Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sodoma's Ghost (1988)

Shit man, do I still have a blog? Totally forgot. Apologies. So, I had a few friends over and we watched this masterpiece called Sodoma's Ghost. Directed by Lucio Fulci (Zombie, The Beyond, Four of the Apocalypse, etc), Sodoma's Ghost is the story of some sexually depraved Nazi's who take over a brothel in France (during the WWII), indulge in sexual depravities, and then die (apparently)mid to post coitus when the house is bombed by Allied forces. I think. Then these dead aryan motherfuckers rebuild the house and wait for 40 some odd years for a group of horny teenagers to get lost, find the house, and become subjected to more depravities of a sexual nature. By ghosts. It's absurdly thrilling.

By "absurdly thrilling" I mean tedious, pointless, thrill-less, not erotic at all, etc. Piece of shit is the gist of what I'm getting at. There's an orgy at the beginning. It's not titillating in the least. I mean, we got naked breasts but no real context. It's like flipping through a late 80s playboy or something. Mildly amusing, can't not look at naked breasts, but you forget about them almost immediately. Also, it's unfortunate that I didn't take any notes because I can't remember certain details. For example, I don't know the names of any of the characters. Also, what the hell was the plot? I think I made that first paragraph up.

Uninvolving is a good way to describe this thing. It's a "later Fulci" which I guess is a way of describing pictures he made simply for the point of making a picture. Going through the motions is a good way of putting it. Unfortunately, Fulci's not good enough to pull this kind of shit off. Basically, what we got here is a ghost story with no scares. No tension. Fuck, I can barely remember any gore. I do remember the teenagers stumbling upon the house. I remember they had surf boards on their car?? Not sure where they were going to surf as there's no water in sight. I remember they got separated once inside the house. I think someone got their throat cut but that might be from a different movie. There's a blond Nazi ghost soldier in here somewhere. He appears to them as a solid human, I'm assuming so he could perform sexually. Some things happen, teens die, there's a scary mirror at one point, maybe some possession (?), and a few more breasts.

Then, the movie ends (major spoiler) with the house being bombed again or something, and the teens all wake up outside. Turns out the house was destroyed all along, it was all in their heads, or maybe this was a new set of teens and the ones from the beginning become sex starved apparitions for use in the, still unproduced, sequel? I don't know. Who can remember this shit. Also, I was drunk. Not Fulci's finest hour (and a half).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Road (2009)

The Road is the story of a road which is traveled by a father and son whose goal is to survive the road. Sounds easy enough I guess. What's so dangerous about a road anyway? Well, we learn early on that some sort of cataclysmic event occurred that destroyed civilization. We don't know what occurred and it's never really mentioned, only hinted at. Aliens? Meteor? War? Neutrinos from the sun melting the earth's core causing the crust to surf on the lava is my assumption based on the earthquakes. The picture is based on the novel of the same name written by Cormac McCarthy and endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. So, before we even watch this we can probably guess that this won't be your father's post apocalypse. No gangs of raving mad punk rockers, no talking dogs, no big, or even medium sized, action sequences, etc.

I'm always eager to see how a book I love (and I loved The Road) is adapted for the big screen. This one worried me a little bit. I mean, the trailer focused on disaster footage. Almost looked I Am Legend-ish which wouldn't be right for this picture. I had faith in John Hilcoat (directed the McCarthy-esque The Proposition) and Viggo Mortensen to get it right. They pretty much did. The movie is pretty minimalist. We got snippets of McCarthy's prose (in voice over form), we got heart ache, we got struggles to survive, and even a few tense situations (although these don't really define the picture). Oh, and bleak shit. Lots and lots of bleak shit.

The movie centers around the father (Viggo) and the son (Kodi Smit-McPhee). See, the son was born after the world ended. He knows nothing else. The father has two objectives. To teach his son how to survive after he is gone and also to protect him while he still lives. They head for the coast. It seems like a good idea. Along the way they scavenge for food, avoid contact with other people (most of whom will just try to eat them anyway), and stay warm. The world, meanwhile, continues to die. Earthquakes cause dead trees to fall. Fires burn the hills. All wildlife is pretty much extinct, excepting the occasional cricket which get eaten by the father and son.

