Join the Lost Highway mutant gang (Barry Goodall, The Doktor, and Giallo Goon) as they discuss the 1982 slasher classic, Pieces. Listen with the player below, or use the Download link to save a copy of the MP3 to your computer.
Year: 1977 Runtime: 88 min
Director: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Writer: Chiho Katsura (screenplay), Chigumi Ôbayashi (original story)
Starring: Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo and Kumiko Ohba
After the massive success of Jaws, the suits at Toho contacted Nobuhiko Ôbayashi to develop a similar script. What they got was a ketamine fueled wet fart or, in common parlance, a screenplay both twisted and swarming with juvenile poo-poo humor. I cannot imagine the demented fever which destroyed the writer’s fragile grip on reality as he wrote this. Sweet Sweating Christ outside Mary Magdalene’s door! What ungodly torture to endure, even for a moment.
See. The mere mention of it brought me to a frenzy. I have to relax, there is more to tell.
The final product can only be considered a film only in the strictest meaning of the word. That is, it’s a collection of pictures, one after the other, playing at 24 frames per second for 88 minutes. Truth is, Hausu is something you experience, like love or LSD or a colostomy. Each has their allure, but rarely do they make sense. Even in retrospect.
Hausu is the story of a young girl, Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami), and her six friends who visit Gorgeous’ aunt over summer break. Gorgeous and her friends are named for their asset: Gorgeous is beautiful and fashion conscious; Prof is the smart one with glasses and her face in a book; Melody can play any musical instrument; Kung Fu is a master of martial arts; Mac is the fat, hongry one; Sweet is sweet; and finally, Fantasy is the overly imaginative one.
Aunt, who is never named, broods in her mansion on the hill, the titular house. For thirty years she has haunted the place, waiting—love never effectuated. She and her fiancé had made a pinky promise to marry once he returned from WWII. Because he never did the years of solitude twisted Aunt into a malevolent demon.
That ends the logical portion of the film. The rest is a hellish string of things-that-happen in Hunter S. Thompson proportions, if he were a Japanese school girl in a Jaws reinterpretation.
The madness experienced first hand by the girls is usually explained away as “an illusion.” I tend to agree with that assessment. How else would you explain disembodied fingers playing a piano, or a grown man transformed into a pile of bananas or skin falling away to reveal a new body of flame, a la Johnny Storm, or equality for all in the eyes of the law?
Never watch this film before going to bed. Strange and terrible things will stalk your slumber. I will speak of it no more because my blood runs cold remembering my dreams. I ask that you trust me on this.
I do not want to spoil the roller coaster ride, so I will just say this and be done with it: Hausu is the epitome of schizophrenic genius. The absolute best anti-drug propaganda I have ever witnessed. And, just for the record, as diametrically opposed to Jaws any film could be.
Check out the trailer for “Hausu”
This is the case with the 1977 Italian-made Jaws homage, Tentacles. The special appearance is by Hollywood legend Henry Fonda (he musta needed a new water heater)—but the who’s who doesn’t stop there. John Huston plays some kind of aging reporter who had a bizarre relationship with his sister. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, well, bone up on yer film history. Huston directed The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and The African Queen, to name only a few. He can also be seen in Chinatown, but most importantly he played The Lawgiver in the Battle for the Planet of the Apes and provided the voice for Gandalf in the animated version of The Hobbit.
Oh, and Huston’s sister is played by the one and only Shelley Winters.
Bo Hopkins, of The Wild Bunch and TV fame, rounds out the intrepid cast. Hopkins plays a scientist what trains orcas for…science, I guess. It is all very scientific. The training, not the orcas. They just swim and eat fish.
Huston is trying to solve the mystery behind the dead bodies piling up on the shores of Ocean Beach (yes, Ocean Beach). Or what is left of the bodies anyway—the skeletons have been picked cleaner than my checking account after my last divorce. No one is safe: not even babies or peg leg ship captains.
As the title suggests, the killer is, wait for it, an octopus (even though an octopus’ limbs are usually referred to as ‘arms’). This results in many blown-up, close up shots of a normal octopus, and a few rubber tentacles for good measure. Toy boats are laid to ruin in a few scenes, which is always a joy to watch, plus there are even a few bikinis which are thankfully nearly toy-sized.
