Film Blitz

The Barbarian Women (Al Bradley) – ‘Compared with the Barbarian Women of the Middle Ages, the Amazons of ancient Greece were as horrific as the vestal virgins!! The blood flows in torrents as the result of savagery beyond belief. Orgies of rape & torture, their cruelty has no boundaries. These barbarous and beautiful women will both excite the animal in you and chill your blood to freezing!!’ This blurb is wrong in every important aspect and several unimportant ones. Not even as stupidly bad as the sequel, this is a ‘Magnificent 7’ rip-off, not quite rescued by some well staged fight scenes. Something of a disappointment, 4/10

Blue Sunshine (Jeff Lieberman) – A batch of bad acid at Stamford University has unfortunate side-effects ten years later – the users’ hair falls out and they start killing people. It’s impossible to take bald killers seriously – otherwise, it’s not a bad movie which conceals it’s low budget well. One of the better movies you can buy for 3.99. 6/10

Casualties of War (Brian de Palma) – Michael J. Fox in more American angst about Vietnam, as a soldier disgusted by the behaviour of his comrades who kidnap, rape and kill a Vietnamese girl. Well-made no doubt, with Sean Penn especially good as the leader of the platoon, but the whole film revels in nastiness; characters are introduced solely to get blown up, you get too many over-long shots of corpses and the rape scene is also stretched beyond reason. Quality 7, attitude, 3/10.

Cat Chaser (Abel Ferrara) – Ferrara’s career drifts steadily towards the main- stream; for all it’s many faults, “Driller Killer” was at least original. This is a standard thriller about a millionaire, his bimbo (Kelly McGillis in a variety of skimpy costumes) and her lover (Peter Weller); the last two plot to relieve the former of his money (an irrelevant sub-plot about Central America can be ignored). Takes a long while to get going; when it does, Ferrara’s eye for impressive violence just about salvages it. 6/10.

Deathstalker (John Watson) – Bimbos. Muscle-bound lunks. Swords. Chains. Evil Mud- wrestling. sorceror. Hell, I’m sure there was more to the film than that – damned if I can remember though. Nice, undemanding sword and sorcery fare. 6/10? Evilspeak (Eric Weston) – Terminally dumb “Carrie” rip-off; nerdish military cadet picked upon by all and sundry uses his computer to summon up the ghost of a Satanist ( not bad going for an Apple II, hehehe!) for the standard revenge purposes. The cuts to get it off the banned list means it loses all coherency at the end, it takes far too long to get going and the whole thing’s just stupid & amateurish. 3/10

The Exterminator (James Glickenhaus) – After his friend is attacked and almost killed, John Eastland (Robert Ginty) gets vigilante and becomes The Exterminator, tracking and killing those responsible. From then on, he’s an army exterminating ( for want of a better word) the bad guys who get in his way. His catchline is “If you’re lying, I’ll be back” and the police plus the CIA are out to put a stop to his antics. This gritty and often violent action/thriller also contains one of the most sickening decapitations ever, not that you see it in the BBFC version, naturally. 6/10. (MM).

Flesh Gordon (Michael Benvenista) – The makers of a porn pic got more budget than expected, so they threw in a few effects and silly jokes to get an amusing little satire on Flash. Now shorn of it’s sex scenes, it has to rely on the humour to survive, and just about does so, even if the target subject matter is almost too stupid to parody. The stop-motion animation is surprisingly decent and the acting, if not ‘good’, is no worse than the original! 6/10.

Hellgate (William Levey) – Starts off well, piling cliche on cliche in a parody of the teenagers-in-a-mountain-cabin- telling-ghost-stories genre; phantom bimbo hitch-hikers, ghost towns, magic &l84crystals, crummy effects, the works. Unfortunately, half-way through, you suddenly realise that it’s NOT a parody, and that the makers are, in fact, serious. From then on, it ceases to be of any interest at all. 3/10. Jesus of Montreal (Denys Arcand) – This is a damn good film. Having expected something “Last Temptation”-ish (dull!), I was shocked how brilliant it was. Tho’ there is a religious element (it’s about an actor trying to put on a passion play who finds his life paralleling Christ), it’s not overbearing and is convincing, un-preachy and done with humour. The rest of the film (most of it) aims at a range of targets including lawyers, porn films and method acting, hitting them unerringly with superb wit. Any film that can describe the IQ of the average beer drinker as “10 points less and they’d be a geranium” has got to be seen! 9/10.

