24 April 2009

Kid Galahad

United States - 1962
Director- Peter R. Hunt
MGM Home Entertainment, 2005, DVD

Walter Gulick (Elvis) returns from a stint in the army to a small town in the hills of upstate New York where he was born. There, in a sort of hunting cabin resort is Grogan’s Gaelic Gardens, a boxing training camp where a bunch of sluggos get trained by the one and only Charles Bronson, as “Lew”, though the distinction hardly matters.
Looking for a job as a mechanic, Walter finds one instead as a punching bag for Grogan’s house champ at five bucks a match. Grogan is a charming fellow to be sure, but even without the parade of character flaws that follows his introduction you would get a slightly sleazy feeling off of him.
Elvis, er, Walter knocks his opponent out in one punch, and Grogan sleazes up a quick match with a rival agent. I get the feeling he’s going to learn his lesson with a sheepish grin at the end of the movie but I’m still going to think he’s a knob.Anyway, the stupid idiot can’t quit gambling his money away piecemeal. The only thing keeping him afloat -albeit barely- are his girlfriend Dolly who for whatever reason tolerates his disrespect, and Lew who actually does something useful.
Grogan calls his kid sister Rose (Joan Blackman) to ask for 200 bucks but instead she comes home from the Bronx all woman and showing it. Suddenly there is a promising sign of life from the glazed and overfed Elvis. Assuming staring slackjawed indicates a heartbeat. Later when they’re hanging out in the driveway he warbles out a song while looking at Rose like she’s a giant package of hotdogs. (Blackman also appeared in Blue Hawaii among other stuff but what I like best is her role as the elevator mother in Cronenberg’s Shivers.)

Walter drives to his first fight singing away while ever-ready Bronson grins like a pig in shit from the backseat. Walter manages to win the match with one punch after receiving a long string of unblocked blows to the face. It does feel good to watch something beautiful get smashed. At a picnic minutes later he busts out into a song about Rose again while all the other palookas provide harmony right behind them on the picnic table. As if Walter’s hungry gaze weren’t enough he sings about getting lucky while Rose swivels woozily in a canary-yellow dress. This guy is the popular good-looking kid who’s naturally great at the stuff you’ve struggled and practiced at forever. Everybody - especially girls - think he’s the greatest even though he’s dumb as a rock. Don’t you just want to see his face get smashed?

Otherwise useless as a man, Grogan attacks Walter for those very qualities, but in a surprising moment of clarity, (I’m guessing he just drank a glass of maple syrup) Walter synopsizes the entire films prior exposition of Grogan’s flailing impotence in a few short sentences. Just as the real cock-fight is about to begin though, Dolly reappears and confirms Walter's claims in an ego busting maneuver sure to elicit that last minute recalcitrance I mentioned. Hell, Grogan’s only got 20 minutes to win back the 2nd hottest gal in the film.
In a blind rage, Grogan arranges to have Galahad fight a professional bare-handed horse-killer.

Subsequent Bronson/Elvis training scenes confirm that the rest of the boxers have stopped training and are merely waiting in the wings to pop up as backup singers when Elvis decides to slur out a song.Grogan’s mafia debtors are counting on their killer to render the well-fatted and golden brown Walter into dog food, so they smash Lew’s hands to seal the gig. Grogan walks in on the scene, and knowing the importance of Bronson he takes the goons on himself. Just as they’re getting the better of him, Walter shows up to save the day and feed Grogan some of that happy butter cream glaze that makes a man all fat and sappy.

I guess this bears some resemblance to the 1937 Humphrey Bogart film of the same name though it’s hard to tell if Bogart or Elvis singing is more entertaining. I do like both believe it or not. But in all honesty it’s a moot point because this one features Bronson, and that seals the deal for me.

Let's see, a Spanish poster, an American poster, the original Ep cover for the songs on the soundtrack and a dandy still photo of Elvis.

New Stuff

With a helpful tip from an anonymous reader I have added two more films to the list of roles for the Ubiquitous Punk Lady

I also found a great Japanese poster for the Bronson film Violent City which I added to my review of that film. It's similar to, but a lot cooler than this nice poster for his film Mr. Majestyk.

I've also added links movie trailers on some of my older reviews, including:
Invasion USA
All of these are linked to CultTrailers.

I also recently found a copy of the film I Come In Peace starring Dolph Lundgren, a film which I've wanted to see since I first witnessed the trailers as a child. In addition, some new informational films are in the cue for review as soon as I finish midterms, stay tuned.

