Thursday, July 7, 2011

Are you a fan of Sleepaway Camp? CKY? World Under Blood? Then you're in luck.

If you're not aware, Felissa Rose of Sleepaway Camp fame happens to be married to CKY frontman, Deron Miller.

The first album from his new metal band, World Under Blood is due to be released on July 26th and if you order it now, the pair has just decided to offer some pretty interesting perks.  First of all, you'll get a call from Felissa herself to thank you for the support.  In addition, you'll also receive an autographed picture from each of them.

If you're a fan of Sleepaway Camp, CKY, World Under Blood, or just nice people in general, head over to the Amazon page page and pick up the album for a little under $14, you'll definitely be getting your money's worth.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hobo With A Shotgun Released on DVD and Blu-Ray

If you didn't get your fill of dangerous explosive fun excess yesterday, you'll be thrilled to find out that Hobo With A Shotgun has come to DVD and Blu-Ray just in time for National Hangover and Tending to Explosion Wounds Day.

The extras on the 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray Collector's Editions include: 
  • Commentary with director Jason Eisener and Rutger Hauer (his first commentary)
  • A second commentary with the director, producer, writer, and David Brunt from the original Hobo with a Shotgun.
  • Deleted scenes & Alternate ending
  • Video blogs & Featurettes ("More Blood, More Heart: The Making of Hobo with a Shotgun", "HDNet: A Look at Hobo with a Shotgun")
  • Faux Trailer Contest Winner video
  • TV spots, trailers, and more.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pot Zombies

Lloyd Kaufman's Make Your Own Damn Movie is an interesting, humorous, somewhat informational book that has outgrown its pages a bit since its 2003 release. In 2005 it had grown into a boxed package that included a DVD companion set. In 2008 and 2009 respectively, we got books on directing our own damn movies and producing our own movies. 2008 also saw the first of a proposed series of films to come from young filmmakers actually putting Lloyd's teachings to work. It may be telling that we haven't seen another one since. As it turns out, maybe not ALL of us need to make our own damn movie after all.

With a movie named something like Pot Zombies, I was expecting something along the lines of Bite Me!, but with less budget, less everything else, and probably a good bit less enjoyment. After my mercilessly short 60 minute experience was through, it was apparent that my expectations had still been...

...way too high.

The movie is basically five or so different ideas of what could be pitches for a movie called Pot Zombies. None of them are ever explored or fleshed out past that stage, and no attempt is made to develop the characters used in them.

Between these short vignettes we're treated to a bizarre, blown-out, bare-chested joint surrounded by... roaches maybe... it's hard to tell with everything looking so overexposed.

You may not notice immediately with that screenshot against a dark background, but there are 2 unequal black bars on either side. That's just one of at least 3 different aspect ratios that the movie treats us too...

The first sketch is widescreen for some reason.

And... the rest is fullscreen.

I read one interview with the filmmaker, Justin Powers, who basically said that he wanted to see if he could make a movie, so he made Pot Zombies as a way to learn how to shoot, edit, etc as he went along. That makes the end result make more sense, and does embody Lloyd Kaufman's suggestions to just get started rather than sitting on your ass and wondering if you could... but then again, I had a few friends in high school who did the same with their miniscule tax returns one year (money only got as far as the camera purchase) and a cast including themselves, a crackhead who would go on to star in... cutting someone's throat in his front yard, and someone I'm pretty sure was mentally handicapped... and they ended up with something a great deal funnier, with much better digital effects, and most importantly, something that wasn't boring. I'd really rather not just shit on Powers for getting out and actually making something, but when crafting your low-budget disasterpiece, you absolutely cannot let it get boring.

I've heard a few mentions of a potential sequel in the works. I really hope that doesn't happen, but I think the premise might be workable as long as one little tweak gets consideration.


In an effort to end on a positive note, I will say that I quite enjoyed the low-framerate flash animated blood transitions. Pot Zombies needed more of these.

Now if only George Lucas would learn to tone down his silly screen wipes to something as subtle as that we'd all be better off.

