LEPRECHAUN 2!!!!!!

LEPRECHAUN 2~ 1994, Rodman Flender, USA

Dutifully slapped together and rushed out the door in an attempt to satisfy the allegedly ravenous fans of the first movie (review here), Leprechaun 2 was clumsily plopped onto shelves way back in 1994, exactly one year and three months after the release of the original. It’s a good thing too, that Ewok money can’t pay Warwick Davis’ mortgage forever.

“Can we do like, 11 sequels to Willow? For fucks sake, I got full sized bills!!”

The plot- Leprechaun 2 is Leprechaun at his rapiest. The story concerns our little green fuck face and his quest to land a human bride, which he then plans to impregnate and surgically alter, so as to make her appear more Leprechaun like. Why not just date Leprechaun women in the first place? I really don’t know. Maybe there aren’t any. I have no idea how their system works, all I know is that it must be stopped, because it’s already hard enough to meet people in this day and age, we don’t need any percentage of our dating population being kidnapped and mutilated by fucking Leprechauns. Why isn’t Donald Trump working on a wall to separate us from the faerie kingdom? I wish I had the answers, folks, but I do not.

So we start out 1000 years ago in Ireland, on St. Patrick’s Day, which also happens to be Lep’s birthday. What a coincidence! And this is no ordinary birthday, our boy is turning the big one triple zero! To mark the momentous occasion, Leprechaun and his badly abused human slave are out to bamboozle a fair maiden into the loathsome and all binding contract that is matrimony using a time honored tradition of making her sneeze three times. If she sneezes thrice and no one says “God bless you,” her mind, body and soul belong to the Leprechaun, which is a fucked up and nonsensical rule. Even so, Lep’s human slave is happy to participate in the capture of his master’s bride to be, because he’s been promised his freedom once Lep ties the knot- but he suddenly has a change of heart when he learns that the apple of the Leprechaun’s beady little eye is none other than his own daughter, who is hot as hell and just so happens to sneeze pretty often. Shit! That tricky little Leprechaun. Predictably, the slave dude betrays his master and ruins his plan to entrap his bride, an act of cockblockary that costs him his life, and forces Lep to postpone his wedding a full one thousand years, because a Leprechaun is apparently subject to a lot of stupid rules.

So, we fast forward ten centuries to present day (Well- 1994. It WAS present day), and Lep is once again on the prowl to find lady love, this time in twentieth century America. Good luck, asshole. This time he sets his sights on the equally hot descendant of his previous potentially kidnapee, an empty-headed, flinty voiced babe named Bridget, who is already in the early stages of courtship with some bland dumbass called Cody. Cody sucks, folks. He sucks hard. He just doesn’t bring anything to the table, and that’s a problem for Leprechaun 2, because he’s also our protagonist, and nobody in the world would be sad to watch him die gruesomely. On the other end of the spectrum, however, we have  Morty, Cody’s money grubbing, alcoholic con-man mentor, who is far and away the best and most enjoyable character in the film. But again, he’s a secondary character, and for most of the film, we’re stuck with fucking Cody.

So, anyway. Lep shows up, he rhymes a lot, Brigitte is kidnapped, and Cody and Morty spring into action to launch an elaborate scheme to somehow rescue Bridgitte, and, if possible, score some of that sweet, sweet Leprechaun treasure. It’s a horror film franchise with a 99% genetic match to a fucking cereal commercial.

The Lucky Charms commercial filmed on Lucky’s 1000th birthday is going to go down very, very differently.

So, the upside here is that there’s actually an idea behind Leprechaun 2’s plot- this is a good, old fashioned cautionary tale against the destructive powers of greed. Lep is greedy, Morty is greedy, Cody has to learn not to be greedy, and if you’re greedy, it doesn’t end well for you. That’s all well and good. Problems pop up, however, when you factor in how the character of Bridgitte is handled- she’s basically immediately downgraded to being an object that men fight over for the entire film. She could just as easily be a 20 dollar bill, or a really great sandwich. To the ultra sensitive eyes of the Millennial, this shit is like, PRIME trigger fuel, but back in ’94, absolutely zero fucks were given. Also, we had better music, and the Sega Genesis. It was an awesome time to be alive.

Another mark against Leprechaun 2 is that ALL the actors are total garbage, except, of course, for Mr. Warwick Davis, and Sandy Baron, who plays Morty. Actually, strike that, Tony Cox has a small role in this one, too- you might remember him from Bad Santa. Cox is a fine actor in his own right, but he doesn’t get much of an opportunity to shine in Leprechaun 2. What he does get to do is to play an integral role in the single most bizarre and disturbing men’s restroom scene I have ever seen this side of No Holds Barred (Review Here).

This isn’t a classic, but by all objective criteria, this is a much better movie than the first. It’s less childish, never as bland, and it features quite a few memorable scenes. Or at least I thought it did. When I rewatched it just now for the purpose of writing this review, I didn’t actually remember ever having seen any of these so called “memorable sequences” ever before, except for one; the one wherein Leprechaun uses his magical illusion powers to make one of Brigitte’s more date-rapey suitors believe he is slowly moving in to motorboat her bare chest, when in actuality, he’s gently ramming his face into the whirling blade of an upturned lawn mower. That was pretty awesome. Later, Lep uses his illusion powers to make out with Cody, though, so that mostly negates the coolness of the lawnmower kill.

Still, it’s mostly good. The one thing this movie has working against it in comparison to the first film is that this is fucking Leprechaun 2. That’s a pretty fatal flaw. With the first film, you could throw that puppy on for an annual “leave it on in the background” type deal at a St. Patrick’s Day party, and people might be onboard with it, but nobody puts on Leprechaun 2 every year. Your friends would just look at you like you were a fucking idiot… and let’s face it… you might be!

C

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DARKNESS!!!!!!!!!!

Darkness~ Leif Jonker, 1993, USA

If Dave Mustaine’s acid wash jeans were somehow transformed into a vampire movie, that movie would be Leif Jonker’s Darkness, and holy fuck, would it ever be awesome. Purported to have been written by Jonker when he was a mere 17 years of age and shot over the course of nearly three years in a Kansas Suburb, Darkness is an ultra low-budget, high gore Vampire film featuring a small band of teen agers fighting for their lives against a legion of their now undead peers. Here’s a fun drinking game for you and your friends to play; stick a copy of Darkness into your DVD player and take a shot every time you see the most metal shit you’ve ever seen in your entire life. You will all succumb to alcohol poisoning and die instantly.

Story isn’t a HUGE part of the equation here, remember, this is said to have been written by a 17 year old. I believe it, too, the plot is about what you’d expect to see in the spiral notebook drawings of the kid in your science class who wore the exact same Cannibal Corpse T-shirt everyday and never made eye contact with anybody. As it is, the story goes as such: A wave of vampire attacks is sweeping across Kansas, hitting each town one by one. Tobe, a mullet sporting teenaged survivor of one such attack, takes to the road on a mission to hunt the blood suckers down and slay them all in an act of awesome, heavy metal revenge. Meanwhile, another group of angsty youths, who were out of town at a metal concert (hell yeah) on the night their town got hit, return home to discover the grisly aftermath of last night’s vampire onslaught, and are immediately forced to struggle for survival amongst a sea of soulless, gore caked ghouls. They soon happen upon Tobe, and decide join him in his quest, since they sure as shit aren’t getting much done on their own, and evidently his background stocking convenience store shelves has somehow prepared Tobe for Vampire combat in a way few could have predicted. Thing happen, people get chased, people get bit, and it all builds up to a climax that delivers in a big way. I’ve been told that spoiling the end of these movies is irritating, so that’s all I’m going to say, but I do want to assure you: shit get’s awesome.

