Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Proxy (2013)

Written by: Kevin Donner and Zack Parker
Directed by: Zack Parker
Alexia Rasmussen as Esther Woodhouse
Alexa Havins as Melanie Michaels
Kristina Klebe as Anika Baron

This is going to be short and sweet.

A woman named Esther, just weeks away from her due date, is attacked on her way home from an OB/GYN appointment. The assailant ambushes her as she passes an alley, knocks her unconscious with a brick and drags her out of sight of the street, then proceeds to smash in her pregnant belly with the brick.

Upon awakening in the hospital, Esther meets with a social worker who informs her that since she has no close friends or family (she was fertilized with a selection from a sperm bank), it will be very important for her to find a support group outside, since once she leaves the hospital the doctors and social workers there will move on to the next internal case and can provide her with no more help.

After a couple of rough days, she finds a support group for victims of violent crimes. And then things go totally apeshit crazy.

That is literally all I can tell you about the movie without ruining everything, and the above takes up ten, maybe fifteen minutes tops of the two hour run time. Proxy is a deftly woven tapestry of insanity. Zack Parker masterfully paces the movie, assaulting the viewer with one WHAT THE HOLY FUCKING SHIT!? moment after another without things ever feeling bogged down by plot twists, or having too long a stretch between them. Just when you think you've got a handle on things, you find out that in fact you do not, and it's much, much worse than you suspected.

Top notch performances all around too. Again, I can't say much about what specifically is good about each performance because it will ruin things, and this is definitely a movie you need to see cold to get the full effect. Just trust me, they're great.

There you have it. One of the best horror movies of the year. I can't even think offhand of one that tops it, so maybe THE best horror movie of the year. Go see Proxy right now. Don't even read the last sentence. Seriously, what the hell are you still doing here?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Inseminoid (1981)

Written by: Nick Maley, Gloria Maley
Directed by: Norman J. Warren
Robin Clarke as Mark
Stephanie Beacham as Kate
Judy Geeson as Sandy

In space, no one can hear you get raped by a giant, phallus-headed bug monster! Well, at least that should have been the tag line for tonight's movie. If you can think of a better one I'll eat my hat. No I won't, it's old and full of sweat and face oil. Just don't tell the Maleys or Mr. Warren, because according to them, this is in no way meant to be a cash-in on a certain space monster movie that was a massive critical and box office success just the year before. Nope. Not at all. Purely a coincidence. And corporations don't have human rights while we're at it.

The Xeno Corporation's health care plan is a hell of a lot better than Hobby Lobby's, as they provide injections of prophylactic drugs on every offworld mission, but the crew of the outpost on the distant planet we're about to visit never gets to find out whether or not they cover space bug abortions. Presumably they wouldn't, though, because if it's a legitimate space monster rape, a woman's body has ways of shutting things down, so clearly she was asking for it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

A team of archaeologists has set up shop on this barren, inhospitable dump of a planet to figure out what caused the extinction of the ancient and advanced civilization that once populated it. Some kind of citadel or tomb covered in hieroglyphics has been uncovered underneath a looming cliff face, and no sooner is a cavern full of glowing crystals opened up by two of the team – Dean and Ricky – than an explosion puts Dean in a coma and badly injures Ricky.

The team manages to get their two wounded members back to their makeshift base dug into a series of caverns in the opposing cliff face across the valley, and discover that Ricky has some of the strange crystals still clenched in his fist. In a nice little bit of attention to detail, Ricky is clutching the crystals so tight they've cut through his space suit glove and into the flesh of his hand. Not relevant to the plot, mind, just one of those unexpected signs of thought put into an otherwise cheap sleazefest that throw you for a loop and stick with you. It's too bad they couldn't given that much attention to what happens in the next fifteen minutes or so of the movie, because I have no fucking idea, but I'm game to take a crack at it.

Shortly after chemist Mitch and medical officer Karl determine that the crystals give off some kind of bio-electric radiation, Ricky wakes up and goes on a rampage. He grabs a space suit and runs off into the caverns, and several of the crew suit up to go after him and bring him back. He leads them a merry chase around the cave system, during which a brief scuffle knocks a woman named Gwen into some rubble in which her foot gets trapped. Instead of calmly waiting for someone else from the base to suit up and come help her out, she has a spaz attack and rips some of the wiring out of her life support system. Now the situation is a little more pressing, but not insurmountable. All she has to do is listen to the instructions given to her over her radio explaining to her how to hotwire the thing and keep it running until help arrives. Instead of following the directions, she decides to chop her damn leg off with some kind of outer space chainsaw thing, and dies of blood loss and exposure. Eventually Ricky returns to base and traps team reporter Kate in the airlock, where she has to shoot him dead before he depressurizes the whole base.

