Monday, March 29, 2010


I remember catching THE NUDE BOMB years ago on cable. I think it was ON TV actually, an early pay service in Miami that broadcast on a UHF channel and came on about 7pm at night (9am on the weekends). They began their signal and you had this little box you switched from off to on. Hence ON TV.

I remember also watching the horse racing replays before the channel turned into ON TV, which may be why I’m a gambler now.

The point here is that I was a kid, maybe about 7 years old and I found THE NUDE BOMB hilarious then. Just the name alone conjured up some salacious 7-year-old sex thinking. Sadly, all the nudity was brief male ass, no titties. I was heartbroken.

When the GET SMART release was in theaters, Universal felt it was high time to break out the Don Adams big screen Maxwell Smart debut to create some synergy on the home video market. If you include the recently released GET SMART’S BRUCE AND LLOYD OUT OF CONTROL, a cash-in quickie following two of the new film’s peripheral characters, it’s Maxwell Smart summer.

I was excited to check out this childhood favorite again. Widescreen to boot.

Holy Fuck, I wish I’d left well enough alone.

I can’t imagine being the age I am now and watching this thing when it first came out. What a comedic disaster all around.

The plot concerns a bomb that when dropped will turn everybody in the area nude. CHAOS, the group of bad guys that was the bane of Maxwell Smart’s existence, is again responsible for the impending nakedness at hand and wants a princely sum to not drop these things on the general public. So it’s up to Maxwell Smart and his team to find out where CHAOS is hiding and put an end to the nefarious plan.

Only for them to get there, Smart and his team have to unload the worse jokes, innuendos and one-liners that would only make a 7-year-old kid laugh.

These jokes aren’t even groaners. They’re assholers. Assholers are jokes that are so bad, that when strung together feature length, they make you feel like a complete asshole for watching the movie. The jokes are so bad that it’s almost as if everyone involved with the production had a vendetta against the human race.

Some of you might say that I can’t accept the “clean” humor of the film. Nobody is saying fuck or shit constantly, nobody is showing their titties and bush for yuks, and nobody’s sticking their cocks through shower stall holes waiting for fat P.E. teachers to grab a hold while that person’s friends laugh and leave him.You know what? Maybe you’re right.

But those same people doing the finger pointing at me probably think DORF ON GOLF is comedy gold.

As it stands, the comedy here is weak and creaky and the cast seems as if they were in a hurry to get out of working on this film and get in a good movie. Hell, Dana Eclar, MacGyver’s buddy, is most out of his element here. He’s a good fatherly sidekick, but he’s no straight man.

The only thing to recommend is a young Sylvia Kristel (PRIVATE LESSONS) in her prime. I forgot how hot she was. And with a name like THE NUDE BOMB, Kristel should’ve been buck-ass naked from beginning to end.

The DVD looks good enough considering its release is purely cash-in. No trailer and no chapter menu. Shit, I’m surprised they remembered to put the movie on there.

I think what really hurts is the good memories I had as a kid were totally obliterated. And I’m ashamed at what I considered funny, even at 7-years-old. I can say that the desk car part is still cool, but otherwise, stay far, far away from THE NUDE BOMB unless you’re a cinematic masochist because this shit makes NIGHT PATROL look like BLAZING SADDLES. And that's coming from a NIGHT PATROL fan.

NUDE BOMB ephemera nicked from

Sylvia Kristel photo swiped from Jahsonic.


I would have never, ever…ever, ever, ever thought a fun drive-in action pic could be set in Niagara Falls.

Well didn’t William Fruet’s 1979 lensed SEARCH AND DESTROY make me its little bitch. I’m just over a barrel for this forgotten slice of Canadian filmmaking.

Perry King (CLASS OF 1984) and Don Stroud (COOGAN’S BLUFF) star as Vietnam vets who’ve pissed of the wrong governmental Vietnamese liaison. Seems back in the shit, they left him to die when he left one of their buddies to die. And he lied about it! Dirty commie bastards.

