Sunday, January 31, 2016

On Tender Hooks

Director - Kate Shenton (Gimp)
Starring - Kate Shenton, Tam Smith, and Charlyne Chiaponne
Release Date - 2013
Genre - Documentary
Tagline - "An eye-opening documentary exploring the world of human suspension"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I am closing out the month with 31 days of no fucking horror movies and February can not get here quick enough.  As I write this sentence I now have 10 hours left before I can watch another horror flick.  This month has been the month of exploitation but I have been able to squeeze in a few documentaries.  All of them were great to watch so I decided to end the month with another documentary.  This time I checked out On Tender Hooks sent to me from my friends over at MVD.  This documentary focuses on human suspension which I have no interest in.  I have seen a few documentaries this month on topics I knew nothing about so I thought this one would be enlightening and fun.  It was not.
     This documentary follows filmmaker Kate Shenton as she takes a look at the underground movement of human suspension.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with human suspension, this is the act of shoving giant fishing hooks through your skin and then hooking yourself to a rope and then hang from the rafters.  The documentary follows Kate as she explores a group of individuals that do this regularly and why they do it.

      Documentaries have a great power.  They can convey so much information and educate so many on so many topics.  This month I have watched documentaries on a strip club owner, a christian wrestling organization, and a punk band from Tennessee.  None of these documentaries made me feel uncomfortable like this one and to be honest, I have no idea why anyone would want to do something like this.  What is the benefit of hanging on a hook like Pam from Texas Chainsaw Massacre?  The interviews in this one is very insightful and in depth speaking with many ranging from experts at suspension to new comers.  All share different experiences.  Sadly, the interviews were one sided.  It was interviews from people who were open to suspension and not those against it.  I would have loved to hear a medical standpoint of this.  What are the long-term side effects of having your skin stretched for so long?  The documentary flows smoothly but is very one dimensional.  The documentary does not change topics and continues on the same subject from beginning to end but following different people.  This documentary would have had more impact if it was shorter due to the repetitive nature of the doc.  Finally, this is a simply edited documentary that has no flash or flare which is what they were going for but due to the repetitive nature of the documentary it would have been nice to see a little more flash.  Overall, On Tender Hooks is a documentary on a skin crawling subject that fails to capture the true shocking nature of the film's subject matter.  The documentary is far too long for the way it was shot and it tries the viewer's patience.  It deserves at least one watch.

The Cut-Throats

Director - John Hayes (Dream No Evil, Grave of the Vampire)
Starring - Jay Scott (Garden of the Dead), E.J. Walsh, and William Guhl (Dr. Carstair's 1869 Love-Root Elixir)
Release Date - 1969
Genre - Action/Exploitation
Tagline - "...a blood bath! Filled with men and women obsessed with death..."
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     This month has been hell for me in respect of the movies I have watched.  When I decided to take the month off from horror I thought I would be watching some great exploitation films that I normally neglect throughout the year.  Sadly, that was not the case.  Most of the films were sexploitation films that pushed the line between exploitation film and porn.  One of those films was the 1969 flick The Cut-Throats.  The film looked like a great World War II action film that pushed the lines of sexploitation.  This film also marked the first of three reviews that would finish out my no horror month.  Due to work those review will sadly spill over into February but it will not stop me from watching horror movies come midnight tonight!
     The film follows a group of American soldiers that are hand picked for a mission to attack a German compound for intel and other things.  Their captain plans on looting the stronghold as well.  They kill the Nazi scum and enter the compound where they encounter a group of women who thank the men and then put on a sexy and provocative show.  After the show the women let the men have their way with them.  The soldier go along with it but their battle is fr from over.
     I have seen more sexploitation films this month then I care to count.  Most, if not all, were pretty bad and The Cut-Throats was no exception.  The film one of the simplistic stories I have seen in a film and was unable to tell it in a manner that would hold the viewer's attention.  The acting in this one was actually pretty good.  The cast, for the most part, showed some serious acting chops.  Some of the cast showed a great deal of talent on screen but lacked the experience needed to make their roles convincing.  The remainder of the cast was brilliant but the poor excuse of a story made them waste their time.  The story for this one could have been fun as hell but the exception was horrible and confusing.  The story had a solid amount of action to tie over the movie fans while the sex was not overwhelming to turn the movie over.  However, there is scenes scattered throughout this film that make no fucking sense and throws off this simple story.  I honestly have no idea what the purpose of these scenes were.  Finally, the film does have a few on screen kills but they are simple in execution and not that entertaining.  Most are gun, knife, and bow kills with little to no special effects.  Overall, The Cut-Throats is a huge let down.  The story had so much potential but fails to follow through with it resulting in a lackluster sleazy flick.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Rebel Scum

