lacey runs away from the bathroom in a panic, her desperation ignored by Dennis until he sees the mutilated figure
come staggering out into the driveway after her. The creature continues to contort as it twitches after the visitors, nearly
oblivious to Dennis’ pistol shots as it ‘tears right through’ Lacey before collapsing on the hood of the
SUV. Severely wounded Lacey falls against the pump island, cracking her skull and going down as Seth and Dennis run inside
and Polly bolts the door behind them.
Polly tries to use the phone to call for help, but a paranoid and freaked-out Denis smashes that idea. Tensions rise,
but the infighting is put on hold as Dennis sees Lacey’s body move on the security camera feed. Leaving Seth and Polly
inside to stand watch, Dennis creeps outside, past the corpse of the attendant whose destroyed body is still growing spines.
Reaching Lacey Dennis tries in his small way to comfort her, even as her limbs twitch with developing spikes.
As Dennis drags Lacey toward the front door of the station, Polly takes action and locks the door before he can reach
it. When Dennis levels his firearm at the window Seth intervenes to let him inside, even as Lacey attacks her boyfriend, clawing
at his lower limbs. Seth gets the door open and Dennis is pulled inside, but as they shut the door part of Lacey’s hand
is caught and cut off. Immediately the severed digits stand to attention, radiating spines and crawling about the floor as
it follows a trail of Dennis’ blood. Even when Dennis drops a 50 lb sack of charcoal on the thing it continues to track
their motion and metabolize the spilled blood.
As the trio examines the grisly artifact Lacey’s increasingly damaged body begins to throw itself against the
station windows, spattering them with great blotches of gore. The survivors retreat to the back of the store, only to find
that the rear exit gate is locked. Even while they wonder what to do next they hear the thing start climbing about on the
Seeing this as an opportunity to break for the car Seth and Polly return to the front of the station, where they’re
met by a state trooper standing outside, holding her service revolver trained upon the group. She’s there for Dennis,
wanted for multiple crimes, and ignores their pleas for her to return to her car and call for help. The trooper does try to
call for backup on her personal radio but has trouble getting through, even as the Lacey creature jumps the gap between the
station and the island, spilling blood down onto the trooper. Rattled, the trooper is suddenly seized by the creature and
drawn into midair, screaming as the creature tears her in half and hauls her upper torso away across the roof.
At this Polly goes into near hysterics, and even the hardened Dennis throws up at the sight of such a horrific end.
Meanwhile on the roof the creature conducts a macabre grafting experiment, using its spines to stitch itself to the scavenged
trunk of the trooper. As the thing goes about its grisly work the group continues to look for an escape route. As the gas
station sits on the edge of a national forest, Dennis’ thinking is that if they set the forest on fire help is sure
to come running. Despite the suicidal nature of the idea, and Seth’s vehemently logical arguments against it, Dennis
and Polly begin pouring quarts of charcoal starter fluid down the back steps. The flammable liquid makes a trail right to
the woods, but before they can start an inferno Seth notices that the trooper’s radio is still attached to her belt.
Building a claw out of coat hangers and duct tape, he begins to reel in the handset.
With some effort Seth catches the radio and hauls it up to the after-hours window just as the creature, now even more
severely deformed, drops from the roof and tries to scrabble through the tiny opening. Polly beats it back with a baseball
bat, but the radio is lost. As she and Seth take sanctuary in the aisles, the damaged arm of the creature saws itself off
against the edges of the window and drops down into the station.
Twisting about hideously the mutilated appendage stalks through the grocery aisle until it senses the couple, whereupon
it blindly launches itself at them. Seth and Polly barely manage to keep the thing at bay until Dennis opens one of the cooler
doors for them and they gain temporary safety. But it is only temporary; while changing the tire on the SUV Dennis got a splinter
from the flat. He brushed it off at the time, but the area has come to appear increasingly infected since then. Now not only
are full-sized spines growing out of his arm, but the snapping of bones as they spines distort and destroy his body is painfully
clear. The splinters seem to be moving through his system, randomly tearing apart and reconfiguring his arm as they spread
and grow. The group decision: amputation. With a box cutter and a cinderblock. Yes, it hurts to watch.
In the aftermath there is some small amount of bonding. While in the cooler Seth is struck by the concept of temperature;
he has already categorized the creature as some sort of parasitic spore, and tiptoeing out to look at the video monitors Seth
reasons that the creature they first encountered at the station ignored him because it was drawn toward the temperature of
the overheated SUV. If the things track by heat, Seth proposes to lower his body temperature to just below the outside temperature
and simply walk out to the patrol car and pull it around for a clean getaway.
Seth is packed in ice, and once his temperature drops sufficiently Polly throws fireworks out through the back gate
to distract the creature as Seth stumbles to the car. Where he finds that the keys are not in the ignition. As Seth’s
temperature rises the creature is drawn toward the car, and something will need to be done soon.
From here on out things move pretty quickly. Just keep in mind that there are at least two savage creatures lurking
about, gallons of incendiary material have been thrown around, and our trio is trapped inside a building sitting atop a giant
gas tank. So it will not be a gentle good night.
The great story, lively pacing, fine performances (Whigham in particular possesses Robert Carlyle’s barely controlled
menace) and crisp realistic dialogue are all well and good, but it must be said that these do take something of a back seat
to the special effects.
The effects by Quantum Creation FX, under the supervision of director and long-time visual effects artist Toby Wilkins,
are excellent. They recall the pre-CGI days of Rob Bottin and Stan Winston in that the beasts are inventive, gruesome, and
actually frightening. The splinter creatures are simply incredible, being horrible tortured zombie-like pincushions both fragile
and incredibly deadly at the same time. The severed hands are effectively sick little animals, and the larger hosts are not
only painful to look at but shot so well that you get a strong impression of ugly horror rather than a too-close look at the
make-up. A little bit of Alien, a little bit of The Thing, and a touch of Bride of Reanimator; all fine sources of
Even when not in full viral mode the simple black spines of the splinters impart a sense of subtle menace, growing
quickly and vibrating with an animal hunger. And after taking possession of an organism the croaking chitter of the infected
animal is a creepy bones-rattling-against-chalkboard sound that definitely puts you on edge.
The shots and sounds of cicadas throughout are a nice touch as well, with the omnipresent hum of metamorphosis electric
in the air.
The DVD contains multiple special features that elaborate upon the production: “The Splinter Creature”
goes behind the scenes to look at the prosthetics and movement of the beast; “Creature Concept Art Gallery” breaks
down the evolution of design of the thing; “The Wizard” briefly showcases the work of pyrotechnician Pat Henderson;
“Building the Gas Station” takes a look at how the crew transformed “a concrete box” into a very realistic
environment; “Shooting Digitally” tells of taking advantage of the “shallow depth of field big budget movie
visual style” while allowing for longer takes; “Oklahoma Weather” sucks, apparently; and in “How to
Make a Splinter Pumpkin” Jill Wagner, looking more than a little like Famke Janssen, demonstrates a handy Halloween
decoration to celebrate the film’s release date.
And even these bits are good, being varied, brief and informative as compared to the feature-length ‘making of’
documentaries that some studios and filmmakers seem to prefer.
Very much worth owning.
* * * *
Directed by Sandy Harbutt
before the release of Mad Max another biker/road movie was already gaining cult
status in Australia.
Touted as “One of the most infamous biker movies in genre history,” Stone
is presented here in a fully restored and unrated 2-Disc Special Edition loaded with bonus features.
A Save the Environment campaign rally is underway at a park in New South Wales when biker gang the Grave Diggers Motorcycle
Club shows up to heckle speaker and aspiring politician Dr. Townes. As most of the gang drinks beer and shouts out catcalls,
one biker, Toad (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Mad Max’s Toecutter), wanders away tripping
balls. Stumbling through the park in a daze, Toad climbs one of the monuments and perches there to take a breather. When three
bullets from an assassin’s rifle suddenly cut down Dr. Townes, Toad manages to piece together the fact that the killer
is firing from the very same monument. The biker hightails it back to the gang and they all bail the scene, but not before
the assassin gets a good look at Toad.
Opening credits play out as a member of the Grave Diggers starts his motorcycle and guns it into the distance. Down
the road an unknown figure winches a wire taut across the country lane, and when the biker hits it at speed his head is sliced
clean off. Later that night the same gloved killer plants an explosive device in the bike of another Grave Digger, and when
the Club member stumbles out of his girlfriend’s pad and starts the engine both he and the bike go up in a ball of flame.
The biker hunt continues the next day, as the killer watches a lone biker approaching down a seaside roadway. Just before
the motorcycle reaches him the killer pulls his car out into the street, and forced to swerve to avoid an accident the Grave
Digger and his bike go sailing over the cliff and into the ocean many stories below.
A funeral procession made up of hundreds of bikers escorts the body of their latest fallen brother to his final resting
place in a Sydney graveyard. There a few words are said over the coffin, including
an invocation to Satan made by the one-eyed Doctor Death (Vincent Gil, Mad Max’s
Nightrider). The Club member’s body is removed from the coffin and placed upright in the ground, “So you won’t
have to take anything from the Evil One lying down,” and various tokens are added to the grave by other Club members.
The filling in of the grave is interrupted by a group of police officers, whose lead detective wants any information
the Grave Diggers have about the murders. But the bikers aren’t giving up anything; they don’t need the pigs,
they’ll take care of their own business. That night the wake at the local pub begins with the stomping of a construction
crew, whose bad manners get them knocked around and thrown out into the street. So when some nattily dressed cat with a ponytail
rides up on a bike and enters the bar it looks like he’s picked exactly the wrong place to be, mate. Especially when
he starts asking around for Undertaker (director Harbutt), the Club president.
It turns out the pretty boy is a cop named Stone (Ken Shorter), and he too is looking into who’s been killing
off the Grave Diggers. His persistence earns him a punch in the face, and it looks like a brawl is about to break out when
crossbow bolts begin shooting in through the window. Dr. Townes’ assassin, the same man who has been picking off the
bikers, is stationed outside, trying to thin their ranks even more. Johnny Law goes running out after him, but the killer
gets away in a waiting car.
The bikers have chased out after Stone, and now they all return to the bar. The copper is owed a debt of gratitude
for having pushed a pair of the Grave Diggers, Captain Midnight (Bindi Williams) and Ferret (Peter King), out of the line
of fire, and what he wants in return is to ride with the gang for a little while. A vote is taken, and the bikers grudgingly
accept Stone’s proposition. Just so long as he doesn’t get out of line.
The next morning a Grave Digger escort calls Stone away from the arms of his old lady. The biker leads him on a high
speed chase through the picturesque oceanside town, leading to the gang’s
fortified peninsula clubhouse. Looking like an abandoned prison, the place is a maze of concrete tunnels and stairwells where
the gang has been holed up since the killing of their comrades began. Undertaker calls the Grave Diggers together outside,
and the bikers and their molls gather round to laugh and cheer as Stone tries on his Club colors. But once the vest is on,
his initiation begins.
A pair of bikers grab Stone and hold him down as Doctor Death approaches with a syringe. With some small ceremony Stone’s
ear is pierced and the gang’s emblem, a dangling skeleton, is attached. Cheers and beers are thrown around, and a celebration
begins. Part of which involves a winding race through the suburbs between Stone and Captain Midnight – Stone loses in
a wipeout, but does gain respect from the Diggers for putting on a good show.
On his own Stone begins asking around town to see if anyone knows of anybody who might have a particular grudge against
the Grave Diggers. And while he hears some wild stories about the outlaws, most people tend to tolerate or even admire them.
Some time later the Diggers’ shenanigans at the local are interrupted by rival club the Blackhawks. In no time
at all there’s a gang war taking place out in the middle of the street, started when lead Blackhawk Birdman topples
Stone’s fancy new ride. (“Jap crap!”) Even the bikers’ old ladies get involved, and the Grave Diggers
easily take the upper hand until Undertaker ends the scuffle by brandishing a double-barreled shotgun. Defeated, but with
their sense of humor still intact, the grinning Blackhawks saddle up and ride away.