I appreciated the washed out look of the thing. The performances by Mortensen and Smit-McPhee were very good. The people they meet on the road were all performed admirably by actors such as Robert Duvall, Garrett Dilahunt, Michael K. Williams (particularly heart wrenching), Guy Pearce, etc. The Nick Cave/Warren Ellis score is suitably minimalist, though not quite on par with work they did for The Proposition or The Assassination of Jesse James. There is a lot to admire here. It's nice to see an end of the world picture actually make things look shitty. I'm not sure it'd be a roller coaster action adventure (like in 2012). People would die. Horribly. Slowly. Governments would fall. Teeth would rot. Suicide rates would skyrocket. Cannibalism. Rape. All that shit. This picture, along with Testament and Time of the Wolf before it, seem to have a clue as to what this type of world would be like.

I guess the question is "Ok, all fair and good, but why do I need to see this shit?" Simple answer. You don't. Despite the Oprah recommendation this material probably ain't for everyone. I have a morbid curiosity. And, despite most of the shit I watch and write about, have a desire to see quality pictures from time to time. And, there is a little bit of hope to be found here (actually, there's a lot when you consider the obstacles these characters are facing). Sure, this world is a shitty place to live and it likely won't get any better. Sure, there's a scene where the father instructs his son the fine art of blowing out your own brains (they have two bullets left, one for each of them - better than being cannibalized), sure, there are horrors pretty much every where they go, etc. I don't know, if amidst all this shit people can still manage to do good to one another (i.e. "carry the fire"), then maybe there is hope for us. There will always be bad guys but the movie also makes a point to note that there will always be good guys too.

And don't be put off by the Charlize Theron part. She appears only in flashback. She's very good and her scenes work. We understand her decision not to continue on. There are several dreams the father has of sunnier times (fingering wife at a concert, waking up after a night of sex in a car, etc) which he awakens from as if he's just had a nightmare only to realize oh wait, I'm living the nightmare. The nightmare is that shit's all gone. These additions are almost necessary to keep the movie from being dragged down in bleakness.

I don't know what else to say except it's a good movie but probably not as great as I'd hoped it would be. Perhaps the book is not very adaptable. Or, Perhaps I liked it too much. Viggo Mortensen gives an oscar caliber performance. The end is incredibly moving, Guy Pearce shows up to lighten things up with the one little bit of humor the picture allows at the end. Which I think is also a moment where the viewer is supposed to think oh wait, that guy said something funny, maybe they're not completely fucked? There's some scary shit in a farm house basement. The kid tries to feed everybody they meet and make his father give them back their clothes after he steals them. I'm not sure I'd label this thing as "oscar bait" like I've heard some mention. I mean, what about this thing screams "oscar"? The cannibalism. The child murders. The rape? The fact that the death of the world is being depicted with relentless realism? Well, with the expansion to 10 best picture nominees I guess it's a possibility. If you enjoyed Testament or Time of the Wolf than you will probably enjoy this one too. Which is to say you're a fucked up individual for having enjoyed them.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dead End Drive In (1986)

Dead End Drive In is the 80s. Aussie style. Which is to say its got the neon, the synthesized music, but also the punks with mohawks, bleached hair, and souped up cars. I imagine this is supposed to take place in the same world as Mad Max, only in the city (Sydney). Also, the world didn't crumble necessarily as a result of nuclear holocaust. Mainly, it was just the apathetic youth and their gang mongering. We got economies failing, riots breaking out, wholesale slaughter, gangs roaming the streets, rampant racism, and in Cape Town there was even something called "The Great White Massacre". Hundreds of thousands killed in that one. Great white sharks mutated, grew legs, and took to the streets. I assume. Anyway, back in Australia we've also got car crashes. Lots and lots of car crashes.

