Wolf Guy (1975)

Wolf Guy (1975) movie poster

director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
viewed: 09/05/2018

Sex, rape, drugs, rock’n’roll, syphilis, lycanthropy.

When you’re Sonny Chiba a coin can be the currency of violence. And if you can take down a gang of goons with your pocket change, who needs to actually turn into a werewolf?

Wolf Guy features supernatural revenge, weaponized wolfmen, and flesh galore. Action-packed and unloaded on the audience.

This manga turned movie genre mashup maybe should be more than it is, but it is worth a gander.

The Killing of Satan (1983)

The Killing of Satan (1983) VHS cover

director Efren C. Piñon
viewed: 09/04/2018

“Satan! Where are you? Come out and fight! You’re yellow, Satan!”

More Filipino cinematic magic in The Killing of Satan. In this one, a reformed criminal is thrust into the crazy doings of a distant family member and ultimately into a battle with Satan himself.

Crime and villainy sprout up everywhere in The Killing of Satan. And our hero Lando (Ramon Revilla) gets shot at by thugs (and he and his son killed) in the city, but when resurrected and back in the smaller island villages, the bad guys are even worse! They have magic powers and shoot lasers from their fingers and are tied to the prince of magic as well as the prince of darkness.

It’s also infused with a wacky Catholicism throughout, but certainly a fairly non-traditional version. Can you imagine if religious righteousness (or even devil worship) really worked like this?

It’s not all gold but many nuggets abound throughout: the guy squished by the boulder, Lando slapping a snake around and then ties it in a knot, the snake guy himself.

All in all, some pretty nutso stuff, but I prefer the Eddie Romero & Gerardo de Leon flicks, personally.

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Smokey and the Bandit (1977) movie poster

director Hal Needham
viewed: 09/01/2018

Growing up in the South (Gainesville, FL), I hated all things I considered Southern, from Confederate flags to Country music to chewing tobacco and even blue jeans. So, I had some disdain for Smokey and the Bandit in its heyday. Of course, I was young and naive and grouping things together that were not all of the same.

But even pretty far back in the day, I saw Smokey and the Bandit on TV and had to admit that it was pretty darn fun.

“Redneck Heaven.”

Smokey and the Bandit was a huge hit, grossing millions, second only to Star Wars in 1977. Interestingly, like Star WarsSmokey and the Bandit is a B-picture type of movie, pushed up into the A list blockbuster with star Burt Reynolds, but fitting into that paradigm in which genre fare elevated in status and popularity.

It’s also quite iconic in its way.

Hal Needham caught his lightning in a bottle with Reynolds and a very fun Sally Field, as well as a prime performance by Jackie Gleason. Apparently, the script was terrible and almost the entire movie was ad libbed, giving us sublime lines like:

“There is no way, no way, that you come from my loins. When I get home I’m gonna punch your mother in the mouth.”

The joyous fun is staked on a beer run from Texas to Georgia, coveting Coors for its apparent (at the time) lack of preservatives, though couldn’t be legally  brought East of Texas.

For all its embrace of “Southernness”, it feels a bit like a Hollywood appropriation of the Southern (though it was apparently extremely popular in the South.) All redneck things considered, there is a lot of trucker diversity on display in the secret society of the CB radio.

Jerry Reed is also a lot of fun as Snowman, wingman to the Bandit, who contributed as well the number that would be his biggest hit, another stroke of magical luck in the movie, the so apropos “Eastbound and Down.”

Lastly, the Paul Williams “Mini me”, Little Enos to Pat McCormick’s Big Enos could have had a whole movie to themselves.

Hollywood Vice Squad (1986)

Hollywood Vice Squad (1986) movie poster

director Penelope Spheeris
viewed: 07/28/2018

I’ve got nothing but (ever increasing) respect and appreciation for Penelope Spheeris. Her 1980s movies reflect her keen interest in Los Angeles, its characters, its denizen. Hollywood Vice Squad perhaps comes off more anomalously, but still presents a picture of street culture in line with her other work.

Hollywood Vice Squad plays a like a little bit of old school exploitation. The crimes depicted purportedly were “based on true events” and Ronny Cox’s Captain Jensen lectures the mother of a runaway on the dark truths of the asphalt jungle.

The episodic drama/comedy doesn’t have much tension but it’s relatively fun. Carrie Fisher has a decent role as a young cop trying to break the glass ceiling in the vice squad. Frank Gorshin makes for a wonderful baddie, and he lights his cigarettes with stylish flips.

“Chile con carne to you too.”

