Archive for the 'Cult movies' Category

Mar

Comments Off on The Flesh and Blood Show

The Flesh and Blood Show
1972 – R – Redemption Films
96 Minutes – Starring Ray Brooks, Luan Peters – Directed by Pete Walker

Who doesn’t love a good a good murder mystery? In fact, one of the most popular television shows is about an elderly woman who is a writer/detective and the old people love it! When that show comes on, it’s like ecstasy being broadcast over an unseen signal, like in They Live only in a retirement home. Old people aside, I’ve always loved the idea of a ‘who-done-it,’ playing along with the movie as I mentally collect clues and try to solve the puzzle of the murders that will lead to the identity of the killer. Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood is a perfect example (especially with that set up), but others can fall kind of flat, like Pete Walker’s The Flesh and Blood Show.

Of course you don’t realize this until it’s over, but it’s not a completely bad experience, nor will it leave a sour aftertaste in your mouth. For the most part, it seems to keep everything at a good pace, although feeling like it’s dragging out from time to time until you reach the film’s climax when it feels like it should have been over for some time. Perhaps one of the biggest flaws it has is its plot that has not aged well. Sure, in the early 70’s it probably wasn’t all that common, but now audiences may find that it’s been done to death, especially when parts of it resemble April Fool’s Day. It’s comprised of part mystery, part proto-slasher and part sleazy go-go. Sounds good on paper, but the execution…

fbs_2Like most slashers, there is an obnoxious character, John, and for whatever bizarre reason, decides to go to his friend Carol’s flat with a knife in his belly, but it’s nothing more than a prank. Maybe John and Shelly from Friday the 13th Part 3 are pen pals. Anyway, he stopped by… at 2 o’clock in the morning… waking Carol, who is completely nude and shares a bed with her flatmate Jane (do they have your attention now?) to tell them he has just been offered to have a role in the improv theater show The Flesh and Blood Show at Dome Theater, which has been closed for a very long time after a horrible event took place. Coincidentally, Carol and Jane also have been invited to participate in the show, so off they go to the creepy old abandoned theater where horrible things await them.

They meet up with the rest of the crew comprised of bad 70’s haircuts; Tony the Aussie, Simon, who you will swear is a miniature Mick Jagger stunt double, sexy blonde Angela and Mike, the show’s producer. By a first glance at this place, you should know better not to go in, as it is plagued with all the run down theme park cliches and probably has the actual plague floating around. But that doesn’t stop them from going about their rehearsal or sleeping there. Too cheap to cough up the quid for a hotel, the cast and crew decide to sleep there and it doesn’t take long for things to get sleazy. One of the girls instantly jumps in the sack with Tony for knowing him all of about several minutes and another girl decides to rub Carol down topless as John watches from afar. As if this theater wasn’t caked in enough filth and grime, here’s some more.

I won’t lie. It’s an awesome scene.

fbs_3Immediately following that scene, a scream is heard and the lesbian girl (sorry, I forgot her name and I’m forced to identify her by her character trait) has gone missing. After searching the theater, Mike finds her head on top of a shelf and her body next to a guillotine, but keeps it from the others. I’m actually kinda stunned that a theater has a properly working guillotine. He does, however, get the fuzz involved, but upon inspecting the “crime scene,” all evidence of any murder has been hidden, which is impressive to not leave any trace of a recent decapitation. Everyone chalks it up to John and one of his practical jokes, but soon they find a note that stating why she left… but the note was actually left behind by the killer! Oh well, time to find her replacement. This is showbiz, after all. Enter up and coming film actress Julie!

The town may be as dead as our recently departed blonde, but a local nearby restaurant is still open and probably the only clean thing in town. This is where we meet an elderly man, Major Bell, who you can guess is the killer if you have any deductive powers. The cast crew occasionally pays visit to him and his wife (played by Sheila Keith from Frightmare) in between their rehearsals. Nothing much really happens, until Carol decides she wants to go for a stroll alone one night along the dock. John follows her out, unbeknownst to her, when she is attacked and nearly raped by what appears to be a hobo, until her screams are heard and the gang, minus John, find her. They all come to realize he wasn’t around and becomes the prime suspect… until his body is found a few days later by the police and in a twist, has been dead since that night he followed Carol outside? So if not him, then who?