Director - Video Rahim (Mastodon: Asleep in the Deep)
Starring - Christopher Scum, Bernard, and Steven Crime
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Documentary
Tagline - "The true, twisted story of a southern punk band"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     When I was young, roughly around 6 or so, my older brother would come in to West Virginia and visit me and my sister every weekend.  My brother was an adult at this time where he was born 12 years before I and had already lived almost an entire life before I was even born.  During his weekly trips I would learn more and more about him.  It was during one of these trips that I heard a Poison album for the first time.  Not long after that I was introduced to Black Sabbath's Paranoid.  Holy shit was my world changed.  From that moment on I was a metal head.  Listening to Sabbath, Ratt, Metallica, Judas Priest, Megadeth.  Point of this being, I am a metal head.  I've tried listening to punk with bands like The Ramones, The Clash, Sex Pistols, and so on.  The only one I dig is The Misfits which is required listening for horror fans.  A few weeks back my friends over at Wild Eye sent me the southern punk documentary Rebel Scum.  Growing up in the poorest county in the United States nestled in the mountains of West Virginia, I know a few things about being different in the bible belt.  This film really intrigued me so I tossed it in as soon as I could.
     The film follows the Tennessee punk band The Dirty Works who is fronted by Chris Scum.  Scum is a complicated man.  Scum has been addicted to something most of his life making every day a struggle to stay sober.  Music is a passion of his which is why he put together the 4 piece punk band and fronted it.  Scum is a character on stage that channels his inner G.G. Allin and Iggy Pop where he just beats the shit out of himself before screaming his lyrics.  His antics off stage has put tension on his band which is already a powder keg.  His guitarist is a selfish drunk who has no loyalty to anyone but a cold one. The band's drummer has a passion for music that overshadows that of Scum's which is why the two often butt heads when trying to better the band.  The band's bassist ends up leaving the band for another one only to be removed from it as well.  The bands hits a rough spot when Scum falls off the wagon into the depths of his inner demons.  The band is able to overcome this and move on performing in the name of punk and blood.
     Documentaries are a phenomenon all their own.  People could turn anything into a a documentary and people would watch it regardless if they had interest in the topic or not. If you don't believe me, just go to Netflix and watch Winnebago Man and Shut Up, Little Man.  Both are outstanding docs about shit no one really cares about.  With that being said, Rebel Scum was one doc I was very interested in checking out.  Not from the punk stand point but from the living in the south stand point.  The film has some very interesting interviews with the band an people close to the band but that is about as far as it goes.  These interviews were very relevant to the documentary but I would have loved to see someone interviewed outside of their circle that could give us more of an inside look on Scum and his mental state along with more bands than what we got from the area.  These interviews would have showed how relevant The Dirty Works is musically in the areas they play along with some insight on Scum and if he has any undiagnosed mental illnesses.  The documentary does move very well and goes through several moments in the band's career over the course of several years.  The documentary goes very in depth into these events regardless how difficult it was for the band and it's members.  Finally, the documentary is put together very well.  The film is edited very well which makes each interview and footage flow together very well. I have seen documentaries that are lot more polished than this one but that is what makes this one so fucking rock n' roll.  Overall, Rebel Scum is a drug and alcohol fueled descent into a counter culture movement in a region where Christianity rules all.  The documentary shows the underside of punk and how easy it is for troubled youths to get their hands on mind altering substances.  This documentary is well worth a watch so check it out.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Marquis de Sade's Justine

