Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bonus #27: Interview with Brian Trenchard-Smith

Welcome to this special bonus episode of the GGtMC!!!

In this episode, we interview Brian Trenchard-Smith, a film maker that Will and I are HUGE fans of in every aspect of his career. He is the genre film maker in our opinion and it was a dream come true for Large William and myself to sit down and talk cinema with on of our heroes.

You can find Brian commenting on movie trailers over at, we also pass out two autographed Trailers From Hell DVDs for a couple lucky listeners, and you can find his musings over at

We thank Mr. Trenchard-Smith and we hope you enjoy the show!!!

Direct download: BTSInt.mp3


Friday, January 28, 2011

Greatest Action Scene Ever?

Perhaps, perhaps not. You be the judge. Pretty nutty though, that much cannot be denied!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Episode #117: My Body Rock

Alright, the GGtMC is back to it's old shenanigans with a mega episode and a ton of listener feedback!!!

This week the Gents bring Rupert back to the show for coverage of My Bodyguard (1980) directed by Tony Bill and Body Rock (1984) starring Lorenzo Lamas doing some sweet breakdancing AND rapping!!!

Direct download: MyBodyRockRM.mp3

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eddie Macon's Run (1983): A Review

Directed by: Jeff Kanew
Starring: John Schneider, Kirk Douglas

For a movie with the word ‘Run’ in the title, there’s very little actual running featured in the film. Eddie Macon (played by John Schneider) does everything he can to get to the Mexican border. He rides bulls, swims across a snake infested river and does a whole lot of driving but I’d be surprised if he actually ran more than 10 miles before the end credits roll. For running geeks, you should know that he goes with New Balance.
Family man Eddie Macon has, of course, been dealt a lousy hand. He loses his cool and punches his asshole boss (played by a slightly svelter John Goodman). To soothe his nerves, he has a cold one while driving home (who wouldn’t?). That turns out to be not such a great idea, as he’s pulled over and harassed by ‘The Man’. His bad luck continues, as he stands before a judge who must be a descendant of Pat Hingle in Hang ‘Em High.

All of this exposition comes via flashback while Eddie is running/swimming/driving for freedom. How did he get out? Well, it all started at the Prisoner’s Rodeo. Wait? What? Prisoner’s Rodeo? Ok, I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. Actually, it makes for a strong setting for an escape as Macon sneaks out on a cattle car. There’s also a connection for writer/director Jeff Kanew (Gotcha!, Revenge of the Nerds), who directed a 1972 documentary about an all-black rodeo in Harlem. I must admit that I never intended to review two Jeff Kanew films in such short period of time.

We learn that Macon is being pursued by Karl ‘Buster’ Marzak, played by Kirk Douglas. We learn, through a flashback yet again, that Marzak and Macon have some history, as Marzak nabbed Macon after his first escape from prison, but not before Macon left him with a nasty scar above his eye. Douglas looks as though he’s stepped off the set of The Untouchables, and his outsider fashions may be the reason he doesn’t get all that much help from the local police.
Aside from Marzan, Eddie runs into a few other obstacles along the way, the most troublesome being a pair of redneck brothers played with gusto by character actors Tom Noonan and Jay O. Saunders. This is the film’s strongest moment, as Macon has essentially stumbled in a Wes Craven film. He flees the house and eventually rescues a woman from being raped (what a guy!). This woman, named Jilly of course, looks like a cross between Molly Ringwald and Linda Blair, so she should appeal to somebody out there.

It turns out that Jilly is the niece of either the Governor or a Senator, and has some clout with the local fuzz. She also has a heart of gold and helps Eddie get some rest and relaxation in a hotel. She’s so kind, in fact, that she joins him in the shower and scrubs his back. Wait a minute? Hasn’t Kanew been bashing us over the head with all those flashbacks about how much Eddie loves his wife and child?

How does it all end? Well, I won’t reveal that now, but you will see it coming from a mile away. Kanew manages to telegraph everything about this movie and kills any possibility of suspense or drama. In the end, we’ve got a film that had all of the potential to be an exploitation classic, but cannot seem to shake its blandness and comes across as a TV Movie of the Week.

