PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN is a black comedy I heard some good things about and had been wanting to see for a while and then right around the time it came out on disc it got nominated for best picture, director, original screenplay, actress and editing Oscars. Okay – didn’t know it was gonna be that kind of party, but I’m down.
The movie opens in a bar as three co-worker bros talk shit. One of them (Adam Brody, JENNIFER’S BODY) seems like the nice one, standing up for a female co-worker the other guys are complaining about, and seeming unimpressed by their sexist horndog talk. And of course when they spot Cassie (Carey Mulligan, DRIVE [the Refn one, not the Dacascos one]) so plastered she can barely sit upright on a bench, he’s the one who goes over and tries to make sure she’s okay.
Put quotes on that last phrase. We all kinda know where this is going: he offers her a ride home, playing it like hey, I know what this looks like, but I’m just trying to make sure she gets home safe before some jerk comes along. But the next thing you know it’s why don’t you come up to my apartment and let’s have a drink (!?) and then he’s on top of her taking her clothes off while she asks him what he’s doing and he keeps telling her it’s okay, she’s safe.
And actually she is fairly safe, because as she reveals when she sits up, she’s completely sober. She just has this hobby of faking drunk to see what assholes try to take advantage of her, and then shame them when they do. Try to scare them out of doing it again. Just a weird vigilante crusade of hers. (read the rest of this shit…)
Last year, Jamie Lee Curtis returned as Laurie Strode in the new HALLOWEEN, exploring what life might be like for a horror heroine 40 years after she faced down evil. But did you know there was another late sequel to an iconic slasher film from 1978? I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE DE JA VU (full end credits title: “I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE DE JA VU a.k.a. DAY OF THE WOMAN DE JA VU”) is a writer/director Meir Zarchi’s direct sequel to his infamous rape-revenge film, with Camille Keaton (WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE?) returning to her role as feminist writer turned violent avenger Jennifer Hills. It was filmed in 2015, but not released until disc and VOD last April.
Things seem to have turned out all right for Jennifer. She’s an author and counselor for rape victims. She doesn’t treat her violent past as a dark secret – in fact, she wrote a new best selling book about it. As the original film’s famous tagline predicted, “No jury in America would convict her!” And she’s close with her daughter Christy (Jamie Bernadette, MORTDECAI), a world famous model who’s thinking of retiring. (read the rest of this shit…)
THE NIGHTINGALE, now in limited theatrical release, is Australian director Jennifer Kent’s followup to THE BABADOOK. That 2014 debut of hers was a critical sensation and cult hit that made less than 1/34 the box office of ANNABELLE the same year, but it reached a ton of people, including many who don’t usually bother with the genre. Certainly some of the hype was about it being directed by a woman, and I think that’s relevant in that its scares are based in motherhood. I can point you to plenty of pro-woman horror movies, but few that are about such specifically female fears.
That made Kent one of those directors whose names get reported as being on the short list to direct every WONDER WOMAN or CAPTAIN MARVEL that comes along. She told Indiewire “I did entertain one blockbuster seriously and I thought, yeah, I could give this something really special. But then ultimately I heard about the way the films are made, and I thought it would kill me.” So five years later she still hasn’t been sucked into the ol’ i.p. game, unless you count developing an adaptation of the 19th century lesbian thriller book Alice + Freda Forever. Instead she made this. (read the rest of this shit…)
REVENGE (the 2018 release with the pink logo, not the Kevin Costner/Tony Scott one) is a great rape-revenge movie. Not a subversive one in my opinion, just a really good version of the form that goes mercifully light on the first r-word and entertainingly extravagant on the second. Obviously the very idea of the genre is upsetting, but as far as these things go, it’s a fun time. It has no interest in gritty realism or wiping your nose in the shit. It’s not even about any “dig two graves” or LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT don’t-stoop-to-their-level anti-revenge moralism. It has alot of symbolism and poetic exaggeration and exists in a world where human bodies have an impressive capacity for withstanding severe injuries and extreme blood loss.