Pot Zombies Trailer:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Search Engine Craziness: Frankenstein Pretzels

While not quite 100% of my keyword hits are inexplicably sexual, the ones that aren't are often so random that they're even stranger than the others. When I saw "frankenstein pretzels" in the list, I had to go Google it myself to see just what that person might have been looking for. I'm not sure what it was, but I did find this surprisingly appropriate picture.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

La Schiava Io Ce L'Ho e Tu No

I believe this will be the first time I've written about anything from my collection of Italian sex-comedies, but I was recently discussing it somewhere else, had already made screencaps, and I'm pretty sure almost no one else on the internet is talking about this film (especially not in English), so it seemed like as good a place as any to start.

As with many of these rare foreign things, subtitles are often hard to find, or just completely unavailable altogether... The latter was the case for me here, so I had to understand things via Google Translate's interpretation of the Italian Wikipedia page and my somewhat limited knowledge of Spanish.

In any case, I think I've shown that I'm EXACTLY the right person to discuss this movie, so let's get started.

La Schiava Io Ce L'Ho e Tu No is a film directed by Giorgio Capitani that was released in 1972. The plot is pretty simple up until the strange left turn that is the movie's namesake. After that, things get weird.

Demetrius Cultrera (Lando Buzzanca) is a young, rich, Sicilian bachelor who becomes engaged to the beautiful (and also rich) Rosalba (Catherine Spaak), the daughter of a local business owner.

After their wedding, Rosalba's attitude changes when she decides to try turning Demetrius into the modern sort of husband she'd like. This causes a problem, as Demetrius prefers sticking to what he sees as more traditional gender roles. Despite her constant attempts, Rosalba's persistent attempts to convert him to the rituals of high society, and to her "enlightened" and/or feminine tastes do little more than annoy him.

Strongly determined to build a stable relationship with a woman who can fulfill his visions of peaceful married life, he leaves for the Amazon, where he is offered the opportunity to choose and buy a new wife as a slave.

The choice falls on the beautiful and docile Manua (Veronica Merin).

He takes her back to Italy, then starts working to clean her up and train her to act as the kind of subservient wife he was looking for.

Finally he takes her to get her hair straightened, revealing that the Amazonian native actually looks like a brown Shannon Elizabeth.

Once all that's done. He starts taking her out to proudly show off his creation to friends...

and also to use her for manual labor.

Even when he's back at home, he's constantly inviting over dinner guests to witness his ideal wife. By this time the two actually seem to have a little chemistry between them, but that doesn't mean she's graduated to sitting at the same level as the men just yet.

It does earn her several head-pats though.

Once he's impressed and inspired all of his own friends. He takes her out to parade her past his ex-wife to try making her jealous. This is of course done by hooking her up to a rickshaw and having her pull him around the city until he finds Rosalba.

He finds her soon enough, and seems satisfied, but the ex-wife ends up only looking mildly intrigued and confused.

Things wrap up quickly after that, and the film cuts to a closing scene showing us the couple many years in the future. The new wife is now adept at making Demetrius drinks, lighting his cigarettes, and giving him massages. Surely she's graduated to chair sitting by now...

Not quite, but at least he's still petting her.

Sex comedies aren't generally written from a very feminist perspective, but this one's got to be about the most extremely and exuberantly misogynist example I've ever seen. Strangely enough, it's still strangely watchable and even enjoyable. Lando Buzzanca and Veronica Merin have an odd, inappropriate chemistry between them that always makes seeing them together pretty fun... for as long as you can ignore the weird contexts of everything they're doing.

There are only a few (uneventful) video clips of this film I've found on Youtube. Good luck figuring out what's going on in them.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dracula Has Risen From The Dead to Steal Your Drugs

I've watched a lot of short films today. I'm going to write about Dracula Has Risen from the Dead to Steal Your Drugs because it was the worst.

It is also however, the only one I've seen 4 times now, so that probably counts for something too. Mostly I think I'm just perplexed by its existence. While I can sort of enjoy it for what it is, it's also bizarre enough that it keeps leaving me feeling like Christopher Lee is playing some sort of weird Belgian dadaist joke on me.

