Archive for the 'Drama' Category

Aug

Comments Off on Profile of a Killer

Profile of a Killer

We’re all guilty of going great lengths to get attention and who came blame us? With all this social media, it’s hard to get anyone’s attention, unless your most inopportune moment happens to be captured and put on YouTube. But unless you want to become the latest meme, how far would you go? I remember I once pretended to run away from home, thinking my mom would come looking for me. Probably should have ran further than my backyard.

Take young David here, for example. It’s Christmas time and he’s becoming Minnesota’s next serial killer, leaving a trail of decomposing skeletons across Route 61, earning himself the nickname “61 Killer.” It’s a good thing he didn’t leave the bodies along Route 69! And all of the things Minnesota is known for, besides Kirby Puckett and the invention of Scotch Tape, it has to be bizarre serial killers. Anyway, with local police baffled, they call for the help of retired FBI Profiler, Saul Aitken, who kinda looks like Robert DeNiro in some scenes. Saul meets up with Special Agent Cade, who seems like a more confident or veteran Clarice Starling. She comes off as cold and emotionless, but still pretty cute. Together, they go over the details of the case, examining the bodies, one of which is missing an arm, attempting to connect all the clues together, but this may be harder than it seems, since both profiles they have come up with so far are opposing ideas.

Later at his hotel that night, Saul gets a special delivery… the missing arm from one of the bodies! Shouldn’t have ordered the mystery meat. Saul rushes to his door to chase after the delivery man, but in a surprising turn against cliches, the killer is still at the door and kidnaps Saul at gunpoint. I almost thought we were going to have a moment similar to Seven there for a moment.

poak_2Saul wakens in a bathtub, cuffed by the ankles and hands like a prisoner, but not shackled down to anything (don’t worry, this isn’t another Saw style movie). He gets up and moves around the sullied, broken down home and finds young David cooking them breakfast. After a tour of his humble abode, David tells Saul that he’s been ‘fishing’ for a profiler, to tell him exactly who he is, how he thinks, why he kills. So he wants to be… profiled. And this is the great length he will go to get his attention, but the police and FBI aren’t giving in to it.

The remainder of the movie is what the internet is calling a ‘cat and mouse’ game. But whenever I hear that, I think of Tom and Jerry chasing each other dressed as Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. Don’t ask. But for a lack of a better description, we’ll go along with calling it that. Reminding me of Hard Candy, the favorable odds seem to shift back and forth between Saul and David periodically and rather quickly. Just when you think Saul is breaking through David’s psyche, making progress, David will throw him a figurative curve ball that makes Saul not only question the methods and the fragile mind of David, but maybe some of his own life decisions.

David turns all of this into a game. Saul must ask the right questions, make an accurate profile of David if he is to prevent him from killing again. No matter what David does, the authorities won’t give him any media attention (if only we would do the same with Lady Gaga), so he decides to focus his attention on the police, targeting Special Agent Cade. Now things are becoming personal for Saul and the police are closing in on their whereabouts as the game comes to conclusion.

poak_3Profile of a Killer isn’t about showcasing visceral, over the top and gory deaths, but instead is a cerebral film, pitting two minds of opposing sides of criminology against each other. I found myself at the edge of my uncomfortable futon guessing in anticipation as to what might happen next. Most of the time, I was wrong. Films like this tend to fall into their own cliches, making them predictable and stale, but this movie doesn’t go in the other direction; it goes in a different direction altogether. It’s a familiar feeling that seems to be turned on its side. You’ll be surprised.

At times, it can feel like the movie is dragging on (run time is about two hours), however it’s for a good reason: They are taking their time and developing character and I have to say this is the film’s strongest point. You feel sympathetic and confused for David (after all, we are all lost in this world over saturated with social media), you can feel the frustration and sadness of Saul. Even the minor characters, you feel like you know them because we actually spend the right time with them and the progression the character goes through.

You can check out Profile of a Killer on Demand now and if the delivery man happens to bring you a package while watching it, make sure it’s something you’re expecting.

roadside attractions

  • Meatless skeletons.
  • Special Agent Cade: Dana Scully or Clarice Starling?
  • Saul, Robert DeNiro stunt double.
  • I cut off the Sheriff’s face, but I did not cut off the face of the deputy.
  • Spam Christmas dinner.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

A little bit, but lots of gruesome skeletons.

