D’Wild Wild Weng (1982)

D'Wild Wild Weng (1982) movie poster

director Eddie Nicart
viewed: 08/27/2017

My first cinematic encounter with Weng Weng, the 2’9″ Filipino action superstar, wasn’t the esteemed For Y’ur Height Only (1981), but D’Wild Wild Weng. Since this is my first Weng Weng movie I cannot measure it against the others, but I was massively entertained.

Weng Weng was amazingly spry, doing a ton of stunts, some clearly cheap but some quite impressive.

That said, much of the enjoyment is intended and unintended humor. Whoever dubbed Weng Weng’s voice for this American release…brilliant.

I guess it’s kind of a Western? Some really floppy Filipino sombreros on some stock bad guys. And ninjas. And a tribe of little people American Indians? Weng Weng pal Gordon (Max Laurel?) are doing good where good is needed and of course Weng Weng is a total badass and polite and kind. He rescues anybody who needs it and then just says, “See ya!”

Apparently, Lupo the mute, whose tongue was cut out by the baddies, annoys a lot of people. Personally, I have him down as perhaps the best “mute guy” acting ever. Everything he says and does is loud and expressively nonsensical but Weng Weng and Gordon totally understand him.

Really, there is so much going on here worth noting, but I’ll just stop. I thought this movie was hilarious and entertaining. I look forward to my next meeting with Weng Weng.

The Psychotronic Man (1980)

The Psychotronic Man (1980)

director  Jack M. Sell
viewed: 08/26/2017

Obscurity is a virtue. To me, in film. Those who are preserving, digging up, restoring and making available lost oddities of cult cinema I deeply admire and appreciate.

Not every obscure gem is a true and utter thing of gloriousness. And they don’t have to be to merit interest or to watch. The Psychotronic Man is a case in point.

Most notable for inspiring the title of the movie fanzine Psychotronic, it’s probably safe to say that The Psychotronic Man isn’t notable for a whole lot else. Except someone familiar with the Chicago area might find all the location shots an interesting capture of a time long gone for the Second City.

Low-budget and independently made, Jack M. Sell’s picture is about an alcoholic barber who gains “psychotronic” powers after an evening pulled off to the side of a back road and some sort of paranormal encounter. His powers result in violence and death. I actually think it’s pretty readable as the story of the psychological breakdown of a man, lashing out at his family and the world as his disappointment and mediocrity hits his mid-life in drunken crisis mode. The psychic violence could well be metaphorical.

The movie is slow, lingering on scenes that would have best been on the cutting room floor. But it features things like aerial shots and crane shots and some quite decent camerawork. It features a protracted car chase that might be the most unexciting ever filmed.

So why see it? Because it exists? To check it off a list? It’s existence is perhaps more interesting than its own experience. That end freeze-frame is pretty cool.

Also I recommend reading Bill Burke’s write-up at horrornews.net. Quite interesting.

Psychomania (1973)

Psychomania (1973) movie poster

director Don Sharp
viewed: 08/25/2017

Like a lot of people, I’d had Psychomania/The Death Wheelers in my mental movie queue for a long time. And also, like a lot of people, I think it’s a great weird mix of biker movie (and teenage delinquent flick), devil worship, pagan horror and every other strange note that adds to this decidedly unique work.

I was brought to mind of both the opening of These Are the Damned (1963) with its mixture of campish portrayal of British teens and their motorbikes and A Clockwork Orange (1970) with its decadent modernist society giving way to cruel amoral youth.

I actually thought it was interesting that the “The Seven Witches” stone circle of the film, which is the location of the biker gang’s groovin’ and the burial and rebirth of the freshly risen hoods, was not a real stone circle but a piece of set design magic.

Cool stuff.

Las Vegas Serial Killer (1986)

Las Vegas Serial Killer (1986)

director Ray Dennis Steckler
viewed: 08/23/2017

You make a dozen or so films, one would assume that you learned a thing or two. Maybe so if your name isn’t Ray Dennis Steckler.

The Las Vegas Serial Killer comes from the end of Steckler’s primary run of movie-making, a little past the porn and a would-be return to drive-in fare. In fact, it’s a semi sequel to The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher (1979) as Jonathan K(C)lick, the stranger(?) of that picture (I suppose I should have watched that one first).

Out on parole early, he’s right back at it, but this time in Las Vegas.

There is a perversity to the killings that offer a sense of real sleaze, but the story is quite confusing as it features these other two guys also sleazeballing Las Vegas and robbing people. What these two storylines have to do with one another would be speculation on my part.

This is the second Steckler movie to feature random footage of a rodeo as somewhat non-sequitur padding. One of several to feature a burlesque show and the first of his I’ve seen to feature any amount of nudity.

But it’s doubtlessly Steckler.

Horrors of the Black Museum (1959)

director Arthur Crabtree
viewed: 08/22/2017

While not a really great film, I’m willing to bet if I’d seen Horrors of the Black Museum as a kid, I might have really dug it.

It’s a wacky concept, so specific. Scotland Yard has a “black museum”, essentially a museum of crime and criminality. Though initially created to educate and enlighten the police, it’s long been an actual museum.

