Thursday, March 27, 2008


Black and White 1966 running time 87 min.

Country: Japan

Director: Takeshi Yamazaki

Starring: Aki Iwate, Randy Suzuki, Nana Yoshida & Shinju Tanahashi

This film starts and just moves, the result is incredible. Aki Iwate plays a young ninja it training named Ryu, but also referred to by his secret ninja name; Giant. The problem is Ryu just wants to have fun while he’s still young, before he devotes his life to the ninja profession. For this reason his teacher chastises Ryu, but he also lets out a boys-will-be-boys kind of chuckle when he is out of Ryu’s sight line. Ryu owns a roadster and always wears sunglasses. His best friend is a little kid named Hideo. Hideo dresses in a school uniform and sits shotgun in Ryu’s ride. Hideo is always reading. At one point he’s reading Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammet, and Ryu asks if the book is any good. Hideo says in English, “Eh, It’s all right, I guess”. At night Ryu hangs out at a club where his girlfriend Lisa works. Randy Suzuki shows up and it is clear these two do not get along. Suzuki plays a young Yakuza named Salamander he’s some sort of leader in a street gang, and he has a gaggle of yes-men with him at all times. A fight breaks out in the club when Salamander commands his men to attack Ryu. Giant takes them all out, but is clocked in the head with a pipe wielded by an unseen person. When Ryu awakes Lisa has been kidnapped. Her close friend and fellow dancer Mia played by the stunning Shinju Tanahashi offers her assistance. Mia saw Salamander grab Lisa so they have to find his lair. Giant hops into the roadster and their off to enlist the help of the Teacher. Sensei makes an invisibility potion and gives it to Giant. He also tells Giant he must use the Typhoon Kick special move to defeat Salamander. Giant complains, he has not mastered the move and it would be too dangerous to employ near civilians. Mia demands to be taken home, so she can change out of her dance/work clothes. Giant drops her off and waits in the car when he notices the elixir. He takes a chug and goes up to Mia’s apartment where she is changing. The music amps up and the-now-invisible Ryu gets a little show. When Lisa is dressed in an all black one-piece she goes to a cabinet and removes a box of ninja weapons. Could Mia be a ninja too? When Mia returns to the street the car drives away without a driver, she is confused. Next we get a strange POV shot of a dance club. Girls are getting goosed but they can’t see by what. A door opens on it’s own and we know Giant is lurking. Down in the basement we see Lisa with Salamander, and the whole lot of Salamander’s thugs but Lisa is unbound they are talking about their plan to get to Sensei through Ryu. They’re in it together! In shock, Giant knocks over a ladder. Salamander produces a German Luger and fires blindly at the area. Salamander orders, “Tadao, go check that out”,. Tadao is short and wears an all white tuxedo! Tadao lights a cigarette and blows smoke in the area of the ladder the smoke reveals the shape of Giant and a fight ensues. The Salamander gang gets Giant wrapped in rope just as the potion is wearing off. Ryu tells Lisa she’s a traitor. She laughs, and tells him how much she is going to enjoy killing him. Then Mia busts through the door with a hail of throwing stars. Poor Tadao gets one in the neck. Giant and Mia hop in the car and flee. Here Ryu explains the art of the Typhoon Kick. When landed properly the victim will first go deaf followed by blindness and eventual death. Also Mia and Ryu nearly kiss. The ninja team confronts the gang once again, but outnumbered they escape to the underground sewers of Tokyo. After several fights below ground they arrive at Sensei’s, but Salamander is out front holding the Luger to Hideo’s head. Hideo elbows Salamander in the groin, Sensei appears behind the group and nets all of them but Salamander. A long fight takes place between Giant and Salamander, but Salamander gets the upper hand and is about to fire a shot to the head. Suddenly Mia shouts “Typhoon Kick” and launches a super spin kick too Salamander’s head. Salamander looks to his trapped gang they are shouting but he hears nothing. Then we see him stumble blinded, groping at air. He grabs his head and collapses, dead. Sensei explains he had secretly been training Mia all along and he knew of the plot to assassinate him. They all laugh, then Giant and Mia go dancing.

This is very beautiful film. I am happy to have seen it. There are some terrible things about it though. For one I don’t know why it was shot in B&W. I guess it made the special effects easier to do. But it would have been truly fantastic in color. Also the tension is completely destroyed by the set-up and instant answer formula the film uses. But those complaints aside, this is a five star movie.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Color 1982 running time 79 min.

