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Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story Review

Posted by Josh Samford On January - 26 - 2010
Cannibal Holocaust 2! Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story! Pick your poison for a title, but they’re the same flick. A ‘cannibal‘ movie that continues more along the lines of Jungle Holocaust or The Man From Deep River, since there’s really not much actual cannibal action going on. However, that doesn’t mean its bad or all that tame! A fairly fun little cannibal flick that keeps all the gritty stuff you expect from the genre while also delivering a story! Can’t ask for much more than that!

The Plot: Catherine Miles is a young English girl (who speaks with an American accent) who now finds herself on trial for a double homicide in the amazon. She had come to the Amazon in order to vacation with her mother and father. They rent a large boat in order to make it to another part of the jungle where they will be staying, but they are cut off by a tribe of natives. These natives aren’t the friendly kind who want to share either, these are the kind who kill without thinking. They slaughter Catherine’s parents and poison her with a dart that makes her immobile. She is then carried back to their village and sold at an auction where she then becomes slave to the highest bidder. The young warrior who actually killed Catherine’s parents offers to trade all of his weapons as well as his own freedom in order to own Catherine, but he is denied and another owner is chosen. This other owner tries to force himself on Catherine, who resists but is then beaten into submission. When the young warrior sees this, he challenges her owner to a battle and the two fight to the death. This young warrior wins and finally owns Catherine, but she refuses to give herself to him because of what he did to her parents. What happened to put young Catherine Miles on trial and what will become of her?



CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

Amazonia: The Catherine Miles Story

Posted by Josh Samford On January - 26 - 2010
The Plot: Catherine Miles is a young English girl (who speaks with an American accent) who now finds herself on trial for a double homicide in the amazon. She had come to the Amazon in order to vacation with her mother and father. They rent a large boat in order to make it to another part of the jungle where they will be staying, but they are cut off by a tribe of natives. These natives aren’t the friendly kind who want to share either, these are the kind who kill without thinking. They slaughter Catherine’s parents and poison her with a dart that makes her immobile. She is then carried back to their village and sold at an auction where she then becomes slave to the highest bidder. The young warrior who actually killed Catherine’s parents offers to trade all of his weapons as well as his own freedom in order to own Catherine, but he is denied and another owner is chosen. This other owner tries to force himself on Catherine, who resists but is then beaten into submission. When the young warrior sees this, he challenges her owner to a battle and the two fight to the death. This young warrior wins and finally owns Catherine, but she refuses to give herself to him because of what he did to her parents. What happened to put young Catherine Miles on trial and what will become of her?




The Review
Although I consider myself to be a cannibal movie aficionado at this point, having seen almost everything the genre has to offer – I put off this unofficial sequel to Rugerro Deodatto’s classic Cannibal Holocaust for many years. That is no doubt due to a few bad reviews I read for it which accused it of being a cannibal movie in name only. So, for some reason I assumed this picture was just going to be a jungle survivor type of movie. Maybe the equivalent to a weak Jungle Holocaust. Well, after finally taking the plunge I’m happy to report that this sequel/ripoff actually delivers in the cannibal conventions. Far more than I could have hoped for. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all that good. It simply means it deserves its place amongst other cannibal flicks such as Cannibal Ferox, Cannibal Terror and Eaten Alive. The definition of ”Good” in terms of Italian cannibal flicks is about as subjective a thing as you can possibly get though. Truthfully, I don’t know of any other Italian cannibal film I could recommend as a piece of quality filmmaking that isn’t named Cannibal Holocaust. They all appeal to the lowest common denominator in terms of their exploitation and some are so unbearable with the amount of violence and animal cruelty, that it’s kind of mind blowing that they were ever so popular with a mainstream audience. Apparently they were, otherwise we wouldn’t have twenty or so of them to slog through. When you go into a movie of this type, there are only a few things that you can hope for to make the viewing experience worthwhile. Such as a story that doesn’t steal tremendously from other films in the genre. Some sets that actually look like they are on location. A few interesting conventions, such as neat cinematography or a decent score. Brutal violence that doesn’t look too cheap. You’re picking at straws, but these are the things that actually make the majority of this subgenre worthwhile. Catherine Miles… is a cannibal picture that actually delivers on a few of these promises and marks one of the better outings in the genre that I’ve discovered in a while.

