Friday, June 29, 2012

Bonus #43: Interview with James Gracey

Welcome back to another episode of the GGtMC and this bonus episode see Death Rattle Aaron interviewing James Gracey for our little show and they also review a film. Spider Labyrinth (1988) from director Gianfranco Giagni!!

James Gracey hails from Ireland. Writer. Blogger. Horror film fanatic. Author of 'Dario Argento' (Kamera Books). He has written for Film Ireland, Fangoria, Eye For Film and Eat My Brains. He currently contributes to Paracinema and Exquisite Terror.

You can find his blog at

You can check out his book on Argento at

Direct download: INTjg42.mp3

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Dark Side Of The Moon (1990)

Space. Some kind of frontier. Nothing represents the concept of infinite possibilities to the human psyche like the infinite void of outer space (of course, whether it is actually infinite or not is the stuff of much debating and testing, and even if it were finite, the scope would be beyond what the human mind could conceive, so calling it "infinite" is as close as we can come to reconciling its vastness, anyway). And like all things unknown, it is a source of both mystery and fear. After all, it has been speculated that the mythical Cyclops was thought to actually exist based on the appearance of the skulls of dwarf elephants (their nasal cavity is quite large and centrally located on the head, suggesting an orbital socket). Until humans knew better, unseen monsters roamed the Earth. By extension, the unexplored reaches of the cosmos (along with the unplumbed depths of the Earth's oceans) can be just as frightening as a sudden noise outside your window at 3AM.

In the year 2022 (you know, the far-flung future), nuclear-armed satellites are maintained by "refabs," glorified wrench monkeys…IN SPACE! On a routine mission, the crew of the Spacecore 1 is having problems chasing down their intended objective. Mysteriously, the electronics on their ship malfunction (though they all check a-ok), and the team find themselves running out of oxygen on auxiliary power. All seems hopeless until the Space Shuttle Discovery drifts out from The Dark Side Of The Moon, promising salvation but threatening damnation.

Cosmic Horror is one of those subgenres that I love just from the concept. I believe the reason is because when we think of outer space, we think of aliens, and when we think of aliens, we think of Science Fiction (and more often than not, our minds go immediately to the Space Opera, thanks to such properties as Star Wars and Star Trek). The difference between the subgenres is a visceral one. Where Space Opera is the province of lasers and light sabers, Cosmic Horror is the province of monsters and sharp, nasty, pointy bits. Space Opera wounds are clean, cauterized by the clinical technology that creates futuristic weaponry. Cosmic Horror wounds are gory, entrails spilling from traumas caused by primal forces. Space Opera's violence is distanced by its mechanical apparatuses (usually, though it can be just as affecting on an emotional level). Cosmic Horror is up close and personal, uncomplicated by machinery. It's guns versus knives, and while no one wants to be injured by either, everyone can relate to the pain of being cut, while being shot is more rarified (though becoming less so by the day, sadly). Plus, Space Operas may not necessarily showcase exotic beings (read: monsters), but Cosmic Horrors almost exclusively do. And monsters are cool.

Piggybacking off this idea, director D.J. Webster taps into one of the great villains of exploitation cinema in general (and certainly the most iconic): The Devil. Again, this ties into the juxtaposition of the visceral and the technological. Satan is the world's oldest villain (ostensibly), and to have him terrorizing the crew of a space vessel feels not only ironic but fitting. After all, the more advanced we become, the more we convince ourselves into thinking that the stuff of legends is simply that: legend. Monsters can't exist, because we know that monsters don't exist, because we have civilized the world (mostly), and monsters cannot exist in a civilized world, right? To be confronted with the exception to the rule is to confront the unknown and, therefore, terror. The supernatural nature of demons and the like is antithetical to the sanitized nature of our conception of the future. While the opposite (the influence of higher technology on less civilized peoples' evolution and the notion that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"), has been depicted just as satisfactorily (witness Stargate or the Kane series of novels by the late Karl Edward Wagner), typically it is the monstrous which appears and brings the arrogant humans down a peg (typically by eviscerating them). Circuit boards and relays, after all, cannot stop the Prince of Darkness.

The filmmakers have done their homework with their subject matter, because they were smart enough to develop a visual motif and use it throughout the film, not only as a symbol but also as a literal plot point. I am speaking here about the triangle (and specifically the equilateral triangle). For centuries, it has been a symbol of power (just look at the pyramids of Egypt, though technically they have more than three sides). It has also been a symbol of fire, and of course when we think of Satan we think of lakes of fire, burning pits of sulfur, and so on. The victims in the film have triangles carved into their abdomens, and this serves not only as a means of murder but also as a portal of sorts for the Devil to hide. Even more significantly, the triangle has been used as a representation of God and the Christian Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and let's not forget the trio of sixes that makeup Lucifer's number (and which can conveniently be placed one each at a triangle's three corners or sides). That the most flagitious entity in the universe uses it to his perverse ends is a bastardization of its holier meaning and the equivalent of Old Scratch giving his creator the finger. On the literal side, the triangle is used to explain just how what is happening is happening from a more rational standpoint, but only just. And as our mulleted hero, Giles (Will Bledsoe), begins to piece together what's going on with the aid of Lesli (Camilla More), the sexiest leatherclad supercomputer ever (yes, really), the results and the leaps of logic used to attain them come off as interesting on a geek level and groan-worthy on a commonsensical level.

Personally, I love the idea of the ghost ship in Horror films. From the Demeter which brought Dracula to the shores of England to the Event Horizon (of the titular movie incidentally made seven years after this one), the ghost ship is a carrier of evil in any of its forms. What's brilliant about the concept is that it creates a fear of empty space. There is simply nothing to see, only (usually) bare rooms. But we know it's only a question of time before the malevolence manifests, and that's what generates the anxiety. It helps that ghost ships in history, like the Marie Celeste, have never been provided with concrete answers (that I'm aware of) to the questions they raise. They have only induced more questions and conundrums. And even though this film does provide mostly cogent answers with little in the way of innovation or deviation, it manages to do so innocuously enough and pleasantly enough that it doesn't feel like time wasted simply scrambling in the dark.

MVT: Knowing that the basic idea behind the movie could easily be risible, the filmmakers cultivate a serious tone that accentuates the claustrophobia and mild paranoia which run through the piece.

Make Or Break: The Make is the scene where the Discovery is first spotted moving towards our heroes. It is staged and edited to produce sufficient impact necessary for the scene, and the low budget visual effects are competent enough to pull off the illusion and maintain the film's reality (and it should be mentioned, they are fairly convincing overall).