I’ve chosen to include the following pictures to substantiate my claim that this shit is rad as fuck:

I believe I have made my point.

Jonker clearly loved The Evil Dead, and one can spot that films as an influence routinely throughout Darkness, but it also feels somewhat reminiscent of The Dead Next Door, partially because of it’s washy, grainy aesthetic. It sorta looks like it was shot on Super 8, although I can’t be sure, but the washed out, fuzzy look actually lends itself well to Darkness‘ bleak, suburban hellscape atmosphere. In this case, it feels like a boon, and not a detriment. Occasionally we get some pretty effective visuals, and the film is executed quite admirably considering the complete drought of budget or resources available. The special effects in particular are nothing less than excellent, Darkness makes it a point to deliver big on blood and gore, because they know that’s about all they can promise the audience. The overall experience feels something like a middle point between The Evil Dead and Violent Shit (Review), and yes, I know, that’s fucking rad as hell. Actually, I might put this closer to Premutos, as it’s significantly better made than Violent Shit… but still much less accessible or polished than The Evil Dead.

Hey, look, MORE awesome shit.

And yes, it is super, super metal. This is the most metal film I’ve seen since Transformers The Movie (the cartoon one. The good one!) There are almost no adults in the entire film, suggesting that for three years, this was easily the coolest thing to do in Wichita if you were between the ages of 15 and 20 (and you were doing homework like a sucker!). It’s just a massive legion of butt rock kids running around in the dark, being mutilated and/or horribly mutilating each other, decked out to the nines with the best fake blood a minimum wage fast food job can buy, and set to a soundtrack of gloomy tones and underground thrash metal. I hope it’s coming across that I mean this all in the best way possible, Darkness, in many ways, delivers big time on promises that much more notorious splatter films fail to keep.

I will openly admit, however, that it’s absolutely not for everyone. The acting is amateurish (or worse), many of the shots aren’t lit for shit, the sound is poor, and some cuts of the film are over-narrated with an lame voice over that doesn’t add much to the film… in other words, all the traditional pitfalls of Splatter Cinema are here in full force. If any of those things bother you, then you’re not going to love this movie much at all. As for the rest of you, Darkness is quite possibly the dragon you’ve been chasing all this time. It is a fantastic example of what it wants to be, and is, no exaggeration, one of the best splatter films I’ve ever managed to track down.

A-

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Gamera The Super Monster!!!!

Gamera The Super Monster~  1980, Noriaki Yuasa, Japan

Gamera The Super Monster was released in 1980; a full five years after Terror of Mechagodzilla, the final Showa era Godzilla film Toho ever released. Let that sink in; by 1980, EVEN TOHO had given up. Godzilla, for years a big green cash cow, had stopped bringing in enough money to warrant the production of additional films. That’s a pretty clear sign that the kaiju genre needed some time off, and yet, here we are, five full years late to the party with Gamera Part Eight, and it is the single most critically underfunded Gamera outing ever.

“Spare some change?”

Gamera The Super Monster takes the now well worn Daiei tradition of recycling old footage and runs with it to an unforgivable extreme. There is almost no original monster content in the entire film, and no original monsters. It’s basically a clip show, they’ve cannibalized footage from previous Gamera adventures and cobbled together a cheapo monster montage, with some bizarre and crummy original footage sandwiched between sequences in an attempt to hold some kind of narrative together. The story they bring us concerns a little boy (surprise!) with a Gamera fixation (I”m sure the feeling is mutual)  who winds up in the middle of some sort of intergalactic turf war. Unable to combat the nefarious invaders on his own, our kiddo throws in with three alien ladies who occasionally wear spandex superhero outfits, complete with capes, and together they work to foil the attempted conquest of Earth by a hostile alien race, who fly around in a damn Star Destroyer. Yep. A Star Destroyer.

The original effects are worse than terrible, and even the classic monster footage had to have felt positively prehistoric to audiences in 1980. This is, in a lot of ways, the Godzilla’s Revenge of the Gamera franchise, a film which makes no claim to even trying to satisfy an adult audience, instead playing straight to children, and compensating for it’s flimsy narrative with wall to wall monster combat, mostly snatched from pre existing footage- however, where Godzilla’s Revenge was a midseries celebration of ongoing cannon meant to give kids what they really wanted, Gamera The Super Monster is a cut and dry cash in attempt by Daiei and financiers to milk what pennies still remained in Gamera’s dying husk once and for all. Gamera The Super Monster isn’t a sequel, it’s more like a liquidation sale.

That having been said, there are some important concessions that need to be made before tossing this stinker out with yesterday’s ham; we are NOT the target audience for Gamera The Super Monster. This is, first and foremost, a children’s film, and it was a children’s film made for kids who probably couldn’t have just streamed Gamera’s entire catalog off of youtube illegally anytime they wanted. It’s possible that for the children of 1980’s Japan, this movie freaking kicked ass. Gamera The Super Monster plays like a greatest hits album for kids who don’t have easy access to these films in their own right. It’s all the monsters you love, and only the good parts. Then, holding the whole thing together, you get space ladies in capes flying around. Honestly, you could do a lot worse! I actually think in some weird way Gamera The Super Monster is a better kid’s film than Godzilla’s Revenge, it’s so much less bleak and depressing, our lead kid is nowhere near as annoying, and the non-monster sequences are anything but drab. Putting yourself in the shoes of a kid who had little to no access to home video, but who loved Gamera, you can probably see how a matinee showing of Gamera The Super Monster could rock your socks off like a mutha fucker.

So, through the eyes of the adult, we have the most lamentable flop in Gamera’s tragic career. For children, we have a shitty story (But who cares?) a spaceship right out of Star Wars, the MOST monsters ever in a Gamera film, and Japanese space ladies, complete with special powers which require choreographed arm movements to activate, like all Japanese people love. I am bound by honor to grade this film academically, but it’s worth an asterisk in the record books that this piece of garbage might be a masterpiece if you’re under 11 years old.

D

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D!CKSHARK!!!!!

Dickshark~ 2016, Bill Zebub, USA

And so here we are again…

Bill Zebub has again put out a movie with a title so batshit crazy that my instincts briefly had me convinced that it just had to be at least a LITTLE BIT entertaining… >sigh<…. One watch and it’s deja vu all over again, folks; Dickshark truly is the second coming of Antfarm Dickhole (REVIEW), and that’s a bad thing. Once again, this is a movie that SHOULD have been a sure thing, I mean, it’s called DICKSHARK for fuck’s sake! How could that not be good for a few laughs, at the very least?! I’ll TELL YOU how…. BILL ZEBUB, THAT’S HOW.

His hats not bad, though.

Bill Zebub is downright supernatural. He can take anything, any idea, and fuck it unwatchable with boring and pretentious bullshit. He’s like Clickbait in the form of a director, he gets your hopes up with a catchy title and an insane premise, only to then bamboozle your ass with the worst movie you’ve seen in decades (or in my case, hours). The experience of watching his movies is exactly what Charlie Brown goes through when that chick yanks the football out from in front of him at the last second, head trauma included. Fool me once, shame on you, Bill, fool me twice, shame on me. Never again, you son of a bitch.

