Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hella: Concentration Face

I wanted to review this film back during The Invasian but I couldn't quite work it in. So here we go. Rock and fucking roll, y'all.



Hella: Concentration Face
Directed by Ryan Walker Thomas
2005
Spencer Seim (guitar), Zach Hill (drums)
176 minutes


Where is the singer?


Where is the bass player?


What the fuck is this?

These are questions that people might ask when first encountering Sacramento California's Hella. However, if you were to show them Concentration Face, the film of their 2004 mini-tour of Japan, they might understand. While guitarist Spencer Seim and drummer Zach Hill flawlessly recreate a healthy portion of their first two albums Hold Your Horse Is and The Devil Isn't Red on the stage, there is still so much more to their live show. To put it bluntly, these guys are pretty weird and they are prone to manic bits of improvised rock insanity.



Shot over a period of 5 days in May of 2004, Concentration Face is divided up into two hour and a half sections. The first half shows the band playing live, traveling from city to city, encountering interesting and sometimes strange people, clips of some great Japanese musicians they played with, disheartening mishaps, and the mysterious cultural mayhem of millennial Japan. This first half is edited with a great deal of care and some excellent experimental moments come across very well. It deftly captures the insanity of a touring band in a foreign country even without the drugs (presumably), the booze (I think I saw someone drinking a beer), or the groupies (I'm losing you, aren't I?). I told you these guys are weird. The second half of the film is the band's live set in it's entirety on their last night in Japan. If you are into Hella and have never seen them live, this is the way to go.



There are only a couple of dramatic moments in Concentration Face. In one scene, Spencer Seim's amp blows out, forcing him to use a horrible house amp for the night and it's almost comical how terrible he sounds that night. Of course, the band soldiers on and the gig is saved. On another night, Zach Hill sprains his ankle in the middle of a gig and they are forced to stop. For several agonizing minutes of the film, Zach is sitting with his entire foot and ankle encased in ice while his entire leg shakes like a leaf. Oh man, it all sounds so silly here but trust me, it's difficult not to be completely mesmerized by this film. It is clear that the band is having a great time in Japan and the audience at each of their gigs, though vastly different from a rowdy American crowd, is loving the crazy and insane instrumental insanity of Hella.

This DVD also comes with a CDEP called Homeboy and is insanely cheap compared to most concert films. The sound quality is great and the cameras never stop moving, capturing all kinds of cool little details like the pools of Zach Hill's sweat underneath his drumkit and Spencer Seim's hilarious guitar-playing faces. If you like the genre known as "math rock" (I can hear your eyes rolling) or are even just moderately curious about this band, I suggest buying Concentration Face. NOW!

Here's a clip:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Franco Friday #9: Count Dracula



Thank you (in advance) for not storming the place with torches and pitchforks.



Franco Friday #9:

Count Dracula
Directed by Jess Franco
1970
Starring Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom, Klaus Kinski, Soledad Miranda, Maria Rohm
97 minutes

Johnathan Harker (played by Fred Williams) has been hired by Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) to help him find residence in England. Harker ventures out to Transylvania to meet the Count and some spooky shit happens. Long story short, Harker ends up in a sanitarium to recover from nervous exhaustion and the Count has a new home in a big ass creepy house. Dr. Van Helsing (Herbert Lom) is treating Harker and tells his fiance Mina (Maria Rohm) to chill while he recuperates. Ever since the Count's arrival in town, one of Van Helsing's patients, Renfield (Klaus Kinski), has been going apeshit in his cell.



Next thing you know, Mina's friend Lucy (played by Soledad Miranda) is attacked by the Count (cleverly disguised as a bat-like creature) and drained of some of her blood. While Lucy fades away, Mina begins to suspect that this mysterious Count is to blame. After Lucy "dies", Van Helsing, with the help of Harker and Lucy's beau, Quincy Morris (Jack Taylor), discovers the proof he needs to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Count Dracula is none other than Count Dracula himself, VAMPIRE! The Count gets mad and summons a dragon with laser beams to shoot out Van Helsing's eyes. The end.