Cut to 1978 and someone is bumping off the remaining members of King and Stroud’s platoon. There’s no secret here. It’s the Vietnamese liaison dude who’s listed in the credits as “Assassin”. Shit, this movie moves along at such a clip, they don’t have time to give the killer a name.

Since the assassin puts Stroud in the hospital pretty early in the film, this is Perry King’s movie all the way. And he and Victor Charlie shoot up downtown Niagara Falls in fast-paced, well-executed action scenes that make you wonder why Fruet’s FUNERAL HOME (1980) is such a goddamn sleep inducer.

Damn, I haven’t even mentioned George Kennedy’s in it fresh off of MEAN DOG BLUES (1978). I am now and he’s a fucking character actor rock throughout this entertaining nonsense. You know that feeling you had when you were a little kid that wherever you went with your dad, you knew you were safe? George Kennedy gives me that feeling in any movie I see him in. I know I’m going to get good old fashioned meat and potatoes scenery chewing and the movie isn’t going to suck too badly. I know he’s been in some shit but it’s ALL entertaining shit.

When somebody came up with the Ford slogan “Quality is Job #1”, I’d bet dollars to fucking doughnuts they were watching George Kennedy rip up the screen. It may have even been this movie. Ford owes George Kennedy some residuals.

From start to finish, SEARCH AND DESTROY shows excellent tech credits and has turned me onto a new band I knew not existed. Ever hear of FM ? I hadn’t but this progressive rock trio out of Canada has a Goblin-esque sound that right out of the gate makes your ears perk up and adds even more to an obviously skimpy bottom line.

And that’s the great thing about SEARCH AND DESTROY. There’s a level of craftsmanship plus dedication and chutzpah that comes across in every frame. You got Perry King damn near killing himself a couple times falling off of rocks and shit. The extras on the street during the downtown shootouts looked confused as hell as if Fruet and company went guerrilla on Niagara Falls during busy season. The music as noted before is top-notch and the acting all around great (save for Tisa Farrow but I didn’t have to tell you that). This little bastard has so much energy to it, I unplugged my DVD player and SEARCH AND DESTROY kept it powered up.

It also is one of the late great Film Venture International’s releases and that explains a lot too. Ed Montoro knew a pretty decent b-film when he saw it. It’s a no-brainer he’d throw a little loot towards Canada way to pick this fine sleeper for 1981 U.S. release. Why he chose to market it with a one-sheet with a guy who looks maybe Peter Coyote or Sam Waterston with a beard and a guy who kind of looks like Don Stroud, only that man knows. But nothing beats the poster for the retitling called STRIKING BACK that I poached off of the fantastic all things Canadian genre site, CANUXPLOITATION (who don’t share my love for this film).

The way of the winner! Fuck yeah. Sounds like a Wheaties ad. Actually, an all-bran cereal called SEARCH AND DESTROY with the STRIKING BACK artwork on the box taunting me to eat it with the way of the winner tag line? I don’t even need milk.

The Dark Sky double feature with THE GLOVE is gold and the print used here is flawless. Do yourself a favor and check out SEARCH AND DESTROY. You’ll be glad you did.

George Kennedy photo ganked from Cinissimo.

Friday, March 19, 2010


One of my lasting memories was as a five year old kid and seeing a billboard for PROPHECY on the way back from visiting my late uncle and aunt in Pembroke Pines. That’s pretty terrifying artwork for that age and I was so freaked out and excited by it that John Frankenheimer’s eco-horror misfire has occupied a space in my brain ever since.

Cut to a few years later and after seeing it on TV, I can’t say I was impressed. And I was probably 7. This means I was pretty impressionable. Whatever, one more horror film down, 109,456 more to go.

Fast forward to 2010. I still have PROPHECY on the brain and decide after 20+ years, its time to revisit the old girl.

I’m still not impressed.

But I looooove this fucked-up movie.

Robert Foxworth and Talia Shire play doctor and musician. Foxworth is a doctor who specializes in social justice while Shire plays the day away with a local orchestra. She’s pregnant and he doesn’t want kids in this crappy world. By sheer movie luck, Foxworth gets a break from a politically connected friend to investigate a logging factory in Maine for the EPA. Why the EPA would trust such a sensitive job to one lone general practioner who specializes in treating ghetto denizens for rat bites on the whim of a federal flunkie is beyond me, but hey, it was 1979.