I'm pretty sure that's what it is.

The story is simply that a few friends go out to a secluded graveyard in a wooded area to smoke some marijuana. Dracula, who's not only buried there, but had apparently been recently exhumed...

... gets a whiff of their smoke and pops out of his coffin to investigate.

Actually, "pops" probably isn't the right word to describe how he gets out of that thing. First of all it takes him a full minute and a half to get out (of the 10 minute total running time). Are you wondering why it took him so long? Well, apparently Dracula really likes Madonna's music. Justify My Love starts playing when his coffin opens and he just really gets into it.

a lot.

Madonna's music might seem like an odd choice in a short that's based on Dracula, but it's best not to dwell on that because you're just going to have to get used to it.

These are the real music credits.

After the song he turns into a bat and flies away to the other kids. I'm not sure why he transforms, it must've only been a couple of feet. The kids are smoking in the middle of the graveyard and there are only about a half-dozen tombstones there. Anyway, he reconstitutes himself such that he smoothly appears in their smoking circle and sneaks in on their rotation. Once he starts smoking the joint and making those faces in the first screencap though... people notice.

a lot.

It may look like that guy was over-acting a bit, but this was a dramatic moment. One that can only be demonstrated by making faces like that... or by the magic of dance.

I'm going to upload the thing to Youtube, but I can't imagine it'll stay there for long with that track list.

I can't really recommend it too strongly, but it is at least better than Pot Zombies.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Enter The Void

I went into Enter The Void, in pretty much ideal circumstances. I'd seen the trailer, but only once and long enough ago that I couldn't remember anything except that Gaspar might be using his flying disembodied Koyaanisqatsi-cam from Irréversible and that it was essentially a story told from the first-person perspective. As far as the plot was concerned, I could have been going to see Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up stretched out over two and a half hours.

What I wouldn't have guessed going in was that having spent a good portion of my college years dabbling in psychedelics, having read the DMT-related hypotheses of Jeremy Narby and Rick Strassman, and even reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead would turn out to be useful in understanding the film as well.

Strassman's hypothesis, which the movie touches on in the brief amount of vocal exposition we're given, is that the hallucinogen DMT which some studies show exists endogenously in mammals, not only exists in the pineal gland of the human brain, but is also released in great quantities at the onset of death (and possibly at birth). This is used to explain why users of synthesized DMT report experiences very much like near-death experiences, and why it is that when in a near-death experience, subjects generally do not feel panicked but are instead incredibly calm.

The scientific evidence supporting that hypothesis seems to boil down to the presence of an enzyme that's specifically used to break down DMT that's found throughout the body. There's nothing else that implicates any specific concentration of the chemical actually being in the pineal gland or anywhere else. So the idea's not exactly on firm scientific ground, but it is interesting enough to make a make a movie about... especially with Noé's having his character fill his brain with DMT manually before death as a way to avoid leaning too heavily on needing this strange hypothesis to actually be true.

Enter The Void opens by dropping us into Oscar's (Nathaniel Brown) perspective in what seems like a fairly ordinary night as a means of introducing us to the two main characters, Oscar and his sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta). Linda leaves almost immediately and Oscar pulls out his DMT pipe to introduce himself and the audience to what exactly a DMT trip looks like from his perspective.

At this point it must be said that the effects studio, BUF, did a great job at rendering these strangely organic, yet geometrically crystalline looking hallucinations that are so hard to accurately portray in film or anything else for that matter. The ones shown in this film are among the best I've seen.

The fact that this feat must have presumably been pulled off by artists who hadn't all started their shifts with an early morning cup of ayahuasca makes it even more impressive. As Jason Shankel put it in his piece for io9, "Oscar's DMT trip is rendered so realistically that watching it while high would just be a waste of drugs."

After a couple of minutes of seeing Oscar in screensaver mode, his phone rings and takes his attention away from the visuals. As it turns out, he's got to go down to a place called The Void to drop off some drugs with his primary client. His friend Alex (Cyril Roy) stops by just before he leaves, so he comes along with Oscar to give us one of the movie's most direct exposition sequences. After explaining a bit about the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Oscar heads into the club and gets himself killed while hiding out in a Japanese squat-toilet.

