Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rapist Rampage

I couldn't walk past this cover. Or the title. So I slapped down $27 and took my chances.

I still like the cover.

After Hours Cinema, a division of Alternative Cinema, has been issuing a torrent of rare X-rated fare lately. Their Forced Entry put the company on the map -- my map, at least.

I'd only recommend this for completists because both films are several notches below total crap.

Wet Wilderness ('75) is described by InvasionofPALs (on imdb) as "54 minutes of unpleasantness". He's right. It is unpleasant. But it's unpleasantness wears off quickly once boredom sets in.

An idiot guy with a stalking kit (ski mask and machete) attacks a family in the forest. He forces mom to couple with daughter, brother to couple with sister, etc. He does some killing, too. Most of the time, he does all these things standing in one place. He's the laziest rapist you'll ever meet.

Nothing that happens is visually interesting or the least bit dramatic. I Spit On Your Grave it is not.

The rape scenes are hardcore. There is nudity. There is pubic hair. Their is semen.

I repeat -- None of these things are one bit interesting.

The weirdest thing about this flick is the sound. It's too clean. It's like After Hours went and totally revoiced the entire film with one or two voice actors. Perhaps the "newly restored" print didn't come with a decent audio track. There are almost no background or folly effects. It's all dialog and terrible synth music.

"One of the most Sadean films of all time!" the back cover screams.

I would urge copywriters to go easy on the de Sade comparisons. The great French writer did not have this plodding, inept shit in mind when he pressed pen to paper.

The second feature, Come Deadly ('74), is another attempt at horror by hardcore porn filmmakers.

The only other film I can compare it to (plotwise) is Michel Soavi's very impressive Stagefright.

It's a feast of the most boring rapes you can ever imagine. Perhaps the authorities should show both these films to rapists. They depict rape as something so boring you do not want to exchange your freedom for it.

Speaking of the Marquis... If you really are looking for a truly Sadean experience, you will find it and so much more within the confines of Sperrgebiet 7.

I find the striking cover design to be a highly effective example of marketing to a very specialized niche. SG Video did put out a more explicit cover also, but this one works so much better.

The well chosen words on the back cover do a good job of understating the company's mission. A very good job.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Evil of the American Girl


I announced in http://phantomofpulp.blogspot.com/2009/03/meet-girls-from-stepford.html that the American Girls are here. They're not coming soon. They're not waiting around the corner. THEY ARE HERE.

The March 2009 catalog is a deathlist of more troubling developments and heinous events.

Somehow, they've penetrated the music conservatory. Some will be fooled by their "perfect harmony". I won't. At least I don't think I will.

This one's waiting for your call. I suggest you "lose" her number.

Clever idea. Covering those John Wyndham eyes with sunnies.

Is that a coffin she's sitting up in or a bed? I could have sworn it was a coffin.

And what the fuck is it with Bennett and Yank, little Molly's hellhounds? Yank?! Bennett? Who named these two?

Yeah, bring home your "Bitty Baby" and say goodbye to your future.

Pity the unfortunate blond moppet (pictured) who is yet to taste the bittersweet nectar of synthetic homicide.

Ah, the bliss of ignorance. Better make the most of your day on the town, girls, because it will be your last.

Note the malicious, future thinking grin on the dial of the doll in green.

What pretty evil these maidens bear.

The "finding friendship" mini-essay above refers to a group of "mean girls" who are making it hard for Chrissa to fit in. Her dilemma is: Will she side with Sonali (sounds like a foreigner!) or Gwen?

Well, she decides to go with the local lama instead.

Say a prayer for the gullible beast.

The Spring catalog of plastic killers promises: "She'll look her best in a new Spring doll dress."

Unfortunately, our covergirl will be lucky to live beyond bedtime.

When this doll strikes, it's blood- and brain-splattered sheets all the way!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Virgins Forever?

What I have to say about these two ladies is said by the picture.

Their sheer beauty compelled me to post.

They are Marie Liljedahl (from Joe Sarno's Inga), and Karin Schubert, and the still is from Hubert Frank's Willst du ewig Jungfrau bleiben? (Do You Want To Remain a Virgin Forever?, '69). Alternative English title was Flowers for a Virgin.

The stunning Liljedahl enjoyed a brief career; the dreamy Schubert made softcore and hardcore films, and was never less than hypnotic.

It's unlikely they remained virgins for long.

Public Enemy Is Number One

Jean-Francois Richet's last film was the US remake of Assault on Precinct 13. He returned to France to make L'Instinct De Mort (Public Enemy Number One), a 240 minute crime thriller that is fucking impressive.

Vincent Cassel plays real life crime torpedo Jacques Mesrine, a man who saw himself as a "revolutionary". Not everybody agreed with his definition of the term, but that's part of the fun.

Richet documents Mesrine's incredible career via powerhouse cinema. Some critics have complained about the film's "overstylization" and lack of substance. I say "Bullshit!" to that. It's not overstylized or lacking in substance. It cuts to the chase and gives us a very clear sense of what Mesrine was about.