Score: 6.75/10

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Episode #190: Sloane Revolt

Welcome to another episode of the GGtMC folks!!!

This week we bring you some choices that were given to us in a roundabout way....the GGtMC is known for its pantheon films...those of you that have listened for some time know which films we speak of when we say "pantheon." From time to time we get recommended films for the hallowed halls of the GGtMC....this was one such week.

We cover Revolt (1986) directed by Sheybany and Sloane (1986) directed by Daniel Rosenthal. Did these two films join the pantheon, the halls of which drip with Silva sweat? Listen and find out!!!

Direct download: Sloane_Revolt.mp3

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Bonus #42: Interview with Panos Cosmatos

This week, Rupert was quite honored to get a chance to chat with filmmaker Panos Cosmatos whose new film BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW is out now in a limited theatrical release(supposed to be due on DVD in September). Rupert is a gigantic fan of the film and highly recommends you check it out! Panos is a huge movie fanatic and has lots of excellent recommends for the GGTMC listeners. Enjoy!

(By the way -Panos is the son of the great George P. Cosmatos who directed such classics as COBRA, RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART 2, TOMBSTONE and OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN)

Learn more about BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW here:

Direct download: PCInt42RM.mp3

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Race With The Devil (1975)

I once wrote the single worst short story about a satanic cult ever. I know that (since you read and enjoy my weekly reviews) you can't possibly believe this, but it's true. This was back when I was still very young. It was called "Cultism: Closer Than You Think," and I even decorated the front cover with one of the worst renderings of a satanic cult member ever. Actually, he looked more like a member of the Klan, in retrospect, but that's neither here nor there. The story (in as much as it can be claimed it had one) involved me (did I mention this was written in First Person perspective?) stumbling upon a coven of Satanists in the midst of a blood sacrifice. After a short chase, I wound up spending the night up a tree (much like the plot), and the next morning, the cultists were gone. The end. I swear to you, loyal readers (all five of you), I have never seen this week's film before watching it for this review.

Roger, Frank, Alice, and Kelly (Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit, and Lara Parker, respectively, and not to be confused with Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice), head out on an early-year vacation in Frank's brand-spanking-new, fully-loaded camper. After some dirt biking and grabassery, Roger and Frank get mildly toasted for the evening. Across the shallow river, fire erupts, and thinly-robed people begin to prance around. Taking a closer peek, the two horndogs think it's just some filthy hippies having a harmless orgy. But when the coven leader (in a very nice mask, by the way) unsheathes the sacrificial dagger and plunges it into an all-too-willing female member, the men suddenly realize they're in some deep crap (sound familiar?). Alice's big mouth (she was "Hot Lips" Houlihan, after all) alerts the cultists to the vacationers presence, and our hapless quartet find themselves, not really in a Race With The Devil, but definitely in a race away from his worshippers. 

The basic story premise for Jack Starrett's film goes all the way back to the pulp magazines of the early twentieth century. Stories about strange cults, the people (usually dames) who espy them doing their dirty business, and the two-fisted shamuses that busted them up (the cults, not the dames…well…) abounded. The Seventh Victim (produced by the legendary Val Lewton and directed by Mark Robson) also dealt with the subject of Satanism in a very personal, very disturbing manner. That it did so in 1943 is, to me, both intriguing and somehow more affecting. Of course, while the viewers of an illicit act are usually decent, normal citizens, the viewees almost always are not, and they are also not exclusively creepy religious zealots. Just look at Hitchcock's Rear Window, Stephen Hopkins's Judgment Night, or Malmuth's Hard To Kill. The act viewed doesn't even need to be criminal in nature, and Park Chan-wook's Oldboy bears this out. Suffice it to say, the basics are a well-trodden path, and like all types, it's what you do with them that counts. Starrett, a very workmanlike but solid director of exploitation fare (as well as being an actor), doesn't go the way one would necessarily expect with the film, and crafts a mostly successful effort. But there are a few bumps in the road, to be sure.

The film is centered on (in fact, is predicated on) the notion of The Gaze, what's seen or not and by whom (audience included). Frank and Roger witness something they weren't supposed to witness, and the chase is on. As the couples are haunted and harried by the cult, we rarely see any overt actions against them onscreen. In essence, this amplifies the tension and suspense, because like a poltergeist or a monster in the closet, we don't know when something is going to pop up to threaten the protagonists. It's not until the third act that the cultists act in a more public fashion to reach their ends. This is also the weakest point in the film from a Horror point of view (even though half the reason for making and watching the movie is to see cars smash into things as well as each other). 

But it's a different facet of how The Gaze can be utilized where I think Starrett and company played their hand very well. Using the Kuleshov Effect (consciously or unconsciously, but I suspect the former, even if they didn't know what it was called), they give us montages of different people everywhere our heroes go juxtaposed against the reactions of the principals (particularly of Kelly), with the reaction shots informing our interpretation of the incessant menace the four find themselves poised against. The shots of the people outside the camper seldom convey any open emotion or intent. That the protagonists feel threatened by nothing (or at least by what a rational person not being hounded by Satanists would consider nothing) plays into the building of tension and adds to the film's edginess. I found it rather odd, then, that no one in the camper ever objected to allowing strangers at gas stations to work on the camper or insisted on double-checking their work afterwards. Perhaps that's part of the plan to get the viewer to shout at the screen and work up some adrenaline. If so, then mission accomplished.

As a Chase film, the film falters a hair. By this point in time, Fonda had done Dirty Mary Crazy Larry as well as Easy Rider and was no stranger to the Road/Chase movie subgenre. Oates, though not as indelibly identified with this type of film, had done what many consider to be one of the best exemplars of it a few years earlier with Two-Lane Blacktop. Plus, he was already very much an icon of badass cinema from his work with Sam Peckinpah in The Wild Bunch and Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia. One would think that just having these two occupying a vehicle while being pursued by hostile forces would be enough, and maybe had they handled the material differently, it would have. However, in the struggle to serve two masters (both Horror and Chase subgenres), the filmmakers shortchange the latter. Rather than have our heroes constantly on the move, pedal to the metal, hellbent for leather, Starrett instead has the chase paced more leisurely. Consequently, the terror and paranoia angle and the escape angle are at odds throughout the runtime. They never occupy the same space or really tie themselves together completely. The car stunts, when they do come, are handled very well and shot effectively, but there seemed to me to be a bit too much downtime (and a mild air of non-concern from the protagonists) that deflates some of the uneasiness. It's not enough to ruin the film, and there is certainly enough here to satisfy almost anyone. However, as the film crosses the finish line, Race With The Devil feels more like a sprint than a marathon. 
MVT: How in the world can I not have Warren Oates as the MVT? The man could say more with that cynical smirk of his or his withering glare than any ten actors could say with three pages of dialogue apiece. 