Hearing of this incident the assassin, in a meeting with the ‘legitimate’ businessmen who act as his shadowy
overlords, pitches the idea of staging a major hit on the Grave Diggers and making it look like the Blackhawks were responsible.
Given the go-ahead the killer strides from the room with a smirk on his face.
Not long afterward the Diggers are at their pub when the owner presents Undertaker with the helmet they’d buried
their fallen brother with earlier. He didn’t recognize the guy who brought it in, but he was told that it was delivered
with the compliments of the Blackhawks. And even as Stone tries to tell the gang that it’s a setup, the Grave Diggers
arm themselves and mount up, riding off to war.
The film ends with multiple scenes of violence as various scores are settled at different levels. And while these may
not have involved the fiery wrecks and wholesale slaughter one might be expecting, the film does provide differing perspectives
A radical and controversial film for the time, Stone may appear a bit dated
today but it remains a classic tale of bikes and brotherhood. The additional features described further on are a testimony
to the fact that the film has an enormous cult following, at least in Australia, as well as a clear and definite influence
on the creators of the Mad Max franchise (one of the Diggers’ names is Bad
Max, while in The Road Warrior there’s a character named Toadie – not
to mention all the outback biker action).
There are some impressive scenes here, although for an outlaw biker exploitation flick I was kind of hoping for something
meaner, with a little more blood and flames. And maybe some more fantastic motorcycle crashes. But although there are the
essential elements of the genre here, such as brawling and racing (and some biker moll cleavage; keep your eyes on Rebecca
Gilling as Undertaker’s old lady Vanessa), the emphasis here is on the story, its characters, and the overall moral
of loyalty. High production values add to the experience, and it’s a true shame that Harbutt never made a second film.
With no subtitles there are a few lines lost to the Aussie accents, some of which are heavier and more indistinguishable
than others, but this is fairly minimal. And there is a bit of disappointment brought to light in one of the bonus segments,
that being that this isn’t the original cut of the film but one that was trimmed down by the director for international
Disc one’s bonus feature consists of the theatrical trailer for Stone,
and there is a full second DVD of additional extras. Chief among these is the hour-long Stone
Forever, a documentary by Richard Kuipers that commemorates the 25-year mark for the cult film described as “One
of the most popular and profitable of all Australian films.” The event was celebrated in Sydney
in 1998 by over 30,000 bikers, many of whom also participated in the “25th Anniversary Stone Run.”
A number of “bikies” from different clubs weigh in on the film’s place in biker history, as well as providing
anecdotes of their own experiences.
Director Harbutt talks about his long-standing interest in motorcycles and biker culture, and about using members of
Australia’s bikie community (such as the Sydney chapter of the Hell’s Angels) as well as professional actors in
the film, a choice both practical and economical (extras were paid in beer and dope) that served to flesh out the picture
and make it more authentic.
Cast members such as Ken Shorter, Helen Morse (Stone’s wife Amanda), John Ivkovitch (Zonk), Rebecca Gilling,
Vincent Gil, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Roger Ward (Hooks, who also played Fifi in Mad Max),
Peter King and Dewey Hungerford (Septic) share their recollection of the film experience as well, as do some of the producers,
touching upon the drug use of the times, working with outlaw motorcyclists, critical press, and the resultant cult following
the film generated. (Despite getting the cold shoulder from the Australian film industry.)
Another feature is “The Making of Stone,” and what with the
film being four years in the making there is plenty of background material here. (Although much of the same footage can also
be seen in Stone Forever.) Harbutt talks about bikie culture and their rejection
of mainstream law and society, but emphasizes the fact that they still maintain rigorous codes of honor and conduct. Many
of the biker gang members are veterans, or “diggers,” and as such not only take these concepts to heart but also
have a valid political viewpoint. (Certainly one that outweighs many members of the Love Generation, anyway.) A number of
bikers provide their opinions on the film, as well as their impression of life in the motorcycle clubs (and of course the
attendant interest taken in them by cops and women).
There’s a “Stone Makeup Test” (kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel for bonus material now),
and the package is rounded out by the 21-minute “Director’s Slide Show.” Narrated by Sandy Harbutt, the
director provides background information on the rest of the cast, praises the crew, and talks about some of the more interesting
locations and elements of the film (such as the motorcycles themselves).
A little redundant in places perhaps, but definitely a phenomenon. Fans of bikes and biker films will definitely dig
DISCLAIMER: This fuzzy bastard gets a point off straightaway for not including the unrated version of the film on the
rental DVD. Yeah I know it’s not the movie’s fault, but as my universal remote doesn’t support the option
to even try and play the non-theatrical version on my off-brand DVD player (high tech here at Paniscus HQ) I had to get it
set up in another room, only to find out that Ted says the rental disc itself doesn’t support any other option either.
Is it all a part of Smug MacFarlane’s ever-engorging mediamoeboa and its conglomerizing scheme to get you to buy more
shit? I don’t know, but somebody’s making me work for this one…
takes the oft-rubbed concept of childhood fantasy bleeding through into adulthood (holiday wish makes teddy bear a real ‘live’
best friend, who then sticks around for 25 years) and instead of making it all happy-happy-joy-joy takes it to a place where
the childhood relic lets a hooker make a shit on the rug. So, yes, it is very much an outgrowth of the FAMILY GUY experience,
with all of the inappropriateness intact and enhanced in what you might expect from a (mostly) live-action rendition of MacFarlane’s
mind. As such, there are an assload of laughs to be had here as the story braces serious issues with full-on irreverence in
the most absurdist of contexts: bodily functions collide with pop culture references, lack of respect flows like the L.A.
River at high trash, frank foul language is common currency, there is some amount of creepiness, and Flash Gordon goes on
a coked-out rampage. Sure there’s a certain degree of sappiness (it is about a fucking teddy bear for fuck’s sake),
but the sheer wrongness of it all covers that nicely for the most part.
has a sense of humor as big as his tits, as he proved in THE OTHER GUYS, Patrick Warburton is always a delight (yeah, I said
that), Mila Kunis is still pretty cute even if she is basically the cause of as much trouble as the titular reprobate, Giovanni
Ribisi does a masterful job of providing the aforementioned creepiness, and AMERICAN DAD’s Patrick Stewart (yes, I’m
well aware that Mr. Stewart ‘belongs’ to another franchise, and I’m well aware that I’m refusing to
recognize it) again gifts us with his noble capacity for narration. And of course MacFarlane is a natural as the voice of
Ted (if a little uneven yet as a live-action director [car chase that might have worked in a cartoon, blatantly uneven lighting]).
basically know what you’re getting into here, and as such you’ll definitely get your out-loud laughs. Hmm, there’s
no gag reel available on the rental either; that’s funny, they had plenty of room for all of the previews… Well
then, let me just tell you right here that the teddy bear
horror is largely hit-and-miss. And unfortunately the ball falls largely outside of the strike zone (despite the massive number
of American remakes). They may try rike dickens, but a horror film, particularly a mutant/zombie film, has a different set
of aesthetics than say, I don’t know, a hatchback. It really is like ordering a dish from a foreign menu: you’re
just never sure exactly what you’re going to get, let alone what influences the presentation will contain. Anyway, this
one’s called Tokyo Gore Police. Get some sake and some dried squid and shit
and enjoy – it’s actually pretty good.
The film starts out on a promising note, as a little girl’s voiceover praising the virtues of her policeman dad
plays out over the image of a smiling, saluting police officer. Just before his head is split apart by an assassin’s
bullet, spattering the camera lens with blood and brains.
Flash forward to the present, and that little girl, Ruka (Eihi Shiina), is now a police officer herself. Currently
on duty with a gang of other officers, their assignment is to bring down Koji Tanaka, a brain-eating Texas Chainsaw reject. As the officers storm the roof of the abandoned building where Tanaka is feasting on the
mutilated remains of his female victim and doing the Leatherface dance, Ruka sits in her squad car and slashes her arm over
and over again with a box cutter. The many scars on her arm indicate that she’s done this before.
Up on the rooftop Tanaka gets blasted by the heavily armed and armored squadron, unleashing a veritable shower of gore.
But instead of going down Tanaka’s body starts to mutate, and as a second chainsaw grows from his wounded arm he takes
the head off of one of the police officers. Tanaka is an Engineer, we’re told, a dangerous new type of mutant with a
desperate thirst for death and destruction.
Now Ruka springs into action: pulling a bazooka from her vehicle she plants one end on the ground and pulls the trigger,
riding the weapon up into the air and landing in the midst of Tanaka’s battleground. Where she uses her samurai sword
to relieve the Engineer of both of his chainsaws and then literally carves him to pieces.
Afterwards we’re informed that “The Police Force of Tokyo has been privatized,” becoming the Tokyo
Police Corporation. This of course for a “more plentiful life” for all. During the autopsy of the Engineer Tanaka,
his body is found to contain the key-shaped tumor characteristic of the Engineers, the destruction of which is the only real
way to stop one of them. The Engineers themselves are vicious criminals who have transformed their bodies into killing machines;
when they’re injured, instead of slowing them down their wounds turn into weapons themselves. Their origin is unknown,
but the problem has become so widespread that special officers such as Ruka have been designated as “Engineer Hunters.”
One day on patrol Ruka is urgently summoned back to the police station. Down in the underbelly of the building she
finds herself alone, except for a massive armored figure leading a quadruple-amputee sex dwarf in fetish gear toward her.
Drawing her blade Ruka prepares for battle, but just then the lights come on and the armored man shouts in a fatherly way,
“Happy Birthday, Ruka!” It’s the police chief himself (Yukihide Benny), and as her co-workers gather round
he announces that for her honorable efforts in the extermination of 50 Engineers she is being awarded a Merit Badge, Second
Class: The Shouwa Seesaw. This only serves to send Ruka into a childhood flashback, one in which another birthday celebration
is spoiled by her mother having a breakdown and slashing her own arm repeatedly.
Meanwhile more Engineers are on the prowl. One catches up with the madam of an S&M brothel, cornering her in a
subway bathroom and skewering her with a set of gigantic heavy gauge needles. Attaching baby bottles to the ends of the needles,
the Engineer drains the woman’s blood and then cuts her up, leaving her packed neatly in a cardboard box for the police
to find. When the body parts are discovered it can be seen that the outline of a key has been carved into one of the woman’s
forearms. All of which is unusual for an Engineer, as the beasts usually carry out their crimes with thoughtless savagery.
Going undercover, Ruka enters the subway system where the madam’s body was found. After sharing a car with a
bug-eating punk she catches a groper fondling her ass and, taking him off of the train at the next stop, she drags him out
into a back lot and cuts off both of his hands. (“An act of molestation is something serious, sir.”) Returning
to the train, Ruka fades out into a reverie of her father’s murder. When she comes out of her trance she’s alone
in the car, except for a dark scar-faced individual. When he gets up she follows him into the next car, only to find another
box of drained and skewered human remains.
Catching a glimpse of the killer Ruka exits the train and stalks him through a nearby alleyway. When he surprises her
a swordfight commences, and Ruka inflicts a deep lateral cut across the stranger’s face, a wound that should be fatal.
But instead the killer simply pulls off the top of his own skull, showering Ruka with blood and gore. When the deluge ends
she can see that the man’s brain is exposed, and from where his eyes used to be there now project two sizeable gun barrels.
From these the Engineer fires a series of bone-like projectiles, pinning Ruka to the wall.
As she stands there, trapped, the Engineer pulls a key-like tumor from his brain and inserts it into her forearm. Turning
the key tears open Ruka’s entire arm, and as she looks at the damage in shock the Engineer tells her, “Now you’re
one of us.” As he plants his key inside of her, Ruka’s screams fade to black. When she wakes up she’s lying
down back at the police station, apparently unharmed.
