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Ilsa – Tigress of Siberia

Posted by Josh Samford On August - 22 - 2008
The Plot: Olga (Dyanne Thorne) is the headmaster of Gulag 14, a horrid soviet workcamp where most who show up never leave. When a young man is sent there as a political prisoner in defiance of their communist regime, he refuses to break under the intense torture they put him through. This entices Olga as she is intent on having him break and declare the greatness of Joseph Stalin. As she tortures and kills the prisoners one by one, this one man still refuses to break no matter what. When the time comes though, she wants him fed to the tiger in the middle of camp. Lucky for him he is able to dodge the tiger’s attempts long enough for the camp to go into full revolt as all of the prisoners and guards are killed off. Skip forward a few years and this same man is now free after battling his way out of that cage. He is sent to Montreal as a guard for Olympic athletes from the USSR. When he takes the athletes to a brothel locally after their begging him, he runs into an old friend… Olga. She’s still alive and now running the Montreal underworld. She kidnaps him once again and intends to do what she once tried: to break him.




The Review: Are you looking for a cheap prison based exploitation film? Maybe something with a decent bit of female nudity and some softcore sex scenes? Sure, you’re probably thinking “well I can get that from ANY Women in Prison flick!” and right you are. Although, how about all of the already mentioned great stuff – but throw in a little bit of gory violence to boot? Well sir, you may want to share those lucky numbers because you just won the lottery because I have two words for you: ILSA FILMS. I’ve already reviewed the original Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS here on the site and actually heard back from the director! Looking back I’ve grown to respect the original Ilsa a lot more now than I did back then; but the rest of the series has turned out to be rather hit or miss. Ilsa: The Wicked Warden was a real disappointment as it just never seemed to get off the ground. A lot of back and forth scripting that seemed to bog the film down and lead to much boredom. Even under the watchful eye of Jesus Franco, often thought to be a king in the softcore world of exploitation, I could not get into the movie. Tigress of Siberia at least bumps up the violence and starts off with two very cool gore sequences. one featuring a spear through the mouth followed by the same poor sap having his head crushed by a massive hammer while his brains fly in the air and his blood leaking head feeds a tiger several feet below. The quality of any film goes up with an intro like that. Follow it up with a tiger mauling and Dyanne Thorne nude and simulating being double penetrated by two ruskies… well, we have us one heck of a first 15 minutes for just about any film! Add to this the massive amount of torture and gory violence in the film spread throughout the full length of the movie and you have what is without a doubt the goriest of all the Ilsa movies. Does that make it the best in the series? Not exactly.

Okay, so you’ve got two guys sitting on the left and right side of a table with chainsaws. They cut into the first six inches of of the table and hold their saws there. Then two convicts, who had each accused one another of stealing, set their arms in the center and begin an arm-wrestling contest. The loser? His arm goes into one of the chainsaws and he is sawed into pieces in the next room. Now if you’re not thinking “quality time”, then what’s wrong with you? This sequence is just part of the really great first half of Ilsa Tigress of Siberia. The problem, and you will have read this everywhere if you have searched out any reviews for the film, is that at roughly the halfway point Tigress changes from being an actual Siberian based Ilsa film with brutal torture sessions and gratuitous nudity – into a Montreal based espionage thriller with Ilsa taking on the heads of a couple of local crime families. It is so unfortunate since in my opinion the setup with the beginning of the film turned out so strong it was looking to topple all other Ilsa films in terms of violence AND sex! Not that the Montreal segments aren’t interesting or fun, in fact they are and even feature a decent bit of violence as well – but it doesn’t really compare to those first thirty minutes of sheer brutality and mayhem. Ilsa moving away from standard slice and dice torture sessions to the cleaner and more efficient mental torture is also a major letdown. These segments border on being simply ridiculous, not only because such technology does not exist but because for pete’s sake this is an Ilsa movie! Although I normally wouldn’t encourage it, but sometimes genre really should dictate what is or is not suitable for a film. If you’re not aware, basically Ilsa hooks up on some new modern technology and instead of simply dismembering her subjects; now she places them in a chair with a monitor in front of them that flashes disturbing imagery. This disturbing imagery then sets off transmissions in the subconscious that a machine attached to the subject can read out and discover their worst fears. Ilsa, err, Olga then uses this information by placing the subject in an isolation tank that somehow uses hallucinogenic powers that trick the subjects into thinking they are witnessing their very worst fears. Like I said, is this James Bond or an Ilsa flick?