Make or Break: It’s a Break for me, and it is Douglas. He seems terribly out of place and his performance does not mesh with the tone of the movie. Kanew should have chosen someone with the 'Southern Fried Sheriff' vibe, perhaps Joe Don Baker. Dishonorable mention should go to the over reliance on flashbacks, as they totally kill the flow of the movie.

I’ve got to give it to Pa Kent here. He’s quite believable as the innocent man on the run.

Score: 5 out of 10. There’s a lot of missed potential here, but it’s still watchable and quite fun to see some of the familiar faces that pop up.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Episode #116: Cabo Manero

Welcome to another episode of the GGtMC!!!

This week the Gents talk about Cabo Blanco (1980) with Charles Bronson and Tony Manero (2008) a film that has eluded both of us for a few years.

We had a blast as always and tackled more listener feedback, we are almost caught up on the feedback front and please keep sending it in!!!

Also, please donate to the show and give us a hand keeping the show going, we appreciate any help we can get and are very thankful for contributions from our really means a lot to us!!!

Direct download: Cabo_ManeroRM.mp3

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Cisco Kid was a Friend of Mine (Cisco Pike)

Cisco Pike is a very interesting footnote in the history of ’70’s American Cinema.
It will never be as enduring or as powerful as the following movies:  
    • Two Lane Blacktop
    • Five Easy Pieces
    • The Last Detail  
But that is entirely okay.  Cisco Pike utilizes a lot of elements that you might recognize from the movies listed above to make it worth a watch.  

And of course there’s the cast of actors that I personally love and will watch in anything.  Kris Kristofferson, Karen Black, Henry Dean Stanton, and Gene Hackman in the same flick.  What’s there not to like there?   
Yes, there is a very minimal plot.  
This is essentially it:  
Kristofferson plays Cisco Pike, a washed up rocker who is released from prison after serving time for drug dealing.  He is blackmailed back into the game by Hackman’s corrupt cop.   Cisco really just wants to settle down with his girlfriend Black.  But she finds out that he is dealing again and is upset.    (The fact that Cisco is a has been rocker seems to be played up in the promotional material.  It's actually hardly mentioned in the film)
Yeah, that’s about it.  And the movie really isn’t about the story anyway.  It’s about using Cisco as a pinball to bounce off of other druggies, con men, and burn outs.  We’re watching a meditation on character behavior and atmosphere.  
There are other standard movie plots that I guess could have worked.  Kristofferson could have been mistaken for another drug dealer and gone on the lam.  
Or he could have made of an effort to go “straight,” and gotten “gradually” pulled back into the drug world.  The old heartbreaking noir story of a good man in a bad world.  (Cisco really doesn’t put up much of a fight when the Hackman character blackmails him.  Is that a criticism?  Not really). 
Another story, honestly, would have just gotten in the way.   
Wouldn’t you rather see Kris Kristofferson and Gene Hackman have a bleak conversation over a mountain of pot for several minutes?   (Much cooler than it sounds, trust me).   
Or Kris Kristofferson attempting to deal to a pair of overly made up, faded groupies and then going home with them instead?  These scenes would have been rushed and uninteresting in a formula plot. 
I’m glad that Cisco Pike takes its’ time.  
I keep harping on Kris Kristofferson, because he is the glue of the movie.  It’s a very good, natural performance.  
That’s startling considering the fact that he had never acted in front of a camera before.  He was a last minute replacement for the lead.  And this is the film we have to thank for his acting career.  
That’s right, with out Cisco Pike there is no Lone Star.  Or better yet, Millennium.     
It’s a little weird seeing Kristofferson this young.  Sort of akin to seeing Jeff Bridges prior to the Dude.  Kristofferson hasn’t even grown the beard yet.  But I digress...  
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Harry Dean Stanton shows up about half way through.  He’s playing of one his trademark lost souls.  And he looks exactly like he has always looked.  (Did the man come out of the womb looking that way?  Maybe so).  
I have some minor quibbles:  
The most important one is that Cisco Pike is a little cynically constructed.  The filmmakers were clearly trying to pitch Cisco as the next anti-hero to win the hearts of the youth market.  They wanted another Easy Rider or Midnight Cowboy.      
That means that the anti-establishment attitude feels manufactured, and not organic as the anarchy in something like Two Lane Blacktop.   
This movie was made to get a few bucks off a current trend.  You can’t really begrudge it for that.  Especially considering that it was a flop upon release and the ploy didn't work. 