4

blood

BREASTS

They always seem to be under several layers of coats. Cade keeps them wrapped up pretty tight… except for that one scene…

8

beast

BEASTS

The minds of Saul and David are quite beastly. And Cade kicks some arse.

6.3 OVERALL
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Watch the official trailer!”

trailers

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Jul

Comments Off on The ABCs of Death

ABCs of Death

Not too long ago, I won a copy of The ABC’s of Death on Bluray from Magnet as part of a V/H/S/2 fan art contest and I finally got around to watching it. It had quite a bit of buzz surrounding it and the concept is quite interesting. Basically, each letter is a short film from a different director. Despite mixed reviews, I was still excited nonetheless (after all, isn’t the idea to see what I think about the film?). Rather than do a typical review, I thought I would try something a little different. Maybe something of a pun, if you will. So much like the film, I’m going to go through the alphabet, A-Z (in case you couldn’t figure that out) and give a word or two review on that particular letter, using the same letter. Afterwards, I’ll go back though and give more of an insight on the film experience. Alright, let’s start this mother!

A is for Alright, pretty rad!
B is for Boring.
C is for Condensed crap.
D is for Damn, downright dirty!
E is for Ehh…
F is for Frickin’ stupid.
G is for God, what a waste.
H is for Hella cool hound dog.
I is for Insomnia cure.
J is for Japan.
K is for Klassic Krap.
L is for Ludacris!
M is for Moronic.
N is for No thank you.
O is for Oh… kay…
P is for Pretty Lame.
Q is for Quack-tastic!
R is for Righteous and rowdy!
S is for Sadistically supercharged!
T is for Terrifying toilet trouble!
U is for Unseen killer.
V is for Visually mediocre.
W is for Whacky!
X is for X-tremely stupid.
Y is for Yeah, don’t lick little boy’s arse sweat.
Z is for Zoinks! Giant Nazi dong!

The ABC’s of Death goes beyond an anthology. The filmmakers are given even a shorter amount of time to tell their story and for the most part, lots of them are done pretty well. For some of them, like L and S, you can’t help but think how those segments would be if they were full length features, combining stylistic shots with unique stories. The ideas they had, even for a short, are incredible. At times, some of them felt a little too ambitious and it only felt like they were using blood and gore to grab your attention. Like C, it was if they didn’t trust their own storytelling ability and it shows. Other times, give O for example, was a very beautiful story to look at, but it didn’t feel like there was much of a story being told. Instead it’s just slow motion shots of very artistic images. It would be like if you gave a photographer a video camera. Of course, there were some really hilarious ones, H, T and Z especially. I don’t know if those segments would have worked as full length features, but they were entertaining and made me laugh.

ABCs of DeathFor all of its flaws (hey, it’s not going to be perfect), The ABC’s of Death feels like an interesting experimental piece and I’d have to say the experiment was a success! You get a mixture of action, horror, drama, science fiction, claymation, animation and comedy all rolled in to one. Unlike most anthologies, there is no underlining narrative to link all the stories together, so there is no connection between stories. Each one has its own beginning and end.

Although it has a handful of uninteresting (and some even downright lazy with their ideas or execution), overall it was very entertaining, sickening and even shocking at moments. You could say it’s a mixed bag, which it is, but the good outweighs the bad. Giving the restrictions each film maker had, most of them did a bang up job and with the recent announcement of a sequel; I say B is for Bring it on!

roadside attractions

  • Educational and gory!
  • Dog gone!
  • Japan.
  • Masterba-tory-overdose.
  • Toilet troubles.
  • Heroine fueled race with the Devil!
  • Vampire-cam.
  • Robots blowing up babies.
  • Nazis!
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

The root of every segment.

7

blood

BREASTS

The more poor segments tend to throw this more to keep your attention.

8

beast

BEASTS

Monsters, Devils, Furries, claymation toilets that eat people, spiders, serial killers, boogeymen, hookers and Nazis… there is something here for everyone!

8 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer for The ABCs of Death.

trailers

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Jul

Comments Off on The Ghastly Love of Johnny X

suspiria

Ready for a far out science fiction adventure? Well, here’s something groovy you may want to check out, dig it? Ok, I promise I’ll lighten up on the all the hepcat slang. In the spirit of the 1950’s, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is homage to the black and white beatnik flicks, absurdly silly sci-fi films like Plan 9 from Outer Space and even musicals, like Rocky Horror Picture Show. Normally mixing this many genres can make a film incoherent or confusing, but here it seems to all blends together… like nice, old fashioned milkshake.

