28 October 2008

Miami Horror

Miami Horror
A.K.A. Miami Golem
Italy - 1985
Director – Alberto De Martino (as Martin Herbert)
Panther Entertainment, 1988, VHS

Sweet title design and even sweeter intro song (I wish I could shareit with you), but one thing that’s sad about old VHS tapes is that most of them are fullscreen and pan-n-scan and you miss some of the picture. So it is with this film, though that may prove to be some help in this case.

David Warbeck (of Fulci’s The Beyond) stars here as an intrepid and skeptical freelance TV journalist, the sleeves of his elasticky leather jacket perpetually pushed up, and always ready to scoff with impatient cockiness.

Commissioned to do a story on a scientist who has cloned a genetically modified outer-space organism which looks like a human zygote, he shows up at a science lab where his decrepit video equipment shorts out and electrocutes the creature. It simultaneously unleashes strange screaming apparitions and a string of silly shit for Warbeck to sarcastically roll his eyes at.

First, the scientist actually answers to a telekenetic but otherwise plain old boring economist who plans to use the power of the also-telekinetic and rapidly growing organism to enforce his diabolical business plan on an unsuspecting world.

In order to translate the voices on his videotape of the corny low budget apparitions, Warbeck hires the hideously nappy Laura Trotter (of Umberto Lenzi's amazing City of the Walking Dead) who opened the movie with this eye assaulting jogging outfit.

Trotter concedes that the voices are those of her fellow benevolent extra-dimensional aliens visiting earth to dispose of the malevolent psychic-fetus. On top of that her own personal agenda is sex with Warbeck, which she promptly demands. Almost as if fleeing the scene of his most embarrassing cinematic crime, Warbeck confirms her claim by staring with bored incredulity at a crude UFO landing site and later, by watching the only cool special effect of the film, a decaying housecat, twice, thanks to an editing screwup on the tape.

Returning to Trotter’s house after being continually pummeled with ridiculous crap, a distraught and emotionally damaged Warbeck quickly imbibes several fingers of scotch. Taking advantage of his fragile emotional condition Trotter extinguishes the last of his resistance with liquor and reiterates her previous demand. Yes! Warbeck, that filthy fucker, worships at the hideous mulleted alien poontang shrine and all his previous sarcastic scorn evaporates into the genuine curiosity and enthusiasm of a housebitch on a leash.

In the final anticlimactic battle with the growling psychic fetus, Warbeck mirrors the plot at large, stumbling around haphazardly smashing into shelves of breakables with his arms thrown up helplessly. Slave to the stupidity, a victorious but world weary Warbeck lugs the fetus to Trotters mothership and trades it in along with his pride in the vain hope of a merciful end to this movie

See what's in the jar on the table?

The Vindicator

 Sad cropped box

The Vindicator
Canada/United States - 1984
Director - Jean Claude Lord
Key Video, 1986, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 32 minutes

Every scientific research lab has a snitch. You know, some punk who gets whiny and raises all kinds of stupid ethical objections and threatens to go to the cops or the press as soon as his coworkers start conducting some cutting edge sketchy research. In this case the head honcho of the lab, Dr. White, is designing genetically modified homicidal chimps whose readiness to kill he verifies like a ten -year-old, by poking them with sticks until they tear themselves to bloody pieces with rage.

Carl, the lab whiner threatens disclosure when White cuts his research budget and steals his chimps. Carl demands answers, and his innovative boss decides to give them to him by incinerating Carl in a giant dangerously “defective” kiln.

Carl’s pregnant new-age-synthesizer-playing wife thinks she is burying his corpse, but in an ironic twist of fortune for the high minded and cautious Carl, his crispy corpse has been kept alive in a nutrient solution to forward the very morally reprehensible research he sought to end.

White and his cronies soon attach Carl’s carcass to a cyborg-body with the very same automatic homicidal defense reflex programming they’ve been giving the chimps, which wouldn’t be a problem except that White’s technique for hypothesis verification is perhaps somewhat too provocative.

After Carl’s cyborg body, temporarily clothed in a gold foil Power Ranger suit is fired up, he flees the lab to feel sorry for himself and be alone with his feelings. Along the way the suit, and one hopes his temerity, is burned off, and there’s some vindication in store for ol’ Carl and his crusty scorched muscly robot body.

While trying to brace his wife for the inevitable infeasibility of homicidal cyborg domestic bliss, he reveals to her the gross pickled body within his metal exoskeleton and it seems for a moment that there may be some madness to his methods. Sadly, Carl’s version of vengeance is hand in glove with his programmed passive aggression and he repeatedly runs away and waits for his killflex to be provoked by White and his goons before killing them.

But let’s face facts here, Carl’s very existence proves that these experiments are vital and more work must be done creating an army of amoral murderborgs susceptible to provocative prodding. Thank god White has been saving each one of Carl’s vindicated victims for new cyborgs. What!? Once again Carl’s stupid bleeding-heart pacifism just pushed me over the line.

 UK clamshell insert from Dawn of the Dave.