Make Or Break: Everyone who watches this film is watching it to see the Satanic ritual scene (and, by extension, the action springing from it), and I admit I am one of them. Not as garish as it could have been, it sets a realistic tone that the film embraces right up until the closing frames.

Score: 7/10

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Episode #189: Demons Double Deuce

Welcome to another episode of the GGtMC folks!!!

This week the Gents are honored to bring you our selection from the generous and wonderful folks at with our coverage of Demons (1985) and Demons 2 (1986) both presented by Dario Argento and directed by Lamberto Bava!!! Large William and Sammy cover the recent Arrow Blu ray release and we couldn't be more excited to bring this show to you!!! Thank diabolikdvd for us and head over and make some purchases!!!

Direct download: Demons_189.mp3

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bonus #41: Interview with John Jarratt

Welcome to another special bonus episode of the GGtMC folks!!!

This week Death Rattle Aaron interviews legendary Australian actor John Jarratt. You will know John from such films as Picnic at Hanging Rock, Dark Age, Rogue, and his great turn as Mick Taylor in Wolf Creek. John was generous enough to give us some of his time so kick back and enjoy the interview.

Direct download: JJIntRM.mp3

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Hard Time (1998)

Once I found out there was a film starring Burt Reynolds, Charles Durning, Robert Loggia, Billy Dee Williams and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, I knew I had to see it. I immediately started drooling when I heard the cast from a fellow gentlemen. When he told me it was streaming on Netflix, I hopped straight over and hurled the film to the top of my “to review for the GBtMC” list.

I almost backed out in trepidation, as I seen it was a made-for-TV movie (it aired on TNT). There’s a certain stigma surrounding made-for-TV films. One that plagues direct to DVD productions. One automatically thinks it’s of a lower quality. Why else wouldn’t it hit the big screen? Especially with such a cast behind it.

Fear not, gentlemen (and gentlewomen)! Despite being a made-for-TV production, “Hard Time” is an entertaining watch. And not in the “train wreck” sense. If anything, I believe it was aired on TNT in the hopes that it may start a new series (there are quite a few television pilots that are feature length). I could be completely wrong and just hoping that was the case, as I would have loved to see Logan McQueen (Burt Reynolds) some more!

The film (directed by and starring Burt Reynolds) is nothing new. Reynolds plays Logan McQueen, a detective who is classified as a loose cannon. Along with his partner and longtime friend, Charlie Duffy (Charles Durning), he bends the rules in order to get the job done. This has gotten him six spankings from the county, as Captain Adam Gunther (Buck Taylor) states. It’s also reduced him to graffiti duty, though Duffy makes us believe he hooked them up with the gig so they can relax.

When a chase and shootout occurs between Logan and Catarato Estevez (Paco Christian Prieto), McQueen is framed for killing the crook’s partner. He’s also believed to have stolen some money from the briefcase, which belonged to kingpin Connie Martin (Robert Loggia). Logan has to prove his innocence or face jail time (which he already spent some, making friends with a transvestite).

The plot itself is never so much convoluted as it is streamlined. There are twists and turns, but they’re not too hard to predict. It’s never overtly confusing, which makes sense considering it was playing to a broad audience on cable who were looking for a detective flick, but one that wouldn’t rack the brain. This is more along the lines of “Law & Order” with some gunplay thrown in. For that, it works well.

The shootouts in both the beginning and end are sufficient (though the opening is dragged out a bit). The hand to hand combat is a bit more juicy. There’s a brief, but satisfying fight sequence between Reynolds and Piper that quenched my thirst. Going into the film, I was hoping they’d duke it out. I wasn’t disappointed. I may have wanted more from the “Hot Rod”, but I understood his limited screen time. His sole task was to be one of Loggia’s henchmen and he fit the bill nicely.

The acting itself is above par for what one expects in a made-for-TV film. That shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, given the task. Reynolds and company do ham it up and shout loudly a lot (in this environment, you have to be macho), but there are moments where sentimentality comes through. One scene in particular has Logan talking to Leo Barker (Billy Dee Williams) and showing remorse for his actions. It’s in this scene that we discover his true passion for the business and that he’s nothing without his badge.

What holds the film together is the relationship between Logan and Duffy. Reynolds and Durning have terrific chemistry together! They’re given a back story on how Duffy rescued Logan at the age of sixteen, as he was bouncing from foster home to foster home at that point. You feel that bond from the start and, when they’re tasked with an emotional twist, I actually cared about them and felt sorrow. Durning also provides quite a few laughs, as he plays his role as a detective who’s a child at heart (the first time we see him he’s playing hopscotch).

“Hard Time” does have it’s fair share of flaws. Logan has a love interest with his lawyer (who is so unmemorable I kept thinking she was a new character every time she appeared) that goes nowhere and the lawyer trying to put him behind bars is too weasely and has no bite (and is also forgettable). Reynolds doesn’t utilize these characters well, using them solely as pawns on a chess board. He also doesn’t take the audience for much intelligence wise, as he’s constantly flashing back to previous scenes from the film. Even with commercial breaks, I have a feeling the audience wouldn’t have forgotten what’s occurred. The biggest detriment is the last half. It’s not that the twists and turns don’t work. It’s that the film simply runs out of steam. Maybe that’s why I felt this was a pilot for a television show. It would have been better suited at an hour instead of ninety minutes.

Nonetheless, “Hard Time” is an enjoyable film. It’s a light detective fable with a splendid cast that pleases the sweet tooth. It’s not necessarily high quality or a game changer, but it’s a decent production. Which, for a TV movie, is akin to calling it “Citizen Kane”. At the very least, you’ll probably have more “fun” with this than the Orson Welles classic.

MVT: The relationship between Logan and Duffy. Reynolds and Durning work off of each other well and are amusing to watch. The fact that I want to see a television series with these two in the lead is telling of how much I liked them.

Make or Break: The scene where Logan pours his heart out, so to speak, to Leo Barker. That proved that Reynold’s wasn’t simply going for a cheap buck. He put some heart into the film and characters and I appreciated that. From here on out, that shined through.