Karen Black is a little bit wasted.  She is the moral center of the flick, but doesn’t have enough screen time or character development.   
And then there’s the ending.  It feels rushed, and just doesn’t have enough punch.   
But what can you do?   
I don’t know if I can suggest Cisco Pike to everyone.  But if you’re a fan of the era, give it a go!
Make or Break Scene:  Honestly, it’s the opening credits that beautifully establish the mood.  Kris wanders the streets with his guitar, looking for a pawn shop while one of his songs plays in the background.  
(I forgot to mention that several vintage Kristofferson songs are included on the soundtrack.   Including “Walking Contradiction” which was immortalized in Taxi Driver’s “coffee and pie” scene).  
Most Valuable Thing:  Kristofferson as Cisco.  It’s his movie.   
Rating: 7.5   This came close to an 8, but the manufactured attitude knocked off a few points.  7.5 is perfectly respectable.  
(Is it just me or is this the most boring thing I’ve ever written?  Make or break: The first sentence is pretty good.  MVT: Actually getting this entry done.  My own blogger rating: 6.5.  Wait, could I change that to a 6.9 instead?)  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Episode #115: Trapped In Venice

Welcome back to another glorified episode of the GGtMC!!!

This week the Gents talk about Trapped AKA Baker County USA (1982) starring the amazing Henry Silva and Giallo a Venezia (1979) directed by Mario Landi.

We also cover some feedback we have been behind on and the virtues of mango flavored licorice!!!

Direct download: Trapped_In_VeniceRM.mp3

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mutants (2009): Review

Directed by David Morlet. Starring Hélène de Fougerolles, Francis Renaud, Dida Diafat, and Marie-Sohna Conde. Rated R.

As the zombie... sorry, "mutant" apocalypse wipes out most of France, Marco and his pregnant wife Sonia seek shelter in an abandoned hospital until they can get help. Marco was recently attacked by one of the infected and is undergoing a painful transition into one of the titular mutants, so Sonia calls for help using one of the ambulance radios and tries to keep him in decent health long enough until the military scoops them up and he can get some proper medical attention. With the clock ticking, it's only a matter of time before Sonia's soon-to-be-cannibalistic husband tears her limb from limb, and just when things couldn't get any worse for our leading lady, a group of ruthless criminals invade the hospital.

MUTANTS is essentially a zombie virus film despite the somewhat misleading title. I'm sure a lot of people in the film-loving community need another zombie movie like they need a hole in the head, but every once in a while, one comes along that kinda does it right. While MUTANTS doesn't exactly reek of originality, it does something refreshing by putting a majority of the focus on the characters rather than the "mutants", and it plays out like a psychological horror film as a result. The film revolves around the doomed situation of the two central characters and the jeopardy of their relationship (and their unborn child) while the zombies are merely a catalyst for the tragic events. Zombies do make appearances in the film, especially in the final act, but it would have been just as effective a horror movie without them.

MUTANTS slowly builds to its conclusion, and at times it's downright boring. The dark, wintry setting even makes it all the more depressing as the film unashamedly tries to pull on your heartstrings with tender moments like this...

...but the film succeeds by establishing the characters and the story first and foremost, letting the viewer get a better understanding of the peril the characters are in before opening the floodgates and unleashing the zombies. And, with a group of reckless criminals thrown in the mix, it allows for some satisfying death sequences and basically gives the zombies some people to chew on. Speaking of the zombies, they have an interesting rat/human hybrid aesthetic. Fans of the makeup effects in Christopher Smith's CREEP and Neil Marshall's THE DESCENT will more than likely get a kick out of the creatures in this particular film.

When it's all said and done, MUTANTS isn't an outstanding horror movie or one that breaks any new ground (nor does it try to), but it's put together very well and it's a breath of fresh air despite being a mostly by-the-numbers virus outbreak/zombie movie. The initially slow pacing ultimately works to the film's advantage and pays off in a big way, with the events building up to a chaotic and blood-soaked climax. Fans of French/Hospital/Snow-horror will no doubt find satisfaction with what this film brings to the table, but I'd cautiously recommend it to everyone else, especially those who have grown weary of zombie movies.