An autopsy of the creature’s upper cranium, left at the scene, confirms that he is indeed an Engineer. Running
the remaining portion of the face through the police database identifies the thing’s former self as Akino Miyama (Itsuji
Itao), an employee of KGE Laboratory. Who appears to have committed suicide some time ago. It even looks like Miyama, also
known as Keyman, may have been the same man who killed Ruka’s father…
All of the KGE Labs appear to have been closed down, but visiting the abandoned facility where Miyama worked Ruka finds
a bizarre file on a woman named Haruka Yoshioka. She appears to be some sort of test subject or mutant: instead of nipples
her breasts each sport a toothy, smiling mouth.
Ruka requests that a search be initiated for Yoshioka, but it’s a fellow officer who finds her first. Visiting
a kinky nightclub/brothel, the officer finds himself in a fetish crowd enjoying a circus-like atmosphere wherein mutant woman
are displayed onstage and made available for hire. Yoshioka is onstage, as is a snail girl and a woman who has been reduced
to little more than a fleshy chair that sprays the audience with golden showers from her orchid-like vagina. Our man selects
Yoshioka and her hungry-looking breasts, and is led to a room in the back. There the girl straps him into a medical examination
chair, and after a bit of foreplay she bites his cock right off. As blood sprays everywhere Keyman approaches, eager to begin
some body reconstruction surgery.
Pulling out a power drill Keyman starts drilling holes in the still-struggling officer. Somehow the man manages to
get a hand free and pull his weapon, but Yoshioka throws herself in front of the Engineer and is practically blown in half
by the policeman’s bullets. As she lies there flailing and shrieking the officer manages to crawl away, only to have
the girl come creeping after him. Yoshioka has now transformed into a frightening mutant creature: her legs have become sharp-toothed
alligator jaws, with the throat being at her pelvis. At speed the Yoshioka monster scuttles toward the policeman, biting off
one of his arms and one of his legs before he can jam his gun down her throat and put her out of his misery for good. As the
officer lies there in shock Keyman approaches once again, and, as he did with Ruka, inserts his key into the man’s arm.
This time the victim’s entire head opens up, and the engineer drives the key deep inside the policeman’s skull.
As Ruka continues her search for Yoshioka, the now-transformed police officer returns to the station sporting a gigantic
needle where his arm used to be. And a truly monster-sized penis. That shoots bullets. With his fresh new appendages the latest
Engineer begins gruesomely dispatching his fellow officers, and after a bloody battle he is finally brought down by a hail
of gunfire and the boot of the Chief. Who, insulted that the criminals have so boldly attacked the honorable ranks of Tokyo
Police Corporation, declares open season on all Engineers. And anyone else who looks remotely suspicious.
Ruka meanwhile has come to the last address on her list, which puts her in front of an apartment door secured with
dozens of padlocks. As she studies the bizarre portal the padlocks suddenly snap open and fall to the ground, and from out
of the doorway steps Keyman. But instead of attacking her the Engineer congratulates Ruka and invites her inside for a presentation
on “The Man with a License to Kill.”
It’s about a police sanctioned sniper, whose genius son wanted to study genetic engineering. But after a botched
assassination attempt the man resigned, and with little to no severance pay he and his wife could not afford a higher education
for the boy. So, when the man’s old boss showed up and paid him cash for one last job, he accepted. The target was “The
leader of the group against police privatization”: Ruka’s father. Of course the assassin was himself killed on
the spot, right in front of his son. The son being Miyama, who was attending the rally that day along with Ruka.
Miyama had been studying the genetic structure of serial killers at the university, but after watching his father die
the young man went apeshit and injected all of the specimens of the serial killers’ genetic material into his own body.
His goal was to become a killer himself and exact revenge, but he instead ended up jumping from the roof of the lab.
In a confused state Miyama found himself standing in front of an enormous door, from which emerged a devil midget who
gave him a jar of…something. The next thing he knows Miyama is waking up in a hospital, with key-shaped scars on his
face and a doctor showing him the key-like tumor they’ve removed from his head. With some research Miyama discovers
that the growth is some kind of miraculous ‘killer gene,’ and instead of destroying it he cultures and reproduces
Now Keyman wants to start a revolution, creating a country of Engineers. And it will begin with the execution of the
man who shot his father, the same man who ordered Ruka’s father exterminated: the Police Chief. Keyman wants Ruka to
join him; by way of reply Ruka splits him right down the middle with her sword.
Meanwhile the police are conducting what amounts to wholesale slaughter, rounding up and executing citizens at random
in an overly gleeful effort to annihilate the Engineers or anyone who might become one. An orgy of violence takes place, in
which the police show themselves to be every bit as sadistic and bloodthirsty as the Engineers they’re hunting. Every
variety of atrocity is committed, and bodies and body parts soon litter the streets.
Ruka is horrified upon witnessing the scene of the carnage; she’s even too late to save her female bartender
friend from being drawn and quartered between four police cars. But with the tumor throbbing inside her Ruka’s new Engineering
instinct takes over, and she begins to mutate and exact violent retribution. All the way to the police station and the ultimate
battle with her boss…
Deliberate overkill (literally) in a very fun way, all the way through. Ridiculous, even. It took me a little while
to get over the cartoony aspect of the film, but with the overload of monsters and violence (not to mention kinkiness) it
really didn’t take long to get into the spirit of the thing. I still can’t really tell whether all of the cheap
rubbery body parts are supposed to be a gag or whether the wiggly latex look is accidental; in some scenes it looks like all
they’re missing is a rubber chicken or two thrown in there for good luck. And all of the overdone blood spray really
does look like a water sprinkler has gone bad, right from the get-go. (Why not break out the Slip ‘N Slide while you’re
at it?) It’s all definitely over the top, with gallons of blood and guts sloshed about, but it’s also most entertaining
in a grisly comic book fashion. Which I think is what the filmmakers, and the fans, were going for: like the kids on The Simpsons say with great gusto, “Cartoon violence! Cartoon violence!” (And, on the parental side,
there’s even a bit of a moral about the cure being worse than the disease – shades of Christianity!)
Adding to the colorful mayhem of the film are numerous gag commercial spots, such as the ones for the “cute”
new Wrist Cutter G (marketed toward the suicidal female adolescent crowd) and Remote Control Exterminate. And the ultra-violent
ads for the Tokyo Police Corporation itself. Even the soundtrack and song lyrics are bizarre: “Old lady bit my leg now
it’s satisfied… Before I fall into Hell with a red light bulb dangling. Let’s go out. Let’s go kill.”
Mark this one up as a hit – and an ideal part of a day-long horror marathon.
Panik House continues its series of hit-or-miss titles with Tokyo Psycho: “Ripped
from the headlines, Tokyo Psycho retraces the steps of a real Japanese serial killer…Graphic,
shocking and unrelenting! A new wave horror classic!” But is it now?
Yumiko (Sachiko Kokubu) is being harassed by a crazy one-eyed woman; the bizarre creature just shows up at her design
studio one day and starts freaking out on her. On top of that, on the very same day she receives a mangled letter stating
simply, “You were born to marry me.” She even gets a tortured photograph of herself delivered to her at her secondary
school reunion. In this context it all brings to mind the unwanted attentions of an unstable classmate from back in grade
school, a disturbed outsider named Mikuriya. He too wanted to marry her, but was removed from school and was rumored to have
been sent to a notorious juvenile detention center.
With the help of the Internet and the “Juvenile Delinquency Enthusiast Club” Yumi comes across the case
of “Youth ‘M’” who seems to fit her stalker perfectly – lonely, no friends, always changing
schools…and found not guilty of the murder of his parents by reason of insanity. Murder, by the way, committed by strangulation
with piano wire; wire very much like that sewed through the eerie letters she’s been receiving. Reading further, Yumi
discovers something even more frightening: “The faces were peeled off of both bodies. ‘Youth M’ is Motomu
Unwanted mail continues to arrive, this time in the form of a surprise package containing her secondary school ID card,
packed in a box of dirt and bloodworms. With this Yumiko has had enough, and she contacts private investigation firm the Baker
Street Irregulars at which her former classmate Mika works. They locate an old apartment of Mikuriya’s that’s
discomfortingly close to Yumiko’s home; even more unsettling is the fact that it’s filled with obsessively damaged
photographs of her.
Outside of the apartment the girls run into Osamu (Masashi Taniguchi), the boyfriend of her art school chum and business
partner Moe (Mizuho Nakamura). A shocking impression of recognition causes Yumiko to faint dead away, and when she awakens
she finds herself in Osamu’s flat being tended to by he and Mika. As she attempts to sort out her feelings, Osamu strangles
Mika to death with a garrote of piano wire as she leaves to make her way home.
Yumi however is spared, and some time later she unwisely meets Osamu for coffee. Not only does he admit to being Mikuriya,
but he pretty much convinces her he’s completely batshit all across the board. Yumiko escapes his attentions for the
time being, and desperately she tries to reach Mika by phone. But even as she does so we’re shown what’s become
of the junior detective, who’s now little more than an ornately lighted corpse wired into a birdcage-like altar to Mikuriya’s
The psycho even does away with his newly-pregnant girlfriend Moe, showing up at Yumiko’s apartment wearing the
dead girl’s face. Overpowering Yumi Mikuriya wraps her in plastic and carries his “fiancée” away for a “picnic,”
an outing every bit as deranged as he is (think worms and polka-dotted hats). The inevitable emotional and physical climax
isn’t far away, and with a little bit more than a little bit of psychosis the film comes to the expected overwrought
This one had so much potential; a Japanese true crime serial killer film by an established director… But it rapidly
becomes clear that this is Oikawa’s pet art project, not a serious attempt at conveying the shock and horror of psychopathically
aberrant behavior striking too close to home.
With a stark elemental
cinematic approach that borders on the claustrophobic, Tokyo Psycho initially looks
like an entry in the Guinea Pig series but quickly devolves into an irritating
stylistic experiment. One that, instead of inspiring terror, gives the viewer an almost reality show/soap opera view of the
melodramatic goings-on; very up close and personal, yet none too graphic at all. And while the film does adequately convey
the discomfort of damaged human relationships it still doesn’t provide the cinematic payoff you’d expect from
such a sensationalistic topic; rather than shocking the viewer Tokyo Psycho manages
to impart the complete opposite of its intentions, boring the watcher with its cuckoo theatricals.
include looks behind the scenes and chats with the cast and crew, biographies, appearances at the premiere, trailers, poster
& still galleries and, perhaps most interesting of all, “True Crime: The Inspiration for Tokyo Psycho” as told by Selwyn Harris. This covers “The Otaku Murderer,” a child-killing cannibal
necrophiliac named Tsutomo Miyazaki. An “obsessive collector” of sexually explicit and violent videotapes (around
6,000 or so), Tsutomo suffered from a deformity of the hands that didn’t prevent him from killing a number of victims,
keeping parts of their bodies and mailing others back to the families. He was eventually caught and found to have multiple
mental disorders but was given a death sentence anyway (at the time of this release he remains on death row). The second article
is on Hiroyuki Tsuchida, another deranged fan of anime who killed his mother and planned to kill many more.
With such rich
material to work from, and the artistic license to take it to extremes, this background material only makes the film’s
lack of impact all the more disappointing. The packaging, however, is top-notch: the DVD case cover is a detachable jigsaw
puzzle, and the disc comes with a full-size sticker of the cover imagery. Region-free, in native Japanese with optional English
Now here’s a film that promises it all: a cyber-punk tale of sex and violence featuring “sodomy, masturbating
bunnies and death in 21st Century Tokyo.” Well, it sounds all
When Kenji (Yuichi Ishikawa) rides his scooter into the middle of a poison gas attack his dead voice becomes the narration,
speaking in distant third-person as it watches Kenji’s girlfriend Haruka (Yumeka Saski) plying her trade as a hooker.