Speaking of flesh, one of Winters’ kids has my favorite line of the film: “Mommy, you’re plump! There’s more to love!” Ah, kids. When they ain’t bein’ ate up by a giant octopus, they say the darnedest things. Winters also sports the craziest hat this side of Kurt Russel’s from The Thing, and seems more focused on her son’s urinary tract and having awkward conversations with her brother than the killer octopus.
Later on, after a feeding frenzy, Hopkins decides to take the fight to the octopus, and boxes up his trained orcas. By which I mean, he sticks them in a giant metal tube, and hauls them with his boat. Not knowing if the whales will actually fight upon being set free, Hopkins delivers a heartfelt soliloquy via the tube’s food hole (followed by tossing in a couple of fish).
Like any good Jaws ripoff, Tentacles is hilarious. Being a foreign production, there are plenty of absurd moments, which only make the film more endearing. Huston and Fonda don’t seem to phone in their performances either—they give it their all, which is the cherry on top. Plus, this was made in the late 1970’s, so the wardrobe is outstanding. There are lapels you could land a jet fighter on.
Tiger says, give this one a watch.
Tiger Sixon is forced to watch B-movies from the comfort of a secret government base in Death Valley. He looks nothing at all like Daniel J. Hogan (@danieljhogan) who draws comics and writes humor for Clattertron.
Tagline: We’ll make your engine run hot.
Year: Runtime: 99 min
Director: George Mihalka
Writer: Richard Zelniker
Starring: Michael Zelniker, Carl Marotte and Karen Stephen
The year was 1980. The 70s were officially gone, but not far enough to persuade caucasian men into thinking white fro’s were NOT cool. Arcades were stocked solely with pinball machines. And most importantly, women wore their short shorts up past their navels, making a paradise of moose knuckles and buttock cheeks.
Into this nirvana came the movie Pick-up Summer, a teen-age sex comedy that breaks from most expected plot points and tropes in the genre. Originally it was titled Pinball Summer, but changed because there is far more pick-up, and I mean this quite literally (more later), than pinball. There is a bit of pick-up, read: hooking up, but the act of physically sweeping one off their feet way out numbers any getting together.
One of the most disheartening omissions is the lack of sweater meat. Sure, there is titillation in the form of nipples visible through flimsy t-shirts, but only three scenes of full on bazooms. What’s worse, two of the three scenes are quick flashes.
Sex comedy sans boobs?
The biggest departure from the genre is the lack of the outsider/loner/geek who has to challenge the dashing stud at the fad competition highlighted, in this movie’s case pinball. There’s no initial challenge where our hero fails. There’s no training montage to build up the hero back up. And though there is a final showdown, it’s hard to make a game of pinball exciting. It’s like an ugly contest. You can’t get excited about the competition. You feel sorry for the winner. And, at some point, you realize that you simply don’t care.
Instead, what this movie does offer is an hour and twenty minutes of rivalry building, in the form of two sets of idiots stealing a trophy from one another. The trophy they are taking from one another is half of the prize for winning the pinball tournament. The other half being a date with the Pinball Queen, the dream of all young girls. I understand that this is a small town, and a comedy not to be taken seriously, but really, fighting over a trophy? And Pete, the owner of the arcade, is really worried about it being stolen? What, he can’t afford to replace this piece of crap trophy?
Oh, and just to make sure the audience hates everyone in the film, there’s a liberal amount of unwarranted pranking. You would be hard pressed to find a film with kids more deserving of getting viciously murdered than these jerks. Where was Mike Myers, Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger?
Everyone in this movie—the teens, the adults, the cops—are all best described as a “shower of bastards.”
Then there’s the new fangled pinball machine, Arthur: The Talking Pinball Machine. This is the creepiest piece of technology since Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nothing says fun like, “Hey! Don’t tickle me there!” coming from a pinball machine painted to look like Ronald McDonald’s lecherous uncle.
Why would you want to watch such an cinematic abortion? There’s a few reasons. First, there’s a smashing drinking game you can play. (I’m quite fond of the maxim, “The more you drink, the better the film gets.”) Every time someone gets picked up, drink. You can use either definition, getting with someone or sweeping off their feet. The latter will get you good and drunk. Just don’t play this game if you’re going to be driving. I don’t want to be responsible for any DUI’s.
Second, although this movie is a far cry from from what you would expect from a film of this genre made in the 80s, the fact that it does stray so far off corse makes it fun to watch. Fun in a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 kind of way. You can’t help but sling snarky comments at the screen as you watch this film. Go on, try it.