Like I said earlier, it’s pretty obvious.

fbs_4After some more rehearsals of random things, spiced up with plenty of nudity, they eventually notice someone is running the spotlight (face palm) and another of the crew is killed. As the lights go dim, the Major shows up spewing lines from a play as he confesses to the murders and that it was him who committed the horrible acts long ago and tells us the tale in flashback form. Even after, he still prances about, regurgitating lines from the previous play, to which the remaining members of the crew use to their advantage and cleverly, and oddly somehow, reenact the events of his crime. Since he’s bonkers and his lid has clearly flipped, that same evening from long ago is playing out in his mind. The 5-0 shows up in time, arrest the Major and the crew comes to the realization that in order to kill some of their actors, he must’ve had help… from his daughter… who may be with them at this moment!

As you can gather, The Flesh and Blood Show resembles the Scooby Doo cartoon, only with boobs and wieners (yeah, you get full frontal… ladies). Overall, it feels very stiff and as if you’ve seen it a hundred of times before (which you have, but for the time this wasn’t that common of a plot), it teeters slightly over the edge of sleaze, just enough to keep you watching. It’s self aware of how voluptuous the females are in this movie and will often parade them around fully nude. As you realized, the slasher and mystery bits, in retrospect, seem very cut and paste and tired by today’s standards. The film itself now is considered to be very tame, but at its time, it’s one that could spark a bit of controversy. Maybe it’s the title, but I can’t help but feel this should have been a Herschell Gordon Lewis film, who could have truly brought the sleaziness and violence that the title provokes.

One pretty interesting thing The Flesh and Blood Show does is present the flashback sequence in 3-D in black and white (Pete Walker sure loved his black and white flashbacks, huh?) The scene during the film is standard, but you do have the option in the bonus features of watching the ten minute sequence in anaglyphic red-blue process (for those of you who don’t know, anaglyphic works better in black and white) or if you have a 3D TV, you can check it out in stereoscopic as well. I was able to watch the scene in anaglyphic (make sure you have the classic red and blue glasses, they aren’t included) and it worked pretty well, except for when things are supposed to really pop out at you, like when a character points something directly at the lens, the image seems to split apart. Other special features on the disc are a theatrical trailer and another interview with Pete Walker.

The Flesh and Blood Show
In the end, it’s a little underwhelming and hard to believe that it also received an X rating. Lacking in genuine scares and gore (again like Frightmare, most kills take place off camera), The Flesh and Blood Show has little to offer, but it does have some of that old fashioned grindhouse, go-go sleaziness to it. So if you ever wanted to see what an episode of Scooby Doo would look like with sex and murder, then you should give it a watch.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • John’s jokes are a real punch in the gut.
  • Go-Go full frontal nudity.
  • She lost her head over this play.
  • “Old man Withers!”
  • 3D Flashback Revenge.
  • Daughter secrets.
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Most of the death occurs off screen making it a mystery… as to why the hell they didn’t show it!

9

blood

BREASTS

These voluptuous, curvy ladies show you why the theater is awesome. Minus a point for 70’s bush and dong.

3

beast

BEASTS

You have to be more useless than lint in a couch cushion to be killed by this old man.

5.3 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for “The Flesh and Blood Show!”

trailers

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Mar

Comments Off on Frightmare

Frightmare
1974 – R – Redemption Films
86 Minutes – Starring Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith – Directed by Pete Walker

Let’s be all serious for a moment and think; does censorship really protect us? Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, the UK was severely bringing the hammer down on horror films, believing they made sadists, psychopaths and bullies out of the everyday normal Joe. The solution? To excise all sex and violence out of the film, often leaving the final cut incomprehensible. I recently talked about My Bloody Valentine and how the R rated cut of the film’s finale left you puzzled as you saw Axel running away holding his arm. But what you didn’t see was him sawing his own arm off, thus explaining why he was holding his arm. So maybe it wasn’t always incomprehensible, but you certainly were left with a product that was lackluster and taking away elements as to why you are watching the film. In horror’s case; the aforementioned sex and violence.

The BBFC (now apparently at it again) became so notorious for this, that horror films unjustifiably became targeted and heavily censored or downright banned just because of the fact that it was a horror film! Whether it was advertising (via posters or reviews) or because a filmmaker became notorious for having made controversial horror films, it would seem that the BBFC would demand severe cuts or ban the film without actually having taking a look at the film. Now, we know this doesn’t keep the material out of the wrong hands, like children, but that’s a different topic for a different day.

fm_2After years pass, possibly many years, this controversy can actually work in favor of the film. Take Frightmare, for example. Although never a Video Nasty, I always heard so much controversy about this film and all the graphic content that got it banned, so in my head I built this movie up to be an exploitation film filled with blood, guts, nudity and every other fun filled nightmare that I could think of. However, if you’ve seen the film… Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that content makes a film good, but you can see how controversy can create a different movie in your head.

