Hard to love but easy to appreciate. Those colors! Delicious acting, fun camerawork and corny wipe transitions. Will notes that it “feels about a million years long” – maybe cutting into episodes of about a half hour long would’ve helped. Anyway it’s time to rewatch Lords of Salem.
Opens with a blood drinking ritual in a slaughterhouse, 1905.
Infighting in a gang of thieves, blonde guy takes a girl hostage to escape, she gets away immediately, he runs and discovers a manor draped in fog and ominous music. The thieves lurk outside, confident they can move in and take him and his stolen gold. Inside, the runaway finds two hot girls. He locks them in a room and they start making out and getting gratuitously naked – ah yes, this is from the director of Shiver of the Vampires. Even not knowing French I can tell the dialogue acting is dry and unconvincing, but the nudity is legit.
Thief (Jean-Marie Lemaire of the Anthony Hopkins Hitler movie) and blonde Brigitte Lahaie (Calvaire and Jesús Franco’s Faceless) and brunette Franca Maï (whose wiki includes among her career achievements “co-creator of a website”) take turns threatening each other. Brigitte breaks the standoff by calmly delivering the gold to the people outside, then grabs the scythe from the poster art and dispatches a bunch of murderous thieves.
New woman arrives – this is Fanny Magier of Jesús Franco’s Hitler movie Convoy of Girls, which also stars Marc who is apparently a Hitler movie regular – and speaks of satanic rituals, everyone being calm and cool. I put this movie on because it’s short, but I’m the kid who held his breath in The Jaunt right now, as they play hilarious 1900’s blindfolded party games. Finally Brigitte is shot and the others devour her blood – I saw this turn coming since it’s in Criterion’s vampire collection.
“Destruction is all I need.” Tetsuo II was the right movie to watch after Videodrome, another analog video fetish film where flesh becomes guns.
Thugs keep tormenting a family, stealing their young son. They shoot the dad in the chest with some gadget while kidnapping the kid in a record store, then later, dad’s arm turns into a weapon and he blows the kid to bits.
The kidnappers return to a subterranean fight club factory of machinery-weightlifting space monkeys, where Goth Lord Shinya considers the transmogrifying gadget a success and orders everyone to be injected, to build an army. But the dad wasn’t transmogrified, it turns out he ironmanned himself out of pure rage, and he has a history of doing this. Same cast as the previous two movies, and practically a remake… it gets too plotty (Goth Shinya is IronDad’s brother), but if the alarming monochrome cyberpunk vision of part one isn’t fresh in your mind, it’ll do.
The Adventures of Electric Rod Boy / The Great Analog World (1987)
A half-feature made between Phantom of Regular Size and the first Tetsuo. Sure it’s yet another human-machine-merge movie (and watched the same week as Videodrome and Titane, wow) but this adds new twists to the Early Tsukamoto playbook: a vampire gang having covered the skies with a nuclear cloud so they can roam outside without fear of sunlight.
Boy with an electricity pole growing out of his back seems to be a gag, so he’ll conk his tormentors when he bows apologetically. The movie opens with silent-film silliness, and contains some extreme stop-motion, both in creeping metal cables winding over people and in the hoverboards the vamps ride down the city streets. Our guy travels into the future, meets Woman In Glasses (I’ve now seen Nobu Kanaoka’s complete filmed works) and an older electricity-pole guy who claims only they can save the world. Indeed, the Rod Boy apologizes so hard after his professor friend is killed, he takes out the robot vampire powering the global destruction machine.
My first-ever Sammo Hung movie. This did have skeletons, a ghost pulling somebody into a mirror, a hopping vampire, an Evil Dead hand rebelling against its body, and a battle between magicians, but it’s really not a horror movie. Rather a comedy action flick: a likeable loser called Big Guts is getting cucked by his wife and set up by his boss, but keeps managing to survive. I can see the Sammo influence on Jackie Chan, using all the props in the room and looking panicked while doing cool moves. Magician Lau (Tai Bo) disapproves of his master’s murderous work-for-hire, kwaidans and protects Sammo, then defeats evil magician Peter Chan Lung. Internet says both magicians were in Enter the Dragon, all my early kung fu movie interests starting to come together. I think one of the Jackie/Sammo collabs like Project A or Dragons Forever should be next. This movie has convinced me that Sammo is cool, but it loses points for bird killing.
I thought it was the Plazadrome screening of part 3 that got me on a Nightmare on Elm Street kick this month, but no, it was probably this:
Happy SHOCKtober 2021! Reliably a few weeks behind on the blog, but I’m actually catching up, and I helpfully started watching horror movies in September so I’d be able to post them in October. I realized pretty early that this is the movie where the crazy-eyed Nic Cage meme comes from. Cage gives a massive performance, more goofy than you can imagine, speaking the whole time in a Posh Bill & Ted accent, and it seems for a long time like some poor fool director’s movie was ruined because he couldn’t keep a handle on Cage – but it turns out his being uncontrollably weird is a vital part of the plot.
Cage brings home a drunk hot girl, but they get chased out of his apartment by a bat on a string, then he spends half the movie tormenting his secretary (Maria Conchita Alonso, between The Running Man and Predator 2) looking for a missing contract. The bat and the contract, along with the 80’s beats and the accent make the movie hard to take seriously, but Cage is just so enjoyable. He believes that Jennifer Beals has turned him into a vampire (she hasn’t) and that he can’t see his reflection (we can) so he needs to feed, buying some cheap plastic fangs and murdering girls at dance clubs. He grabs and eats a pigeon, brutally breaks up with his imaginary girlfriend, and finally gets staked at home by the secretary’s brother. From the writer of After Hours!
