After.Life (2009)

After.Life (2009)

The cover to the Australian DVD release

Film: You just have to love it when a first time director knows how to use a hammer, and hits every nail right on its head, and here, with After.Life,  Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo does just that. The director is also the co-writer along with Paul Vosloo and Jakun Korolczuk and the three of them have crafted an amazing story with some spectacular set pieces and excellent performances from the cast: not bad for the first swing at the ball.

After.Life tells the tale of uptight school teacher Anne (Christina Ricci), who is in a relationship with lawyer Paul (Justin Long) that has its problems, that is, constant fighting, and in general she just seems completely disinterested. After an argument that starts as a misunderstanding, Anne jumps in her car and has a horrific car accident, where she is pronounced dead at the scene… until she wakes up on the slab at a mortuary.

Christina Ricci as Anne

Funeral Director Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson) is attending to her body and explains to her that he has the ability to talk to the dead, in which he feels he helps the souls of the deceased transition from their living state to one otherwise. He explains to Anne that not everyone has the same ease in their transition, and he feels that she might be one who finds it complicated.

Anne is not thoroughly convinced, and feels as though she is still alive so it takes all Deacon’s patience to help her, and being her burial is a few days later, he is under a time constraint but Anne’s concerns that she is not actually dead, and instead a prisoner keep resurfacing, and after a time, may be not so unfounded…

Liam Neeson as Deacon

Wojtowicz-Vosloo’s directorial skills lie in two main areas: cast performance and scene setting. Every scene was lit and set like a painting and put together with the kind of meticulousness that would make Dario Argento sweat, and the cast all really were able to show their stuff. Ricci’s character’s fractured personality mixed with confusion made her initially unlikable but eventually you felt badly for her plight… I should probably point out for the pervy Ricci fans that there is a little bit of nudity in this film of her as well!!! Liam Neeson played his role like a less vaudevillian Vincent Price, and Justin Long actually acted for the first time in his life, and didn’t just seem like the Mac/ PC guy.

All in all, After.Life is a delicate film with some great performances and drips with a creepiness that could only be compared to an old guy in a raincoat on a schoolbus. I didn’t know anything about this movie going into it the first time I watched it, had forgotten all about it and have to admit to being totally impressed by it. The performances of all in this film were superb and the film will keep you guessing right to the end.

Score: ****

The menu screen to the Australian DVD

Extras: The disc opens with a few trailers for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Crazies (remake) and The Collector and the only other extra is a trailer for After.Life itself.

Score: *

WISIA: This is a forgotten film that I only just remembered even existing and now I think it will enter my regular rewatch rotation.

Ricci ponders the difference between life and death

My Dear Killer aka Mio Caro Assassino (1972)

My Dear Killer aka Mio Caro Assassino (1972)

The cover to Shameless’ release of My Dear Killer

Film: This film opens with the greatest murder EVER put to celluloid. I kid you not: it has to be the MOST original murder weapon any killer has EVER used in a film, and I will have no argument.

The weapon of choice?

It takes a particular skill set to murder in this fashion

A bucket digger mounted on an earthmover (they call it a dredger in the film, but that is wrong) picks up a guy by his head and squeezes until it pops quicker than a zit in a teens bathroom. My reasoning for claiming its ‘best’ status is twofold: one, the inventiveness of the killer to think ‘Mmmm, opportunity is knocking, why not answer?’ when suddenly deciding to grab the victims head, and his/ her sheer chutzpah to actually use it… I mean, it is hardly stealth, kill-in-an-alley kind of a weapon!! Color me admirable!!

This film was directed by western/ Trinity Brothers director Tonino Valerii from a script by Roberto Leoni (Santa Sangre) and Franco Bucceri (Gli Esecutori), based on a story by them, along with Velerii himself and Django co-writer José Gutiérrez Maesso (which is nodded to in a scene where Django is played on a TV).

My Dear Killer tells of police investigator Luca Peretti (giallo regular George Hilton) who is assigned to a murder case when an insurance investigator has had his head removed in the aforementioned murder. As the layers of the murder unfold though, he finds himself caught up in an older investigation which involved the kidnap and death of a young girl. Of course as the investigation gets deeper, the bodies start piling up, but can Peretti figure out who the killer is with the unusual clues he has?

Giallo killers are always perverts too

As a fan of giallos I looked forward to seeing this, especially as its male lead was in other giallos such as The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh and All The Colors of the Dark, and was much more than pleasantly surprised. Even though the story is quite detailed, it never becomes a victim of its own cleverness, nor does it becomes convoluted as some giallos do. The investigation goes from a to b without any longshot hunches that these films can sometimes contain.