Frightmare opens in a black and white sequence during 1957 as a straggler happens upon a farmhouse. He’s welcomed inside, all shot in POV and within moments, a good chunk of his face has been removed and the assailant, now revealed to be Dorothy Yates, is institutionalized in the following scene for having butchered and eaten several people along with her husband Edmund, who had been faking his insanity so that he may be locked up with his wife that he loved so much. Ladies, how many of your guys would take that vow?

Cut to present day 1974 where the daughter of Edmund from a previous marriage, Jackie, is having dinner with some friends all while her stepsister Debbie is out causing a ruckus at a bar. She’s what you would call a “wild card” or “hangs out with a rough crowd.” Don’t believe me? She and her rowdy friends, a biker gang with The Monkee’s style haircuts, beat a bartender within inches of his life just for not serving her a drink for being underage. That’ll teach you to obey the law!

fm_3Dorothy and Edmund have also been declared sane and released, living back in their remote farmhouse. Now, I’m no expert, but wouldn’t they be under probation of some kind or under supervision temporarily? Or maybe I’m wrong and convicted cannibals are free to roam willy nilly once they get that stamp of approval. Jackie puts her love life on hold and keeping her family’s secret to the persistent Graham, who looks like a British Peter Parker, to keep an eye on her father and stepmother. Edmund tells Jackie that he fears Dorothy is already lapsing and up to her old deeds and he has every right to be, because she is. It doesn’t take Dorothy long before she is luring in loners without families or loved ones with tea and tarot card readings that result in their (most of the time) off screen deaths. I have no idea how she fooled such clever doctors.

After several visits from the fuzz, Jackie has had it with Debbie and demands she leave, but newly psychiatrist Graham tells Jackie she needs to be more caring to her sister, because if there is one thing that girl needs it’s negative reinforcement for her bad behavior. But Debbie is beyond a simple scolding, as she claims to have “found” the barkeep from the fight dead and has stored him in her trunk. It’s actually pretty sneaky, since you aren’t sure whether or not Debbie is directly involved in his death, but soon all suspicions are laid to rest, as she has a secret of her own…

Coming home from work one day, Edmund discovers Dorothy in the midst of one of her murders and although he’s shocked and terrified, vows to help her cover it up. Because of his loyalty, Dorothy lets him in on her little secret, that she has been having a little help with her murders from her daughter! Hey, you may as well keep it in the family. Edmund comes to the conclusion that Dorothy will never stop, but Jackie will be a thorn in their side. Hmm, what are crazed murderous cannibals to do?

fm_4After learning of Dorothy’s illness, Graham sets out really figure out what is going on, so I’m sure he will be alright. Jackie heads out to the old farmhouse to bring things to a close, but she may already be too late and discovers the shocking and grisly truth that Dorothy is still murdering… with a little help. Now lacking protection from her father, Jackie is walking into a trap and she may not make it out alive!

After viewing the film, you may have noticed that there is quite a lack of gore. Most of the bloody effects are an aftermath, someone’s face sliced halfway off, but there are a few scenes of Dorothy stabbing someone to death. This is what I meant earlier about a film’s censorship unrealistically boosting your expectations, as I went in expecting murder and mayhem, but what I got was actually a mild, violent filled, shocking and suspenseful tale of a cannibalistic woman that is very well paced. In a way, it reminds me of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It doesn’t need to show you graphic details, but lets your mind make it up for you. Even though most of the butchering is never seen and we never actually see her eat anyone (the implication is more scary, but clearly not as grotesque), Dorothy is a well developed and truly frightening antagonist. Every moment on screen, you are never sure which way her personality is going to take her, so much so, that I was expecting her to kill Edmund at any moment.

As usual, Redemption did a stellar job restoring the film from its original 35mm prints. Although slight discoloration and grain is present, the overall image quality is clean and sharp, revealing beautiful detail to the visceral imagery. As for the audio, there isn’t a whole lot you can do with something that’s 2.0, but it’s never muffled and the dialogue is clear and understandable and really, you can’t ask for more. It’s almost impossible to restore a forty year old film without some remaining damage, but Redemption manages to make it the best it will ever be. On a special features note, there is an interview with director Pete Walker as he recalls the film and talks about how the censorship was a help to the publicity, a look at the work of Sheila Keith, the actress who played Dorothy, a trailer and a commentary track.