Overall Ilsa: Tigress of Siberia is a fairly decent Ilsa flick. It doesn’t do enough to really be great, but it surely isn’t anything worthy of hatred. Most out there disagree with me on this point however it would seem as the general consensus from what I have seen is that The Wicked Warden is the far superior film and that Tigress is the weakest of the series. I simply don’t see that however. Tigress makes a departure from some of the series and its usual motif but for the last film of the sort it needed the new life in my estimation. I won’t say it is a great movie or anything close to it, far from that, but it’s definitely more entertaining than The Wicked Warden but a lesser film than the original (still looking to get Oilsheeks). I recommend it for completest of the series and exploitation fans all around but if you’re expecting a film to rival the original – this won’t leave you satisfied. Though if you’re wanting a little more gore and Dyann Thorne in about three kinky softcore threesomes – this is the film you have waited your entire life for! It’s a three out of five, and well deserving of it too.

Hardcore

Posted by Josh Samford On August - 22 - 2008
The Plot: Jake Vandorn (George C. Scott) is a business owner and upstanding community man in his home town of Grand Rapids. His wife having left him, he has raised his daughter by himself and has done a respectable job of it. When he sends her off to a bible camp of some sort with another family member, it isn’t long before he hears that his daughter has went missing. He travels to California where she was last seen, in LA and asks around before finding a private detective. The private eye (Peter Boyle) takes the case and vows to find her, and after a few weeks he does find… something. He brings back a film can with him to see Jake, where he shows him the footage of his daughter in a threeway with two other males in a seedy silent stag film. She looks terribly uninterested and might be drugged. Jake’s world is shattered, his beautiful and sweet daughter involved in a world like this. Jake travels to LA to meet with his private eye shortly thereafter, and is forced to start his own investigation. Now Jake finds himself in a world he doesn’t understand and on the track of a daughter he isn’t even sure is still alive anymore.




The Review: “If you look at anything from the inside it makes sense! You should hear perverts talk… one guy almost had me convinced to let his German Shepard screw me!” – from the mouth of a porno actress/stripper talking to George C. Scott about his religious beliefs. This little comment doesn’t exactly encompass the entire drive or motivation of Paul Schrader’s Hardcore, but it comes in one of those moments where Scott’s character tries his best to relate to one of these bottomed out young people in this world of depravity – only to find a blank endless sea of filth brimming just under the surface. In this day and age it has become more taboo to talk down on the pornography industry than it has to speak up for it. In this world after Howard Stern and Jenna Jameson, we have sanitized the view of porno so much that a film like Hardcore probably couldn’t even be made. 8MM which came out in 1999 seemed to take a lot of influence (that’s a technical term for stealing, folks, though I will say I’m a big 8mm fan too) from Hardcore but in that film it is mainly focused on the seediest sides of fetishism even at that time. I’m not coming down like a preacher here, that would be pretty hypocritical of me. You think a lonely guy who knows a decent as much about technology and the internet like me doesn’t, you know, have his ways of finding things? Of course, but just because you buy the product doesn’t mean you have to buy everything the salesman slings your way. From everything I have seen, the pornography business has always been and will always be made up of many people unfortunately confused about many things – and now they are making millions off of it. However in 1979, things were unfortunately even worse than they are now. AIDS had not come along yet, but the drug use was at an escalated rate and people in America were still trying to party like the 1960’s. It’s a case of pick your poison, but this world in which Hardcore takes place, although it seems exaggerated, is close to perversion of our obsessed culture and our unrequited search for the next kink. We eat too much, we drink too much, we consume too much and as Scott’s character points out – behind every marketing campaign is someone telling us this or that will get us sex.