There is some well played violence in the film as well, though somewhat silly at times (the killer sits and chats with one victim before searching her house, whilst she quizzically watches, for something to kill her with, and finds a circular saw!! This guy is clearly a disorganised serial killer to not have a weapon handy) and being an Italian film of its era, some stunningly gorgeous cast members.

I should also point out that this Shameless release is the first time it has been released uncut, which should add to the joy to those who like the bloodier side of things.

I think this film is a great giallo, and it is truly a shame that Valerii never made another as its direction is really solid. Also, it being a part of the Shameless collection, number 11 in fact,  gives it some collector swagger as well, with the spine of the amray making up the word ‘Shameless’.

Score: ****

The DVD menu screen

Extras: Not the greatest ever extras from Shameless on this disc. We have the trailer for the film, and a bunch of trailers of other Shameless releases, including What Have They Done To Your Daughters?, Night Train Murders, Torso (Carnal Violence), Baba Yaga: The Devil Witch, Ratman and The Black Cat.

Score: **

WISIA: Yes.

Strangled by the prices at the post office. Nothing’s changed.

This film was reviewed with the UK Shameless Screen Entertainment DVD release

The Legend of La Llorona (2022)

The Legend of La Llorona (2022)

The Australian DVD release of the film.

Film: In 2019, a sixth entry of The Conjuring series came out in cinemas, produced by James Wan, and starring Linda Cardellini, the woman who almost single-handedly turned Velma from Scooby Doo into the sexy nerd icon she is today whilst getting her glove on in the first Scooby Doo movie. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very well received and sits pretty low in most horror fans minds… even those that love the Conjuring as a series. Cardellini did, however, get nominated for ‘Most Frightened’ at the MTV Movie awards which she unfortunately didn’t win.

Surely I higher award doesn’t exist.

As one would expect, copycat films came out, usually direct to home video, and this is one of them. The Legend of La Llorona has an interesting pedigree, with the writing/ direction/ production team being responsible for such epic films as Alligator X, Sand Sharks and The Haunting of Whaley House. Surely this must mean poor acting, generic storytelling and credit fonts straight out of Microsoft Office.

Danny Trejo shares some amusing anecdotes…

Our tale is of the Candlewood family, Carly (Autumn Reeser), Andrew (Antonio Cupo) and their son, Danny (Nicolas Madrazo) who have taken a holiday to Mexico for a month in an attempt to get over the death of their baby.

They are taken to their villa by Jorge (Danny Trejo), a taxi driver who warns them that drug cartels are in control of the area, and to not stray too far from where they are staying.

At the villa they meet Veronica (Angelica Lara), who is disturbed that they have a son as Andrew did not mention they needed two rooms when they made the booking (I mean, what the hell? Have the writers NEVER booked a hotel?!?).

The distraught mother, played by Autumn Reeser

Of course, within minutes of arriving, Danny is attacked by what looks like a piece of floating toilet paper in a creek, but that’s not scary enough for his parents to leave him with Veronica, who they hadn’t met before today, while they go for dinner.

While at dinner, they run afoul of the local drug cartel boss, Pedro Pablo (Edgar Wuotto) and by the end of the night Danny has gone missing… but did the cartel kidnap him, or did the mysterious toilet paper, aka La Llorona, a ghost who steals children take him… more to the point, who actually cares?

There’s really no way to describe this film other than as an absolute piece of hot trash. Danny Trejo isn’t a bad actor, though he rarely has to stretch himself too far, but here he gets to lower his skill set to that of his accompanying cast.

Horror movies regularly use the whole ‘stranger in a strange land’ theme, but it really only works if the land isn’t filled with parodies of local that barely rise above that of a 1970s crime show. On several occasions I actually laughed out loud at the characters. The character with the name ‘Pedro Pablo’ was a particular high point of laffs: hopefully these filmmakers will get together and make an Italian based film starring a character named Michelangelo Linguini!

They even try to tap into other ‘spooky’ stuff by having some of the filming take place on that weird doll island, and by badly emulating Sam Raimi’s demon camera from Evil Dead!

Well, it might have been the acting, I can’t tell because they were both so bad.

Avoid.

Score: 0

The very empty menu screen to the film.

Extras: None. Thank goodness!