This gorgeous Japanese sleeve comes courtesy of Miyaji at Japanese VHS Hell

23 October 2008

New Stuff

Lots of new movies have been arriving these days, most of those below in the last couple of weeks, including a VHS copy of Starcrash (yay!) since DVD copies are pretty much out of print. Both of the Caged Fury movies are already reviewed below.
The Last Hunter, which I believe is an Italian Apocalypse Now knockoff starring David Warbeck (Fulci's The Beyond) arrived yesterday and a few more are due in this week.

14 October 2008

Caged Fury

It says DVD here but this is the same cover art on my VHS tape.

Caged Fury
Phillipines/United States - 1983
Director – Cirio H. Santiago
VEC, 198?, VHS

With all the hope in the world, I opened my heart to Caged Fury because of the genre, and the name of Cirio Santiago. I tracked my immediate knowledge of his name to Future Hunters, but the recently deceased exploitation director/producer is well established as one of the exploitation greats and has left an impressive wake.In any case, I may have imagined for Caged Fury shoes too big to reasonably fill, but I can hardly be blamed.

A pre-credit Manchurian Candidatesque assassination bodes well, but is quickly overshadowed. A young Canadian woman with a Farah Fawcet-do is shuttled to a prison camp in Vietnam where women are brainwashed with daily volleyball-games and nightly booby-electrocutions.
The repeated shots of stony, vacant stares sandwiched between lines of banal dialogue very quickly grew to an excruciating crescendo of purgatorial painfulness. I know why the guards and commandant are so pissed off all the time.

“You have no brains to wash” the film boldly declares while rooting heartily in plot items that are somehow related to previously undisclosed information, and information related to plot items never to be disclosed. The requisite Women In Prison shower scene lasts mere scintillating seconds before an escape attempt, alluded to only in passing before, suddenly takes on an abrupt and suicidal immediacy.

Giving her Vietnamese prison-guard boyfriend everything she has, Canada hides with him in a chicken coop where a quaint and conveniently placed lantern give the subsequent copulation a 70’s cigarette advertisement feeling I just can’t shake. Shooting, and recapture follow.

All along the way, this movie has not provided me with the correct answers, and needs to be electrocuted into agreement, making what is really a rather hateful experience into something rather Phyrrically amusing.
Another ill-concieved escape attempt on a steam locomotive motivates the film, like our heroines under pain of torture into an explosive and genuinely entertaining, but tragically last minute exploitation plot-twist that this whole movie should mercifully have been all along.

13 October 2008

Caged Fury

Caged Fury
United States - 1989
Director – Bill Milling
Cinevision Intl., 2006, DVD

From the title alone it’s pretty clear that this is intended to be bought as a “Women-In-Prison” flick. At least it passes itself off as one. Another film of the same name was produced and directed 6 years earlier by Filipino B-auteur Cirio H. Santiago, and looking for that Caged Fury, I stumbled upon this one.

If my assumption that a WIP flick is essentially required to have lots of skin wasn’t unasailable, I would say that at first, this has the emotional simplicity of a made for TV movie. Opening with a squabble between some prison guards who slash each other with razors between raping the underwear clad inmates offscreen, it’s clear that something besides the budget is going to be low.

Ostensibly a vehicle for top billed Erik Estrada of CHiPS, Caged Fury is more of an ironic diatribe on how men are fucking filthy sexist sharks as even the predatory protagonists are sexist tyrants, only wearing smiles. Kat, fresh young Mormon chum seeking her fame and fortune in Hollywood despite her father’s admonitions discovers from the word go that apparently even nice-guys will use any excuse whatsoever to use your meat and leave you dead in the water.

Look at those choppers.

The first to smell her blood is Buck, a discharge-dripping sleazo-photographer/agent who dolls her up in a slutty dress and takes her to a biker bar, where after being nearly raped by the bikers, she is “saved” by Dirk, a musclebound mulleted ‘Nam-vet/mercenary and his pal, pasty and swollen Estrada with a taut and toothy grin that looks like he could eat anything within arms reach. No sooner said, than Estrada coarsely pressures Kat into what we are led to believe is an offscreen sexual experience.

Next it’s an encounter with a grating overfed porn director who tricks Kat into a compromising situation which leads to her arrest. At an exasperating 38 minutes she’s finally sentenced to “prison” where the guards (including Ron Jeremy as “Pizzaface”) repeatedly rape and abuse the inmates with the collusion of the S&M lesbian warden.

Finally fed up after another 45 minutes of typical WIP debasement at the various and sundry hands of her captors, Kat foments rebellion among the inmates just as Dirk rides his motorcycle to the muscly stoic smash-happy rescue. As an afterthought, Estrada appears again from catering van convalescent leave with his clammy pork-chop face, still theoretically the toothless version of voracious misogynist, but for all his deceptive fat-puppy-dog whimpering, still chattering his fangs like a cold dumb sack-of-hammers.

The DVD triple-feature with which I secured my very own copy of Caged Fury.