So up to Maine we go. There FoxShire (for brevity) run into a dispute between the local Native Americans and the corporate logging company. The company is poisoning the land and the Indians, led by everybody’s favorite Irish-Italian Armand Assante are practicing non-violent protest, even while they’re having chainsaws thrust in their faces.

Foxworth teams up with Assante and gets aggressive about what’s being dumped in the waters of the forest and lo and behold, mercury is showing up in the muck of the bank. And that is creating huge monster fish, crazy ass raccoons and mutant bears. Here's the killer raccoons by the way.

And since Shire’s been eating mercury tainted fish, there may be a mutant baby in the future. That's another movie all together.

Until that happy day, we only have the killer mutant momma bear and a couple of mutant baby bears terrorizing the forest and a Talia Shire that cries and stays silent a lot and while the kills are minimal, the movie makes up for it with hammy acting and out-of-the-ordinary shoddy tech work from the man who made THE TRAIN and THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. But it contains one of the best kills ever committed to celluloid. So goddamn goofy, I’m going to include it here. It’s a definite spoiler so if you’d rather watch it within the larger context of the film, don’t watch this.

Did you watch it? Was that fucking fantastic?

The movie itself never lives up to the dizzying awfulness of that clip but there’s something here that compels you to watch. Like maybe somewhere this movie is going to gel into something so bad it’s awful but save for the final 10 minutes or so it’s pretty much a bore fest. Yet I can’t recommend it enough. Maybe you had to be on the couch with me.

Or maybe it’s just good old nostalgia.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Alex Chilton (1950-2010)

Jim Derogatis obit for Alex Chilton.

He was going to be here at SXSW this weekend. This shit is getting too much.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Some people just don’t get it. Look at those doofs called “critics” at Rotten Tomatoes who are slagging one of the better popcorn pictures of the past few years.

I fortunately do get it. And it’s good for you that I know what I’m talking about. That I know what I know. That I appreciate a good re-hash as long as it ups the ante on the exploitation it’s exploiting. And NEVER BACK DOWN? Well, it does just that.

Without me, you’d probably just dismiss this well-handled B-movie until it showed up on Spike TV at three in the morning.

Now to be quite honest, it’s not even a re-hash of THE KARATE KID (1984). It shares the same lineage, but really it’s a re-hash of the vastly underrated SHOWDOWN (1993), the Billy Blanks vehicle that starred him as a school janitor teaching a nebbish new student martial arts so he can beat up the kid who’s the school’s martial arts master and get his now ex-girlfriend (an early role for Ben Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor).

Of course, SHOWDOWN was a direct re-hash of KARATE KID, but the camp humor that abounded throughout made it stand out from the KARATE KID re-hash pack and ultimately surpass the vastly overrated KARATE KID itself. It also helps if you have the late Brion James as an irreverent school principal in your cast. If you haven’t seen SHOWDOWN, get thee to Ebay.

In NEVER BACK DOWN, Jake Taylor (Sean Faris, “One Tree Hill”) is a football player from Iowa with natural American Streetfighting ability who moves to Orlando, FL after the drunk driving death of his father and so his tennis-prodigy little brother can attend some tennis academy. Before you think we may get some tennis circuit hi-jinks ala THE BREAK (1995), the Vincent Van Patten cult classic that was THE KARATE KID of tennis, let it be known that the kid thinks his brother’s fighting is way cooler than tennis, which worries Jake’s bitchy mom (Leslie Hope, “RoboCop: Prime Directives”) because she blames Jake for the father’s death and doesn’t really like him or his fighting. Jake was with his dad the night he died and instead of taking the keys from him, he let Pops drive. Of course, if he didn’t let his dad kill himself, then he’d have no fuel to fight and NEVER BACK DOWN would be without its driving catalyst.