Final Score: 6.5/10

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Sword And The Sorcerer (1982)

Texas-born actor Lee Horsley is one of those guys who look better with a mustache than without one. If you seek proof, just watch Albert Pyun's The Sword And The Sorcerer. Sure, he has some stubble, but his lack of a manly upper lip covering makes him look like a baby face. Contrast this with the television show for which he is best known (or at least the one for which he is best known to me), "Matt Houston." Not only was he a two-fisted private dick, but his constant companion was none other than Pamela Hensley. For those who don't know, Ms. Hensley also played the deadly ice queen, Princess Ardala, on the program "Buck Rogers In The 25th Century." Not only was she a ruthless opportunist, but she held her own alongside such hardasses as Henry Silva and proto-Edward-James-Olmos, Michael Ansara. And she did it all while looking phenomenal in a bikini (yes, really). I put it to you, gentle reader, would you rather hang out with Pamela Hensley or Joe Regalbuto? That's what I thought. 

Villainous warlord, Titus Cromwell (we know he's villainous, because he's played by Richard Lynch with a Harpo Marx hairdo), resurrects demonic sorcerer, Xusia (Richard Moll), to aid him in conquering the kingdom of Ehdan, ruled by the benevolent King Richard (Christopher Cary). However, Cromwell betrays Xusia and raids the kingdom solo. As Ehdan falls, Richard's son, Talon (James Jarnigan as a boy, Horsley as an adult), is bestowed with a three-bladed sword, witnesses the death of his family, and vows revenge. Years later, Prince Mikah (Simon MacCorkindale, TV's "Manimal") and Princess Alana (Kathleen Beller) foment rebellion in Ehdan, but the machinations of Cromwell and his right hand man, Machelli (George Maharis), threaten to quell the revolution unless the adult Talon and his band of buccaneers (including the one and only Reb Brown) intervene and smash the tyrant.

One of the great tropes that the sword and sorcery/fantasy subgenre gave us (or if not gave, certainly cemented and made its own) is the concept of the specialty weapon. Prince Colwyn of Krull had the über ninja star, the Glaive. Hawk of Hawk The Slayer had a mental link of sorts with his sword. Dar of The Beastmaster had the collapsible (or spreadable depending on your perspective) throwing blade. In times when gun powder simply doesn't exist, survival of the fittest is won by the person with the most unique weaponry (because the other guys don't have it). More often than not, the hero has to spend part of his quest attaining this weapon before he can use it in the story's climax (and he really should use it in the story's finale for it to be satisfying). As I mentioned in my review of the abysmal Thor The Conqueror, oftentimes these special arms are born of magic. Their wielders, however, are not typically trusting of magic and prefer to use their hands or hand-forged steel, hence why they are rarely, if ever given a magical amulet or scroll or some such with which to combat evil. Yes, the weapons are magical, but they are represented as weapons. They have blades and spikes and harmful-looking accoutrements. Thus we come to Talon's triple-bladed sword. This thing has more gadgets and surprises on it than a Swiss Army knife or James Bond's Aston Martin. And yet, the thing appears to be the most unwieldy blade ever. The air drag alone would make you the slowest (and probably most dead) swordfighter in history. Nevertheless, it's endearing to us and we forgive (to a degree) its ludicrousness (nothing says antipragmatic like sword missiles), because it has become a necessary element of the genre, and it definitely has a distinct look to it.

The Sword And The Sorcerer also deals with the concept of birth and rebirth. Interestingly, it applies it both literally and figuratively and to both good characters and evil. Xusia is brought back to life, rising seemingly out of a sepulcher filled with blood. Meanwhile, Talon, as a heroic figure is born at the time he witnesses his parents' deaths. Later, some very biblical event occurs to him, which again echoes this theme. On a more grand scale, Cromwell is born as a despot as he conquers (read: kills) the kingdom's in his path. Mikah and Alana endeavor to resurrect Ehdan and restore it to its former glory through their insurgency (which is more than confusing, since Talon is the son of the former ruler according to the prologue and unrelated to either of these two). Cromwell thinks Xusia dead but later suspects that the damnable wizard is behind all of his current woes, and in a fashion, Xusia has, indeed, been reborn yet again. This constant cycle of birth, death, and rebirth parallels the eternal struggle between good and evil or even Rota Fortunae (i.e. The Wheel Of Fortune), symbolizing the recurrent nature of Fate. The Sword And Sorcery subgenre, like Science Fiction and Horror, is well-suited to this sort of motif. They are already, through their generic elements, divorced from reality. This allows for more deeply allegorical explorations and heavy usage of metaphors via these selfsame elements. How interesting it is that the more divorced from our everyday world the piece is, the more easily it allows us to discuss the issues of our everyday world.

It is a generally accepted rule of storytelling in general and screenwriting in particular that a tale cannot be rife with coincidences. One is acceptable, but adding more, you run the risk of making the whole yarn feel arbitrary. After all, why should the hero have to accomplish anything when some coincidence, Deus Ex Machine, what-have-you will most likely just pop up and solve his/her problems? And why, then, should you give a shit? Sadly, there are a lot of coincidences in Pyun's film, and they do detract from its quality. Characters just show up out of nowhere to lend a helping hand. Other characters suddenly have a conspicuous change of heart, when we've never been introduced to them at all. It's not enough to condemn the film overall, but it is enough to take points away from its score.

The scope of Pyun's film is rather epic. He is, after all, trying to create an entire fantasy world. Be that as it may, this is epic fantasy on a budget, and its effect on the overall enjoyment of the film is noticeable. For example, in the prologue, Cromwell has at least two large battles between his army and his opponents. We don't get to see any of the fighting. We don't get to see any of what Xusia (who we spent a nice chunk of screen time resuscitating, mind you) does in service to Cromwell. No, we get shots of the corpse-strewn battlefields, post-battle (and I would wager shot at the same time). In a cave, Talon and his men are attacked by a horde of rats. Granted, they are repugnant animals, and I would not want them crawling all over me and gnawing bits off, but this is a fantasy movie. They couldn't be attacked by some otherworldly creature? After Talon's men band together to spring their leader, we cut immediately to the same guys locked up in the dungeon. Yes, it's funny, but the elision of the action leading to their capture feels jarring. You feel like you missed scenes at several points (and some of which appear to be key) in the film. What intrigued me about this was that there were some action scenes that were nicely done, so we know that the filmmakers could pull it off. Nonetheless, knowing this and enjoying what there is to the movie in its current form, you can't help but crave to fill in these blanks. But isn't that part of what Fantasy is all about?

MVT: The special and makeup effects used on characters like Xusia are wonderful and half the fun of the picture. There are some surprisingly gory shots that really deliver, and the best part is, they always seem to come just at the moment you need them the most. Crafty devils.