Frightmare
If the sight of pulling out intestines, eating splines and feasting upon the organs of people, as blood spews like a faucet isn’t your thing… then you’ll probably enjoy Frightmare, as I’ve said, it doesn’t show much gore, but rather pulls the punches in the suspense. Although not quite living up to its famous controversy, Frightmare is still a bloody good time that’s good for a scare with plenty of secrets.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • My Step Mother is a Cannibal next on Maury.
  • Not the WB Sister/Sister that you remember.
  • Some death with your tea?
  • For England, they have some nice teeth.
  • Husband of the year.
  • Driller killer.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Some squirts, some sprays and some eyeball removal.

5

blood

BREASTS

Jackie sports some cleavage making you want to see more.

8

beast

BEASTS

Debbie will break your heart and Dorothy will eat it!

6 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for “Frightmare!”

trailers

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Mar

Comments Off on Strike Commando

Strike Commando
1987 – Unrated – Flora Film
92 Minutes – Starring Reb Brown, Christopher Connelly, Alex Vitale – Directed by Bruno Mattei

A one man commando team sneaks deep into enemy lines by the orders of his snaky superior to obtain evidence of communist presence in Vietnam and personally liberating any innocent victims… sound familiar? It included scenes like his heroic escape from torture before making a cowardly radio broadcast, waving a belt fed machine gun back and forth, screaming at the top of his lungs like a banshee, all while single handedly wiping out the red threat and doing so shirtless, wearing a bandanna… That’s right, Strike Commando! What, you were thinking of another action packed movie that featured a major action star, made a boatload of money and was seen by a mainstream audience?

In case you couldn’t tell by my poor attempt at sarcasm (oh, I thought I was so good at it), the film I was actually describing is Rambo: First Blood Part II or for the laymen, Rambo II. It’s not uncommon that a popular movie is ripped off, in fact throughout the 70’s and 80’s, there was quite an increase of these “clones,” the best of ’em brought to you by Italian cult film director, Bruno Mattei. Bruno, sometimes directing under the pseudonym Vincent Dawn, had made quite a name for himself by ripping off other popular films, such as Predator with Robowar, Dawn of the Dead with Hell of the Living Dead, Aliens with Shocking Dark and Salon Kitty with SS Girls. Now, I know the term “ripoff” can automatically turn people off from a movie, especially when it seems like these films are poor, low budget replicas, but you would be misled. Hell of the Living Dead may appear as nothing more than an inferior copy of Romero’s movie, but after the first act, if actually does its own thing. Or SS Girls, filled with disgusting, oddball characters, further exploiting the elements of the original movie it’s mocking, you really see that this is the kind of film that director’s like Quentin Tarantino are trying to make. After that mouthful, let’s look past this minor flaw and give this film a ‘shot.’ Pun intended.

sc_2Deep in the jungle of the Philippines, I mean Vietnam, a team of Strike Commandos is infiltrating an enemy base to plant explosives, because… um, because. The team is led by Michael Ransom, played by the notorious blonde beefcake Reb Brown. For those of you unfamiliar with him, Reb Brown was the muscle bound, B-Movie action star of the 80’s (most commonly known to the mainstream audience as Big McLargehuge from the MST3K episode Space Mutiny) that did it better than any of the A-listers. The man would hoist a heavy machine gun in one hand, waving it all around and somehow hitting every target, all while screaming his war cry… the most throat peeling, intense scream so damn frightening that I’m convinced the bullets are not firing from his gun, but they are fleeing from Reb in terror. Anyway, after a sentry (toting an M-60 for whatever reason) spots them and raises an alarm, most of the Strike Commandos are KIA in the attack and the rest are killed in the premature explosions, ordered to be set off by Col. Radek, who has been watching from a vantage point the entire time along with Major Harriman. The Major is angered, but Col. Radek reminds him that the mission is more important than the lives of the Strike Commandos. But if you think Ransom is dead, you’re wrong… dead wrong.

As the opening credits roll, Ransom drifts down a river, somehow holding his breath all night and morning, until he is found by a local village boy who nurses him back to health in time to recreate that scene from Beyond Thunderdome where Mad Max wakes from being unconscious, only to be tied by his ankles and fall out of a hut. After speaking with an elderly Frenchman, Le Due, living with the Vietnamese, Ransom agrees to escort them to some place safe. Along the way, they find a dead soldier with a working radio, so Ransom calls his base for a rendezvous pick up and threatening vengeance simultaneously, which admittedly probably sent mixed signals.