THE PLOT~ When some creepy dude and his inexplicably attractive, alt-model type girlfriend bed down in what is probably a Holiday Inn for some red hot hanky panky, things take a turn for the worst, dickshark style. You see, this weird dude (Who I had hoped would be the star of the film because he ISN’T Bill Zebub) has stolen a mysterious bottle penis enlarging cream from his maverick scientist roommate (fucking Bill Zebub), and he has chosen right here and right now to apply this cream to his genitals. Much to his delight, it seems to take effect immediately, but it also gives his wedding tackle a “clay like” consistency, something that bothers him a lot less than it would me. “Shape it into something useful,” his girlfriend calls out. Um, alright. Naturally, he chooses to mash an incredibly crucial part of his anatomy into the shape of a fucking shark, because who wouldn’t? For reasons that are never explained (and which do not exist), this also gives his now sentient wang the behavioral characteristics of a shark, and within minutes it separates from his body and escapes, thereby becoming a small shark, and not really a dickshark at all. Over the course of the film, this creature slowly morphs into larger shark, but it’s still pretty much just a shark, albeit one that likes intercourse with human females and has multiple dong-like protrusions on it’s exterior. it’s also not in the film enough. Almost the entire movie is just director Bill Zebub, who is also the star (shocker), babbling on and on and on about who the fuck cares what as he gropes away at a slew of beautiful women who would, evidently, do just about anything to be in a movie. I’m serious, the Dickshark is almost not even in the film, it’s probably about 65% Bill Zebub babbling with secondary characters who indulge him for no reason, 25% slow motion shots of softcore sex and/or monster attacks set to shitty metal songs, and 10% other characters babbling with one another. Almost nothing of substance happens, and anything that you would hope to see in a film called ‘Dickshark‘ is here in such short supply that it doesn’t even matter. And that’s another thing, this movie is TWO AND A HALF HOURS LONG!!!! What is this, the Desolation Of Fucking Smaug!??! Zebub’s as a director is as self indulgent as they come, but making a film called “Dickshark” two and a half hours long is SO self indulgent that there should be legal ramifications. It’s so dragged out that if a competent editor got his hands on the raw footage, they could probabky craft a funny movie out of it, but that movie would last for about 4 minutes.

That was supposed to be about the plot, wasn’t it? Well, against all odds, there is a plot here, but the titular Dickshark is an afterthought in the grand scheme of things. The film is really about hubris, Zebub’s wacky, grungy, implausibly educated scientist is super irresponsible with the work he conducts, and he never acknowledges or takes seriously the consequences of his actions, even when these consequences are horribly dire for everyone around him. Ultimately, this is his undoing, but we don’t care, because Zebub can’t tell a story and really, we just want it to finally be over.

It’s worth noting that in a film about a killer penis turned shark monster, the most unrealistic thing about this movie is how freaking accommodating this universe is to the character Zebub portrays. Why would anyone like this guy? All of these films exist in a world where every patch of land, no matter filthy or out of the way, boasts an average of one nude or nearly nude woman sprawled out on a blanket or towel every eight feet, and all of these women are eager to speak to and/or be groped by Zebub for as long as he wishes. In addition to these willing females, Zebub world is also the home to a small population of males, but they exist mostly as dialogue punching bags, here to offer just enough intelligent conversation for Bill to showcase his ego, but never enough to challenge his intellect in any significant way. I don’t know what would motivate a person to craft an entirely separate universe wherein they are some sort of ultra genius, heavy metal sex god, but clearly Zebub felt he needed to do just that, and here it is… And it’s a horrible, horrible place….

According to his films, Zebub spends roughly 70 hours a week taking a knee to chat with towel lounging randos. Livin’ the dream, Bill, livin’ the dream!

And speaking of heavy metal, holy shit is there a lot of that here. Dickshark is basically just an unsolicited mix-tape made to look like a monster movie. It’s filled, start to finish, with awful, awful metal songs, each of which Zebub offers a written synopsis about at the end of the film, in an effort to further insult you with the suggestion that his taste in music may be better than yours. In fact, part of why the run time is so excruciatingly long is that these songs are so often played in full, which helps no one, least of all the audience. Dude, I LIKE metal music, but I don’t want someone else’s iPod playlist crammed down my throat, least of all Zebub’s. Sitting through these songs is a heinous chore indeed. It’s like the guy in your friend group who always wants you to watch ten minute long youtube videos that you’re not the least bit interested in. I’m like… damn, can’t I like… go to the dentist, or have a golfer whack me in the nuts with his club instead? I’d sooner die than check out these fucking bands, Bill. I’d rather be trapped in a coffin that blasts sewage stench and Babymetal tracks through hidden speakers until I clawed my own throat out and die slowly than listen to your fucking bands. For fucks sake, Bill. FUCK.

This one is really taking a lot out of me, but if we’re being fair, I think I actually like it slightly better than Antfarm Dickhole. At least Zebub is poking fun at himself more or less the entire movie- that’s not to say that it isn’t perfectly clear from the get-go that the man is a raving egomaniac, because he makes that real obvious, but he’s also apparently secure enough in his undeserved arrogance that ripping on himself in a fruitless attempt to amuse isn’t out of the question. So that’s good.

Additionally, the film benefits from a few other familiar faces, I actually caught myself feeling somewhat relieved to see actor John Giancaspro, star of Ron Atkin’s Schzophreniac: The Whore Mangler, before I realized what a truly terrible, bleak sign that was for my psyche.

This was the best and least offensive picture I could find of him with a google search… So…

I guess it’s kinda like how you would feel if you were being rounded up into some sort of torture camp with a bunch of strangers, but then you spot a guy from work that you don’t really get along with. He’s not your favorite dude, but just seeing a familiar face in a trying time is somehow comforting anyway. Plus, Giancaspro definitely gives it his all in every role he plays, so he deserves some cred.

Additionally, softcore starlet turned makeshift scream queen Erin Brown, AKA Misty Mundae,has a pretty significant role in Dickshark, and it’s kind of nice to see her.

Sure, pretend you don’t recognize her.

She’s good at what she does, she’s likable, and next to the other actors, seeing her feels like watching Meryl freakin’ Streep. While Bill really just drags the film down,  I found it a lot easier to root for these two other actors, even if I  wasn’t supposed to. Sadly, they don’t even come close to salvaging the movie as a whole,  because that’s basically impossible, but is there anything else nice that I can say about this thing? Well, it does have some nice looking girls, most of whom show plenty of skin, and I’ll admit to enjoying that. Realistically, they’re the real main attraction here, so thelat warrants a mention. Beyond that, I think there were one or two jokes that I didn’t hate, and that’s really about it. There’s really not a lot you can say about this that isn’t just ultra negative.  I mean damn, I’m trying!

I almost resent being forced to hate this movie. Are you kidding me? A movie called Dickshark? By nearly any stretch of the imagination I should be entitled to enjoy this. I really, really want to, but it’s out of my control. Billl Zebub has once against shat on birthday cakes of every man, woman, and child in the entire world. Nothing new about that.