Director: Doug T. Hambren

Starring: Phillip Townsend, Greta Ostrand and Winnie Marks

This movie is incredible in so many ways. The cover just depicts Greta Ostrand scantly clad lounging on a bed. By the title I was hoping for a Zombie or Vampire film. The movie is neither. First of all Greta Ostrand turns in a five star performance. Maybe matched only by the fantastic performance of Phillip Townsend. Winnie Marks doesn’t quite find her groove, but she gives it her all. I’ve seen Townsend before in the films LOW DOWN DEADLY and FEED ME FANNY. But here he really shines. He plays a character named T-Bone, we meet him in the first scene where he is getting released from jail. He hits the streets of Chicago with four dollars in his pocket and a lot of pent up anger. A child approaches and asks T-Bone for a dollar, “anything for you, Bud”. And he gives the kid a buck. But the kid’s father sees this and states his disapproval. T-Bone takes some verbal abuse for a second then decks the guy laying him out in one blow. He steals his car keys and winks at the kid who gives him a thumbs-up. I guess the kid didn’t care for dad much. T-Bone goes to a pool hall to retrieve money owed to him by the proprietor. While there he meets two hooker/lesbians played by Greta Ostrand and Winnie Marks. Their names are Lulu and Samantha. They have a plan for T-Bone. They need a little help with their pimp Dale – His name could also be Dell, it’s pronounced somewhere in the middle – who has some sort of drug problem he’s been supporting with the part of the girls cash, that he’s not entitled to. T-Bone eats four raw eggs and guzzles some J & B. He opens the trunk of the stolen car and removes a baseball bat. The women look on with horror and wonder. They find Dale in an alley lurking. The girls inform him that it is time for retribution. T-Bone goes to work, it’s an orgy of blood. This turns Lulu on. The next scene begins with the broken baseball bat on a carpeted floor, it is covered in blood. In the bathroom of this flophouse under the blinking neon of a humid summer, T-Bone is washing the blood from his face as Lulu helps out. Samantha watches with raging jealousy. Lulu leans in close to T-Bone they share a laugh. Samantha grabs a strange wooden box and takes a powder. Turns out the box has lulu’s life savings inside, but the box is locked. T-Bone asks if “Sam has a key” and Lulu responds that Sam “never had a key to my box”. Wow! But lame double entendre can’t derail the magic chemistry of these two. And after fierce love making they are off to retrieve the money. They run through several encounters in the underworld, never finding Samantha. However T-Bone does acquire a handgun and a cowboy hat. Eventually T-Bone gets shot in the gut. This leads to my favorite scene in the film. T-Bone paces holding his wound and chain smoking. The car is parked with Lulu inside. They are in a rail-yard. Lulu paints her toenails in the passenger side of the car, as she smokes a reefer. T-Bone sticks his head in the window and asks Lulu if she’ll go to hell with him. “Just point to the hand-basket, and I’ll get in”. Instead of a doctor they follow their last lead to a slum on the South Side. T-Bone is too weak to move so Lulu goes inside. Inside Lulu finds Samantha strung out on junk and the broken box empty on the floor. Lulu tells Samantha, she’s sorry she left her. Samantha smiles. Then Lulu throws a pillow over her head and smothers the life out of her. A flatfoot sees the idling car on the street with T-Bone hunched over, the Cop peers in and asks if everything is all right. T-bone (now very pale) raises the handgun and fires. Lulu hears the shot and runs down to the street. There she finds T-Bone and the Cop, dead.

I highly recommend this film. It is beautifully shot and engaging. It is superbly directed. It is a re-make of a Mexican film called EL DIABLO ESTA DENTRO DE MI, Directed by Jorge Carlos Alvaro, 1979.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Color 1984 running time 90 min.