Is it a "French Scarface" as some have suggested? No! Why does it need to be? Why does it need to be categorized like that?

L'Instinct De Mort is a work of great velocity and passion. The violence is brutal and sudden, similar at times to the intensity of the street shootout in Michael Mann's Heat. The character work is superb. Every part is impeccably cast. I particularly loved the way Mesrine's relationships with women were portrayed. "You're just a piece of ass!" he complains at one point, distilling the reality and the folly of romantic relationships for a man such as himself.

One of the film's many beautiful pleasures is watching Gerard Depardieu deliver a volcanic performance as Guido, a cold crime boss who forms a bond with Cassel's Mesrine early on. Their on-screen chemistry is electric.

I've seen a handful of very decent films lately, but this trumps them all.

Monday, May 25, 2009

From the Land of the Rising Sun

Recently unearthed this superb, intensely erotic ad mat from Yasuzo Masumura's Evil Trio (Dai akuto, '68), a great little crime melodrama from Daei Motion Picture Co., Ltd.

Second-billed Kei Sato also appeared in the director's amazing Razor 2 - The Snare.

In the 60's and 70's, Daei had a New York office on 1350 Avenue of the Americas.

Shohei Immamura's Profound Desire of the Gods ('68) focuses on the inevitable industrialization of an island society built on incestuous couplings.

Definitely one of the director's most beautiful films, made after The Pornographers ('66), but before Vengeance is Mine ('79).

Toho announces production on Hiromichi Horikawa's '68 Sogeki, a film rarely appearing in the West as Sun Above, Death Below.

I'm a big fan of the director's Aku no monsho (Brand of Evil, '64), an intense crime melodrama.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Classic X

Which years were the Golden Years of X-Rated Cinema? That's debatable.

The Golden Years of magazines covering X-Rated Cinema, however, were definitely the 80's.

Cinema Blue, published out of New York, and edited by Joyce James, shook the book shelves for a number of years. It couldn't hold a candle to Adam Film World or ACR (Adult Cinema Review), but it did score occasionally with some primo examples of raw smut.

That's Ashley Brtton aka Stacey Donovan adorning the front cover, but the lass in the monochrome pic above is not identified in the mag.

This potent black and white image says everything most porn is trying to say, although few exhibits possess the erotic power of this gem.

The effervescent Christy Canyon was an 80's phenomenon and incredibly personable in every sense. Her most recent adult film appearance was in 2007's Big City Sex, a sad waste of time.

Speaking of sad, it gives me a creepy feeling seeing John Holmes with arms wrapped tightly around these three young gals. WPINK-TV ('85) was shot two years after Holmes learned that he had contracted HIV. He made this and countless other films with the knowledge that he was a ticking time bomb.

Very hot black and white pic from the set of David I. Frazer and Sveltlana's incredible "Hawaiian Trilogy" which included Pink Lagoon, Hanky Panky, and Surrender in Paradise (all '84).

The smoldering Raven (who owned Taboo American Style) is far left, and that's Lois Ayres aka Sonda Stillman beside her, with Stacey D. center.

Top left issue (the SOLD OUT one) featured the late, beautiful Shauna Grant, who took her own life in '84.
Porn ads totally typical of the era.

An interesting rumor did the rounds at this time concerning the real reason Stacey D. entered the porn industry. Vague sources speculated that she was an FBI plant, injected into the business to gather "intelligence".

Always sounded like an awful lot of trouble to go to.

Well, she did end up being an informant for the idiotic Meese Commission, and was subsequently shunned by the industry.

The '84 Driller, which was directed by Cinema Blue's editor, Joyce James, attempted to capitalize on Michael Jackson's Thriller and Rinse Dream's Cafe Flesh. It failed on both counts.

Rear cover of the September '85 issue.

I always find it amazing how quickly porn seem "old". Probably has something to do with the frantic turnaround of talent and disposability of the product.

Still, this was an age when producers tried a little harder.

Today, the producers exercising a modicum of care can be counted on a leper's hand.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mad Max

There are multitudes of humans out there creating original work. They create despite financial hardship, lack of broad acceptance, and appalling self esteem. Some are hardly known. Some are known to immediate family only. Still, they create. It's what they were born to do.

Director Adam Elliott and producer Melanie Coombs are creating truly original work. They did it before they were relatively well known, and they're doing it despite the Oscar that sits on the mantlepiece of their success.


After winning the golden statue for their short film, a stellar, bitingly funny work forged in clay about a character named Harvey Crumpet, they moved ahead with a feature length movie also forged in the same pliable fruit of the earth.

Mary and Max, sculpted and pressed into fruition over a period of five years, is the result. It is an amazing piece of cinema.

For me, it resonated in surprising areas. It is set in New York City and Mt. Waverley, the Melbourne suburb where I was raised, and where I am currently writing this letter of appreciation to the film's sturdy makers. Actually, I am writing this in the very same house where I was born, raised, beaten, fed, denied basic liberties, schooled, berated, encouraged, and caught in the act of teen intercourse.