I imagine what's going on here is that the bio-electric field given off by the strange crystals are driving people mad. It's a very selective madness, though. I would have guessed at first that physical contact had something to do with it since Ricky had the things dug into the palm of his hand, but Mitch and Karl are both unaffected even though they're the ones who've been handling the things, and Gwen hasn't had any contact with them at all that we've seen, so it eventually just comes down to plot convenience I guess. It's time for a gory death but we need Mitch and Karl for the story a little longer so it's up to one of the disposable characters. Still, it's a pretty tense and memorable scene. It's certainly one of the things that stuck with me most in the intervening years between the first time I saw this movie on the Sci-Fi Channel and when I finally found my own copy.

During further exploration of the tomb (which had in the previous scene been said to be off limits until they could figure out what went wrong with Ricky and those crystals, but since it would be a pretty dull movie if they all just sat around safely in the break room until the evac ship arrived, just never you mind about that), Mitch and Sandy are attacked by something. In a sequence creatively edited to not require any special effects, Mitch is torn limb from limb, and Sandy is carried off and raped by the creature, which looks rather like a big, pink, slimy wiener with bug eyes.

Well, I say rape, I more mean artificially inseminated. At least, I think so. It's a very oddly handled sequence, which leaves us with some things to wonder about that the movie never bothers to resolve beyond a couple of hints. Sandy is lying on a table, with the wiener bug sitting between her legs. Karl is present, too, giving her an injection of some kind before the wiener bug shoves a tube into her vagina and starts pumping wiener bug eggs into her. It's possible the whole thing with Karl and the weird medical setting was just something her traumatized brain cooked up to soften the horror of being railed by a six-foot dick insect on the floor of a cave. It's also possible that Karl really was in on the whole thing from the get-go. Once Sandy is safely back with the crew, they do indeed discover a puncture on her arm where Karl gave her a shot in the insemination sequence. When they find out she's pregnant and everyone objects that it's impossible because all the women were given birth control drugs before the mission, we could take that to mean the drugs were simply ineffective against alien biology, or we could take her vision for reality and that Karl gave her some sort of counter-drug before the wiener bug shot her full of space monster jizz. Did the Xeno Corporation send Karl along with something like Special Order 937 to bring back a wiener bug for study?

While we're asking questions, what is the relationship between the crystals and the wiener bug? Is the wiener bug what killed off the ancient civilization, or is it a final surviving member trying to pass on its genetic material in a last ditch attempt to restart its race? The movie doesn't care that you want to know, because now that we've got the inseminating out of the way, the movie switches gears to become a particularly claustrophobic and unpleasant slasher for the remaining run time. Sandy's maternal instinct kicks into murder mode as she starts picking off the remaining crew, and it's a race for survival until the evacuation team arrives. Of course, all there is to pick up when they arrive is a couple of slimy sock puppet wiener bug babies.

Whether you take it for better or worse, this flick is an odd duck in that it's a low-budget Alien ripoff that shows the monster even less than Alien did! In fact, I think the only Alien ripoff with less monster than this is, oddly enough, the in-name-only direct sequel Alien 2: Sulla Terra – a flick so impoverished that not only do you see the monster almost solely through a POV shot from inside its fucking mouth, but that they couldn't even afford to shoot in an abandoned factory so the climax takes place behind the pin setters at a bowling alley! But that's a review for another time. We're here to talk about Inseminoid, after all. So does the lack of monster work like it did for its inspiration? I think so. When there's no silly wiener bug to shake your head at, this thing is a solid little horror flick that packs a pretty nasty punch, especially for something that came out of England right during the beginning of the censorial backlash that led to them banning everything fun in movies for years to follow. It's gritty and sleazy and gory where it can afford it, and the birthing sequence which consists of nothing but Sandy screaming for what must be close to 90 solid seconds somehow manages to start off unnerving, shoot past annoying, slingshot around laughable and come right back around to unnerving again by the time it's over.