Score: 0

WISIA: Hell no: it’s a miserable piece of crap

Zamia Fandome a the spirit

This film was reviewed with the Australian DVD release

The Body Beneath (1970)

The Body Beneath (1970)

The cover to the Australian release on DVD of the film

Film: Probably known best for such horror and exploitation titles as The Rats are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! and Fleshpot on 42nd St., the late Andy Milligan, who died in 1991 of AIDS, was described as ‘the only director worse than Ed Wood’. Whilst that may be an exaggeration, Milligan’s films are incredibly low budget, but the sense of ‘camp’ within them makes them somehow humorous…and ominous. Milligan, a navy brat and dress-maker who ran the clothes shop Ad Lib in New York during the 50s, dabbled in stage productions until he finally made his first feature in 1965, a gay short film called The Vapors. From this humble beginning, he teamed up with producer William Mishkin, and together they made 11 features, sordid morality stories where the nasty antagonists are always faced with their come-uppances, which were often violent. In the late 60s, he moved to London where he made his exploitation horror flicks, including this feature, The Body Beneath also known as Vampire’s Thirst.

The Reverend Alexander Algernon Ford (Gavin Reed), an ancient vampire, who resides in Carfax Abbey, near Highgate Cemetery, close to three of his female descendants, requires the womb of one of his relatives. The lucky one being Susan (Jackie Skarvellis), to return the bloodline of the Ford family to its former glory by having her mate with strong fresh blood and give birth to immortal vampire babies. Assisted by his quiet wife, Alicia (Susan Heard), his hunchbacked Beatle-haired assistant Spool (Berwick Kaler) and a trio of green faced ghouls, the good reverend goes about organizing a vampire feast where their future is to be decided.

Clearly gay and proud, Andy Milligan’s life as been described as more bizarre than his movies, for example, to celebrate his marriage (yes, marriage) to one of his actresses, Candy Hammond, he cruised gay bars on Staten Island. Milligan’s movies, all filmed on left over film stock with a 16mm Auricon camera, are handheld horrors where ethics are thrown out the window. His flowing camera style crosses the line from claustrophobic and moody to occasionally downright annoying. His scripts, all inspired by great works (this one clearly being Dracula), are contrived but still acted quite well in a vaudevillian sense. Another note of interest with Milligan’s movies is that the more ornate costumes were made by himself under his alias Raffine. Watching this movie makes one feel as though they are watching a Hammer movie, filmed with a Carnival of Souls budget.

Camper than a row of tents, The Body Beneath somehow entertains, and proves that Milligan was no hack, but had an inimitable style. Not a movie for big budget blockbuster lovers, but with the vampires, cannibalism and immolation, fans of trash cinema will have a ball.

Score: **

The menu screen from the Australian DVD release of the film.

Extras: The Gallery of Exploitation Art is a great 6 minute montage of movie posters with a radio commercial soundtrack. Posters from films such as The Peeping Phantom, Fanny Hill Meets Dr Erotico and others are accompanied by radio commercials for The Female Butcher, The Girl Snatcher and companions of their ilk.

Trailers for Milligan’s films The Body Beneath, Guru the Mad Monk and The Vapors, which describes him as ‘the New Leader in Underground Filmmaking’.

The surprise on this disc is Milligan’s first short film, The Vapors. Running at 32 minutes and 20 seconds, the Vapors takes place in a gay bath house, where a young gay man meets an older married man, and they talk. Milligan’s epileptic camera work is particularly effective here, although the drama of the main part of the story is undercut by Benny Hill-ish queans over acting the gay stereotype with silly segues. Filmed in Black and white, The Vapors is a surprisingly moving tale.

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s just silly enough that it does seem to be irresistible to rewatching.

The review was done with the Australian DVD release of the film.

Studio 666 (2022)

Studio 666 (2022)

The cover to the Australian DVD release of Studio 666

Film: You know that when you get a movie starring a famous popular musical artist that your in for a treat, right? How good is Glitter, starring Mariah Carey… or Crossroads, with Britney Spears… or Spice World, with the Spice Girls…

Ok, I have to confess the Spice World movie is a guilty please, but I think you get the idea!

Dave (Dave Grohl) and his band, The Foo Fighters (played by… well The Foo Fighters) are trying to come up with something special and different for their tenth studio album. Their record company man, Jeremy Shill (Jeff Garlin) will do anything to get them to produce the new album so when they ask for a new studio environment, he gets his real estate agent, Barb (Leslie Grossman) to find them somewhere.

The Foo Fighters in all their glory!

What Barb finds them is a house in Encino that has a horrifying past, and very quickly, Dave starts seeing strange things and acting weird. The next door neighbour, Samantha (Whitney Cummings) tries to warn them of the house’s history, but has she come too late… well, of course she has!

This movie was written by Grohl and the a screenplay was adapted from it by the 2019 Pet Semetery remake writer, Jeff Buhler and Der Vulkan’s Rebecca Hughes. It’s director, BJ O’Donnell is best known for directing music clips for Slayer and other heavy metal bands, but was also responsible for Hatchet 3.