So, you can imagine that while most industries are failing at least the tow truck industry is booming. These guys are the bad asses of the post apocalyptic 1990s (yeah, the movie may have dated itself a little). Frank (Ollie Hall) is the poster boy for bad ass tow truck drivers. His younger brother Crabs (Ned Manning)? Not as much. Crabs (so named because he "thought (he) had it once") is small, but he tries hard. The life of a tow trucker is dangerous, but he wants in. Frank isn't so sure. His mother says he can eat all the shit he wants, work out as hard as he can but he'll always be small. Frank reluctantly takes him along one night. They come upon an accident. The cops are useless. People are dead or dying. Another tow truck arrives simultaneously. Frank lays claim to all three cars. So does the other guy. Frank's bigger. They strip the cars while fending off roving gangs. Just another night.

I liked the introduction to this world. I like that a guy with blue collar skills is king. And, like most kings, Frank's got his treasure; a gorgeous red 57 Chevy. He won't mind if Crabs takes it out for a spin, maybe pick up Carmen (his girl) and hit the drive in for a night of Ozzploitation films? He'll have the car back before Frank even knows it's gone. Well, like most futuristic worlds this one's got some unusual rules. Like, it's illegal to walk on an "S" road which sucks for Crabs after his tires are stolen while making love to Carmen in the back seat. So, he and Carmen are stuck there. Just like all the other teenagers wandering around the place. I guess they didn't notice all the broken down cars when they pulled in? Or, the electrified fence, or the locking gates? Man, this place is like a serious dead end or something.

Crabs isn't like most post apocalyptic 90s Aussie teens though. He's not content to live a life of movies, junk food, and raucous parties (filled with sex, drugs, booze, etc). He wants out. Carmen's more typical. She befriends some girls and before you know it they're doing each other's hair. Punk style. Crabs befriends the manager of the establishment (the only adult on site). He wants new tires, a phone, anything. Frank's gonna be pissed! Crabs settles for a fosters and some talks. There's gotta be more to life than this.

I had a lot of fun watching this picture. I mean, imagine a concentration camp for teenagers? We got lots of great 80s sounding music. A few explosions, a car chase, a couple fights. I expected these kids to form gangs and battle it out, but that never really happened. The only conflict, in this regard, was that Crabs wanted out and the other teens want to stay. The atmosphere is intensely 80s and helped by the fact that the whole thing is set in a drive in. I recognized a couple of the movies shown; Brian Trenchard Smith's great Turkey Shoot and The Man From Hong Kong. Trenchard Smith directed this picture as well. Also, the one where the leprechaun goes into space. Stick to the Aussie shit, man. This one would have been fun with a few friends and a few beers. I made due without any of those things.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Knowing (2009)

Knowing has one big strike going against it. And a couple little strikes. The big strike, of course, is Nicholas Cage. I'm not saying Nicholas Cage is a strike against the picture being any good. I'm just saying that he's a huge reason why people won't see the thing. For every Ghost Rider or Bangcock Dangerous or The Wicker Man the guy makes, his detractors seems to forget how good he was in shit like The Weather Man, Matchstick Men, Adaptation, Bringing Out the Dead, Red Fucking Rock West, Wild at Heart, Raising Arizona, or even god damned Peggy Sue Got Married. Fuck man, I ain't gonna defend something like the remake of The Wicker Man, but I gotta say I enjoyed the hell out of that thing, warts and all. It's fun to watch Cage work even against god awful material. He gives it his all, every fucking time out. You'll never see him sleepwalk through a performance. Seems to me, all anyone ever wants to talk about, when discussing his performances, is his hair. Shit, I didn't even mention Birdy, Moonstruck, or even The Lord of War. All good pictures. All good performances by Nicholas Cage. I have noticed a correlation though. People didn't seem to hate him until his hair started getting weird. Maybe he should just shave it all off? Point is, I like the guy.