Now the second driving catalyst is high school rich boy/master of mixed martial arts is Ryan McCarthy (Cam Gigandet, WHO”S YOUR CADDY?) who beats Jake’s ass in a fight at a party. McCarthy’s girl, Baja (Amber Heard, ALPHA DOG), sets Jake up by inviting him to his own ass-kicking, but really, she just wants to Greco-Roman wrestle with the new guy. Jake’s new buddy, Max (Evan Peters, “Invasion”), convinces Jake that his natural American Streetfighting ability would gel well with mixed martial arts and therefore he takes up the ass-kicking business by training with Senegal-by-way-of-Brazil Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou, DEEP RISING), a mixed martial arts trainer whose got some of his own demons to fight and therefore ended up near Disney World.

At the end of NEVER BACK DOWN, there’s a big tournament and a happy ending. Which I knew was going to happen. You know it’s going to happen. It’s supposed to happen. In this post-post-irony period, if he didn’t win, it would look cliché.

What works best about NEVER BACK DOWN is that it succeeds greatly in giving the intended action audience what it wants. Many films nowadays (let’s say for example, the GONE IN 60 SECONDS remake) promise a decent enough trailer and the end result when all put together is stupendously boring and contemptuous of its demographic. Not the case here.

Every cliché is lovingly rendered for the 21st Century, every punch and crunch professionally sound designed for maximum cringe-inducing effect and every ass-kicking expertly staged by fight choreographers Damon Caro (DAWN OF THE DEAD remake) and Jonathan Eusebio (MAX HAVOC:CURSE OF THE DRAGON). Mucho kudos to director Jeff Wadlow (CRY WOLF) who took this son-of-a-bitch seriously; his attention to detail shows in the final product. Hell, he even rips off the x-ray bit from Chiba’s original STREETFIGHTER (1975) so you know he’s done his genre homework.

Let’s also give it up to writer Chris Hauty, whose only other IMDB credit was writing Disney’s HOMEWARD BOUND II. Was it desperation that led him to pitch KARATE KID meets UFC in Walt’s backyard? Whatever it was, bully for him, putting the pieces together where they need be (although, Chris, you know this shit is SHOWDOWN. You can’t fool me.)

One of the most important technical parts of NEVER BACK DOWN is that logic is never even hinted at. Genre movies lately try to inject logic in what is essentially an illogical universe, i.e. the movies.

At this new school in Orlando, EVERYBODY is all about mixed martial arts, kind of like Vince Lombardi High, where EVERYBODY was all about the Ramones, a world that only exists in the movies, which is what I want when I go to the movies.

There’s no cops, no punishment for those involved in illegal fighting or uploading teen fighting videos on the Internet and no monitoring of any of the kid’s activities in any way shape or form. These people don’t really exist so their world doesn’t exist thus making it an extremely fragile netherworld whose only enemy is any semblance of logic, which at that point would disrupt its universe like bad kryptonite and render NEVER BACK DOWN unforgivably pointless.

Needless to say, a cinematic experience like this is extremely rare and deserves your attention.

But NEVER BACK DOWN really deserves you attention because it’s never boring, consistently brutal and heart-warmingly familiar throughout its whole 110 minute running time. Like RAMBO, it promises what’s in the trailer. Unlike RAMBO, it doesn’t give you more. But for a SHOWDOWN rip-off, you don’t expect it to.

STREETFIGHTER x-ray pic co-opted from MOVIE FEAST.

ROCK 'N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL pic punked from Theme Park Radio Blog.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

DEAD SNOW (2009)

"Have you seen that new Nazi Zombie movie called DEAD SNOW?"

"There’s only one definitive Nazi Zombie film and that’d be SHOCK WAVES(1977)."

That’d also be a big resounding yes in being biased because it was shot in Florida by Ken (KING FRAT) Weiderhorn. That said, I’m all for another entry in the Nazi zombie sweepstakes because other than SHOCK WAVES, there aren’t many and the ones that are out there, like Rollin’s ZOMBIE LAKE aren’t so hot. So when I heard about DEAD SNOW, I was more than willing to give it a try and I did.

And SHOCK WAVES is still the undisputed king of Nazi Zombie movies.

