Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Opening Salvo

It's nice being able to give a decent sized update without having brought home any new movies, though it's not so nice having to worry about money again. Because of partaking in DVDTalk's first Exploitation/Drive-In/B-Movie Challenge, I've already gotten through a chunk of titles, though it also helps that I skipped a couple days of work in a vain attempt to extend my paltry spring break as long as I can. My movie watching's going to take a hit when I start going to work again regularly and the new school term starts (assuming my current enrollment problems get straightened out). So far, it's been a fun little challenge that leaves a lot of room for plenty of diversity amongst the films. I'm trying to avoid horror movies as much as I can because I plan on completely vegging out with them for the October challenge as part of my graduation/quitting my job celebration, which is also why you haven't really seen any blurbs about them so far on here. Out of the films watched so far, only one of them was a bore. In fact it's actually hard to grade these films as they're all pretty fun to watch even though they can't really be called good movies, so keep that in mind when reading.

This was probably Mario Bava's most commercial film, even at only $500,000, and it shows. The sets are amazing and shows how impressive physical locations can be, though admittedly they were married with matte-paintings though I couldn't even tell at first, rather than green-screening in a cartoon background. The action is outlandish with heists galore. It's obvious that this was Italy's attempt to create their own James Bond-like series but for some reason it never took off, despite Bava bringing it in for a fifth of the budget he was allotted. I think the biggest issue was Diabolik himself. He's supposed to be the main character you root for, but he alternates between being an asshole and a puppet the whole time. He kills completely innocent cops and cripples the nation because they piss him off. The rest of the time, his girlfriend is slipping him sleeping pills lest he begin to wwander in his off time and then ordering to steal her new jewelry. You actually think he deserves to be caught, even with his amazing eyebrows. I do think this was the perfect film to kick off the challenge since it has the perfect mixture of laughably bad moments coupled with the amazing ingenuity that comes along with truly great low-budget filmmakers.
Sights within:
-Probably the world's first metro-sexual.
-Use of both Exhilaration Capsules and Anti-Exhiliration Capsules.
-An opening sequence that could fill-in as a scene from the Spy Hunter video game.
-The world's largest revolving bed.
-Mobsters who have an enchanted Etch-A-Sketch.
-1 of 2 movies in the span of two days where a Polaroid has aided robbery attempts.
-The world's most annoying suction cups.
-A mid-air action sequence pre-dating Shoot 'Em Up.
-The old Tibetan-lama "I'm not really dead!" gag.
-An entire nation's tax records completely blown away, probably inspiring a young Tyler Durden.
-A man coated in gold, leaving him to look like someone's nasty #2.
-A tease for a sequel that some 32 years later, still hasn't happened.
-Ask Eva.
Grade: B

Probably the most famous of the now-seemingly ludicrous parental cautionary films (whew!), it holds some genuine laughs even for someone like me who doesn't care for the substance. The nation's constant mishandling of the drug from day one is chronicled in the great documentary Grass, so I'm not even going to bother going into that aspect when that film does it better than I ever could. The film itself is primarily made up of long stretches filled with scenes out of a Leave it to Beaver episode though with more wooden acting punctuated by hilarity when someone's all hopped up on the doobie. There's fun here, but you have to get through some bad stretches, even in its 67 minute running time.
Sights within:
-The world's most gentle hit and run.
-The world's most inept/lazy hit and run investigation.
-Issues of rape in a '30's movie where you expect everything filmed then to be all cuddly.
-A teenage kid being sentenced to a hanging.
-The world's cleanliest bullet hole.
-The fastest little piano diddy you ever did see.
Grade: B-

A much more entertaining film than the more well-known Reefer Madness, this movie is supposed to warn people against the evils of the "giggle-weed" but ends up showcasing the dangers of booze and heroin instead with pot playing more of a minor role here. Unlike Reefer Madness, this film seems to have been made with exploitation in mind with a ham-fisted plot and enough lurid moments to titillate the audience, even closing with a twist ending that wouldn't feel out of place in an old E.C Comics tale. The best of the triple feature disc I have.
Sights within:
-Attempted date rape which is completely forgiven literally 20 seconds later.
-Skinny dipping under the influence.
-A bunch of ogre-like giggling loons running around doing the aforementioned skinny dipping.
-One of the world's earliest "drug-deal-gone-wrong" scenes filmed.
-The main girl goes from scared do-goody to tough-talkin' dope dealer within one cut of film. Amazing.
-Apparently when you die in this film, piles of joints rain down in order the justify the film's message.
Grade: B

