Thursday, April 19, 2007


Ultra-prolific sleaze merchant Jess Franco has made films for decades under 30 or 40 different names, I've seen several of them, and I can't say that I'm a huge fan. His stuff is a bit too slow-moving and arty for my MTV-ized sensibilities, but one thing I can say for sure: his choice to cast Lina Romay in so many of his films was genius. Because Lina Romay is beautiful.

In 1973's FEMALE VAMPIRE, Romay plays the title character. This flick has been released under many different titles (including EROTIKILL and BARE BREASTED COUNTESS) with varying degrees of sex and violence. The version I saw contained countless scenes of Romay walking around wearing nothing but her vampire cape, black belt and boots. There were also several scenes where she's writhing in bed humping a pillow or whatever, complete with Franco's camera repeatedly zooming into her crotch. It's definitely not something I understood or was particularly entertained by, but Romay makes it all worthwhile.

It should be noted that the cover image of Romay with blood dripping from her mouth (the same one that adorns Andy Black's NECRONOMICON II) doesn't appear in this cut of the film. In the DVD extras there are scenes from the EROTIKILL version, and that's where you'll find it. I can't remember seeing a drop of blood in FEMALE VAMPIRE. But it has Lina Romay. You get what I'm saying?

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Before more well-known cult revenge films I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and MS. 45 there was 1974's Swedish exploitation classic THRILLER (also known as THEY CALL HER ONE EYE and HOOKER'S REVENGE). Although it's not near as interesting to watch as later entries of its ilk, it does have some really great moments of slow-motion kills and surprising gore. The plot is simple: a girl named Madeleine (Christina Lindberg) misses the bus to school and accepts a ride from a stranger. A stranger who uses heroin to turn her into a hooker. Soon as she manages to escape, she finds both her parents have died, and thus begins training for her rampage of vengeance. You can imagine how the rest of this plays out.

What really made THRILLER stand out for me were two key elements: the inclusion of harcore penetration shots in the sex scenes (very obviously added later, the walls in the room change color from shot to shot) and the close-up of a pimp's scalpel going into a hooker's eyeball. It looks real because it IS real! Lindberg revealed in a recent interview that an actual corpse of a suicide victim was used for the shot. Man they have some really f'd up laws in Sweden. Or someone was a huge movie buff. Anyway, the limited edition DVD from Synapse Films shown above clocks in at 107 minutes and has all the sex and violence. The "Vengeance Edition" shown below runs 104 minutes and only has the bloody stuff. The limited edition had a great collection of trailers for the movie, not sure if they're on the other disc or not.

For anyone wondering what a "grindhouse" movie is, this is the genuine article.

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Monday, April 09, 2007


What's with angry whiteboys making camcorder horror films? Filmmaker Chris Garetano put together this excellent documentary profiling a small handful of caucasian auteurs (including AMERICAN MOVIE's Mark Borchardt) showing clips from their films and explaining why they do what they do, peppered with commentary by well-known cult film figures H.G. Lewis, Joe Bob Briggs, Lloyd Kaufman and Sid Haig, all of whom offer very useful insight about the world of low-budget horror (some of which seems to go against the asthetic of up-and-coming directors interviewed in the doc).

I found it a bit strange that the Hollywood many of the featured filmmakers are speaking ill about is currently producing gory, torture-filled bloodbaths that are just as extreme in many cases as the stuff they themselves are struggling to produce. Horror isn't what it was 5 or 10 years ago, and the kind of depravity you used to look to the underground for is now showcased at the local multiplex. Coupled with the fact that so many kids now have access to digital cameras and editing software, I was left wondering just how these guys plan on surviving in an increasingly flooded marketplace. The high point of HORROR BUSINESS for me was getting to see Ron Atkins, director of SCHIZOPHRENIAC: THE WHORE MANGLER (still one of the craziest indies ever made) and the guy who played the psycho in that film. Garetano also displays considerable skills as an editor; this thing flows extremely well and is just as high-quality as anything you'd see on IFC.

Joe Bob Briggs and H.G. Lewis offer the greatest words of wisdom in this movie. Briggs notes that the worst movies are made by people who are merely copying their heroes, (I can attest to this) while Lewis reminds us the bottom line is entertaining your audience. There's a reason why people still love to watch BLOOD FEAST; it knows exactly what it is and delivers the goods in an up-front, unpretentious way. Sounds a bit more like Hollywood cheese and less like art to me.