A gaggle of Norwegian med students and their girlfriends take a holiday to a snow covered mountain cabin to unwind. Then the Nazi Zombies show up looking for their treasure. That’s pretty much the jist but it’s told so horribly that by the end I was spouting much cooler sub-plots for DEAD SNOW to my unimpressed girlfriend that somehow escaped writer/director Tommy Wirkola and co-writer/actor Stig Frode Hendrikson.

Was a working script somehow a liability on the set? Nothing makes much sense past the cliché “It’s spring break! Let’s go on a vacation and get killed!” grouping of young people. Why are certain characters even there and what’s their motivation? Why has no one seen this plethora of Nazi zombies in the years they’ve been around? Matter of fact, where’s the fucking town that’s mentioned in the movie?

There’s some good old school FX and way too much CGI blood spurts. It’s in serious need of a Nazi hunter. It’s better than ZOMBIE LAKE. It could use a town full of locals to add a bit of production value to it. It needs to be jacked up and have a whole ‘nother Nazi Zombie movie slid under it.

When it pops up on IFC, who also released it here in America, you might enjoy it better. Paying for it is way too much to ask.

Monday, March 8, 2010


So Stallone drives up to his estranged son’s military school graduation in a beat-up semi, bearing documents that prove his paternity and a desire to make up for not being around the kid’s whole life. The kid wants none of it. I wouldn’t either, because Stallone is fucking insane. How else would you characterize a guy who’d drive his 18-wheeler through a rich guy’s iron gate, over his beautiful fountain and straight through the front door, all for the love of a kid he met two days ago? If I was the kid, I’d run. But then if my dad was trying to become the world champion of arm wresting, I’d give him another shot.

OVER THE TOP stars Stallone as Lincoln Hawk, ne’er do well trucker and part time arm wrestling hustler, whose ex-wife (Susan Blakely) is dying of cancer. At her behest, he agrees to make peace with their son and drive him to see her in California, over the objections of her rich father (Robert Loggia). Along the way to California, the kid runs into traffic, sleeps in trucks by the side of the road, arm wrestles 12-year-old truck stop trash and generally learns how to be an all around lout like his crazy father.

Stallone’s big dream is to win the arm wrestling championship in Las Vegas, the prize being a shiny new truck, which he’ll use to start a business that lets him and his son ride around America being louts together. The boy’s rich grandfather has other plans, like proper schooling, proper food, college in the near future. Ideas Stallone’s character would arm wrestle to the ground.

So the mom dies, the kid runs back to grandpa, then Stallone drives his truck through the house, gets sent to jail, signs over the kid to grandpa then goes to Vegas. He sells his truck and bets all the money on himself, then has to beat ‘Bull’ Hurley (Rick Zumwalt), arm wrestling champion from Jacksonville, FL who hates Stallone with a passion. The kid changes his mind after finding letters from Stallone his mom hid from him, steals a pick-up, somehow gets on a commercial flight to Vegas with no one asking questions and shows up in enough time to give Stallone roughly the same speech Talia Shire gave him on the beach in ROCKY III.

The best part is the guy in the arm wrestling championship who drinks motor oil to Psyche up. The worst part could be Kenny Loggins warbling “Meet Me Half Way Across The Sky” the whole goddamn movie.

This Cannon Production had a lot of press, a lot of toy marketing and no audience. The script is downright horrible, credited to Stallone and Stirling Silliphant (writer of THE ENFORCER (1976) and SHAFT IN AFRICA (1973)), but to be honest you can’t produce a decent bowel movement without the proper food. How anyone thought this story would make a decent film is beyond me.

Nice to see the late Rick Zumwalt (actual five time arm wrestling champ) here, who was in three films for Cannon in 1987 including this crap, the Fat Boys’ DISORDERLIES and Jamaa “Let’s put a crack-smoking midget wrestler in there” Fanaka’s immortal PENITENTIARY III. If you’ve never seen PENITENTIARY III, kill somebody for the chance.