It's here, with the death of our protagonist, that the movie really begins.

As he lies on the floor dying, Oscar begins experiencing overwhelming hallucinations along with time dilation. Alex had touched upon time-dilation earlier when he mentioned that when on something like a DMT trip, to us that what seems like hours may in reality only be occurring over a matter of seconds or minutes. Some films like Spun or Requiem for a Dream make attempts at showing what a time-compression experience might look like by dropping frames and speeding up the film speed. Noé gives us a time-dilation experience by showing us 2 hours of hallucinations which take place in the final moments of Oscar's brain's life.

The idea that the entire movie really is as simple as that seems to elude some people, who insist it's a first-person account of a reincarnation process or just a story about ghost incest or something. But no, it isn't, and it doesn't have to be to be satisfying. This is one of the very few times when at the end of the movie you can realize that the whole thing was essentially a dream and that's actually appropriate rather than just being a lazy and enraging plot device.

One interesting thing to notice as you go through the story is that, as a result of his experience being generated by his brain, the experiences' strangeness varies inversely to the freshness and familiarity of the memories they're based on. Those that nvolve the very familar and recent, such as the "post-death" experiences in the bathroom where he dies, are all very realistic and clear. Those that involve things from more distant memories begin to look a little stylized and hazy. Those involving places he's never been are completely generated by his mind and are often based only on tiny scaps of known information and are therefore almost entirely left up to Oscar's creativity. The love-hotel he visits towards the end of the film is in a place he only knows from seeing an artist friend's dayglo, blacklight-illuminated model, so this is all especially clear there.

The experiences Oscar has seem to bifurcate and begin following seperate paths at some point. He follows his sister's reaction and how her life might unfold from the very beginning, but eventually Oscar begins reliving memories and traveling back through the lives of he and his sister as well. This leads to a potentially confusing ending where the backward and forward paths almost overlap and come to an end. At the love-hotel Oscar sees Linda having sex with his friend Alex. If we've learned anything from the flying disembodied camera by this point it's that it flies into any holes it finds, so of course it ends up shooting into Linda's glowing vagina.

By this point we've travelled back through many of Oscar's early memories of his parents and his childhood, one of which was seeing his parents have sex, so this sparks another memory in which we see a very basic birth memory, followed by an infant Oscar with his parents at their home. This memory is very hazy, and the mother's face is especially blurred out, so this progression isn't obvious to someone looking for a reincarnation angle. What they're likely to have seen was ghost-Oscar shooting into Linda's vagina, followed by him being born again and deposited in a new baby belonging to his sister. If it isn't enough that his sister had just had an abortion and probably wouldn't have loaded a new egg in the chamber just yet anyway, Noé has directly refuted any possibility of something like that being intended by those scenes, stating "It's not Oscar's sister, it's Oscar's mother..." and "It's not the story of someone who dies, flies and is reincarnated, it's the story of someone who is stoned when he gets shot and who has an intonation of his own dream."

There's lots of talk about there being pretty heavy incest themes throughout the movie, and that's kind of understandable (I am using Oscar shooting into his sister's vagina as a segway after all). If Oscar is just seeing what his brain wants to show him, why does end up traveling around watching his sister at work (she's a stripper), after work (perhaps a prostitute?), and in her free time (having sex again) the way he does? This suspicion isn't exactly discouraged when we see how comfortable Linda is being nude around Alex and how she seems to prefer staying that way most of the time... but I don't really think any of that actually has anything to do with incest.