Third, there are quite a few scenes with extras, some of which where obviously there as extras, some just happened to be in the area, or “production value”. It’s fun to watch what these people are doing, partially because of what the camera is focused on is so retarded, but also because there’s some very funny stuff happening, most unintentional. There’s a few scenes where the fourth wall is broken. There’s people who don’t know what the hell they’re supposed to be doing. Better still, in the dancing scenes, the people who are dancing (and I use that term lightly) are only barely doing so. Tonic-clonic seizure comes to mind.
The best background hijinks is during the gym scene. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I will say this, it is intentional. Despite the filmmaker’s best effort to make a bad comedy, this is pretty funny.
Finally, there’s some unintentional bromance. Greg and Steve spend a little too much time together, during which they get too close for way too long. And then there’s the biker dry humping his fellow— enough of that. You get the idea. With all the touchy-feely tom foolery this film should have been called Grab-ass Summer.
This film isn’t bad enough to be remembered among the greats (Plan 9 from Outer Space, Manos Hands of Fate, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park) but it is entertaining enough to watch, especially if you’re in a nitpicking mood. It seems counter intuitive to say, but it’s the fact that it strays from the genre that makes it worth your while.
Check out the trailer for “Pick-up Summer”
I sit before you with a migraine, angry, writing this piece. Ahem. I remember checking out some graphic novels at a local Hastings store when I was a kid. One by Clive Barker in particular caught my. It was called Rawhead Rex and at the time, it was one of the most violent and shocking graphic novels I had seen. I was young and comics to me meant something like X-Men and Batman, but this… this was a whole other beast. Gore and foul language filled each page as Rex devoured villagers and children. I remember being stunned that he was totally nude and reminded me of the Alien from… well, Alien. Shortly thereafter, my brother and I saw the VHS at the same store. We were totally shocked this was made into a movie. How could the censors allow such a thing? We had to see it so we rented it immediately.
Remember that one Christmas as a kid where you asked for Top Gun on Nintendo, but instead you got the Top Gun Tiger Electronics Game?
Yeah, so there is this guy Howard Hallenbeck who is on holiday with his wife and two kids in Ireland to research some religious doo-dads for a book he’s writing. What a convenient set up for him. So where does Rex come in? A couple of farmers are trying to remove a phallic like structure (wouldn’t be a Clive Barker movie without one) and eventually it gets struck by lightning and BOOM! Instant demon!
Now here’s where it gets disappointing as I previously mentioned. It didn’t take the movie too long to get to this point.
Rex is… nothing like he looks like in the book. In the book, he was described as a nine foot tall phallus with teeth (…yup). And how does he look in the movie? He looks like Kane Hodder in a goofy Halloween mask with those blinking red LED lights and an S & M suit. And just like I did when I saw this as a kid, my face froze in a state of shock. I didn’t know if I should laugh or be angry. So I did both.
With Rex’s arrival, an alter at the local church becomes hot like a stove and a priest or deacon or whatever religious status he has by the name of Declan O’Brien touches it and sees visions of Rex and all his chaos. This blows his mind and he goes bonkers. Although I think it was unintentional, this guy becomes something of the comic relief character.
Not much to comment on anymore. Rex runs around eating people, one being Howard’s son, which was graphic in the comic, but here it’s only implied through edits. Sigh. Rex lazily slashes at people as what looks like ketchup is slapped on as special effects and people fall down and die. So by now, you’re just waiting for the movie to be over, but luckily O’Brien offers some of the funniest dialogue, with odd combinations of swearing at the top of his lungs and cackling like a madman. Best part of the film is when Rex ‘baptizes’ him by peeing all over O’Brien and he laughs like an idiot the entire time. I think I rewound this part like eight or nine times.
Finally your wish comes true and the movie draws to a close. Howard finds some relic that can kill Rex, but *choke* *gasp* it doesn’t work! Then his wife comes from out of nowhere and apparently, it had to be the power of a female to kill Rex. This could have worked… if they didn’t set this plot device up in the final ten seconds! Seriously, you could have built up to it. I know, they probably wanted to give the female character something to do instead of just being in the background, but that’s all she was up until this point! So they kill him, some kid puts flowers on a grave and Rex’s emerges from the ground and roars, as if this movie merited a sequel.
Come to think of it, in the graphic novel, I believe the villagers got together and pillaged him. That would have been way better. I also heard rumors of a remake a few years back, but nothing since. Clive Barker was wise to discredit this movie. Boo.
Check out the trailer for “Rawhead Rex”