It’s certainly The Foo Fighters Show, and not only are they good at playing themselves, their comedy timing is impeccable and hilarious. It’s certainly a love letter to heavy metal, with a lot of new music played, and some amusing covers of old ones, including a hilarious scene where Grohl is abused by a dream version of Lionel Ritchie, PLAYED by Ritchie, for trying to steal his love ballad ‘Hello’!

Don’t think the guest stars stop there. In addition to Ritchie and a role played by comedian Cummings mentioned earlier, we also see a roadie named Krug (no doubt a reference to Last House on the Left) played by Kerry King, and the music producer, Rip Haight is played by director and composer extraordinaire John Carpenter, the joke being his characters name is an alias he has used occasionally when playing roles in his own films.

A tribute to The Burning

It’s a pretty solid story, both suitably gory and really funny at times. There is a lot of references to horror movies too, like Evil Dead, The Exorcist, The Burning and probably many more that I missed.

Studio 666 is an amazingly fun movie that would be a great double feature with something like Shaun of the Dead. This could have been an ego fuelled, cluster bomb of tripe but the entire production is a fun watch. The only two things that disappointed me were a lack of extras, and we only got a DVD release here in Australia.

Score: ****

The menu screen to the Australian DVD

Extras: There’s only one extra which is a gag reel, but for the first time in along time, it did actually get a chortle out of me here and there.

Score: **

WISIA: Hell, yeah! A gory horror comedy that’s ACTUALLY funny.

I’ve heard of ‘splitting the whisker’ but I don’t think this is right!

This review was done with the Australian DVD release.

Big Tits Zombie (2010)

Big Tits Zombie (2010)

The cover to the Australian release of Big Tits Zombie on DVD

Film: Sometimes it only takes a name to pique ones interest in something. If one can produce something, and give it a name either provocative or evocative, you can get a winner. The history of cinema, especially exploitation and independent horror cinema is rife with alternative titles to make a film sound better than perhaps it really is, or even just to find the correct audience. This film was titled Kyonyû doragon: Onsen zonbi vs sutorippâ 5 (my guess is the last 3 words are ‘zombie vs stripper’) in its native Japan, and the suggested title in English was The Big Tits Dragon. Somewhere along the line, though, an alternative title was offered, and this title, ladies and gentlemen, is one I could not pass: Big Tits Zombie.

That’s right:

Big.

Tits.

Zombie.

The only way it could have been more appealing to your reviewer was if they squeezed the word ‘beer’ or ‘steak’ into the title. This film is written and directed by Takao Nakano, who gave us 2004’s Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy, and it is based loosely on the manga Kyonyû doragon, by Rei Mikamoto.

Big Tits Zombie is the tale of five strippers, Lena Jodo (Sola Aoi), Ginko Hoshikage (Risa Kasumi), Maria Kuroi (Mari Sakurai), Darna (Io Aikawa) and Nene Hanasaki (Tamayo), who are working a crappy strip club in a rundown town, and who never seem to be able to get a break. None of them really get on too well, and one day whilst fighting (topless and in 3D) amongst themselves, they discover that their dressing room behind the club they perform in has a secret door.

Our heroes!

The go through the door and discover a room full of occult antiquities, that are possibly worth a fortune. Unfortunately what they don’t realise is that their presence has brought the dead hidden down a well in the basement back to life. Dead that are keen to eat the living!!!

When  Darna goes back into the room to steal a box of money she found there, she is the first to be consumed, and the other four must now defend themselves against the hordes of the undead… that is until one of them betrays the rest, and becomes one who can control the living dead, and do her dark bidding!!!

The special effects are of a pretty low standard, even by these low budget Asian horror standards. Some of the zombies make up is nothing but rubber masks, but the variety of zombies presented in this film is fantastic. Basically, any Asian stereotype you can think of is represented by an undead version: ninja, geisha, schoolgirl, you name it. Unfortunately, at times the CGI is deplorable. Blood sprays fly out of bodies, but then just dissipate into thin air, and occasionally body cut and slashes don’t appear at all. The amusing this is the cruddy zombies and poor CGI aren’t the worst special effects: there is a tentacle zombie thing whose strings are SO obvious it should have been called Lady Penelope… what makes it even worse is the scene they can be seen in is a 3D scene, and even the STRINGS are given the 3D treatment!!

The Blue Ogre comes to collect the dead!

OK, I admit that this film is made for the nudity and the gore, but for goodness sake, the dancing choreography was of a level that would make a pre-school ballet school bawl in embarrassment. I don’t want to be too critical of it though, as whether deliberately or accidentally bad, the dancing was a comedy highlight.