Beginning in the science fiction element, our title character Johnny X, full name Jonathan Xavier, is banished from his home world for being too wild and reckless, like his role model, the reckless rock star (possibly in the vein of Elvis) Mickey O’Flynn, played by, in the oddest casting choice, Creed Bratton from The Office. So as a punishment from the head councilman (played by Kevin McCarthy in his final role), Johnny is sent to Earth, until he can do a selfless act. But with an attitude like Johnny’s, what do think is going to happen next?

One year later, a drop dead gorgeous woman named Bliss abruptly enters a diner in literally the middle of nowhere and seduces the young man behind the counter, Chip and the two are about to take off… that is, until Johnny and his gang, The Ghastly Ones, crash the party. This is where the film jumps genres from beatnik to musical, but does it casually. You go along with the musical number, snapping along, as the singing provides exposition, as Johnny uses what he calls the ‘Resurrection Suit’. This suit gives him the ability to control others, but Chip manages to pull off some heroics and saves Bliss as they flee into the desert.

HBTMOverhearing what is going on, a patron at the diner by the name of King Clayton (played by the always favorable Reggie Bannister) who just so happens to be the manager of Mickey O’Flynn, offers a deal with Johnny: Help him with his ‘situation’ with Mickey and in return, he will bring back the soda jerk Chip and Bliss. And what situation would that be? Well, it’s not that he didn’t show up for rehearsal as the news previously had reported… turns out, King Clayton is in deep with loan sharks to keep his theater open and Mickey was gonna pack the house and pay the debt, except that he croaked the night before the rehearsal. So the idea is to get the Resurrection Suit back to reanimate the recently departed Mickey to put on the show. Could this be that selfless act that gives Johnny the ticket to go home?

Well as luck would have it, King Clayton is Chip’s uncle and along with Bliss, they walk right into the lion’s den, so to speak. Putting all grudges aside, leaving Bliss for his new girl (and gang member) Bobbi Socks, Johnny gets ready for the show. However, the sluggishly oaf and appropriately named Sluggo, in an act of independence, sabotages the suit and flees with the now reanimated Mickey and kidnapping Bliss along the way. Recruiting Chip into the gang, baptizing him as ‘Soda’, the two put their differences aside and head off to save Bliss, who Sluggo is demanding in exchange for the Resurrection Suit. And so begins the final battle. Will Johnny defeat Sluggo and save the girl? Will he get home? Don’t worry. All of these questions are answered in the final act.

Overall, the movie is an entertaining romp that those with love of retro cinema and serials will love. It also has some silliness that brings the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra to mind. It not only has a sense of humor, but you a splash of love for everything that is the 50’s. Director Paul Bunnell brings all together fantastically to bring you something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is a throwback to those beatnik romps with greasers, gangs, dames, slime balls, dweebs, thugs, Martians and weirdoes… all in the name of love. It’s an adventure, it’s a musical, and it’s groovy. Check this one out. Dig, Daddy-O (Oh come on, I had to end on some cool slang)?

You can purchase The Ghastly Love of Johnny X here!

roadside attractions

  • Devo hat.
  • Soda shake romp.
  • Hepcats and dames.
  • Rock-a-billy zombie Creed.
  • World domination… with science!
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Nothing to really see hear, but that’s not what it’s about.

7

blood

BREASTS

Plenty of busty dames to oogle at.

8

beast

BEASTS

Sluggo and a zombie Mickey O’Flynn. Even the girls are deadly.

6.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer here!

trailers

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Jun

Comments Off on Deep Red (Profondo Rosso)

Deep Red

Dario Argento, also known as the Italian Hitchcock. Not because he is a white, overweight, sexual deviant harassing his stars, but because he understands what makes a horror/thriller really good: suspense. The man really knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat (or in my case, a cheap, broken futon) and when it builds up until it can’t build up anymore, it knocks the breath out of you and kicks you back, but you come back for more. It’s a rush. Furthermore, both Hitchcock and Argento’s stories focus on a protagonist who is trying to solve a murder on their own. There’s something people don’t do anymore. Nowadays people just call the police. Boring.

I thought it would be appropriate if we took a look at the film that put Dario Argento on the radar, Profondo Rosso a.k.a. Deep Red or The Hatchet Murders (yeah, Italian films usually had at least eight or nine different titles). The movie starts off heartwarmingly terrifying enough with a struggle between two characters we can’t see, until one of them is stabbed to death and we hear a child scream, over a creepy child’s tune. It’s a familiar set up, but it’s Dario Argento’s execution throughout the film that makes this shocking and unique.

