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YES, MADAM! is a 1985 Hong Kong action classic starring the one and only Michelle Yeoh as Senior Inspector Ng, hard working cop who should be on vacation and instead ends up searching for some damn microfilm.
She ends up on the case due to a crazy pile-up of coincidences. Her old instructor Richard Nordon (Michael Harry, AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE) is meeting in his hotel room with a thug named Mr. Dick (Dick Wei, EASTERN CONDORS), who ends up killing him. Immediately after that, two thieves disguised as bellboys happen to break into the room. They happen to steal Nordon’s passport, which happens to contain the microfilm of a forged contract that Mr. Dick was after in the first place. And then Inspector Ng happens to come to the room to meet with her old mentor, just in time to see the fake bellboy fleeing the scene and try to chase him.
I write alot about how horror movies allow you to face down evil vicariously through their heroines and heroes. But there are also some that mess with you by making you follow the perspective of the killer – movies like PEEPING TOM, MANIAC (and its remake), DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER come to mind.
The 1983 Austrian film ANGST is a masterwork of this type. It’ll fuck you up. To give you an idea, the Blu-Ray comes with an intro from Gaspar Noe, who says it is one of the films that influenced him most. I think that goes for both the bleak subject matter and the inventive camerawork by cinematographer (also writer and editor) Zbigniew Rybczynski. The movie follows a killer as he’s released from prison and then immediately starts killing again. He doesn’t even try to find a place to live or anything. He does stop off at a coffee shop, but it’s for stalking purposes more than for coffee. He’s played by Erwin Leder (DAS BOOT), but the first person narration is read by Robert Hunger-Buhler (Noe prefers the French dub). (read the rest of this shit…)
A STAR IS BORN, from director Bradley Cooper, is a very good adaptation of the trailer that played before every single movie I saw in a theater for the last three months. I saw that trailer so many times I would try to act it out and could sing the two songs (one with correct lyrics, even). I would get just those song fragments stuck in my head for days. So it’s exciting to discover that they have second verses.
I don’t know if it’s as good as an adaptation of the 1937 film starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, or the 1954 one starring Judy Garland and James Mason, or the 1976 one starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, or the 1998 made-for-cable one starring Brandy and Casper Van Dien, because I haven’t seen any of them and made up the last one. I have to assume it’s closest to the ’76 because actor Bradley Cooper (THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN) definitely seems to be channeling Kristofferson’s rugged country poet vibe. I even contemplated whether or not he should be allowed to play Whistler if they ever do a new BLADE. Then I realized that really the voice he’s doing is Sam Elliott, so I was delighted when the actual Sam Elliott (ROAD HOUSE) showed up, playing his older brother/road manager. I wondered if that was awkward between the two actors, and then I found a Good Morning America interview where Elliott says Cooper (THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN) warned him “this is gonna be a little weird” before playing him a tape of the voice he was working on. “And it was a little weird.”
What if Elliott hadn’t been available? If they ended up casting, like, Don Johnson or Willem Dafoe or somebody, would they have to imitate Sam Elliott too? (read the rest of this shit…)
I’d like to end this not-as-rockin-as-I’d-hoped Slasher Search Rocks! mini-series with an extreme obscurity I never could’ve seen if not for the maniacs at Bleeding Skull! Video, who for some reason love shot-on-VHS movies. Though “never distributed properly on home video” (the director just sold it through ads in the back of heavy metal magazines), Bleeding Skull! gave HEAVY METAL MASSACRE (1989) a limited edition 250 copy, VHS only re-release in 2016.
This is the mostly-filler-about-a-killer story of an unnamed (as far as I noticed) loner who looks like he could be in Poison with his long, bleach blond, meticulously teased hair and studded bracelets and what not. He goes to one small brick wall bar where he picks up big-haired leather-jacket-wearing women. He sometimes uses the promise of cocaine, but very few words, and when he does talk it’s more of a working joe kinda voice than I expected to come out from behind that makeup.
He brings them to his place, which is one small room full of posters, but it supposedly connects to a series of industrial hallways and garages where he takes them to handcuff them up and then hit them with a sledge hammer.
Another one from the Vern Vault: I have written about STONE COLD many times, but this was the only time I thought to title it STRICTLY BOZNESS. Originally posted October 15, 2015 on One Perfect Shot.
STRICTLY BOZNESS: THE FIERY MAJESTY OF ‘STONE COLD’
There is a certain type of action movie I love where it’s more important to be awesome than grounded; where the knowing use of cliches, absurd physics and extreme exaggeration are part of the agreement between the film and the audience. These are movies that are almost impossible to truly make fun of, because their ridiculousness is not a drawback, even when it’s an accident. They make you laugh but you’d be lying if you said you were only enjoying them ironically. Classics of this type include Schwarzenegger’s COMMANDO, Van Damme’s HARD TARGET and Seagal’s HARD TO KILL. (read the rest of this shit…)
Spike Lee’s BLACKkKLANSMAN is out on video today. Back when I saw it in the theater it made me curious about the 1966 movie of the almost same title. THE BLACK KLANSMAN was also released as I CROSSED THE COLOR LINE, and it’s from exploitation director/mustache aficionado Ted V. Mikels (THE ASTRO-ZOMBIES, THE CORPSE GRINDERS, BLOOD ORGY OF THE SHE-DEVILS, THE DOLL SQUAD, ANGEL OF VENGEANCE, APARTHEID SLAVE: WOMEN’S JUSTICE, PARANORMAL EXTREMES: TEXT MESSAGES FROM THE DEAD, etc.)
