Archives for July 2008 | Varied Celluloid

Archive for July, 2008

End O’ The Month Update

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 30 - 2008

Well, it’s the end of the month – and I figured I had better get one last update. July has been the most active month this site has seen since the server switch and this might be the most I have ever written in a month since 2003. In fact, since the move, this month has garnered me the most in terms of visitors since my first month on the server. That month I had 25,000 hits, this month we had roughly 50,000 – so it doubled. I’m going to keep trying my best to be as active as possible everybody. It has finally seemed easy again. I like to think this new layout, the use of wordpress and now my ever new Gallery system is to thank. Now, for those of you used to the previous gallery system there is going to be a switch. No longer will there be a secondary page in the multimedia section, I found an easier plugin for my wordpress blogging program here that allows me to incorporate images into the reviews themselves. This should be easier for both you and I, because for me I no longer have to code up a whole page of HTML just to get the gallerys going – and now all you have to do is select a thumbnail (that looks almost just like my old “small graphics” in the reviews) and the larger version of the image will pop up for you to oggle/download/whatever. That’s a pretty big deal, and I am very happy with it. Hopefully you all will be too!

New Reviews

Black Shampoo – Greydon Clark, master of exploitation, delivered us this memorable piece of Blaxploitation and although many out there will tell you otherwise – I think it’s one of the best of the subgenre! No, I’m not kidding. The flick is so much fun, it’s hard to imagine a world without it! Check out the review and tell me you’re not feelin’ it.



Basket Case II – The second part in what turned out to be one of my favorite horror series as it went along. Lord, I remember flaming some girl on a horror messageboard about eight years ago for calling the series the best horror series ever made. Although I still don’t agree with the statement, and at the time I actually thought I had seen the series (turns out, me = wrong) but I guess being young and being dumb truly do go hand in hand! If that girl from the IGN boards ever reads this, I apologize and realize the genius of the Basket Case series… my bad!



Basket Case III – The lesser of the trilogy, but still fun (hey, it’s Henenlotter right?) and recommended mostly to see the conclusion. Now I must watch Frankenhooker! If I can find the DVD around here, look for that to be one of the next reviews on the site haha!



Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song – I expected to like it, since I generally enjoy anything a little weird and am also a big fan of the Blaxploitation genre. This is the one that started it all, but sometimes things just get better after a few other people get a shot at them. It may be the first, but certainly not the best. Still, worth seeing just for the education and a taste of the strange culture that spewed it forth.



OLD REVIEWS

Cure (Reviewed by OppressedWriter) – A user submitted review for this classic bit of Kiyoshi Kurosawa brilliance. When you think of great horror directors, if Kurosawa doesn’t pass into your mind – then do yourself a favor and head out as soon as possible to pick up this film, Kairo, Doppleganger and pretty much any film that bears his name. He’s really one of the most consistant writers out there that it seems almost no one is really aware of. Great film.



Cut Throats Nine – Originally written for my Taste of Sghetti film retrospective, it turned out to be one of those diamonds in the rough. Epic in its violence and scope, Cut Throats Nine is probably the goriest Spaghetti Western ever made – and worth seeing for that as well as the great story it tells. Great stuff.



Dead Calm (Review by Belle Alabaster) – Belle is a great friend of the site and even posts on the forums off and on again (which you should be as well!), she has reviewed quite a bit of Australian cinema for us in the past and is very elegant in her wording. Just a cool chick all around!



Deadbeat At Dawn (Review By RatFacedKilla) – Rat didn’t seem to enjoy this one as much as I did when I eventually got around to seeing it; but his analysis is pretty much spot on. It’s as low a budget filmmaking as you’re going to run into, but it can also be part of the charm. Van Bebber is a pretty distinct guy and you can’t really accuse him of making films like anyone else that’s for sure.



So that should just about do it everybody! Hopefully you guys enjoy all the words + pics! Now, do me a favor and get on those forums! I WANT COMPANY! Muahahaha!… did that seem evil and scary? Hopefully so, get a few of you goth horror fans in there!

Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 30 - 2008
The Plot: Sweetback is a young African American entertainer at what appears to look like some form of brothel/cabaret that takes place in someone’s living room. Well, after being escorted around one night by a couple of crooked white cops who pick up a young black kid and proceed to beat him unmerciful. Sweetback, unable to deal with seeing a young black man being treated in such a way he retaliates to the police and proceeds to half-kill them. Now Sweetback is wanted by the law and with no where to hang, he must simply: run!




The Review: Sometimes being the first in something will carry you quite a long way. You’re not really held to any standards yet when you’re inventing a genre. The films of Bruce Lee never had the stunning choreography of Yuen Woo Ping or many filmmakers who came much later. Sure, but his charisma is what carried those films and great storytelling were also integral in the success of Enter the Dragon. Black Christmas didn’t push the slasher subgenre further than many later films would do – but it relied on a great premise and the delivery of suspense. Sweet Sweetback’s Badassss Song is definitely one of the first of what we might consider the “blaxploitation” genre – but unlike the previously mentioned films – what is it that Sweetback has to offer? Not simply in comparison to the many great films that the genre would later produce – but I have found that many tend to share my opinion that while Sweetback certainly helped give birth to and influence the work of many independent young African American filmmakers throughout the seventies – it lacks in so many departments that it simply isn’t the sort of film you can bare to watch all too often. Working more like a film of the French New Wave told through the eyes of an oppressed young black man; the film is often needlessly stylized and comes off as slightly pretentious. It’s hard to completely deride the film, since who am I really? I surely didn’t start any subgenre of cinema that grossed millions and influenced the world – but I can’t lie and say that I was theroughly impressed with Sweet Sweetback simply because of the influence the film has had instead of the actual character of the film.

Watching the film, it comes off as if Melvin Van People’s wrote the script certainly with the idea that he would be playing the lead – and that since that was the case he might as well portray his character with as few flaws as possible and as superhuman as they could get away with. Although he does take a few punches in the film, for the most part when the character of Sweet Sweetback isn’t running – he is either knocking out a cop with very little effort or bringing women to orgasm without so much as a thrust of his pelvis. Aside from the displays of his amazing fighting skills and incomprehensible sexual prowess, Peoples does show his character as a testament to perseverance and a fighter of police brutality. These are good things, and I realize/hope that this was the main intent of the film. I’m sure in its time it provided hope and a character that young African Americans could look up to; which is likely the reason it became as popular as it did. Also being such a new thing surely didn’t hurt. However, as it is today it is such a hard film to try and sit through. Featuring scene after scene of random shots of the city, with Sweetback running down streets or across railroad tracks with the very repetitive theme song playing in the background. Then, eventually we somehow stumble into a new mini-story with Sweetback wandering into a location and either laying a chick or fighting a cop/being shot at. There are also the times where Sweetback runs into someone who proceeds to give a long monolauge of advice or simply swear words. This looks like perhaps improv meant to expose a few talents; but it just gives the film an even more fragmented feel – which doesn’t even seem possible.

Sweet Sweeback’s Badassss Song is an oddball flick that should be seen simply because of the cinematic relevance of it, but I won’t lie and say it is anywhere near a favorite film of mine. It is enjoyable if you sit back and take the whole feel of the picture into account and enjoy that. Just be prepared, as the film doesn’t feature a solid narrative and plays out like the editor wanted the film to feel like an acid trip. Lines of dialogue are repeated over and over again while the same sequence is shown in repeated camera angles with fades and effects layered over it. For what reason, your guess is as good as mine. Melvin Van Peoples probably has many reasons behind everything he did in the film, but these things aren’t always evident to the viewer. I give the film a rating of two, because sometimes will carry you a way – but really; if the content of the film isn’t up to the reputation it carries then the distance it will carry you can only be so far.