Now, I recognize that this review has been pretty generous with the personal attacks against Mr. Zebub, and typically I try to avoid that. You might think that these jabs have been pretty tasteless and inappropriate of me, but hear me out… I do feel bad about it, but in this case… I think they’re well justified. Ya see, these movies are just drenched in Zebub’s ego, and it’s a particularly belligerent, arrogant, ugly ego, which marches right up to your face and asserts a misplaced sense of superiority in the most aggressive ways possible, and I truly believe that this needs to be a part of the conversation. It’s this element in particular that is the most detrimental to this film, and indeed, every Bill Zebub film that I have ever seen.  Now, I follow a lot of no budget directors, and I’ve seen a lot of films which objectively are pretty horrible, but if done correctly, the urge to root for the underdog kicks in, and these blemishes become endearing. This phenomenon could easily save Zebub…  if he didn’t make that completely impossible. Bill Zebub truly does believe that he’s better than you, and he make certain to say as much in every way he knows how. In order to better illustrate my point, I want to do something that I’ve never done before. Let’s take a look at the actual DVD case and Jacket design that came with my personal copy of Dickshark. Behold;

THE DICK SHARK HOME VIDEO EXPERIENCE

This is the DVD, in my hand. Don’t worry, I have lots of Purel, and my soul is irredeemable anyway. Now, let’s have a closer look at the cover.

You’ll notice the tagline. Yep. That’s the kind of wit you can expect from this little gem. You’ll also notice that Bill Zebub is not listed as the star of the film, thereby failing to warn us how much of his bullshit we’re going to have to deal with. Very sneaky, Bill. Okay, now, let’s move onto the back of the case.

The first thing that will catch your eye (Okay, maybe not the FIRST thing) is a warning printed in a red rectangle. It reads:

“WARNING: Contains scientific concepts, a story that makes you think, proper grammar, and boobs.”

The balls on this guy, huh? Yeah, be forewarned, this is not one of those STUPID movies like you normally watch, you idiots. This is an intellectual film about Dicksharks. There’s science and grammar in this one, and it makes you think! It makes you think “wow, how is someone who is so bad at what they do still so arrogant?” And the truth is, I don’t have the answer! We may never know.

Next we have the synopsis. It reads:

NO, this is NOT Porn! Porn does not look like this!

I remind you, this is what the back of the box looks like:

(…Let’s just continue.) If you equate nudity with porn, you are immature.  (And there’s nothing Bill Zebub, aging director of Antfarm Dickhole, hates more than immaturity. Also, is the back of your Dickshark DVD really the proper forum to call people out on their puritanical sensibilities toward sex?  There’s a time and a place, Bill. Maybe start a blog or something.)

“Dickshark” is the most absurd movie that directo (Yes, it says “Directo”) “Bill Zebub” has ever made. It combines tragedy, comedy, science fiction, exploitation, and surrealism (so do most kindergarten crayon drawings). Don’t let the vulgar title fool you. (That’s actually good advice.)

Yes, there is abundant nudity, but there is also a bizarre mixture of concepts that make for quite an experimental film. See what can happen when creativity has to replace a big budget.

So, first of all, that’s a very clumsily worded synopsis. Whoever wrote that is not a good writer. Who was it? Was it you, Bill? Because I thought you were some kind of genius. Secondly, Creativity?! Bill, if you want to overcome your financial disadvantage, how about you learn to let go of your arrogance and fucking try harder? Learn how to tell a story!  Take some classes!  Advance yourself in literally any way. Try! Are you even trying? If you are, it’s not showing up on the screen, so there’s a problem that needs to be addressed there somewhere. And how about the writing? The plot of this film is a fucking nightmare, it’s winding, boring, self indulgent, and completely pointless. It’s just a showcase for a monster that doesn’t live up to a tenth of its potential, nobody learns anything, we don’t care about anyone, and the resolution comes in the form of a brand new character who is introduced for no reason but to conclude the film. That technique is called Deus Ex Machina, and we learned why that was a lazy and poor way to write on literally the first day in my college screenwriting class.

 It’s really pretty astounding just how much of this jacket design is devoted solely to telling you that you’re stupid. The arrogance this man demonstrates is jaw dropping on its own, but when you juxtapose that with the inferiority of his work, you get into some next level shit. Again, were it not for the smugness, the self indulgence, and the apparent contempt for all non-Zebub life forms that he exudes constantly, maybe I could deal… And honestly, I want to. But Zebub just doesn’t let me. Bill… Your movies suck, these songs suck, and Dickshark sucks. Worst of all, though, it’s this is all your fault, and you’re kind of a dick about it. What makes your work so hard to enjoy isn’t the budget, it’s not the resources, it’s not the limitations facing an artist who has to struggle to hack it on his own, it’s you. There’s one thing holding your movies back, and it’s you, and you alone.

If you ever see a copy of Dickshark in real life, pick it up and put it in the trash.

Still a better movie than Sucker Punch.

F

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Gamera VS Zigra!!!!!

Gamera VS Zigra ~ 1971, Noriaki Yuasa, Japan

gamera-vs-zigra-poster

Alright! Who’s ready for Gamera Part 7?! Nobody? Why are we even doing this anymore? C’mon you guys, look alive, we got two more Showa era giant turtle movies, and this one is actually pretty good… Sorta… Comparatively… You know what, just try to have a good attitude.

THE PLOT~ It’s been almost two years since a hostile alien race has attempted to invade the Earth, but worry not, because the sea dwelling people of the planet Zigra are here to pick up the slack, as well as to provide Gamera something he can horrendously maim the shit out of, as he is wont to do. It’s the circle of life. Anyway. The Zigra economy must be in trouble, because when their spaceship (Which looks like a crown full of jelly beans) finally lands on Earth, it’s got exactly two occupants, and one is just a brainwashed Earthling who has been made to do Zigra’s bidding. The other is a giant swordfish monster, which seems to be sleeping… This is not really much of an invasion, but hey, they’ve got an Earthquake machine, and they’re pretty good at hypnotizing people. You know what, they’re doing their best. Give them a break.

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Anyway… So, the Zigras show up and kidnap four humans, two of which are our token duo of ethnically diverse preteens, so you know we’ll be spending a lot of time with them later. Then the aliens blast Earth with some heavy duty Earthquakes that really spook everyone, but which don’t really appear to cause much damage. The reason for kidnapping four Earthlings? Well, after Earth gets its shit quaked, our kidnapees are asked verify to the rest of mankind that yes, aliens did this, and yes, they’ll do it again if we don’t cooperate. I guess they thought we’d only believe it if it came from one of our own? These aliens don’t seem to understand that all humans are liars, and this is common knowledge. Anyways, it doesn’t matter, because the kids foil the alien plan and escape just in time for Gamera to show up and destroy the hell out of the alien spaceship, because he knows his role, and he owns it. Without his ship to hide in, our alien swordfish monster is exposed to Earth’s atmosphere, which in turn causes him to grow into an even more giant, Gamera-sized, alien sword fish monster…  because of atmospheric pressure? The science is sound.