The film itself is nowhere near as preachy as I probably seem about right now. The character of Jake, played so brilliantly by one of my favorite actors in George C. Scott, is far from being perfect. No man or woman ever can be, but what can be seen as righteousness from the character is simply his not being as corrupted as the rest of these characters. His vice isn’t of the sexual variety, but one coming from pride. Although I am not familiar with his denomination of Christianity, which seems to follow some far different beliefs than I have heard, his pride and own self indulgence gets in the way of his own spiritual behavior. His focus on his daughter is intense and leaves no room for others, as he wanders through this corrupt and putrid version of California’s sexual underground. When coming upon a young porn actress who takes over the role of his sidekick in the latter half of the film, instead of trying to help this poor confused girl his pride gets in the way. He puts his own morality above her and instead of hearing her stories, he simply shuns her and tells her he would rather not hear about that side of her life. Jake isn’t perfect, but unlike this lawless society underground where everything can be bought and sold, he at least attempts to be a good man. Paul Schrader’s film doesn’t deliver a cut and dry definition of the moral compass one should have while watching the film – so all audiences are going to walk away with a different opinion. I have read opinion pieces where Jake is considered the “villain” of the film, and his quest for his daughter in this underworld is puritanical and baseless without reason. However, if this were true, I think Schrader would have provided more evidence for the audience. Something more than the “big reveal” in the final minutes of the film. Jake doesn’t come across as a bigoted man in my opinion, just a close minded one. He knows his home, he understands the morality there but he does not understand this lawless place with these insidious human beings and he simply doesn’t care to try and understand them. There’s a fair enough line between hate and indifference, and I think Jake walks that line through the picture. Indifference in such subjects, when you can be helping rather than ignoring is a sin of its own however, and no one leaves this film clean. The loss of his daughter can be placed at the man’s feet, but I think at the end of the film it seems obvious that this is just another poor and confused little girl – used and abused by a faceless system; much like the girl who desperately seeks Jake’s help the only difference is one child is his and the other is not.

There’s nothing simple about Hardcore, it is a tough and brilliant film that leaves you with a million questions and the need to talk about it desperately. It is beautiful in the way it was filmed and features several amazing performances that will not be easily forgotten. George C. Scott was such a tremendous talent, who much like Lee J. Cobb – always delivered the heavy performances. Here he is a more mild mannered person trapped under unfortunate circumstances and more often than not subtle in all of his movies – showing just how fantastic he truly was. Every time i see him in just about any film I am always amazed, and I have to say he was under utilized by the Hollywood system. He had an outstanding career, but even if he made two hundred Patton’s, Hardcore’s or Dr. Strangelove’s I still don’t think we the film viewing world would have seen the bottom of his talent. I highly recommend everyone reading this check out Hardcore as soon as possible if you haven’t already. I think the film speaks for itself and you’ll more than likely be left speaking about it once you see it. I came close to giving it a five out of five, but decided at the last second to go with the four. There’s still a bit of ambiguity that could have been cleared up in the film I think; but as it is – Hardcore is an amazing film that I think should have a much larger audience than it currently does.

Don’t Go In The House

Posted by Josh Samford On August - 22 - 2008
Plot Outline: This is the story of Donny Kohler, your average young man who just happened to have been burned on the stove by his mother every time he was naughty when he was a kid. This trauma has inflicted Donny with some severe mental disorders, and after he comes home from work and finds his mom dead, he just flips his lid. At first he’s broken up emotionally, but then he realizes he can do whatever he wants from now on. He does just what you think too, what every young man dreams of doing once out of the reach of their overbearing mothers, he kidnaps young girls ties them up nude and burns them alive… Maybe that’s not a fantasy most have, but it’s what Donny does just the same. So now Donny takes to killing girls on what seems to be a nightly basis, will anyone ever stop him?


  

The Review: I know this site isn’t exactly one of the most frequently visited sites on the net as of the moment, but if there are any Newsradio (a sitcom, but one of the actual good ones) fans out there, I would like to make an idiotic point if I may. It was during the last season of the show’s run I believe, after the death of the funniest member of the cast Mr. Phil Hartman. After Hartman’s death Jon Lovitz came in to fill his shoes, and unlike some, I personally don’t blame him for the death of the show, it’s just he never really fit into the format. He was often too silly or cute, he’s a funny comedian it just wasn’t his scene. Every once in a while though, Lovitz’s character would actually let something funny loose. Case in point. When Johnny Johnson, the evil corporate tycoon who tries to steal away Jimmy James’ corporation comes around, Max starts following Johnson around like a lap dog. Well, this episode was one such occasion where the character of Max Lewis (Jon Lovitz) was actually funny, he also let out a nugget of wisdom that has stayed with me ever since. When the character of Dave Nelson (Dave Foley) tells Max (Lovitz) that Johnny Johnson is evil, and shouldn’t be associated with, Max tells Dave “Doesn’t that make you want to serve him all the more?”… so very true. Don’t go in the House contains bad acting, plot inconsistencies and is only a ploy to deliver exploitation and sleaze… doesn’t that just make you want to love it all the more? – Thought I was heading nowhere with all that Newsradio talk didn’t you?