The next day, Ransom and the villagers come across enemy fighters where everyone, including Le Due who looks like he must stink of three week old cheese left in the sun, gets in on the action. Being old and stinky, Le Due stops for a nip only to be ambushed and choked to death by a hulking Russian that in no way bears any similarities with most Dolph Lundgren characters named Jakoda. And trust me, you’ll remember that name… Upon finding Le Due’s corpse, Ransom notices a Russian star insignia that Le Due tore off in a struggle, indicating Russian presence in Vietnam.

sc_3The body count rises as Ransom mows down Commies by the dozen in his escape, but unfortunately there are too many, even for Ransom. He manages to flee the Communist Russia infested Vietnam, leaving all the villagers behind… whoops. Seeking earlier said vengeance, Ransom comes back to the US with his beans completely steamed, but Major Harriman calms him down with in a more elegant, “Yo, bro! CHILL!” But no worries, as Ransom immediately volunteers to go back and take photographic evidence of the Russian presence. I think we all know where this is leading.

Ransom returns to find all of the villagers have been wiped out. He comes across the young boy who helped nurse him at the beginning, dying, making a last request for Ransom to tell him all about Disneyland… where the popcorn grows on trees, mountains of cotton candy flourish, the chocolate malt rivers flow and a magic genie that will grant your most wonderful wish… and Reb delivers this all while crying in the most Oscar worthy clip ever put on celluloid and I mean that in the most sincere way. There is no way any actor could take these lines from this script seriously (which makes me question if Bruno Mattei and screenwriter Claudio Fragasso were aware and making a parody) and deliver it the way Reb does. My hats off to him for being able to say what he says with a straight face and shedding tears. Come to think about it, it also humanizes him more so than Rambo. During his mission, Ransom had befriended several villagers and risked his neck for them. He’s actually quite a compassionate hero when you think about it. This is Ransom’s breaking point. With a vengeful war cry, holding the deceased young boy and screaming, “JAKODA-AAAA!” at the tops of his lungs, he sets out for revenge!

After learning the whereabouts of Jakoda, Ransom shreds up some huts with an M-60, cutting the place to ribbons, but Jakoda reveals himself, unscathed and forcing Ransom to surrender by holding a hostage. That damn big heart of his! In order to force him to make a demoralizing radio broadcast, Ransom is tortured for what we can assume is weeks, maybe months, as he is whipped, electrified, does extreme yard work and locked in a cell with a rotting corpse! This scene is actually pretty dark and not easy to watch as listen to him gag, vomit and plead. In contrast, Rambo had it much easier compared to Ransom! Finally giving in, Ransom agrees to make the broadcast and PSYCHE! You think Ransom would cower and give in to your demands? Think again! Ransom escapes after pretending to make the demoralizing speech, only to make it peppy and uplifting, shouting into the mic at the top of his lungs the way Reb does and takes out the guards. I’m pretty sure it was at this moment that Reb Brown birthed the acronym BAMF.

sc_4While escaping, Ransom takes one of his captors and Jakoda’s partner, Olga, hostage and learns of betrayal and treason… Radek was working with the Russians all along! At first he doesn’t believe it, until Radek flies by in a chopper shooting at him, killing Olga. Some rescue! Making his way through the jungle, killing scumbags by the handful, he literally runs boot first into Jakoda, who wants to go head to head with Ransom. What follows is the most testosterone driven, bare knuckled fist fight of all time. You literally feel the weight and the impact of their punches and cringe in pain as the two large slabs meat smash faces! Ultimately, Ransom gets one over on Jakoda and tosses him over a waterfall to his doom… or so he thinks.

Ransom finds Radek’s base, turning it into Swiss cheese with a machine gun, but Major Harriman appears to inform him that the traitor Radek has fled. Still, it was fun to recreate that scene where Rambo shoots up Murdock’s office. But there is no hiding from Ransom forever. Now sporting a kicking yellow bandanna, Ransom tracks Radek down in his new operation and doing what he does best; crumbling the place top to bottom with a grenade launcher and wasting henchman and office furniture with a belt fed machine gun, howling at the top of his lungs! After satisfyingly blowing Radek into a thousand pieces, Jakoda appears with a new set of metal teeth (I’m guessing it was cool, because Jaws had them in a Bond film and they’re cool). After another balls out fist fight, Ransom stuffs a grenade in Jakoda’s mouth, leaving a ghostly shout of, “AMERICANSKI-III!” as he blows in half!