Make Or Break: The Make is the credit sequence, when Xusia is raised. It's violent, queasily sexy, funny, and oh-so arch. When the sorcerer's "E.T." fingers start glowing, you know someone's going to die violently. And do they ever.

Score: 6.75/10

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Episode #188: M

Welcome to another episode of the GGtMC!!!

This week the Gents bring you coverage of M (1931) directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre, we want to thank the good folks at for sponsoring this week's show as we are looking at M on the Criterion Blu Ray release!!!

We also cover a generous amount of feedback and go off on many tangents that seem odd but have a purpose....we think?

Direct download: M.mp3

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bonus #40: Interview with Mr. Beaks Jeremy Smith Pt. 2

Welcome to another bonus episode of the GGtMC!!!

West Coast Correspondent Rupert Pupkin delivers a 2nd interview with Jeremy Smith AKA Mr. Beaks over at Aint It Cool News. Rupe throws random movie categories at Beaks and he responds with a bunch of great recommendations. Be sure to check out Jeremy's writing at! You can also follow him on Twitter at

Direct download: RPintJSpt2RM.mp3

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Cinema de Bizarre Review of the Week: Brothers Till We Die (1978)

Directed by Umberto Lenzi

Starring Tomas Milian ("Vincenzo Marazzi", "Sergio Marazzi"), Pino Colizzi ("Commissario Sarti"), Isa Danieli ("Maria"), and Guido Leontini ("Mario Di Gennaro")

Running time: 01:35:22
Country: Italy

While he's gone on to work with the likes of Steven Soderbergh and Steven Spielberg to name a few, Cuban actor Tomas Milian is mostly remembered 'round these here parts for his performances in a number of Italian Eurocrime films from the 70's and for bringing an unparalleled amount of energy, charisma, and charm to his roles. Even when he's playing murderers and rapists, you can't help but be drawn to the guy. So you can imagine BROTHERS TILL WE DIE being quite an easy sell for fans of his seeing as Milian plays not one but two characters, and brothers no less. Not only that, but one of the brothers is a hunchback and the other is a dim-witted moron who eats cigarettes. How can this not be gold?

BROTHERS TILL WE DIE is a bit of a spoof of the Eurocrime films that were popular at the time, which certainly makes it an interesting oddity of Italian genre cinema. As I already mentioned, Milian plays unidentical twin brothers, Vincenzo and Sergio, who are respectively referred to as "Humpo" and "Piggy" throughout the film. Vincenzo, who shows up out of the blue and reunites with Sergio after being in hiding for a few years (either that or he was in prison), is a hunchback (hence the nickname "Humpo"), which is sort of ironic considering he's the more handsome and intelligent of the brothers. On the other hand, you have Sergio, a greasy mechanic who rocks a really bad-looking afro/perm and acts rather bufoonish. Sergio is always covered in dirt and grease, which earned him the nickname Pig Sty ("Piggy" for short). The way they contrast each other is interesting, in that you'd get a fairly normal human being if you combined the two. Something obviously went wrong when their mother's eggs were being fertilized.

It's revealed early on that Vincenzo is a thief, which would explain why he's been out of sight and out of mind for the last few years leading up to when the movie takes place. Vincenzo is itching for another score despite the cops watching him like a hawk, so he recruits a team of criminals who eventually betray him when they finally pull off the heist (this takes place in the first act of the movie, so it's not a spoiler). Thinking they shot him in the midst of the pandemonium, the group of criminals leave Vincenzo for dead. Little do they know, the hunchback sneaked out the proverbial back door, only to hide out with a hooker and plan his revenge, which he exacts throughout the remainder of the film while Sergio acts like an idiot and gets into his own little adventures in psychiatric hospitals and whatnot.

BROTHERS TILL WE DIE sounds too good to be true, what with Milian playing dual roles and whatnot. I'm happy to report that this film actually delivers the goods. Most importantly, it's funny - VERY funny. Aside from that, you also get bad wigs, the obligatory Eurocrime Fiat chase, montages of people getting arrested, a funky and genuinely solid musical score, lots of J&B-drinking, and a hunchback thief for fuck's sake. It's also refreshing, in that it's a film that can still fall into the Eurocrime genre, but it's a Eurocrime film that was made purely for entertainment and laughs rather than having some sort of political or social message. Another interesting aspect of the film is that it actually portrays the police in sort of a positive light and capable of their jobs rather than being corrupt or just flawed characters in general. BROTHERS TILL WE DIE is obviously not a film that's gonna turn people on to Eurocrime, but it's an interesting little gem that people who are already fans of the genre can seek out, and it's also a movie that people who aren't necessarily fans of the genre can watch and get some enjoyment out of. The film has its issues (Vincenzo's monologue in a nightclub, for example, is pretty brutal, and there are parts of the film that drag), but it's a fun movie that delivers the laughs for the most part. Also, drink every time someone says "Humpo".

Make or Break: The psych ward scenes involving Sergio are absolutely hilarious and easily the highlights of the film for me.

MVT: Tomas Milian. It can't not be Milian. This is obviously not a film that he'll be remembered for when it's all said and done and Milian hangs them up, but it's a fine showcase of his charisma and comedic abilities. This would make for an interesting double feature with ALMOST HUMAN, which was also directed by Umberto Lenzi and features Milian in a more serious performance as one of the most ruthless antagonists in a Eurocrime movie ever. They also worked together on SYNDICATE SADISTS, which I haven't seen yet.

Score: 7.25/10

The Disc: 2.35:1 aspect ratio, anamorphic widescreen, English dubbing with no subtitles. Picture quality isn't as sharp as, say, a Eurocrime film remastered by Blue Underground or something, but it's still pretty decent. Not sure where it originated from, but what I can say is that this is a DVD rip from a source outside of North America, as this film has never been available in the US and Canada on DVD that I'm aware of. That being said, this is a good quality, hard-to-find Italian genre flick available at a great price. The sound quality is good as well.

Cinema de Bizarre
BROTHERS TILL WE DIE on Cinema de Bizarre

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Friday, June 8, 2012

No Surrender (1985)

I found it to be a chore to sit through “No Surrender”. I waited patiently for the humor to pick up to no avail. I chuckled every once in awhile, but that’s all the comedy amounted to. Surprisingly, most of the chortles came during the beginning of the film. Considering this portion of the film is where the lulls reside most, it’s a depressing realization.