I first heard about this flick from Pete who now runs the The Grindhouse Database , he mentioned it in some post I forget, but it surprised me because I had never heard of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a all knowing guru of horror, I just consider myself to be quite informed on the subject. The real guru of horror is a guy name Mike Bracken, you can check his reviews on epinions.com I believe. Anyway, I might have heard the title once or so, but I had never actually read about it or anything. So a few days ago I finally got around to checking it out, surprisingly I think I really liked it. I would never go so far as to call the film ‘good’ or well made, but it’s entertaining and unique. First of all, rather than really giving any good guy that stops our lead psycho, the film just kind of unwinds on it’s own. For about 80% of the film it’s just Donny dragging women into his house and killing them, reveling in his new independence from his mother. If that sort of thing bothers you and misogyny grates your nerves, it’s safe to say this flick isn’t for you. Along with I Spit on Your Grave, Last House on the Left and The House on the Edge of the Park, Don’t go in the House is a somewhat sleazy, dark and somber slasher flick. There’s no true home invasion like in the previous films mentioned, but the tone most certainly fits it in the same category. You’ll either be able to look past the bad aspects of the film and enjoy the perversity of it all, or you’ll just hate it. Either opinion seems justified to me.

Although the director didn’t/shouldn’t win any awards, every once in a while there are some interesting visual pieces. Like the dream on the beach, although a little cheesy in places, it was still pretty effective. The different cuts of burned bodies standing in mirrors and such also produced a jolt at some times, something I rarely ever get in my horror films anymore. The single most impressive thing about the film, and what will likely either offend or entrance most audience members, is the first victim of Donny’s rampage. After being tied up in his metallic room and chained to the roof, Donny douses her in gasoline and lights her ablaze with his flame-thrower. Although it’s a little bit fake looking on second glance, it’s still remarkably effective the first time around. I only have vague ideas about how it was achieved, my first instinct is to think they just layered a image of fire over her body, but I’m not sure if the technology for that sort of thing was around back then. Maybe manually laying the fire over the film it’s self. Beats me.

As I said, Don’t Go in the House isn’t going to win any awards, some things in the film just really make you scratch your head. Like, when Donny goes to sleep in the film and has his nightmare, the radio is playing the same song when he wakes up as when he went to sleep. Does the radio station only play this one song? There are plenty of other smaller things, but when I saw that I just howled. It’s the little things like that that draws me to this film. Much like Basket Case, Don’t go in the House isn’t good cinema, but it is entertaining. Some call the film disturbing and hard to handle, I just call it fun. Dig in if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty.

Don’t Answer the Phone

Posted by Josh Samford On August - 22 - 2008
Originally written by Prof. Aglaophotis


Plot Outline: Our movie opens with a murder scene in Los Angeles; as a young nurse is preparing to unwind from her shift in her home at night, a local serial strangler/sex assaulter attacks and strangles the nurse and has intercourse with her corpse. After immediately associating ourselves with the killer, we soon discover he keeps himself up to date with his deep-seated psychosis by tuning in and calling up Dr. Gale, a practicing psychiatrist who runs an hourly radio talk show for individuals with mild problems (sort of like Travesty Ltd.’s Rock and Roll Doctor, just not funny). In any case, she deals with various people in person and over the phone as the killer somehow gains some sort of attachment to her and he shows this by killing one of her patients as according to her discussed-in-person problems as well as performing his killing rounds. In the meantime, the police are on to our bulky killer with various help, but even with their mounting evidence, they run into consistent dead ends until the killer finally kills a caller for Dr. Gale to hear live over the air and she insists on aiding in stopping the killer.


The Review
One of the past selling techniques alluring me to various horror movies is when a horror movie communicates a warning to the audience with its sole title: Don’t. I feel as though just using that word for a horror movie works out wonderfully. But of course, just like everything else in this silly world, one can find something good and bad from the lot and this just happens to be one of the worse ones, but for a different reason than one might imagine. You see, a horror movie is NOTHING without something horrific to offer; even if its mere exploitation, it can still be harrowing and it will keep you involved in a somewhat serious way. That being said, Don’t Answer the Phone offers something terrifying, but delivers poorly in keeping us attached. It seizes the chances it has in the departments of sleaze and the seedy life of a strangulating death rapist, but everything else is just too reprehensible: the all-around bland acting intertwined with the occasionally coherent acting that is inundated with trite and boring comic relief is perhaps the biggest deterring part of this movie, but more over, it’s ultimate lack of potential and simultaneous slanted use of dated clichés. We have a title that concerns us about answering the phone, but after a manly voiced mother calls her daughter, the warning of the phone answering seems almost entirely irrelevant, despite calling the doctor on her radio show! Apparently, this movie was based off a screen play called Night Time, so it’s obvious that the switching title was a big mistake, but I’m rushing in too deep. Let’s find out what works first:

As mentioned earlier, the sleaze of the film was rather well done in the sense that our killer was also a photographer (forgot to mention that earlier, but that’s what a movie like this does to you) who would photograph his victims defiled corpses and would sell them for a good sum of money (because they were strangled, I guess no one would suspect, but it still gives you the creeps). We watch the killer enter this seedy Holly Wood underworld of pimps and drug pushing nonchalantly like a scene of social acceptance, most of the fellows not knowing/caring whether this guy was the local serial killer or not. Also, killer is fairly well acted. Now I know, I consistently give kudos to actors playing convincing killer roles, but I feel that the actors deserve it; it’s no easy task playing the antagonist, especially when the character requires the actor to perform odd deeds and forms of murder and make them convincing. I don’t know how long the guy who played as the rapist in Deliverance had to put up with people walking by him in airports singing the banjo & guitar song under their breath, but the guy deserves credit for his role as it challenges your social life regardless and may impede or advance your acting career. With my analogous digression in place, Nicholas Worth as Kirk the killer was exceptionally good, seeing that the exposition and credibility of his character was really all up to him in an inferable manner. There were no expository flash backs regarding his trauma and there wasn’t enough time or lines for him to completely express his character’s feelings lucidly, just three out of eight spots of exposition that adhere closely to his problems that in some small way, one can relate. I wasn’t expecting a character study out of this mind you, but just enough depth of the character so he is not just some faceless villain that kills SOLELY because it feels good and makes us want to watch him die faster…the character is still icky and hateful, but not enough to emit so strong a feeling of vindictive utilitarianism for his actions that doesn’t question understanding, which brings me straight into what doesn’t work in the movie…man oh man, where to start?

First off, if you’re going to have a perverted killer strangling young women, make sure not ALL of the victims are stupid and/or mentally challenged with little exceptions; give em’ a chance to struggle and evade the killer so the audience gets a feeling of fear or terror (at least The Toolbox Murders gave three out of the four victims a fighting chance)! Second, if you’re going to have a police force dedicated to catching the killer, make sure they’re competent! Before murdering a second victim, Kirk followed her five times, enough for her to see his face, recognize his car from the previous three drive-bys and act upon the stalking. On top of that, Kirk left his hand and finger prints all over the side door knob of the victims house, before he battered the front of it down. They may have found a Viet Kong coin in the stocking used for strangulation hinting he must’ve be a Vietnam war veteran, they may have found pubic hairs and semen samples, but they never dusted for finger prints or made any other conclusions from the samples rather than another link up to a similar murder?! Another brilliant emphasis of this type of police work was character Lt. McCabe being wry, being highly one dimensional (just like COUNTLESS low budget Science Fiction films) and pulling off Joe Don Baker tactics, intertwined with gunning down your only living witness and shooting an unarmed man dead simply because he’s too strong to be contained (and they don’t get points for ripping off tidbits from the climaxes to Eegah or House on the Edge of the Park neither [betcha’ that guy isn’t gonna fall in the pool])! If a case is really THAT perplexing, call in the FBI, not a clairvoyant or a phony professor! Third, if you’re going to hurtle forth cannon fodder, make sure they don’t always act so impetuously dumbfounded that once their own house is being bombarded by a human tank, they just crawl out of bed and crouch down in a bright inconspicuous corner of their room or never think of escaping through the side door of their own home instead of running for the obviously blocked door!! Fourth, in lieu of the incompetent police force, make sure your other helpers such as psychiatrists aren’t so unbelievably fake (this includes the lead doctor!) that we believe more of the incompetent officer’s straight-forward, black and white rhetoric rather than the professionals as they are either too derivative or dead pan stoic to be believable! Fifth, if the movie wanted atmosphere, they should’ve made sure that the music didn’t belong more appropriately in a Nintendo fighting game!! Sixth, I know some movies desire padding, but intertwining it with a huge assault worth of sexual comic relief made me forget I was watching a horror movie…that’s not good.