Rick Zumwalt pic lovingly swiped from

TUFF TURF (1985)

It’s been a long time since my eyes have graced the 1985 New World Pictures release, TUFF TURF. You know the one. Jimmy Spader as the ultra-cool Connecticut transplant slumming it up in an L.A. high school, running afoul of Nick (Paul Mones, STREETS OF FIRE), trying to get busy with Frankie (Kim Richards, the WITCH MOUNTAIN series) and hanging out with Jimmy (Robert Downey Jr., THE PICK UP ARTIST), who just happens to play drums for Jim Carroll (musician and author of BASKETBALL DIARIES) even though he’s in high school.

Spader’s character, Morgan, has just moved to L.A. with his Mom (Claudette Nevins, 1961’s THE MASK) and Dad (Matt Clark, WHITE LIGHTNING). Dad apparently was a real estate agent who lost his business and Mom doesn’t seem to be adjusting to the move too well, not to mention she doesn’t approve of Morgan’s tendency to cause trouble where ever he goes and the fact he gets kicked out of prep schools a lot.

Why these people had to leave Connecticut for L.A. so Dad can drive a cab in the shitty parts of town while trying to get his California real estate agent’s license is never really explained. But then again, TUFF TURF didn’t win the 1985 Oscar for best original screenplay.

At his new public high school, Morgan gets the hots for Frankie, who happens to be the girlfriend of gang leader Nick, who heads a local group of ruffians called the Tuffs.


Obviously, this causes a lot of trouble for everybody involved, culminating in a warehouse showdown and a big musical ending. Not to mention a few musical interludes along the way.

Matter of fact, I never remembered TUFF TURF being a fucking musical.

What TUFF TURF really is, is THE POM POM GIRLS meets THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, except nobody’s black and Jennifer Ashley isn’t in it.

TUFF TURF reminds me so much of the Crown International teen flicks of the 70’s, like the aforementioned POM POM GIRLS. In Crown International flicks, teenagers do whatever they want and they were like travelogues of things to do when you’re a teenager. You drive around Beverly Hills and look at houses for a long time. You crash country clubs. You dance badly at concerts in warehouses. You do very visual things only teenagers would do in movies, if only to make it look like there was more money involved in the production and to pad out the running time to feature length.

And every so often, bad, violent things happen. And you throw Kim Richard’s titty in there too (however, it was a body double, but hey, titty’s titty). And you make it all look like an 80’s music video, which in the 80’s, people did.

Suffice to say, I really enjoyed this goofy ass movie.

It’s main fault is that it never knows what the hell it wants to be. A musical? A gang pic? An after school special? Yet 23 years later, that’s what makes it unique. It’s a throw-shit-and-see-if-it-sticks pastiche of teen movie clichés wrapped up in Madonnaville.

The acting is spot-on all the way around and the kinetic energy the film spits out keeps you watching. Director Fritz Kirsch (CHILDREN OF THE CORN) gets the most out of his limited budget and limited script.

Anchor Bay put this out widescreen a few years back but I watched it on a 50 cent video I picked up at the flea market. Shot open matte, everything is framed perfect for a satisfying full screen experience, and you get to see the crew members hand trying to steady a swinging rope after the climatic fight scene. Won’t get to see that in a spiffed up DVD.

Maybe I’m just nostalgic or extremely bored, but I have to recommend TUFF TURF, especially if you haven‘t seen it in a long time.

Friday, March 5, 2010


SQUEEZE PLAY may be the best ladies softball film ever made. And it holds the distinct honor of being the only movie where a softball gets batted into a guy's ass.

I think it also has the distinct honor of being the only movie where all the main characters work at a mattress plant.

Samantha seems to hate softball, only if because it keeps her fiancé Wes from spending time with her. After making him promise to give up softball, Wes reneges after a winning season, so Samantha, just to be bitchy, comes up with the idea that he should put a woman on the team. Mary Lou, a Georgia Peach with the worst southern accent ever, is on the run from her father (because he thinks she's a lesbian, I'm not really sure) and just happens to be a world-class pitcher. After Mary Lou's disastrous try-out, the girls at the mattress plant start their own team, challenging the men to a battle of the sexes in the climatic game.

Of course, they all have to enter the wet T-shirt contest beforehand.