18 April 2009

Barbarian Queen

It’s been over six years as of this writing, but not until this week did I find out that actress Lana Clarkson was murdered. When I heard about her murderers conviction I made a quick internet search and discovered that it was in fact the same Lana Clarkson I thought. Perhaps it’s Lana’s apparent modesty; she was working in a restaurant when she was killed. Or the fact that she was even more attractive at 40 and just looked like a nice person. For some reason I find this whole thing quite depressing.

One of Lana’s first major roles was in 1983’s unforgettable Roger Corman produced Deathstalker, but probably her best known were in Barbarian Queen and Barbarian Queen II (also from Corman). In celebration of her killer’s conviction, I’m posting my older (but slightly re-worked) reviews of the latter two classic barbariansploitation films.

Barbarian Queen
United States/Argentina-1985
Director – Hector Olivera
New Concorde, 2003, DVD

In a happy grass hut village, a bunch of happy forest people are celebrating the wedding of the prince, Argan (B-movie fireplug Frank Zagarino) and Princess Amathea (Lana Clarkson). While the princess’s sister is off gathering flowers, she is kidnapped and the village is raided by leather hat wearing thugs who kill a bunch of them and take the rest prisoner. What they don’t do is take care of Amathea, who struggling to raise her overly heavy visibly dull sword above her head, vows revenge.

She soon discovers several other refugees from the hairspray tribe of Hollywood. They team up, leap in some convenient canoes and paddle to a nearby outpost. There they clumsily knock a bunch of the badguys on the head and rescue Amathea’s sister. From there the journey toward anti-climax continues.
Soon, they run into a group of rebels led by a one-eyed, one-armed purple-clad rebel leader, and a poorly dubbed daughter. (filmed in Argentina with local actors) The rebel gang maintains a hideout underneath the very spray-foam and chickenwire castle village from which the evil leather hat guys oppress their empire. Enforcing a cruel pastel-fabrics only law, the evil king intends to hold the empire in a perpetual state of commercialized Easter. Bucking the advice of the on-site expert villagers, Amathea spontaneously decides to free Argan. She is caught of course, and strapped topless to a torture rack by the nerdy weasely dungeon master. The demographic has been secured sire.

She escapes and rejoins the rebels, now allied with enslaved gladiators led by Argan. Just as they are about to begin their revolt a bunch of the gladiators betray them, but no sweat, Argan and Amathea manage to pull it off anyway, and in a one minute battle, free the entire kingdom by killing all 10 soldiers who garrison the flimsy castle.

Barbarian Queen only serves as a vehicle for Clarkson’s assets, but manages to heap enough low budget ineptitude around that premise to keep it propped up and entertaining. Despite a façade of feminism, knowing Roger Corman, it’s incidental to making a film starring women. But he did make a sequel.

17 April 2009

Barbarian Queen II

Barbarian Queen II
United States/Mexico - 1989
Director- Joe Finley
New Concorde, 2003, DVD

Lana “wanna see my boobs” Clarkson is back to reprise her role in this straight to video sequel. Her name this time is changed to Athalea, and her plight is that of the daughter of a missing benevolent monarch. Held captive by her evil usurping uncle, Athalea refuses to give him the magic spell that controls the royal scepter. His rule cannot be consecrated without it, so it seems logical that the only person who knows it should be executed right?

But, she escapes and is pursued into the forest by her uncles goons. She is rescued by a barbarian valley-girl and taken to her camp for leather and fur cheerleaders. She immediately gets into a fight with the skanky redheaded loudmouth, whereupon they roll into the convenient nearby mud hole and tear each other’s tops off. Within moments Athalea is the new leader of the mostly female shantytown beggar village.

They ladies run a low budget smash-n-grab act in which they continuously ambush the usurpers soldiers. Among these is Aurion (chisel featured TV actor Greg Wrangler) who as a child was Athalea’s friend and lover. He displays his nominal loyalty to her father with a grope and dispassionate exchange body fluids in the forest, then the rebels send him back to the castle to warn Usurper of his impending downfall. Something tells me a guy who thinks a glue-on van-dyke is sinister isn’t going to listen to reason. This film, like its predecessor, was farmed out to Latin America, in this case Mexico. Thankfully the land of Luchadores does lend a bit of goofy melodrama to many of the bad guys.

Disguised as nuns, Arhalea and the cheer squad infiltrate the castle, are captured, and once again, a dungeon master straps Athalea into an apparatus and rips her top off.
What an awesomely disgusting sight” he says with a grimace.
Bingo, the movie just made its money. She jiggles for a while, dangling above a bed of spikes.