tumblr_mj9ljmy4vv1qgckmbo3_1280Our two kaiju briefly throw down, and Gamera somehow winds up paralyzed, at which point he topples over into the ocean upside down like an idiot. REALLY feels familiar, doesn’t it? Probably because we’ve seen this a thousand times before. Gamera has a long legacy of getting his ass kicked early on, which leaves him out of commision for the entire second act of his fucking movies, only to then come back strong in the third act and save the day. Apparently, we must save Gamera before he can save us. Guess how we manage to pull that off this time? If you guessed “children in a submarine,”, then you’re right on the money. This submarine sequence is middle of the road, it’s more entertaining than the one from Gamera Vs. Viras, but less entertaining than the one from Gamera Vs. Jiger. The mini-sub we have winds up crapping out on us, stranding our would be junior heroes in the path of certain doom, but “children in peril” is all you had to say if you wanted to rouse a slumbering Gamera. As if motivated by instinct alone, Gams quickly springs to, and decides to mount a mission to rescue his rescuers, so he can then rescue them again. This part is actually kinda funny, but possibly on accident. Zigra is sleeping for some reason (Why are Daiei’s monsters always sleeping?!) and Gamera kinda sneaks up on him and throws a rock, to make sure his opponent isn’t about to wake up. He doesn’t. Coast is clear. Apparently comfortable with the situation, Gammy then slowly sneaks a little closer to the sub, and reaches for it, drawing back cautiously for fear of somehow waking up his slumbering fish-foe. This sort of feels like a Kaiju equivalent of Indiana Jones trying to swap the idol for a bag of sand in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I really like it. I love it, in fact. Weird shit like this is when Gamera really shines.

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So, Gambo manages to burgle the bathyscaph, and saves his human pals, but not without having to confront Zigra once more. There’s a pretty decent battle, during which Gamera winds up lodging a boulder on Zigra’s sword snout, thereby compromising his sense of balance and causing him to topple over, immobilized and helpless. This is where things get weird. Gamera hefts a boulder off of the beach and bashes it against Zigras spikes, In effect, playing his beaten foe like a damn xylophone. He apparently really enjoys this, as is evident by the subsequent joyful monster jig that he performs after he wails on Ziggy for a while. Yep! I sorta wonder if spending several hours unconscious with his head submerged in water changed Gamera in some way… I think maybe it’s sort of like what happened with Gary Busey. LIke, yeah… He’s back… But…

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But he’s not so different that he could possibly resist annihilating his foe in a gruesome display of monster violence. Gamera hosts Japan’s biggest ever fish fry and lets Zigra have it with some of his fiery turtle breath, which leaves him d-e-a-d dead. You know, as humble as these Daiei films are, they never let their focus on entertaining children distract them from whats really important; graphic depictions of monster violence. It’s actually one of the most awesome things about Gamera, these films simultaneously became more youth centric, and more gory. It’s clear that Daiei wasn’t afraid to traumatized youngsters, and in fact, likely saw the value in making sure kids weren’t coddled in a universe of puppy dogs and pillow forts. Occasionally, they need to see something they love get mutilated. It’s just good child rearing, and it’s missing from movies nowadays. We’re all weaker and more feeble minded for it.

gamerazigra12529Anyway, this one is actually pretty good, and thank goodness, because the next film in the Gamera franchise is widely known to be a stinker of the harshest, most regrettable magnitude. The preceding two or three films weren’t really home runs, either, so a halfway decent afternoon with Gamera really hits the spot right about now. Truthfully, this was a hard time for just about every film studio in Japan, and their creative output suffered across the board as a result. This movie is certainly a little more humble than what we saw Godzilla doing over in Toho Town around this time, but it isn’t really shittier. It feels like maybe this one last time, Daiei finally caught some traction. Some weird, crappy traction.

If you’re a fan of the Gamera franchise, then by this point you’re aware that kaiju cinema is all about rehashing cliches, and you’re either going to be okay with that, or you’re not. Gamera Vs. Zigra does nothing new, but it is fun, and Gamera’s crumminess remains as endearing as ever. It’s too bad this couldn’t have been his Showa swan song, but very few of us are privileged enough to go out on a high note.

C+

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Gamera Vs Jiger!

Gamera Vs. Jiger ~ 1970, Noriaki Yuasa, Japan

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Worry not, ravenous Kaiju philes, Japan’s second most popular gigantic reptilian monster hero is back after like, several months, with a brand new beast busting blockbuster! Yes, Gamera is back, but does he have moves like Jiger? The answer is no, no he does not- nobody does, because like all of Gamera’s foes, Jiger is nonsense incarnate. This is basically a win, though, because after studying how freaking bizarre Gamera’s rogue gallery has been up to this point, it would be truly jarring to see him on screen with anything that made sense.

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Pictured: Nonsense.

THE PLOT~ The people of Earth are throwing a World Expo (basically a mixture of the World’s Fair and Disney’s Epcot Center) in Japan to celebrate peace and unity for all of mankind. First on their list of preparations? Actively disgracing precious African cultural sites for their own amusement and giving zero fuck’s about it. Peace and unity for the win! You see, there’s this giant, ancient stone monolith embedded in the Earth somewhere in Africa called The Devil’s Whistle. This is one impressive whistle, so the world expo people are like “hey… We kinda want that. That thing is neat.” Next thing you know, they got a horrified African dignitary is in their offices, pleading with them to let the whistle stay where it is. He makes an impassioned, reasonable, case for the whistle staying put, and in actuality, he has basic human decency on his side, and Japan is in the wrong to remove the whistle, which is plain to see. Unfortunately, he’s also black, so Japan doesn’t fucking care. They take the whistle anyway, and wouldn’t you know it, that turns out to be a bad idea. You see, apparently the whistle wasn’t for decoration, it also functioned as a means of imprisoning Jiger, an ancient, weird dinosaur thing. Now that the whistle is gone, Jiger is fucking shit up, and things look bleak for humanity.

tumblr_nopo0kkkyv1qgckmbo1_500Until Gamera shows up. I shouldn’t really have to drag you through the plot here, if you’ve seen one, you’ve kinda seen ’em all, but I’ll sum up the particulars. Apparently, Jiger is vulnerable to sound, and is also a female, so that’s fun. She uses her weird rocket horns to lay her monster eggs inside Gamera’s freaking heart, which basically puts him into a near death, unresponsive state for a large chunk of the film. In hopes of rescuing everybody’s favorite whirling turtle beast, two young boys called Hiroshi and Tommy, hijack a submarine (this feels familiar) and pilot it into the open mouth of the now catatonic Gamera on a mission to reach his heart. When Hiroshi and Tommy discover a baby Jiger living tucked away inside Gamera’s freaking guts, they damn kill it, with a Walky talky. Now THAT is awesome. I wanted walky talkies super bad when I was a kid, and I was totally unaware that they could be used to murder monsters. Walky talkies just keep getting better and better! There’s also a point at which Gamera rams telephone poles into his ear canals to block out the noise of some Anti-Jiger Noise weapons the Japanese cooked up, and I greatly enjoy that, too.

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It’s hard to say if Gamera Vs Jiger is an improvement over the big guy’s last few tumblr_nopsuxyr2n1qgckmbo1_400adventures or not. Gamera Vs. Guiron strayed a little far from the formula and felt scaled down from earlier outings, and Gamera Vs Viras upped the ante on how much it was willing to pander to children while also filling out it’s run time with an inexcusably generous use of recycled footage. Gamera Vs. Jiger doesn’t repeat any of those mistakes, except for some mild child pandering, and it feels much closer to Gamera Vs Gyaos than we’ve seen in some time, so that’s all good. It doesn’t stack up well against the second and third Gamera films when quality is concerned, though. By this point, Gamera felt cheap and uninspired. Gamera Vs Jiger is okay if you’re happy with more of the same, but just don’t expect it to knock your socks off. I hate to say it, but Gamera’s once promising uphill trend was a long forgotten thing by this point in his franchise. He’s just phoning it in.