In just three weeks, my parents will leave this house forever, and my four-and-a-half decade base will exist no longer.

The Mount Waverley of Mary and Max is the same Mount Waverley of my childhood, but it's filtered through the eyes of a man who grew up just seven L-shaped streets away from me. Mr. Elliott recalls the browns of the suburb and the close proximety of neighbors. He recalls fascinating details and equally fascinating personalities like the man whose agoraphobia (misdiagnosed by Mary as homophobia) kept him two steps from living. Most importantly, he recalls the neuroses of suburbia I knew so well.

I recall more green because I spent so much time in the nearby woods of Scotchman's Creek, a dense, unruly chunk of urban Amazonia whose mysterious status was reduced to make way for a major freeway named The Monash. I never met a Scotchman or a Scotsman there, but I did meet a man who chose to remain in shadows. He lurked often in the woods beside the rope swing that catapulted me into the clouds. This fella had no name. He wasn't big on formal introductions. He often beckoned as you flitted past, or parked your pre-teen rump on the swing's wooden saddle . "Want a chocolate, mate?" he'd ask, his tone friendly but forced like an unwanted erection in an unyielding orifice. I liked chocolate, but I didn't want the chocolate he'd probably pre-broken and unwrapped. I once imagined that it had been pre-licked, too.

Years later, the man, who was really an overgrown boy, was arrested for keeping inappropriate company. His youthful followers melted away, I suppose, and buried their experiences in head closets. Now and then I'd see these boys outside the house of the man who preferred shadows, long after he'd relocated to the iron bar motel. Nobody moved into that house for two years. It was as if time was required to erase the stench of molestation. Does molestation have a stench?

The world of Elliott and Coombs isn't overzealous with color. Colors -- reds especially -- are signifiers. Their New York is black and white. Mostly, anyway. This is a fantasy afterall.

Their Mount Waverley is brown with cherries of glistening red.

Stars are associated with this film -- in order to keep the money men less anxious, I suspect -- but they're kind of irrelevant in terms of status. The story and unique animation are king and queen. The voice work of the main characters -- a lonely girl and a lonely man -- is, nevertheless, superb. The supporting players aren't too shabby, either.

One of my earliest experiences with quirky, character-based clay animation, as opposed to the Willis O'Brien and Harryhausen type, was Bob Gardiner and Will Vinton's short subject Closed Mondays ('74), a superb ambassador for the medium. Mary and Max joins that immortal club.

This year, Henry Sellick's Coraline, certainly a cousin of Mary and Max, beat the latter to the international box office.

If you fancy an extraordinary study of loneliness, nostalgia, friendship and choking mental illness, don't walk or run to to see this latest creative expulsion from the Elliot/Coombs workshop of deliberately soiled creativity. Limp fast!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Mushroom People Shall Lead Us


Ishiro Honda, the talented director of '56's Godzilla,King of the Monsters, brought us the superb Matango ('63).

It is required viewing for so many reasons.

My imdb review ran thus:

"Matango, directed by Ishiro Honda, is an exceptionally beautiful fantasy film from the mighty Toho. Bastardized for its American release, badly dubbed, retitled (Attack of the Mushroom People) and afforded very little respect, its recent re-emergence as a special edition DVD confirms its place in the realm of exceptional fantastique cinema.

Despite the striking art, there are no white chicks in Matango

"What makes this amazing film so effective is its seductively spare but intelligent screenplay, nightmarish atmosphere, serenely creepy score, and stunning special effects.

Tonally, it recalls underrated Japanese genre flicks such as The Mistress in a Cave, Horror of Malformed Men, and the delightful Living Skeleton.

Proof of the Japanese cult of Matango

"Like the mushrooms the shipwrecked survivors of a pleasure craft are drawn to, it seduces us with its simple structure, pleasing taste, and rich subtext.

"The film operates on a number of thematic levels, but Honda's achievement is that he never allows the dense thematics to weigh the very human drama down. Like all classic stories of survival, human greed, envy, love and hunger are the engines of the conflict. The search for a state of being that free of responsibility and consequences is the dream driving the conflicted.

"It is of curious interest to me that the characters in this "uncharted island" fantasy include a Skipper, a Millionaire, a Movie Star, a Professor, a First Mate and a Girl Next Door. Produced before Gilligan's Island debuted on American TV, it could surely be argued that this orchestration of characters was a template for Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of the much-loved TV series.

The "Ginger Grant" of Matango

"A palpable sadness permeates the last twenty minutes of Matango, a sense of blinding melancholy that elevates it to a dizzying level of achievement.

"Matango explores how we are all drawn to pleasures that we know may sign our death warrants while daring to suggest that death by pleasure is a demise preferable to death without love.

"Stunning."

Having watched this more than a dozen times, I discover a new treasure within it every time I take the plunge.

The film exerts a powerful influence that is addictive as its mushrooms.

Which is as it should be.

***

My posts will slacken considerably for the next 3 weeks as I am heading OS for a couple of shoots.