Monday, November 06, 2006


I was in 6th grade when HOUSE PARTY came out. I remember you didn't have shit to talk about Monday morning if you hadn't gone to see it, and luckily I had. So what was everyone raving about? Robin Harris as Kid's bug-eyed father, spouting now-classic lines like, "test tube baby" and "I'm from a town called fresh off a cops' ass, yall making me homesick!" Only those who stayed for the credits found out the film was dedicated to Robin, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack before the film was released. He was only 36. I was stunned because I'd never heard of the guy, and he was incredible and memorable. Luckily, Robin had completed work in more films like I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA, DO THE RIGHT THING, HARLEM NIGHTS and MO' BETTER BLUES in a short period of time prior to his passing, but the world would forever be deprived of an outstanding talent and presence who was very much just getting started.

WE DON'T DIE, WE MULTIPLY: THE ROBIN HARRIS STORY takes its name from one of Robin's signature routines, "Bebe's Kids" and is full of never-before-seen footage or Robin's standup act, as well as most of the material from his HBO ONE NIGHT STAND taped the year of his death. Friends, family and fans talk at length about Robin's history and how he became a comic, and his struggles to get noticed on the scene. Among the interview subjects are well-known celebs like Bernice Mac (a personal favorite of mine), Martin Lawrence, Cedric "The Entertainer", Joe Torry, Robert Townsend and DL Hughley as well as several close friends and family memebers, including Robin's teenage son (who was still in the womb when Robin was found dead in a hotel room the morning after a historic performance in his hometown of Chicago). The discussion remains light, funny, and with the utmost respect for its subject, cutting frequently to either standup footage of Robin or a lo-quality videotaped interview conducted the day before his death.

Subtitles are thankfully provided for a lot of the performances as the audio quality is understandably poor, but what is crystal clear throughout is Robin's singularity as one of the most unique comedians in history. The DVD allows you to view the standup performances in their entirety as a special feature, and the subtitles are still included there to allow us to get the full effect. I grabbed this DVD the moment I saw it, absolutely elated that Robin's memory was going to remain relevant and reach a new generation of fans via this documentary. If you think you know all about the "original kings of comedy", you better make sure the name Robin Harris is something you're familiar with. He definitely is one of them.


I don't have Bravo or IFC so I didn't see the PROJECT GREENLIGHT series that documented the production of FEAST, and unfortunately it didn't end up being included anywhere on this disc either. Not sure if there was some kind of problem, or they wanted the film to stand on its own, or perhaps they thought the audience's perception of the film would change if they saw all of what went into making it, but luckily we at least get a few extras (including commentary by the director and behind-the-scenes) that place this at least a little bit above your average dumped-to-video horror film.

FEAST isn't as pedal-to-the-metal as the flicks it is obviously influenced by (FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, DEAD ALIVE and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD), but it's an excellent horror movie filled with tons of over the top gore and creature effects that will surprise you at times with just how gross things get. I'd put it above average in terms of shocks and humor for such a major release, especially since the trend these days is towards torture-horror like HOSTEL. Famous faces like Balthazar Getty, Jason Mewes, Henry Rollins (in pink sweatpants!) and Judah Friedlander are present along with cult favorites Duane Whitaker and Clu Gulager (whose foul mouth one-ups his classic character "Burt" from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD), but the female cast is truly outstanding and have the most interesting roles. Ravi Nawat and Krista Allen, who are mainly TV actors, are given the hero roles while most of the men are either idiots or pussies! I support that.

While at times this movie is choked by over-stylization and an all-too-obvious need to do what the audience isn't expecting, I loved the steady tempo and the old-school practical makeup fx/gore by Gary J. Tuncliffe (HELLRAISER, MIMIC, WISHMASTER and CANDYMAN vet) that coats basically every frame of this movie with slime or maggots or blood or monster sperm. That's right, monster sperm. But the best part of all, being that I'm a huge fan of the original RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, was the ever-presence of Clu Gulager. His son John directed FEAST and wisely put dad in a major role and let him do what he does best. I recommend this to fans of ROTLD if nothing else, just to see the man in action again.


Cult film fans will probably know the late Rene Bond from her roles in films like Ed Wood's NECROMANIA or the classic girl gang film FIVE LOOSE WOMEN, but the majority of her acting jobs were in 1970s pornos like CHIC '69. After Hours Cinema has found and restored this movie and released it along with a 2nd disc full of sex loops featuring Bond. Noted as one of the very first porn stars to get breast implants, she did CHIC '69 prior to her surgery, but some of the loops on disc 2 were obviously made after. This is all XXX stuff and the quality varies from the grain and scratches you'd expect from such an old source to, in the case of some of the loops, blurry and almost too difficult to tell what's going on. Regardless, this is a must-have for completists and collectors of vintage adult flicks, because Renee Bond was most certainly one of the earliest queens of the scene, and was quite gifted as a comic actor as well as doing the deed. According to my research, she appeared in around 300 films and loops, so perhaps there'll be more of these in the future. It's another top-notch presentation from After Hours which includes a handy booklet of photos and liner notes inside.