Going home with a man dressed in a rabbit suit Haruka dances for him and does as he likes (“Finger in the asshole?”),
but when he’s finished fucking her Bunnyman becomes angry and antagonistic. After belittling Haruka over her personal
and family troubles, he puts the bunny head back on and strangles her to death. (Now there’s something you don’t
see every day, a guy wearing a giant rabbit head throttling a naked Japanese prostitute…)
The film and its timeline jump around some after that: we peek in on Kenji and Haruka’s relationship; watch the
sexplay of a gangster and his girlfriend (which includes a semen-filled water pistol) as it dissolves into domestic violence;
visit the kids who lived in Kenji’s old pad, now moving out because Haruka kept breaking in to pee on the floor (but
not before sharing some Wild Turkey, talk of the death of a friend, drunken bathroom sex and a threesome); watch a couple
of guys gallivanting around in Superman costumes; etc.
Then, miraculously, Kenji and Haruka meet again in 2002, picking up right where they left off. But then a tranny in
a bunny costume shows up and fucks Kenji right in the ass, claiming to be the god of death. Then he shows Kenji and Haruka
photographs of their dead bodies, time shifts again and they’re alive together after death just like nothing ever happened,
cue token stroll through the alleyway where some Japanese pop band is playing some confused Japanese pop, and thank fuck that’s
all over with.
There’s nothing worse than pretentious porn. Well there is, of course, but in this limited context let’s
make it as clear as possible that aimless, tiresome, poorly-shot softcore sex shit just doesn’t cut it ‘round
riddles of life and death (“Which is longer, the time before birth or the time after death?”) are apparently meant
to add existential weight to the film, but really it’s just a bunch of kids playing fuck games and, well, talking. And
despite the explicitness of some of the talk, action-wise this is a very non-graphic piece of “Pink Cinema.” Much
more Gen-X than triple-X, if you know what I mean. None too distant from some other indie flicks also lacking in substance
and storyline throughout the duration of their stop-n-go performances, no matter how much sex & violence they throw into
The film is awash
with light and neon coloration meant to impart a futuristic look, but instead of accentuating some kind of perverse futurism
this approach ultimately bleeds out the picture’s detail in a blurry glow that the often flickering, almost stop-motion
effect of the photography enhances in a negative way. It’s almost as if the filmmakers were going for an old-home-movie-from-the-future
look, trying to present a jittery 8mm filmstock point of view of the 21st Century. And it doesn’t come close
Presented in widescreen with English subtitles, Tokyo X Erotica does at
least have a few bonuses. These consist of a scene selection, a few stills, an essay on the evolution of Japanese “Pink
Cinema,” and information about Salvation’s gothic music label Triple Silence. This includes a video for “Country”
by the band Synthetic, kind of like a gothic Culture Club (despite the Lovecraftian influence over the rather good computer-generated
Japanimation). The DVD also introduces the Salvation Group’s Short Film Showcase, here presenting The Trick, a film by Rob Green. Clever and well-shot, this silent but colorful short is about a haughty board
of “Master Magicians” who more than meet their match with the surprising audition of an anonymous mage. It’s
great, and simply put it’s easily the best part of the disc.
One point for The Trick, and of course for the giant bunny strangling the
whore, but otherwise there’s not a lot here to recommend Tokyo X Erotica.
Raunchy softcore sex clips set to a funkin’ groovy
Seventies porno soundtrack introduce this entry into the raunchy softcore Nikkatsu Roman Porno Collection (an assemblage aptly
expanded upon in liner notes from Japanese Film Scholar Jasper Sharp) before it all begins, as it so often does, with a bit
of bondage. A young lady is seen constrained on the dark floor of a solitary confinement cell as the Japanese soul stylings
of The Downtown Boogie Woogie Band’s “Prison Blues” herald the arrival a busload of new meat at Girls’
Juvenile Hall. “Be friends everyone,” a guard tells a batch of them as he herds them into Cell 3 after a parade
of nudity and delousing.
And friends they be, by way of some rather wicked sexual hazing as Our Lady of the Disciplinary
Ward, Houjou Mayumi (Kozue Hitomi), is released from solitary and warned not to repeat her “rebellious antics”
as she’s returned to Cell 3. Cell leader Igami Hideko promptly picks a cat fight with her for failing to join in the
spirit of things, and their vigorous brawl continues into bath time when Mayumi is ‘invited to the grass bath’
(given a golden shower) for being a disrespectful bitch. This comes to a temporary halt when lights-out is called and all
are treated to some light & kinky jailcell lesbianism; Mayumi refrains, preferring instead to recall the day that led
to her incarceration, when she and her mother were attacked and raped by a gang of youths…
A short while later Mayumi’s friend Yukie is assaulted during garden chore for being
a “brown noser” and subjected to stripping and snake torture. Mayumi intervenes, another vicious spat breaks out,
and it’s straight back to solitary for her. Where the film takes an opportunity to fully revel in the glories of exploitation
in a scene wherein Mayumi, hands cuffed behind her, inches her prison PJs down around her ankles with her toes and crawls
over to the cell’s filthy toilet to masturbate herself on its rim while flashing back on the scene of the rape of her
and her mother – and the subsequent stalking, seduction and murder of one of their attackers.
Yukie is released while Mayumi is still confined to the disciplinary ward, having convinced
the Family Court that she’s been completely rehabilitated. Yet somehow she allows herself to be picked up by the Yakuza
just outside the prison, and they’re offering more than just a ride. They present Yukie with the opportunity to work
for them – unless she wants a set of very compromising photographs of herself naked in the garden with a snake to ‘follow
her around,’ courtesy of one of the guards and his trusty Pentax. Mayumi hears all about this as the guard, Saotome,
discusses it with Hideko, who helped engineer the scheme, while they engage in some dirty secret sex in the vacant cell just
across the row from Mayumi’s.
Elsewhere wrongness abounds as Yukie is forced submit to her first Yakuza-sponsored assignation
with some greasy little dick who enjoys making her watch her “first time” in a mirror, and Mayumi’s mother
is seen to be screwing Mr. Andou, the father of one of she and Mayumi’s attackers who Mayumi was arrested for attempting
to murder. And who also happens to be a Yakuza-connected member of the prison administration system that had Mayumi convicted…
Working in the prison shop Mayumi comes across an article in the packing paper featuring
Yukie’s photograph and reporting, “Young Prostitute Throws Self in Front of Train – Threatened with Erotic
Photos.” In response Mayumi gives Hideko such a vicious bath house beating that she suffers a bloody miscarriage –
a result of “the inappropriate actions of an officer” the prison officials declare. This is unfortunate, especially
in light of an upcoming prison inspection by the governmental Central Agency. Fearing discovery, Saotome takes care of Hideko’s
recuperation by shutting off her oxygen supply.
But Saotome’s guilt begins to take hold of him and he starts coming unhinged, almost
losing it when one of the girls, a convicted “baby killer,” freaks out when her baby doll Satoshi is trod upon
during cell cleaning. Saotome’s bad reaction, along with cell block scuttlebutt, almost gets him lynched by the inmates
as they advance upon him in unison with mop handle rape on their minds. Only the intervention of the other guards saves him
– only to make him face an equally horrible fate as he’s called onto the carpet by the prison administrator as
being responsible for Hideko’s death.
When the tour group of administrators and civic-minded citizens visits the Hall, Mayumi spots
the heinous Mr. Andou right away and instigates a stoning of the inspectors. Fully riled, the girls all pick up shards of
broken glass and give chase to the terrified visitors – driving them right into a series of horrifying scenes. What
happens next? Let’s just say that the look of otherworldly, almost orgasmic satisfaction on Mayumi’s face is priceless.
And from there The True Story of a Woman in Jail will continue, as the crimson-lotus-flower-blooming-in-the-waters-of-hell
song fades us out.
Pretty kinky by most standards, with more sex, violence, piss, bathhouse frottage and jail-rigged
dildo action than one might see elsewhere – there’s even a transsexual surprise. And the fact that the filmmakers
make it a point to point out that the setting is GIRLS’ Juvenile Hall just makes it all the more sordid. Or delightful,
depending upon your point of view. Like the fellow with the frogs in the infamous Japanese S&M sex tape said, “Ooji,
be yet another take-off on Seventies devil child films such as The Omen and The Exorcist, albeit with a bit of a dreidel spin, but the promise of teenage panty
outweighs the overused visual of the backwards head. Plus, it’s got potato bugs in it. And that’s a huge bonus
– when was the last time you saw a potato bug as a harbinger of evil?
Casey (aspiring Jennifer Connelly Odette Yustman) is troubled before the film barely begins; she dreams of lost mittens,
dogs with human facemasks, and sentient embryos. (What’s the name of this film again? Oh yeah, The Unborn.) She also has the unfortunate duty of babysitting creepy little shit Matty (Atticus Shaffer), who
clocks her in the face with a mirror and an unsettling message when she catches him pulling some weird voodoo shit on his
The next morning as she prepares breakfast Casey cracks open an egg and is horrified when a live potato bug falls out
into the skillet. Her day isn’t much improved when, sitting around with her college pals, she’s told by her superstitious
friend Romy (Meagan Good) that it’s bad luck for a newborn to see its own reflection – which is exactly what Matty
was doing to his sister when Casey found him the night before. And wouldn’t you know it, shortly thereafter Matty’s
little sister dies unexpectedly.
Matty’s eerie message to Casey, “Jumby wants to be born now,” comes creeping back to her again and
again, accompanied by piercing headaches and other unexplained symptoms. And then, right in the middle of a class, the potato
bug strikes again! Cut to a shower scene (even in the unrated version it’s a PG-13 shower scene; no T, no A), and in
the locker room afterwards Romy draws Casey’s attention to the fact that she’s suddenly acquired David Bowie syndrome:
one of her irises is changing color from brown to blue. On top of that, Casey keeps seeing another creepy little shit playing
hide-and-seek mindgames in her line of vision.
After an eye exam Casey is told that there is nothing wrong with her eyes (although if she still has concerns her physician
urges her to seek the opinion of a “genetic counselor”), but the doctor does ask her an unusual question: is Casey
a twin? She doesn’t think so, but she goes to ask her father (James Remar) anyway. And if you’ve seen the trailers
you already know what the answer is. What hasn’t been explained is that her twin brother died in the womb because her
umbilical cord became wrapped around his throat. Dad says they didn’t have names for the kids yet, at such an early
age, but they did have nicknames. And the boy’s was Jumby.
Earlier Casey had disclosed to her boyfriend Mark that her mother Janet (Carla Gugino, barely recognizable in a non-sexy
role) was an inmate of a mental asylum, and that she had committed suicide there. Now looking for some kind of connection,
Casey goes through some of her mother’s remaining effects. Among these is an article on Holocaust survivor Sofi Kozma,
along with a ghostly photograph of Janet that also appears to show the face of the child that Casey has been haunted by recently.
Dragging Romy along for support Casey pays a visit to Eldon Estates, the nursing home where Sofi resides. Right away
Sofi marks Casey for a twin, but says that she doesn’t know her mother Janet. However when she sees the photograph of
Casey’s mother, with the boy’s face staring out at her, she becomes nearly apoplectic and orders her visitors
Along with the troubling photograph Casey also unearthed some 8mm film reels. Getting Mark to set these up for her
the two then take a virtual tour of the madhouse in which Janet died, ending in the whitewashed brick room in which she hung
herself. In an attempt to counter these unsettling images Casey goes out dancing with her friends, but she fails to notice
the underground nature of the club they’ve chosen: Club Potato Bug! After an attack of hallucinations and headache Casey
retreats to one of the restroom stalls to vomit, only to have one of the toilets back up and overflow with muck and live insects.
All of this even as the walls begin to shatter and the tentacles of some Cthulhuian menace spray forth toward her. As she
screams for help Casey’s dead mother comes shambling out of another stall toward her, and…when her friends respond
to her cries there’s neither a ghost nor a potato bug in sight.
