Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge #10-11

Over The Edge (1979) feels like a movie that I should have heard a lot more about than I have. The film centers around New Granada, a planned community that is so caught up in appearing to be the perfect place to live that it has isolated it's youth and turned them into second-class citizens. With nothing better to do and an inflated sense of self-importance, the police force is constantly at odds with the teenagers of the suburban community. When this tension finally reaches it's breaking point and a local boy is shot dead by an officer, the youth of the town rebel against the authority figures in a violent riot. Originally Over The Edge saw a very limited theatrical release, but has gained a cult following over time. It definitely deserves it! This is a prime example of a movie that would never be made today. The "kids" act like real 12 to 15-year-olds do, swearing, drinking, doing drugs, and just generally making poor decisions like we all did when we were that age. The film does a good job of making you care for these characters so that when they finally rebel, it feels justified. Also, the kick-ass soundtrack featuring Cheap Trick, The Cars, and The Ramones certainly doesn't hurt. Over The Edge is a great film that deserves to be way more well known than it is. 5 out of 6 beers.

Massacre At Central High (1976) is another good example of a movie that would never get made today. It revolves around David, the new kid at school and friend of Mark, one of Central High's elite. When David refuses to have any part in the bullying that Mark's friends dish out, they cripple him under the wheel of a car he was working on. Out for revenge, David takes the group of bullies out one by one. Massacre At Central High was actually a way better movie than I was expecting and the plot took some interesting turns that separate it from your average revenge film. Although in post-Columbine days I doubt it will ever get a legitimate release, it's definitely a cool little flick that's worth seeking out. 4 1/2 out of 6 beers.

Monday, April 11, 2016

April Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge #07-09

Ganjasaurus Rex (1987) is a movie I've heard about for a long time. I'm not quite sure why, but I used to get the Rhino Home Video catalog when I was a kid and this movie was always in it. Being a big fan of Godzilla and other giant monster movies, I was always sort of curious about it. Ganjasaurus Rex centers around a group of pot farmers in California who discover and plant a long extinct oversized strain called cannabis sequoia. When the DEA begins cutting down other plants in the area, it awakens the ancient Ganjasaurus Rex, a creature attracted to flora and especially cannabis sequoia. It's up to these local pot farmers and a professor who has been studying the creature to find a peaceful solution to Ganjasaurus Rex's rampage, before the DEA nukes the entire Lost Coast area. Ganjasaurus Rex looks as though it was made with a home video camera and is pretty badly acted. As bad as it is though, there's something oddly charming about it, especially the stop-motion monster itself...

Ganjasaurus Rex is definitely something fans of giant monster movies will want to check out, even if it's just to say they've seen it. I give it 3 1/2 out of 6 beers.

Rubin and Ed (1991) has become sort of a legendary cult classic, thanks mostly to Crispin Glover's infamous appearance (in character as Rubin) on Late Night where he almost kicked David Letterman in the face and was promptly removed from the show. Crispin Glover is definitely the high point of this "buddy road movie" where eccentric Rubin drags straight-laced Ed (Howard Hesseman) into the middle of the desert to find the perfect place to bury his cat. To me at least, Rubin and Ed was more bizarre than it actually was funny. It's definitely worth a watch as an oddity or if you're a big fan of Crispin Glover, but those looking for a laugh riot would do best to look elsewhere. Rubin and Ed gets 4 out of 6 beers.

I figured it was about time to tackle the second in the Bikini Summer trilogy (Yes, there are THREE of them!) and I realized pretty quickly that it was a mistake. Bikini Summer 2 (1992) has very little to do with bikinis or summer and instead focuses on homeless musician Joshua and his homeless girlfriend Noreen who are taken in by a pair of rich daddy's girls (one of which is Melinda Armstrong, just about the only returning actor from the first film). Joshua and Noreen then give them the motivation they need to open a nightclub and make a name for themselves. And that's about it. No one watches these movies for the plot anyways, they watch for the endless scenes of girls in bikinis, topless girls cavorting, girls in wet t-shirts, etc, of which there are plenty in this film. Jessica Hahn (Remember Jessica Hahn? No? Google it.) is also shoehorned into the movie apparently just to cash in on her fleeting popularity. The original Bikini Summer was not a good movie, but at least it sort of had a heart. You could tell that they came up with the simplistic plot first, then built the gratuitous nudity around it. Bikini Summer 2 feels like the opposite. Bikini Summer 2 is bad. Real bad. Good lord, I am not looking forward to part 3. Bikini Summer 2 gets one beer, but you're gonna need a lot more.