Jess Franco's and Christopher Lee's attempt to make a more traditional version of Bram Stoker's book is rather successful, I guess. I wish they had attempted to breathe a little life into the old story instead of trying (and failing) to follow it quite so... seriously(?). Jeez, Count Dracula just ain't cuttin' the mustard in the department that some people call "entertainment value". There is plenty of atmosphere in parts and some effective moments but this film runs out of steam (and money) way, way before the credits roll. Basically, this Count Dracula only comes to life when Christopher Lee delivers an awesome monologue and then again when Dracula goes after Lucy. As usual, there's just something magical about Soledad Miranda that just lights up the screen.



Cinematographers Luciano Trasatti and Manuel Merino and composer Bruno Nicolai do their jobs wonderfully and at least make this film easy on the eyes and ears. There is a pretty wild scene where some stuffed wild game come to life but it's just not enough to save the day. A slightly larger budget may have helped this one a little (especially with how listless and cheap Dracula's demise plays out) but come on, this is Franco! When did he ever NEED a bigger budget? Seriously! It feels silly even typing that but something is just wrong here.



I don't know, I'm not sure what else to say. This movie has a few good scenes but overall it is just too drowsy and too stiff. Count Dracula got my hopes up once things finally got moving but then it settled back into the tedium. Franco fans and Dracula nuts will definitely find some good things about this movie with its moments of gothic beauty and hilarity (when Lucy faints, I swear Van Helsing uses the opportunity to cop a feel) but yeah, this nearly bloodless melodrama just didn't do it for me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rutger Hauer: Endgame



On Friday, I decided to watch a bunch (8) of Rutger Hauer movies in a row:

Bone Daddy
Blind Fury
Wanted Dead or Alive
Wedlock
The Blood of Heroes
Past Midnight
Split Second
Beyond Justice

On Saturday, I just watched two:

A Breed Apart
Omega Doom

And for some reason, I vlogged about it. Witness my mental deterioration:





Friday, March 18, 2011

Franco Friday #8: 99 Women



Franco Friday #8

Okay, who just stuck a shiv in my throat? Was it you, number 76? Why must you always be like that? I didn't know that was your cornbread! I may be speaking out of turn here but I think someone needs to see the psychologist about certain rage issues brought on by repressed memories of lesbian rape! Anyway, here is my dichotomous review of 99 Women, damn it.



99 Women
Directed by Jess Franco
1969
Starring Maria Schell, Herbert Lom, Mercedes McCambridge, Maria Rohm, Rosalba Neri, Elisa Montes
86 minutes

The prisoners of the female jail nicknamed the “Castille de la Muerte” sure do got it rough. Their names are taken away and they are given numbers. Their fancy clothes are replaced with drab and very short, gray dresses. Worst of all, their warden is Thelma Diaz (played by Mercedes McCambridge), a diminutive sociopath whose only real accomplishment is making her lady prisoners suffer. She also lets Governor Santos (Herbert Lom), warden of a nearby men’s prison, have his pick of the most beautiful girls for his unwholesome desires.



Enter Leonie Caroll (played by Maria Schell). She has been sent by the government to inspect the prison which will likely lead to Thelma losing her vice-like grip on the prison. All hell breaks loose when three prisoners decide to make a break for it. Helga (Elisa Montes), Marie (Maria Rohm), and Rosalie (Valentina Godoy) take off through the jungle to freedom but run into a group of AWOL prisoners from the men’s prison. Things do not end well, let me tells ya.



I’m not going to lie, I’m not really a huge fan of the Women-In-Prison genre. Rape, degradation, and limitless sorrow? I get enough of that from one episode of Glee. I will say this, 99 Women sure as hell starts off with a bang. Some lovely lady prisoners being taken by boat to the “Castille de la Muerte” accompanied by a kickass theme song is a pretty fantastic opener. I asked myself, “Is this the one? Is this the WIP flick that’s going to break me? Why is my heart beating so fast?” But then the film settles into what I consider pretty humdrum stuff for this type of film: lesbian rape and non-lesbian rape! RAPE RAPE RAPE! I really like the flashbacks showing how some of the girls ended up in the jail in the first place.



Anyway, what does make this film watchable is the phenomenal cast. Everyone is totally awesome here. Mercedes McCambridge is perfect as Thelma Diaz, the insanely cruel warden. Herbert Lom is definitely not wasted as the sadistic piece of shit, Governor Santos. These two actors chew up the scenery like it was something that you chew on a lot and they were the kind of people who chew on stuff a lot.