Country Canada

Director Kit Lempse

Starring Katie Tabitha Smiley and Deborah Carny

This movie isn’t half bad. It’s some kind of warped version of Degrassi Junior High. First we meet Katie Nickels (played by Katie Smiley), she is sixteen and working at an old folks home after school. We see her tend to the elderly and develop an almost instantaneous sympathy for her. She is cute and full of moxie. We follow her to the cafeteria where she orders two giant mac and cheese dishes and a hotdog. She sits alone eating her meal seeming a bit depressed. Suddenly we are in the bathroom behind a stall we hear the sounds of vomiting and we know where we are going; and that is straight to teen drama via the barf highway. Next we are on to the High School Cafeteria and we get a glimpse of Katie’s life. We meet her friend Sandy as they are both harassed by a jock senior named Steve Daniels. He calls out to Katie “Hey Candy-Tits, why don’t you come sit on my lap”? For which, he is chastised by a beautiful queen-of-the-cheerleaders type. Obviously we are in an Animal Factory, some kind of Canadian Lord Of The Flies only this Cheerleader is holding the Conch. Her name is Marie and she commands a mighty army of the popular and loved. Next we meet Sandy and her family. She is Katie's best friend. Her mother works in a factory and her father is unemployed and just gets drunk most of the time. We also learn that he has recently gotten out of jail. And it’s implied he was in for some sort of sexual assault. He is cruel and unrelenting towards Sandy so she turns to the bong. What would you do? Sandy and her father finally come to blows and Sandy runs away to stay with Katie, but she doesn’t want her parents to know that she’s “harboring a fugitive”. So Sandy sleeps under Katie’s bed! Soon Sandy moves on to dosing acid everyday at school and telling people she’s a vampire. Katie doesn’t know what to do, but her problems are multiplying. She begins to have fainting spells do to lack of food. This is compounded by an encounter with Steve Daniels who once again proceeds to taunt her with lewd gestures. He asks her if she is “a good girl. Or a bad girl”. Katie runs away, frightened. Then Marie catches Katie puking in a restroom and threatens to expose her secret if she doesn’t bring her twenty dollars in a brown bag and leave it on her lunch tray every Friday. Katie quickly agrees to the bargain. The interesting thing about the exchange in the bathroom is that we kind of like Marie. She tells a story of heartbreak in her life and explains how she knows how difficult it is being a young woman. She is sympathetic to Katie, but not enough not to take advantage of the situation. Marie also confesses her extreme hatred for Steve Daniels. Meanwhile Steve has turned his animal affections on Sandy. Who is still in some sort of drug haze. That night Sandy comes back to Katie’s house. She has blood all over her face and mouth. Katie is of course shocked at this and demands an explanation. But Sandy has moved on mentally. The next day at school we learn that Steve Daniels is dead. It’s not rocket science to figure the way it played out. And Katie does just that. She concocts a plan to get Sandy out of town before the cops get wise. Everyone’s is in class and Katie is freaking out when there is a commotion outside. Everybody runs to the window to see what is happening. Marie has lit Steve Daniels car on fire in the parking lot. She is screaming “he got what he deserved” over and over. The faculty wrestles her to the ground and the police arrive and take her away. Now she will be blamed for the murder. Or maybe she did it. These questions go unanswered. Katie tells Sandy she should seek help for her mental problems. But Sandy only says “your bed is my coffin”. Katie cries. They walk home together over a long bridge and Sandy asks Katie if she has ever seen anyone fly. And on that note she hops off the bridge into the frigid waters below. The last scene is Katie alone in the cafeteria for the elderly eating a hamburger.

THE ANOREXIA FILES is the 1990's Re-release title of this film. The original title was, THE GIRLS OF STELLA HIGH

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Color 1981 running time 98 min.

Director: Val Tailor

Starring: Josh Ramse, Syd Monrow, Sandy Filscent and Clark Tad as the voice of The Demon Lord

The only thing more stupid than the title of this film, is the film itself. I really can’t believe this got made. But there is some nice but prosaic cinematography along the way. There is a title at the beginning that states “Camerawork Ted Jacobs”. I suppose this is the Director of Photography. But the photography isn’t enough to carry this terrible movie. The first twenty minutes of this movie is all setup. We meet a couple that has just moved to a small New England town. They begin to feel “creeped out” by the looming old house on the hill above them. This is accented by eccentric towns-folk who keep speaking of a curse and a haunted swamp on the couple’s property. Josh Ramse plays Dickey Card a newspaperman from the big city, he has moved here to take a job with the local paper and quickly becomes friends with his editor Tommy played by Syd Monrow. His wife Jane stays at home, she cleans the house, drinks J&B straight from the bottle and naps on the couch only to have horrible nightmares about the swamp and “a strange presence that surrounds [her]”. Soon Jane begins to hear a voice that is commanding her. She gets naked and has convulsions on the floor; she froths at the mouth and eventually gets stigmata. Dickey suspects the swamp is the source of all these strange events. He enlists Tommy’s ancient mother who is seasoned in the forgotten arts of the occult to help decode these strange happenings. She explains that the demon is coming and “all will pay, who deny him his will”. One night while Dickey is sleeping Jane approaches him, but she is pale and obviously possessed. She tries to seduce Dickey but he gets wise and tells her “You can try to chain my soul. But all you’ll get is a fist in the face”. After the shirtless Dickey slaps her around, Jane snaps out of it and begins to sob. The next morning the body of Tommy’s mother floats to the top of the swamp (which looks more like a pond) as we hear the maniacal laughter of the Demon Lord. Now Dickey can hear the Demon too, and he delivers the line “Get outta my head, Hell Spawn” while clutching his head. This is a great relief to Jane. Now she knows she’s not crazy. But her relief is cut short by a lawnmower that powers up on it’s own and completely mangles her. Now Dickey has the voice in his head saying: “Kill them all” over and over. A title appears that tells us it is now six months later. Dickey goes back to work and all his co-workers are concerned for his well-being. He seems stunned. He asks one of his peers what he’s writing. The peer tells him that Tommy died yesterday and he’s writing the obituary. Dickey says, “When you’re done with that one, start writing your own”. He produces a hatchet and starts cutting the man to bits. There’s a still frame of Dickeys deranged face, music amps up and the credits roll.