Worth bringing up, Gamera is well known for his bizarre and suspiciously unconditional love of children…

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…But Tommy and Hiroshi are looking a little old in this one. They’re in the early stages of puberty, and these poor bastards have no idea that they’re just probably just one awkward year away from Gamera suddenly giving zero shits about them. Yeah, you just stole a mini-sub and sailed it into the tusked maw of a radioactive guardian monster to save his life, but he’s “friend to all children,” not “pal to all tweens.” Pretty soon, he’s just gonna stop taking your calls. Go ask Corey Feldman, he’s been there.

C+

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GAMERA VS. GUIRON!!!

Gamera Vs. Guiron – 1969, Noriaka Yuasa, Japan

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By its very nature, the Gamera franchise seems to invite a comparison to the work of his most noteworthy big, green rival, Godzilla. Gamera only exists as an attempt by Daiei to siphon off some of that big lizard money in the first place, and it would be nearly impossible not to at least think of the single most important, influential, and popular giant monster franchise of all time when evaluating a competing super beast, but then, Gamera continues to mirror Godzilla periodically throughout his adventures, as well. Or perhaps they’re both just responding to other ongoing cultural phenomena. Hard to say. In any case, this is Gamera’s fifth film… released in 1969, the same year All Monsters Attack came out, which sucked like crazy. So, damn,,, I guess in terms of 1969 kaiju films, Gamera is the reigning champ. At last!

THE PLOT~ Two mischievous boys (heard that one before) steal away on a mysterious UFO, which then flies them, autopilot style, to it’s mysterious and far away planet. Gamera spots the kids on the way out, and follows them, because little boys are apparently his number one priority. I hope no kids on Earth need Gamera’s help for the next day or two, because he’s way out of his jurisdiction this time, like when Joe Don Baker went to Malta in Final Justice. (Joe Don Baker reference- I can now die happy.)

Anyway, the planet they wind up on is all tubes and nonsense, it sort of looks like what you’d get if Chucky Cheese designed an alien planet. I would, in no way, be surprised if every hour on the hour Guiron wiggled out to play a pizza themed cover version of ‘Dancin’ in the Streets’, but I digress. This Dr. Suess land of moon craters and goof tubes is basically deserted due to an ecological disaster the aliens caused, which, in turn, created a race of Gyaos monsters, who annihilated all life and who still continue to tear shit up hard. Two (TWO) alien women somehow survived the subsequent mass extinction of their species, and they now control a giant monster called Guiron, which they use to protect their dome and tube style future city from the friggin’ Gyaoses. At first they act super cool to our wayward Earth boys, but we soon learn they plan to fucking eat their brains and then conquer Earth, for more delicious brains. Yep!

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So, anyhow, Gamera shows up, him and Guiron throw down, and the day is saved. Our alien chicks are killed, our humans boys are returned to Earth, and the sun sets on yet another monster filled day in 1960’s Japan.

It’s actually a lot better than the preceding Gamera film, but it’s not going to rival Gamera Vs Barugon, or Gamera Vs Gyaos, at this point the reining Gamera champs. Like Gamera Vs Viras, this film is without question very, very youth oriented, “friend to all children” being a title Gamera eagerly accepted years before Godzilla sort of reluctantly gave up his days of menacing and killing people to follow suit with categorically kid-friendly adventures exclusively. Gamera does rip of Big Bad GZ, but there are times when this imitation looks a little more mutual than people would like to admit.

We should also talk about Guiron. I like him… But… Well, there’s just no nice way to say this, his face is a damn sword. Straight up. That’s really the first and last page of the Book of Guiron, his damn face is a sword.

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Ol’ Sword Face, I call him.

Which is kind of cool. Gamera, being a turtle, is, essentially, a shield with limbs and a head, so just as he is inherently defense oriented, Guiron is a weapon with feet, making him outwardly offensive in nature. He also can fire shurikens out of the side of his head, and remains, without question, easily the least weird monster in the entire Daiei Gamera franchise. Also, when he kills things, he will often decapitate his enemies through the power of headbanging, which is extremely metal.

It’s actually quite likely that Guiron is the single most formidable foe Gamera has faced yet. Before this, it would be, without question, Gyaos, but as I mentioned earlier, Guiron kills like, four Gyaoses everyday, that’s like, his afternoon routine. He slices of their wings, crawls up to their imobilized, shgrieking bodies, and then headbangs his sword face into them, first decapitating, and then slicing the rest of the Gyaos into rounded sections like a giant sausage. In the end, Gamera DOES make sure Guiron is super, super dead, but he’s not able to do it on his own, he requires the aid of powerful, explosive rockets to really get the job done. In fact, in this entry, Gamera isn’t much of an able combatant at all, he’s much more adept at turtle gymnastics that the art of ferocious, monster combat. Perhaps this is a symptom of his evolution towards giant, smiling, tusk faced Happy-Meal Toy and away from nightmarish terror of Japan? Seems plausible.

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Pictured: Turtle Gymnastics.

This shits goofy, no question, but Gamera has never managed to avoid being goofy, not in the Showa era, at least. If you like Gamera, you know this, and that shouldn’t slow you down. It’s also commendable (I guess) that Daiei has began to use extra terrestrials for it’s villains, just like Toho did with it’s Godzilla franchise, but has managed to come up with two different stories in order to accommodate them, a feat which Toho was never able to achieve after decades of just copying and pasting the same Alien Invasion script over and over and over.

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The Gamera franchise appears to have peaked with Gamera Vs Gyaos, and what we see with this film is a pretty shallow, straightforward, children’s science fiction movie, with a few giant monsters. These movies are fun enough, if that’s what you’re into, but our big, frumpy turtle guardian is straight up phoning it in about now.

C

 

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Slaughtered Vomit Dolls

Slaughtered Vomit Dolls ~ 2006, Lucifer Valentine USA (TRAILER AND INTENTIONALLY OMITTED… Obviously.)

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The synopsis for Slaughtered Vomit Dolls reads as such;

“Mercilessly abused by her parents and routinely molested by a deranged priest, young Angela Aberdeen (Ameara Lavey) pledges her soul to Satan in exchange for his protection and help in exacting revenge on her tormentors. But soon Angela’s pact leads her down a sinister path overflowing with blood, guts, gore and vomit. This outrageously over-the-top gross-out film from director Lucifer Valentine contains graphic images of sex and violence.

Well, sir, I have seen Slaughtered Vomit Dolls, and none of that ever happens. As a matter of fact, nothing happens! There is, in fact, no plot, and no story. ‘Lucifer Valentine’ must have forgotten to include one. Embarrassing!

Let’s get serious, Slaughtered Vomit Dolls is terrible, just terrible, horrible bull shit, as bad as a movie can be. It’s boring. It sucks. It’s the kind of loose narrative, artless garbage that anyone with a camera is capable of crafting, and which is defended as being somehow so artistic that any naysayer who didn’t like it simply must “not have understood it.” Sorry, that’s a cop out. I understand your movie, it’s just not good, I don’t need some union of the pretentious AND the ignorant trying to explain to me how I missed the boat on your puke montage. In fact, it’s worse than that.