Another strike against Knowing is the director, Alex Proyas, who hasn't really made a worthwhile movie since Dark City. Apparently, Proyas wasn't as visionary as we originally thought. His follow up to Dark City was a little seen drama about a rock band called Garage Days. Middling reviews and even more middling box office on that thing led him to an adaptation of Asimov's I, Robot* which is probably the equivalent of someone like Ridley Scott (I was going to say Michael Bay, but figured that would be too cruel) adapting Shakespeare's HAMLET, stripping it bare of any meaning, and giving all the character's machine guns. Actually, in light of Baz Luhrman's Romeo & Juliet or Titus, that's a fucking terrible analogy. Point is, Proyas was going downhill, needed a hit. Why not hook up with Cage (whom most people seem to hate) and a script about the possible end of the world? What's the result? Just his best film since Dark City, that's what. Ok, that doesn't mean shit. How about: This could easily end up on my 2009 top ten list (if I get around to doing one this year). It's that fucking good.

A possible third strike is the supposed theology/scripture/belief in god/whatever the picture supposedly embraces. The only people seeing this are those who would blindly believe in God's lack of an existence rather than just saying something like "I don't know" or "I don't really believe, but what are you going to do?". You know, atheists (not all atheists, just the angry ones). In my view, the movie isn't preachy . There's no god pulling the strings here, in my opinion. I hate bringing religion into anything. I hate talking about it. I don't go to church and I don't really believe in God. Will I say God definitely doesn't exist? Not if I can't prove it, I won't. Uh....anyway...Knowing is just a story. A good story. I'm pretty sure the bible had a few of those. It's ok to like this picture.

Shot in Australia, but taking place in Boston (for the most part, this works as we got exterior shots of actual Boston coupled with closer shots that seem like they could be in, or around, Boston - if you don't live there that is), Knowing is a story about big ideas interlaced with a ridiculous premise that somehow works. The film opens in 1959 as students at a Lexington elementary school are preparing to place their drawings of what the future will look like in a time capsule. One girl places a sheet of paper filled with numbers in the capsule. Later, they find her in a closet scratching more numbers into the door. Also, she hears whispers. Cut to 2009 and the time capsule is about to be ceremoniously dug up. A student at the school, Caleb (Chandler "what the fuck is this? a decent child actor" Canterbury), receives the sheet of numbers and takes them home. His father, John Koestler (Cage), chastises him for taking the paper home and then slowly becomes drawn in by the numbers. By the end of the night, bottle of whiskey in hand, he's obsessed with them. One particular sequence stands out: 91120012996. On September 11, 2001, 2,996 people died. He starts googling other numbers on the paper. They all lead him to other disasters. We got the date and the number of people killed. All written back in 1959 by a young girl hearing voices. All the disasters dating back to 1959, in order. If only he could figure out what those other numbers within each sequence that seemingly have no meaning mean. Uh oh, are those voices Caleb begins to hear?

Koestler is a professor of astrophysics at MIT. He gives a lecture on randomness vs determinism. How is it possible the earth was situated at the exact distance from the sun that would allow for life to evolve? Was it luck or was a higher power involved? A student asks what he thinks. "I think shit just happens". As Cage grows more obsessed with the numbers his tune begins to change. He notices three sequences that haven't happened yet. One happens, in a virtuoso scene, when he discovers what those other numbers mean. I'll just say the scene involves a horrific plane crash which, unbelievably, appears to have been shot in one continuous take.

Like all good suspense pictures this one actually manages to be suspenseful. We got strange beings that appear to Caleb, and are usually spotted by his father as they creepily shuffle off into the woods. They're the source of the whispering. So, who are they? What's their purpose? The answer to who they are is not really made clear. Gods? angels? aliens? Mormons? Eerily reminiscent of the strangers in Proyas' earlier masterwork, Dark City, these beings loom over the picture as some sort of sinister chorus, subtly guiding events with a little nudge here, a giant kick to the balls there.

Eventually, John and Caleb meet up with Diana (the luscious Rose Byrne) and her daughter Abby. Diana is the daughter of the girl with the numbers from the 1959 sequence. Her daughter also hears voices. John and Diana feed off each others paranoia. Hysteria ensues while the children remain strangely calm. Maybe they know something we (also, John and Diana) don't?