The Conclusion
Continuity shots were terrible, the content was surprisingly lacking, the depth of our characters were more shallow than the killer’s, it was hard to find someone believable or smart (with the exception of the psychic, but even he was too clichéd), leaving an innumerous amount of loose plot threads dangling like nooses hanging from a glass-less green house, lack of using a phone as a sign of danger for the victims…the list just goes on. I know bad movies are easily commendable at times because some of them are so bad they’re good or have bad acting that surprisingly makes the movie more believable in a realistic form, but the worst part about all of this was that it was more boring than it was entertaining, harrowing, frightening or easy to take seriously unless you’re easily offended by a woman killer/partial racist, which is highly understandable, but there’s more serious cinema out there than this; this is just dumb. There were at least two of these bad scenes I found hilarious, the first being the obvious digressional sexual comedy where a supposed drug bust is going on and we run into several outrageously dressed bondage fellows in a panic and the second is where the doctor is talking to a drug addict, but the scene starts with a close up of the addict’s blonde hair and the both of them in a room with flowery wall paper, then we see the doctor talking to the addict in another shot in front of white walls and the addict’s hair is brown. I was not looking for quality in this movie, for cinematic quality is almost as hard to define as whether someone is normal or not, but I was looking for effort. I feel sorry giving it a one because I saw potential in it with our traumatized killer, and I’m sure director Robert Hammer did too, but any form of redeeming factor was lost in the fat of lingering insipidness. This movie made me wish the lighting was just as worse as it was in The Demon, this way it would’ve been harder to see the ennui that is Don’t Answer the Phone. Memorable Stinger: “McCabe and Hatcher! Those bozos! If it were up to me, I’d fire em’!”



Dolemite

Posted by Josh Samford On August - 22 - 2008
Plot Outline: Dolemite is one bad mother, the only problem is he’s locked up on some phony charges set up by the crooked police, but that’s about to change. You see, the warden along with the mayor and a unidentified third party realize that their only chance to clean up the streets (because the peddling of drugs and guns seems to have worsened since Dolemite was sent up the river, don’t worry I don’t see how this could be considered logical either) is to let the big ‘D go free. Dolemite agrees after he hears that his cousin was shot dead for no good reason, and now he sets out for revenge… kinda. Two crooked cops stand in his way, as well as the insidious Willie Green who has taken over all of Dolemite’s territory and works with the crooked police. Thankfully while Dolemite was in the can, Queen Bee (Dolemite’s female helper who keeps his Ho’s in check) paid to have all of his hookers learn Karate in order to protect themselves more efficiently. With his Kung Fu hookers, Dolemite aims to take back his former Club and territory, but it seems many in town plan to stand in his way. Even the mayor!

  

The Review: I’ve been hearing about Dolemite since forever. I knew about it before I even knew about the blaxploitation genre it’s self really. I remember reading the review for it over at badmovies.org, listening to their audio clips and thinking to myself, man I have got to see this. A pimp who curses with every breath, sometimes rhymes and has a stable of karate fighting ninja Ho’s? Could it really be as great as I have it built up in my head? Well let me tell you, the film exceeded all of my expectations. I knew it was going to be bad and funny, but I had absolutely no idea. I remember a few years back Mad TV used to have a skit that made fun of the character of Dolemite, basically making fun of how completely inept the films are. Dolemite would fight off the ‘honkeys’ using the hokiest karate you have ever seen, with the actors deliberately doing their absolute worst. I remember one episode where I believe Dolemite had to go to The Moon (or something along those lines) to retrieve his ‘pimp cane’, of course when he did much bad karate ensued followed by Dolemite getting it on with some foxy ladies. The little skits were actually some of the best things that were happening on Mad TV at the time, of course only in my opinion. This was somewhere along the time “Stewie” and “Mrs. Swan”, two somewhat annoying characters with even more annoying catch phrases, took over the show. It seems to have been on a steady decline since it’s conception as a tv show, but I’m moving off topic. Watching Dolemite the other day, it’s pretty shocking how much the movie and those skits do have in common. The skits were taken to even higher degrees of stupidity of course, but Dolemite truly is the Plan 9 From Outer Space of blaxploitation. It’s unintentionally hilarious at every corner, the paper thin plot doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense at all and much like Plan 9, there appears to be some heart to the film. This, and that fact that it truly is one of the most entertaining films you’re going to see within the genre, is what makes you truly grow to appreciate and like the film. You have to imagine no one on set really knew what they were doing, had no budget and tried their best to make as entertaining a film as they knew how to do. They succeeded, but probably not in the way they had hoped. When I laugh at a movie for being ‘bad’, I like to think that I’m not doing it out of some need to hurt the creators of the film or to insult the film it’s self, it’s just that with all of the heaviness of any genre, there’s always the need for something a little lighter. Sometimes a film can be bad and suck the air out of the room for being horrendous and awful, and sometimes a film can be cheesy and inept by critical standards, but can truly bring a smile to your face. Maybe just because it’s fun to spot the mistakes within the film, sure, but there can be a special magic to a good b-movie, and I think Dolemite has just that. Between the hilarious and over the top dialogue, atrocious acting by pretty much everyone involved and all of the bizarre edits and plot inconsistencies, it gels into something wholly it’s own. Something bad, yet appealing. Something genuinely entertaining even if it’s not exactly something you’ll be showing to your family over Easter Holiday. It will take a special soul to really enjoy the inadequacies of Dolemite, but for the right person under the right circumstances, you’ll no doubt leave as entertained as I.