Although it isn’t the bloodiest or goriest Cannibal flick I have had the chance to witness, there’s some fairly surprising gore in the early goings of Amazonia. The initial slaughter sequence is pretty brutal and the inevitable animal stock footage is enough to send any card carrying PETA member running for the exit. Although at one time I too had a great deal of resentment for animal death scenes in these movies, at this point I actually see it as a true staple of the genre. If there’s no stock footage of animals being eaten or killed, it really doesn’t pack that Italian cannibal film kind of vibe. Amazonia, for those who care, at least doesn’t feature humans slaughtering any animal prey. It’s all your basic stock footage kind of thing you might find on the Discovery Channel, so if you can handle that then I don’t think Amazonia is going to damage your psyche in too extreme of a manner. If you can get past the animal violence, Amazonia actually manages to pack a relatively interesting little story into it. It’s fairly clever the way it is written and turns out to be one of the more respectful entries in the genre. Respectful in that it’s competently made, has an interesting story structure and isn’t all murder, mayhem and sheer stupidity. Granted the story is a bit conventional and predictable at times, but believe it or not that’s actually better than what you can say for the majority of this subgenre. Amazonia is also one of the few cannibal flicks that apparently had a large enough budget that it could be shot on location instead of just a set, so the backdrops here actually look like the jungle which adds so much to the movie.

I’m sure the portrayal of the natives are insensitive and offensive to someone out there, after all the tribe is shown to be in amazement at Catherine for showing them how to make a splint. I’m sure in the many years that they’ve been alone in the jungle they might have figured as much for curing their broken bones – but what do I know of native tribes? Still, there’s at least some respect shown to these characters. They don’t ALL speak broken English, with some actual tribal speak thrown around throughout the duration of the movie. They also aren’t really shown to be complete butchers as at first it seems like they would be. It’s an interesting turn that some of the acts which come off as torturous at first are explained as simply rituals within their culture and thus not played up as sadistic. There’s even a rape scene that is interrupted due to our lead character being a virgin and that in their culture it’s taboo to take the virginity of a girl. Now, I won’t guarantee that everyone will feel the same but I thought the way the natives were shown was a fresh concept. Certainly for this genre and the culture that these movies were made in. At the end of the day though, I concede, this is just an exploitation movie. However, it isn’t entertaining to watch just for the gore and insanity.

The Conclusion
If you’re wondering about that secondary title you may have seen tossed around, Cannibal Holocaust II, it’s just a marketing ploy. The two movies really couldn’t be more different, but I will say that this movie certainly seems inspired by Deodato’s work. The way in which that film used the “found footage” to tell its story is very similar to this one in how it chooses to use Catherine Miles’ court testimony as a catalyst for the story. Believe it or not, the court scenes really aren’t pulled off that bad either. They’re a little shaky at first, due to so much dialogue taking place off screen, but I think they actually make the sequence of events stronger – unlike in Cannibal Holocaust where you’re always waiting for the New York scenes to just finish up. All told, Amazonia isn’t really anything mind blowing. It’s a decently made Cannibal flick, which is actually a surprise for the genre, but it probably won’t impress newcomers. I have to give it a three out of five. It’s solid and somewhat inspired, but still fairly ordinary in comparison to the grand-father of these movies: Cannibal Holocaust.



The Ultimate Ninja Review

Posted by Josh Samford On January - 21 - 2010
Oh boy, oh boy! Godfrey Ho makes his long awaited debut here at VariedCelluloid… and you may want to use a clothepin on your nose because yeesh does he deliver a stinker. This marks my first ‘martial arts’ movie since Kung Fu Christmas… and I couldn’t have picked a worse one. Go ahead and read on for yourself, but be prepared to have your mind blown by the sheer awfulness of Gofrey Ho’s The Ultimate Ninja