Keep a keen eye on some of the sets being covered in plastic so that any fake, non-cgi blood or goop, and try not to notice that the credits are reversed, that is it suggests it is the character that plays the actor, not the other way around. Also, the director seems to have a ‘thing’ for Quentin Tarantino judging by the various visual cues from a selection of his films.

Those into not-so-traditional Japanese business fetishism will be entertained. This film has hot girls fighting, panty shots, bra shots, lingering booby blood spray and the classic ‘threatening tentacles’ of many a hentai horror tale.

So even through all the criticism I have offered upon this film, I couldn’t help but like it. Somewhere between the illogical storyline, the terrible special effects and the strippers pulling their boobs out, I found that I was being more entertained than I had been in ages

Big Tits Zombie is a badly acted, terribly choreographed, non-sensical film with crap special effects, hot Japanese chicks and substandard 3D effects. To sum up; it’s a winner. This film knows exactly what it is and revels in it. Fans of things like The Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police need to rush out and buy it now… but be warned: don’t show it to people who claim to be ‘film fans’ because they just ain’t gonna get its bloody, low budget charms! I don’t know what the Japanese word for Troma is, but I imagine the director of this film does!!

Score: ***

The menu screen for Big Tits Zombie

Extras: The first thing that has to be pointed out is that this film is presented in both 3D and 2D. The 3D is probably something you will watch only once, but I imagine you will return the zaniness of the 2D time and time again. Make sure you DO watch them both though, as they do contain different footage in the opening credits. I must also point out the 3D feature isn’t completely in 3D, but instead has an onscreen warning when to put your glasses on, sometimes even a character puts his glasses on as well.

There is a pretty funny Making of on this disc. It may not completely cover the ins and outs of the film making process, but it introduces the 6 main actors, chats with the writer director Takao Nakano and shows some of the behind the scenes footage. It is by NO means a complete ‘special edition’ styled making of, but it is pretty entertaining.

Also presented on this disc is the trailer for Big Tits Zombie, Raging Phoenix, Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl, Love Exposure and Tokyo Zombie.

Score: ***

WISIA: It’s pretty hard to resist rewatching a film called ‘Big Tits Zombie’.

The zombies have a stripper for lunch

Sharpshooter Triple Feature

Sharpshooter Triple Feature

The Zodiac Killer (1971)

The Sex Killer (1965)

Zero in and Scream (1970)

The cover to the Australian DVD release of The Sharpshooter Triple Feature

Film: You gotta love Something Weird Video! They don’t whitewash their lesser releases…they REVELL in them. These three films, The Zodiac Killer, The Sex Killer and Zero in and Scream, although not all containing ‘sharpshooter’ murderers, are classic examples of exploitation films, but somehow they are still kitschy fun and entertaining, if not just for the nudity, then at least for the acting, or the inappropriate soundtracks or just because they are dumb.

The Zodiac Killer

What’s that on your head? A WIIIIIIIIG

Produced and directed by Tom Hansen (who played Mongoose in The Hellcats), The Zodiac Killer is the tale of a motiveless killer who is terrorising San Francisco, ridiculing the police with letters and phone calls, but who is he…? This film is apparently based on the facts in the case of the ACTUAL Zodiac Killer, and features an introduction from a reporter who was ‘actually threatened by the Zodiac Killer’. This film is worth its weight just for the philosophical discussion about women over the age of 20 and the worst wig ever put on film. This film has no nudity in it but it more than makes up in violence, even if it’s of the red paint variety.

An unfortunate victim of The Zodiac Killer

The Sex Killer

Tommy entertains a young lady

Directed by Barry Mahon, upon who Steve McQueen’s character in the Great Escape was based, The Sex Killer tells the story of Tommy, a lonely, introverted manikin factory worker, who is taunted by his macho workmates and has an obsession with watching women sun-baking topless from the roof of a building using binoculars, but his fascination becomes a dangerous one, as Tommy becomes more obsessed, he turns to violence, murder and necrophilia. Funnily enough, a premise like that would make you think this film is like Maniac, unfortunately this B/W picture is as dull as they come, with some of the most plodding camera work ever seen…but there is a hell of a lot of topless women in it. Amusingly enough, POV shots of sunbathing women through his binoculars change viewpoints without him ever leaving the same spot on the rooftop. There’s also some hilariously bad continuity errors too, like underwear magically appearing under a characters clothes.

Tommy’s unfortunate secret.