Maria Schell is very good as Leonie, a woman who genuinely wants to help the lady prisoners. Isn’t that nice? Elisa Montes (who looks a little like Bjork) really stands out as the tough as nails Helga who keeps moving forward even when everything looks grim. My absolute favorite actress in the film is Rosalba Neri (Lady Frankenstein, Amuck!) as the conniving rapist bitch, Zoe. Was Neri ever not good in a movie? Seriously, the more evil and the more nasty she gets, the more I love her!



I both love and hate 99 Women, just like I both love and hate the ending. I was incredibly depressed after this film was over and I realized that I really cared about the prisoners. It also occurred to me that I wanted to jump into the TV and take a machine gun to their captors. The film is incredibly stylish with great camerawork and phenomenal locations and sets. This is definitely worth watching even if you’re not really into this type of film and that vibe of hopelessness will stay with you days afterward. I will say that I found the middle portion of the film rather tedious and dreary because damn it, I like my women like I like my coffee: FREE! But with lots of cream and sugar.



Spoilers

And that ending! What the hell? Thank for you for not resolving a fucking thing there, Franco! I am drowning in melancholy here and I kind of like it. But that is what makes this movie kind of great. It doesn’t give you a hero or a Deus Ex Machina to rescue my homegirls. 99 Women does whatever the hell it wants. It doesn’t care about you. Shit, I seriously watched that ending at least 10 times. That shot of Leonie leaving the prison, defeated and the girls just watching her go. I got major goosebumps there. That look on Zoe’s face! I’m telling you, Rosalba Neri can do no wrong. It pisses me off but I can’t deny how frustratingly awesome that ending is. By the way, on the Blue Underground DVD, there is an alternate ending which made me a little happier. It shows the good doctor returning to the island with the authorities to shut the place down. Thanks for that, I needed a little solace.

Please note: I almost forgot. There is some animal abuse in this film so tread carefully. A snake gets his head bashed in by some idiot actor in this movie. Lame!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Giallo Meltdown 5: Black Glove Outlet Mall



A couple of months ago, I got back on that yellow horse once again to watch 14 gialli in 2 days or roughly 38 hours. I decided to call it Giallo Meltdown 5: Black Glove Outlet Mall. The hardest thing about these moviethons is not blabbing about them until they are done. Somehow I was able to resist spilling the beans so please, check it out and let me know what you think, you crazy kids. And it hasn't happened yet but there may be another surprise coming soon. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spotted: Freddy's New Ride



Update: Yeah, I met this guy and no surprise, he's a huge Freddy fan!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Franco Friday #7: Nightmares Come at Night



Well, dear friends, it looks like this is the last of Franco's films. Yep, I can't believe I went through them all. It's been a wild ride, everybody! Thanks for hanging out with me but the guy only made so many films. Ahh yes that was very satisfying. Wait, what's that you say? Jess Franco made more than 7 films? I did not realize that. Okay, I guess I'll keep going.



Franco Friday #7

Nightmares Come at Night
AKA La Cauchemars Naissent la Nuit
Directed by Jess Franco
1970
Starring Diana Lorys, Soledad Miranda, Paul Muller, Jack Taylor, Collette Giacobine, Maria Rohm
83 minutes

Anna (played by Diana Lorys) is losing her mind. She is tormented by nightmares as well as her lover Cynthia (Collette Giacobine), a domineering and abusive beyatch. Cynthia calls in Dr. Paul Lucas (Paul Muller) to help Anna work her way through her problems. She resists at first but eventually Anna opens up to Dr. Paul and tells him of her nightmares, of her days as a strip tease artist, and how she suffers in her very not nice relationship with Cynthia. Meanwhile a young woman (Soledad Miranda) watches from a nearby house with her lover. She is waiting for something. Something is definitely going to happen. I hope.



I’m not going to lie to you, folks. I had a tough time getting through Nightmares Come at Night. The movie spends more time on the softcore bits and not nearly enough time on the nightmare bits. This was bound to happen. I hate to appear so prudish but after the initial “Oh awesome!” of a nude scene, I start looking at my watch pretty quickly. This film is definitely worth watching though even if you’re an un-perv like me. The score by Bruno Nicolai is superb and the cinematography by frequent Franco collaborators Manuel Merino and Jose Climent makes even the most mundane moments of this film look gorgeous.