 Slaughtered Vomit Dolls is a very frustrating film to criticize, because of it’s apparent connection to Satanism and the Church of Satan. We need to tackle that chestnut right here and now; For some reason, there are a number of self proclaimed Satanists who tend to be offended by the suggestion that this movie isn’t a masterpiece. Sorry, guys n’ gals, it may very well be the Citizen Kane of puke porn, but that’s as far as it goes. In fact, I want to you imagine something… Imagine that some Hallmark Channel movie about the life of an obscure Biblical character get’s made. The craftsmanship is lousy, the story is boring, and it’s clear that you’re not a part of the film’s target audience. Imagine that, for some reason or another, you actually watch this thing, and of course, you totally hate it. Naturally, the next thing you do is to proclaim how bad this movie sucks via your chosen social media platform, because this is 2016, and your opinion requires broadcasting to the entire globe at all times. Before you know it, you’re being blitzed by a legion of pissed off Christians, all of whom swear up and down that this movie is excellent, even though it clearly sucks. How obnoxious, right? Well, that’s exactly what we have here with these fucking Satanists. Really, it’s no different. You’ve traded one religion for another, but the behavior is identical. Let’s hammer out some truth:

Attention; Satanists, and/or self proclaimed Satanists who don’t actually understand what Satanism even is: This movie is terrible. It just is, you need to just accept that. If you want to have decent Satanic movies, then I guess you guys need to recruit more talented directors to join your flock, because this just isn’t it, man. I don’t even have a problem with Satanists, but this behavior is obnoxious. In my research, I’ve seen far too many of you defend this film by stating that”If you’re not a Satanist, you just don’t get it.” Okay… Well, I’m sorry, there’s nothing here to get. I’m glad you like your little puke movie, I hope you can all go watch it and have fun or whatever, but back here in the real world we have to have an objective means of assessing artistic merit, and your individual, ultra-niche perspective doesn’t completely rewrite the rule book. That’s just the end of it, and by any and all unbiased criteria, this thing is a complete piece of shit, end of discussion.

Now, let’s move on to hating on this thing a little more.

So, it has no story. So, what does it have? Lots of exploitative nudity, horrendous production value, fetishistic violence, and so, so much throwing up. For some reason. A lot of people throw up. Like, a lot. Also, I typically reject the term “torture porn,” but it feels appropriate here.

Slaughtered Vomit Dolls is awful. As mentioned before, it’s boring. A film that loads itself with wall to wall full blast shock value but forgets to give you a reason to give a shit can run the risk of having no one give a shit, and that’s what we have here. It’s also startlingly pretentious, but that’s sort of what you’d expect from a man cliche enough to pretend his name is ‘Lucifer Valentine.’

If you’re into psychotronic films and feel compelled to hunt down the weirdest and wildest cinema out there, please… I beg of you, DO NOT see Slaughtered Vomit Dolls as like, another mountain that you must to climb to prove your mettle. There’s nothing here to justify a viewing, and you gain nothing from enduring this. I want to explicitly discourage anyone from watching Slaughtered Vomit Dolls for any reason. Unless you’re really into vomit, I guess. Or boredom. If either of those things are just like, right up your alley, then I guess this is the movie for you. I imagine that’s a pretty small minority, however, so for everyone else, avoid.

Still a better movie than Sucker Punch.

F

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Burial Ground!!!

Burial Ground: The Nights Of Terror ~ 1981, Andrea Bianchi, Italy

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Burial Ground is a film about a lot of things… It’s a film about overcoming adversity, it’s a film about confronting the past, it’s a film about survival… but mostly it’s a movie where a full grown man plays a child who really wants to bang his mom. Yep. Now, granted, this is a very small man, but he’s definitely an adult human being, and not a child by any stretch of the imagination. And again, as I mentioned a moment ago, he really, really wants to have sex with his mom, and the reason why any of that was included in this film remains shrouded forever in mystery and lost to time. This is a movie where rotting corpses rise from their graves to tear human beings apart and devour their flesh, and none of that is even one tenth as creepy as this fucking kid/mom/incest subplot. 

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Plus, he looks like that.

burial-ground-nights-of-terror-1981-10THE PLOT~ When some professor/archeologist/whatever type guy removes an engraved plate from an ancient ruin, he unwittingly triggers a centuries old curse that reanimates the dead and imperils every lusty Italian in the immediate area. What a dumb ass, huh? Meanwhile, our cast of totally forgettable characters all arrive at the beautiful, stately Italian villa which may or may not belong to the aforementioned professor, and which also appears to be on the same property as this ancient tomb for some reason, for a weekend of aggressive sex in as many locations as possible, as often as possible. Solid plan. Sadly, none of these idiots is yet aware that the zombie apocalypse is upon them, so they only get in about fourteen or fifteen sex scenes before the place is just crawling with ghouls and everyone is forced to switch to survival mode. From there it’s your typical Night of the Living Dead style survival zombie film, they barricade, they fight, they die, the end. It’s actually pretty fun!

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Burial Ground is a rip off, and no buts about it. If you read the plot blurb above, the you already know that these guys watched Romero’s contributions a time or two, but this flick is also clearly indebted to Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, at one point even going so far as to directly copy of one of that film’s most memorable eyeball related gore gags. Even so, in watching Burial Ground, you’re more likely to be reminded of Jean Rollin’s Grapes of Death, or even the uber-shabby mummy/zombie mash up Dawn of the Mummy, as Burial Ground is tonally dissimilar to the work of either Romero or Fulci.

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I actually sort of love it it. The make up effects are truly terrible, but the music is really great. It’s much more ambient and freeform than the synth scores you would get from Goblin or Fabio Frizzi, but it suits this film excellently. Burial Ground is also super pleasant visually, whoever managed to acquire this location for the film should be given a freakin’ trophy, because it probably saved the movie in the end. The grounds and house are both beautiful, and do more to push this film in the arty/poetic direction that Rollin has on lock than any other element in the mix by far. That’s not to say that the movie feels anywhere near as poetic as the work of Jean Rollin, and truthfully, it doesn’t want to be, which is okay. The proof is in the pudding, and Burial Ground is very forthcoming about its intentions; it wants to entertain, and deliver. In this film we don’t waste any time with plot, character development, or really anything that takes too much mental energy. Instead, we get zombies; we get them fast, and in as much abundance as is available, and to hold us over while we wait the scant few minutes it takes to fetch our wobbling ghouls, we are compensated with liberal doses of naked Italians gettin’ busy. Folks, Burial Ground isn’t here to judge. Burial Ground knows what you want, and you don’t have to pretend with Burial Ground. Burial Ground isn’t the kind of movie you take home to mother, but it’s the kind of movie you meet in a back alley when you really need a fix.