Zero in and Scream

A tragic film artefact but the killer lines up for a shot

This film, directed by Lee Frost, who also directed Love Camp 7, is about a lonesome man, whose sense of solitude leads him to commit acts of violence against well heeled amorous couples in Hollywood. Of the three films this seems to be the one that gave the disc the ‘R’ rating. It is more a soft core porno with a murderer thrown in. His lingering looks through the sights of his gun BEFORE he has even cocked it are very funny. One of the funniest endings to a LRSK-themed movie you will ever see.

One of the killer’s victims

Let’s face it, when the makers of these films made them, they weren’t worried about the effects of the Viet Nam War on young minds, or how Kafka or Neitzche influenced modern thought, or any sociological ramifications these films might have, they wanted to make short movies with a lot of nudity and/ or violence in them. The story was only ever secondary to how many nubile young girlies could be butchered and/or whip out their boobs for a bit of male oriented entertainment. Luckily there were many such girls and we can still enjoy them today, although while watching I can’t help but think that most of these girls are probably grandmothers…

There is just so much on this disc it has to be given an average score just for the quantity, as for the quality, well, if exploitation sex films of the sixties and seventies are up your alley, you’ll love it. The film and audio value varies from feature to feature, but all in all you can clearly see and hear everything that is going on, and to be quite honest, the average quality adds to the sleaziness of it. A warning though for fans of the Brazilian or the shaven haven: you will be disappointed. The women in Zero In And Scream have more bush than Mike and Mal Leyland EVER saw. That’s not to say that there isn’t a bit of meat for the ladies either: in ZIAS there’s a fair bit of swimming pool-based penises as well!

Score: ****

The menu screen for the DVD

Extras: Trailers for ‘The Sex Killer’, ‘Zero in and Scream’, ‘The Psycho Lover’,’ Honeymoon of Terror’ and ‘Aroused’.

Gallery of Sick Sixties Sex films with Audio Oddities is a 10 Minute and 40 second montage featuring audio of radio commercials for such films as ‘Wife-Child’ and ‘Poor White Trash’ and others played over images of posters and one-sheets of films such as ‘A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine’ and ‘Orgy of the Golden Nudes’ and others – this is one of those great montage sequences that Something Weird Video is so good at.

Score: **

WISIA: I don’t think I would watch these again, even though I enjoyed them a fair bit. They are in interesting snapshot of the exploitation films of the time.

Motor Psycho (1965) / Good Morning…and Goodbye! (1967)

Motor Psycho (1965) / Good Morning…and Goodbye! (1967)

The cover to the Arrow release of the films

Film: I think comparing Russ Meyer to Walt Disney is a fair one. Both men created an empire by making films aimed at a specific audience, unfortunately, ol’ Russ never got to make himself a theme park based on HIS cinema… I am sure a Tura Satana roller coaster would have been an excuse to go to America alone!! I am sorry, but give me the Wonderful World of Russ Meyer over the Wonderful World of Disney any day! A world where political correctness means not being a dirty Commie, where ‘Double D’ is flat chested, the definition of a city is a petrol station, a strip club and a junkyard in the middle of the desert, fast cars are a sign of machismo and slapping a woman across the face after she has spat at you is classed as foreplay.

We can all only pray that one day the world returns to those old fashioned values. (Before you slam the site, yes, this is all tongue-in-cheek and I’m not serious)

In the meantime, we still have Meyer’s films to remind us that Misogyny isn’t an entrant is the Miss America pageant.

This particular disc has two of Meyer’s masterpieces on show, and they are the rape/ revenge flick Motor Psycho and Good Morning… and Goodnight, which is a tale that is hard to define in a sub-genre, though ‘immorality play’ might be the closest.

They may look like posties, but they are a tough motorcycle gang!

Motor Psycho tells of a three man motorcycle gang… well, I say motorcycle, but they are effectively of Postie’s scooters… who are general miscreants and civil disturbers. Led by War veteran, and total nutjob Brahmin (Steve Oliver) the three set about picking on women wherever they can. They chance upon Gail Maddox (Holle K. Winters) whom they set about harassing, that is until her husband; horse vet Cory (Alex Rocco) turns up and pushed Brahmin to the ground. This gets Brahmin angry and they hang around until Cory leaves the house before setting themselves on Gail.

Cory arrives home from a job only to find that his wife has been assaulted and raped, and sets it on himself to track the gang down himself, after the local Sherriff (E.E. Meyer aka Russ himself) discounts the assault and rape, claiming it’s what women are made for and the she probably brought it upon herself (oh yeah, you read that right).

