Thursday, November 26, 2009

Introducing - The ASP BAN VENT Rating System!

I have decided to revamp my rating system, after much deliberation. I felt restricted by the option of only 5 possible ratings. I devised a new ratings system called The ASP BAN VENT rating system. Basically this highly complex system involves lots of algebraic equations, geometrical angles, dodecahedrons, smegma and a merkin or two. So in laymen's terms, it's just a scale of 1-10 instead of 1-5. Very complicated, I know. But I have given each number a describer. Here is a breakdown of the list:

1 - Air Biscuit
2 - Sucked
3 - Pretty Bad
4 - Below Average
5 - Average
6 - Not Terrible
7 - Very Good
8 - Excellent
9 - Near Perfect
10 - The Shit

PS - if you're wondering where the name ASP BAN VENT came from, it's an acronym and it should be pretty easy to figure out if you study my describer chart.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

High Crime (1973, Enzo G. Castellari)

Here we have another Italian Crime film, though this one is extra special, for a few reasons. High Crime was one of the first Italian Crime films and its success was a huge catalyst for the many films that followed in the genre. Also it had the first pairing of director Enzo G. Castellari and Italian sensation Franco Nero, who ended up making six films together. Lastly, is Franco Nero himself, whose look in this film is that of perfection for the genre. His thick accent, over the top (in a good way) performance and stunning good looks. Hey, I am not too insecure to admit when a member of the same sex is a ladykiller. Nero just exudes a certain type of charisma and machismo here that is unrivaled.

Nero plays Vice Commisioner Belli who barely escapes the car bombing of a drug smuggler he has just captured. He goes to Cafiero (Fernando Rey), an ex crime boss, to see if he knows who may have been to blame for the murder. Meanwhile, as more trouble arises, Belli convinces Commissioner Scavino (James Whitmore) to turn over a file they have collected on the mafia but is killed and Belli takes his place. With this new found responsibility, Cafiero warns Belli that he and his family are in great danger.

High Crime, or The Marseilles Connection as is displayed on the screen in the opening credits, is a real treat. It is a very well thought out, exciting political caper that has a lot more to it than many of the later polizioteschi films. The first time I watched this I was very confused and a little bored but the second time I really enjoyed it. This is probably one of Nero's best roles and the supporting cast was great as well. There is a car chase in this film that is one of the best I've ever seen too. Though the story can get confusing at times, it is well developed and intelligent. If only this one (like many of Umberto Lenzi's eurocrime films) would get a good release, we'd be all set.

RATING: 8/10

Monday, November 23, 2009

Where the Day Takes You (1992, Marc Rocco)


Did you ever watch a movie when you were younger and have it stay with you in your subconscious without ever really coming to the forefront? Where the Day Takes You is a perfect example of this for me. I saw this film right when it came out on video in either '92 or '93. My sister would rent any new release that came out and usually I'd stop and watch for a few minutes and then carry on with my life. This film however I knew I wanted to watch from start to finish because a) it was rated R and I was only 12 and b) its cast consisted of all of my favorite teen actors growing up. Sean Astin from Goonies! My first love Alyssa Milano! Balthazar Getty from Lord of the Flies and Young Guns II! Ricki Lake from Hairspray! Hell, it even had The Fresh Prince! No way was I going to miss this one.

Where the Day Takes You follows King (Dermot Mulroney), a homeless twenty something in California who was just released from jail. In between interview sessions with a shrink (where he is paid $10 a pop), he lives with a group of homeless runaways he calls "his family". There's Little J (Balthazar Getty), a young runaway whose mouth gets him into a lot of trouble, Crasher (James Le Gros) who wants to leave and move to Texas and Greg (Sean Astin), a drug addict who means well but can't get control of his addictions. Brenda (Ricki Lake), another runaway introduces "the family" to Heather (Lara Flynn Boyle), who just ran away from Chicago. King and Heather start to have feelings for each other but after one of the family kills a local pimp, can they survive out on the streets with the cops after them?