Holy hell, is this movie… AWESOME! The action is over the top so much so,that every bullet and every explosion feels like an intense kick to your face, forcing you to grind your teeth. Everyone actually puts in a solid performance. You downright despise Radek from the start, which makes his death that more satisfying. Jakoda is a physical and mental threat to Ransom (almost like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises) and Ransom himself is the all American muscle hero with a heart of gold that you want to root for. Reb Brown delivers one of his best performances and creates one of his best and believable characters. Reb is so buff, that even the largest of weapons look like mere peashooters in his arms and you completely buy that this guy could take down Jakoda, someone twice his size, in a fist fight.

Strike Commando
Anyone can rip off a single film and do it shot for shot (look at Carnosaur 2), but it takes a mastermind like Bruno Mattei to ripoff a film, integrate ripped off scenes from other films, add a few interesting character traits and actually throw in a few twists and somehow make it his own. As I mentioned earlier, he’s done this before, but I think Strike Commando (along with Hell of the Living Dead) is a shining example of Bruno Mattei’s work and that a ripoff can actually be somewhat original and downright entertaining and enjoyable on its own. It’s filled with action and great characters that I, like the Strike Commandos, demand justice, that you go out and find a copy of this movie… or no magical journey down the chocolate malt river at Disneyland for you, Amercanski!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Reb. Brown.
  • Ruptured ducks.
  • Rambo or Ransom?
  • Reb’s patented war cry.
  • Praise be thy explosion.
  • Head to head with Jakoda.
  • Office make over Reb style!
  • Russian dentists sure make good dentures
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Reb Brown eliminating all enemy threats with bullets, explosions and his most deadly weapon, his fists!

5

blood

BREASTS

You don’t need boobs when you have Reb Brown.

10

beast

BEASTS

Radek is slimy, Jakoda is menacing, but Ransom is all American, all butt kicking and unstoppable!

7.3 OVERALL
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Watch the entire movie!

trailers

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Feb

posted by Barry Goodall | February 25, 2014 | 90's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Cult films, Cult movies, Review by Barry Goodall

Comments Off on ExistenZ

existenz

David Cronenberg never fails to disappoint. Just when you’re needing a movie to make you feel icky again, he hits you upside the head with a ten day old trout left out the in sun too long. Yes it’s his 1999 film ExistenZ (remember to emphasis the Z with your neck extended like a baby eagle waiting for food). It’s a bit Matrix meets alien only with more gooeyness and is destined to do for chinese food what “the Fly” did for eating doughnuts. ExistenZ takes place in the near future where some Sony executives shoot up acid and decide their next game console should be made of human flesh and have nipples. Enter the marketing team saying “Hey the nipple thing is perfect, but can it plug into a bioport on your lower back with an umbilical cord too?” Wow, sign me up for two for some sweet multiplayer action or potential lower spinal paralysis!

existenzAllegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a leading designer of virtual reality games for these console-pods but is shot in the shoulder while attending a focus group, a known hotbed for gun violence. The Security Guard, Ted Pikul played by Jude Law, rescues her but he’s a bioport virgin and has to have one ram shackled into his spine by William Dafoe with an air wrench instead. Dafoe plays a gas station attendant who changes oil filters by day and staples firewire ports into your tramp stamp region by night. Typical Dafoe typecasting again. Once hooked into the game, Allegra and Ted take on their game characters role and become factory workers in a mutant fish slaughter house where game pods are manufactured from the fish guts. oh, and don’t forget all the free botulism.