Cure

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 30 - 2008
Originally Written By OpressedWriter


Plot Outline: “Cure” or as it is known in it’s native tongue as “Kyua” is one of the most unnerving films I’ve watched in recent memory. The film directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa–no relation to Akira–deals with a puzzling string of murders involving people who seemingly remember nothing afterwards. However, there is one connection between all the murders, they all seem to have an X carved into their necks. This causes the main character, a detective–played wonderfully by Koji Yakusho–to question if there is some other force in the works.


  

The Review
“Kyua” doesn’t waste its time with genre conventions; it’s not a whodunit. The film’s villain is quickly revealed. It’s truly a film about the depraved, lower levels of the human mind. The enigmatic murderer–played perfectly by Masato Hagiwara–has the ability to hypnotize his victims into murdering for him. He is a new type of villain: one who uses a mere lighter, a buzzing sound, the drips of rain drops, water streaming across the floor, as means to control your mind. However, for all his manipulative strengths he has an obvious weakness, he has no short term memory, or does he? His ability or natural defect allows him to frustrate interrogators to the point of hostility. A typical conversation goes around in circles. For every question he is asked he repeats with five more, returning the conversation back to the root question. His creepy desire to ask his characters about what they do serves as a tension builder; that is how he slowly mesmerizes his victims into a submissive mental state.

The truly chilling idea behind this film is gently hinted at in the background. This is a very subtle, and abstruse film dealing with the lack of motivation and the internally malicious desires we all harbor but never let out. As one character points out in the film; hypnosis can only be used to entice people to do something they already have an idea to perform. I don’t know if this will send chills down everyone’s spine like it did mine, but the notion that all the murders in this film are premeditated desires is a very creepy thought.

Dark, tragic, and ambiguous. Not the adjectives you want to use to describe a Saturday night get together flick. This isn’t going to go well with most mainstream audiences; who will find it’s long takes, wide shots, and still camera movements extremely tedious. Film buffs on the other end and people who like to be immersed in films will appreciate the realism of the settings, the dilapidated housing, the dark lighting, the ambient noises making up the soundtrack, and the foreboding atmosphere.

The Conclusion
Kurosawa, is not a household name here, but in his native country he is directed a number of genre films. While uninformed connections can be made to Akira Kurosawa, they aren’t all unwarranted. Kurosawa shows a genius’ level of restraint, intelligence, and confidence behind the camera. The ending of “Kyua” is disturbing without ever being clear cut. The hints at things more sinister than the ones we’ve just witnessed leave a searing hole of lingering in the mind. “Kyua” is a perturbing masterpiece. A deranged, unnerving, lingering masterpiece of psychological horror.



Black Shampoo

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 30 - 2008
The Plot: Mr. Johnathan (no last name needed) is a hairdresser, who loves the ladies. He essentially lays just about all of his clients, and is the man around town all the women folk are just dying to get their hands on. After sleeping with a gaggle of women to start our film, Johnathan apparently meets his match in Brenda the new receptionist at the salon. However, when Brenda’s old flame finds her things get real ugly. See, Brenda used to date the head of a crime family and now that he wants her back; it seems she’s going to have to leave the salon. Johnathan promises her he’ll protect her – and when the mob goons break into HIS salon and trash the place – things go from personal… to deadly!


The Review: I’m going to start this review off by offending many readers out there by asking a question: you ever hear that song by The Bloodhound Gang “I Wish I Was Queer, So I could Get Chicks”? The song is about a man who pretends to be a homosexual in order to hook up with women, so of course the ladies hang out with gay guys all day long – so if you could fool the ladies into thinking you in fact loved the fellas; you could conceivably play up the friend role before springing the “more than friends” role on her. Well, Black Shampoo apparently shows this line of thinking to not only be correct – but indeed the greatest idea man has ever possibly conceived. See, the character of Johnathan isn’t gay – doesn’t act gay – but his job? Way gay. When I think of hairdressers, generally the ones that I have known have all been so far out of the closet they are in the driveway. Get it? Closet… driveway… differrent area of the house?… regardless, this film has inspired me. I thought for a while there the reason I was getting no play from the ladies was simply because I don’t speak to them and when they approach me I can hardly mutter a coherent sentence. What has been missing though is a much easier fix. Hair cutting prowess! I wouldn’t know the difference between a beehive and a perm but that’s soon to change! I’ve enrolled at a beauty college and if this site is not here in three months time – you’ll know I’m rollin’ in the deep seas of feminine sexual deviancy! However, if I’m still here we can all assume I still have no life or ladies – such is the way things are.

