30 August 2010

Cannibal Mercenary

Thailand - 1983
Director - Hong Lu Wong

I found this poster/DVD cover(?) for the super absurd Thai film Cannibal Mercenary at Ioffer.com. I have a copy of this film simply titled Mercenary, on a bad bootleg VHS tape I got from a video store I worked in years and years ago. I think Cannibal Apocalypse would be a more apt comparison but it does lift large elements of the plot from Apocalypse Now.
Anyway, I thought this would make a good opener for my month of Vietnam War themed posts. Why am I devoting a month to it? Well because I'm going to be in Vietnam the entire month! I've wanted to visit since I began studying the country and the war many years ago. Now I finally got my chance so I'm taking it.
For more 'Nam related posts I've done in the past (it's a long standing interest as I mentioned) click Namsploitation and Vietnam Vets labels.
And finally, if you leave any comments in the next month don't despair they will get approved when I return.

29 August 2010

The Crawling Eye

A.K.A. The Trollenberg Terror
United Kingdom - 1958
Director - Quentin Lawrence
Starring - Forest Tucker and Janet Munro

I used to hate black and white monster movies but this was one of the first ones I was able to appreciate. Among all the Evil Dead and Re-Animator I was watching back then, the giant tentacled eyeballs of The Crawling Eye struck a chord that has reverberated ever since.

The classic poster image and below, a VHS box with a Munsters tie-in thing going on.

I found these images a long long time ago so I have no idea where I got them. If they are yours let me know and I'll give you credit.

27 August 2010

Evil Ed

Evil Ed
Sweden - 1995
Director Anders Jacobsson
A-Pix Entertainment. 1996, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 30 minutes

Hardcore gorror fans will be familiar with this self-aware Scandinavian movie that mocked the notion that violent films made audiences violent. This clever triple entendre is marred slightly by the cropped running time of this VHS version which is missing some 3 or 4 minutes of footage. Director Jacobssen directed this years Insane, a film I have yet to see, but here's a trailer for us to peruse:

Thanks to Bendkraft who posted this trailer at YouTube where he or she also posted some Evil Ed related interviews and whatnot. And thanks also to Shelby over at Illogical Contraption for presenting me with the vintage VHS tape.

23 August 2010

Night of the Sharks

Italy – 1988
Director – Tonino Ricci
Media Home Entertainment, 1990, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 27 minutes

Whether or not he intended it, writer/director Tonino Ricci managed to revive explicitly in Night of the Sharks many of the cinematic tropes that had become taboo yet implicit in popular Euro/American film by the time this was made. It immediately evokes an era when overt racial characterization was the norm, with ethnic characters that are so cartoonish that they seem to belong more in an American film of the 40’s or 50’s than of the late 80’s. It’s as if the practiced subtlety of Hollywood prejudice was profoundly lost in translation. Perhaps Ricci (who also co-wrote) thought that if he was just more blatant audiences would like it that much more. Because of a few moments of sloppy editing I get the impression this film was longer and gorier at one point but was cropped to retain what must have been perceived as the more appealing elements in a trimmed running time. At 87 minutes, a poor mix of action and intrigue steeped in crude racism barely warrants the title “Night of the Sharks”.

Life in the affluent U.S. is difficult. One must toil and toe the line to keep even a modicum of dignity and stability, and a lifetime of struggle rarely results in anything more than terminal averageness. That is why Latin America and the Caribbean are so appealing. It is untroubled by the modern complexities of civilization, making it desirable, nigh on imperative that Northerners take advantage. Domination isn’t a matter of intent then, it’s simply the natural state of things because those Others are in need of leadership and guidance. Of course, no matter how hard they try they can never quite achieve parity. It is a well worn assumption that the Global South is an impoverished and backwards fruit ripe for the gringo picking. If you want something or want to make something for yourself, Latin America is the place to go. It is escape and opportunity all in one. All of this is simply the backdrop however for Night of the Sharks' peculiar Italian take on the transnational cultural politics of the Americas.

The anonymous* locals in this case fit the bill perfectly. Lazy, shiftless men sit around waiting to fight gamble or drink, both at the slightest provocation. The local woman Juanita in particular is the idealized exotic subject, never quite acceptable in polite white society, but desirable and always, always available to satisfy the protagonists needs no questions asked. Dave (Treat Williams) likes to spend his time in a sleepy beach village drinking beer, sleeping with Juanita and laughing at the bufoonish antics of his buddy Paco (Antonio Fargas). Paco also serves as Dave’s foil, being both black and Latin (Panamanian to be exact) and dressed awkwardly to the nines in a baggy white suit. His is the quintessential “coon” character, cowardly, lazy and constantly pulling inept attempts at “refinement,” all which serve to reify Dave’s superior cultural status over and over again.