MVT: Surprisingly, for a movie that doesn't really stand out in a big way, I found it hard to narrow it down to a single "most valuable thing". Both leads turn in great performances, especially Hélène de Fougerolles as Sonia. However, in the end I'd have to give the MVT to the film's score. It's really just a combination of generic rock music and some of the more Ambient, noise-related compositions that seem to pop up in a lot of recent French horror films (specifically those scored by François Eudes of HIGH TENSION and INSIDE fame), but both styles of the overall musical score work wonders in setting a certain tone when appropriate. The rock music, for example, slowly builds and builds as everything in the film is on the verge of falling apart (or get ripped to pieces). The more Ambient pieces compliment some of the downbeat moments quite well.

Make or Break: Three words: Zombies. Lay. Siege.

Score: 6.75/10

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pray for Death (1985): Review

Directed by: Gordon Hessler
Written by: James Booth
Starring: Sho Kosugi, James Booth, Donna Kei Benz, Norman Burton, Kane Kosugi, Shane Kosugi, Michael Constantine

Perhaps more than any other stock character, the ninja typified action-oriented pop culture of the 1980s. They could be found in video games (Ninja Gaiden, Shinobi), on television (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and certainly in movies (everything from The Octagon to Pee Wee’s Big Adventure). With at least a half-dozen ninja films to his name, Sho Kosugi is among the actors who will forever be linked to this cinematic archetype. While 1985’s Pray for Death is not as familiar as Revenge of the Ninja, nor as zany as Nine Deaths of the Ninja, it may be his best effort in this mold.

Kosugi’s Akira Saito is a Japanese businessman enjoying a comfortable life in Yokohama with his American-born wife (Benz) and two sons (Kane and Shane Kosugi). However, he’s encountered a corporate glass ceiling that will delay his advancement, and his wife thinks this presents an opportunity to put his acumen and entrepreneurial spirit to better use elsewhere. Namely, by owning and operating a Japanese restaurant in a dilapidated urban neighborhood in Houston, Texas.

Akira is on the fence; he regards the U.S. to be an uncertain and especially violent place. Though unbeknownst to his loved ones, Akira isn’t just a dedicated family man with an abhorrence for violence. He’s part of an elite and secretive sect of ninjas, and is bound by the order’s code to keep his identity hidden from the outside world. Inexorably linked to his association with the group is a terrible event for which he continues to carry guilt. After an action-packed flashback and a consultation with his ninja master, he makes the decision to leave for America; he and his wife will have a new business venture, and he’ll be able to leave his regretful ninja past behind him. As a parting gift, his master gives him an incredible masked helmet which Akira regards as a sentimental keepsake without any practical application for his new life. As action cinema has taught us time and time again, all of this will definitely go according to plan.

Not only is the Saitos’ new residence surrounded by graffiti, ghetto blasters, and boozehounds, but its back-room is the exchange spot for crooked cops and criminals peddling in expensive stolen goods. When the gang finds the latest product missing, Akira’s family is suddenly in their crosshairs.

The leading muscle in this group of thugs is the cruel and craggly-faced Limehouse Willy (Booth). Perhaps in an effort to dispel any unfortunate stereotypes the name might suggest -- obese hillbilly wrestler and filthy hobo among them -- Willy is one sick bastard. His laundry list of despicable acts includes, but is not limited to:
  • Lighting someone on fire
  • Punching a kid in the face
  • Impersonating a medical professional
  • Threatening use of a blowtorch on things that shouldn’t be blowtorched
  • Spitting on the corpse of a vanquished enemy
  • Expressing hateful sentiments regarding epicanthic folds
  • Shooting various jars of pasta and sauce at an Italian eatery
While all of this might just be a normal October weekend for Dick Cheney, it’s more than enough to awake the sleeping ninja beast inside Akira. Despite interference from the local police and firm warnings to Willy and his gang, the violence escalates on all sides. When Akira embraces his ninja past to exact revenge, his full range of superhuman traits are on display: skills in weaponry (shurikens and katana), stealth (sleeper holds and smoke bombs), and dogged persistence (he hangs from the underside of an enemy’s moving truck from day through the night). This stretch of the film also finds him making a sword from scratch, and finally donning the metallic mask to create one of the coolest ninja aesthetics in cinema.