Now Casey’s in a real pickle; either she’s being deliberately haunted, or she’s just plain fucking
nuts. The dream she has where she’s plastered to the ceiling above her sleeping body, watching the ghost boy claw into
her uterus, doesn’t really help in any case. Waking up from this nightmare in a fright, Casey is just in time to receive
a phonecall from Sofi, who says that she needs to see the girl right away. Sofi did know Casey’s mother after all: Janet
was her daughter.
Casey returns to the nursing home, where Sofi explains that the boy in the photograph with Janet is her own twin brother,
Barto. Barto died at Auschwitz
in 1944, under the experimentation of “The Doctor,” a man who believed that twins held the key to human genetics.
“They conducted experiments on us,” Sofi explains, “Horrible experiments that blurred the line between science
and the occult.” Many of these experiments involved painful artificial adjustments of eye color, which eventually resulted
in Barto’s death. But, like a victim of some Nazi pet sematary, Barto came back. “Except it wasn’t really
Barto. A doorway had been opened. Something else was inhabiting his body.”
It was a dybbuk, says Sofi, “The soul of a dead person that has been barred from entering heaven.” Thus
cursed it wanders the earth looking for a new body; especially those of twins, who are in a sense their own special type of
mirror. “And mirrors have always been doorways to the other world.” As for Barto’s dybbuk, Sofi killed it.
And, “It’s been trying to find its way back ever since.” According to Sofi the dybbuk wanted Jumby, but
when he died the creature’s attentions turned to Casey. And it’s been stalking her ever since she was born, just
as it haunted her mother to death.
All of this is more alarming than helpful, but Sofi does point Casey in the direction of The Book of Mirrors and gives her the name of Rabbi Josef Sendak, both of which may prove useful in evading the
curse. Visiting the university library Casey easily steals the rare Sefer ha-marot,
which she finds is filled with the same nightmarish imagery that she’s been experiencing. Taking the unusual book to
Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman) for translation, Casey also requests an exorcism. Sendak attempts to assuage her drama, but upon
her insistence he agrees to take a look at the book.
Meanwhile, following Sofi’s instructions, Casey destroys all of the mirrors in her home. (Perhaps so that the
dybbuk will have to stand in line between an angry father and decades of bad luck?) Shortly thereafter Romy has a death threat
delivered to her by Matty, warning her against helping Casey fight the dybbuk’s reentry into the world. Casey continues
to have nightmares, and Sofi falls victim to demonic entities in the middle of the night.
Sendak, in the process of translating The Book of Mirrors, is also visited
by the heebie-jeebies, including a dog with an upside-down face. That same night the dybbuk attempts to make good on its threat
against Romy, sending pint-sized assassin Matty after her with a butcher’s knife. Mark and Casey show up to prevent
the murder, but a certain amount of damage has already been done.
Rabbi Sendak has by now reconsidered the exorcism idea, and with the assistance of an Episcopal priest he decides to
go ahead and try this route. And what better place to hold the rites than the abandoned asylum…
As far as how successful the ceremony is, you’ll have to see for yourself. Let’s just say that at least
it brings the movie that much closer to conclusion. And needless to say, the gates of Hell do not open to disgorge an elephant-sized
potato bug. (Damn it!) There are a few more li’l ‘uns however, along with a crash course in occult ritual, some
Hebrew mysticism, Haunted Mansion theatrics, telekinetic chaos, demon possession, monsterism and the like. And after all of
that you get a rather unfulfilling denouement stuffed with a cliché that’s so unsurprising it’s practically insulting.
And there you have it. Kind of a letdown, really, even though it encompasses all of the standard fundamentals of the
supernatural thriller: hallucinations, disturbing revelations, things that should not be, dead relatives, possession, creepy
animals and kids, etc. And then tries to throw the whole Goebbels/twin obsession concept in there as well. But even then elements
such as the Nazis’ experimentation with the occult are never fully fleshed out. And old Sofi never did explain exactly
how she killed her brother’s dybbuk, which might have saved a lot of time and effort for everyone involved.
Speaking of which, I really don’t know how Sir Gary Oldman (looking a bit like a potato bug himself) got sucked
into this one, as a rabbi, yet. But, it’s a paycheck and a resume filler, even if he is sorely underused. No Sid Vicious
or Mason Verger quality performance here I’m afraid.
The effects are hit and miss; the nightmarish dream sequences can be a little creepy (especially the Jaws figure, although
it’s none too different from the underwater thing in The House on Haunted Hill
remake), but not as disturbing as they could be. (There’s a big emphasis on contact lenses.) Somehow visions such as
the upside-down dog face manage to be more amusing than menacing; like Spuds McKenzie with a bad hangover. Drawn by Ralph
Steadman. In fact, with the swamp-blue coloration and the emphasis on mirrors and vengeful spirits it’s hard not to
compare this to other American horror films crafted in imitation of the Japanese style.
Kudos to the potato bug wrangler though; unfortunately the fucking end credits on the widescreen DVD edition prevented
me from being able to tell exactly who this was. At any rate, kudos to you sir or ma’am. Still, there aren’t enough
potato bugs in this salad for me.
Now watch it again and play The Potato Bug Drinking Game: take a drink each time a potato bug appears on screen. Careful,
when you get to the club scene this is gonna fuck you up…
Bonus features consist of deleted scenes. Alas, no more potato bugs. And no explanation of the nickname; what the fuck
is a Jumby, anyway?
Keep posted for The Unborn 2: Rise of the Jerusalem Crickets.
Lords of Chaos readers will most likely be familiar with the subject matter here, that being the Norwegian black metal
scene of the ‘90s which led to multiple deaths and even more church burnings.
Although numerous artists involved with the movement are seen and interviewed, the course of the documentary largely
follows Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell of Darkthrone fame, “The first to release an album in this black metal genre
(A Blaze in the Northern Sky),” and a man who personally knows most of the
characters involved in the violent emergence of Norway’s black metal scene. The film starts off rather slowly, and indeed
much of the footage is of the rather mundane variety: Fenriz walking, along the streets of Oslo or through a snow-covered
forest, Fenriz shopping, Fenriz riding the bus or taking the train, Fenriz at home, Fenriz giving an interview to a metal
magazine (Legacy), Fenriz going to a bar or an art gallery.
Scenes such as these, and of idyllic European winter wonderland postcard-style shots, are counterbalanced however by
images of flaming churches and some calmly-stated but vitriolic rhetoric made by other members of “The Black Circle,”
a term coined by Oystein “Euronymous” Aarseth to describe a cadre of black metal musicians. Founder of the Deathlike
Silence record label and the guitarist of Mayhem credited as being the inventor of “the typical Norwegian black metal
riff,” although central to the scene Euronymous himself is not interviewed, having been murdered several years ago by
Varg “Count Grishnackh” Vikernes of Burzum.
From inside Trondheim Maximum Security Prison, where the Count is serving 21 years (the maximum sentence imposed by
Norwegian courts) for murder and arson, Grishnackh discusses some of the inner workings of The Black Circle and the diabolic
events that caused so much damage and were covered so sensationally by media around the world. Likening his time inside to
a stay in a monastery, Grishnackh speaks openly about the events leading to his current situation, the rise and fall of the
“Black Metal Mafia,” so to speak.
Another essential figure in the early phases of black metal was Yngve “Dead” Ohlin, front man for the band
Mayhem, who is recognized as having invented the “corpse paint” look of black metal musicians. He was also noted
for extreme exhibitions onstage that included self-mutilation. Dead eventually committed suicide, literally blowing his brains
out with a shotgun using shells that he obtained from Grishnackh. It was Euronymous who found Dead’s body, and who took
the death scene photo of his friend that was later used on the cover of Mayhem’s Dawn
of the Black Hearts album. (Rumors of Euronymous killing Dead himself are disbelieved by Grishnackh; rumors of brain-eating
and pieces of skull being removed from the scene for use as amulets were not addressed.)
None of which is entirely surprising given black metal’s emphasis on the cold, stark nature of life. And this
is a point that Fenriz makes more than once, that the black metal they were making was intent upon reflecting a morbid, suicidal
aesthetic, but not at all one that had anything to do with Satanism or any other form of devil worship as the media was later
so eager to claim. While Fenriz denies any involvement in murder or arson, he and Grishnackh are on the same page as far as
their love for black metal goes, and in agreement that it somehow managed to become a trend that completely weakened any ideologies
or artistic visions they believed that black metal embodied.
But while Fenriz seems more interested in the aesthetic aspect of black metal, Grishnackh was definitely more political.
Although both musicians recognized the negative impact of “Americanization” and the destruction that Christianity
has wrought on native cultures throughout history, Grishnackh actually took action: among the numerous church fires that took
place throughout the land, he was convicted of burning down Holmenkillen Chapel in Oslo, SkjoldChurch
in Rogaland and AsaneChurch in Bergen.
(He was accused but acquitted of setting fire to FantoftStaveChurch in Bergen.) In the process he
essentially called Euronymous a poser, for wanting to cultivate an extreme image but failing to live up to it, but he did
apparently manage to convince Euronymous and Bard “Faust” Eithun (of Emporer and Thorns) to participate in the
1992 Holmenkollen Chapel burning. And up to a point there was no evidence leading to suspects in any of the arsons so far.
For some reason Grishnackh went to the press and boasted of being the ringleader behind the fires. This was immediately
seized upon by the press and promoted as “Satanic arson,” bringing much unwanted attention upon members of The
Black Circle as the embodiment of some kind of Satanic conspiracy. (Grishnackh claims that he was misrepresented by the reporter
he spoke to, whose story was then repeatedly quoted as the truth. But, really, what right way is there to admit that you burned
down a church?) This was good reading, and the widespread coverage, especially in metal magazines such as Kerrang!, inflamed the popularity of the new “movement” and inspired impressionable and ill-informed
copycats to emulate these acts.
All this time there was much bad blood brewing between Grishnackh and Euronymous, which ended when Grishnackh stabbed
his former associate in the head. (In self-defense, of course.) Which was instrumental in leading to the aforementioned prison
And that’s pretty much it.
Other musicians providing opinions on the black metal scene are Olve “Abbath” Etkemo and Harald “Domonaz”
Noevdal from Immortal, Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg of Ulver, Kjetil “Frost” Haraldstad of Satyricon and
Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg of Mayhem, who talks about how Faust (who for a time worked and lived at the Helvete
record shop/squat, and provides a piece of performance art for a show entitled “Kill Me Before I Do It Myself”)
killed “this fucking faggot” in Lillehammer in 1992: “I really honor him for that,” Hellhammer says.
For some reason a terrible “visual artist” named Bjarne Melgaard who does shows with a “death metal theme”
is also interviewed, and examples of his work shown. Even master of the autistic film Harmony Korine gets into the picture,
traveling to Norway to visit sites made infamous by the Black
Metal Mafia for inspiration towards his own performance art interpretation, “The Sigil of the Cloven Hoof Marks Thy
The film is kind of jumpy, moving back and forth between events and individuals, and not too informative as to the
state of 21st century metal in Norway (except for
the fact that Fenriz still takes the train). There is some shock footage (the church burning scenes are particularly good),
and to hear the participants in the scene talk about that period is kind of interesting. But aside from indicating that Norway
is kind of a drab and boring place, Until the Light… doesn’t seem to
really delve into the full development of the characters who played instrumental roles in developing such an influential style,
or exactly what led from artistic statements and theatrical melodrama into a vicious series of deaths and fires. Topics such
as sex and drugs aren’t discussed, and fans, followers and those influenced by the music are pretty much ignored. As
is the social tenor of the times.
Good soundtrack, though.
Bonus features consist of an alternate ending, outtakes and trailer.
“The uzumaki is sublime. It is, in itself, the greatest work of art,” says
one of Uzumaki’s doomed characters. It is also, as the packaging tells us,
“Something new to be afraid of.” Both of these statements prove apt in the following presentation, a modern Japanese
horror classic based on the manga by Junji Ito that revolves around the more sinister aspects of the seemingly innocent design
of the spiral.
