Monday, April 26, 2010

No Dogs

I feel like barking at traffic this morning, so hope there's something of interest here to warrant your time.

Just ordered an Oppo Blu Ray Multi-Region player because there's a lot of stuff coming out in France and the UK that is being totally ignored by US distributors. Seriously, the US scene is getting lamer and lamer. There is no much international stuff that is not available.

I reviewed the 'Mesrine' films, Killer Instinct and Public Enemy Number 1 almost a year ago on this blog. These brilliant crime flicks are still total no-shows theatrically and on DVD/Blu-Ray in the U.S. Directed by Jean Francois Richet, who also directed the brutal Assault on Precinct 13 remake, and starring Vincent Cassel, these are on par with American classics such as Heat and Goodfellas.

Thank Christ another French crime flick, A Prophet, made it to these shores, and is currently in theatrical release. I urge you to see this terrific crime/prison drama. It is a blistering, realistic genre pic with a number of sensational performances. Nobody is doing this stuff like the French.

This week I was pretty disgusted by Comedy Central's censoring of the second part of a two-parter of South Park in which the prophet Mohammed is referenced and said to be inhabiting a bear costume. A Muslim extremist group, predictably upset by this, said that Trey Parker and Matt Stone would probably end up like Theo Van Gogh for making this episode. Van Gogh, a doco filmmaker, was slain in Amsterdam in 2004 for daring to expose the abuse of Muslim women in Islamic society.

Comedy Central's knee-jerk kow-towing to this group is pathetic, but equally pathetic is how thin-skinned these extremists are. If they honestly feel that their religion can not withstand a bit of satirizing, how strong can it actually be?

Every religion gets satirized on South Park. In this episode alone, Budda snorts coke and Jesus surfs the internet for porn.

I felt that the show's handling of the Mohammed character was extremely sensitive.

Obviously, a few others didn't.

Still thoroughly enjoying A&E's The First 48, easily my favorite reality crime series. This is an exceptional weekly show detailing the first forty-eight hours after a homicide is committed.

Last week's duet of episodes, 'The Stranger', and 'Prince of Darkness', were dark, stark explorations of an embedded crime culture. As usual, I was riveted.

The show is a textbook example of how to make a solid reality show. From the cutting to the graphics to the ace sound design and camera work, every element contributes to an overall sense of suspense and dread. It's important to mention the show's brilliant music contributions, too, from Paul Brill, Justin and Brian Deming, and Don DiNicola. If you've never seen this show, do yourself a big favor.

Belladonna's latest excursion into perversion, No Warning 4, comes with two covers. This one is sure to provoke water cooler conversation.

The flick itself is much tamer than the cover art suggests, but one has to admire Belladonna for not disappointing her fan base.

The alternative wrapper adds a fascinating line of copy to the sell:

"A girl at war with herself."

The psychology of this director's work is what makes it interesting and an indicator of where hardcore, directed by women, is moving.

At the other end of the spectrum, and recommended, is Luc Jacquet's Le Renard Et L'Enfant (The Fox and the Child), a 2007 childhood odyssey from the director of March of the Penguins

Although it is not a documentary, it is close to it, and focuses on a tender relationship between a young girl and a fox. The images of the two interacting are magnificent, and the location work is exemplary.

For some, the film may be a little too manipulative and heavy-handed (there have been such criticisms). As a fan of The Bear, Milo and Otis, The Yearling, The Plague Dogs, Duma, Fly Away Home, Watership Down, and The Painted Hills, I found The Fox and the Child to be a warm and wonderful viewing experience.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Alarmingly Good news

If you're a big Mondo movie fan, and who isn't?...

(actually, most people aren't Mondo fans, Phantom.... Ed.)

... then you've got to love Mexico's magnificent Alarma magazine.

It provides a weekly dose of lurid murder, sensationalistic mayhem, delicious human deformities, and unplugged visual outrage for the unrepentant voyeur.

In three months, the mag will hit its 1000th issue. That's because they're doing everything right.

First debuting in 1963, it's been copied by the likes of Alarde!, Enlace! and Poliéster.

But unlike its failed imitators and the sorry folks appearing between its covers, Alarma will not die.

The blood red cherry on top of Alarma's immortality as a weekly freak rag is the daily Alarma TV show. Yes, Alarma is on TV, too!