Diana Lorys, who was so awesome in Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll, is very good here (not to mention her voluptuous body is just mindboggling). It is easy to care about her character Anna and you really want to her just snap and take an axe to that Cynthia chick (she doesn’t). Jack Taylor of Night of the Sorcerers and The Vampire’s Night Orgy is in this one as some kind of a sex guru and is also the subject of Anna’s nightmares. If Paul Muller looks familiar it’s because he’s been in every dang movie ever. I know him best from Lady Frankenstein. IMDB lists Howard Vernon as being in this film but I can’t remember him at all.

The only thing about this movie that really irks me is the freakin’ DVD from Shriek Show. The cover art features Soledad Miranda as though she were the star of this flick. That just ain’t the case here. Miranda’s character is totally useless and we only see her a couple of times in the movie. Her best moment happens when she is sitting on a mattress, guzzling a bottle of wine, and wearing nothing but thigh high leather boots and a shawl. Scrawled in red paint on the wall behind her are the words “Life is all SHIT”. That’s pretty impressive for sure but Diana Lorys should have been on the cover, damn it. She’s the star of this freak fest.



Nightmares Come at Night really outdoes itself with the Euro-sleaze factor. This film is practically a comedic parody of every trashy arthouse piece of Euro-quackery from the seedy 70s. It’s artsy, it’s pretentious, it’s got extended lovemaking scenes that drag on for what seem like forever, and yet, it’s also kind of great. This haunting flick definitely stays with you long after it’s over. Hell, it’s even got a little bit of a giallo feel to it and you know I dig that. Leave it to Franco to take a whole bunch of nothing and make it a soft focus daydream (not as nightmarish as the title would suggest) with moments of unbearable tension and brooding sexiness.



“To escape a dream… Go through the long corridor to the past. And death… And pleasure… Begging me to join in. It attracts me irresistibly.”

Some awesome bad ass cool person posted samples from Nicolai's score:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do You Guys Have This Problem?

No, it doesn't burn when I eat peas. I hate peas.

At what point in movie-collecting do you stop? Between the DVDs I’ve bought, movies I’ve recorded off of cable, movies people have given me, and movies I’ve downloaded (all unavailable through any other means, of course), I have more films than I will be able to watch in a lifetime. And then there’s all the films available for streaming. And all the movies I’ve never heard of or have yet to come out. I have broken all these titles down into these categories: the movies I can’t wait to watch, the movies I am too excited about to watch*, the movies that I dread watching, and the movies that I know I’m never going to watch. So if I quit my job or get laid off (and never work again), I might have time to at least get through the first two categories. I may have to consult with my wife about those options.

Obviously, I am a compulsive collector when it comes to films. Instead of buying myself horror figurines, posters, or other memorabilia, I put it all towards getting more titles. Hmm, I guess I buy a lot of books about horror movies but that’s just another way to find out about more titles. Oh shit, I just remembered. There are all those TV shows I own and all those Anime series. Man, I hope I live for 200 years.

*Do any of you have this problem? I get a movie in the mail and my feelings of excitement and anticipation are almost unbearable. And yet, I put the movie in its new home on my shelf and watch something else.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An Oh Shit! Moment



This is the "Oh shit! The creepy guy I was following just pwned me in the hallway!" Moment. This Oh Shit! Moment is brought to you by Spanish Horror Diapers.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Naschy Cake!



My good friend and Doomed Moviethon Junior Assistant Staff Writer, Brad Hogue, sent me a photo of his birthday cake. That's right, his wife Elizabeth surprised him with this magnificent cake when he came home from work the other night. Happy birthday, Brad, you magnificent bastard. I hope you bit the throat right out of that bad ass cake!


Brad and Elizabeth (a match made in Hades!)

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Items At The Store



You know what, it's Monday. Worse than that? It feels like Monday. You should do some shopping! I'm still parting with my VHS collection 5 items per week but I am going to diversify a little bit. I found some cool stuff that I totally forgot about. Keep checking on the store. As for all the tapes, I test them myself. If you have any questions about items or whatever. Or if you want me to shut the hell up and stop trying to sell you stuff, just let me know. Later!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Franco Friday #6: Kiss Me Monster



Franco Friday #6

Hot damn, duders. It is already the sixth Franco Friday and I am beginning to feel that my brain is bigger and my libido is um… bigger? Anyway, this week I tackle a film so bizarre that George C. Scott, Vanessa Redgrave, and Henry Fonda all refused to be in it. Don’t look that up. Just sit back and enjoy the show. No wait, there is no show. Sorry, you have to read this. You don’t have to but I mean, come on, it’s here, just read the damn thing. Take care, you Franco-heads!