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VIDEO NASTY BREAKDOWN

Yep! is also made the list of gnarly flicks which raised the English Ire back in the rough and tumble 1980’s! So, how does it compare to all the other films it tries so very hard to imitate? Pretty damn well, actually. Burial Ground has lots of footage of people having their guts fondled and yanked out by grizzled old zombies, but it also has a few memorable gags and scenes that stick out to the viewer; such as a somewhat elaborate sequence involving a dart and a scythe. More than anything else, what probably put Burial Ground on the map for both British Censors and psychotronic film fans is its puzzling inclusion of the aforementioned incest subplot, as well as the hardcore off-putting choice of casting a full grown man to play the role of Michael, who is supposed to be the child in question. We’re pretty much forced to assume that the biggest reason behind these decisions was that it was one more way to jazz the film up with sensational content that was smutty, and which felt markedly inappropriate, both traditionally seen as desirable traits for Italian Genre films. In the end no matter how you feel about the movie, Michael’s horrifyingly wrong relationship with his mother makes Burial Ground difficult to forget, and it also adds a lot of weight to later scenes in the film, wherein we learn the fate of young(?) Michael. Burial Ground’s blood and gore isn’t quite as over the top as some other films in the Video Nasty lexicon, but it hits home, because Burial Ground doesn’t work hard- it works smart. And by smart, I mean they cast an adult man as a child who wants to bang his mom, and then we see his corpse being eaten, and it’s super bloody and I love it. You probably will, too.burial10

It also has one of the most bleak and nihilistic endings of any zombie film ever, which is quite a statement indeed. Suffice to say, nobody survives this one, and we end with a freeze frame, followed by this text (spelling errors included):

 

 

“The Earth Shall Tremble…
Graves Shall Open…
They Shall Come Among the Living as Messengers of Death and there shall be the Nights of Terror…

Profecy of the Black Spider.”

DAMN! That’s the most metal shit I’ve ever heard in my LIFE. So, yeah, if you want to know more about The Black Spider and whatever his deal was, then be my guest and google that shit. Meanwhile, this is a pretty amazing way to end a zombie movie, and I don’t even know if that caption is bogus or not. I really don’t care. At the end of the day, Burial Ground pretty much delivers in the same way that junk food does, it’s not good for you, but if that’s what you wanted, you wouldn’t have bought those Cheetos in the first place.

A-

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CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST!

Cannibal Holocaust~ Ruggero Deodato, 1980, Italy

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The roughest, gnarliest, most controversial Video Nasty of them all is inarguably this one; Ruggero Deodato’s gory ass cannibal milestone Cannibal Holocaust, the king of cannibal cinema, and an early example of the found footage format in motion pictures. It’s 36 years old, and at the time of my writing this, it remains every bit the gut wrenchingly disturbing sleazefest it was when it was first unleashed. There’s just something so timeless about shameless, irresponsible degradation and filth… At least, that’s what I like to tell myself.

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This is as wholesome and uplifting as this film gets.

Legends abound about what transpired behind the camera during this production, with many reports painting director Deodato as a cruel, abusive puppet master who manipulated and tortured his actors and crew. There’s also speculation about some of the dead bodies in the film being genuine (there’s some truth to that, by the way), and much like what happened with Snuff (another notorious video nasty) Deodato did in fact have to produce his actors, alive and well, before the authorities to prove that their onscreen deaths were, in fact, simulated. It’s true that audiences were easier to dupe in 1980, but even today the ample gore effects in Cannibal Holocaust hold up incredibly well, and the film remains visceral enough to satisfy contemporary splatter fans as much as it ever did. If you’re looking to subject yourself to the foulest, most gruesome cinema ever made, then Cannibal Holocaust is a movie you can’t afford to skip. A word to the wise, however, do not go into Cannibal Holocaust if you harbor any sensitivity of any kind. This is advanced level shit. Cannibal Holocaust boasts not only graphic blood and violence of the most aggressive sort, it also contains explicit sexual violence, as well as the on screen killing, torture, and mutilation of live animals, all of which is actual, not simulated. Because of this, it’s difficult to watch Cannibal Holocaust objectively, as the film seems to demand a morally motivated response separate from an assessment of its merit as a film. Frankly, this movie is just not suitable for most audiences, and even those who appreciate it will often condemn it at the same time. In truth, Cannibal Holocaust is only one of many films in the Spanish/Italian Cannibal genre, and nearly all of these feature the same sort of content. The only real difference is that Cannibal Holocaust is much better than most of these, and therefore, drastically more effective.

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THE PLOT~ When a group of documentary filmmakers on assignment in the Amazon goes missing, Professor Harold Monroe somehow concludes that going after them isn’t a terrible idea. He departs, and somehow manages to find them, although they are predictably dead as fuck, which leaves Monroe with the consolation prize of returning to civilization with reel after reel of raw, undeveloped film shot by the crew before they met their grisly end. After developing this footage, we slowly piece together the truth; our missing filmmakers were, in fact, total douchebags, who antagonized the fuck out of the locals, and acted like the Amazon was some sort of perverse theme park designed by Caligula.  Again and again, they engage in acts of deplorable violence and degradation, even going to far as raping local girls and setting fire to villages just to get some exciting footage. With this added context, we don’t feel sorry for our film crew at all, even though we watch them die in graphic, and awesome ways. I don’t use the word “awesome” lightly, this part of the movie really is fantastic, and honestly, the murder of these buttholes is more than justified. I mean, what took these cannibals so long? They’re way more tolerant than I am. WAY more. I’d have killed them like, an hour after they showed up.

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Those are some guts, I guess.

Nowhere else is the cannibal film’s hereditary roots in Mondo cinema more apparent than Cannibal Holocaust. The found footage format helps to display its close relation movies like Mondo Cane, Africa Addio, and Mondo Magic (among others), and it may be that bond that helped to give this film the impact it had back in 1980. It does have a documentary feel much of the time, with strategic use of steadicam and compositions that feel impromptu, lending a raw and authentic feel to the film’s grisliest sequences. It’s easy to see why this was confusing to audiences who were less accustomed to having to apply scrutiny to the films they viewed. Even today, the film is certainly quite effective, even outside of the violent sequences. Cannibal Holocaust feels well made, but still totally without polish of any kind, there’s just something inherently wild about the film.

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Another crucial ingredient that helps to make Cannibal Holocaust as effective as it is is it’s score. While 90% of the onscreen visuals are natural landscapes, the music is a strange, haunting synth score, which was very much the fashion in 1980’s Euro Cinema. Here, however, that stylistic choice is profoundly effective, the most feels sterile, and almost alien at times, further emphasizing how foreign and unsafe the environment in Cannibal Holocaust is. It’s hard to know how much of this was deliberate or conscious, as well as to what degree it would have been noticeable to an audience in 1980, but to audiences today, the combination is fantastically off-putting.

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Overall, Cannibal Holocaust is a remarkably difficult film, not just to watch, but to process. Perhaps more than any other subgenre, the cannibal films of the European 80’s seem to demand a moral response, because of the nature of their sensational content. From an objective standpoint, it’s patently ridiculous to suggest that Cannibal Holocaust isn’t a masterpiece. It’s an incredibly effective horror film that will likely remain potent and unnerving decades longer than contemporary films of the era. Its nigh Herzogian production makes it fascinating and engrossing, and deliberate attempts to top the onscreen sleaze and violence on display here still routinely fail more than 36 years later. But then one has to acknowledge the unsavory actions taken by the cast and crew in their irresponsible quest for onscreen sensationalism, and it becomes quite difficult not to condemn Cannibal Holocaust in much the same way you would Clownhouse, or even (to a lesser extent) Pulgasari. Cannibal Holocaust, therefore, almost requires two assessments… Morally, I’d say this is super fucked up. As a film? Sort of a masterpiece.

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A+

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