Third in a seemingly ongoing series of boobie-movies shot in the same house, H.R. Blueberry's THE BREASTFORD WIVES will look very familiar to those who have seen his previous flicks THE WITCHES OF BREASTWICK and LUST CONNECTION (said house also looks to be the same one 2003's CHEERLEADER MASSACRE was filmed in as well). While advertised as something of a spoof on STEPFORD WIVES, this movie is much closer to cable porn and only features one or two jokes. However, if you are looking for quality softcore tomfoolery, you'll feel like you hit the lotto if you catch this one on Skinemax. Husband and wife (Glori Ann Gilbert) show up in new neighborhood. Neighborhood is filled with nymphos. Guy does it with everybody except the other guy in the movie (a scientist who somehow created the nymphos).

The always likeable Gilbert (from LUST CONNECTION, VAMPS 2) leads a supporting cast that includes longtime Gonzoriffic favorite Julie K. Smith (BARE WENCH PROJECT, DALLAS CONNECTION) and a couple of hardcore porn stars, one of whom has a giant letter F tattooed on her crotch. Perhaps she's a Seame Street fan, I can't be sure. Gilbert and Smith turn in energetic, interesting performances as always, saving this movie from being just another tittyfest. The cast do it in the same wooded area, jacuzzi tub and hot tub where they do it in LUST CONNECTION and BREASTWICK. There's a lot of funny dialog but I don't think it was intentional. This movie plays more like porno than anything else Blueberry has made so far.


Next month Todd Solondz will begin shooting LIFE DURING WARTIME, a sequel of sorts to his cult classic HAPPINESS. I couldn't be more excited. Solondz, without copying him, has become the closest thing to John Waters since John Waters. In THIS FILTHY WORLD Waters tells the audience Solondz is one of his favorite new filmmakers, so there you go. I'm right.

After HAPPINESS and the overdone misstep that was STORYTELLING, Wellspring Entertainment quietly released PALINDROMES, which ties in with Solondz' first feature WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE and then goes off in a completely freaky direction only to return at the end to its suburban scum roots. It's the story of Aviva, a juvenile female whose desire to become a mother leads her on something of an adventure though seedy motels, bizarre halfway houses and even a graphic pro-life shooting. All the while, Solondz makes the interesting choice of having Aviva played by a variety of actors. And when I say variety, I mean they range from children to teens to adults, black to white, dressed in the same wardrobe. It's one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Seriously. It's less outwardly comedic than the other Solondz flicks, but only because the jokes when they happen are really dark and not always punctuated by a smash edit that lets you know you are supposed to have laughed.

PALINDROMES is nothing short of a masterwork by one of today's most consistently interesting and genuinely shocking filmmakers. Highly recommended if you can goddamn find it. One thing that never seems to change about the truly great stuff: they bury it.


I reviewed both previous entries in this series over at the old site, but this 2001 production somehow got by me till now. I saw it in the "erotic" section at my local video shop on VHS right near the Playboy and Girls Gone Wild stuff. No wonder I never saw it.

Not much new here but if you like boobies, particularly those of Julie K Smith, this is the film for you. The setup, events and humor are exactly the same as the other 2 movies: a group of bikini models with an aversion to keeping their tops on venture into the woods searching for the legendary Bare Wench, along the way abusing and amusing Lunk (Lenny Juliano), their pack mule. The original film's Julie K Smith is back, this time as "Zoe", leading the expedition in breast size and Wench-hunting know-how, and she's joined by her SURVIVORS EXPOSED (aka BARENAKED SURVIVOR) castmate Shauna O' Brien and some others I didn't recognize. Nikki Fritz and Julie Strain both make great cameos, as does the late Andy Sidairs returning as shopkeeper Richard "Dick" Bigdickian.

This is the kind of fun stuff you don't see near enough of these days. Sure they keep makingthe same movie over and over, but if it's a good movie you won't have any complaints from me. Keep Smith as close to the camera as often as possible and they can make a hundered of these. According to IMDB, this one was followed by BARE WENCH PROJECT: UNCENSORED in 2003 and BARE WENCH: THE FINAL CHAPTER in 2005. If anyone knows where I can get these, leave a comment.