What little money they did have was spent very wisely. The movie was originally set on a space ship (just to make it extra hard to deny what they were ripping off), but there was so little money for FX that the production moved to Chiselhurst Caves in Kent, England. With pieces of the set build right into the real rock walls of the caves, and with all those non-styrofoam corridors and caverns to run around in, the movie gains hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of production value at the cost of what a giant pain in the ass it is to shoot a movie in a cave. This is also one of the few movies I've seen where being drastically under-lit wound up being a strike in the movie's favor, as it covers up a lot of the cheapness and adds to the sense of claustrophobic horror.

If it weren't for Creature, this would be hands-down my favorite Alien ripoff. As it is, there's a two-way tie. Creature is more fun and watchable overall, but Inseminoid wins by an intergalactic mile in being unrelentingly vicious and mean-spirited. If you want some wacky fun and Klaus Kinski being an utter sleazeball, Creature is your flick. If you want a movie whose only goal is to hurt your feelings and make you squirm, Inseminoid is where it's at.

 Joining me in paying homage to some of our favorite cinematic plagiarism (but we didn't plagiarize the reviews, we promise), the usual suspects sailing these seas of cheese:

Friday, July 25, 2014

G-Fest XXI: Part 3


Sunday started out a bit hectically, trying to get all our clothes and toiletries and cooler (bringing a cooler full of cereal bars and lunch meat and milk and orange juice saved a fortune on food), plus purchases from the art and dealer rooms packed up and safely back to the car with no broken claws or bent prints and nothing forgotten in the room, and then checking out before the events started for the day.

First up was arguably the main event of the whole Fest (and arguably so only because the concert was so goddamn awesome), the Terror of Mechagodzilla reunion panel with Katsuhiko Sasaki and Tomoko Ai sharing memories of the production. The panel did tend to devolve into Ai giggling as Sasaki talked about how cute he thought she was and was shy to talk to her and also getting in trouble for talking to her because he had just gotten married before production started, but once they started showing clips of the movie for the stars to talk about, the panel sped by and I was sad to see it end. Both stars had lots of memories of the shoot and were very talkative and funny.

After the panel, the kids and I got in line for autographs once again. The tickets for these two each included a free 8 ½ x 11 photo, and I had bought the kids reproduction movie posters (I love my kids, but I'm not spending $200 apiece for authentic posters for their rooms when I won't even drop that kind of scratch on one for myself) and I had Ai sign the killer Terror of Mechagodzilla print I picked up from Jeff Zornow on Friday.

By the time everything was signed, it was time to get in line for the awards lunch, the highlight of which was Bob Eggleton receiving the Mangled Skyscraper Award. Here's a guy who has won piles of major industry awards, but saying that this one meant more to him than all of those because it was given with love by Godzilla fans. I was proud to have been there.

The weekend was pretty well over by this point, with just a couple of smaller panels left to go. Phoenix wanted to attend the one on writing kaiju stories, so we went to check it out. It was a fun and lively discussion, but Phoenix lost interest in the technicalities quickly, Isabella didn't care to begin with, and the advice given seemed to be mostly for people who had never strung together a paragraph outside of a school assignment, so it didn't do much for me. However, one of the panelists had to leave early to try to sell a few more copies of his book in the dealer room before it closed. When he described the book to the audience before he left, it sounded fascinating, and so we followed him back upstairs to buy a copy. His name is Timothy Price, the book is Big In Japan, and having just finished reading my copy, I can say it's a hoot. Put the movie Rockstar, a handful of bonkers 70's tokusatsu shows, and about six pots (yes, pots – not cups, pots) of coffee in a blender and set to puree. That about sums it up. I also found out he's originally from Minnesota, not even two hours from where I live, so we wound up chatting about that and writing for a bit, and then the kids and I made one more pass through the dwindling toy tables. I snagged an original mold Bandai Gigan, you know the black one with only two back sails and a weird-shaped head (I love almost-but-not-quite figures like this one, they're almost cooler than ones that are detail-perfect to the movies), and we headed to Kaiju Konfessions.

Kaiju Konfessions is the traditional farewell ritual of G-Fest, wherein a compilation of songs from monster movies, MST3K episodes, and mash-up music videos are played along with lyrics so the whole crowd can dance and sing along. I don't know if it's been included before or not, but if we manage to get back next year (or any year, really) I hope they put “Mothra” by Those Darn Accordions in the rotation.