Now you can sigh because you made it through one of the worst films ever made.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Color 1975 running time 86 min.

Director: Gor Halbolt

Starring: Gene Pitchney and Terry Baxter

This movie is a complete waste of time and yet somehow appealing. This was Halbolt’s first attempt at the biker road movie (I think). Our movie begins with our hero Molasses at his estranged wife’s house. I think we are somewhere in Southern California. They argue and the wife hits the road, heading to her mother’s house in Akron Ohio, taking their four-year-old son with her. This really burns Molasses up. He enlists his best friend and loveable, bumbling-alcoholic Mooch to chase after them. At first The Mooch protests and explains that his only two loves in life are “tacos and bustin’ people up”. Molasses promises him plenty of both and they fire up their bikes and leave. As they enter Arizona a folk song starts up just a man’s voice and an acoustic guitar. A montage takes us down the highway. The Lyrics describe friendship, longing, and America, pretty corny stuff. They arrive in a small tavern somewhere in New Mexico, they drink beers and discuss Vietnam for twenty minutes. This is where the film gets really boring and lags for a bit. Molasses tells us how important it is for him to see his kid again and Mooch also tells the story of how he made some enemies in the joint. Other bikers that go by the name: The Clowns. Suddenly they feel the stare of someone at the bar, he’s a biker but has enormous red shoes, at that moment they know they have been talking too loud and all hell breaks loose. The brawl ends with M&M tying this clown to either end of their bikes and ripping him in two, but not without the sheriff taking notice. They high tail and the 5-O are in hot pursuit. They eventually elude the law by stealing away into the deadly desert back roads. Now we meet the Clown Gang as they discover the bloody remains of one of their own. The leader of the gang is named Simian and he wears small red circles on his cheeks and all the gang members have some sort of reference to clowns in their clothing. There’s even a toady yes-man that juggles! Simian hauls out after the culprits. Camping out at night we learn that The Mooch has a secret companion in the form of a small kitten he carries in his saddlebag. He seems to be ashamed of the vulnerability this displays so he swears Molasses to secrecy. The next day starving and lost in the desert the ride up on an old shack, they approach with caution and observe a woman who is showering under a spigot near her porch. After the woman finishes and goes inside, Molasses approaches the house to get directions. But just as he’s about to knock he hears the rumble of bikes rounding the bend. It turns out this is Simian’s old lady’s place and The Clowns are coming home. The gang quickly surrounds Molasses and begins to taunt him, circling him on their bikes. Molasses explains that he has no intention of “dying here in the desert at the hands of Clowns”. The Mooch sees it all but doesn’t know what to do. The naked woman comes out of the house, she points and laughs at Molasses. She is Hippie trash and Molasses lets her know it. The Clowns begin whipping Molasses with their chains, he has nowhere to run. But then the kitten escapes and runs towards the house. The gang is distracted and Molasses takes advantage by getting the upper hand in this melee. The Mooch flies towards Simian and jumps off his bike at the last second turning the whole mass into a giant missile and screaming “Eat Rubber, Clown”! The bike explodes for some reason, but that’s not nearly the stupidest part of this movie, because somehow only The Mooch and Molasses survive. They mourn the death of the kitten for a brief moment and The Mooch claims, “the kitten saved us both”. Molasses says it’s a long way to Ohio. The Mooch says maybe it’s too long, and that same stupid folk song starts up again, as we get another montage of the bikers sailing down the highway at dusk.

This movie is pointless and trite but if you like it look for some of Halbolt’s other films: UNHOLY BIRTHRIGHT or DEVIL DOES CARE