The horrible jokes and sight gags come fast and furious and the more they miss, the more fun the movie becomes. You can't help but love a film that ends a scene with someone off screen yelling, "fuck".

I have to use that old cliché: they don't make them like this anymore. There's barely a plot, it's strung together with various low jinks and Lloyd Kaufman never misses an opportunity to ogle some tit.

It also makes me wonder what the hell happened to Troma and Lloyd Kaufman.

My buddy,Murphy, put it best when he said that recent Troma films started sucking because they began pandering to their demographic. I've found recent in-house Troma productions somewhat funny, but when they start veering off into self-referential shtick, I'm reminded why their early films like SQUEEZE PLAY work so well; they're real comedies with likeable characters, not commercials for Toxie and Sgt. Kabukiman with a few forced laughs thrown in.

SQUEEZE PLAY presents good-natured buffoons having good-natured raunchy fun in what feels like a real world situation, albeit skewed with patented wacky Troma humor.

The new stuff is mean-spirited not to mention they come off as parodies of a Troma film. What happened to the Troma where everybody was invited to the party instead of the hardcore fans? I've never been partial to cliques and I think that's the reason why I find the new stuff rather lacking.--5/22/07

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Too disgusting to watch! Too bizarre to resist!"


I seriously have no idea what to say about Frank Henenlotter’s latest film. I almost find myself not wanting to write about it. But this is Serious Exploitation. And Frank Henenlotter is a living exploitation legend. But BAD BIOLOGY? Jesus Christ, what a fucking bore.

There’s nothing to recommend here whatsoever. Matter of fact, it’s as if Henenlotter has spent the last 16 to 17 years figuring out that what he really needs to make is a Troma film. And folks, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a Troma fan, especially Troma of late, but in their defense, at least they keep things lively.

The acting’s awful but I’ve come to expect that from Henenlotter’s films. They kind of operate in their own universe and the poor, hammy acting is usually a plus. Henenlotter’s technique is rather wooden which kind of apes the Something Weird 60’s style roughies he’s fond of. But here, I don’t know this Henenlotter because BIOLOGY is neither fun nor interesting. I didn’t care one iota about anything that was happening on my TV. I don’t know if co-writer/producer R.A. The Rugged Man has anything to do with this downturn in Henenlotter’s loopy yet entertaining microcosm but he gets some of the blame too.

The whole damn thing suffers from a complete lack of purpose. I wasn’t offended, titillated, shocked or entertained. There seems no reason for it to exist other than somebody wanted to join images together and call it a feature. With BAD BIOLOGY, Henenlotter has made his first forgettable movie. Now that offends me.


GIVE ‘EM HELL MALONE isn’t particularly original but boasts an incredibly violent blood-spurting beginning as well as a few memorable characters that make up for its unwarranted modern look and overwrought dialogue. It’s well worth watching on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

But what makes GIVE ‘EM HELL MALONE interesting is its anti-anti-hero dénouement. As any genre aficionado would attest, we love our hard-drinking, amoral gumshoes that have a head full of demons that spill out in wanton homicide over the course of 90 minutes. The interesting thing about MALONE is that the ending proves no reason for any of it. Malone (Thomas Jane) is a victim of his heroes and the culture he fetishizes. It’s something anyone who’s overly passionate about film, music and comics can attest too.

Whether our heroes are Peckinpah, Westerberg or Rip Torn, there are some of us who look for an excuse to mix our talent with questionable living. Most of the time, it doesn’t end well or maybe we keep pushing the envelope for fear of losing our edge or what we consider our own unique voice. When I think of quitting smoking, I’m scared. I always think of an interview with Leonard Cohen when he worried that he would lose his singing voice if he quit smoking which wasn’t the case. In MALONE, Thomas Jane plays a man so lost in his heroes he ruins his life to be more in line with the film-noir, pulp paperback characters he idolizes. The lie is more important. Just like Peckinpah, just like gangster rap, just like live-fast die-young, rock and roll lifestyle.

Cocaine is a hell of drug, but in GIVE ‘EM HELL, so are the caricatures of hardboiled movie detectives. Malone's lost his humanity to the lie of Hollywood. There are not many movies that make that delineation.