Joyce warned me that it's addictive, and that if you come one year you pretty much have to come every year. It's kind of like B-Fest in that regard. I can see how this could easily become more like B-Fest to me in that you come the first time for Godzilla, but come back more and more for the people you meet and the feeling of family you get from hanging out for three days with a bunch of people who love monster movies as much as you do.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

G-Fest XXI: Part 2


First thing on the agenda for Saturday was to get in line for the make-it-and-take-it model painting session, featuring a wonderful Y-MSF sculpt of Megalon. Phoenix made a new friend while waiting in line, and we wound up crossing paths with the boy and his grandparents many times throughout the weekend and even sat at the same table at the awards dinner on Sunday. There are only a limited number of model kits available, so we were there for a while, but it was worth it. The kids had a blast doing their own thing, and of course I wound up getting bogged down in the details and didn't have anywhere near enough time to finish painting. I figure I can buy some paint and finish it at home somewhere. Except the only place in town that sells model paint is Hobby Lobby. Well shit. Gavin Smith of Terrible Claw Reviews, and a good friend from B-Fest, joined us for the rest of the day's festivities.

From there we caught the last few minutes of Katsuhiko Sasaki's first session and sat down for part one of Koichi Kawakita. Even this early in the weekend, poor Robert Scott Field, who was doing translating duties for all the Japanese guests, was starting to sound like Macho Man Randy Savage with emphysema. It was pretty rough going, but the first hour of his session was a really interesting live commentary on his first movie as special effects director, a little-known-in-America WWII Zero pilot drama with a title that translates to something like Big Sky Samurai. Amazingly, there is not one single shot of a real airplane in the movie, and some fantastic aerial battle sequences.

At this point the kids were getting bored, so I took them downstairs to Minya's Place for a quiz show, where they got G-Fest Kaiju Kids t-shirts. We caught the last half hour of Kawakita's session, which was something to do with a GunHed TV ad, and wasn't nearly as cool as the WWII movie. No matter. We were there to get some good seats for the next session in that room: Don Frye.

This was the first of two sessions Frye gave, and covered all aspects of his career – his MMA fighting and other film appearances – instead of just Godzilla: Final Wars, although there was plenty of that too. My reaction upon hearing his answer to the first question of the panel was, “Holy crap, his voice really sounds like that!” I assumed he had put on that gravelly voice for his character of Captain Gordon, but it's the real deal. Mr. Frye seems like a warm, friendly guy, and funny as hell, but thoroughly badass. He fought for a year and a half with a broken neck assuming it was just sore before a trip to the doctor for an unrelated injury revealed the truth. Three months after surgery he was fighting again. After his session we got autographs and a photo with him, and then it was back to the room to drop off signed posters before walking to Giordano's for a pizza.

We returned to the Crowne Plaza in time for the costume parade, which was a highlight for the kids. There were several extremely impressive costumes, but my favorite of the bunch for sheer creativity was MechaGuiron, complete with spinning buzzsaw hand. There was also a great Megalon costume with whirling drills, working mandibles, and a light-up horn. There were also several little kids, around four years old, dressed in fairly generic Godzilla (and one pretty cool Gamera) costumes. It was cool to see these kids up there, posing and roaring in their costumes, because for those few minutes they weren't just little kids in costumes, they were their favorite kaiju, and they were fucking invincible.

 Off to the Pickwick Theater for the part of the weekend I was looking forward to the most. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, a full orchestra was assembled to put on a concert of suites of music from every Godzilla movie Akira Ifukube scored. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Toho said no to the planned DVD of the show, but it was recorded for a CD as a premium for backers and I can't wait to crank that sucker up in the car. It was an amazing, moving night, hearing this thunderous, crushing orchestral monster music played live. I've seen a lot of metal things in my day, and that just might top them all.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

G-Fest XXI: Part 1

For more than ten years now I've wanted to go to G-Fest. I found out about it in college from one of my professors, Dr. Joyce Boss, with whom I spent many hours after class in commandeered empty classrooms watching kaiju movies on the big pull-down projector screens. Of course, there was always another Fest in Chicago a few letters up the alphabet that took priority and the money was never there. This year the financial stars aligned and the kids and I attended our first G-Fest.