It’s not that the actors don’t try their hardest. Michael Angelis, Avis Bunnage, James Ellis, Tom Georgeson and Bernard Hill all put their hearts into their roles. Too bad their characters don’t have any souls. The only character in the film to have a personality is Billy McCracken, which is a plus for Ray McAnally. He was able to embed a hint of character and liven up the proceedings. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get a lot of screen time.

The blame lies solely on the director, Peter Smith. He can’t decide if he wants the film to be kooky or dry. He labels the film as a dark comedy, but there’s nothing too offensive or bleak present. The swipes at Protestant’s and Catholics are weak and made me wince. Not because I was offended, but because of how lame and pathetic they were. I’ve heard children come up with better insults.

I guess a plot description would help. Admittedly, it’ll make the film sound interesting, as it shows promise. Two group of old-timers are accidentally booked for a New Year’s Eve party at the same bar on the same night. One group is filled with Protestants, the other Catholics. This starts a war of words (and occasional fists) between the two. The workers try to keep things under control by entertaining them with acts (such as musicians, comedians and a magician), but find they’re in way over their heads.

Notice how I didn’t make mention of who’s who in that description? That’s because nobody really matters. The characters exist solely to disperse insults and punch lines, most of which aren’t good. I can’t recall any of the actual dialogue making me laugh. It was mainly sight gags (such as a blind man beating up two teenagers) that slightly tickled my funny bone. Everything else got on my nerves.

Maybe if Peter Smith trusted his characters more to engage the audience, I would have found the humor to be funnier. If I had gotten behind them, maybe the words coming out of their mouths wouldn’t have seemed so benign. It would have certainly helped the strained dramatic elements of the film (such as the stereotypical romance between the new bar manager and one of the singers).

Then again, maybe a good script was in order. This was screenwriter Alan Bleasdale’s only full-length script to be written. He was known mostly for work on television series and mini-series, where an episodic approach works. In a film, there’s a certain flow to the jokes and dialogue. You also have to evolve characters much quicker and don’t have numerous episodes to iron out their rough edges.

Who knows what went wrong with “No Surrender”. Maybe the humor just went over my head. I’d like to believe so, as I do know this did get some critical acclaim. Even if that’s the case, I know for certain the shaky direction and (mostly) soulless characters didn’t go over my head. They were clearly present and a huge detriment to the film.

MVT: Ray McAnally as Billy McCracken. He was the only character in the film worthy of note.

Make or Break: The beginning of the party. This is where I thought the film was going to pick up. Unfortunately, it did not.

Final Score: 3.75/10

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Savage Streets (1984)

When the name Linda Blair is mentioned, the first thing people think of is The Exorcist (Admit it. You do). It doesn't matter if they are fans of horror movies or of bodice-ripping melodramas. It doesn't matter if they've seen a photo of the woman out of the Regan MacNeil possession makeup or in the past almost-forty years. It doesn't matter whether they've even seen the movie or not. The film and its imagery are embedded in our cultural psyche like a wood tick. Unfortunately, this means that Ms. Blair's career has also been overshadowed by the success of her early role. So, achievements like the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, which rescues abused animals, don't spring to mind immediately (and, no, I have no affiliation with the organization, though I believe they're doing good work). I would wager that, if she had made more movies like Daniel Steinmann's Savage Streets (aka Zombie Brigade [?!]) or Roller Boogie and had skipped William Friedkin's horror classic, she would be remembered in a far different light. Whether that's good or bad (or indifferent) depends entirely on what you like to watch.

Brenda (Blair) struts the…um…wild streets of Los Angeles with her gang of female hellraisers (The Satins) and her über-innocent sister, Heather (Linnea Quigley). Meanwhile, Jake (Robert Dryer) and his gang of toughs (The Scars) cruise the same…er…untamed streets in Fargo's (Sal Landi) vintage convertible. After taking said car for a joyride, the boys have it in for the girls in a bad way. The bad boys (who are also drug dealers, just so you know) escalate things to the point of no return, and Brenda arms herself with a crossbow and various implements, taking her vengeance out onto the…uh…vicious streets.

Just about every conventionally narrative film needs to have a protagonist and an antagonist in order to work. When they're well-made, the characters on either side of this equation have some depth to them (not that they are as real as you or I, but they are more rounded than a cardboard cutout). Sometimes, filmmakers use shorthand signifiers to show us whether the characters are good or bad and to what extent. Jake has a razor blade earring, is not classically attractive, and laughs (with his whole mouth) a lot at everything (and especially if they're things we know people shouldn't laugh at). He is evil. Heather is wide-eyed, blond, and cute as a button, and she dresses in long, almost Cleaver-esque skirts. Plus, she likes to dance by herself and is deaf. She is good (too good, in fact). Vince (Johnny Venocur) changes from "normal" teenaged clothing into his gang clothes and smiles uncomfortably at all of Jake and the gang's antics. He is right in the middle, but he thinks he wants to be bad. So, what's wrong with these things, that they ring hollow? Nothing, in and of themselves, but their depictions on screen are so bluntly on the nose and in your face, you can't help but feel just a twinge of resentment while still enjoying it.

The film carries heavy family undercurrents but not strictly in a traditional sense. Even though she's a hardass from the very beginning of the film, Brenda is intensely protective and mothering to Heather. We find out later on that their mother is struggling to keep their family together, working multiple jobs. She even has to leave a situation we wouldn't expect a mother to ever leave, because she has to work. But Brenda doesn't really blame her mother for leaving the girls to essentially raise themselves. She recognizes that her mother is doing everything she can to support her family. Nonetheless, Brenda doesn't go to her mother for any sort of comfort, either. Instead, she turns to Charlene (Paula Shaw), who apparently owns the club The Satins frequent. Added to that is the gang's support of their leader, forming an ad hoc, gynocentric family unit, but this one actually works somewhat. Naturally, there are men allowed but only on the outskirts and in an ancillary fashion. The Satins all wear the same style jacket, linking them together visually as well as in a sisterly fashion. On the other side of that coin, Vince goes from a (assumed) more stable home life to the ultra-macho Scars. We never find out if Vince is accepted within his natural family, but he wants more than anything for Jake and his crew to recognize his worth. These starkly drawn gender lines mark the film's conflict primarily as male versus female.