If someone asked me to name a movie that really haunted me when I was younger, above all other films (well maybe not Pet Sematary), I would have to choose this film. The whole story of young runaways living day to day, panhandling, selling themselves, taking drugs, shooting each other, etc. Not a very uplifting movie. When you're 12 years old, it can be downright traumatizing. I escaped unscathed for the most part, though like I said before, there are scenes in this movie that have stuck with me and that I'll never forget. The one that instantly pops into my head is when Sean Astin's character wakes up in a pile of his own barf after shooting up. He then finishes out the movie with yack smeared all over the side of his face. Bleck! The other very vivid memory I had of the film was Will Smith (in his first film role) as a legless, homeless youth. There were some things about the film I forgot about until watching it again, the most prominent was the use of Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth, which fit the film perfectly. Overall this film is very realistic, gritty, scary, sad and brilliant. How they got such a great cast I will never know, but it made the movie. Everyone here plays their own down and out character perfectly. The film's urban cinematography couldn't have captured city life better and even Melissa Etheridge's songs were a good fit for the film. I highly recommend this film but it's not a happy movie. If any of you viewer's have even a fraction of the impact I had from this film then you'll understand.

TRIVIA - This film stars no less than 3 actors from the Young Guns series - Dermot Mulroney, Balthazar Getty and Christian Slater (who has a cameo here as a Social Worker).

RATING: 5/5

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rome Armed to the Teeth (1976, Umberto Lenzi)


I love Italian crime films. They are some of the most brutal, action-packed, violent (not to mention misogynistic) films you will find. Though I'm not a huge fan of misogyny, when used carefully it helps the audience understand the character better - whether it's the villain or the cop! Rome Armed to the Teeth is a perfect example of this Italian crime genre and Maurizio Merli's Leonardo Tanzi the quintessential tough cop. He will do anything to get the bad guy...I mean anything!

A gang of young crooks are out terrorizing the citizens of Rome. Inspector Leonardo Tanzi (Maurizio Merli) is outraged when two of the crooks he catches are let go, partially because of his psychologist girlfriend who thinks that the young criminals are just misunderstood. After getting a lead that Vincenzo Moretto aka The Hunchback (Tomas Milian) is a key suspect in the current crime wave, Tanzi plants drugs in his car to bring him in for questioning. Moretto is let go and Tanzi is moved from the streets to desk duty. Of course Tanzi is no quitter and keeps a low profile while continuing to kick all kinds of criminal ass.

Rome Armed to the Teeth is one of my favorite Italian crime films. It really does have everything that makes the genre so great. Merli is perfect as the brutal Tanzi, taking no shit from anyone, even mouthing off to his boss (I don't recommend this, BTW). He kicks people in the balls, smashes their heads in pinball machines and does this thing where he slaps people with the force of a punch. It's amazing. Tomas Milian is also perfect here in one of his best roles as 'Il Gobbo' (Italian for Hunchback). Milian has played some brutal characters but here he is comical, brutal, disgusting and scary. The scene where he explains how he retrieved a bullet from his crap after Tanzi forces him to swallow it is something else. Anyway, I highly recommend this film.

Pssst....Grindhouse Releasing......when the fuck are you going to release this already? You've had a trailer (under the title The Tough Ones) floating around for like a million years.

RATING: 5/5

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993, William Lustig)


Hey, when you've got a good thing going, why stop? That's exactly what happened with Maniac Cop 3, Larry Cohen and William Lustig's third film about the undead Matt Cordell aka Maniac Cop. Robert Davi is also back as Detective Sean McKinney. Can this sequel hold up to the first two?

Matt Cordell, the Maniac Cop, is back from the grave. How you ask? Voodoo courtesy of Houngan (Julius Harris), duh! This time, after female cop Kate Sullivan (Gretchen Becker) is put in a coma after a shootout where she is wrongly accused of shooting a criminal in cold blood. The criminal, Frank Jessup (Jackie Earle Haley) is made out to be innocent and attempts a breakout with the help of Cordell. Unbeknownst to Jessup, the Maniac Cop is more interested in Kate Sullivan, as he kidnaps her some mysterious reason. Det. Sean McKinney is back to stop the Maniac Cop once and for all.