For those unaware, G-Fest is a convention held in Chicago every summer, focusing solely on Godzilla and his kaiju brethren. This year was their biggest attendance by quite a wide margin, no doubt from a combination of word of mouth, press articles, and of course the popularity of the new Godzilla movie with not just us die hards, but general audiences as well. Despite the unexpectedly large crowd, things seemed to go pretty smoothly for the most part (the autograph lines were a little chaotic on Saturday, but by Sunday things got much more organized), and we had a great time. It's a very family-friendly environment, warm and welcoming, with lots of kid-oriented activities as well as panels and autograph sessions with the stars of Godzilla movies.

We started out Thursday morning and I finally got to eat at Shark's Roadhouse in Elizabeth, Illinois. We drive by it on the way to B-Fest every year, but it's always at an odd, non-meal time of day. It's a little barbecue joint that looks like it was pulled into the real world right out of the movie Roadhouse, except for the big fiberglass shark hanging in the parking lot, and the numerous other sharks scattered around the inside, dominated by the massive great white head made to look like it's smashing through the wall behind the bar. And the food is great, too.

The Pickwick Theater shows kaiju movies throughout the weekend, but none of the movies playing Thursday were tempting enough for me to fight traffic and trying to find parking after already spending 7 hours in the car and dealing with all the road construction. Besides, from Thursday to Monday the hotel's internal TV channel plays 24/7 kaiju movies and TV programs, so we walked to a McDonald's for supper (there was a Giordano's next door but of course the kids weren't interested in actual good food twice in one day), and retired to the room. Joyce stopped by to say hi and meet the kids, she introduced me to J.D. Lees, G-Fan Magazine publisher and the man behind G-Fest, and we picked up our registration packets to avoid the massive line Friday morning. Hooray for pre-booking.


Friday morning we headed downstairs to take a look at the tokusatsu room, where Dojo Studios were setting up to shoot some sequences to the Gfantis (kaiju mascot of G-Fan). Phoenix has been making a series of kaiju comedy shorts he calls “Monster Island Buddies” with his Nintendo DS camera, so he was really interested to see what fans with experience and a budget can do with their amateur movies.

Next it was off to Artist's Alley, where Isabella impressed one of the artists selling some non-Godzilla prints by recognizing the ogre from Pan's Labyrinth. Apparently she doesn't meet many little girls into stuff like that. I got to meet Sean McGuinness (formerly of Twisted Kaiju Theater and now doing art as That Godzilla Guy), Matt Frank and Jeff Zornow. Bought some great prints off all of them, and got Zornow to sign the exclusive poster he drew that came with the limited edition 7 inch vinyl single of “Thy Foulness Cum” by Satan's Almighty Penis, a killer black metal band from Iowa. That was probably about the last thing he expected to see at a Godzilla convention. We chatted for a bit and took our leave to put our art back in the room before getting in line for autograph tickets.

We wanted to be sure to get tickets to the autograph sessions as there are a limited number, and the line to the dealer room was already getting pretty long even though it was only 11 o'clock and the doors didn't open until 2. Joyce came to the rescue again when she let us know most of the people in line were there for very specific and rare toys, and the autograph sessions wouldn't sell out that fast. Sure enough, we came back an hour or so after opening and got right in and got everything we needed. Then came one of the things I was most looking forward to about G-Fest; meeting Bob Eggleton. His art table was set up in the dealer room. If you don't know who he is, well, what the hell are you still doing here? Go educate yourself! Bob is maybe best known for his Godzilla work, but he does lots of other fantasy and horror stuff, as well as dinosaurs and land and seascapes. He was the first artist whose style I could recognize on sight and whose name I knew (who needs Picasso or van Gogh when you've got Bob fucking Eggleton!), and to me he is every bit as much a part of Godzilla as the casts and crews who make the movies.

Ah, the dealer room. It's heaven for a collector. Wall to wall kaiju toys. Maybe it was the small fortune I spent on art, but I managed to restrain myself pretty well and didn't buy anything too expensive. My favorite find was made rummaging through a bin of still-bagged but un-boxed mini figures and dioramas. It's a snap-together figure of King Ghidorah in the middle of forming from the fireball that shoots out of the meteorite. It's translucent orange and yellow, and the body and wings look like they're made of fire, with heads and legs and tails sticking out. No idea what series of figures it's from or even what company made it, but I really dig little high-grade and hyper figures like that.