After some misleadingly benign traditional introductory elements, Uzumaki opens up with the scene of a student lying on the ground with his skull shattered. The camera makes this
death scene hypnotically grotesque by spiraling slowly upward, capturing not only the spiral pattern on the floor beneath
the body but the fact that the corpse lies at the bottom of a spiral staircase. And this single scene evokes the entire essence
of Uzumaki perfectly, setting the stage for a curious and ghastly drama that, literally,
contain nothing but twists.
The story begins with pretty schoolgirl Kirie Goshima (Eriko Hatsune) finding herself late
for class. As she runs down the hill, through and around the maze of Kurozu-Cho’s scenic neighborhoods, she also seems
to run a sort of gauntlet – after being braced by a startling wind Kirie must bypass local pest Yamaguchi as well as
the unsettling sight of a friend’s father engrossed in the filming of a large garden snail. She finally meets up with
loyal friend Saito Shuichi (Fhi Fan) for a bicycle ride to school, and as she rides side-saddle on his bike, coasting down
the twisting village road, the scenery slows and gentle music swells to emphasize the film’s only truly happy and pastoral
scene. Even as she returns home that evening Saito’s father, the videographer, is transmitting his mania for the uzumaki
to Kirie’s father the pottery maker.
The next day at school Kirie and her girlfriend Shiho, along with a number of other students,
witness the ‘accident’ that prefaced the film. (“They said he was doing acrobatics on the handrail.”
“But didn’t he look like he had a smile on his face?”) The significance of the spiral staircase isn’t
lost on Saito, who makes his feelings plain – “This town’s cursed by the uzumaki.” He explains to
Kirie how lately his father has become completely enraptured by the spiral, to the point where the obsession has literally
taken over his life. His story is vividly illustrated by a series of flashbacks that include a bizarre collection and a mad
dinner scene. And yet the curse has really only just begun.
Upon going to Saito’s home that night Kirie witnesses Mr. Shuichi’s madness
in person, and promptly faints dead away at his display of ‘making one’s own spiral.’ Later, while delivering
a spiral-patterned dish from her father to Mr. Shuichi, Kirie discovers an even more extreme manifestation of his spiral mania
. . .
At his funeral, the sight of spiral-shaped cloud formations sends Saito’s mother
Yukie into hysterics, landing her in the hospital. While there Saito and Kirie meet reporter Tamura Ichiro, who had been approached
by Mr. Shuichi about the uzumaki some time before. Far from being hypnotized by the spiral, Tamura instead has an active interest
in researching the phenomenon and makes plans to explore the town’s history as well as the bizarre ritual Mr. Shuichi
was engaged in at the time of his death.
As Tamura drives Kirie home they nearly run down her father. Covered in mud, he’s
making his way back from gathering clay at Dragonfly Pond, the town’s fabled body of water and, coincidentally, the
same spot in which the spiraling smoke from the mortuary’s crematorium touched down during the funeral. Back at the
hospital Saito checks in on his mom, only to find that in her “spirophobia” she’s cut off her own fingertips
in order to get rid of the whorls of her fingerprints.
Researching uzumaki and its link to Kurozu-Cho, Tamura uncovers connections between snakes,
mirrors and Dragonfly Pond, and draws some important conclusions. He arranges to meet Kirie and Saito at the pond, but as
they convene Yamaguchi, in a fit of passion, chooses that moment to demonstrate his love for Kirie. As she and Saito watch
helplessly, Yamaguchi throws himself in front of Tamura’s car, causing an extremely gory accident in which both the
pest and the reporter are killed.
That night at the hospital a large millipede crawls into Yukie’s room, curling up
the leg of her bed and finding its way unerringly into her ear. She awakes with a scream and destroys the unwelcome creature,
but as she sits on the floor in shock she’s beset by hallucinatory waves of spirals in which a vision of her dead husband
appears to her. In a mesmerizing voice the grotesque visage tells her of his desire to enter her and sleep with the spiral
inside of her, inside her ear. And Yukie just can’t have that . . .
At her funeral the spiral stormclouds appear again, this time accompanied by enormous ghostly
faces. A major typhoon is bearing down upon Kurozu-Cho, and reporters arriving at the seaside town quickly pick up on the
strange goings-on there. Particularly the town’s giant snails – the spiral has slowly begun to infect and consume
people physically as well as mentally, as students began to ooze slime and develop coil-shaped growths upon their backs, ultimately
transforming into hybrid creatures more snail than human. Seen crawling up and down the walls of the high school, the human
snails seem to have eventually disappeared into the hills.
This newscast causes Saito to repeat his belief that the town is doomed, and he urges Kirie
to leave the village with him. She agrees, but when they stop to pick up her father the spirals come out in force . . .
With its theme of an otherworldly presence insinuating itself into a small community and
gradually corrupting it to the point of destruction, Uzumaki has been compared
to the work of H.P. Lovecraft. But the film also bears a strong resemblance to themes found in stories by Brian Lumley and
Patricia Highsmith, particularly in regard to the supernatural behavior and appearance of the snails. And it would be harder
to find better inspiration than these sources for a surprisingly creepy, and surprisingly engaging, horror film.
The focus on the element of the spiral is an excellent gimmick, both visually and psychologically.
Derived from the circle the spiral may be seen as one of the most elemental and archetypal of designs, a coil pulled either
upward or downward to signify depth and progression, and the form conveniently appears in nature, art and architecture, making
it a perfectly insidious emblem. As evoked by the cinematography, the use of circular/spiral camera motion does an admirable
job of drawing the viewer into the world of Uzumaki, often with unsettling visceral
results. The wipes from one scene to another even mimic the spiral as closely as possible, and much of the film’s movement
and scenery are designed specifically in accord with this shape (Kirie’s circular downhill run to school; the return
again and again to the Saitos’ fateful washing machine, etc.). Even the delineation of the film itself follows this
design, as the action follows a progression of descent that ends very near to where it began, moving past what seems to be
a final scene of alien tranquility to its own point of origin (Kirie speaking of her home town providing both the introduction
and conclusion to the film). The film itself can thus be seen as an uzumaki of its own, one that literally spirals out of
Building upon this dizzying theme are inventive shots that seem to come from out of nowhere,
enhancing the simultaneous senses of absorption and disassociation/dissolution. A scene plays out backwards, unusual lenses
and angles of frame are brought into play, photographs move as a frame-by-frame cinematograph, and colors flare with psychotropic
intensity. A moving spiral even appears, barely visible, as part of the background in numerous shots, a not-so-random reminder
of the inescapable influence of the eternal symbol. Within the framework of the film there is literally no escape from the
The widescreen presentation of the film glows beautifully, a perfectly bright reminder
of why movies ought to be shot on film. The photography brings to life both the natural and supernatural elements of the film,
either in brilliant color-drenched scenery or with the haunted green pond scum sheen that infuses other modern horror such
as The Ring. The sound quality, newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1, is amazing as
well – not only is the eerie Twin Peaks-style score by Keichi Suzuki and
Tetsuro Kashibuchi lush and enveloping, but the subtly exaggerated sound effects are crisp enough to make your skin crawl
- eyeballs roll squishily in their sockets, and the millipede’s progress up a bed post sounds like a Slinky dragged
across a metal pipe.
English subtitles can be turned on or off, and bonus features include a trailer and a well-made behind the scenes featurette
as well as a segment of “Mr. Saito’s Camcorder Footage.”
All around, Uzumaki is a valuable and worthwhile
addition to any video library.
$19.99 from Elite Entertainment – www.elitedisc.com – P.O. Box 1177, Scarborough, ME, 04070
Culled together by the cinephiles at Cult Epics, this collection of 19 early-20th Century stag loops amply
demonstrates that mankind is a most randy species, and no doubt has been since long before the motion picture camera came
In Zut! Zut! Ma Legitime! A wife catches her husband’s mistress and
ends up in a 69 with her; Le Satyre Casimir finds a pair of gents spying a couple
of ladies heading into the woods for a lovers’ tryst, so one dresses up like Pan in order to get in on the action; Un Apres – Midi a la Fumerie concerns an opium smoker’s dream, a den full
of nude women high on the fruit of the poppy (although true to the dope fiend’s nature he really doesn’t do anything
with them); Au Clair de la Lune is some sort of pornographic three-way clown opera
(involving Pierrot); Les Mesaventures de Monsieur Gross’ Bitt is a hilariously
lowbrow Tijuana Bible brought to life, presenting the cartoon misadventures of a man and his giant penis; in Les Deux Colombines three performers engage in some very heated and acrobatic sexplay; in Seduction (Le Duc de Sommerange) an imprisoned aristocrat enlists the help of two female acquaintances in seducing
his jailer into an orgy of freedom (with an unusual double money shot); Le Retour de
l’Explorateur finds an African explorer bringing a man in a chimpanzee suit home to a pair of women, triggering
some four-way monkey business; in Pierrette Allait a la Riviere, perhaps the collection’s
weakest offering, a woman goes down to the river for a bucket of water, falls in, takes off her wet clothes, stumbles around
with her back to the camera, and leaves; L’Amour Chez Minouch is all about
some female haberdashers who get a strap-on rubber phallus in the mail and go to town until a man comes in to help them out
with a more natural approach; in La Lecon de Piano it’s not quite clear what
the plot is, but nobody’s doing much piano playing; Le Pedicure Enflamme
throws some male bisexuality into the mix as a pair of guys and a dame get it on; Les
Bas-Fonds Napolitains is one of the cleanest prints, clearly detailing a number of apparently random scenes from various
loops before degenerating into a damaged untitled nature romp; in Le Telegraphiste
it appears that a guy catches his wife blowing another guy, but it’s okay because the husband gets a blowjob and some
roundeye from the guy; Marriage Ultra Moderne gives us another trio of lovers,
as does Gisele et le Groom; and Apres la
Confession involves a priest and his young (and, surprisingly, female) parishioner getting caught while fooling around
and made to pay some kinky penance by the Mother Superior before she engineers a wheelbarrow climax.
And there you have it: Vintage Erotica, Anno 1920. I was truly surprised
by the amount of group sex shown, as well as the variety of sexual activity taking place (the level of explicitness varying
from film to film); who knew that bisexuality was so chic back in the Twenties? Even more unexpected, and more appreciated,
was the randy sense of humor that a number of these little films expressed. Some of the action is a little awkward, true,
and the models are definitely from the era of a different aesthetic, but some of them are quite fetching. As ‘dirty’
as the films are, given their time period they’re remarkably inoffensive; charming, even.
The films were
originally silent (with storyboards, mostly in French), but have here been given peppy, absurd or curious little soundtracks
by Marcel Fragonard and Le Epopee de Culte Sinfonietta (France’s answer to Ego Plum?). Visually, despite having
been “remastered” these black & white shorts all show the ravages of time; sometimes this enhances the ‘taboo’
quality of these secretive films, but other times it obscures them completely.
For true collectors
of porn, or if you prefer, erotica, this collection should prove both amusing and arousing.
The camera motion and soundtrack are shaky right from the start on this one, as we drunkenly pan through an Indonesian gambling
den. After a brief and very sloppy fight with one of the casino’s gangster customers, one of the house whores gives
the signal and a horde of well-armed prostitutes on dirt bikes storms the casino, murdering the clientele and making off with
the cash. (Quick side note here: I really couldn’t hazard a guess as to why the film is called Virgins From Hell – every single one of these chicks looks like a Philippino hooker working through the
The girl gang forms a victorious motorcade back to their hideout, where they argue over what amounts to a pathetically
small sackful of cash. Gang leader She-Ra spins a yarn of family tragedy and forced prostitution at the hands of the “criminal
syndicate” headed by the notorious Mr. Tiger, and promises that the girls’ newly-gotten gains will be funding
the overthrow of the underworld dictator.