So Cory sets out to track down the gang, and on the way picks up a sidekick in the form of Ruby Bonner (Haji) whose husband had been murdered by the gang, and she herself had been left for dead. The pair track the gang into some hills in the middle of a desert, and after an encounter with a snake, set about exacting their revenge.

Haji, ready for action!

This film is classic Meyer, and a blast to watch. It’s melodramatic to a T (wait until you see the delivery of the line ‘She was assaulted; criminally assaulted!’ when Cory speaks of his wife’s attack)The characters are all traditional Meyer’s ones; the tough guy, the busty hard chick, the doddering, emasculated ol’ fart… you know the ones… and his usual not so subtle indicators are there too; from Ruby being forced to suck out snake venom (Cory’s cries of ‘Suck it…SUCK IT!’ are hilarious)to when Cory finally gets an opportunity to get his revenge, the dynamite he uses is particularly phallic in its display. This really has all of Meyer’s favourite stuff in it: groovy music, hot babes and macho men… you know, everything, including the ‘kitsching’ sink.

The next feature is Good Morning… and Goodnight! Which I admit I did really enjoy at all except for the typically sexy and lumpy women, Meyer has used to play the female roles. I admit, that it starts perfectly, with Cara Peters running inexplicably naked through the woods in slow motion as a Greek chorus tells what sort of tale we are about to endure… I mean enjoy, and introduces the main characters…

… and then the enjoyment dries up.

This film tells of Burt (Stuart Lancaster) whose wife Angel (Alaina Capri) is dissatisfied with their sexlife, and so goes looking for schlong pretty much well anywhere she can find it, but repeatedly with local tough guy Stone (Patrick Wright). Unfortunately, Stone roots everything he can get his knob into, and starts looking at Burt’s daughter, Angel’s step daughter, Lana (Karen Ciral), who is starting to get sick of her boyfriend, the effeminate Ray (Don Johnson… no, not THAT Don Johnson) constantly checking out her step mother… are you following so far?

The very picture of innocence!

OK: While out  on his property one day, Burt comes (almost literally) across a witch, played by Haji, who using her spells and potions, allows Burt to reclaim his virility, control of his now wayward daughter, and his wife.

Awwww. What a nice ending.

This story is terrible, and unfortunately isn’t made any better by the lack of nudity, which would have been the only saving grace. Sure Motor Psycho doesn’t have any nudity in it, but the story is enough to keep interest.  We do get to see some ladies bottoms in this one, but nothing else, and the story just isn’t engaging enough to allow that to be enough (and honestly the bottoms aren’t  that great). The whole film is just people constantly insulting each other, but not in a Don Rickles/ amusing way and it becomes boring quickly. 

There are themes explored in this film that Meyer did SOOOOO much better in other films, Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens immediately springs to mind.

Haji as the witch

As far as watching this disc as a whole is concerned, this is a nice pair of Haji flicks, but really its worth it only for Motor Psycho.

This is a quite uneven representation of Meyer’s films in my book. Motor Psycho is a cool, if not slightly innocent example of a rape/revenge flick, whereas Good Morning… and Goodbye! Is a morality play with no morals… which may be the point, but it feels like a single idea, of witchcraft helping a man regain his virility and control of his life, fleshed out for far too long. Still the women and dialogue is classic Meyer, and that in itself makes for a fun double feature.

Score: ***1/2

The menu of the dvd

Extras: Only trailers present on this disc, but they are trailers for faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Blacksnake!, Mudhoney, Vixen, Wild Gals of the Naked West, Supervixens, Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens, Cherry, Harry and Raquel and Common Law Cabin.

Score: **1/2

WISIA: I honestly can’t see myself watching these particular Meyer films again if I felt like watching a Meyer film or two.

Reviewed on the Arrow Video DVD.

Meyer’s films always seem to be set somewhere hot!

Playbirds (1978)

Playbirds (1978)

Film: Mary Millington is best known for being the UK’s best know striptease artist, and, along with Fiona Richmond, was labelled ‘the two hottest sex stars of the seventies. Millington started her career as a glamour model and eventually graduated to sex films and reels. In her life she was contacted pursued by the police, which eventually resulted in her committing suicide at age 33.

(The is a review of Respectable: The Mary Millington Story elsewhere on this very site)

This film, Playbirds, tell of a serial killer who is targeting girls from the men’s magazine Playbirds. The police, Holbourne (Glynn Edwards from Get Carter) and Morgan (Gavin Campbell from On The Buses) investigate the murders, interviewing the magazines owner, Dougan (Alan Lake from Blake’s Seven) before deciding they need a ‘man’ on the inside… you know, putting a female officer in danger by posing as a stripper/ glamour model… standard police procedure.