The Plot: You’re going to have to bear with me on this one. For reasons that I’ll get into with the review, the actual “plot” in The Ultimate Ninja isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to wrap your head around. With that said, it goes something like this – we begin with a ninja practicing his martial arts before being ambushed outside of a shrine. The Red Ninja Master dies, but not before passing along the Golden Ninja Warrior shrine. A golden object that is supposed to grant the ultimate ninja powers to whoever possesses it. On the opposite side of the spectrum of the Red Ninjas, we have the Black Ninjas who’s leader desperately wants to get his hands on this Golden Ninja Warrior and will stop at nothing to attain it. So Red Ninja sets out on his journey for revenge and lures the Black Ninjas out into the open to fight him. At the same time, we follow the happenings of a small restaurant in the middle of a small village that is ruled by a corrupt politician named Roger. Roger has tormented the townspeople by enacting his own brand of law & order, using a group of martial art students to beat anyone who disobeys. This group is being instructed by an older gentleman who unfortunately is forced into the situation as it’s the only way he can make money to support his family. Unknown to all however, on the outskirts of town a young man who’s family was slaughtered by Roger and his goons has trained his body into an instrument of destruction. He is out for revenge, and thus Roger’s time is drawing to a close.



CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

Ultimate Ninja, The

Posted by Josh Samford On January - 21 - 2010
The Plot: You’re going to have to bear with me on this one. For reasons that I’ll get into with the review, the actual “plot” in The Ultimate Ninja isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to wrap your head around. With that said, it goes something like this – we begin with a ninja practicing his martial arts before being ambushed outside of a shrine. The Red Ninja Master dies, but not before passing along the Golden Ninja Warrior shrine. A golden object that is supposed to grant the ultimate ninja powers to whoever possesses it. On the opposite side of the spectrum of the Red Ninjas, we have the Black Ninjas who’s leader desperately wants to get his hands on this Golden Ninja Warrior and will stop at nothing to attain it. So Red Ninja sets out on his journey for revenge and lures the Black Ninjas out into the open to fight him. At the same time, we follow the happenings of a small restaurant in the middle of a small village that is ruled by a corrupt politician named Roger. Roger has tormented the townspeople by enacting his own brand of law & order, using a group of martial art students to beat anyone who disobeys. This group is being instructed by an older gentleman who unfortunately is forced into the situation as it’s the only way he can make money to support his family. Unknown to all however, on the outskirts of town a young man who’s family was slaughtered by Roger and his goons has trained his body into an instrument of destruction. He is out for revenge, and thus Roger’s time is drawing to a close.


The Review
Who knew I would cover a martial arts movies so soon after the massive bender that was A Very Kung Fu Christmas, which usually burns me out on this sort of thing. However, about halfway through The Ultimate Ninja I knew I would have to put a few words down. My first ever Godfrey Ho movie, it seems to really resonate with everything I have heard about the filmmaker up until this point. Godfrey Ho could be seen as the Ed Wood of Hong Kong, a shameless filmmaker who made cheap and terribly inept movies with the hope of turning over a profit. Whereas with Ed Wood you get the idea that he really was just a simple guy trying his best to make a scary movie, Godfrey Ho lacks the heart of naivete that makes Ed Wood such a likable character. Ho just wants to make a cheap buck and whatever it takes to do that he seems okay with it. The Ultimate Ninja is a shining example that cutting two movies together just isn’t the most intelligent way to make a movie and at the end of the day. I mean, that point obviously doesn’t need to be made – but someone should have clued ol’ Godfrey in on that matter. When you work like this, no matter what you’re going to have a festering turd that almost no one would want to see. No one but a masochist like myself.

Godfrey Ho made his name amongst film geeks by his less than savory habit of recycling old and obscure footage within his movies. By taking older forgotten martial art movies from Taiwan, mainland China or wherever and then going out and shooting a few hours worth of footage with several Caucasian actors imported from all over – he was able to make filmmaking into a true assembly line. You see, with an infinite number of independent martial art movies and several hours worth of new footage with these White Ninjas – he would try and hack, slash and cut these movies together. Taking a few hours worth of footage and making it into ten or twelve different “Ninja” movies. The number of movies he could make with all of this footage was infinite. Although I doubt you could call it “loved”, I do suppose The Ultimate Ninja is one of the more known films of his. After sitting through it, if this is one of his better accomplishments then god help me if I dare try my hand at any more of his work. Expecting an over the top Ninja-sploitation movie, I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to find that The Ultimate Ninja turned out to be so dreadfully dull.