Naturally, I'm more addicted to this nonsense than crack and have been recording it religiously. On weekends, I sit back with a bowl of oats and catch up on a week's worth of important "news".

Seriously, droogies, Alarma TV is like a mini Mondo movie delivered wet and dripping to your TV screen every day of the damn week.

Co-hosted by the sizzling hot Colombian beauty Lianna Grethel (Jesus, she makes one dizzy!), who also appears on NBC's Deal or No Deal, this show is to blood, guts and general weirdness what TMZ is to celebrity gossip.

Oh, yeah, the male co-host of Alarma TV is soap star Jorge Antolin, but I don't really notice him much. Unless you're a fruit, you won't either.

Poor guy! Against Lianna, he doesn't stand a chance.

The show is a product of Lieberman Broadcasting, and available on KRCA 62 in Southern California. Elsewhere, I'm not sure where it's playing, but do what you can to track it down; you won't be sorry.

(actually, some people will be sorry...Ed.)

The show is in Spanish, so if you don't speak the language, you can still enjoy the grisly and provocative visuals.

I must thank my dear friends Larry and Tora Wessel for steering me towards Alarma TV.

The show's website is here:

Like me, you can pick up the mag for US$2.50 at newsstands in dangerous Spanish neighborhoods.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Terror of the Autons

I've been a Dr. Who fan since about 1968, and my passion for the show has never waned; it's been tested, but I've never lost my love for the concept, surely one of the greatest TV/Sci-Fi concepts of all time (sorry, Star Trek).

Anyway, before older Who fans like myself were able to collect VHS's and DVD's of the show, we collected the great novelizations, the majority of which were written by Terrance Dicks.

Not yet on BBC DVD, but, like the Loch
Ness Monster, it will arrive eventually

Quite deliberately, I don't write about Who too much on this blog because there are already thousands of people blogging about and reviewing every conceivable aspect of the show.

The above DVD cover recently caught my eye because I wasn't aware that it was on DVD yet. I'm quite anal about what's available and what isn't, so when I saw this handsome cover, I nearly fainted with celebratory joy.

The Autons are big favorites of mine, as are Zygons, Silurians, and Sontarans. I have always been a plastic fanatic, so these synthetic, doll-like villains, a creation of the Nestenes, are right up my alley.

A young Zygon appears to share my teenage
fetish for Tom Baker's scarf

I have 'Spearhead From Space', a great Pertwee installment featuring the Nestene's plastic puppets, but 'Terror of the Autons' has been MIA on DVD.

Until now.

Well, I'm unhappy to report that this fine Auton story is not, in fact, available on DVD.

The cover art above has been created by a talented fan of the show, and what an amazing job he's done. He certainly fooled me.

Surely the BBC will release this on DVD soon. Until then, stay frustrated as you ogle a wonderful cover of a DVD that exists only in the future.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cinema Heaven Via Toei

These wild and wonderful Toei posters evoke a time, place, and feeling that is pure cinema.

The world can go to hell in a fuckin' hand basket, but not even total obliteration will erase the beauty and magnetic pull of these provocative, life-affirming images.

The beautiful and the grotesque ride shotgun in Japanese cinema, a cinema not polluted by Christianity, political correctness, and shrill corporate dominance.

The best poster art captures the essence of a work, cloaking us in a subversive, tempting, eroticized euphoria that is the cinema experience.

The best art violates social norms and fucks polite society in the eye socket.

Enjoy, my friends, before enjoyment of such pleasures is taken from you under the well-worn guise of "protecting the children."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dillinger Is Dead

Criterion has released an impressive DVD of Marco Ferreri's "masterpiece" of 1969, Dillinger Is Dead.

A mind-boggling essay by Michael Joshua Rowin is included in a very slick booklet; there are interviews, too, with Ferreri and those who knew him, and a trailer also.

Michel Piccoli plays a designer of gas masks who lives with two attractive but excruciatingly dull (and inert) women. When he gets home from work, he makes dinner, screens some home movies, cleans a gun, and putters about in real time. Inevitably, he uses the gun on one of the women and avoids the consequences by becoming a ship's cook.

If the above synopsis sounds interesting, it is. But in the hands of Ferreri, the film is terribly slow, academic, and symbolic. Ultimately, it's boring. I tried hard to get into it, but I couldn't.