Savage Streets (1984)

Savage Streets (1984) movie poster

director  Danny Steinmann
viewed: 07/22/2018

Is it just me or is there a bit of a Grease vibe to the girl gang/boy gang of Savage Streets? Are the Scars as to the Satins as the T-birds are to the Pink Ladies?

“Now it’s your turn with the pussy.”

Apt or not, Savage Streets is sweet camp, a variant rape-revenge flick starring Linda Blair, who doles out revenge nattily clad and with a crossbow. Superlatively silly and fun.

An excellent gratuitous shower scene turns into a shower scene catfight that may be the best of its kind (what to compare it to? are there others?)

The movie also features lots of spirited dialogue, juicy and over the top.

“I have to go to the bathroom so bad I’ll have to wring out my socks”

Though the ending devolves into a protracted drama, Savage Streets delivers the goods.

And, yes, John Vernon kicks ass as the principal. 

Gleaming the Cube (1989)

Gleaming the Cube (1989) movie poster

director  Graeme Clifford
viewed: 07/20/2018

Remember when Christian Slater was a top listed movie star? 

A wonderfully hackneyed piece of crap, Gleaming the Cube is the best skateboarding kid solves the murder of his Vietnamese adopted brother movie of 1989.  Or maybe since.

1989: this movie came at the oddly wrong time to become the cult gem it possibly deserves to be. It’s also at this point a pretty nostalgic glimpse of late 80s LA, before  the Rams left (and came back). Tons of nice location shots pack the film.

The skating and stunts pop and impress throughout, thanks in part to the numerous pro skaters who appear in the film and execute the more interesting tricks. 

The portrait of Vietnamese culture in this point and time is rather deep and relatively progressive, an unusual and surprising flavor to this teen mystery on wheels. The latter part, despite some nice stunts, kind of devolves to TV level drama.

Doberman Cop (1977)

Doberman Cop (1977) movie poster

director Kinji Fukasaku
viewed: 06/25/2018

Jesus, what did Kinji Fukasaku not direct? The man did it all.

Doberman Cop features Sonny Chiba and Sonny Chiba’s fabulous perm as an Okinawan cop, a fish-out-of-water in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, tracking the mystery of an Okinawan woman burned to death by a suspected serial killer. 

But just like Chiba’s country bumpkin demeanor, below the surface, things turn out to be different from first glances.

Fukasaku keeps the gritty affair roiling with his agile handheld camerawork and sharp editing. Even if Chiba was taking a nap, Fukasaku keeps the film teeming with verve and energy.

Doberman Cop might not be the wackiest film either Fukasaku or Chiba ever made, but it’s a fun action-packed thriller with a little bit of giallo and a lot of humor thrown in.

Atomic Blonde (2017)

Atomic Blonde (2017) movie poster

director David Leitch
viewed: 04/11/2018

Atomic Blonde fetishizes neon more successfully than it fetishizes the Eighties. Though the soundtrack is heavily retro, the aesthetic is much more a 21st century one.

Charlize Theron kicks a lot of ass and looks great doing it, which is really what this movie is about more than anything.

The end of the Cold War Berlin setting is an interesting choice for a throwback spy flick. But the story doesn’t have much intrigue. I mean, how could the turncoat be anyone other than James McAvoy? He’s not just the only other actor of note but the only character given any development. It’s also kind of funny how Theron towers over him in bare feet or heels.

The highlight is the drawn out stairwell fight scene.

I dug the music and all but by the only tracks truly from the period setting of 1989 were Public Enemy and Ministry. Is that just me being nitpicky?

Raw Force (1982)

Raw Force (1982) movie poster

director Edward D. Murphy
viewed: 03/09/2018

Raw Force is The Karate Kid‘s older brother who took a lot of PCP, hung out with the wrong crowd from the Burbank Kung Fu Club in a room covered with posters from girly magazines while scarfing Filipino junk food. And dabbled in human trafficking and cannibalism.

Also, monks and zombies? A Nazi villain? And the most unflappable exotic dancer of all time.

“God forbid we should run out of liquor.”

Truly, one for the ages.

Turkey Shoot (1982)

Turkey Shoot (1982) movie poster

director Brian Trenchard-Smith
viewed: 01/23/2018

Quintessential Ozploitation from Brian Trenchard-Smith, the most likely auteur of the genre. Turkey Shoot is admittedly derivative of I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang and The Most Dangerous Game, but in a dystopian future and a lot of random nudity and dismemberment.

In other words, quintessential Ozploitation.

Also, Olivia Hussey: so gorgeous.