It might seem impossible to label a movie boring when there’s a fight scene starting or ending ever ten minutes – but believe me, when context and story are thrown out the window as they are in this movie; you can’t help but wonder just what the point is after a while. It is just so frustrating when watching, since I actually wanted to be engaged with the movie. I wanted Godfrey Ho to be some kooky filmmaker that I felt I could turn to for some easy entertainment, but Ultimate Ninja doesn’t really promise a whole lot. What hampers it and keeps you from ever actually becoming involved in the movie at all is that it is just unintelligible. No matter how hard I tried, there’s just no wrapping your head around this movie. It’s as if you’re watching a Kung Fu flick while high. Characters walk into the movie and disappear for nearly the entire portion of the movie. They fight and choose teams without ever actually having any kind of motivation explained. Plot developments come, go and if you’re lucky they might actually pop up again during the final minutes of the movie. While this may sound silly and dumb enough to be fun, trust me on this one, it’s just frustrating.

The entire addition of Ninjas within the movie feels as tacked on and uninspired as you may very well imagine. I halfheartedly expected Ho to somehow tie these two lines of thought together: the black and red ninja battling each other over a golden doll and the far more epic story detailing the forces of good teaming up to take down Roger (what a villain name!). However, these stories never tie into one another. It’s as if you’re watching two separate movies that are cut together every few minutes. On their own, I think either thread of story could have made a decent movie. The ninja plot, Ho’s contributions, are fun in all of the right ways I had expected. Ninjas are shown to be supernatural beings who can teleport, jump over buildings and probably eat trains if they wanted to. This stuff could have been really great in full length! It’s just unfortunate that we get this hacked to bits story that ultimately doesn’t even make sense. There’s a full subplot about the Black Ninja’s brother who is supposed to be coming to town that is actually NEVER resolved during the entire course of the movie. That can’t even technically be a spoiler, since there’s NOTHING to spoil! Now, the restaurant story dealing with Roger – this too possibly could be a decent little kung fu flick without Ho hacking it to pieces. The choreography, in both movies, isn’t really quality stuff. It’s pretty ugly sometimes, but it doesn’t look phony looking or slow. The story, if told in some way that actually makes sense, actually seems pretty interesting as well. Unfortunately, Ho went power mad and ultimately we’re given this mutant love child that denigrates all of the work completely.

The Conclusion
If you’re like me, no matter how much I warn – you’ll still explore Godfrey Ho’s filmography. Heck, I won’t lie, at some point I too will probably dig around for something better; but it won’t be for a while. The Ultimate Ninja just isn’t the movie to sell the filmmaker, I’ll say that. I give it a one out of five, because there is actually some promise within both streams of narrative. They don’t go anywhere, but it keeps the movie just barely watchable. Stuart Smith also goes way over the top, but he’s not able to add any brownie points for the movie like he was able to with Bloodfight. I wouldn’t really recommend this one, even for a netflix rental. However, if you just have to, keep in mind that you’ve been warned.



Tokyo Sonata Review

Posted by Josh Samford On January - 18 - 2010
Heya people! From Takashi Miike to Kiyoshi Kurosawa? This really is my website! I’ve been sitting on this review since December and had to hold it back for the previously written reviews that were put off due to the Kung Fu Christmas festivities. Anyhow, it’s here and it is spectacular! Easily one of Kurosawa’s best films and one of the best movies I have seen in a long time! Check out the review and then check out the movie!

The Plot: Tokyo Sonata tells the story of a family on the verge of crisis. The father figure has just been laid off from his job which has outsourced the majority of their positions to China, their eldest son is never at home any more and the youngest son has an incident at school. When passing along a profane book during class, his teacher stands him up and confronts him about it. He doesn’t believe the young man when he says its not his, so the son fires back at the teacher and points out the fact that he saw him reading a pornographic comic on the train just the day before. This sends the classroom into revolt as the students no longer feel the need to respect his authority. The son feels immense regret and never intended for the situation to come about, but the damage has been done. Meanwhile the father figure is out wandering in free-food lines during the day and visiting the unemployment office on a daily basis trying to find work. Keeping the secret from his wife and children is tearing him apart but he makes friends with another old classmate who is in the same position. Together they try to keep up the appearance of working every day while drawing unemployment and severance pay. The mother figure has recently acquired her driver’s license and desperately seeks attention from her husband or the world. She wants a car, something fast and showy so she can get out into the world for herself feeling her days as a stay at home mother are diminishing. What will happen to this family in this new Tokyo?

CONTINUE READING THE REVIEW HERE

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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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