Ted and Allegra take a lunch break at the local chinese restaurant where Ted orders the house special. It’s a simmering  side-sampler buffet of dead mutants animals encrusted in goo which Ted devours like he has a tape worm. He finshes off the meal and slurps out the entrails to constructs a gun made of bone and gristle just so that he can shoot his waiter. This means the rebels are trying to take control of the game and worst of all there will be no fortune cookies after dinner. Meanwhile, Allegra’s game pod has become infected by a computer virus which she’s hooked up to but a rebel toasts it with his portable flamethrower. The pod pops open releasing millions of infectious spores destroying the other factory game pods thus upping the level of un-believability not seen since OJ testimony. Alegra and Ted awaken finding themselves still attached to their supposed real-life game pod while snoozing in a ski-lodge which we all know this is still a virtual world because ski-lodges don’t actually exist outside of trashy romance novels. existenzMeanwhile a revolution starts up outside lead by realist rebels who are tossing around grenades and shouting things like “death to the virtual world” and other typical revolutionist banter. Ted and Alegra escape to the hills but have a gun-showdown with a competing virtual game developer who just wants them to work for his company instead. It’s a pretty effective recruiting method. I don’t want to give away the twist ending on this one except to say…it’s more of the same. There now you’re expectations aren’t too high,  Barry Goodall says put down the virtual gameboy and go a few rounds with Existenz. Just don’t do it on an full stomach.

roadside attractions

  • Bioport licking.
  • Jiffy lube organic implants
  • Umbilical cord cutting
  • Double headed salamanders (not a euphemism)
  • Tooth bullets
  • Chinese buffet of horror
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

People getting shot with teeth bullets, gory gooey entrails to help keep that gore meter up.

7

blood

BREASTS

Cronenberg goes light on the nudity for this one which is odd for a cronnenberg film.

7

beast

BEASTS

A bunch of mutant fish and lizards and weird pod creatures that hook up to your spinal column.

8 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer to “ExistenZ”

trailers

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Dec

Comments Off on Nightmare City (aka City of the Walking Dead)

Nightmare City
1980 – Not Rated – Raro Video

Zombies, zombies and more zombies. No matter which direction you pivot your head, there they are. Bland. Dull. Boring. Far outlived their lifespan (they are undead after all, har har). To me, they all blend in together, offering nothing new, exciting or even entertaining to the sub-genre. I’ve made this argument a hundred times before, so I won’t rehash it again. Of course this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a zombie trend. In the 80’s, we saw a boom from Italy, flooding our film market with imitators and clones. But there was undeniably a certain charm and originality to them that today’s zombie films seem to lack, be it good (or bad) makeup effects, bizarrely odd characters or even seemingly intentional insane plots.

Let’s look at Cannibal Ferox director Umberto Lenzi’s zombie romp, Nightmare City, also released here in the States as City of the Walking Dead (not to be confused with Fulci’s City of the Living Dead). I remember first seeing this movie at the local video store in the big box, with the topless woman, half her face ripped off, under the City of the Walking Dead title. Although these mutants or creatures share characteristics of zombies, director Umberto Lenzi claims it’s not as much as a zombie movie as it is a “radiation sickness movie.” I already did a video review for this film on Goon Reviews, so I’ll do my best not to repeat myself. By the way, WATCH MY VIDEO REVIEW HERE! Now that the shameless plug is out of the way…

nc_2We start this puppy off like most Italian horror films, by establishing shots of a city (D’oh! I already repeated myself). It’s totally irrelevant to anything in the plot, not like you never know what city you are in, but you are in a city. But within this city is uncanny reporter, Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz). Dean is just waking up in time for his big interview with a scientist for whatever reason you would interview a scientist for. Now, remember this scene, because it may just come back…

Once at the airport, a military plane does an emergency landing as security personal and Dean line up outside the plane. Nobody seems to be responding to the calls for them to step out, which brings up my next question: Why the hell does airport security have machine guns? I can’t get a stick of gum through security, but these dudes are toting fully automatic weapons? Well those guns might come in use, because once those doors open, a swarm of radioactive infected mutant people (we’ll just simply call them zombies from here on) rush out and start to kill everyone! And by that I mean, they slash at the soldiers from about six feet away and they jump back. Ever watch a group of kids pretend to fight because they are playing superheroes or something? Anyway, Dean just stands idly by, looking bored until he realizes, “Oh we should probably leave.”

There is actually something these zombies are doing that you may have noticed is quite unique from other zombies. Yeah, they are using weapons and running! How about that? If there is one thing you have to give this movie credit for, it’s that it tried to do something different with a genre that even they knew was going to quickly become mundane. It’s a breathe of fresh air, as it actually gives this nonsensical film an (at the time) original spin.

nc_3Dean wants to alert the area of this atrocity, which is a clever and rational thing to do, but the man, General Murchison specifically, censors him like communist Russia and Dean is immediately suspended from work. And you thought you were having a bad day! Meanwhile on the opposite end of the spectrum, Major Holmes (Mel Ferrer) is about to “hit that” when he’s alerted of the crisis and put into action. Looks like a cold shower for you this morning, Major. At ease!