There isn’t a vast audience for the film out there, but the many reviews that take focus on it generally tend to focus on the same things, and with great regret I can’t help but do the same thing. You can’t talk about Dolemite without mentioning all these little idiosyncrasies that make it so memorable. It’s not a film that has too many layers or deserves a vast article focusing on the superb cinematography. The reason to love the film so adamantly is how very stupidly fun it is. You can’t talk about Dolemite and not mention his karate fighting stable of Ho’s. It’s a package deal, even if the Ho’s don’t get to do a great deal of fighting. Being that I rented this film on vhs (that would be the reason I took the images from the badmovies.org review, sorry Andrew but I needed some screen caps. Hopefully my linking the site twice in one review is substantial enough payment, because I’m a broke mutha), I was lucky enough to get the ever so classic Xenon video box, which I love completely. Dolemite, or perhaps just the Xenon vhs, is the only film where in the credits on the front cover there is someone listed as “Martial Arts Champion”! Is it really necessary to have a martial arts ‘champion’ on set? Wouldn’t it be more valuable to have a fight choreographer? I have no idea what the ‘champion’ title means, it’s as if someone on set had a tournament and whoever’s martial arts won received their name on the front of the film’s poster. It’s truly bizarre, and considering the complete lack of decency within the fighting it’s self, it just makes things even more hilarious. I’m not speaking out of turn either. The ‘karate’ within Dolemite is the stuff of legend. The very first fight sequence that establishes our character had me laughing so hard I was afraid I would wake the neighbors. It happens during a flashback to when Dolemite was arrested by the FBI (err, I think they were FBI. If not, they were all plain clothes detectives). Some cops come up, demanding to look in Dolemite’s trunk (considering this was a clear violation of his rights, it seems that if Dolemite had so much money he could clearly take this to a higher court through some fancy lawyers. Racist G-men or not). Not surprisingly, when they open it up a bunch of fur coats and cocaine are found and they want to take Dolemite to hit the mainline express to prison-town (don’t ask me where I came up with that one). Dolemite, being the bad mofo that he is, let’s loose his fury with the ever classic “you’re going to have to TAKE ME!!, what proceeds is one of the most astonishingly bad displays of martial arts that cinema has ever seen. The camera follows the punches from behind our fighters, the punches and kicks don’t connect very well and it’s all so very sloppy. It truly is quite the display. The greatest fight scene has to come when Dolemite is accosted by the two racist cops who lay a few punches on him. Dolemite jump kicks one in the back, this somehow knocks him unconscious. Since the kick hit him dead in his back I can only imagine he hit the ground face first, but that’s really putting too much thought into a Dolemite fight scene. The other cop isn’t so lucky when he receives some very badly aimed punches followed by a kick to the head that is easily TWO FEET away from ever touching his face, and yet our cop falls to the ground writhing in pain. These two scenes, gathered with a large and very sloppily edited bar brawl are only one of a million reasons you and everyone within your family deserves to see Dolemite and obviously should see Dolemite.