Kiss Me Monster
Directed by Jess Franco
1969
75 minutes
Starring Janine Reynaud, Rosanna Yanni, Chris Howland, Michel Lemoine, Manuel Velasco

The Red Lips detective agency consists of Diana (played by Janine Reynaud) and Regina (Rosanna Yanni). These two wild ladies have taken on some pretty tough cases before but this one, oh boy, it’s a real humdinger. This new case falls into their laps when a musician brings them a piece of music (“The Abilene Anthem”) containing clues to a strange mystery. He is immediately knifed in the back. In fact, everyone that Diana and Regina try to get clues from die from a knife sticking out of their back. It turns out that an evil scientist is trying to create a race of supermen to take over the world. Diana and Regina track the scientist to his lair on a Caribbean Island. They steal the secret formula, Interpol gets involved, and- If I try to tell you any more about the plot of this movie, my head will explode.

Am I being punked?

After 20 minutes of Kiss Me Monster, I turned it off and begged my wife and mother-in-law to watch it with me just so I wouldn’t have to watch it alone. Oh, it’s not scary or anything, it’s just that this film is so impossibly crunked up that I had to watch it with someone so that I could make sure that I wasn’t going insane. I mean it. Don’t watch this movie alone. If you do, Ashton Kutcher shows up and beats you to death with a Nikon. Kiss Me Monster is the weirdest thing I’ve seen from Jess Franco (so far) but it’s also a new favorite. The film is totally outlandish and obsessively obtuse while somehow managing to remain entertaining and hilarious.

Janine Reynaud (Franco’s Succubus) and Rosanna Yanni (Count Dracula’s Great Love) sure seem to be having a great time making this film. They never appear out of place playing dueling saxophones or stealing a “nutrition solution” from a wacky and (presumably) gay scientist. I like to pretend that this film is a documentary and that they just forced Miss Reynaud and Miss Yanni to change their names to Diana and Regina so that all the secrets of the secret society of men in black hoods would stay secret!

What you need to know is that Kiss Me Monster is a comedy but for us viewers of Euro-trash, the joke will likely fly over our heads at first. The dubbing for this film is so bad and so strange that I immediately over-thought what I was watching. I concentrated so hard on the story and the dialog to try and figure out what the intent was that I completely forgot that Franco might just be fucking with me. It honestly feels like the voice actors improvised the dialog. Yeah, it's like that, dawg.

The story feels like it was written by a 5 year old. It is so convoluted and disastrously simple that it’s oddly brilliant. Any gap is filled with pseudoscience or skipped over with coincidence. But it’s all gobbledygook. Don’t waste another precious second of your life, my dear friends, check out Kiss Me Monster. It’s pretty fabulous and just about the nicest slap you can have right in the movie-face.


Un...


Fucking...


Be...


Leave...


Ahhhhh...


Bull!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Doomed Moviethon Turns 6 Today



Six years ago today, I launched the missile that is Doomed Moviethon at the world. Before I started this thing, I was obsessively reading sites like Horrordvds.com and Monstersatplay.com. I would get angry when I would run out of reviews to read on these sites. The next bit of inspiration came from other sites who seemed to hate horror movies. Every review was just so friggin' negative that I started to wonder why these people had ever bothered building sites in the first place. I said to myself, "That's it! Time to start my own horror movie review site and I'm gonna call it Vomit Puke Ass Movie Reviews of Ass."

Luckily, I changed it to Doomed Moviethon (with Cinema Somnambulist a close second) and the rest is history (I guess). Thanks to all of you for reading the site over the years or just finding out about it; and to all of you who have been following Cinema Somnambulist, the unnatural extension of DM. I hope you like bloggists! I also want to thank my friends and contributors: my wife LeEtta, Nafa, Brad, Eric, and Shelly. You guys friggin' rule.

Hey Zach, play me out!