It’s just like the authority to be late on the action. The zombies bust in to the TV station, which is totally convenient to move this somewhat of a plot along. While the military is figuring out what to do and calling their loved ones, Dean heads over to the hospital to save his woman, since he’s a man of action. Even with the zombies killing everyone in the hospital, Dean still manages to save her in a heroic, muscle bound brute fashion as they get away in a Volkswagen Beetle. Get outta here, ’69 Dodge Charger, ya schmuck… make way for the new muscle car!

The remainder of the film is actually quite redundant. The various characters are taking shelter, trying to stay alive, but alas failing to do so. Dean and his wife find themselves holed up at various locations, each time she vomits out nonsense women’s lib and the evil of mankind. I’m not saying women’s lib is nonsense, but trust me… you do not want this woman speaking for your cause. However, Dean is always spared from these self indulgent speeches as zombies always seem to attack and the two flee to the next location to repeat this tired process. It would be boring if it weren’t for the unintentionally amusingly, stupid decisions that these characters constantly make. Seriously, they make Gomer Pyle look dignified and subtle. You will feel like you’re stuck in a loop, kinda like Groundhog Day, but instead of reliving the same day with the freedom to take what you previously learned and do as you please, you have to watch the same scene over and over and over…

nc_4They finally wind up at an amusement park (Zombieland nods, perhaps?) where guess what? That’s right! Zombie attack! Only this time, Dean takes the fight over flee and scoops up a machine gun and grenades (GRENADES!?!?) and mows down zombie after zombie Rambo style, one arming, using the “spray and pray” method. As he and his wife climb to the top of a roller coaster, Major Holmes arrives in a chopper to try and rescue them. As the two make their way up the ladder, Dean’s wife falls and plummets to her death, smacking every poll on the way down in perhaps one of cinema’s most hilarious death scenes. But, this film does not end the way you think it would. Not even close… hint: Think Phantasm.

Raro Video once again restores a classic from the original 35mm and let me tell you, this is the best it will ever look (until there is a new way to transfer in the future). After comparing it to the Anchor Bay DVD release, this new HD transfer has less grain and the colors and contrast look quite good. Everything looks very crisp, which is unfortunate for the special effects, as it seems to highlight how terrible they are and reveals every flaw. The audio is 2.0 and you get both English and Italian. Although it’s stereo, it sounds pretty good and everything sounds clear as rain, which is more than you could ask for. However, if you’re looking for special features, I’m afraid you won’t find much as far as quantity goes, but quality wise, there is a rather excellent interview with Umberto Lenzi from 2000 that runs almost an hour long. I found it to be informative to watch. Other than that, you get both Italian and American trailers, which to me look identical. This is all packaged underneath an old fashioned, but still cool slip cover (which the film Demon Queen stole the image for), which reveals the classic artwork you are probably most accustomed to. Overall, a well packaged transfer worth the investment (you’re welcome, Raro… when can I expect my check?).

Nightmare City
For all the negative things I had to say about Nightmare City, at least it’s pretty damn original and fun. It’s not your typical zombie film, offering more intelligent “undead” that wield weapons, make semi-rational decisions and run. Fans of average, run of the mill zombie media may not find enjoyment in the film, but I suggest you put away that Walking Dead chubby every seems to have, take a risk and watch something different, such as Nightmare City. The gore isn’t necessarily excessive, but there is a decent amount. The acting is exactly how good you would expect it to be (although a lot of that is to blame on the almost early FMV game style audio dubbing) and although the plot is downright silly and, let’s face it, it is a stupid movie, you will find yourself having a good time, whether you are laughing at it for one or two of the various reasons you should be, I think you will be pleasantly pleased with Nightmare City.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Mild mannered reporter, Hugo Stiglitz.
  • Runner up for worst zombie makeup.
  • Mel Ferrer or Tommy Lee Jones?
  • Ninja Doc!
  • Blood drinking zombies.
  • Women’s lib and coffee talk.
  • Best amusement park ride ever!
  • The nightmare truly is a reality. Harsh.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

There is a decent amount of the ‘bright red bonanza’ as well as few other spectacles, like a head explosion.

5

blood

BREASTS

What would an aerobics class be without boobs?

8

beast

BEASTS

Running zombies are a scary thing, regardless of how stupid your characters are.

6.6 OVERALL
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Watch the video review of “Nightmare City”!

trailers

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