The very next day She-Ra’s band of loyal prostitutes rallies around the syndicate’s stronghold, even as
a mascara-wearing Mr. Tiger and his butch assistant Dutch oversee the testing of their new super aphrodisiac. At nightfall
the hookers storm the fortress, and after a number of sloppy gang fight scenes (including a motorcycle ‘trick’
in which a bike hanging from a highwire is blown up and left to burn in mid-air) the girls are done in by the old trap-door
One of the girls is immediately taken away to be used as a guinea pig for Mr. Tiger’s test drug, then given to
his business partners Sam and Willie for a test drive. She eludes Sam and makes a feeble escape attempt before being thrown
back into “the dungeon” with the rest of the girls. Torture follows, one victim being strung up by her arms and
battered about tetherball-style between posts strung with barbed wire. When She-Ra confesses that she is the leader, she’s
tied up in a sack with some kind of vicious little jungle mammal. And then of course there are the rapes. And the catfighting.
(The audience receives its fair share of torture as well, in the form of pompous speeches laden with bad dialogue.)
During one day of slavery on the coconut farm a group of the girls rebels, sparking a violent but ultimately futile
gun battle. Most of the broads are killed or recaptured, with the exception of She-Ra who escapes into the river and is rescued
by an elderly peasant after surviving a laugh-out-loud hilarious fight with a rubber alligator.
Back at the compound two of She-Ra’s mutinous underlings, Lisa and Julie, have joined Tiger’s forces and
now take charge of torturing their sisters: they cook one girl alive immediately, then return to Tiger’s lair for a
spastic little dance routine. Bored, and hypnotized by a painting of a horse (no shit!) Mr. Tiger kicks things up a notch
by handcuffing his girls together and breaking out a bullwhip.
Meanwhile Larry, the hostage lab assistant to the sex drug doctor Tiger killed earlier for reasons that aren’t
entirely clear, decides to get in on the action. As he prepares to administer a new serum on a baboon under the watchful eye
of a pair of Tiger’s henchmen, Larry stabs one of them with the syringe and starts another poorly choreographed/dubbed
fight with the other. This ends with Larry smashing a drum of gunpowder over the guard’s head, then shooting him in
the face to set off an explosion that sends guts flying everywhere. (Actually one of the film’s more impressive scenes.)
The guard who got injected suffers an equally gruesome fate, the drug causing his entire body to swell and bubble sickly.
An incredible (and I do mean incredible, not amazing) gun battle follows in which Larry blows away several guards,
steals a horse and evades a squad of Tiger’s bikers to escape into the wilderness.
She’Ra’s sister Dena manages to escape as well: stomping a rat to death and using its blood to fake some
severe injuries, she tricks a guard into opening the dungeon door. Overpowering him, and several other henchmen, she escapes
with a machine gun to cross the same river that Larry and She-Ra did.
Soon enough Dena comes across Larry, wounded and unconscious, and shortly thereafter is caught sucking his face by
She-Ra and the old peasant. The old man is something of a healer, and he decides the best way to deal with Larry’s ailment
is to feed a live snake directly into the bullet wound. And what do you know, when pulled back out again the serpent has the
bullet between his jaws. With a little spit, a few jungle leaves and some yellow smoke Larry’s as good as new and he
sets out with the girls to finish Tiger for good.
But first, since it’s been about five minutes since the last violent gun battle, right on cue Tiger’s men
show up on a raft for a messy shootout with the escapees. Victorious, Larry and She-Ra search the raft and find a haul of
coconuts concealing Tiger’s super sex drug. They detonate the lot, then return to Tiger’s fortress for their comrades.
Managing to force their way past Tiger’s army of guards the trio makes its way inside the compound, releases
the captive women and proceeds to kill everyone and destroy everything. Tiger’s reinforcements arrive for the grand
finale, and with much comic violence the saga of Virgins from Hell comes to a close.
Virgins from Hell does have a certain violent pulp quality, however it’s
one that would be more appreciated across the adolescent age range. As it is, it’s almost bad enough to be as funny
as you are stoned…almost. The best you can say about this is that it is some truly crazy shit; take that as you will.
No bare breasts is a huge drawback in a film about a gang of wild biker sluts – they even keep their tops on
in the bathtub! A lot of the firearms look plastic and gigantic, like portable vacuum cleaners fitted with battery packs,
and the ‘special’ effects are somewhat lacking. And I think the lazy fight scenes and sound cueing have already
been mentioned once or twice. Also, I don’t know if it’s the mastering of the DVD or a deliberate decision on
the part of the filmmakers, but in some scenes the film speed is noticeably increased, imparting an even more cartoonish quality
to the already outlandish action.
Extras to Virgins in Hell include a melodramatic trailer and an overview of the women in prison genre by Pete Tombs, however
this Mondo Macabro release goes the extra distance and throws in an entire bonus disc of additional material. This comprises
two mini-features, the first being “Destination Jakarta: 70 Minutes of Indonesian Exploitation Trailer Trash from Rapi
Films.” These hyperbole-laden previews for laughable offerings include Eighties flicks such as The Snake Queen, The Devil’s Sword, the Warrior series, Escape from Hell Hole and Tiger Commandos, all containing scenes humorously bad enough to merit their own MST3K episode. There’s even the Indonesian take on the jungle cannibal movie, Primitives, complete with Wild Kingdom stock footage, the zombie movie
Pengabdi Setan (worth owning for the title alone), and the flying witch’s
head movie Mystics in Bali.
The second section
of the bonus disc is a documentary, Fantasy Films from Indonesia, which looks at
the explosion of horror and violence in the Indonesian film industry during the Seventies and Eighties. Numerous Rapi Films
luminaries are interviewed, and the audience is treated to many gaudy movie posters and film clips. The influence of Indonesian
comic strips and the rise in the sophistication of special effects is discussed, as is the crackdown on smut films that fueled
the horror film boom.
So, again, Virgins in Hell is just laughably batshit-nuts, but as a total package this one is
worth a look.
In the vein
of Bangkok Haunted and 3 Extremes, Visits compiles four short films from Malaysian directors to present a collection
of Asian horror.
“It’s the fourteenth day of the seventh month. In other words, Halloween for the Chinese.” On a graveyard
shift talk show, radio host Billy is presenting a selection of supernatural tales to celebrate this day upon which the hungry
ghosts are released from Purgatory. (WARNING: Spoilers ahead.)
The first story, “1413,” directed by Low Ngai Yuen, finds Mae Ling waking up in a hospital. Tormented by
the mother of another victim and an unsettling apparition, the girl begins to relive the events leading to her hospitalization
through the telling of her story to male school chum Juin Hong.
It seems that as a new student Mae Ling met schoolgirl
Jia Chyi and the two became fast friends. So fast in fact that Jia Chyi doesn’t feel the need to keep her boyfriend
Juin Hong around any longer. But in the midst of their rooftop break-up, at which Mae Ling is present, Jia Chyi somehow manages
to fall to her death.
As Mae Ling flashes back on the scene Juin Hong explains
to her that it was an accident, but now it would be better if she just disappeared. Before this can happen however Juin Hong
vanishes, replaced by a damaged Jia Chyi. As the reunited friends laugh and play together across the rooftop the camera finds
Juin Hong’s body in an alley many stories below, then returns to show Mae Ling dancing happily alone against the cityscape.
Although the DVD box describes this story as “a teenage suicide pact gone awry,” this element is not clearly
presented. Did Mae Ling jump off of the roof after her new friend fell, as is indicated in the opening scenes? Or what?
James Lee directs the second chapter, “Waiting for Them.” Female office worker Sam is counseling her friend
Anne by phone after Anne’s break-up with her girlfriend. Of course with cell phones there isn’t always a clear
connection, and Sam loses touch with Anne, for what turns out to be several days. Meanwhile Sam’s relationship with
her boyfriend is becoming increasingly jagged. Driving home alone after dinner with him one night, Sam finds Anne wandering
around in the darkness, looking somewhat the worse for wear. Sam takes her home, gives her the guest room, and suggests that
they take a holiday together for a few days.
As Anne explores the closet however, she thinks she sees a pair of mottled legs hiding in the corner. Disconcerted
she asks to sleep with Sam for the night, and the two do some bonding in which it comes out that Sam’s boyfriend is
married to another woman. Anne mentions the disembodied limbs in the closet, and the two women reluctantly go back to the
guest room together to take a look. Standing in the closet Anne sees a ghostly woman wearing a red dress, but shuts the door
before Sam sees her too. “I don’t feel well. I’m going to sleep now,” is all Anne says.
Around in the morning Sam gets up and goes to the guest room alone, only to find her boyfriend asleep there.
When she again wakes up for work Anne is already gone, and her boyfriend has made her breakfast. Coldly Sam tells him that
Anne will be staying with her for a while, and he needn’t come around for a few days.
Working late one night shortly after these events Sam picks up a call from Anne’s phone, only to find that it’s
Anne’s brother calling; Anne’s body has been found in a hotel, a suicide. In a daze Sam makes her way home, where
she finds a vision of Anne on her couch, sitting in the darkened living room in front of a flickering television screen. Anne
explains that her overdose of sleeping pills was accidental, and all she could think of after her death was coming to see
Sam one last time. With a final good word Anne vanishes, leaving Sam alone with the television program that has just come
back into focus.
Packing a bag, Sam sets off on a solitary road trip… And that’s it.
“Nodding Scoop,” directed by Ng Tian Hann, concerns a ritual something like that of a Chinese Ouija board,
in which a simple device is used to ask questions of the dead. In this case Jason, a student filmmaker, enlists the aid of
a pair of young women to help him document the effects of this ancient legend in modern times.
Choosing his girlfriend’s cramped apartment as a
location, Jason sets up a makeshift altar of candles and the titular object, a basket from the handle of which hangs a large
ladle, all dressed up in a shirt and wig. Alicia, his girlfriend, then begins her narration for the camera. “Welcome.
I’d like to introduce you to a prediction ritual – ‘Nodding Scoop’… Now we call upon our friends
from the spiritual world to join us.” Paper money is placed in the basket, and “Ah Na Ko, we call upon your spirit.”
The wig dips in response.
With the presence of the spirit confirmed, Alicia now begins
asking questions. When asked how it died, the spirit indicates suicide. And now there’s another figure in the room,
sitting silent and unnoticed behind the group. The other girl, Yen, then asks some questions of her own, and it becomes clear
that she believes Alicia stole her boyfriend Jason away from her. Bickering and joking leads to a growing sense of unease,
and at last Alicia calls it quits and ends the ceremony.
Yen goes to the bathroom, but comes out in a half-faint
and looking ill. As Jason goes out to hunt down a remedy (“some food and medicine”) he is joined in the elevator
by a tiny bleeding woman, the same entity that appeared during the ritual. Meanwhile in the apartment the girls are tormented
by strange and ominous noises until, apparently in a trance, Yen suddenly attacks and attempts to strangle Alicia.
Having fled the creepy apparition in the elevator Jason
returns to the dimly-lighted apartment where he finds Yen unconscious and Alicia, he presumes, cowering in a corner underneath
a blanket. But when he pulls the blanket away he instead finds the strange pale woman, who immediately reaches for his throat.
Jason beats her off, only to find that he’s been hitting his girlfriend. Running outside, Jason starts a fire in the
basket and begins burning the paper money. As he does so a thug walks up and asks him for a light.
The final tale, Ho Yuhang’s “Anybody Home?”
opens on a voyeuristic note as security cameras capture various angles of an apartment building and its residents. Not accidentally,
the cameras and the building’s birthmarked security guard seem most interested in the pretty female residents. One in
particular, whom the guard takes such a special interest in that he installs a number of extra hidden cameras in her apartment.
Unfortunately for him, the object of his attentions is
just not that interesting; as attractive as she is, she seems more sickly and lazy than anything else. Extremely sickly in
fact, as aside from sleeping and eating she appears to spend most of her time stumbling about and vomiting as if she’s
contracted some particularly nasty strain of virus.
This doesn’t dissuade the security guard however,
as he follows her every movement with obsessive interest. When the girl rewards him with a plastic container of food in return
for repairing her toilet the guard’s fixation grows and he takes to hanging out in her apartment while she’s away
at work. In her bed, in her living room, in her bathroom. One day he decides to treat himself to a snack, but upon opening
the refrigerator he is so repulsed by what he finds that he runs to the toilet and throws up. As he attempts to leave the
apartment he is met by the girl, who cracks his skull with a hammer.