(NOTE: If this sounds like something you can dig, I suggest seeing it and not reading the rest of this review yet, because I will be using SPOILERS to discuss alot of what I find most interesting in it.) (read the rest of this shit…)
MS. 45 is a simple, palatable slice of early sleazy arty Abel Ferrara. Much like his previous film DRILLER KILLER it’s his New York art scene take on a genre movie, and a great time capsule of that world, but it’s a much more captivating story and – crucially – the people in it are far less obnoxious. Instead of playing the insufferable lead, Ferrara just plays an alley rapist in a Halloween mask at the beginning.
Yes, it’s a rape-revenge story like THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE, and also a vigilante movie like DEATH WISH. The rape scenes are as disturbing as any, but mercifully short compared to I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE or something. The vast majority of the slim 80-minute running time is given over to our 17-year-old protagonist Thana (Zoë Tamerlis, later known as Zoë Lund)’s urban murder spree. When she beats a rapist to death with an iron she could report it as a legitimate case of self defense, but she makes the less orthodox choice of hiding the body and using his gun for the .45 caliber execution of adult men who make moves on her, attempted gang rapists, pimps she sees beating prostitutes, etc. A fun new hobby for a young woman living on her own in the city. (read the rest of this shit…)
“That’s over with! Those men are in jail. I wish you would just stop dwelling on it!”
Sometimes when you’re on a Slasher Search or a Horror Quest you have to take what seems like an empty barrel, turn it upside down and start banging on the bottom and see if any chunks break off and fall out into the dirt. And if you do that you run the risk of watching something like DEMENTED (1980). From the box it sounded like an I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE rip-off, which is dangerous territory. It’s actually a little weirder than that sounds, but not really in a good way.
Director Arthur Jeffreys has no other credits, which is not surprising, or might mean that it’s a porn director using a fake name. The writer, Alex Rebar, did an obscure Christmas horror called TO ALL A GOODNIGHT, directed by David Hess.
In the opening scene our heroine Linda Rodgers (Sallee Elyse, credited as Sallee Young) comes home and starts petting her horse before suddenly being jumped by a bunch of yahoos with pantyhose on their heads who drag her into the barn and gang rape her. The complete lack of buildup or establishing of characters or story makes it seem even cruder than I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, but at least the rape scene is much shorter and less graphic. (read the rest of this shit…)
KISS OF DEATH is a 1973 Shaw Brothers production, but not a period martial arts movie like what they’re mostly known for. The director, Meng Hua Ho also did CAVE OF THE SILKEN WEB and OILY MANIAC. This one is a contemporary urban story about a lady (Chen Ping) who, one night walking home from her job at the textile factory, gets gang-raped by five street thugs, and now she wants revenge.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t get I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE graphic about it, but of course everything to do with the attack is very unpleasant. I was actually shocked by a scene where she is surprised by blood dripping down her legs. Most movies about sexual assault don’t bother depicting the ugly details of the physical aftermath.
YOUNG WARRIORS is a crazy fuckin movie released by Cannon in 1983. The description on the back of the VHS box begins like this:
“What do you get if you cross ‘Animal House’ with ‘Death Wish’? Young Warriors– a unique combination of fraternity hijinks, high-speed action, wildly imaginative animation, and hard-drivin’ rock!”(read the rest of this shit…)
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (2010) is an okay-but-could-be-much-better remake of the disreputable cult classic. In the rankings of 21st century remakes of notorious ’70s rape revenge movies I’d put it at #2, more watchable than CHAOS but not nearly as artful as LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. It has pretty effective pacing and a couple good ideas, but it’s not as smart or observant as I’d want for a really worthwhile remake. (read the rest of this shit…)
DEATH WEEKEND, aka HOUSE BY THE LAKE, is a 1976 Canadian rape-revenge movie, and a pretty good one. You know, now that I’ve finished typing that sentence I feel like that description doesn’t sound nearly as appealing as I would like. So let me rephrase that: DEATH WEEKEND, aka HOUSE BY THE LAKE, is from 1976.
Okay, I already told you what kind of movie it is, but let me assure you, the rape part is not long and graphic like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. The woman doesn’t get degraded too much, and neither do you, the viewer. It has a real good setup and a very capable heroine in a world where virtually all men are bastards or imbeciles. (Fair enough.) (read the rest of this shit…)
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