From there we went downstairs to Minya's Place so the kids could do some coloring and crafts, and then to the video game room. Phoenix is a video game fiend, and that was one of his favorite parts of the whole thing. Another quick recce through the dealer room led me to the Tempting Toys table, which I missed the first time because it was so packed. Tony the proprietor is a friend of the owners of Now and Then Comics where I get my four color fix in Mason City, and we had met once briefly before when he stopped through on his way home from a G-Fest years ago. We talked for a bit and he gave me a great deal on a really bizarre cotton candy colored Varan figure from Y-MSF toys. We caught part of the Godzilla: Battle Royale fan movie before heading back to the room to unload toys (the kids both made quite a haul too) before getting seats for the opening ceremonies, where the special guests are introduced.

This year's guests of honor were Don Frye (Captain Gordon from Godzilla: Final Wars), Koichi Kawakita (special effects director on the Heisei series of Godzilla movies, including one of my personal favorites and my pick for best effects and Godzilla suit of the whole franchise, Godzilla vs. Biollante), Tomoko Ai (Katsura from Terror of Mechagodzilla), and Katsuhiko Sasaki (Ichinose from Terror of Mechagodzilla and Goro Ibuki, creator of Jet Jaguar in Godzilla vs. Megalon), as well as sculptor Hiroshi Sagae and Robert Scott Field (M-11 from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah). Sasaki and Ai were pretty clearly taken aback and very pleased by the seemingly endless standing ovation they got when they took the stage. It was a very cool feeling to be cheering for these actors who I've watched since I was a little kid, and the swell of emotion and love in the room was enormous. It was an incredible evening. Each guest spoke briefly and then left the stage, and the day was ended with amateur fan shorts, which covered a range of quality, from enthusiastic but poorly executed, to quite stunning.

We were all pretty beat by the end of the day, but the weekend was just beginning.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Vixens of Kung Fu (1975)

Written by: Cho En Young
Directed by: Chiang a.k.a. Bill Milling
Bree Anthony – Prostitute (yes, it's that much of a porn the characters don't even have names)
Tony Richards – Monk (no, not the OCD detective from the TV show)
C.J. Laing – Kung Fu Teacher

I was going to start this off by saying this was the first movie I've ever reviewed that had a money shot in it, but then I remembered that dubious honor goes to Emanuelle In America. This is, however, the first movie I've ever reviewed that made me yell, “HOLY CRAP THERE'S A BEE BY HIS WEINER!” Yeah, I know. We'll get to it.

So one day there's this woman, right? She's a prostitute, but we don't know that yet. Anyway, she's enjoying a peaceful walk in the woods, looking at all the lovely fall foliage (this movie sucks figurative as well as literal balls, but the scenery is beautiful) when she is accosted by three rapey-looking fellows who I thought were supposed to make us think of the hicks from I Spit On Your Grave, until I realized this movie predated that one by three years. But they're definitely more hillbillies than escaped prison thugs like Krug and his gang, so I don't know. The lady turns to run, but is shot in the back by the “gun of anesthesia”. Look, just roll with it. What follows is quite possibly the strangest sex scene I've ever sat through. It's definitely supposed to be a rape, so that's plenty icky already, but then the woman clearly enjoys it, which makes it about a thousand times worse. This being a porn, this is also meant to be spank ammo, which rockets it into the stratosphere of disgusting, and the hits just keep coming (literally!) with waaaaaay too much focus on the sweaty, leering faces of the men. It is disarmed some by the hilariously inappropriate banjo pickin' music and the fact that one of the rapists repeatedly bonks the woman playfully on the forehead with his schlong. And finally, I went from cringing, to thinking, Sweet zombie Jesus, is this still going on?, to laughing out loud when, just to be thorough, the one guy who had remained clothed the whole time and just sort of watched the other two dudes bang away in uncomfortable silence jerks off into her socks and rubs her scarf on his balls!

After wandering through the woods in a daze for a while, the woman stumbles upon a secret woodland kung fu school for women. It's here we discover that the woman is a prostitute, who is seeking to flee her life of sexual servitude, so the mistress teaches her kung fu, which is mostly accomplished by giving each other oily rubdowns, having lesbian sex, and meditating until smoke comes out of their vaginas. Yes, really.