Fuck man, we got a man struggling with his faith here (a pretty common theme in film). John lost his wife to a fire years back. That disaster is found within the numbers. He could have saved her. He's estranged from his father, a minister. His sister says she'll pray for him but he just shrugs her off, tells her to leave. How is it he can believe in the numbers but not in a higher power? Who says it's god relaying the numbers? Ok, fuck it...this picture's almost a year old. I'm going to spoil the mother fucker.

Here goes....major spoiler to follow. Tread carefully. Seriously, only read past this point if you've seen the movie or harbor an irrational hatred for everything Nic Cage. You've been warned.


Anyway, turns out the numbers that appeared to not have any meaning were actually coordinates. The final sequence of numbers ends without giving any coordinates. It ends with the numbers "33". Why, that's not so bad in the grand scheme of things, right? 33 people? Not even the equivalent of a scratch. Well, fuck man, turns out that's not a "33" at all, but an "EE" ("everyone else"?). Koestler heads to an observatory where he and his colleague come to the realization that a solar flare is going to envelop the earth. Well, what the fuck do we do now? There isn't time to organize a space shuttle mission to the sun with a giant bucket of water. They're pretty much fucked.....end spoiler.

thankfully, I went back and realized I kept spoiling this mother fucker below even though I clearly said I wouldn't. Sorry.

I won't give you anymore else. Or tell you if, and how, they get out of this one. Shit just happens man. I will say that it irritates me when detractors of this picture are turned off by any kind of religious allegory the story purportedly evokes. I don't know man, those beings might be angels but maybe they're just aliens that look like angels and that's how angels originally made their way into our stories. Maybe god is an alien? Maybe there is no god, just a society of aliens that leave trails of mist that sometimes, if you look at it in the right light, vaguely resemble the wings of angels? This picture has no agenda is the point I'm making. Well, it does actually. It's agenda is to entertain you, first and foremost. Are you fucking serious with that "I don't like the fact that they pushed god and his angels down our throats and then the heavens opened up and the kids were transported to a new Eden" kind of bullshit? What about the final scene with Koestler and his father, reconciling as the flames engulf the entire world? Are we to understand the movie wants us to believe they're off to a better place? I don't think so. Maybe Koestler halfheartedly believes so. His father says "this isn't the end" and seems to mean it. It's good to know that Koestler maybe regained some faith right before he and his family were cooked. Wouldn't we all like a little faith at that very moment? Unfortunately for them, the movie never seems to indicate, or even mildly support, that there's a life after death. If those strangers really are aliens I'd argue that the movie argues against it. But then again, that would mean inferring that the movie really argues for anything at all. Except for you to be entertained, an argument it easily wins. I was. A fucking lot.

*I recently revisited I,Robot and I have to say it's not as bad as it seemed when I first saw it. Some parts even border on the soulful. Sure, it's Asimov on steroids. Steroids are sometimes acceptable with a doctor's note.

Mute Witness (1994)

Mute Witness surprised me by being a picture from the 90s which I'd never heard of that actually managed to be pretty good. I'm always finding shit from the 70s, and sometimes the 80s, unheard of by me that's pretty decent. Truth be told, I usually don't even bother looking at 90s shit. Most of it's direct to video, shot on video, cheaper than a two dollar hooker,etc. So, yeah, what a shock it was to stumble upon Mute Witness, a picture full of vibrancy and featuring one of the more sympathetic leads you'll ever see in a movie you're unfamiliar with. Also, lots of tension, solid chases, some Hitchcockian turns, zooming cameras, never ending hallways, creative effects, and..uh...some nice cans.

Our story opens on a film set (inside some vast warehouse) in Moscow where an American film crew is hard at work on a cheap slasher picture. We got a director (who seems like he's 18), his girlfriend (can't remember her job on set), and the girlfriend's sister; a woman who works as the special effects artist. Her job consists of creating the fake blood, making the blood burst on impact, etc. Also, she's a mute girl. I wonder if she'll witness any shit?