However, no matter how much I look to prepare – I honestly don’t see myself getting the whole “black Lou Ferrigno” look that Mr. Johnathan carries so well. I mean really, if the guy was green he could have been The Hulk’s stunt double – just as long as he didn’t have to take his shirt off of course; as Johnathan isn’t quite as ripped as old Lou but he’s certainly a buff dude for sure. I might could sway that but my ability to grow an Afro is unlikely. The basic premise of Black Shampoo is a pretty insane one, about as insane as these past paragraphs – but even more insane. Mr. Johnathan essentially spends the first twenty minutes of the film nailing as many chicks as he possibly can and the height of awesome is reached as he visits a “customer” who is looking to get her hair fixed on a house call. So here’s good old Johnathan being greeted by the daughter of said “customer”, who both look impossibly young (I hope they were 18!). The girls take Johnathan by the ppol whilst flirting with him hard and heavy, before dropping the payload as they claim “you know, we’ve shared a guy before! Twice!”. Whoa nelly, we have liftoff! The girls begin to stick their head in his lap and rub his body down before Mommy Dearest comes out to bullwhip the girls for attacking their guest. Next thing to happen? Mommy’s lifting her dress and riding his lap by the pool in front of the girls to show them how it’s done. WHAT!? How can this not be a porno? Soon enough, once the mob gets involved however – all the fun stuff comes to a halt. Then we get the violence! Okay, well, there’s a lot of set-up before the conclusion to the film but by the end of this process we’re treated to some fun stuff such as a hair curler shoved right up someone’s anus! Does it get much better than that? I think not!

I’ve read good and I’ve read bad aboutBlack Shampoo. Director Greydon Clark has some less than notable films under his belt, but ever since seeing his film The Bad Bunch I have been very interested in his work. Black Shampoo solidifies my view of him. Whether it’s bad, good, well meaning, exploitive – Greydon Clark makes interesting films. That doesn’t mean they’re going to be Godfather II, but his drive-in flare seems to hit all the right notes with me. I gave a pretty flamingly bad review for The Bad Bunch a few years back but I’ve grown to appreciate it over time – and Black Shampoo caught my liking with just the first viewing. It is by no means a “great”, you can read this review and figure out we’re talking exploitation here and you won’t be sucked in over the mesmorizing character development – but it gets the job done. John Daniels plays the character of Johnathan with enough flare that he isn’t mundane and turns out to be a lot of fun. Tany Boyd helps stabalize the film in the leading female role and is probably the strongest of the performances – but I watch the film and I see Greydon Clark and I see a film that makes me happy. It’s goofy, it’s fun and we all know Johnathan isn’t even talkative enough to be such a beloved individual with all of womenkind – but who cares; all the more reason to enjoy the work. You might think I’m crazy, giving the film a four out of five – when for some reason it’s a two out of ten on the IMDB – but if you like your drive-in exploitation as genre-dependent as they come then this will leave you entertained and then some. Seriously though, a two out of ten? What ARE the people on that site smoking?