Hessler empties the proverbial tool-shed for a wonderfully bloody climax which sees a chainsaw, a sickle, and a logging saw utilized for combat. As I did, many viewers will struggle with the plausibility of the middle-aged Limehouse Willy and the skillful Akira as physical equals during this part of the film. The only logical conclusion I was able to talk myself into, was that Akira was so engulfed in vengeful fury that he was vulnerable to Limehouse’s underhanded and cheap tactics. Admittedly, you may need to go a few rounds with Jack Daniels or do salvia bong rips with your favorite teen pop star before accepting this argument.

The action throughout the film is well-shot and Kosugi brings a physical grace to the fight choreography that lends itself to the notion of the ninja as an almost otherworldly being. The physical environments of the different action scenes are varied and well-integrated into the actual choreography, including fights in a forest and even the bed of a moving pick-up truck. There’s also a creepy scene set in a warehouse full of mannequins that does an excellent job of ratcheting up the tension.

To his credit, Hessler uses slow-motion sparingly and although I observed a couple of examples of the dreaded reverse motion technique, no trick is so overused as to be distracting. In addition to Sho Kosugi’s scenes, his son Kane also gets a few comedic action set-pieces to put his skills on display. I’m not a huge fan of asskicking kids under the age of 12, but these scenes thankfully never approach the obnoxious force-feeding of something like Prince Tarn in Red Sonja, to name one example. However, while obviously excellent, the action is not necessarily the film’s saving grace, nor is it Kosugi’s unmoving and amazingly shiny hair.

At its narrative core, the film is a story of how one’s internal struggle with identity can create unforeseen strife. The character of Akira literally flees to America as a way of escaping an alter-ego that has fomented guilt and personal turmoil. This is his cross to bear and because of the ninja code, he can’t even reach out to his loved ones for support. The film actually opens with Akira’s sons watching a television show called "The Black Ninja," which features a protagonist who they acknowledge looks just like their boring businessman father. They tell their mother that “[the character] looks like Dad” and implore Akira to “learn karate some day [because] you might need it.” Not only is the ninja mythologized by the program within the film, but the Saito children project this hero archetype onto Akira, only to have him actually embody it later on. It would be silly to deny that Pray for Death somehow doesn’t resemble other cheesy artifacts of 1980s action cinema; it certainly does. But in emphasizing themes of identity, writer Booth gives it an added dramatic weight typically absent in these films.

Make or Break: This will seem a tired choice, but it was the climax. Every good action film--particularly those that swim in vengeance--needs a pay-off at the end. Given the variety of weaponry and physical settings, Pray for Death has one of the more action-packed and visually interesting climaxes you’re likely to see from this era.

MVT: I was tempted to go with James Booth because he turns in a great performance as the story’s main villain and also wrote the screenplay. But the best element of this movie is Sho Kosugi. He brings his A-game on both the action and dramatic fronts and if Kosugi was anything less than stellar as the story’s hero, this is just another mediocre ninja film. His embodiment of the archetype is exceptionally well-rounded too: ninja as detective, assassin, spy, and agent of stealth. 

Score: 7.5/10

While your perception of the film will be influenced by your unique cinematic tastes, Pray for Death is easily the best ninja film ever directed by a German to be penned by an Englishman with a Japanese star and a story set in America. Godfrey Ho, confusing volume for proficiency, single-handedly shitcanned the entire ninja film genre through his absurd overproduction during the late 1970s and 80s. Fortunately, Pray for Death is one of the best ninja films of a very saturated era and certainly worth a view.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Episode #114: Extreme Avengers

Welcome to another episode of the GGtMC!!!

This week, Sammy returns and the Gents review Extreme Prejudice (1987) from director Walter Hill and The Crippled Avengers (1978) from director Chang Cheh.

Kick back and enjoy!!!

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