Anyway, the shoot closes up for the day and the crew files out. The mute girl (Billy) forgets something and goes back inside, she'll meet the others later. While inside she hears something, sounds like sex. She stumbles upon another set and watches from the shadows. It's a porno shoot with some guy in a mask boffing some blond Russian bimbo. Billy becomes amused and keeps watching (my kind of girl). Suddenly the masked star pulls something out from beneath the pillow, a knife. The cameraman keeps filming. Billy screams. Mutely. The knife comes down, the blood flies, Billy runs away, but can't get out because she's locked inside. What follows is a tense game of cat and mouse between her and the snuff filmmakers as she alludes them in the warehouse. She hides in an elevator shaft, under garbage bags full of body parts, etc. She tries to make phone calls, but cannot speak. Luckily, her and her sister have come up with a "tap" system of communicating. It's clear the director, Anthony Waller, has studied his Hitchcock, De Palma, Coens, etc in the way he constructs these warehouse bound scenes.

Eventually, the action leaves the warehouse and the picture loses a bit of steam. Cops become involved, but are they really cops? What's Alec Guinness doing taking what amounts to a 1 minute cameo as "special mystery guest"? Guinness plays a shady character who apparently is the head of the Russian snuff film industry or some shit like that (I'm sure he had no idea what the picture was about before signing on or even after his five minutes of work was complete).

There's a terrific moment when the snuff guys have to convince the cops that the "mute witness" doesn't know what she saw. She didn't witness a murder. It was all special effects, see. She, as an effects artist, should know better. It's a reasonable explanation made even more reasonable after a shocking demonstration. In a thriller type picture involving people that make thrillers type pictures we can never have enough surprise fake deaths. Well, maybe this picture layered them on a bit too thick.

So, we got quite a few deaths. Some of them real. Some fake. We got some black humor. We got some light humor (such as the weird scene where the director and his girlfriend go out to eat and he squirts the sauce on his meat). We got some almost, but not quite, full frontal female nudity. We got several ingenious scenes where Billy runs from trouble, screaming, but no one can hear a god damned thing. Marina Zudina as Billy is something close to a revelation. She does a great job of making us root for this character who can't talk, grunt, scream, etc. She also gives a striking physical performance (unclothed and fully clothed). All this contributes to her being dubbed the "silent scream queen" (by me).

The other performers acquit themselves ok. Evan Richards and Fay Ripley are fine as the director and his girlfriend (mute girl's sister) but it's not surprising that we still haven't heard of them. Richard's, in particular, is at least able to milk this thing for some comedy (note his reaction to his girlfriend beating the tar out of a policeman). The snuff thugs (couple of Russian actors) are amusingly incompetent, but also menacing enough that we believe they'd have the gall to snuff a mute girl even if it does take Alec Guinness ordering them to do so. They're reluctantly menacing. Guinness is just old. His legacy is in tact because the picture is far from an embarrassment. I guess much of that credit can go to Anthony Waller, the director. He's someone to watch out for. He ratchets up the suspense, the chills, the blood, etc. He knows when to move the camera and when to keep it still. Parts of this picture played like some sort of strange homage to Powell's Peeping Tom. The guy clearly knows his film. Let's hope he doesn't go and blow it with his next picture. Oh wait, he did...and he's done nothing worth talking about since. Oh well. In his case I guess it's too bad he'll always have Paris.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's Hallo-fucking-Ween (a week and a half late): Wrapping it up with some mini-reviews!

Yep, Halloween was a week and a half ago and I'm just finishing this thing up now. No apologies necessary. It's my blog and I don't get paid for this shit. Also, I wasn't around on Halloween and then I just sort of forgot all about it. Also, I don't have any movies fresh in my head to finish this countdown off with. So, instead of the standard shit, you're getting the shorter, less detailed, shit. I may expand on these write ups at some point.