The LampThat was just the title credits, by the way. The film follows pianist (tee hee) Marcus, who one day heading home after visiting his friend Carlo, who has some rather odd jokes about rape and is involved with a transvestite (because, why not?), witnesses the death of a medium, Helga Ulmann. Earlier that day, Helga was using her sweet Professor X type powers (ok, they weren’t that cool) and begins to hear that child’s tune we heard at the beginning. Upon reading into this, she fingers a dark and twisted mind in the audience and then in a very stylish (and later to become Argento’s trademark) POV shot, that person gets up and leaves the lecture to kill Helga for being ousted. Or maybe they really had to pee.

Anyway, Marcus fails to save the medium and remembers a painting of several faces missing from the apartment, which will come into play later. But for now, we are introduced to what is probably the Italian film industry’s favorite occupation, reporter. This reporter, Gianna, is played by Daria Nicolodi, who will go on to collaborate with Dario Argento in many other films. She’s one of those no nonsense, women’s lib kinda girl (by the way, we here at The Lost Highway are down with the whole Women’s Lib thing…). Marcus can’t let go of this mystery. He searches for Carlo to ask him what he remembers from the night of the murder and we meet Carlo’s mother, who makes Angela’s Aunt from Sleepaway Camp look subtle and sane. Later, Marcus hears that same tune, only he is able to save his own skin. He and Gianna decide to look into this tune with the help of psychiatrist Dr. Giordani, who was an associate of Helga’s. This brings them to writer Amanda Righetti, who is murdered before Marcus can talk to her, but she leaves a very clever message written on her bathroom wall that is uncovered when Girodani later visits the crime scene and steams up the room (I just read how bad that sounds…)!

The LampThis turns out to be unfortunate for him, however. He basically put a giant bullseye on his back and partakes in what is one of the creepiest scenes to involve a doll. Perhaps influencing the Billy puppet from Saw, a two-foot-something puppet runs out from behind a curtain scaring the poop out of him! His reaction is that he is quite startled, but I think I would have screamed and ran around setting fire to the room. Meanwhile, Marcus and Gianna continue their end of the investigation in a deserted house, with plenty of close calls and thrills, tying all the previous clues together, bringing them to more clues. Only this time, the clues seem to point at Carlo as the culprit, who stabs Gianna and holds Marcus at gunpoint… but he couldn’t have been the killer, could he? Marcus was talking to him when Helga was killed. Hmm, further and further down the rabbit hole… It’s now in the final act that Marcus remembers what was in that painting he saw: The face of the killer! But who could it be? So many odd, colorful characters that it could be.

The movie concludes nicely, tying up all loose ends while making it look good, all in a grisly, gory, good old fashioned death scene with plenty of blood and gore. Deep Red doesn’t skip in that department, so all you sickos can get your fix here.

All of this stretches out over a two hour run time, which does seem a bit long for this. Being one of Dario Argento’s earlier works, as good as the suspense and tension is, it can feel drawn out. Deep Red definitely takes it time getting from one point to another, which can turn off some viewers (although they certainly would be missing an excellent movie). And if you are watching the Director’s Cut that Blue Underground put out back in 2007, the dialogue goes from English dubbed to Italian dubbed with English subtitles, since a fully dubbed Director’s Cut does not exist, it can be distracting to those who don’t want to read their movie during certain scenes.

Deep Red is intense, shocking and violent. It’s a mystery that will keep you guessing and you’ll get excited with each clue toward to reveal of the killer. No matter how many times I see this, sometimes I forget who the killer is and it’s like I’m watching it for the very first time. So, turn off the lights and lock the doors, and watch one of the more suspenseful movies from the 70’s. But, get the hell out of there if you start to hear any creepy children’s music.

roadside attractions

  • Take a shot every time you hear that children’s tune.
  • Take another shot every time there is atrocious dubbing.
  • Shaved with Glass!
  • Tranny Troubles.
  • Dolly Dearest.
  • Steaming up the bathroom.
  • Elevator Decapitation!
  • Pianist.
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

For a giallo, you see plenty of hacking, slashing and even a decapitation!

4

blood

BREASTS

Closest we get is a tranny and a psychic in robes.