The above-mentioned essay by Mr. Rowin is one of those lengthy academic pieces in which every aspect of an artist's work is examined and over-interpreted to the point of tedium. Such analysis starts with the writer believing that the artist is a complete genius. Therefore, ninety minutes of Ferreri taking a shit on a coffee table would be praised as an incredible act of political defiance. There's no right or wrong way to analyze anything, so Rowin's opinion on this film is no more dubious than mine.

Dillinger Is Dead is certainly not a stupid movie, and I'm sure it is making salient statements about the banal lives most of us lead. I get that. As something to watch for ninety minutes, it didn't resonate with me. It bored me. I felt myself nodding off on several occasions.

Ferreri considered himself 50% misogynist/50% feminist. I'm not sure how those percentages are distributed throughout Dillinger because both states of being are unreliable barometers signifying very little.

Ferreri's films are primarily about characters breaking taboos; the director got off on doing that. In Dillinger..., he must break a taboo in order to move up to a better way of life. Nobody can blame the guy for doing that. In real and reel life, we're usually forced to upset someone's apple cart in order to move forward.

An interesting film, but a rather dull one.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two Truly Beautiful Ladies

I came across this very striking image of Marisa Tomei today. It's an ad for a series of fitness DVD's.

To me, Maria truly is a beautiful woman. And a fascinating one. Both physically and intellectually. Her beauty is radiant, and there's something so intense going on behind those dazzling eyes.

To be honest, most women who are considered "beautiful" by the media leave me cold. For the most part, they're boring. There is nothing to them but some fortunate genetic inheritance. Most are ultra-conservative, and if they're not, they're just bimbos.

Not so Marisa Tomei. I can't look at the shot above without wanting to get to know her. Like most women, she's probably a hormonal catastrophe (sorry, Marisa!), but even that doesn't lessen my enthusiasm for the special magic she conveys.

The lady's intelligence is borne out in her career choices. She blew me away in Sidney Lumet's Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, an amazing movie with half a dozen dazzling performances. Marisa is not afraid to show her body; that, in itself, communicates a restless passion, and a desire to explore life's twisting avenues.

In Factotum, the Charles Bukowski pic, she nailed the part of Laura, a sexy bourgeios who introduced the career drunk (and writer of massive talent) to another side of the world. She failed to convert him, but she made a heavy impression doing it.

As a film director direct myself, it would be an honor to work with Marisa one day. I'll need to find her a role worthy of her complex talents, of course.

While on the subject of beautiful, fascinating, complex women, I can't ignore Maria Bello, another mighty fine actress who has smoked up the screen in Payback, The Cooler, A History of Violence, and Thank You For Not Smoking, to name a select, excellent few.

Again, I can't look at her without being hopelessly drawn inside. An actor can't work at being fascinating. You are or you aren't. Bello most definitely is.

She's made some excellent career choices, and, like Marisa, has not been afraid to disrobe. Both women have a European attitude to nudity and sexuality, and have expanded their repertoires as a result.

This is a disarming intellect, a woman who is comfortable being a woman, and understands that the best actors take off not just the clothes that cover their bodies, but the finery that fogs their emotions.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Real Lesbians

A lesbian is a woman with big boobs who drinks another woman's blood. That's what I knew for sure when I was twelve years old.

More often than not, both women are naked, both women are pretty, and one woman ends up with blood on her boobs.

I didn't know much at the age of twelve, but I did know what a lesbian was.

I knew more than my mother at that age because I knew what a lesbian was and she didn't.

"What's a lesbian?" I asked her one night while I was drying dishes and she was washing.

She stopped scrubbing a pan and turned to me. "Where did you hear that word?"

"I don't know -- somewhere," I replied. "What is it?"

"What's what?"

"What's a lesbian?"

I wanted to hear her say it. I wanted to hear the words 'A woman with big boobs who drinks another woman's blood' coming from my mother's mouth.

My mother turned back to her dirty dishwater. "I don't know," she said. "And we don't need to know."


Hey, mum, I already know, OK? It's just too bad that you don't know. Now I know more than you.

And that was that.

I never asked the question again.

Thanks to books like Rose London's Zombie - The Living Dead, David Pirie's The Vampire Cinema (from which these scans were taken) and Alan Frank's Horror Movies, my education in the culture that mattered was a little ahead of my peers, and my parents.