Dave’s reverie of self-satisfaction is soon wrecked by the arrival of a series of painful reminders of his former life. His brother James shows up from the States with a load of stolen diamonds and a bunch of hired goons trying to get them back. Shortly after James is killed leaving Dave with the diamonds, Dave's ex-wife Liz also shows up to to make things even more difficult. Liz repeatedly tries to deny Dave the expression of his masculine independence, something Juanita surely never did. However, she is reassuringly white and thus poses no threat. Juanita suddenly vanishes from the script, nowhere to be seen.

The remainder of the story are Dave's confrontations with these external reminders; quibbles with Liz, trying to keep Paco in line and one prolonged shootout with the goons sent to recover the diamonds. But the plot does actually feature a shark, the one-eyed “Cyclops” with whom Dave has a longstanding rivalry. Cyclops makes his presence felt in important if peripheral ways. Dave and Cyclops’ relationship is really more symbiotic than antagonistic to tell the truth because Cyclops never goes away and is never defeated. It is Dave’s lingering sense of identity and past, a perpetual threat of return to anonymity. Dave has tried to escape, and he won this battle, but no matter how easy his exile may be or how much he tries to justify it, it is always there waiting in the reef for another chance to bite him in the ass.

* NotS was filmed in the Dominican Republic

This gnarly screencap of Janet Agren's Liz getting recycled by Cyclops only lasts about .5 seconds on this VHS version so I think it was sloppily censored. I don't know what would make someone think that cheesy gunfights and Jim Crow should be left in instead. Maybe they knew their target audience better than I give them credit for.
 An amazing poster by prolific Italian artist Symeyoni, from Wrong Side of the Art

Poster that became the VHS box, this comes courtesy of Movie Poster Shop
. The artist's signature is "S. Dewey", but I cannot find anything else on or by this person. Any tips would be appreciated.

13 August 2010

Cabo Blanco

United States - 1980
Director - J. Lee Thompson

This is one Bronson film I haven't seen yet but J. Lee Thompson usually manages to do a decent job when they work together, which they did frequently. The poster is awesome. I love the two color scheme and the vertical format, it reminds me of this Tombs of the Blind Dead poster.


United States - 1976
Director - Sidney Lumet
MGM/UA Home Video, 1983, VHS

Obviously a well known movie since it won numerous Academy Awards, but I post it here as a nice example of the MGM/UA oversize VHS box from the early 80's. Although faded on the front and a little beat up, at least it wasn't cut down to fit a clamshell.

10 August 2010

I Got Happy

Thanks to Trash Film Addict and Breakfast In the Ruins for liking Lost Video Archive enough to award me with this thing. I do like cupcakes with sprinkles. (Are they vegan?)
I get the impression that I'm supposed to name ten things that I enjoy and pass the award on to ten other blogs. I'm not into listing anything except grievances so if you want explanations of any of these, ask. OK, here goes:

First Act:
Charles Bronson
Successful Art Projects
Green Chile
History Books
Banh Mi
Funky scotch
Fresh Fruit in my cereal.

Second Act:
Satan's Hope Chest
Japanese VHS Hell
Starlet Showcase
Breakfast In the Ruins (I picked him before I knew he had picked me)
Camp Movie Camp
Raro VHS
Crap Video Artwork
When the Vietnam War Raged in the Philippines
Kung Fu Fridays
Manchester Morgue

Now, go, See, DO!

09 August 2010

"New Releases" - Gorezone #2

Issue 2 of Gorezone appeared in July of 1988. It still comes across as a somewhat amateur publication with lots of nice pictures but even in it's second issue was beginning to cary some interesting features that were different from it's parent publication. I specifically selected these two articles for that reason. First is a short article on two "new releases", Jess Franco's Faceless and Juan Piquier Simon's Slugs:

Second is an article that was part of an ongoing series during the magazine's run. Here we have the special effects of Poltergeist III:

And finally, one of the reasons I like these old splatter magazines is that when looking through them, I always find a movie that I completely forgot about. Example, The Unholy:

06 August 2010

Special Features

Those of you unfamiliar with Illogical Contraption are in for a real treat, it is one of the most amazingly retarded geysers of intellectual circularity I have ever seen. (Those of you familiar with it are always in for a treat) I am lucky enough to have the esteemed privilege of contributing to said discourse now and again.