Director - Jess Franco (Count Dracula, Eugenie)
Starring - Klaus Kinski (Vampire in Venice), Romina Power (Murder by Music), and Maria Rohm (Treasure Island)
Release Date - 1969
Genre - Drama
Tagline - "An erotic fantasy horror from the tortured pen of The Marquis de Sade"
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Day mother fucking 28 and still not a single horror movie has been watched this year.  I just have a few days to go before I can watch one but as soon as it hits February 1st you can bet your sweet ass I'm watching a horror movie.  Hell, I may make a day out of it since I made sure to have myself scheduled off that day like it is a holiday.  Not long ago my friends over at Blue Underground released two Jess Franco films on blu.  The first was Eugenie which was a bit of a let down and the second was Justine.  After I watched Eugenie I decided to skip Justine and check out something else before I picked it back up.  This was a stupid choice because the film I picked over Justine was shit while Justine was an amazing film.  
     The film follows the beautiful Justine (Power) and her sister Juliette when they learn that their father has passed away.  They are living at a nunnery and are forced to leave upon his death.  They find someone to take them in but quickly learn that the home is a brothel and she plans on turning them into prostitutes.  Justine leaves while Juliette stays.  Justine finds her way to a nice older man's home where she is allowed to stay if she becomes the maid cleaning the renters room.  Something comes up missing and she is accused where she is then arrested.  While in jail she meets a thief and a murderer who is planning a jail break.  She helps Justine escape with some outside help.  The men that help her escape turn on her and want a little of her goods forcing her to run through the woods until she comes upon two nobles who are secretly in love.  One of the men is married and wants Justine to help him remove his wife from the equation.  Justine fails to help and he kills his wife anyway and then burns an M into her chest marking her a murderer.  She flees and finds herself at a monistary where "monks" practice sex and pain.  They "teach" Justine their ways and then plan on killing her when she makes her big escape and flees to a city where she meets an artist who falls in love with her but some confusion leads to her being accused of murder and the entire town turns on her before Juliette arrives.  She is the mistress of a noble now and he orders to have her turned over to him and her sister.
     I had seen a few Jess Franco films before and most were an amazing mix of eroticism and horror.  However, Eugenie was a departure from the horror stories that I am accustomed to with Franco.  The film had an interesting premise but just did not transfer well to film.  It needed to be edited heavily and the scenes needed to be trimmed down drastically.  With that being said, Justine is one hell of a film that I could not look away from.  The acting in this one is the film's only negative aspect.  The entire cast is brilliant with the exception of the film's leading lady, Romina Power.  Power is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen and any scene where she was nude had me glued to the screen like the creep I am.  However, there was several scenes where she looked stoned and delayed her dialogue like she was unaware that she was being recorded.  This made several scenes laughable.  On the other hand, the remainder of the cast did an amazing job.  The whole cast worked so well with one another and really fed off each other.  My favorite performance came from film legend Jack Palance who was just insane.  He had so much intensity and made the scenes he was in just so enjoyable.  The story for this one is a true adventure story mixed with eroticism and beautiful images.  The film follows Justine on her misadventures that culminates to sexual acts or torture.  This was great and made the film feel huge in scope.  I really enjoyed that angle and I enjoyed the small amount of humor that was written into the story to break up the monotony.  Finally, the film does have a kill scene or two but they are very lackluster and very little to do with the story.  The kills are just people die off screen or dying of poisoning.  This did not require any practical effects which is a bit of a let down.  Overall, Justine is one hell of a film.  The film melds adult with drama and a little dab of humor.  It is a great movie experience and I can not recommend it enough.  Please check this one out!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Making Out (2016)

(out of 5)
Making Out (2016)
directed by:  Henrique Couto
starring:  Titus Wolverton, Erin R. Ryan, Henrique Couto, Josh Miller, Jeff Burr, Joni Durian, Eric Widing, Marylee Osborne, Iabou Windimere, Joe Kidd, Geoff Burkman, Adam Scott Clevenger, Cassandra Engber, Hailey Elisa
format:  Online Review Screener

The Movie:  Henrique does it again.  Never was a a fan of anything non-horror indie film wise till Henrique Couto.  I love the Couto movie family and can't wait to see what else Henrique has in store for 2016 and on.  Comedy, horror, western, family, drama, holiday movie, each one attempted is another notch on the bed post of genres Couto has nailed.  The man cares about what he's doing, this isn't just boner boy boobs and gorehound gore thrown around in an attempt to make easy money.  Yes easy, that stuff is most certainly easy to do and make money from.  What's hard is to challenge yourself and explore other areas of filmmaking and writing.  Henrique shines at this.  No I haven't LOVED everything he has made but the hard work and dedication shows and Making Out is no exception.  This is one of Couto's best movies period.  Maybe it was the personal associations I have with the, "dating" scene and past relationship failures but either way awesome movie and here's why.

The Script:  Beginning to end had me in stiches.  Starting out with a quick silly scene with Joe Kidd and Iabou Windimere two of Couto's regulars and favorites of mine the movie quickly introduces you to Charlie played by Titus Wolverton who is a bit of screenwriter and filmmaker.  But Charlie is also a hopeless romantic who is kind of fed up with dating women who take selfies in bathrooms, even on the pot.  This whole thing made me smile because there is a lot of truth in it and I personally identified with Charlie immediately.  In comes Erin played by my all time favorite indie lady Erin R. Ryan who answered one of Charlie's ads for an actress to play a part for a shower scene he was shooting.  From there Charlie begins a sort of pretend relationship with Erin after the two compile a scheme to write and act out their biggest romantic desires with three very import rules.  "Don't break character, don't get weird, and making out only."   From dinner at a nice restaurant to a scary night in a tent the two of them play a tempting game of entanglement which of course gets weirder and weirder as it goes on.  Loved the dialogue, loved the little romantic scenes all of which are interrupted by one thing or another, and loved the whole dynamic between Charlie and Erin.  Spot on scriptwriting. 