One day, a wandering monk comes across two of the women having sex in the woods, and wishes to join in. One of the women knocks him out and drags him back to their teacher to ask what they should do with him. As a reward for all their hard work (and by hard work I mean licking each other and rubbing oil on each other's boobs), the teacher tells them to have their way with him. The monk fails to hold his jizz until all the women are pleasured, and so he is deemed an unworthy lover and sent away with his dong limp with shame. He scurries off to another kung fu teacher who runs a Chinese restaurant in a nearby town, and she teaches him Golden Dragon Raising Head Kung Fu. I think a more accurate name would have been Purple Cyclops Vomits Cheese Kung Fu, but perhaps the filmmakers thought that would be too on-the-nose, considering the layers of nuance and metaphor – almost Bergmanesque in their subtlety and perfection – that the film has been couched in up to this point.

Once again, the training to master this style of kung fu is a little suspect, as it mostly involves the monk standing under a waterfall and jerking off while the Chinese chef glares at him. However, it is the perfect style of kung fu for him to use when he returns to the woodland lesbian dojo, where he challenges the prostitute to a fuck-off. I think. Even the movie isn't too clear on why exactly we're watching yet another sex scene, except it's a porno flick and we've spent the last five minutes with what, for this movie anyway, is way too much plot getting in the way of the story. It's here, during the 69 portion of what is a surprisingly un-hairy sex scene for a 70's porn, that the movie does a pretty damn great job of redeeming what has been overall a pretty dull experience so far. The two are fucking in a meadow, prostitute is on the bottom, with monk dipping his dong into her mouth, when a curious bee comes buzzing up to investigate his pistil and stamen. Bree Anthony totally breaks whatever character she had built up by this point, laughing and frantically trying to shoo the bee away before it stings the unsuspecting member and sends Tony Richards into anaphylactic cock.

Eventually the two fuck each other to a draw, and I'm not sure whether they're supposed to be unconscious or dead, but considering the monk pisses a stream of vivid red blood as he falls to the ground screaming, I'm guessing dead. Also, I want to know how Richards got the bizarro porn superpower of peeing blood on command. I mean, lots of guys can shoot a load across the room and hit a bullseye, but that's really impressive. The two kung fu teachers show their respect for each other by doing a couple of half-assed freeze-frame jumps into the air, and roll credits.

Well, that was...an experience. I don't know how much replay value this thing has, but I'm certainly glad I saw it once. Vinegar Syndrome is really making a name for themselves in the tiny niche market of super-obscure vintage smut curiosities, but I wish they would copy a page from Something Weird's book and load these suckers up with extras. Surely someone involved in this flick would have been willing to talk about it on camera for ten minutes. Or throw some shorts or trailers on there, something. Granted, the transfers they clean up typically look fucking amazing for coming from sources they probably fished out of a toilet somewhere, so there's that to be thankful for. I bet you could never tell that was blood shooting out of the monk's wangle on an old VHS.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tomb Seven (book) 1985

Written by Gene Snyder

It's time for more shiterary...er, literary shenanigans. Somewhere in Michigan, Tim Lehnerer is pointing vaguely in the direction of Iowa and laughing and saying, “It serves you right!” I've detailed elsewhere my refusing to buy a copy of Flesh, which he tried to talk me into at Half Price Books on the B-Fest trip several years ago, on the grounds that it didn't have a monster on the cover, just a crappy painting of a lady and a hand. This resulted in me getting sniped with eight copies of Flesh throughout the next year's trip. This year at HPB, I broke from my own tradition and picked up a copy of Tomb Seven. The cover is an unremarkable picture of an Aztec pyramid, but get a load of this fucking back cover copy:

The Discovery
High in the mountains of Mexico an ancient Indian
tomb filled with priceless relics is uncovered –
and the terrifying curse of the Old Ones
is renewed with a vengeance

The Sacrifice
It begins as the American leader of the expedition,
a healthy, athletic scientist, dies of sheer
terror. It continues with a threat too
gruesome to be believed...

The Horror
Then the unspeakable evil takes hold. The earth
erupts, and a race of mummified giants is discovered 
as the Russians and Americans race to steal
                                                             the awesome secrets of...