Speaking of ‘standard police procedure’, the way they decided which WPC should be used in the undercover work is to get a bunch of them to volunteer to strip and show their bodies, the ‘winner’ being an officer named Lucy (Millington), new so she goes undercover to infiltrate the business and try to find the killer… but will she a victim herself?

It’s such a weird film as it really does appear to attempt to be telling some kind of giallo-ish thriller! It’s written by George Evans, who worked on Carry On films and several 70s tv series like Bless This House and the Dick Emery Show, and Willy Roe, also the director, who wrote mainly soft core porn films, including Millington’s Come Play With Me. The combination of TV comedy writer and a porno writer don’t make for a gripping story.

It being 70s soft core though, I expect the story isn’t was the viewer was supposed to be ‘gripping’ – nudge nudge wink wink.

The weird thing about this film is the attempts to be a ‘legitimate’ film, with actors like the aforementioned Edwards, Campbell and Lake, also joined by such well known actors as Dudley Sutton, Alex Mango and Windsor Davies!

It’s little more than a quaint and kitschy curio, but it’s an interesting look at the attempts to legitimise soft core porn as ‘proper’ entertainment. I warn you though, it’s not in the slightest but PC, so it’s not for the easily offended… but I guess the easily offended wouldn’t be watching this sort of thing anyway!

Score: **

Extras: Honestly, I was surprised by how many extra they are on this disc:

Mary Millington’s Striptease Extravaganza is a 45 minute featurette from 1981 celebrating Millington’s life via a striptease competition. It reminds me of Varietease and other strip reels. It’s a quaint, and occasionally awkward when you think these women would all be grans now, look at stripping.

Response (1974) is an 8mm ‘short’ of the type that were sold in sex shops in the 70s. Soundless (because it’s a reel) soft-porn shenanigans.

Still gallery featuring the artwork and media marketing for the film.

Lastly, 4 trailers for other ‘adult’ films: Cool It Carol, Intimate Games, Spaced Out and Secrets of Sex.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: I don’t think I would watch it again, except to show someone else.

Death of Me (2020)

Death of Me (2020)

Film: I’d like to say I’m a fan of Darren Lynn Bousman, but I just can’t. For me, his output has been massively hit or miss for me. I loved his additions to the Saw saga, and the Mother’s Day remake (was it REALLY a remake? I’m not sure), but films like St. Agatha completely missed the mark.

There’s no doubt he has a great visual eye and he gets good performances from his actors, but I think occasionally the stories are duds, and that reflects on him.

This film, Death of Me sits smack bang in the middle of the two extremes.

Death of Me tells the story of Christine (Maggie Q) and her husband, travel writer Neil (Luke Hemsworth… how many Hemsworths are there?!? There seems to be more than the Baldwins and Daddos combined) are staying at a small AirBnB on a remote island in Thailand when something strange happens.

The film opens with our couple waking up in their room which has been destroyed. There is mud everywhere and they are both filthy. They do some investigation and find a two hour video on the memory card, which shows them both doing shots in a small bar, before finding themselves outside the AirBnB, where Neil rapes Christine, strangles her, and then remorsefully buries her right there and then.

If he killed her though, how is she still alive? Christine seems to be getting strangely sicker too, with her vomiting up grass and dirt initially, followed by a small snake, and the local doctor, suggested to them by the owner of the AirBnB, Samantha (Alex Esso, from Starry Eyes and Doctor Sleep), tells her that there is nothing wrong.

They continue their investigations until Neil suddenly goes missing after Christine seemingly witnessed him committing suicide on a nearby dock, and then it starts to get REALLY weird… but how is it all tied into the weird necklace, and the threat of an incoming typhoon?

Easily the two best things about this film are the location, which was filmed in Thailand and looks so lush and fresh that it’s almost unbearable, and the casting of Maggie Q, an actor I have adored since I saw her in Naked Weapon and followed her career through various Die Hards and Mission Impossibles.

Another point on the location: Bousman does a fantastic job at mixed the wide open spaces and beautiful landscapes, with some really claustrophobic interiors that make for an occasional effectively creepy scene.

Now the problems: the story is somewhat bland. It’s clearly influenced by films like The Wicker Man (even to the point one of the characters even references it) with its ‘strangers in a strange land/ odd locals’ theme but it just doesn’t resonate, and the Carrie styled ending is a little bit daft too. Hemsworth probably wasn’t the greatest companion for Q either; she is far to strong an actor and he is somewhat pedestrian.

It’s a shame. This film could have possibly been great, but it just flapped around, not really doing anything extraordinary.

Score: *1/2

Extras: Nothing. Sorry.

Score: 0

WISIA: No.