Dragging the man into the kitchen she finishes him off
and, apparently, adds him to her larder. But during a blackout thereafter his spirit returns and attacks. While there is some
flashback/implication about the woman’s pregnancy, perhaps as a result of a previous affair with the guard, even with
the subtitles I couldn’t figure this one out. Did he dump her when she wanted a family and he didn’t, causing
her to go nuts and start eating people? Yet again I ask, or what?
Anyway, DJ Billy starts to wrap up the show before getting
a ghostly call from, where else, BEYOND THE GRAVE…!
Grim and slightly eerie in parts, these anecdotes of wrongful death and restless spirits are strongly reminiscent of
countless Japanese horror films in which silent black-haired entities lurk on the shadowy edges of vision and reality, just
waiting to pounce upon the living and drag them into the underworld. But the hint of melancholic poetry found here doesn’t
necessarily lend itself to thrills and chills. Especially in light of the fact that the endings of all four tales aren’t
very dramatic or shocking, instead being something of a bewildering letdown in each case.
The special effects in these Chinese ghost stories is considerably
more subtle (weaker, if you will) than those of other Asian horror movies, having only the slightest touches of blood and
gore. And as the stylistic differences between directors are minimal, all emphasizing shadow and keeping both the pacing and
violence low-key, there isn’t a lot to really hold one’s interest here. Plus, the running time is almost two hours
long, and these could very easily have been reduced to 15-minute segments.
So, as much as I wanted to like this anthology, I just couldn’t do it.
Presented in Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles (optional).
NOTE: A brief disclaimer here, some months ago I posted what was supposed to be a review of this mighty effort on the
Paniscus Revue site; for some unknown reason what appeared was only the cover and title of THE WHORE CHURCH, while the body
remained the text of the review I’d copied from elsewhere on the site to use as a template. (That review? The Ron Jeremy-hosted
PORN-O-RAMA.) What was I thinking? But, since as of this date nobody’s said shit one, well, now’s your chance.
of Awful have really come through here with this kaleidoscope of wrong. A DVD mixtape, THE WHORE CHURCH, Volume I, features
clips of all types from all sources (literally 500-600 of them), spliced together with special effects and fucking metal,
fucker. Loads of tits, loads of gore, sex, violence, depravity, blasphemy and the just plain inappropriate, culled from an
enviable video library by Roil and Sleazee Vulture and synced up perfectly in what clearly took countless hours of editing.
And yet throughout the program’s entire running time there is always that most essential of elements, a sense of humor.
Black humor, to be sure, but humor nonetheless. No elitist doom here, it’s all good unclean fun meant to be viewed under
the same influences that it was no doubt assembled under (testified to by the sounds of tops popping and Bics being flicked
in the optional commentary track – more on this later).
extras include “Yule Log Uncensored,” a merry fucking Xmas video indeed (“Tell me what it’s like when
Santa comes!”) and definitely one for the next family holiday gathering; “Fff.rrreeeq – Dildo Science”
(Gameboy/Dildo Science & Joystykc Musique, directed by The Whore Church) is a techno music video montage of video game
imagery and related film clips that makes you want to play; and TWC & Coolidge Corner Theatre Present, in association
with Grindhouse Releasing & Blue Underground, “William Fucking Lustig”: two words: “Cop Killer”!
also the aforementioned audio commentary, in which the producers are joined by Beer Cop (VFX) and Mr. Tastee (audio post)
for a walkthrough of this four-years-in-the-making project that you, in your wisdom and good fortune, have just seen. Not
only do they describe the origin of the name, but provide narration that’s at the same time interesting and actually
makes you want to be there chiming in.
much good shit to describe here (“Turkey Fucker!”), so just go to www.thewhorechurch.com and order it today, mother.
YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED DOOR AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY
Directed by Sergio Martino
Also known by it’s Italian name, Il Tuo Vizio E’Una Stanza Chiusa E Solo
Io Ne Ho La Chiave, Your Vice… is a fairly complex title for a Seventies
variation on Poe’s The Black Cat. But fittingly this rare slice of giallo
is every bit as wicked as its title is long and its origin dark.
Rouvigny is a bit of a bastard. A writer well past his prime, he now spends his time drinking and openly abusing his wife
Ilena and their black maid Brenda. As if to exemplify his character early in the film, after an arty/hippie dinner party at
their villa (complete with a little nude dancing) Oliviero rapes his wife right in front of Brenda.
is also something of a womanizer, and when one of his girlfriends, the pretty little thing from the bookstore, is found carved
up the police pay the Rouvigny household a visit. There’s a little bit of cat & mouse before the cops leave, and
a little more between Oliviero and his wife afterward; he came home late the night of the murder, and his wife doesn’t
buy his excuse. One wrong word from her just might do him in…
a storm thunders on that night, Brenda works up a pair of hot pants and tries on the fancy dress of deceased matriarch “Bloody”
Mary Stewart. Oliviero watches her pleasure herself for a time, but when the storm’s outburst sends her running upstairs
an unseen attacker slashes her down the middle. Ilena finds Brenda and goes into shock, but when Oliviero shows up he refuses
to call the police – with the death of the previous girl another murder in his own home would hang him for sure. Oliviero
convinces Ilena to help him bury the body in the cellar, walling it up behind a wine cask where, conceivably, it might never
in time, too – Oliviero’s niece Floriana invites herself to the villa for a visit, and the haughty little sexpot
immediately starts poking around and making a nuisance of herself. It’s not long before Floriana too bears witness to
Oliviero’s brutality, and his lecherous intentions. One night Floriana rescues Ilena from one of Oliviero’s torments,
which involves being locked in a dark room with Satan (a black cat, the beloved pet of Oliviero’s dead mother, and a
truly spiteful animal whose vicious streak is regularly directed toward Ilena). After releasing her Floriana does her best
to soothe Ilena, and winds up doing so by way of the Sapphic tradition.
another villa nearby Giovanna, a young slut just in from the city to work in her Aunt Millie’s bordello, gets a surprise
just past bedtime – the same slasher treatment received by the previous two girls. The killer drags her body bloodily
down the stairs, and looks prepared to sexually assault the corpse when Aunt Millie pops out and brains him, revealing him
to be a total stranger. With the killer’s identity exposed, Oliviero revels in holding over his wife the fact that she
was wrong about him. He’s still a bit of a freak however as later, with a weird expression on his face, he watches his
niece bone the deliveryman.
dark that night Ilena hears a ruckus down by the pigeon coop, and upon investigating she finds Satan chewing on one of her
beloved birds. Having had all that she can stomach of the hateful beast Ilena stabs the cat in the eye with a giant pair of
scissors, sending it screaming off into the night. But still the creature manages to torment her; finding a moist package
in the kitchen the following morning Ilena opens it up, only to have a stream of gelatinous eyeballs pour out onto the table.
She’s horrified, as much by the pile of eyes as by Oliviero’s explanation – “Satan’s favorite
meal is sheep eyes and cream.” Later, as the cat’s ghastly howls echo throughout the villa, Florian makes a play
for Oliviero and easily seduces the old drunkard.
even incest can’t make Oliviero forget about Satan. Heard but not seen since the stabbing, the cat’s absence provokes
Oliviero into a confrontation with his wife. Believing she’s harmed the pet, hating Satan for being more a part of his
family than she ever could, Oliviero threatens Ilena’s life with her own scissors then violently takes her there on
the floor of the pigeon coop (ew). Throughout it all, Floriana looks on from the villa steps.
soon becomes clear that young Floriana is playing both ends of the field, pitting each spouse against the other for reasons
as yet unknown. At a picnic one day she speaks to Ilena about doing away with Oliviero, yet Ilena later happens to overhear
the two of them in bed discussing a similar fate for her.
without spoiling the ending, and the cavalcade of murderous treachery it entails, that’s about all that I can say in
detail. Except to add that the plot moves through a swift number of wicked permutations before the tragically just desserts
are served to all in a fittingly gothic fashion; one of the characters is considerably more bloodthirsty than the rest, and
goes about mercilessly slaughtering enemies and allies alike in a miasma of hatred and greed before finally being undone by
a poetic twist of fate hinging upon their own murderous treachery. And while it’s not all a complete surprise, it is
nicely executed (chortle). (Although truth be told, the motorcylce accident has got to be one of the worst in cinematic history.)
film, full of lust, violence, and all of the accompanying flesh and blood you could ask for, the film stars Edwige Fenech,
Luigi Pistilli, Anita Strindberg, Ivan Rassimov, Franco Nebbia, Riccaardo Salvino and Angela La Vorgna, and is presented in
English. The score by Bruno Nicolai recalls some of the lonelier moments of Morricone’s music for Leone in parts, while
dancing towards Baroque decadence in others amid a soundtrack filled with screaming, the crash of stormy nights and the wailing
of a black cat. The digital transfer is a fair one, except during scenes taking place in darkened settings. Here the screen
blackens to the point of being indistinguishable, obscuring a good deal of the essential action and, occasionally, even the
plot (in the scene where the killer has his skull cracked by Aunt Millie, in the shadowy stairwell he looks almost exactly
like Oliviero). Even in dimly lighted scenes the picture is clouded by the obtrusive peach/plumb tint of the colored lighting
scheme. This, however, is the DVD’s only real drawback. The plot, the action, and the simple all-out wickedness of it
all makes Your Vice… a film worth experiencing.
include the Edwige Fenech photo gallery, featuring a plethora of nude stills and poster of the actress portraying Floriana
(set to an uplifting little Sixties tune), and a trailer for another Euro-thriller, The
Case of the Bloody Iris.
* * *
$24.95 from Luminous Film & Video Wurks – www.lfvw.com – P.O. Box 289, Hampton Bays, NY, 11946
Directed by Johnno Zee
For some reason I thought this was an independent feature independent of the independent
feature Redneck Carnage, but Zombie Hunger is in fact an extended 'bonus' DVD meant to accentuate the Redneck
experience. So dig in:
“In 2008, Lou Zanetti bought his first semi-truck
with aspirations of one day owning his own fleet. We were originally going to make a film documenting a week in his life as
he traveled from coast to coast delivering freight.
“A short time later, Lou was arrested for DUI in
Tennessee and was forced to sell his rig and find another profession.
“With no formal education beyond 6th grade
and with a mortgage, mounting child support payments and creditors calling non-stop, Lou decided to try a new line of work...
“The Making of Zombie Hunger Behind the Scenes!”
is billed as a “Classic spoof of the making of Redneck Carnage” rather than an ultra-serious, ultra-tedious
exercise in the practice of filmmaking. In this parody you'll see comically named characters (e.g. “Lacy DeVulva”)
in behind-the-scenes skits and antics that include awkward stripper impersonation, the abuse of prop drugs, and some precocious
tots who are in on the joke. And my favorite but all-too-brief segment about Zombie Hunger being translated into “a
successful puppet show in France.”
The Redneck Carnage world premiere in May of '09
at The Moxie in Springfield, MO features excited and/or unusual patrons mingling with cast, crew and zombies, a brain-eating
contest, a meet & greet after the show, after-party, prizes and Q&A, all cheered on by a rowdy beer-drinkin' crowd.
“Make Your Own #$%@ Halloween Mask!” shows
you how to do just that: Model Magic + liquid latex + kids' paints + fake blood + paintbrushes + Styrofoam wig head = ugly-faced
Plus there's a Redneck Carnage trailer, spots for
the director's guide Make Your Movie Right Now!, the cable access Johnno Show and Mantree.com, promos for series(?)
Paranorm (covering The Day After Roswell by Col. Philip J. Corso and the always-awesome Winchester Mystery House),
and a “Cajun Luv Chicken” bit where an Elvis-lookin' fucker goes chasing after the stolen secret titular recipe.