8

beast

BEASTS

A tranny, a psychic, a pianist, a reporter and a crazy killer.

7 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie here.

trailers

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Jun

Comments Off on Female Teacher Hunting

Often called “pink films” (another term for soft-core Japanese porn… think Cinemax after 12 a.m. in Asia), the Nikkatsu Roman Porno series put out over 700 titles between 1971 – 1988! Proof the porn industry was certainly booming! Although, calling these titles “porn” is like calling circus peanuts “candy”. These pinky films were called “thrillers” for a reason; often having a dark or twisted plot, while throwing in some sex and sleaze to keep them “pink”, while censoring the man’s junk. On a side note, I realize the subject of rape isn’t a joke and it’s very touchy and can be difficult to write about. So when you see I’m making a joke, please know that it’s about the characters or a reference, not on the actual subject itself.

Let’s take a look at Female Teacher Hunting. If I had heard the title, I would have figured this to be an 80’s Linnea Quigley flick about some backwoods, hairy guy hunting down a school teacher in the Deep South. However, the tale is a little more complex than that (but I did get the 80’s part right). Two high-schoolers, Midori and Daisuke, enjoy a little skinny dip in the school’s pool, but when Midori’s uniform is found in the pool the next day, Daisuke’s teacher Sakatani accuses him of rape. His defense is by telling her that rape isn’t as easy as she think… not the best defense, but he means someone would have heard her scream.

It instantly elevates to uncomfortable levels when Daisuke, ashamed, storms off to find Midori, and forces sex on her in the radio room with the microphone on for the whole school to hear (where’s the FCC when you actually need them?). He then drops out of school and that’s about as much school as you see. Sakatani spends some time on the coast having an affair with a married man, who happens to be writing a report about rape, taking a break from his wife and daughter. Ah, a vacation from all responsibilities.

blackbagWhile this is going on, Daisuke just so happens to be at the same coastal town, taking refuge with a bar owner after accidently spilling some drunkards bottle and getting pummeled. Not only does the bar owner take him in, he shares his girlfriend with him, in which the film shares with us the saddest threesome in history. Ladies, you know those stories you hear about a three-way being every man’s dream? Well, let this prove you wrong.

But this film isn’t necessarily supposed to be erotic. The three main characters come off as troubled convincingly, especially Daisuke. You feel sympathetic toward him during the film and then you feel disgusted toward him at the end. Sakatani seems to be the one you despise the most, accusing Daisuke of rape and having an affair with a married man. She comes off as the film’s villain, but she really isn’t all that bad. As I stated earlier, the sexual element of the movie is not necessarily for arousal, but to actually support the emotions of characters and move the plot along. You get a sense of wrongness while it’s going on and as the before mentioned three way, it’s supposed to come off as sad and pathetic. I guess that only leaves Midori as the film’s only innocent character that you feel terrible for, since she is mixed up with these other hooligans.

Female Teacher Hunting is a short ride, just a little over the one hour mark, but in that time it does get its story across and remain erotic. The DVD transfer from Impulse (the erotic driven division of the great Synapse Films) looks very good, given the films thirty year old age. Edges look smooth, colors look nice. Nothing looks washed out or soft, unless it was done intentionally. Although, the only audio option is 2.0 mono Japanese, English subtitles are provided with no distraction. However, if you are looking for extras, you’ll find this one is pretty bare, only including a theatrical trailer and some liner notes from Jasper Sharp.

As far as the “pink” movies go, you’ll find Female Teacher Hunting to be different that what’s expected of this genre of film. It’s more drama driven, using the sex scenes as a sad and depressing display of character development as they spiral down into their own self destruction. Fans of this genre looking for hot and steamy sex scenes may want to resort to going to the curtained rooms in your video stores, since you won’t find what you’re looking for here.

Check out other flicks in Impulse Pictures catalogue.

roadside attractions

  • -Sex Scene Shot Game!
  • -Also, take a shot every time you feel depressed for trying to get aroused.
  • -Think happy thoughts.
  • -Did this ruin the ‘sexy teacher’ fantasy for you?
totals

3

blood

BLOOD

Very little after some fighting, but this isn’t a gore flick.

9

blood

BREASTS

Lots, although most of the time not in the context you want.

6

beast

BEASTS

No monsters, but the characters themselves are somewhat monsterly.

6 OVERALL
dripper

Check out the trailer for “Female Teacher Hunting”

trailers

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Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>