Been a long time since we rocked with this movie, and I can’t trust my teenaged thoughts so I had no idea if it’d be good. It’s very good, Coppola inspired by the birth of cinema in his 1897-set story, drenching his delirious movie in dramatic shadowplay and stylish crossfades. Gary Oldman wins the day, appearing in six or eight different forms, and as in The Book of Eli, evil Oldman’s henchman is played by Tom Waits. But Tom’s Renfield seems less pivotal here than I’d hoped – he’s in a few scenes but doesn’t even leave his asylum cell. At least after playing calmly menacing in one movie and a cool gearhead in another, I get to witness him screaming mad in this one.
Reeves vs. Oldman vs. Oldman’s shadow:
The other actors are hit or miss. You can plunk Winona Ryder into any costume and time period and she’ll thrive, but who had the idea to have Keanu Reeves play a Brit and Anthony Hopkins play a German? Ryder gets a little fan club of diehard dudes in the second half: Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes and cowboy Billy Campbell (The Rocketeer himself, a year prior), which leads to some good chase and adventure at the end. Monica Bellucci was a nobody back then, playing one of D’s nameless hissing vampire brides.
Waits #2 with Richard E. Grant:
50 sword deaths in first couple minutes, a good sign, as unstoppable mustache man slays all his rivals then returns home to slay his hot girlfriend. He turns out to be our narrator Kageyama’s boss. We know he’s gonna gradually introduce K to his elite life, glimpsed when the two visit the boss’s bar, where the blood bartender runs a basement prison forcibly teaching captured yakuza to abandon their tough-guy ways – but the boss comes to an untimely end when a cowboy-hat coffin-backpack outsider shoots him with a chintzy lightning gun then kickboxer Kyoken beheads him.
The badly wounded K is revived by a bite from his vampire boss’s severed head, and not knowing how his new hunger works, he bites a townsperson which quickly unleashes a vampire plague on the town – the vamps act like yakuza and band together to torment (but not bite) the mortal yakuza. Meanwhile, kickboxer and coffin-backpack are joined by a kappa goblin and a frog furry with its own theme song. This is one of Miike’s high-energy crazypants movies, and it’s extremely fun, up there with Blade of the Immortal and Zebraman 2.
Let’s see… there’s also a tough woman named Captain whose head fills with water… K loves a hospitalized blind girl who turns out not to be blind… a sad kid whose father died turns into an enraged revenge-vampire… and there’s a bloody showdown between K and the kickboxer at the end as the frog furry grows city-sized and threatens to destroy the world.
K is Hayato Ichihara, lead/bullied boy in All About Lily Chou-Chou, has grown up to have a cool, severe face. The unblind Riko Narumi was a teen in The Great Yokai War, is also in notably bonkers movies Why Don’t You Play In Hell and Labyrinth of Cinema. The late boss has starred in a few Kore-eda films and Tsukamoto’s Fires on the Plain. The kickboxer is from Java, and The Raid movies.
This is how to do remakes – start with a disreputable movie, cast a good lead and a hammy villain, and have as much fun as possible. Add a couple twists (vampire needs to be invited to come inside, but there’s nothing stopping him from setting your house on fire to drive you out) and some real dodgy digi effects, you’re done. I don’t feel strongly about it either way.
I guess this guy stars in Kick-Ass:
Anton Yelchin is our guy, with mom Toni Collette, girl Imogen Poots, and nerdy childhood friend who has grown apart Chris Mintz-Plasse. When new neighbor Colin Farrell vampires the latter two, Anton escalates to the world’s foremost authority on the dark arts, Vegas magician David Tennant. Oh wait, the screenshots are confusing on this matter, maybe he doesn’t get Poots, or he does get her then they turn her back – either way, the magician will have none of this nonsense, then steps up when convinced of the reality.
Twenty-three SHOCKtober movies this year… I would’ve guessed the worst would’ve been Cannibal Holocaust, or another Italian horror, or the late Ken Russell, or one of the 1980’s movies… but it ended up being this made-for-TV horror-comedy stop-motion feature. The very words “stop-motion feature” make for a must-see movie, and this month’s The Wolf House was an insane masterpiece, but this thing felt like a celebrity Scooby Doo episode.
Outside of the stop-motion (especially anything involving water), Bride of Frankenstein Phyllis Diller’s laugh is the main source of enjoyment – otherwise it’s all horrible jokes and slow, pointless plot and voice impressions. All the world’s monsters, plus a sap (Jimmy-Stewart-sounding Felix Flankin) convene at Dr. Frankenstein’s castle for something or other, then fight over the doctor’s inheritance and his “formula for destroying matter.” I think we turned it off after red-haired Francesca falls in love with Felix for hitting her, or maybe it was during the endless song she sings right afterward. The monsters are all hoping IT doesn’t show up, so I watched the end of the movie the next day, but IT was just King Kong minus his trademarked name.
Most voices were by Allen Swift – his career ranged from Howdy Doody to Courage the Cowardly Dog. In the late 1950’s he was on WPIX channel 11 NYC as “Captain Allen,” ensuring his eternal legacy via the Arcwelder song. Karloff played the Doctor, at the end of his career, the year after voicing The Grinch. Francesca was Gale Garnett, who beat Bob Dylan at the Grammys a few years prior, and also appears in future Shocktober classic The Children. Diller was in her celebrity prime, the year before Tashlin’s Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell. Rankin/Bass made this between their Rudolph and their Frosty, long before their Hobbit and Last Unicorn, and the cowriter was Mad Magazine creator Harvey Kurtzman, whose jokes work better in print.