The last feature on the disc sure didn't end things well. There wasn't a lot of fun to be had here. The film comes across a lot more serious than the other two and alternates between being dull and depressing. A girl goes from country bumpkin to gangster's moll in the span of five minutes with her brother going out to find her only to end up becoming addicted to the smack her husband peddles. It's the same kind of plot every other one of these films have, except without one iota of the campy fun.
Sights within:
-A gangster holding a gun on a waitress as she serves two cops in order to hide him, thinking he's the good guy the whole time.
-The saddest, most hopeful mother you'll probably ever see.
-Quite liberal use of "headache powder."
-Wallpaper adorned with dead rats.
-The world's most depressing 1930's expectant-mother suicide.
-Drugs are bad. m'kay?
Grade: C-

We had watched Cannibal Holocaust (I had already seen it before so I'm not doing the full write-up here) and it had left my wife so disturbed that I put this on to help her feel better. I had never seen any of these before, save for the reunion movie from the late 80's, so it was nice finally being able to sit down with one. I was actually surprised at how genuinely funny it was. The writing had a lot of clever lines and all of the characters were pretty enjoyable. Paul Lynde was a great smart-ass and it was cool seeing Don Rickles insult everyone like only he can. I can see why these movies were popular back when they were made as they make for nice, breezy fun.
Sights within:
-Peppermint airplanes.
-The ol' mermaid plot device.
-I have no idea how anyone thought Paul Lynde wasn't gay.
-See a young Don Rickles, who still looked fucking old!
-Young lads feeding weenies to each other.
-Nazi bikers used to comedic effect!
-The world's most unexpected buzzsaw torture sequence.
-The world's most missing justification for having "Bingo" in the title and trailer.
Grade: B+

80's sleaze, the kind I grew up with. It sets itself up as a revenge movie, but I have to say that the whole movie was just too fun to really feel pumped up for it. It's bad, it's campy, it's overwrought, it's exploitative, but it never felt boring, save for a stretch at the very end. Linda Blair somehow thinks she's a badass, even though she has the face of a Disney chipmunk, and spends the majority of the film trying to prove it. The whole movie is shot slick as a whip with perfect camera moves and a style that makes it feel more expensive than it really is. The only real issue the movie had was that by the time it got to the actual revenge, it felt a little too passive, with Blair suddenly losing all of her street act to become a standard slasher heroine.
Sights within:
-Linda Blair suited in leather brandishing a crossbow. Nope, it doesn't sell.
-The world's most low-budget night club.
-Howard Vernon becoming the coolest character in the movie.
-"Go fuck an iceberg."
-The world's ugliest high school jock.
-A deaf mute Linnea Quigley, automatically making it her best performance.
-Gratuitous bathtub shot for ABSOLUTELY.NO.GODDAMN.REASON.
-The world's most spiteful science teacher.
Grade: B+

Thus far, this was easily the funnest of all the films I've watched for the challenge. Full of great one-liners, great fight scenes, and tons of those little off-hand moments that adds to the character of the movie. In fact, I'd go so far to say that this is my favorite blaxploitation film thus far. Jim Kelly has a charisma that sells the film right away and you get the feeling that everyone was out to just have a good time. A must see and you can even get it in a set with three other pretty good blaxploitation films for only about ten bucks.
Sights within:
-A fight ended by shooting a man in the ass.
-The world's most awesome scene where Scatman Crothers performs kung-fu!
-The second film where-in a Polaroid aids and abets a robbery.
-The world's two biggest assholes terrorizing an entire beach in the name of foreplay.
-Pinky, the world's most entertaining villain.
-A car chase wherein a pair of panties has its own subplot.
-The world record for number of guys having their heads kicked through train windows.
-Jim Kelly performing the karate shuffle just to hit an elevator button.
-The world's longest fight taking place in a mountainous pile of soap suds.
Grade: A

There's a few more movies I've seen but I'm going to have to take a powder. This has already run long enough and I'm sure most people have tuned out by now so I'm going to leave this as a "to be continued." Now on to the stats which are completely useless and uninteresting to everyone else but me.

Movies Watched: 7
- Danger:Diabolik
- Reefer Madness
- Marihuana
- The Cocaine Fiends
- Beach Blanket Bingo
- Savage Streets
- Black Belt Jones
New Movies Bought: 0 (Achievement Unlocked!)
Unseen DVDS: 3247
Unseen Blu-rays: 71
Unseen VHS: 119

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