To be fair, I think my dad had some idea about lesbians because I did find an old porn mag under the seat of his car one Sunday morning before church. It was a homegrown, Aussie effort called Bawdy, and there were pictures of girls kissing girls inside it. No blood, though. Clearly, my dad's lesbians weren't as cool as my lesbians, although they still had that big boob thing going on.

Many years later, I would learn that lesbians come in different shapes and sizes. Many of those shapes and sizes were not to my liking. I don't know what happened to the real lesbians of my pre-teen years. Did they move to a lesbian island where they could drink blood and romp naked all night long? Did they all have stakes driven through their hearts.

Something else I knew for sure when I was ten was that lesbians only had one thing to fear -- that thing was a stake. For reasons I couldn't fathom, there were men out there who didn't like lesbians. These men didn't have normal jobs, or wives, or kids, and they didn't play sports. Nope, these men chased lesbians with stakes. When they cornered these poor girls, they hammered those stakes into their hearts -- often through their naked boobs. They needed to see boobs while hammering.

I knew this because I had pictures of it. Disturbing pictures. Bloody pictures. Pictures that, for some strange reason, made me want to see more pictures.

The new lesbians of my teen years, of the late 70's, sometimes appeared on the six o' clock news. They looked like my dad's friends, had short hair, wore wife-beater singlets, and lifted their arms to show something my lesbians wouldn't be caught undead with. They didn't appear to drink blood, they didn't have big boobs, and they enjoyed walking down the street in defiant groups carrying "GIrl Power" placards. I'm not sure what Jean Rollin, a man I associated with lesbians, thought of these new lesbians, but he must have been sad that OUR lesbians had been replaced.

I was exposed to Jean Rollin years before I saw a single, solitary frame of his films. Rollin was a name I associated with vampires and lesbians from the get-go. I didn't understand the titles of his films, but I sure understood the images.

The posters of Rollin's films were like relics from another world. It was world called France, and it was world where lesbians roamed the countryside in pursuit of blood, boobs, and necks.

I knew about France because I'd shown my mother some Rollin posters and asked her what they said. She never knew, even though she spoke some French, but she did tell me that the posters were from France.

"Can we go to France?" I asked her many times.

"Why do want to go there?!" she'd retort. A question was always answered with a question in my house.

"I want to meet Jean Rollin." (I pronounced his name 'Gene')

"Who's Jean Rollin?"

"Just someone."

"Can we go?"

"Go where?"

"To France."

"I asked you what for?"

Did I dare reveal my plan?

Aaahhh, why not, perhaps she'd be sympathetic.

"I want to meet the lesbians."

My mother didn't disguise her awkwardness with my use of the unspeakable "L" word.

"What are you talking about? You don't know any lesbians in France."

I smiled. "That's why I want to go. I need to meet them."

A shake of the head ended my plans. "You won't be meeting anybody anywhere, son."

I was devastated.

She yelled: "I thought you had homework to do?!"

Although my trip to France to meet lesbians was canceled before it even began, my pursuit of Mr. Jean Rollin didn't end. Decades later, I would become the proud owner of special DVD editions of his glorious films, and I'd finally get to see those real lesbians in action.

What Jean Rollin taught me about cinema is that anything is possible. That's why we like cinema so much. It's the way we dream awake.

Thanks, Mr. Rollin, and thanks to all you real lesbians, wherever you are these days.

Snuff 'N' Stuff

Snuff, which this is a poster for, is a shocking stinker of a movie, but what a stunner of an alternative poster.

Very much a spot of thievery from the Bondage House book line.

If Michael and Roberta Findlay's '76 video nasty (a totally unwarranted honor) had featured content anything like the above pulp paperback covers, Snuff's notoriety would have been well deserved.

Instead, the final film (mostly culled from a '71 effort called The Slaughter) is a yawn-inducing bore with a bit of nudity, some violence, and terrible production values.

Marketed as a film featuring a real on-screen murder, it cleaned up at the grindhouse and became a legend.

Pre-internet, it's not hard to see how this could have happened.

The Findlays definitely deserve kudos for such a brilliant PR campaign; they took advantage of gullible audiences, some of whom are still being fooled today by films like Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity.

Incidentally, another two or three suckers have been born while you've been reading this.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ad Mats For Real Men

This '72 mob movie impressed me when I was ten. I didn't see it at Melbourne's long extinct Chelsea cinema, though; I saw it at the drive-in with my dad. He was a big fan of Bronson, McQueen, and Sean Connery

There are some glaring continuity errors in the movie, but I still appreciate Bronson's performance, and there are some brutal sequences (relatively speaking).