Speaking of gender issues, there is a profoundly homoerotic vibe in almost every scene involving The Scars. While the women regularly get naked and shower in front of each other (at least it sure feels that way), there are no sexual undertones (except, of course, for the obvious ones aimed at the viewer) between them. In fact, when the women are unclothed together, a catfight usually breaks out, and if they aren't unclothed when a catfight lets loose, one of them most assuredly is by the time it finishes. The men, on the other hand, are focused on sex constantly (consensual or non) and in relation to each other. Jake kisses Fargo full on the mouth after threatening him. Red (Scott Mayer) moans that he wants to watch Jake going after someone ("do it," I believe is the expression he uses), and that there's nothing wrong with him wanting to watch, right? They also constantly have their hands on each other in a non-platonic sort of way. And let's not even get into the outfits these guys wear (with Fargo being the most Village-People-ian). So, not only are The Scars the ultra-violent villains of the piece, they're also semi-closeted homosexuals. 

At its heart, though, Savage Streets is a revenge flick, so everything should be geared up to propel us forcefully into the harrowing third and final act. What we get outside of the main action are subplots which barely tie into the main plot at all. The most glaring is the one involving cheerleader Cindy (Rebecca Perle) and her feud with Brenda over Cindy's beau Wes (Brian Frishman, credited as Brian Mann), who Brenda doesn't care for in the least. Aside from one plot point, this subplot develops nothing, goes on entirely too long (if all it is intended as is a catalyst for bad things to happen), and barely resolves itself. However, it does give the ever-haggard Principal Underwood (the late, great John Vernon) the opportunity to ogle Brenda and pass appallingly creepy comments about her looks. Of course, all this melodrama gives absolutely everyone involved in this movie the chance to overact and grimace (and earn the entire cast the golden BEM Award). Nevertheless, we do eventually get to the big showdown (replete with heroic montage and hot licks), but with the exception of the final few minutes, the whole event feels matter-of-fact. And the one area a revenge film cannot fail is in the revenge portion. So, does this one ultimately satisfy? It's certainly sleazy, and there's enough pulchritude on display to mollify some. But to fumble on the goal line like this film does after all the anticipation turns what could have been a classic of the subgenre into a banausic proceeding.

MVT: The level of scenery chewing from start to finish leads me to believe that the entire cast and crew ripped out the dictionary page containing the word "subtle" and used it to snort mountains of blow.

Make Or Break: The revenge scene only gets it about half right. Ergo, I feel compelled to call it a half-Make and half-Break, simultaneously. The entirety of this sequence should have been a succession of "punch the air" moments. Instead, you kind of feel like punching yourself in the face. 

Score: 6.5/10

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Episode #187: Arizona Set Pieces

Welcome to another episode of the GGtMC!!!

This week's episode is programmed by the one and only Death Rattle Aaron, a brother from another mother of the Gents, as part of our Kickstarter program. Aaron chose Murder Set Pieces (2004) directed by Nick Palumbo and Raising Arizona (1987) from the Coen Brothers.

Direct download: Arizona_Set_Pieces.mp3

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cinema de Bizarre Review of the Week: Nest of Vipers/Night of the Serpent (1969)

Directed by Giulio Petroni

Starring Luke Askew ("Luke"), Luigi Pistilli ("Lieutenant Hernandez"), Magda Konopka, and Chelo Alonso

Running time: 01:41:02
Country: Italy

Admittedly, I've only seen one other film by director Giulio Petroni prior to watching this, but it was a great one nonetheless. That film was the excellent DEATH RIDES A HORSE, which is easily one of my favorite Spaghetti Westerns. Petroni only has a little over a dozen directorial credits to his filmography, most of which are pretty obscure. It seems he dabbled in various genres, but I think it's safe to say - based on the research I've done on him - that he'll be remembered for his Westerns. While not as good as the DEATH RIDES A HORSE, which featured John Phillip Law as a man driven to avenge the death of his family, NIGHT OF THE SERPENT is still pretty good and hits a lot of the same beats as DEATH RIDES.

American actor Luke Askew, whose character in the film is also named "Luke", plays an alcoholic and the sole Gringo amidst a group of Mexicans who mistreat and abuse him. For a number of reasons that I'll eventually touch on in this review, I had a hard time figuring out exactly what Luke's status was and why he was this out-of-place blonde-haired American who seemed to co-exist with a bunch of loudmouthed Mexicans. I assumed he had nowhere to go and he was simply doing what he had to do to survive and earn enough money (or tequila) to get by and live his miserable life. Whatever the case, Luke is hired by a corrupt Federale, Lieutenant Hernandez, to basically be the sacrificial lamb in a plot to kill someone and gain their inheritance money, but when Luke realizes he was sent to kill a child, he kicks the booze and essentially gets his groove back so that he can protect the kid.

I don't know if it was the script or the lackluster audio quality of the copy I watched, but I found it difficult to keep track of what was going on at times and make sense of everything. Had I known that the film would reveal certain clues about the plot as the film progressed, I wouldn't have gone back and watched the same couple of scenes six or seven times to see if I missed anything. The whole inheritance thing in particular was a bit confusing because of how Lt. Hernandez orchestrated it. Basically, he was able to blackmail a couple of people who accidentally killed a telegraphist who was sent from out of town to deliver a message regarding the boy's inheritance. Hernandez finds out about this and swiftly gathers the two men responsible for the telegraphist's death, but then there are two other people involved who, initially, didn't seem to have anything to do with the murder. It's then revealed that they're all entitled to the boy's inheritance since they're apparently his relatives, but even by the time the movie was over it still didn't make much sense.

Even though the quality of the print that was presented here wasn't exactly great, you could still see a really bad makeup job on one of the actors. In certain Westerns, actors' faces were basically painted brown to give them the appearance of a Mexican who had been out in the sun for way too long, and most films do a good enough job of making it look as subtle as possible, but in this film there's an actor who's obviously wearing a distracting and unnatural shade of brown makeup that stands out compared to the rest of his body's complexion. I can only imagine how this would look if NIGHT OF THE SERPENT were to be properly rescued from obscurity and given the HD treatment. Thankfully, the lazy makeup job was not a reflection of the rest of the film's quality.

The only major setback of this film, in my opinion, is how confusingly it tells its story, which I touched on earlier. Other than that, NIGHT OF THE SERPENT is quite enjoyable despite not standing out from other Spaghetti Westerns in a major way. As I said earlier, it hits some of the same beats as DEATH RIDES A HORSE (and many other Westerns for that matter) in terms of the narrative and the characters. It's shot fairly well, it's scored amazingly by Riz Ortolani, and the character are well-developed in that the antagonists are appropriately evil and the protagonists are easy to get behind. The character of Luke in particular is great because of how he's established throughout the film, and it's one of the cases where information is gradually revealed in a way that doesn't spell everything out for you at first and it's done right. When he's first recruited by Lt. Hernandez and is given a gun, Luke's mind begins to drift, at which point the film cuts to what looks like a brief dream sequence where he's imagining himself as a handsome cowboy who's quite handy with a pistol (later scenes of him shooting at targets would contradict that), but when these sequences begin to pop up on a frequent basis throughout the film, it becomes evident that these are in fact flashback scenes showing you what Luke was like before his life seemingly went to shit and explaining why he ended up in the gutter. Not to spoil anything, but the final flashback pays off in a big way and explains so much about Luke.