Tomb Seven

Now, I don't know about you, but to me, that sounds like a book I would love to read! You know what? I still would, because the book I read sure as fuck didn't have any of that awesome stuff in it.

Instead, what we get is the half-baked story of Welsh archaeologist Dr. Jason Farewey, Mexican psychic and archeology student Lupe Munoz, and...no, you know what? Half-baked is giving Snyder too much credit. This garbage is still batter in a mixing bowl sitting on the fucking counter because the author got bored and went off to read something interesting LIKE THE BOOK THE GODDAMN AD COPY MADE ME THINK I WAS GOING TO GET TO READ! Arrrrrgh! Ok, deep breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth. You can do this, Rags, get a grip.

All right, I'll let you in on a fact that will probably make it dawn on you instantly what this waste of dead trees and scared squid is actually about. It sure would have been helpful to me ahead of time. Gene Snyder is apparently one of those doofuses (doofi?) who buy into all that ancient aliens bullshit lock, stock, and barrel. I can hear your groans from here.

Dr. Farewey is your typical no-nonsense scientific skeptic-type, who gets called in to a dig in Mexico because they keep having cave ins and he comes from a mining background so he's really good and engineering tunnels that won't collapse and kill everyone. But there's a catch. He's going to have to swallow his skeptical pride and take Lupe the psychic with him. Not only does Jerry Tanner, the director of the Moreland Research Institute which is funding the dig, think Lupe can help him locate trapped diggers, he also believes she will be able to find more figurines like the one he shows Jason. Sculpted in gold with a precision that puts even modern metalworking techniques to shame, adorned with jewels from halfway around the globe that no Aztec or Olmec or Mixtec would have been able to get hold of, and representing animals they would never have laid eyes on, the artifact is a great mystery. Oh, and the gold is alloyed with titanium. Yeah.

So away they go to Mexico, predictably bickering the whole time about how Farewey needs to open his mind, and how Lupe is just a silly woman, until of course all their differences and antagonism add up to irresistible attraction and they start fucking every chance they get. Then the Russians get involved because of Cold War reasons, and everyone ends up racing to a finish line that refuses to generate any tension because the only party who has a clear goal is the Mexican government, who just wants the other two countries to go the fuck home and stop stealing all their cultural relics. I think somehow, discovering the treasure chamber full of fancy gold dolphins underneath the tomb will give whoever possesses them the power of...I don't know. Unlimited refills at Starbucks or some damn thing. Snyder had no idea what the hell was supposed to be going on, so how do you expect me to?

Every fifty or sixty pages, things would seem to be building to a crescendo, and I'd get all excited. Hell yeah, I'd think. All this boring, dated sexual politics and science-bashing is about to end and here come the erupting tombs and the mummified giants to stomp across the countryside tearing shit up! And then Jason and Lupe would have some sex in their hotel and another goddamn tunnel would collapse and we'd have to spend another few pages with the Mexican cartel boss who was trying to steal the gold to flood the market so he could buy a bunch of strong dollars for weak pesos and make a fortune or some such nonsense. Eventually it all just petered out, the tomb collapsed, and everyone went home empty handed. Well, everyone but Jason. See, Lupe cured him of his scientific reasoning, made him believe the truth of the secret origin of man, which was clearly engineered by aliens because Atlantis is real and pyramids are really hard to build, and changed him from a cynical hard-hearted chauvinist into an open-minded, sensitive modern man of the 80's. Baaaaarrrrrrrrrf.

No clear plot. No guts to even flat out turn it into a straight up alien encounter story. Plot threads like Lupe's ESP powers being a gift from our benevolent alien creators which manifests in a lucky few who represent the aliens' wishes for our ultimate evolution which are hinted at and go nowhere. It just putters along, its incoherent characters and motivations and ideas never building to anything, until it gives up with a sad little wheeze and the only thing keeping you from throwing it in the recycling bin in disgust is the promise of a few pennies' worth of trade-in value the next time you head back to the book store.

Oh, and that race of mummified giants? They find one skeleton – not a mummy, mind, a skeleton – that's a little on the tall side.

If any of you happen to run into Gene Snyder, punch him in the dick for me.

I'm sure as hell not posting a link to buy this turd burger, so instead, you e-reader types should snag this nifty book about the horror films of Hammer Studios by my friend Dave Thomas.