Basket Case III

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 30 - 2008
The Plot: Dwayne and his brother Belial are back once again in a direct continuation of their last film, which took place in the home of Granny Ruth. A woman who has made it her life’s goal to look after the supposed “freaks” of society. After Dwayne freaked out in the last film, he has been put in a straightjacket and is treated like the crazy person of the house – which he is, I might add. If you saw the previous film you might also remember the dirty Belial sex that was going on between Belial and his girlfriend who shares his same abnormality. If you haven’t seen it… it’s totally hot. Anyway, I reckon Belial wasn’t wearing proetction because now his girlfriend is pregnant and everyone can barely wait! So Granny Ruth packs up the van and the whole group (with Duane being dragged along) takes a trip to visit one of Granny Ruth’s old friends; who looked after her son as a young woman. Ruth and her son are soon re-united (he’s a giant with eleven or so arms) and the baby is on its way! Well, 12 babies to be exact!




The Review: Since my very first viewing of the original Basket Case I have been putting off seeing the sequels. I just never could find the time or mood to sit back and enjoy all the silly craziness of it all; don’t ask me why because I don’t know. I had also read a few terrible reviews here and there for both films and figured I wasn’t missing much. Then, earlier this month I decided to just give it a go. What can it hurt? The second film, which you can find my review for on this site of course, was a surprise and took the series in a far different direction than I was initially expecting. It had its ups and downs, much less violence than the first film and a more comedically driven focus. It did work for the film, but how much more of the same would you really like? Having seen the first and second, by the time you come to the third film unfortunately it feels as if the series has (and forgive me for using the overused term) jumped the shark. The final sequence in the film picks up from where the second film left off – but also seems to repeat the same exact formula. Duane is the freak of the house, he’s trying to get out, he finds a normal girl who he thinks he loves (though this time, since he’s crazy, she barely knows him and certainly has no feelings towards him) and in the end he will do something that jeapordizes everything then he and his brother have to clean up the mess. The only new arch is Granny Ruth’s decision to go publice with her group, and to force the “normal” citizens into hiding like they have been. None of this means that the film doesn’t have its better qualities – but at the end of the experience you have to ask: was this entry in the series really neccesary? I suppose if you’re watching it solely for the fun that a Henenlotter film provides then maybe the answer is yes but for me I know how great he can be; but this script seems a little too forced.

Basket Case 3 has a bit more violence than the previous film in the series, maybe there was a public outcry due to the missing gore back when the film was originally made – or maybe Henlotter just came up with a few very cool ideas for death sequences this time around. The body count for the film ends up around 6, with only four of them being shown on-screen (and only three of those being gory and human beings dying) – but the three very gruesome death scenes I mention are worth the price of a rental. There are other fairly graphic bits in the film – such as birth section of the film. The birth sequence may be one of the most disturbing in memory. Although I think the one from Knocked Up was only slightly more disturbing – because just imagining a baby coming from that special place of Katherine Heigl’s makes me all sad. The birth scene is one of the moments in the film that really stands out. A giant Baleil type creature having a dozen bloody and disgusting miniature Beliel’s – you can imagine why. Also Aunt Ruth’s son chews up the scenery in this scene as the camera operator who is nearly having a heart attack from excitement. Giving us lines of dialogue as the babies continue to pop out; such as “Seven! She’s had seven, straight to heaven! Eight!? Lay ’em Straight!” and of course “Name one of them… bob!”. All of this is obviously improv and only gets laughs due to the fact that it’s so over the top in a bad way that the goofiness becomes contagious. Besides, how often do you see little monster babies that look like giant human hearts with arms strung together like Christmas Tree lights on an umbilical chord? Not very often would probably be my guess. Other sequences include Belial having his fingers licked and his bod massaged by two gigantically breasted beautiful topless women during a very odd sequence. As awesome as it was to see such magnificent breasts; the sequence simply shows how far the series has come from it’s tongue-in-cheek horror roots – and by this film makes its way into the slapstick.

I suppose its an appropriate way to end the series and certainly not a terrible film – but with the promise of the very solid second film and the fantastic original – it still yet another step down. Once you see the first film in the series though, no matter how long it takes, you’re going to want to see the rest of the movies – but just go in with as limited of expectations as you can and you will have a good time here. It won’t be an epic good time; but dumb fun can serve the same purpose from time to time. Three out of five, it’s a good flick but very obviously flawed.





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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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