Friday, April 8, 2016

April Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge #04-06

Bikini Summer (1991) is exactly what you would expect from a movie named Bikini Summer. There are lots of girls in bikinis, it takes place during summer, it even has it's own catchy theme song. The plot (or what little of it there is) involves a ragtag group of young people who are left in charge of a Malibu beach house. The horndog, fashion designer, environmental activist, rock musician, beer-guzzling layabout, and lovelorn bikini girl all eventually come together to hold a "Hottest Bikini Girl" contest to save the beach from a sleazy slumlord that wants to build condos there. Then there's about twenty minutes of ladies in bikinis posing to cheesy early nineties rock while this guy looks on, making this face...

 Bikini Summer is exactly the kind of movie one would catch on USA Up All Night in the 90's and I would be shocked if it didn't play on there. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it. In fact, I kind of loved it. I have a real nostalgia for all of the weird, sleazy movies I caught on TV back in the day. Bikini Summer is a real dumb movie, but it's just dumb enough to be entertaining. 3 1/2 out of 6 beers.

Yeah, this is gonna be a real weird triple feature. Strap yourselves in. Amin: The Rise And Fall (1981) tells the true story of Idi Amin's military coup of Uganda and his horrifying, tyrannical rule. For the most part, this movie sticks pretty close to the truth. The only exception is depicting Amin as a cannibal, which was likely just a rumor. However if you doubt for a second that this is an exploitation movie, just watch this trailer.

When it was released in theaters owners were given cardboard cutouts of Amin and beanbags for patrons to throw, with newspaper ads claiming "Vent your spleen! Bean Amin!". Pair that promotional gimmick with the amazing trailer above and you've got a recipe for delicious exploitation. Amin: The Rise And Fall is pretty fascinating and never boring. 4 1/2 out of 6 beers.

Naturally, the perfect follow up to Amin: The Rise And Fall would be the second worst thing to happen to Africa, Ernest Goes To Africa (1997). This is the ninth and final Ernest movie and it's really not as bad as I thought it would be. Ernest Goes To Africa finds Ernest P. Worrell being pursued by some bad guys who are after a relic stolen from an African tribe which Ernest has found and turned into a yo-yo. This takes Ernest and his would-be love interest Renee to the heart of Africa, and wackiness ensues. Also, I'd like to address the fact that in this film Ernest makes reference to a "little trick he learned in Vietnam". I can also say for a fact that this is not the only time in the series Ernest has mentioned Vietnam. So let's all stop and think about that for a second. Ernest was in Vietnam. Ernest P. Worrell WAS IN VIETNAM. Am I the only one whose mind reels imagining what kind of misplaced wacky shenanigans Ernest might have gotten into while fighting in an actual war? Sadly, we will never see Jim Varney star in Ernest Goes To 'Nam, but the very idea of it will always make me smile.

I could go on for paragraphs about how I grew up with the Ernest films and the effect they had on me, but I feel like that's a discussion for another time. Let's just say that while Ernest Goes To Africa seems forced at times and could never match the magic of Ernest Saves Christmas or Ernest Goes To Camp, it's an entertaining enough way to spend 90 minutes. 3 1/2 out of 6 beers.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge #03

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982) is a movie I've been meaning to get around to for a while. Featuring early performances by Diane Lane and Laura Dern, The Fabulous Stains tells the story of Corinne "Third-Degree" Burns and the meteoric rise of her punk band The Stains. Produced by Paramount, the film originally did very poorly and was shelved but has in recent years become sort of a cult classic. I can't say I loved this movie, but it was definitely good. Great performances all around and an engaging plot as well as some deeper subtext about the price of fame had me glued to my seat throughout. 4 out of 6 beers.

Monday, April 4, 2016

April Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge #02

Hot Times At Montclair High (1989) tries real hard to capture the spirit of Fast Times At Ridgemont High, but comes nowhere close. With a production quality and the acting of an afterschool special, it stumbles through jokes that fall flat and dramatic moments that are more laughable than anything else. More closely resembling The Breakfast Club than anything else, Hot Times At Montclair High concerns a disparate group of seniors that somehow all become friends. These cookie-cutter characters include a rebellious tough guy with a sensitive side that has issues with his father, a football jock with failing grades and a short temper, a sex-starved nerd who desperately wants to be cool, and a normal girl who (for about five minutes) turns to a life of drugs and partying when her boyfriend breaks up with her. Together they take down the local drug dealing ring at their school. After the group graduates, they freeze-frame as a bad 80's song plays over the credits. Halfway through the credits, the song stops and leaves you with uncomfortable silence and the shame of just having wasted 90 minutes of your life. 2 out of 6 beers.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

April Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge #01

When my buddy over at Celluloid Terror told me about his April Exploitation movie challenge, it sounded like a lot of fun and a chance to catch up on some flicks. So I've decided to join him in watching as many trashy B-Movies as possible this month. As I'm in the process of moving, it's going to be a challenge just to hit 30 but I'll do the best I can.