It’s 110% pure campy fun, sure it’s horrendously made, but as much as it is unintentionally humorous there are some very intentionally entertaining additions to the film. The dialogue is atrocious by university standards of course, but when you watch the film as a viewer and not a critic, a lot of this is truly classic. Who could ever forget when Dolemite is informing a police officer to please make room for him to get into his car, only Dolemite puts it a little more blunt when he says “Man move over and let me pass ‘fore they have to be pulling these hush puppies out your motherf***ing a**!” (censored because, well, as stupid as it is, my reviews are for everyone even if the films in question aren’t). Dolemite spits out things as equally as clever and obscene throughout the course of the film and this is why we like him so much, why kids everywhere (well, not everywhere) want to be Dolemite. He’s such a larger than life character, a true bad mofo if ever one did truly exist. It’s stupid to say about such a bad movie, but that’s the way it is with me. The characters other than Dolemite are just as widely drawn, Creeper – The Hamburger Pimp is probably one of the weirdest characters ever written. Perhaps Rudy Ray Moore had talked about this strange heroin junkie during his standup act, but for those of us who haven’t heard any of his albums, it’s just one more thing never explained throughout the course of the film. I personally wanted to know more about The Hamburger Pimp, did he sell the hamburgers to get smack? Why was it important for us to waste thirty seconds watching him doing a jive strut down the street after ‘pimping’ a hamburger from that fast food place? Things the audience may never know. We’ll also never exactly know why the local preacher was given guns, or really even what he wanted to do with them. Sure, he was a militant, but he didn’t exactly seem to have a fanatical following. Another big question is to what is even going on in the film. The plot literally makes no sense at all. The mayor wanted Dolemite out of jail, and that mysterious third party, was that the FBI agent? What was he doing making deals with the mayor? Why didn’t the mayor have Dolemite killed while in the prison? Why did the warden of a prison have so much authority when letting a prisoner go? How did Dolemite get out of prison on bail when he had just committed homicide and already had a criminal record even though if he was released he would likely be on a serious probation? You just can’t ask questions like this! There are no answers! The film’s script wasn’t meant to be questioned, it was only there to form a shell for Rudy Ray Moore to ham it up as the biggest and baddest pimp to ever come from the realm of blaxploitation. Dolemite could chew up The Mack any day of the week. Max Julien never displayed any Kung Fu of note anyway. Yet, while the plot is filled with more holes than Clyde Barrow’s Sedan (that’s a historical reference kiddies), it’s the amazingly bad production that gives Dolemite a lot of the cult appeal it has. The film has what is easily one of the worst pieces of editing I’m familiar with, right up there with the teleportation of a character directly into scene in The Girl With The Golden Boots (I swear I’ve brought that same error up in a previous review). During a lovemaking session between our main man Dolemite and one of his Ho’s, we are given a shot of Dolemite and his honey lying in bed wrapped in sheets. They begin caressing and preparing to do the horizontal jig, when all of a sudden, the film cuts to the same exact shot, but after the sex! The camera remains in place, only Dolemite and this girl have moved a little on the bed (neither in a position that looks remotely like they could actually be doing ‘it’) and are both now moaning. There was no cut to a clock, or a shot of the windows to show the gradual loss of time. Not even a closeup on clothing or the camera fading out. No, we’re treated to the exact same shot we started with in what is such a ridiculously clumsy edit that I almost lost faith in the idea of cinema as art. The film is full of a million other herky jerky edits that make the film look like it was put together by a blind man, but in the end it’s all a part of why the film has to be seen to be believed.

The acting, as mentioned, is almost pitiful to watch. A favorite bit of drama for me comes near the beginning where Queen Bee is so excited that Dolemite is being released from prison that she begins to tear up. The complete lack of any resemblance of emotion in the way she says “Dolemite, I’m so happy” should provoke uproarious laughter throughout any average human being, as a matter of fact if you don’t laugh, I have to think that you are insane. I still can’t get that out of my head and I doubt that I ever will. The direction in the film doesn’t even really seem worth mentioning, because I find it doubtful he was really instructive in the making of the film. I could be wrong and he was making the best of a bad situation, but I find it hard to believe he was very interested in what was going on while the cameras were rolling. His portrayal of Willie Green is actually one of the better performances throughout the film, but that doesn’t say much. Perhaps he just wasn’t that great of a teacher at this point in his life. Never the less, the lack of true guidance on the set seems to have been a blessing for the film, because I have to imagine if the story had been told in a mediocre (rather than horrendously bad) way, the film probably wouldn’t have taken on the cult following that it has. Tough guy gangster films were a dime a dozen at this point in cinema history. The film is a finely crafted piece of seventies cheese, whether you’ll like it is truly based upon your character. If you don’t dig it, that doesn’t make you a square, but it does mean this type of cinema might not be up your alley. If you do love this seemingly noxious piece of b-cinema, join the club because I can’t get it out of my head. Sure, it may seem offensive to the ‘art’ to give such a bad film a four rating, but if you don’t have fun while watching this film it’s hard for me to sympathize. A classic in the area of b-films, a king amongst slop. I love it adoringly, and as should anyone with a heart.



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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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