The relationship between Luke and the boy doesn't become a "thing" that takes away from the plot or Luke's character development, which I liked. The boy is more or less a catalyst for Luke to pull himself out of the gutter and, in a way, face the demons that have apparently been haunting him for many years. However, the best thing about their relationship in my opinion is that it introduces the boy's mother, played by Magda Konopka, who is absolutely mesmerizing. NIGHT OF THE SERPENT is mostly noteworthy for being a rare and obscure Spaghetti Western that was sought after by enthusiasts of the genre for many years, but it's a pretty good film to boot for reasons that I already talked about. This is obviously not a starting point for anyone looking to get into Westerns, but at the same time it can still be enjoyed as a standalone movie by people who aren't necessarily into Westerns because of the fact that it's fairly accessible, and those who are already fans of the genre should get some satisfaction out of it. Besides, you can't really go wrong with the great Luigi Pistilli playing a heavy.

Make or Break: Luke's introduction.

MVT: Riz Ortolani's score. One of the best Spaghetti Western scores I've ever heard, which says a lot considering there are some truly masterful pieces of music associated with these types of films. At times the music is sinister and Giallo-esque for lack of a better term, and at other times the music evokes images of a European Gothic Horror film because of Ortolani's use of organs in the soundtrack. My favorite piece of music is what I assume was intended to be Luke's theme song, which consists of some very somber-sounding acoustic guitars highlighted by tribal percussion. Gorgeous stuff overall.

Score: 7/10

The Disc: DVD rip, cropped widescreen, English language with no subtitles. Apparently it was extremely hard to get a copy of this film with its English audio track for many years until some South African company released a version of it, which I assume is the same version that Cinema de Bizarre is providing, albeit a ripped copy. NIGHT OF THE SERPENT, like most Spaghetti Westerns, was shot in 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen are still in tact on this copy, but instead of just being modified to full-screen and retaining all of the picture, it's blown up with the sides of the picture cut out, which you can see on the accompanying screenshot. Not a big deal since you're not missing any of the action and most of the shots of the actors are pretty tight anyway, but it's noticeable at times. The video quality is decent and watchable - not much better or worse than most copies you'll find of obscure Spaghetti Westerns. The audio, on the other hand, is a bit of a problem. The sound is nice and loud, but the audio is a bit fuzzy at times and not very clear when certain people are speaking. It's comparable to listening to the film through a stereo with blown-out speakers. All of that being said, this is still the best version of the film out there, so it is what it is.

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NIGHT OF THE SERPENT on Cinema de Bizarre

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Party Camp (1987)

It’s funny how life works. Just last Saturday, I was browsing the web for eighties comedies. I wound up not purchasing anything, but did have a few films jotted down. One of them being “Party Camp”. The next day, I go to my local video store and what do I find? “Party Camp”! I snatched it up and immediately popped it into my VHS player when I got home.

I know not to expect much from this subgenre. All I want is an exotic location, likable characters, buxom babes, a colorful attitude and a sufficient laugh quotient. “Party Camp” delivered on all fronts! One could argue that a camp isn’t exotic, but I’m a sucker for the setting. It was a common area for eighties films, particularly in the horror genre. The first film to come to mind is “Friday the 13th”, which gets referenced here.

The story itself is simple. Jerry Riviera (Andrew Ross) takes a job as a counselor at Camp Chipmunk. He expects it to be a fun experience, but shortly discovers the place is run like a boot camp. Sarge (Peter Jason) rules with an iron fist. At least, that’s what screewriter Paul Brown would like us to believe. I have a feeling his story arc got lost in the shuffle in Gary Graver’s direction, as he’s not focused on that much.

To be honest, outside of a few jokes (such as the sign reading “Your best isn’t good enough”), Camp Chipmunk never feels like a military training camp. Graver constantly has the characters bring this up, but the place feels like your average summer camp. Various activities such as hiking and volleyball are prevalent and everybody seems to be having a good time. It just doesn’t live up to Jerry’s version of partying (drugs, alcohol and parties are prohibited).

It may be for the best that Graver toned the strict nature down. It skips over the laborious “good hearted guy overcomes evil hierarchy” aspect and jumps right to the zany fun. Making up for the lack of Sarge is an abundance of fun stock characters. Tad (Kirk Cribb) is the jock asshole with an airhead girlfriend, Dyanne Stein (Jewel Shepard); Heather Morris (Kerry Brennan), the girl of Jerry’s dreams (she’s on the brochure which prompted him to take the gig); Nurse Brenda (April Wayne), the kinky nurse who loves to inject people with needles. Jerry’s gang of misfits that he leads are the Squirrels. They’re filled with the technical wizard, the poor kid, the horny one (well, hornier than the rest) and the gun nut They square off Tad’s honchos, the Falcons. All the while, they play pranks on Sarge and the camp owner Mrs. Beadle (Cherie Franklin), who has Sarge dress up as a fly and whips him with a flyswatter. You read that right.

That’s the essence of the plot. The underdogs, Squirrels, combat against the jocks, Falcons. It’s a streamlined story to balance the jokes and gags on. There’s also a slew of pop culture references, from “The Love Boat” to “The Twilight Zone” to the Four Horsemen (which made me mark). There’s one long “Rambo” reference revolving around the gun nut. There’s a funny gag where he brings a rocket launcher to a shooting range.

The only thing that really matters in a film like this if it’s funny. As long as there’s a good amount of jokes that work, it’s worth a watch. In the case of “Party Camp”, there’s more than enough! Some jokes get beaten into the ground (such as the child being pulled by the ear by Sarge), but it’s all done with a jovial attitude. Like most eighties comedies, the tone is light, making for an easy watch. This isn’t high art, but it’s a fun side attraction!

MVT: The genial tone. The film (despite being raunchy) is light and fluffy and easy to digest thanks to this.

Make or Break: Honestly, it’s hard to pick a certain scene. They all flow nicely together. With that being said, I’ll pick the opening, which has Jerry fantasizing about his dream woman, then being awoken by a school bus that nearly runs him over.

Final Score: 7/10