In Horrors, someone has taken these curios and started re-using them, perhaps the most unusual and outlandish. The eye-popping beginning has a young woman receive a fancy new pair of binoculars that stab through to her brain. Another involves a guillotine bed.

See, there is genuine fun here. Moderate fun, but fun.

Director Arthur Crabtree had just come off the extremely fun Fiend without a Face (1958). It’s not a must-see per-se, but I’m happy to have watched it.

Django the Bastard (1969)

Django the Bastard (1969) movie poster

director  Sergio Garrone
viewed: 08/19/2017

Django the Bastard is one of the many “false” Djangos. The “false” or “onofficial” Djangos way outnumber the official Djangos, with Wikipedia accounting for more than 30 made and marketed (the latter verb being perhaps more key than the former) just between 1966-1971.

Django the Bastard is Anthony Steffen, returning from the near dead (or even further than that) to exact revenge on the Civil War officers who set his troop up for slaughter. His schtick is to make a wooden cross marker for their graves and put the relevant date (today) on it before shooting them down.

It’s solid stuff, though not your top drawer Italian Western.

It did have me thinking that if the human race forsook revenge, we’d have a lot fewer movies, stories, and narratives.

3 Giant Men (1973)

3 Giant Men (1973) movie poster

director T. Fikret Uçak
viewed: 08/17/2017

This is the movie America needs right now.

Turkish knock-off Spider-Man, Captain America, and Santos.

‘Natch.

Angst (1983)

 

Angst (1983) movie poster

director Gerald Kargl
viewed: 08/16/2017

It’s amazing how Gerald Kargl and Zbigniew Rybczyński’s film Angst languished in relative obscurity for so long. The cinematography is utter bananas, incredibly radical for 1983. It comes as no surprise that it’s one of Gaspar Noé’s favorite films.

It’s also hard to fathom that Kargl never made another feature film and that Rybczyński moved almost exclusively into the music video direction. Rybczyński directed a couple of great 1980’s videos, including a couple that I’ve always really like “All That I Wanted” by the all too obscure Belfegore and the manic and iconic “Close (To the Edit)” by Art of Noise. Both of those feature strange camera techniques that could just have easily fit into Angst.

Angst is inside the head of a serial/spree killer, and the wonky camera angles play as the skewered view of the world of this impulsive madman. It’s also as harsh and realistic a psychological portrayal as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) but in other ways it’s also reminiscent of aspects of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971), an extremely visual and cinematic horrorshow.

The film’s bleakness is emotionally palpable. It’s visual style is off the charts.

My Career as a Jerk (2012)

My Career as a Jerk (2012) movie poster

director David Markey
viewed: 08/14/2017

This Circle Jerks documentary works mostly as an oral history of the band, interviewing, not exclusively but almost, members of the band for their recollections. It starts out with a lot of old bad video with muddled sound from the band’s heyday in the earliest of the 1980’s. So much so, it seems like it’s going to be quite a slog.

But interestingly, the rest of the story unfolds, and while it’s far from a masterful work or even necessarily compelling, the tale of this band tells something different from what one might of thunk.

As well known as the Circle Jerks were for their name and skanker cartoon dude, they had one pretty great album, Group Sex (1980). They were a big hit in LA at the time, a minor supergroup made up of ex-members of Redd Kross and Black Flag. But personnel changes shifted things on a near constant basis. While singer Keith Morris and guitarist Greg Hetson were ever-present, the rhythm section went through a series of transitions that were more significant than in some groups.

As the 80’s wore on, the band put out less and less important records while Hetson had his other foot in Bad Religion (an apparent point of contention). They re-formed in the 90’s and cashed in on a major label deal in the wake of Green Day in what looked like a point of embarrassment. They also regrouped to cash in on playing some large venue gigs in the 2000’s.

The upshot is that the real hardcore punk scene didn’t make anybody any money. Even the more legendary bands, notable names like the Circle Jerks were just getting by, and though they had more fame and notoriety, that didn’t add up to much at the end of the day. And when “punk broke” in the 1990’s, they were just another group on the sidelines of the scene getting turned to capital.

More than anything, I’m glad to have learned how the nerdy guy from Repo Man (1984), Zander Schloss, wound up playing bass for the band. That always seemed kind of weird. Though he also seems like a cool guy in reality.

Bloodthirsty Butchers (1970)

Bloodthirsty Butchers (1970) movie posters

director Andy Milligan
viewed: 08/12/2017

Andy Milligan continues to intrigue me, though I am hard-pressed to say exactly why. His particular brand of low-budget schlock features such a weird mixture of uncaring badness and yet soldiers forth from one picture to the next as if all shows must go on.

Bloodthirsty Butchers is indeed his take on Sweeney Todd. But he seems more interested in the romantic and sexual intrigues (not that they are interesting) than with the butchering from barber chair to meat pies.

For my money, I thought the acting was slightly better here, though the story was a muddle and a mess.

I still find myself drawn to his films, like a moth to a series of really bad flames.