She escapes, is recaptured, jiggles some more, and then is freed by Aurion. They book it back to the forest hideout where she recovers from post-traumatic jiggling stress disorder. Her dad’s retainers show up with his mouldering corpse, and Athalea is galvanized into attacking the Usurper, but there is a surprise nonsensical plot featuring usurpers bratty daughter who steals the scepter spell, but she is captured so it doesn't matter. The rebels use this as a pretense to attack the castle anyway.

Fortunately after burning out his bulb on numerous other Corman projects including the Deathstalker flicks, writer Howard Cohen read Robin Hood and lifted the plot wholesale, so this flick is more interesting than Barbarian Queen, though lower budget. Lana is only slightly more willing to fill the "talent" quota in this one, and only one other person follows suit. Blame it on Catholicism or an excess of plot, but let’s not pretend here, Corman’s sour apple has fallen a long way from Conan’s tree, Lana is the only thing that makes each bitter bite worth chewing.

A slightly better version of the original cover art by Boris Valejo who also did all the covers for the Deathstalker movie. I'm pretty sure they were just paintings he'd already done that New Concorde bought the rights to (Roger Corman is very cheap). Valejo is one of the kings of hairspray and baby oil barbarian art back in the day. His most recent movie work was the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Movie poster

13 April 2009


United States - 1986
Director – Tim Kincaid
MGM Home Entertainment, 1999, VHS
Run time - 1 hour, 17 min.

Considering that gay porn is Tim Kincaid's primary source of income, it should come as no surprise that a film called Breeders is nothing less than mockery of straight people, in particular women. Honestly the fact that the film is preceded by an MGM classics advert on this VHS is an ignorant denial of what Breeders is at its core. The co-association of Kincaid with When Harry Met Sally and Raging Bull is frankly, priceless.

A girl gets kicked out of some jerks car and, while walking away in a huff meets a nice elderly German man who suddenly gags and melts a little bit and grabs her dress off with a nasty oozy meat hand.
The next day, Dr Gamble Pace (Teresa Farley, of Kincaid’s Bad Girls Dormitory) and Detective Dale Andriotti investigate the crime at the hospital. The victim is being treated for a sexual violation which resulted in acid burns to her face and psychological trauma which Pace profoundly diagnose:
“This is the kind of case that makes me want to kill every man who was ever born.” Says Gamble,
“What do you mean?” says Andriotti.

At a fashion shoot in a dirty apartment an underweight girl poses in ugly bathing suits. When everyone else bails for lunch, she stays behind to do a bunch of coke and exercise naked. (But she is NOT having sex, she’s saving herself for marriage, you got that?) The photographers gay assistant (Ed Jr. from The Mutilator) returns for his wallet and suddenly mutates into nasty black mostly unseen monster. A pulsing knob covered hose slides up the unsullied model's leg while she screams.
(Not sure what just happened while the monster was almost totally offscreen?)
Cut to single jagged skyscraper thrusting into the pristine sky.

A frightened nurse at the hospital where these two victims are being held returns home after a hard days work and strips off her uniform, stepping out a few minutes later to find that her date has broken into her house. she explains to him at length that she’s an old fashioned girl, y’know, a virgin, a condition she explains with fascinated curiosity. Turning around from the frozen dinner she's preparing she finds the date inexplicably dead and bleeding from the face and the monster waiting offscreen to breed with her.

The fashion-shoot photographer rants into the phone, barely in control of her sanity, then speaks at length about her virginity with her friend the hair stylist. The stylist explains that she's saving her maidenhead for a guy who's "not gay". Uhh, that shouldn't be too difficult. Photographer sweats out the guilt of having brought her deceased model all the way from (extremely puritanical but coke sniffing) Wisconsin. Over a sheet of slides and a glass of wine she squeezes out a painful monologue, and for her troubles is the next victim of the monster.

Pace and Andriotti fumble around and speculate wildly in front of a massive computer box, occasionally popping up to chew scenery and harass the victims with blank stares each time they roll in. It finally takes Dr. Pace’s assistant Dr. Ira Markum (successful makeup artist Edward French, the only decent actor in this film) who identifies a strange particle on the slide samples. No, not a spore from the unaddressed rivers of black fluid that pours from between the victims legs after each violation. Instead, it's a tiny piece of brick dust which can only have come from a few key buildings in the city.
Namely the very one that Pace and Andriotti are in, marked with a big red throbbing X on their “brick dust detector” computer box’s screen. As their minds are busy being blown by this sudden deluge of crucial information all the victims magically heal and get out of their hospital beds buck-naked and wander off. This too is a shocker revealed to our insipid heroes only as it grinds line-by-line out of the computer box.

