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.