First on my list was 3 Way Weekend (1980). Like a lot of 70's & 80's sex comedies, 3 Way Weekend plays out like someone was given a one sentence premise like "Two horny girls go hiking." and they just started spitballing ideas from there until they finally said "Fuck it, that's the script. Let's get some naked girls and do this!". Cocaine may or may not have also been involved. That being said, I'll do my best to describe the plot of 3 Way Weekend.

Veronica and Mindy are the two horny girls that go hiking, but unbeknownst to them they are being watched by Howard Creep, a horny guy in a gorilla mask that's been in the woods for too long. Did I mention that Veronica and Mindy are taking off their tops and making out for no discernible reason? Because they are. They soon cross paths with a sadistic forest ranger with a whip who's obsessed with finding and punishing commie perverts. He's also comically bad with the whip. He warns them to look out for pinko pervs, but soon decides he doesn't have time for "them lezzies".

 Are you following me so far?

That night, Veronica and Mindy are sexually assaulted by Howard and after fending him off decide that they actually kind of wanted to be raped by a weirdo in a gorilla mask, so they go looking for him. They come across an abandoned cabin, get shitfaced, and fall asleep.

I think we're about fifteen minutes into the movie now. Are you ready for more?

In the morning, Howard comes across the cabin, chloroforms Veronica (probably, they're pretty interchangeable) with mouthwash, and runs off into the woods with her. When Mindy wakes up and goes looking for her friend, the owner of the cabin returns. The owner is a former G.I. who is on his honeymoon with his new bride, a Korean prostitute (played incredibly racistly by a woman who is probably only vaguely Asian). Meanwhile, Veronica and her captor are bonding (Stockholm syndrome, probably) and are on the run from the justice-seeking forest ranger. Giving up rather easily, Mindy soon returns to the cabin to find the newlywed couple having sex. Inexplicably, Mindy hits the husband on the ass with a guitar so hard that the couple become stuck together. Mindy explains that she thought the female was her friend, but doesn't explain how that excuse made any damn sense in her head. Feeling guilty, Mindy decides to help them get unstuck. After several fruitless attempts, Mindy, the husband (who it turns out is also a drug dealer), and the wife all decide to smoke a bunch of weed and take a shower together. During their shower, Howard returns to the cabin and assaults everyone, sending the newlywed couple (still stuck together) fleeing.

We're maybe halfway through the movie now. Are you still following? Because I wasn't.

I won't lie, I kind of tuned out at this point. There's a scene where Veronica tries to help Howard get his boner back by performing a striptease to country music while he and Mindy watch. The forest ranger suddenly starts wearing a trenchcoat and Richard Nixon mask. There's some kind of showdown with a local pig farmer, and then it just sort of ends. I guarantee you that my description of the movie makes it sound way more interesting than it actually is. It's certainly a wacky sex comedy, but it's wackiness tends to wear thin pretty quickly. At the end of the day, 3 Way Weekend is just average. It's something that's worth putting on in the background if you're drinking with friends that also enjoy dumb movies, but it's really a chore if you're just watching it by yourself. 3 out of 6 beers.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween II (2009)

Director: Rob Zombie
Writer: Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie's sequel to his 2007 reboot of the Halloween franchise picks up directly after the end of the first film with Michael Myers escaping and Laurie Strode, still in shock from the events, being taken to the hospital. Thought to be dead, Michael Myers remains in hiding until next Halloween when he begins seeing ghostly visions of his mother telling him to bring his sister home. Laurie Strode meanwhile, is still dealing with some psychological issues left over from the terrifying ordeal she went through the previous year. Convinced that Michael Myers is still alive, she reaches her tipping point when a tell-all book by Dr. Loomis reveals that she is in fact the sister of the infamous Michael Myers.

Okay, so this is where I'm really going to lose some people. I. Fucking. LOVE. This movie. I don't really get why there are so many people that hate this film. With the first Halloween, it felt to me that Rob Zombie was stifled by conforming to the same basic plot as the original film. With this sequel, it's clear that he was given free range to make whatever movie he wanted to make as opposed to making a "Rob Zombie version" of something else. When a Halloween movie begins by explaining what a white horse is supposed to symbolize in a dream, you know you're in for some weird shit. The film is littered with scenes that may or may not be a dream, hallucination, or both. Unnervingly brutal murder scenes are juxtaposed with cinematography that is just goddamn beautiful to look at. This may seem like a stretch to many people, but I predict that general audiences will come around to Rob Zombie's Halloween II the same way they came around to Halloween III. Does it make perfect sense? No. But it is one fucking wild ride. I give Rob Zombie's Halloween II (or H2, if ya nasty) 5 out of 6 beers.