Last Exit to Brooklyn (Uli Edel) – Set in 50’s Brooklyn, this is grim soap-opera, with a cast of hookers, gays, thugs, drug addicts and union officials. Edel’s original cut was considered “too violent” by the production company (who gave us “Rambo”, so they’re not bleeding-hearts) and even in the trimmed down version, life seems brutal, with survival of the fittest being the rule – there are some vicious moments, besides which even Jennifer Jason Leigh ‘taking on’ the entire clientele of a bar, pale. Well-acted and compelling, though not an enjoyable picture. 8/10.

The Lift (Dick Maas) – Psychopathic elevators may sound a silly idea – after all, it’s difficult for them to stalk lingerie clad teenagers – yet this manages to be a neat and stylish movie. Lightning strikes an office block, changing the experimental software in it’s lift and turning it into a killer. The scenes with the machinery in killer mode are great and have a real ‘frisson’ to them – if the humans, such as the lift engineer investigating the deaths, have less character it can be put down to the atrocious dubbing, quite the worst I’ve seen in a while. 7/10

A Man In Love (Diane Kurys) – Ok, so what if the only reason I rented this was ‘cos Greta Scacchi’s in it? Menage a trois between a weird actor (Peter Coyote), his weird wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) and a weird actress (Scacchi). Not half weird enough – all the interesting bits, such as Coyote screaming at Greta’s belly-button, take place in the film they’re shooting and Miss Scacchi has a nasty tendency to resemble Kylie Minogue at times, though it must be said she exhibits severe chameleon tendencies and does a convincing NK impression too. 4/10.

Monster (Barbara Peeters) – Genetically frigged salmon escape, rapidly evolve into ‘things’ and attack a fishing community. Gets a point for having the first rape scene ever to make me laugh; the sight of human/salmon hybrids (strongly resembling “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”) mauling bimbos in bikinis was just too silly for words. Never a dull moment, though, thanks to Roger Corman beefing it up by adding attack scenes whenever he felt it was getting dull. Doug McLure is one of the many cardboard characters on show, Rob Bottin did the creatures and it’s messily entertainingly, if totally undemanding intellectually. 6/10.

Not of This Earth (Jim Wynorski) – Traci Lords, who gained notoriety in the States by becoming a porn queen at the age of 16, tries her hand at straight acting in this Roger Corman remake of a 1956 film as the nurse to a vampire from outer space, after Earth’s blood to save his race. Directed with just the right tongue-in-cheek style, Arthur Roberts is great as the alien and Traci Lords keeps her end up well[!], even if the hero is wafer-thin and the title sequence is the most irrelevant I’ve ever seen; ignore it TOTALLY! 7/10.

Psych Out (Richard Rush) – Groovy, man! Jack Nicholson playing bass guitar and Susan Strasberg as a deaf girl looking for her brother, a drugged out hippy character called Steve Davis (any resemblance‚Ķ), in the San Francisco of 1968. Lots of dippy slang like “It’s all one big plastic hassle”, HIDEOUSLY dated as you’d expect – great fun nonetheless, thanks to a sense of humour and it even made me feel nostalgic for the 60’s which isn’t bad since I was aged three when they ended! 8/10.

Stuck on You (Herz & Weill) – Probably about the closest Troma will get to making a romantic comedy, though the setting of a couple taking a palimony case to court is a thin guise for a quick romp through history according to Troma, plus a few jokes about chickens – having NINE scriptwriters clearly wasn’t enough, as nearly every joke goes on for twice as long as is funny. In the end, there’s about enough childish humour to justify watching it once. 5/10.

The Trip (Roger Corman) – “In the wrong hands, a tremendous advertisement for LSD” says James Furman, head of the BBFC. Could have fooled me; this was a disappointment since I thought there was more to an acid trip than getting stuck in a kaleidoscope. Few things are duller than watching someone else’s mind expand; after 25 minutes of watching Peter Fonda’s mind, I cut my losses and had an early night. 2/10.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Philip Kaufmann) – The first ninety minutes are sorta fun; some inane dialogue (“Other womens’ bodies will be our playthings”) and a lot of designer Czech sex. Then, after some striking editing of documentary film of the Russian invasion and footage of the characters, it just dies. The loose ends are all tied up, but it goes ON and ON and ON for 153 minutes. The dramatic highlight of the second half is a dog being put down. First half 6/10, second 2/10.

The Witch (James Robinson) – 1784: a possessed witch is crucified and drowned in a lake but promises revenge. We find this out half way through the film. In the first few minutes she does just that, killing two jokers, one by decapitation (she then cooks the head in a microwave, causing it to explode) and another is cut in half while trying to get out a window. Into this friendly enviroment move a family all set for a new life; needless to say they meet with the wraith of the witch, and by the climax, most of the cast have been offed in the usual variety of ways. The movie offers nothing new, but is worth a look. Also known as ‘Superstition’. 6/10. (MM)