Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ad Mat Massacre

Remember real movies? They weren't remakes, or comic book adaptations, or old TV shows given a facelift. They came from the heads of adults and they were original.

Elia Kazan's The Visitors was a 'What if?' scenario based on the true story of several soldiers who kidnapped and raped a Vietnamese woman. It formed the basis of Brian De Palma's Casualties of War.

In The Visitors, Sean Penn's character, Sgt. Tony Meserve, gets out of jail for his crime and decides to pay a visit to the home of PFC Eriksson (the character played by Michael J. Fox).

All names were changed in The Visitors, but the set-up was authentic.

The film is one of James Woods' first and finest roles.

It's slow and dark as fuck, but it's brilliant.

It is available on a Region 2 DVD only.

The Hunting Party ('71) was released in Australia when I was nine year's old. This ad mat didn't tell me much, so my interest in it was slight... until an "Uncle" (more a friend of the family) saw it, and sat at our kitchen table telling my parents how disgustingly violent it was. He went out of his way to condemn the film, even threatening to call the theatre chain and lodge a complaint.

I looked at the ad mat very differently after that.

It took me close to thirty years to finally see it uncut, and I loved it.

It is an impeccably made, brutal Western with killer performances from Oliver Reed (I love Ollie), Gene Hackman, Candice Bergen, and the legendary L.Q. JOnes.

On top of that, the score by Riz (Cannibal Holocaust) Ortolani is a masterpiece.

What makes the film so excellent is the relationship that develops between Bergen and Reed, who has kidnapped and raped her.

Director Don Medford, who directed a lot of great TV such as The Invaders and The Twilight Zone, brings a sweeping cinematic electricity to the proceedings.

The violence, which is really well choreographed, is hard and brutal.

The MGM DVD is superb.

My original imdb review went as follows:

Occasionally bloody and nail-biting Western performed by a great cast -- Hackman, Reed, Bergen, Oakland and LQ Jones (one of Peckinpah's favourites). Hackman plays a rich, impotent brute whose wife (Bergen) is kidnapped by Reed. Substituting his limp penis with a long gun that can shoot eight hundred yards, Hackman and his wealthy buddies start hunting Reed and his band of horny miscreants at long range.

What's admirable here is the way director Medford handles both Bergen's developing relationship with Reed (shades of Stockholm Syndrome) and Hackman's gradual realization that he can't compete with the younger man on any level.

The score, by Riz Ortolani (CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST), is sensational, and perfectly captures the sense of big trouble in a harsh land and the bloody inevitability of these men's lives.

Aside from the inclusion of some awful process shots on an exterior train scene, the film's technical credits are top notch and cinematographer Cecilio Paniagua's dusty vistas are powerfully evocative.

For me, the film's stand-out dramatic scene is Reed's "rape" of Bergen and its ambiguous aftermath.

Pretty damn good.

Not a lot to say about Trouble Man ('72) that hasn't already been said. It's a powerhouse blaxploitation classic.

I snuck into this and cowered in a dark corner for ninety minutes, terrified that somebody would catch me and throw me out. I could have waited eight years to see it instead and saved myself the angst.


  1. I just wanted to say thanks for these ad mats - it really is a look into another world compared to the blandness that is today. It still surprises me that Hoyts pimped films like that, versus Dance Movie 235 and so on now.

    Love ya blog and keep it up! Without it, I wouldn't have been exposed to such fantastic movies :)

  2. Anthony -- thank u so much for your comment. Most of the time I'm convinced that nobody is reading (looking at) any of this stuff. Feedback like yours spurs me on.

    Yes, it's disgraceful what passes for "entertainment" these days.