At the most direct, maybe Noé doesn't do anything to really disqualify the idea as a way to leave it open in order to provoke people's reactions to incest taboos. But Oscar relives his recent memories of his sister, along with their relationship as children and teenagers and he never really shows any sexual interest in her at all. So while I admit that Noé does have a tendency to use everything available to make his audience feel uncomfortable, in the end I really think it's just that Oscar and Linda have a relationship that doesn't include some of the taboos that many people's relationships with their siblings do. I get a little of that myself, having a younger sister that I can talk directly and honestly with about sex or other such taboo topics if they come up. That alone seems to sometimes be enough to make other people's skin crawl. Some people had a hard time seeing how I could ever hang out at her place when she dated an old friend of mine for a while... but those sorts of social taboos just aren't things that bother me. If she was the sort to spend most of her life naked, then if someone saw one of those conversations about sex or porn or something I'd probably find myself under the same sort of scrutiny as Oscar.

One of the biggest things that shows that theirs is a nonsexual relationship is just how childlike it is. Oscar and Linda are seen in flashback-type memories over and over, so we see how their close relationship was and is maintained as they grow up. After the early death of their parents, they attach to one another and become even closer. Later when we see Linda as an adult, she's often acting so much like a child when alone with Oscar that any potentially sexual situations still seem innocent because Linda appears to have regressed to a sexually-naive and taboo-ignorant child.

They show this over and over, sometimes almost literally.

As for giving this movie a real review, there's little to be said aside from heaping praise on Noé for making a two and a half hour self-indulgent art film that's somehow not only still watchable (impressive in itself) but also completely enthralling. The watching experience isn't exactly always comfortable , but you still can't ever look away.

If at any point you break from it's spell for a moment,
you'll feel yourself making this face.

Gaspar Noé's films seem to generally keep out of the mainstream due to their experimental and potentially offensive themes, but Enter The Void is perhaps his most accessible and maybe even his most pleasant, so make sure you don't pass over this one. It's available for streaming on Netflix so there's really no excuse to not see it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


RoboGeisha is a collaboration between Noboru Iguchi and special effects man Yoshihiro Nishimura (i.e., the director of Tokyo Gore Police and co-director of Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl).

With a team like that you sort of know what to expect going into this one... but as with their other titles, knowing the sorts of things you can expect does not mean that everything you're about to see isn't still going to be completely mind-blowing.

The story opens by introducing us to Yoshie (Aya Kiguchi) and her older sister Kikue (Hitome Hasebe, Battle Royale II).

Kikue is a an ambitious geisha while Yoshie is her supposedly "uglier" younger sister who is basically just a servant in the house where Kikue works. Kikue is hoping to impress the young head of Kageno Steel, but as it turns out he actually prefers Yoshie... So of course the conflict between the sisters just escalates rapidly from this point on.

Both girls eventually end up at the young guy's rural home, which is where he's apparently been essentially kidnapping and brainwashing young girls into a personal army of cyborg ninja geisha assassins.

The girls begin training there and competing for success as assassins. This quickly leads to both of them getting mechanical enhancements of their own and it's here that things really take a turn for the wacky.

Exhibit 1: Killer socks

Exhibit 2: Breast-cannons

And, last but not least,
Exhibit 3: Ass-shurikens.

Apparently Iguchi was asked to tone down the violence and gore a bit for this one, so the weapons are a bit more ridiculous and cartoony than usual, and all blood effects are done in CGI. CGI blood almost never looks good... or even remotely passable... and this case is certainly no different, but then the silly cartoon blood is not exactly pulling you out of an otherwise believably realistic scenario, so it bothered me less than I expected it to.

Yoshie eventually emerges as the top "clockwork cortesan" and at this point decides to abandon the robogeishas in order to stop the evil steel corporation and save Japan from them.

With a name like Yoshie, this understandably has to happen by way of a Mario Kart battle.

The final showdown, the climax of the movie's absurdity, is a battle between Tank-Yoshie and a robotic building with an atomic bomb necklace, during which blood spurts from destroyed bystander-buildings in a way that it absolutely should have been doing in monster movies since the very beginning.

If you're a fan of the sort of surreal absurdist gore that's come from Noburu Iguchi in the past, you're likely to enjoy RoboGeisha. Even if you've been hesitant to see the more extreme things like Tokyo Gore Police, this is a pretty tame introduction to his style. While the premise does start to stretch a bit thin at times, overall I still really had a lot of fun with this one.