You look familiar, don't I know you from two seconds ago? New haircut?

Since they don't have anything better going on at the moment the Super Detective Duo decide to check out the super rare brick collection in the basement. There they discover suddenly sinister Dr. Markum presiding over a wierd kiddie pool of semen where all the catatonic victims have returned to slather each other with goop and wallow in post virginal ecstasy.
After convincingly explaining a plot that bears little resemblance to what happened in the past hour, Markum’s facial hair vanishes just as he begins to mutate into something even more hideous than his sweater.
The elusive detective duo watches blankly before lighting his new monstrous form on fire. The ladies writhe nearby in their pool of natural lotion smearing themselves with all the slippery MGM classic they can get their hands on .

Lets see, a very cool poster, an extremely cool VHS box, and and a completely misleading VHS box.

02 April 2009

Night of the Hunted

Night of the Hunted
La Nuit des Traquees
France – 1979
Director – Jean Rollin
Salvation Films, 1999, DVD
The Zombie Collection 3 DVD set

My experience with Jean Rollin is pretty limited, consisting as far as I knew simply of Zombie Lake which is absolutely one of the awesomest barely watchable crappy nazi-zombie-boob movies ever. Knowing now that Rollin is French it doesn’t surprise me that I hadn’t seen more of his films, I hate French exploitation cinema, it’s terrible. Boring and terrible.

Night of the Hunted is perhaps not quite so terrible, but it is pretty boring. The entire story revolves around one girl, Elysabeth (French porn actress Bridgette Lahaie) who is found late one night wandering the roads in her nightgown. Unable to remember what she is doing, or who she is, the French guy who finds her is kind enough to take her back to his place and get her out of her clothes for a graphic softcore romp on the white shag carpet.

Thus begins what I can only describe as a confusing series of violent rapes couched in existential artsy French garbage. Elysabeth herself is picked up from the kindly roadside rapists apartment by a mysterious official sounding couple who take her back to a strange compound/apartment complex where other confused, forgetful and above all mindlessly passive women reside (at least one more of whom is also a porn star).

Also like the women, several men are suffering (according to the doctor) from some sort of “disorder” with symptoms of amnesia, causing them to act irrational and lose their balance. The women wander around in a catatonic state of passivity, ostensibly in a state of socially unlimbered primitive sexual volatility while the men creep about with (also catatonic) knowing predatory malice. The supposed purpose of their captivity is to study the symptoms of this “illness” which is more or less (I would say more) an opportunity for the doctors to watch all these supposedly fragile and unspoiled women get raped, and subsequent post/concurrent coital violence to unfold. They go so far as to call them incurable once they are sufficiently "soiled" and they are then euthanized and cremated for fucks sake. Basically an opportunity for repeated male dominant sexual violence glossed over with excuses (radiation sickness, amnesia) proffered by the bespectacled and pretentious doctor, (who looks more like a city-park old-lady flasher than a medical professional.)

The implication it would seem is that without social constraint it is biologically normal for women to be passive victims, sortof blithely subservient to male sexual violence and competitive domination (and in the case of the doctor, intellectual domination). The sad thing is that the whole film ends up being just that, and attempts to disguise the moral affront in an idiotic French surrealist-minimalist (and totally bullshit and boring)“artistic” framework.

The problem is that for the most part the women involved are quite attractive and often naked, but the social violence scrapes what semblance of redeeming fun off the bones of exploitation (in the “film” sense of the term) and leaves it a twitching unappealing mass of peeled meat that looks pretty, but leaves a foul taste and makes you feel a little guilty for watching it to the bitter end.

Salvation films, at least on this 3 film set has resorted to a sort of bizarre introductory montage of extreme-costume-goth vampire softcore which makes almost no sense considering the content of the films (at least in this set) that they have released. This is a "zombie" movie set, decidedly the least "goth" undead, and Night of the Hunted could hardly be categorized as containing zombies. Whatever,

The Liner Notes of The Night of the Hunted with an essay on Rollin by Mark Morris, and an image of the ridiculous vampire (wielding a Colt! how, um, gothic?) of the intro.

The Salvation films DVD box-set cover.

Some alternate covers for the film, the right one appears to be Dutch or Danish (?) and bears little similarity to anything in the film.