I recently watched this again after I'd watched Dirty Little Billy, one of my favorite American westerns.

I still like it.

Wayne, as usual, is fantastic, possessing a swaggering authority no other actor has ever possessed.

Great poster. Great movie. I saw this for the first time at the Burwood Drive-In in Burwood, Victoria. I called to my dad, held the newspaper up where this poster was ripped from, and pointed to it. He smiled and said: "Saturday night, son."

It wasn't so easy to get him to EuroTrash.

Extremely gritty, enjoyable western based on a novel by Elmore Leonard.

Lancaster is utterly wonderful in this.

I saw this at Melbourne's Metro cinema (as per above ad mat) and wasn't terribly impressed.

Since this screening to my nine year old self, I haven't seen what I'd call a good condition print on VHS or DVD. Perhaps one exists and I'm not aware of it.

What I liked most was the circus setting. Although better exploited in Vampire Circus, I never tire of anything gritty if it's married to Big top shenanigans.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How To Launch A Coffin Boner

Are the dead horny? Do they lie in their coffins thinking about sex? Do they masturbate with skeletal fists, and shoot dust instead of semen?

In the darkness of a coffin, inspiration is scarce. A bug tapping on your casket from above is unlikely to generate wood. A worm crawling into your eyeball is not comparable to a Hustler Scratch-'N'Sniff centerfold.

So what do dead perverts do for kicks when nights are cold and mumbled obscenities are met with silence?

My thoughts turn to Russ Meyer today. I read his biography, Big Bosoms and Square Jaws (by Jimmy McDonough) a couple of months ago. It's a splendid portrait of the man, a true original, a magnificent filmmaker, and, in his final years, a victim of greedy, ignorant fuckers who exploited his deteriorating mental state and wealth.

Now, having spent almost six years lying face-up in a coffin in Stockton, California, Russ deserves some inspiration, a gift, a carnal trinket that will ease the pain of subterranean imprisonment, and restore the old urges that charged 27 terrific features.

That gift is the Dark Sky dvd of John Peyser's The Centerfold Girls, a classic chunk of exploitation that serves up an entree of violence and sleaze with a literal dessert of tits.

This '74 effort from producer Arthur (The Candy Snatchers) Marks stars the scary Andrew Prine as a knife wielding sicko who is erasing "dirty girls" who dare to parade their nude bodies in lewd magazines. Like a classical nutjob, Prine (as 'Clement Dunne') tracks down a bunch of centerfold cuties from a particular magazine, Bachelor, kills them, then returns home to cut out their faces from the magazine.

The film's structure is interesting in that there are three distinct stories focusing on the stalking and butchering of various women. The common thread in these stories is Clement Dunne. It's not entirely believable that he manages to locate each girl, but since logic is not this film's strong suit, such concerns are quickly swept to the side.

Of all the American exploitation pieces of I have seen from this period, this comes closest to the feel of a Japanese pink film. Much of it reminded me of Yasuharu Hasebe flicks such as Assault Jack The Ripper. It's certainly not as powerful or competent as that film, but the carefree use of nudity and relentless focus on deviant sexuality felt very Japanese.

Now to why this film could possibly launch a coffin boner for Russ, RIP.

Director Peyser and producer Marks take every opportunity to get their actresses topless. Breasts burst like rabbits from every frame and tops are flung off with riot-like frenzy by the lovely female thespians (and lespians). In one scene, a girl removes her top twice, dresses twice, then removes it again. Why? Because audiences demand it! No woman escapes here without flashing her proverbial assets.
Down in his common law coffin, hand on boner, Russ Meyer would be in his element with this flick. Although the breasts on display are not Russ-approved in terms of size, the master breastmeister would surely approve of the gleeful surrendering to upper body exposure these fine ladies embrace.

As a sleazy thriller, the flick has style and spirit. Mostly mean spirit. Some of the women are really roughed up, and the harsh words bellowed at them by the killer are not suitable for children -- not even most adult children.

Serial killer flicks were not commonplace in '74, so The Centerfold Girls stands as a pioneer in this genre.

Sex, violence, obscene language, more sex, and serial breast exposure -- these are a few of my favorite things... and they're the makings of a raging coffin boner.