28 March 2011

Tough and Deadly

United States - 1994
Director - Steve Cohen
MCA/Universal Home Video, 1995, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 32 minutes

If after seeing the 1993 action flick Back In Action starring Roddy Piper and Billy Blanks you thought to yourself, “This movie shouldn’t have a sequel”, you would be among a respectably discerning demographic. But if, after pondering for some time over a highball, you subsequently concluded, “What this movie does need is spiritual continuation, the further development of the Blanks/Piper dynamic, and the expansion of their unique and compelling action universe/milieu”, you would be in a small and daring group of envelope pushers.

Elmo Freech (Piper), a private detective with painfully macho and stylishly-unmatched uber-90’s perma-stubble stumbles across the comatose form of a man who, thanks to an arbitrary flip of Freech’s pocketknife at a wall map will soon be known as John Portland (“One more inch and you would have been called Puget Sound!”). Portland, played by a perpetually sweaty and obscenely fit Billy Blanks is a deep cover CIA agent who has just been beaten, drugged and car-wrecked to the point of amnesia. Together they spend the rest of the movie punching the shit out of people until they are unconscious and then punching them in the face again for extra “actioniness” in a quest to discover for themselves what the audience saw in the first five minutes of the film.

Tough and Deadly attempts to load a tasteless and mindlessly violent bash-fest with enough shitty, witless one-liners delivered by the eerily youthful Piper, and enough flying high-kicks delivered by the chiseled-yet-childlike Blanks to dull our minds beyond the point of realizing that this flick isn’t about a goddamned thing. Unfortunately, lacking the finesse and grace one would expect from either of these gentleman actors Tough and Deadly fails to deliver a sufficient volume of either wit or wailing to achieve its goal.

21 March 2011

Neanderthal Man and some New Stuff

As I do occasionally around here, I spent a few hours updating some old posts with new posters and/or VHS sleeves. I could never hope to cover even a tiny fraction of the movies out there, but the ones I do get to, I try to do well. Here's a list of updated posts with expanded content, primarily posters or VHS covers:

Turkey Shoot (AKA Escape 2000)

Too Late For Tears

Limit Up



Hunter's Blood

Distant Thunder

Night of the Sharks

United States - 1953
Director - Ewald Andre Dupont

Seeing the old with new eyes is what we do everyday here at Lost Video Archive!

Carcel de Mujeres

(Women's Prison)
Mexico - 1951
Director - Miguel M. Delgado

Chilam Balam

Mexico - 1967
Director - Inigo De Martino

Having not seen this film I can only guess that it has some relationship to the Spanish arrival and conquest of the Yucatan Peninsula contained in the Maya books of prophecy, the Chilam Balam.

14 March 2011

18 Year Old Virgin

United States – 2009
Director – Tamara Olson
Video Company, 1989, DVD
Run Time –1 hour, 26 minutes

It didn’t hit me until about a third of the way in that this film is unlike almost every other teen/highschool sex comedy. As a whole, the genre is infused by one simple concept; the act of sex as a rite of manhood for the teenage boy, and the woman as the means to that end. In essence the entire genre revolves around the objectification of women and their instrumental value. It is not normally part of my repertoire to write about contemporary films, even if they had been isolated in the VHS format, but 18 Year Old Virgin was intriguing to me because its different perspective on this "classic" plot has really stuck with me for the last week. Not because of its titular star Olivia Alaina May, but because of what it says about “becoming a woman”. 

18 Year Old Virgin was written and directed by women, Naomi Selfman and Tamara Olson respectively which may explain the different angle on the genre, but if the end result tells us anything, it’s that a different perspective on the same paradigm doesn’t change the paradigm. Twenty five years earlier a couple of women, director Martha Coolidge and writer Kathleen Rowell made a goofier and tamer film, 1984’s The Joy of Sex (from which 18YOV appears to lift its plot) and came to a similar “conclusion” with somewhat less irony and bare breasts.

Typically the focus in the teen sex comedy is on the teen boy’s attempt to lose his virginity, not as an experience to be had, but in order to prove his nascent manhood and heterosexuality to his friends. He has to prove that he can fit in and behave as men are "supposed" to. In 18 Year Old Virgin the lead protagonist is a woman however, and the film goes some distance towards illuminating, with rather dopey humor, what that experience might be like for her. The story follows slightly nerdy Katie’s repeatedly awkward attempts, mostly at the behest of her “friend” to lose her virginity and attached pariah status. Although the film points vaguely at the banality of what Katie feels she is supposed to do to be accepted by her peers and acceptable to a man, it does so rather uncritically. Even its simplistic (if accurate) send up of men’s shallow posturing and self-serving manipulation is done with a knowing complicity as if, while tiresome and often predictable, it is still just part of the game. Through all of this persists the basic plotline that Katie must prove her womanhood (and also like her male peers in other films, her heterosexuality) by putting out. While her male predecessors proved themselves by objectifying and taking women by hook or crook, Katie effectively does the same, to herself, and in the end takes her appropriate place as a “normal woman”.

Women it appears are also caught up in, and complicit with socialized patterns of gender normative behavior and patriarchy. Though it makes light of Katie’s attempt and eventual “success” in conforming to patriarchal standards, it doesn’t seriously challenge them. Nor does it illustrate the absurdity of her socialized “need” (or "our" social requirement) to be acknowledged as an acceptable hetero-woman by actively seeking and willingly stepping into subjugation.

07 March 2011

Nostromo Officer's Cap

Nerd Alert!
Found this advert in a November, 1979 issue of Heavy Metal Magazine.

White Tiger

United States - 1995
Director - Richard Martin
Keystone Entertainment, 1996, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 33 minutes

Ninja Queen Boxer

China/Hong Kong - 1980
Director - Fung-chi Yue
SFVV, 1986, VHS
Run Time -1 hour, 32 minutes

04 March 2011

Rental Store - Video Vision

Don't confuse this store in St. Paul, Minnesota with this pluralized Video Visions in Colorado.