Tourist Trap (1979)
Tourist Trap is just strange. Like Pixar's Cars it's a movie about the death of the small town. The interstate highway system swoops in replacing the old system of routes and..uh...non-interstate highways. Little towns become disconnected from all but the most patient of travelers. Businesses must either relocate or eventually fade into oblivion. One such place is SLAUSEN'S LOST OASIS, an old timey wax museum run by Chuck "The Rifleman" Connors. Still open for business, but failing to get any. Connors (as Mr. Slausen) is forced to be aggressive to drum up customers. Luckily for him, he comes across four teens searching for their friend (the friend's demise is splendidly depicted in the opening scene). By "looking for their friend" I mean skinny dipping in a swimming hole (unfortunately for us, no nudity which is an absolute shame when you consider that Tanya Roberts is one of the teens. Doubly frustrating when you remember that she showed her assets in the PG rated Beastmaster). The teens end up at the tourist trap (car trouble?), admire the wax figures for the life like artistry, drink sodas, get separated, and then slowly picked off one by one. You know the drill. Standard shit, except for several unique touches strewn throughout. You got weird humor, telekinesis, creepy mannequins that seem to come alive, chases through a swamp, and an oddball score. The final freeze frame is hilarious in its bizarreness. A somewhat forgotten oddity that deserves a renaissance.

Kidnapped (1974)

Out of all of Mario Bava's pictures, this is definitely my favorite. It's easily his most modern. Shelved for over twenty years (after Bava died and the studio went bankrupt) it was finally released in the 90s. I've seen two different cuts (Rabid Dogs and Kidnapped) and if they were fresher in my mind I might actually take the time to dissect the differences. What we have here is something completely unlike any of Bava's other works. Gone are the gothic trappings, the supernatural elements, any of that giallo shit we might be used to. Instead, everything is stripped bare. It's like the Bava accoustic album (don't worry, the score is pretty fantastic). It's like Bava watched Last House on the Left and then decided to make something similar while setting the entire thing in a car. Not just any car. A little car. The plot is simple. Four hoods, with names like "Blade" and "Thirty Two" rob a bank and, in the process of getting away (during which their driver is shot and killed), commandeer a new car and take some hostages (a man, a sick child, and a woman). Bava prepares us for the trip by involving the hoods in a standoff with the police where one of the hoods slits a woman's throat to show they mean business. We now realize anything can happen in that car...and anything pretty much does. Their boss attempts to maintain order and, for a while, he's successful. The tension escalates until it becomes nearly unbearable. Bava plays around with identity. The horrors here are real. We even got a scene where a poor woman urinates for her captor's amusement (and if that doesn't sell you on this thing, well, uh....). I was going to mention how this was a clear influence on Reservoir Dogs (at least in part) but according to the imdb it was released five years after Tarantino's film. You'll be disturbed and exhilarated simultaneously. The ending of this mother will shock you.

Chopping Mall (1986)
I'd long considered Chopping Mall as one of my own personal holy grail type films. The kind I'd long heard about but wasn't quite sure if I'd ever get a chance to see it. Basically, I'm lazy since this film really isn't that hard to track down. It's not on NETFLIX but damned if I couldn't find it on AMAZON. Anyway, I found a shitty edition in NEWBURY COMICS for ten bucks and it was totally worth it. A science fiction/horror amalgam filled with humor, references to Roger Corman films (his wife produced this), large naked breasts, and gore. Several horny teens get trapped in a shopping mall. It's a high tech mall with steel doors that slam shut and won't open until morning. Also, there are some security bots roaming around. Actually, they were security bots until a random lightning strike rendered them killbots. Now they're out for blood and also to make sure people "have a nice day". Apparently, the stars of Eating Raoul (unseen by me) have a cameo. As does Dick Miller reprising his role as Walter Paisley (now a beatnick janitor apparently) from Roger Corman's great A Bucket of Blood. The cast of teens are disposable. Thankfully, they are. Disposed of I mean. The funniest moment involves them hanging out in a department store, broken off into couples, as the camera pans across them displayed (on furniture) in various states of fornication. It comes as no surprise that the two nerds of the group are shown platonically sitting on a couch engrossed in a shitty B movie. I want to say "clearly they lived" but I was too drunk to possibly recall such minute details. One girl's got porn star tits, and she shows them. That I remember. The robots are ridiculous looking but they get the job done. If you must, go to youtube and spoil the head shot.

That's all I got time for. Maybe check these out and pretend it's halloween or something.