The Acting:  Titus...kudos you wowed me in this one.  Erin well no need to further my respect for this young lady she nails the character every time.  Josh Miller has a small part in this and one of my favorite lines of the movie which I won't spoil here.  Joni Durian is in this another wonderful little part played by a Couto regular I love to see.   Also we have Eric Widing as well who while is one of the nicest guys I've ever chatted with also has the most evil look about him of anyone in the indie scene with the one exception of Fred Vogel.  And of course Henrique himself is in this which is always a plus because Henrique is a character to say the least.  Bradley Diehl is a bit of a new face who was introduced to me in Awkward Thanksgiving and I must point out that this man needs to be in more movies.  At first in Awkward Thanksgiving I didn't know what to think of him he was a bit crazy.  Now after playing a wrestler in this one and friend of Charlie's I just must see more of his lunacy.    Couto's family of actors and crew are a lot of the reason I love his movies.  Met almost all of them and their some of the best people in the biz.  Kudos to you all on this one. 
The Gore/Fx:  Yeah sorry not a horror film or a violent film of any kind but there is some bloody shotgun blasts!
The Shots:  Well done.  Couto has some really nice shots in Making Out.  The fountain scene, the place where Charlie goes to think, and the whole wedding shot was gorgeous.  But I'm an outdoor wedding guy so kind of bias.  Lots and lots of dialogue in this one and not one of the shots of the couple is out of place in anyway.  Watching a lot of movies in the indie scene sometimes for whatever reason people speaking to one another is lost with bad camera angles.  It can be frustrating.  Never with Henrique.  Can't think of one instance and I own all his films save Bulldog for Christmas. 
The Rating:  5 out of 5 Bloody Handprints.  Not a horror but I fully identified with the characters in this movie and loved every minute of it.  Thank you Henrique Couto.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Farmer's Daughters

Director - Zebedy Colt (The Devil Inside Her)
Starring - Gloria Leonard (Tattoo Vampire), Susan McBain (Visions), and Nancy Dare (The Amazing Dr. Jekyll)
Release Date - 1976
Genre - Drama
Tagline - "Cock-a-doodle-doo"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     We are now hitting day 26 without horror and it fucking sucks.  I write my reviews while I sit in my movie review which is hell for me.  I sit around looking at my collection which consist of several thousand horror DVDs and blus and it sucks I can't watch a single one of them until the first of February.  Until then I will continue reviewing the non-horror films that was sent to me to check out.  Most of these films come to me from my friends over at Vinegar Syndrome who send their releases on a month to month basis.  The next film I checked out was The Farmer's Daughters that was directed by Zebedy Colt and released in 1976.  The film is known for being a serious "roughie" and has a bit of a following because of it.  I had never seen the film before I received it to review but the word "roughie" plastered on the front of the DVD really peaked my curiosity.
     The film begins with a farmer working hard on his farm and decides he wants to fuck his wife.  He goes into their room and lays the pipe to her.  Their three daughters hear the commotion and start peeking through the windows when they are caught by the farm hand.  He tells them that he has watched them before and they fuck boringly. The girls decide to have their way with him and rape him before spanking him and eventually pissing on him.  While they are brutally fucking him, three men are wondering through the woods and witness the sexual acts through the window.  They pull out their guns and force all the women to have sex with them while the father watches.  After some time the farm hand arrives with a gun but does not save the day.  Instead, he instructs the girls to suck him off while going to town on each other.  During the sex, the father gets the gun and kills all of them.
     I have seen a lot of sleazy movies this month.  In fact, if I see one again it will be too soon.  I have seen so many sexploitation flicks in the past but most had stories that pulled the viewer in and the sex was just the icing on the cake (disgusting pun not intended).  However, the ones I have seen this month were more sex than story which makes them mostly a porn and not a sexploitation flick.  The Farmer's Daughters was no different.  The acting in this one is on the same level as some of the worst porns.  The cast just spit out their dialogue before they start banging it out.  The only person that tried to create any sort of character was the farm hand Fred played by Bill Cort.  His character is goofy as hell and adds some much needed humor to the scene but that is about as far as it goes.  The story for this one is very similar to the vintage porn Flesh Pond.  The main difference between the two is how the sex acts in this one is dialed up with the introduction of water sports and slight BDSM.  However, that does not make this one entertaining.  Finally, this one does have a few on screen kills believe it or not.  The kills are very minimal and feature bright red 3M blood being smeared on nude men with no signs of wounds.  These were not that enjoyable and a huge let down.  Overall, The Farmer's Daughters is a huge disappointment.  The film has horrible acting, an unoriginal story, and some of the worst kills I have seen in a movie.  I can not recommend this one.