This last Monday while you were all reading about Richard Harrison HERE at LVA, over at IllCon they were reading my heady witticisms regarding the band The Clowns from the Don Edmonds craptacular classic Terror On Tour. As I'm sure your aware, I've written about the entire crappy movie HERE, but the piece at Illogical Contraption, titled The Hidden Agenda Behind Rock n' Roll, is a whole new level of stupid. Check it out, and find some good music over there while you're at it.

 For those of you that witnessed Raculfright 13's instant victory in our first ever Lunchmeat missing title contest (HERE), and for those of you who didn't here is the cover scan with the title intact courtesy of Josh at Lunchmeat Magazine:

Yakuza Graveyard

A.K.A. - Yakuza Burial: Jasmine Flower
1976 - Japan
Director - Kinji Fukasaku
Starring - Tetsuya Watari

Easily one of my favorite films of the last five years, I love this movie and love the poster just as much if not more. So much in fact that I made a t-shirt out of it. Director Fukasaku also directed another movie you might know better, Battle Royale. A far better film however is his series Yakuza Papers (link takes you to episode 1 of 5) which has the absolute best theme music I have ever heard for a television series.

02 August 2010

Revenge of the Godfather

Original Title: L’amico del padrino (The Godfather’s Friend)
Italy – 1972
Director – Frank Agrama
Saturn Productions Incorporated Video, 1988, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 27 minutes

I am always amazed at the proliferance of the Vietnam Veteran stereotype. Popular mythology about Vietnam pointed to its uniquely extreme juxtaposition of decadence and violence that left its U.S. victims socially scrambled. Hence, they return to the world but are unable to fit in, and use their military skills to perform extralegal jobs, as Richard, the former chemical warfare specialist does when he uses “heart attack gas” to whack the Godfather’s enemies. In the case of Revenge of the Godfather however, it is merely a passing point of interest in a story that really revolves around two war buddies who went separate ways after the ‘Nam. Like many Italian movies, the difference between their moral poles is somewhat ambiguous in Revenge of the Godfather. See, Antonio and Richard (Richard Harrison) may have gone different directions on the path of good and evil, but they’re both womanizing hitmen working for the mafia.

Richard is haunted by the memory of a childhood birthday party in which several hitmen burst into his home in the middle of the birthday song, and murdered his sister and mother. He still dislikes his job, but uses it merely as an opportunity to track down his family’s killers, thus making his murders righteous. His old buddy Antonio is just the opposite, using his ‘Nam skills for self enrichment. He relishes his job and dresses, speaks and acts in an uncouth manner, is unshaven and constantly patronizes Richard. Let’s be perfectly honest here, there was no question that Richard Harrison was the good guy the moment he walked on screen, but this film is directed by auteur of incoherence Frank Agrama, the guy who brought us such classics as Dawn of the Mummy. Agrama’s aversion to coherence makes it difficult to verify any plot thread for certain. It was only with the addition of two women that differences besides fashion sense became apparent between Richard and Antonio.

Layla is younger and more attractive but also needy and Richard gives her the boot for being too demanding and clingy. Jenny (Erika Blanc) however is more calculating and  more loyal, and with some trepidation she accepts his cold reserved attitude. Antonio immediately uses Layla, but rejects her demands for reciprocation. By the end of the movie she returns to Richard, where though marginalized, she at least feels safe. Eventually in the final scenes she is killed outright helping Richard during a firefight with his former employer’s men. Richard’s emotional distance and secretiveness are crucial to his identity, and Jenny's acceptance of this mark her as the proper woman, subordinate to the male need for freedom of action and from explanation.

Richard never tells anyone what his motivations really are (we only know because of some confusing flashback scenes) and whether or not this is intentional, or due to another careless transfer from Saturn Video, it works hand-in-glove with Agrama’s narrative minimalism. Inserting the Vietnam reference is an easy way to “explain” a lot of shit without having to explore it, and it gets Agrama off the hook in a sense. Not Richard. The Italian sensibility is rather less wedded to the notion of righteousness and moral redemption than your usual Hollywood fare, and though the signs may point to our hero having the moral high-ground, that doesn’t guarantee him a sunset to ride off into.