It all starts when a young black man in Turnerville, Alabama, fed up with the bullshit, decides to exercise his right to go into a still-segregated coffee shop and order some coffee. The white customers stare, then insult him, then all get up and storm out. That night the Klan – led by one of the guys who was in the restaurant – murder him, then firebomb a black church, killing a little girl. She was the daughter of Jerry Ellsworth, a singer in L.A. He’s introduced showing up late to his job at the club because, he claims, he was out heroically helping people during the riots (not pictured). (read the rest of this shit…)
Luca Guadagnino’s SUSPIRIA (2018) is technically a remake of Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA (1977), because it’s about an American named Susie Bannion going to a dance academy in Germany in 1977 where other students are turning up dead and weird shit is happening because it’s run by a coven of witches led by Mother Suspiriorum, The Mother of Sighs. But don’t expect to see any of the things you think of when you think of SUSPIRIA, like the colorful lighting, the maggots dropping from the ceiling or that room full of razor wire. Guadagnino (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME) doesn’t use the same look or any specific scenes or story points, he just plays with the basic idea. Now there’s more intra-coven political stuff going on, as well as news coverage of Baader-Meinhof bombings and the hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 181 by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and a subplot about an old therapist looking for a patient who disappeared after telling him the school was run by witches, and also his wife (played by o.g. Susie Bannion Jessica Harper) disappeared during the war and he keeps thinking about her, and…
I mean it’s 52 minutes longer than the original so there’s alot more stuff going on. It bills itself as “Six Acts and an Epilogue in a Divided Berlin” (spoiler: actually should be Six Acts, an Epilogue, and a Brief, Uneventful Tag Near the End of the Credits). I appreciated the act breaks. (read the rest of this shit…)
FROM THE VERN VAULT: Don’t worry friends, I’m not about to start doing reruns all the time, but there are two pieces that were written for One.Perfect.Shot that disappeared after they were bought out by Film School Rejects. Prompted by Rumsey Taylor I located them on Internet Archive and I’m reposting them for posterity.
Maybe I’m full of it but it seems to me this piece from October 26th, 2015 was a little ahead of the curve. At the time I knew of no one else who considered CANDYMAN the best horror movie of the ’90s and I didn’t think people talked enough about its exploration of the legacy of slavery in America. I’m proud of this as well as my 2005 take on the movie. (It’s not dangerous until I review it five times, is it?)
‘CANDYMAN’ AND THE RACIAL DIVIDE: WHY ONE OF THE BEST HORROR FILMS OF THE 90S IS EVEN MORE RELEVANT TODAY
“These stories are modern oral folklore. They are the un-self-conscious reflection of the fears of urban society.” –urban legends lecture by Professor Lyle (Xander Berkeley)
“What if a person had this thing done to him and what if he had the opportunity to come back and say, ‘Watch out!’ to the world that created this person and the conditions?” –Tony Todd to Fangoria Magazine, March 1995
American horror movies have played off of all manner of primal and societal fears: tensions between social classes, the invasion of the sanctity of the home, the dangers of trespassing in forbidden places. But leave it to a couple of British artists – writer/director Bernard Rose and executive producer/short story author Clive Barker – to explicitly tie those themes to the racial atrocities of our history, creating a truly American horror story. (read the rest of this shit…)
Happy Halloween, everybody! As is sometimes my tradition, I have managed to do a write-up of one of my all time favorite movies that I haven’t done an official piece on. In 2016 I finally got the balls to do THE THING, and in 2017 I did INFERNO. I guess when I did DAWN OF THE DEAD it was a month after Halloween, but that’s the type of review I’m going for here.
These reviews of the classics are intimidating because there’s such a risk of saying the same shit that’s already been said, but I’m tired of linking to my Ain’t It Cool News review of a DVD release every time I mention it, which is inconvenient when I seem to compare half the movies I watch to THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. I remember I even compared the Kathryn Bigelow racism drama DETROIT to it. Incidentally, even though I’ve been thinking about HALLOWEEN movies all month the world is feeling more TEXAS CHAIN SAW to me these days.
In other words, be warned: this is one of the ones where I relate the movie to the politics of today, so if you hate that, please don’t read, and go have a happy Halloween. If not, please do read, then have a happy Halloween.
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THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. One of the greatest horror movies since they started makin’ ’em. Not sure if I’ve mentioned that before, but it’s true.
It’s a movie that has grown on me and with me. When I first saw it I was probly 13 and I thought it was dumb. Just some crappy footage of a dude chasing people around in the dark. I was a Freddy guy. Saw it again in my twenties and it became pretty much my favorite movie. Back then it was VHS (not sure if it was even letterboxed) and I really believed that the raw quality of the footage was part of its magic. That it felt like a documentary, one made by crazy people.
After believing that for years I got that remastered edition that Dark Sky Films released, the one in the steel case (which I took these screengrabs from). It looked so much cleaner I wasn’t sure if I should accept it at first. Now I watch the way-more-pristine-than-that Blu-Ray and I love the movie even more as the controlled, artful craftsmanship it had always secretly been. For the moment, forget “drive-in” or “grindhouse” and think “great American film of the ’70s,” even if it’s all of those things. (read the rest of this shit…)