Let’s not pussy foot around, this early eighties cult musical is likely to drive most of you up the wall faster than a cat punted by a star quarterback. Made over three years by Richard Elfman primarily as a record of the cabaret performances of his musical cabaret troupe The Mystical Knights of the Oingo Boingo, Forbidden Zone evolved into a demented comedy musical. The film’s influences are many and varied including Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, German expressionism, Betty Boop cartoons and underground 60s comix. Continue reading
Michele Soavi’s 1994 film Dellamorte Dellamore (in Italian this loosely translates as “of love, of death”) is tricky to review. It is a very odd horror comedy made at a time when the Italian horror genre was in a very bad state. Many of the film’s virtues can easily be construed as negatives depending upon your point of view. A word of warning, there are a lot of spoilers in this review, the nature of the film makes it very difficult to avoid. So if you want to see this film cold, I’d stop now.
AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT, I AM NOT MAKING ANY OF THIS UP!
Where do you start with Hal Needham’s 1982 box office bomb Megaforce?
Released in the same year as Blade Runner and no doubt [cough] inspired by that rival sci-fi film, Megaforce also opens with an onscreen explanatory screed to get the audience up to speed on the concept of a ‘phantom army of super elite fighting MEN whose WEAPONS are the most powerful science can devise’.
The peaceful nation of Sardun finds its borders threatened by neighbor Gamibia and mercenary leader Duke Gurerra (Henry Silva looking for most of the film like a man recently struck with a cosh). For reasons that are entirely unclear Sardun is unable to mobilise its powerful army to retaliate when Gurerra orders the brutal destruction of a scale model oil refinery. This causes General Byrne-White (played by Knightrider’s Edward Mulhare, the man you get when even Michael Caine laughs at your script) some consternation. Together with token female Major Zara (Star Trek the Motion Picture’s Persis Khambatta, except you won’t recognise her with hair) the General seeks out the help of Megaforce – a private army of groovy mercenaries – to take the battle to the Gamibians.
Way back in the eighties an American film critic called John Bloom came to the realisation that the critical vocabulary of the mainstream film critic was incompatible with the joys and virtues of the exploitation movie. Too much film criticism is mired in the conventions and expectations of literary criticism without recognizing that film is a vastly different medium to the printed word. Film critics who ape literary critics tend to focus on an intellectual analysis of narrative at the expense of an appreciation of the visual and visceral qualities that set cinema apart. To redress this imbalance Bloom created the persona of drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs, a boorish, sexist redneck with a fine appreciation for broads, supercharged muscle cars, and good honest exploitation movies. Ninja: Shadow of a Tear is exactly the sort of movie Briggs specialises in. Continue reading
Eli Craig’s 2010 horror comedy Tucker and Dale vs. Evil starts unpromisingly, a pre-title sequence that suggests you are about to see yet another found footage horror film (you aren’t), when the film begins in earnest we are dispiritingly introduced to a group of college kids (the usual collection of jocks and hot girlfriends) heading off for a weekend camping in remote woods. Even a fair weather horror fan should feel a twinge of acid reflux as their heart sinks into their stomach at such hackneyed (pun intended) material. Continue reading
As the BBC is today carrying a live feed from the descent of the European Space Agency probe Philae onto the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the time is ripe to repost my review of Arrow’s excellent blu-ray release of Tobe Hoopers 1985 documentary Lifeforce. So here it is… Continue reading
A few week’s ago I took in Kornél Mundruczó’s extraordinary allegory for violent revolution White God. In this often stunning tour-de-force of filmmaking the Hungarian director shows the violent uprising of a city’s oppressed and despised stray mongrels against a human population at best indifferent to, and at worst hostile towards and the instrument of, their suffering. It simply cannot be a coincidence that the English title of the film, White God, is so close to Sam Fuller’s 1982 canine race allegory White Dog. So this seems a good time to dust off a recent review of this amazing and unjustly obscure film. Continue reading
In 1990’s FRANKENHOOKER medical school dropout, inventor, mechanic and resident of New Jersey Jeffrey Franken (James Lorinz) loses his fiancé Elizabeth Shelley (former Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen) in traumatic fashion after one of his inventions – a remote controlled lawnmower – runs amok at a barbecue and turns her into a “tossed human salad”.
The distraught Franken keeps her severed head in a freezer in his bedroom and plans to resurrect her. However first he must construct a new body.
Now where could he find a fresh and plentiful supply of female body parts? Continue reading
While not quite obscure, John Flynn’s bitter and often uncomfortably violent revenge thriller Rolling Thunder is a film whose influence is probably greater than its fame.
The slasher movie-ish box art of the recent Blu-Ray release with a prominent cover quote from Eli Roth, you might expect Rolling Thunder to be a straight up sleazy slice of seventies exploitation come thing that Michael Winner might have made. In fact that was probably what the audiences who greeted the film with indifference upon its original release in 1977 also expected. This perception will have been furthered by its release from Samuel Z. Arkoff’s American International Pictures. a company specialising in drive-in fare. In actuality was acquired by the company in a distribution deal, the film was made as a studio picture but provoked such horrified reactions from executives at early screenings that it was quietly disposed off. Continue reading
Films fail to find their audience on release for a variety of reasons. There’s bad timing – the box office failure of the wonderful Tremors in 1990 is often ascribed to the film unfortunately being released in close proximity to a serious earthquake that hit California. There’s poor marketing, Disney has had a mare with this recently with terrible campaigns for both John Carter and The Lone Ranger (it should be noted that there are many excuses trotted out for flop movies too). There’s Harvey Weinstein and his predisposition to buy movies and then shelve them. Continue reading