29 August 2011

Ghost Warrior

United States - 1984
Director - J. Larry Caroll
Vestron Video, 1986, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 26 minutes

Another Charles Band produced genre crossover spectacular from the early 80's. I re-found this one while looking for a movie about a frozen cave-man who comes back to life and kills people in the modern (80's) days. Any ideas what that might be?

These are the highest resolution versions that I could find of these two alternate posters.

Ninja Vengeance

United States – 1988
Director/Writer/Producer – Karl Armstrong
Columbia Tristar Home Video – 1993
Run Time – 1 hour, 27 minutes

A young man passing through a small Southern town accidentally finds himself at the wrong end of the law. He was just looking for the worldly knowledge and experience that his ninja master (Stephen K. Hayes) babbles incoherently about in numerous homoerotic flashbacks, but cest la vie.

Instead, what he finds is a wealth of white guilt from which he must absolve both himself, and white audience members. A Black kid is killed by racist cops/Klan members who realize that a drifter is the perfect scapegoat. Fortunately our Magnificent Singular Amigo Samurai just happens to have brought his Ninja motorcycle and ninja instructional manuals along for the big fight.

Despite all onscreen visual evidence he does indeed transform into the titular Ninja and take vengeance. However as I mentioned before, the purpose for this is not to bring racist murderers to justice, but to absolve himself of guilt! I presume the yin-yang is used here as a metaphor for separate but equal. For shame!

Watch Ninja Vengeance right now, streaming at NitFlex!

Also read this article on "combat reality training" by Ninja Vengeance co-star and real life ninja Stephen K. Hayes in this spring 1986 special issue of Ninja Magazine

That's Hayes on the right.

22 August 2011

The Manitou

United States – 1978
Director – William Girdler
Charter Entertainment, 1986, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 44 minutes

Our present understanding of women’s sexuality and anatomy is a very flawed result of modern science. From a strictly lexical standpoint it is adequate for textbooks and the like, but with the gradual acceptance of empirical inquiry we’ve managed to forget the appropriate tradition of visceral horror. What we have lost is an understanding of the disgusting, hideous and supernaturally evil aspects of menstruation, childbirth and in general, the non-intercourse functions of female genitalia. In 1979 The Manitou (from a novel of the same name by Graham Masterton) sought to correct this glaring oversight (as did The Brood four months later) with an eye toward reestablishing patriarchy’s time honored conflation of women and witchcraft.

The man (because it must be a man) who will mercifully make this reconnection is Harry (Tony Curtis), a con-artist posing as a psychic. His friend-with-benefits Karen (Susan Strasberg) shows up at his door with a hideous swelling boil containing a fetus growing from her neck. The medical community, blinded by facts and evidence, can’t seem to categorize or carve out a solution to Karen’s freakish condition. Instead Harry turns to superstition, and what better place to find tenaciously perennial primitive beliefs than Native America? Teaming up with John Singing Rock (Syrian actor Michael Ansara), a medicine man from the Souix Tribe, and Dr. Snow (Burgess Meredith) an anthropologist who specializes in primitive cultures, Harry defeats the deformed, goo-covered troll that emerges from Karen’s neck-womb.

Is this all to suggest that we had better be careful lest we have to be responsible for the unfortunate but logical consequences of sexual intercourse? Harry seems to have the right idea from the beginning; do not get attached. The only reason he helped Karen is because she is his “friend” and it is implied that they had sex in their first scene thus making him somehow (reluctantly) responsible. What a drag! The remainder of the film serves as a horrific reminder of why anything but the sterile, idealized female form must be diagnosed, vilified, subdued and most importantly avoided. It is thus appropriate that a film concerned entirely with a woman’s body and its associated “problems” should be worked out exclusively by men.

Lowrez Spanish poster from Movie Poster Database

Japanese poster and Australian poster from William Girdler.com

15 August 2011

Fangoria 56 and 57 - Charles Band Interview

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Charles Band produced sci-fi flick Arena and I thought it would be a good opportunity to follow up with this old interview with Band. It originally appeared in two parts starting in Fangoria #56 (above) which was published August 1986. It was short enough that I posted the whole thing in clickable images instead of a download.

The interview was concluded in the following issue, Fangoria #57 in September 1986 (above).

08 August 2011

Legends of Country Blues Guitar

Legends of Country Blues Guitar
United States - 1960's
Vestapol Productions, 1994, VHS
Run Time -58 minutes

As a relatively young fan of classic country blues it is always a good thing to find old footage of the originals performing live. Over the years many tapes have been cut together from this festival or that, from this television recording or the other...

Though many of them performed and recorded in the 20's and 30's, all of the footage we have of the country and delta blues artists comes from the 1960's or later. This is because of the revival in interest in United Statesian roots/folk music that blossomed with rock and hippie scenes in that decade. As a result, many of the legends (all of them conspicuously male) of country blues were "rediscovered", re-recorded and re-packaged for a new audience.

For the television programs like American Folk Blues Festival from which this and other videos were made, that package consisted of a bizarre cartoonish interpretation of "black country life" as the producers imagined it. The result leaves the impression of being at a zoo where "realistic" environments are created to make the exhibits feel "at home" while performing. In Legends of Country Guitar Blues however, because it is cobbled from various and sundry films, there is a mix of footage from the black and white era to cleaner color footage. You can get an idea of how the presentation of Black folk musicians to white audiences changed over the years. The first two performances of the video below, Mance Lipscomb followed by Mississippi John Hurt, demonstrate this point well.

Fortunately, thanks to user shimr0b26, you can watch LoCBG in several parts on YouTube.

Cat Adventure Video

Cat Adventure Video Vol. 1
United States - 1993
Director - Steve Cantin
Extravaganza Productions, 1995, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour

For some people cats are surrogate children. Perhaps their own children are grown and moved away to start their own dysfunctional families. So as they shuffle through their golden years it seems desirable to have a new companion around the house, a small creature that gives affection and desires affection without the back talk and mood swings. In fact cats are much easier and cheaper to take care of than human children. You can even legally euthanize them if they get boring or irritating!

The only problem that is actually worse with cats is the ability to self-entertain which human children have to some extent, but which cats, especially indoor cats frequently lack.
With Cat Adventure Video, that time honored childcare device television can be used on your cats too! When you don't have the time, energy or interest in caring for your dependents, just pop this handy hour long cassette into your VCR and you've got time to yourself. The nice thing about cats is that unlike human children, they're too stupid to realize that its the same video when you play it over and over! So, until that little shit gets a job and moves out already, let Cat Adventure Video do the surrogate parenting.

Also, if you're not already a pet owner, check out our Lonely Shut-In Adventure Video, it features over an hour of heartwarming point-of-view scenes of someone petting a cat. It comes with a patented and guaranteed shed-proof Comfypelt made from genuine pet hair so that you can stroke and caress your way to companionship right along with the video. It's tons of soothing fun with none of the scooping or shrieking!

01 August 2011

When Women Played Ding Dong

Italy - 1974
Director - Bruno Corbucci

That is a terrible poster, but then again, it's not the visuals that are really doing the selling.
The most notable aspect of this film which I haven't seen is that the makeup was done by Gianetto Di Rossi, master of zombie-gore.

Yog: Monster From Space

1970 - Japan
Director - Ishiro Honda

My friend over at Manchester Morgue has been turning me on to some great kaiju movie music, and consequently I have giant monsters on the brain. This US poster (from IMPAwards) sure is awesome, too bad I can't find any artist signature to give credit where it's due.