Surprisingly Maniac Cop 3 holds up very well to the first two films. A great cast (including one of my faves Jackie Earle Haley), a great story and more jaw dropping action make this a real winner. The voodoo angle may sound silly but it doesn't detract from the film and Julius Harris is always fun to watch.

RATING: 4/5

Starmummy needs help






I feel guilty posting this but I'm a little desperate. I was wondering if any one out there would be willing to burn me copies of Roger Watkins' Last House on Dead End Street (Barrel 2 disc) and/or Nico Mastorakis' Island of Death (Image Entertainment). I would be more than happy to reciprocate with burns of anything from my collection. Feel free to email me at starmummy@gmail.com

Thanx

Maniac Cop 2 (1990, William Lustig)


I've heard a lot about Maniac Cop 2 over the years. One of the things that I had heard was that it was better than the original, something almost unheard of when you're talking about sequels. Though not an easy movie to find, I was finally able to watch Maniac Cop 2 on Netflix streaming, a very nice resource. So is it better than the first?

Maniac Cop 2 brings Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar) back from the grave (though the end of the first showed he wasn't really dead). This time, the maniac cop is like an inhuman killing machine, helping out bad guys and killing cops. After disposing of Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) from the first film, Cordell befriends a serial killer named Turkell who is living underground. When Turkell is captured by the police, Cordell breaks him out and then they head to Sing Sing for a jailbreak. On their trail is Det. Sean McKinney (Robert Davi), who may have the key to stopping the maniac cop.

Maniac Cop 2 is a very impressive sequel. Technically it is probably a better film than the first, but there are things about the first that are missing here (mainly Tom Atkins). Instead what we have here is an excellent action flick with lots of great stunt work and a police station shootout that rivals The Terminator. The acting here is great and the story comes together nicely.

RATING: 4/5

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Maniac Cop (1988, William Lustig)


Maniac Cop is hard to classify. Is it a horror film, like most would expect? Well, I guess. It's also an action film. I really don't know. I guess more than anything, it's a cult film. One of those films that fits many categories and takes some time to find it's audience. Maniac Cop has been on my movie watching back burner for quite awhile and finally made it's way onto my laptop screen thanks to a free trial of Netflix. The main reasons I wanted to see this film is because of those involved with making the film. I am a big fan of Tom Atkins and Bruce Campbell, as well as William Lustig, who helmed the similarly titled (though vastly different in almost every other way) masterpiece Maniac. Plus the film was written by Larry Cohen, who himself is enough of a reason for me to watch a film.

Maniac Cop takes place in NYC where someone in a police uniform starts randomly killing off innocent people. At first the cops believe it is someone impersonating a police officer. Until the wife of policeman Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) is found dead in a hotel room that he booked, making Jack the number one suspect. Lt. Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) investigates and finds out Jack is innocent and the killer is another cop who was framed and supposedly dead. It is up to McCrae and Forrest to get the cops to believe them before the Maniac Cop strikes again.

Maniac Cop is a fun movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. Like I mentioned before, it fits into a few different genres and does a good job mixing them. The stunt work is top notch, especially for a low budget horror film, which makes it stand out from the crowd. The cast is really why I liked this movie though. Atkins and Campbell have great chemistry and it is a joy seeing them together in this film. The other cast is fun too - Richard (Shaft) Roundtree, William Smith, Laurene Landon and even a cameo from Sam Raimi. Overall, one thing I can say is that this film was pretty simple and straightforward, which actually works here really well. They didn't try to bog down the story with too many sub plots or unnecessary characters.

RATING: 4/5



Take a bite out of N3TFL1X

Some of you may or may not have noticed my slight absence from the blogosphere. Well, a lot has been going on. I actually haven't watched too many movies since November started. I'll admit that my October film fest drained the life out of me. Don't fret though because I have been watching a few movies here and there and will continue to do so. One thing that has been taking up some of my time was a free 2 week trial of an online DVD rental company (I forget the name). I tried to take full advantage of this unbeatable offer and think that I accomplished my quest. I found some hard to find titles as well as ones I'd been looking for and just never got around to checking out. Plus, they have movies you can stream online, which was a nice feature. Anyway, here is what I scored:

Bone (Larry Cohen film)
The One and Only (70's Henry Winkler wrestling comedy)
Milano Rovente (Umberto Lenzi Eurocrime with Antonio Sabato)
Gambling City (Sergio Martino Eurocrime with Luc Merenda)
What Have You Done to Solange? (Giallo with Fabio Testi)
1990: Bronx Warriors (post apocalyptic Enzo Castellari action film)
Trancers (sci fi film with Tim Thomerson as 'Jack Deth')
2019: After the Fall of New York (post apocalyptic Sergio Martino action film)
The Intruder (Scott Spiegel slasher - not the Corman/Shatner one)
The Ripper (Tom Savini as the ghost of Jack the Ripper)
Beyond the Darkness (Joe D'Amato's Necrophelia horror film)
Seven Blood Stained Orchids (Umberto Lenzi Giallo)

Streamed online:

Maniac Cop
Maniac Cop 2
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence
God Told Me To (Larry Cohen film)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

31 Horror Movies for October Challenge


Now that October and Halloween are officially over, you're probably wondering if I accomplished my goal to watch 31 Horror movies? Well folks, Starmummy here did in fact accomplish his goal. I actually watched 34 Horror movies in October. How do you like them (candy) apples?

Here's the list:

10/1
Island of the Fishmen

10/2
Exorcism

10/3
Lisa and the Devil
The Antichrist

10/4
House of Exorcism
Exorcist 2: The Heretic

10/5
Exorcist III: Legion

10/6
Trick 'r Treat

10/8
Hills Run Red

10/10
Saw
Saw 2

10/11
Saw 3
[REC]

10/12
Saw 4

10/13
Martyrs

10/14
Saw 5

10/15
Happy Birthday to Me

10/16
At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul
Tourist Trap

10/17
Roadgames
Pit and the Pendulum

10/18
He Knows You're Alone
The Funhouse

10/19
Night of the Creeps

10/20
Fade to Black

10/21
Halloween III: Season of the Witch

10/22
House of 1000 Corpses

10/23
Saw 6

10/24
Creepshow

10/25
Halloween H20

10/27
Sleepy Hollow
Hell Night

10/28
Re-Animator

10/31
Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead (1978, George A. Romero)

What can I say that hasn't been said before? Anyone who knows anything about Zombie movies knows and loves Dawn of the Dead. I'll start out by saying that anyone who utters the phrase (or any variation of) "The Dawn of the Dead remake is better than the original" should receive a taser gun zap to the balls. No disrespect to Zach Snyder's re-imaging since it was much better than most remakes for a handful of reasons. But still, the original is untouchable. I watched this film back when I was in high school and it changed my life. It instantly became a favorite and will always be. I actually watched this for the first time during the same week long school vacation that I watched Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Evil Dead and Dead Alive, all for the first time. Definitely one of the greatest and most important weeks of my life.

The world is over run by zombies. Everywhere you go, you run the risk of being killed and devoured or being bitten and becoming a zombie yourself. Two SWAT team members, Peter (Ken Foree) and Roger (Scott H. Reiniger) meet up with Stephen (David Emge), a news helicopter pilot, and his girlfriend Fran (Gaylen Ross) who decide to steal a news chopper and escape from the madness. They aren't sure where they're going and run into many close calls when stopping for gas. They eventually see a large shopping mall and decide to stop and see what it can offer them. The group end up settling in the mall for the time being, creating a perfect utopia. Until their secret hideaway is disrupted...

Upon my most recent watch (probably time number 20 or so), my thoughts on Dawn of the Dead haven't changed. I think I may actually say with 100% certainty that Dawn of the Dead is my favorite movie of all time. Everything about it is great. The characters are some of the best dreamed up for any film, horror or otherwise. The special makeup effects, courtesy of Tom Savini, who also acted and did stunt work in the film, is unbelievably groundbreaking. I remember one of the key Zombie attack scenes towards the end of the film was like nothing I had ever seen before. It hooked (and nauseated) me instantly and sent me on a search for something as good or greater (which I am now convinced doesn't exist). The camera work, actors, the Mall setting... just about everything in this movie is impeccable. Go do yourself a favor and buy the 4 disc Anchor Bay Ultimate Edition and enjoy!

RATING: 5/5