Sunday, November 28, 2010

Looking for an Extreme Gore Video Mixtape?

Look no further.  Sodomatik Mixtapes feature the nastiest of the nasty.  The gruesomest of the gruesome.  The slimiest of the slimy.  Here's a little synopsis from their site:

Sodomatik Vol 1, the first tape from the Sodomatik video mixtape series, features the most graphic horror and exploitation video clips. It clips the most obscure of splatter and gore movies.  Vol 2 of the Sodomatik series picks up right where vol 1 left off. The tape is just as violent and shocking. It's still in production, so the final tape has not been released yet, and it will not be released for another month at least.

You can download samples and view previews on their site.  For you extreme gore fans - this ones for you!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mondo Cane 2 (1963, Gualtiero Jacopetti/Franco Prosperi)

After virtually creating the Mondo genre of films with 1962's Mondo Cane, the film makers quickly brought us two more similar films the following year - Women of the World and Mondo Cane 2 (aka Mondo Pazzo or "Crazy World").  Mondo Cane and Women of the World were wonderful documentaries filled with exotic locations, beautiful music, lush cinematography as well as bizarre rituals and practices from many different cultures.  It could be said that Mondo Cane 2 fits this description as well but it seems that the film maker's intent was different.  Read on.

Mondo Cane 2, like it's predecessor, is basically a documentary showing strange and sometimes shocking images from around the world.  It seems though that the notoriety gained by a few scenes in Mondo Cane was enough for Jacopetti and Prosperi (not sure what happened to Cavara) to cut out more of the fascinating and light hearted subject matter of the original and focus on the sick and twisted.  Among some of the segments included are a bunch of guys using their heads (literally) to knock down a metal door, a Monk who sets himself on fire in protest of the Vietnam war, a mortician school, and a horrific view of child slaves who have been forced to wear cruel devices to permanently deform them.

Mondo Cane 2 was a big disappointment compared to Mondo Cane and Women of the World.  Basically everything I loved about those films was gone (save for some great cinematography and exotic locations) and all the elements I didn't like were intensified and became the focus of the Mondo Cane 2.  Though not a fan of seeing real life horrors on screen (I prefer scary, gory and most importantly, FAKE), I was still curious about the Mondo genre and was willing to see what the fuss was all about.  I saw the first Faces of Death film a long time ago and some other similar real (or supposedly real) footage and thought I'd start from the beginning.  After seeing Mondo Cane and Women of the World, I was so pleasantly surprised that Mondo Cane 2 became even more of a disappointment.  Not only were there more shocking, sickening scenes but there were also faked or staged scenes.  Other vignettes in the film were just completely pointless or stupid (a bunch of people spitting paint on a canvas comes to mind).  So other than a few beautifully shot or interesting scenes, Mondo Cane 2 was a pointless disappointment.

RATING:  3/10

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monkey Hu$tle (1976, Arthur Marks)

Some of you might recall when I participated in Blair Week, a collaboration with several other fine film sites to celebrate the works of Linda Blair.  Well the time is here again only now the spotlight is on the brilliant and criminally underrated Yaphet Kotto.  Known to most people as either Parker from Alien, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's opponents in The Running Man or Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big from the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die, Mr. Kotto has an extensive filmography that spans over 40 years.  From Larry Cohen's controversial directorial debut Bone to the gritty police drama Across 110th Street to the dramedy Blue Collar with Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor, Yaphet Kotto has done it all (he even did a film with Larry the Cable Guy...but we'll leave that one out).  Kotto was also in several classic blaxploitation films including Friday Foster, Truck Turner and ....

 Monkey Hu$tle stars Yaphet Kotto as Daddy Foxx, the slyest, hippest and wisest "flim flam" scam artist around.  A young drummer Win (Randy Brooks) comes back to his hometown, out of work and pissed off that his little brother is working for Daddy Foxx.  Two of Win's friends, Player (Thomas Carter) and Tiny (Donn Harper), convince Win to work for Daddy Foxx too and he reluctantly agrees out of desperation.  The rest of the film mainly follows the scams Foxx's team pulls and the other teenage hijinx the kids get themselves into.  The last 10 minutes of the film expose an actual plot not prevalent in the rest of the film.

Based on that last sentence I'm sure you are a little confused.  Looking back at the film, there really wasn't much of a plot to Monkey Hu$tle until the very end.  To be honest, it didn't matter for me because the film was enjoyable enough without a plot.  Fine performances, likable characters, humor and some action make this film a winning blaxploitation story with heart.  Of course Yaphet Kotto is the main character and basically carries the film with his abundance of charisma.  Rudy Ray Moore (Dolemite) also stars as a big time hustler (and/or pimp - it doesn't really say what he is).  The young cast are all great and the scenes involving the bumbling cop and one of the character's ass-kicking girlfriend are hilarious.

RATING:  7/10

Below are links to all of the fine sites participating in the Yaphet Kotto celebration:
 MONDAY Nov. 15th
Unflinching Eye - Alien
Raculfright 13's Blogo Trasho - Truck Turner

TUESDAY Nov. 16th
Lost Video Archive - Raid on Entebbe
Manchester Morgue - Friday Foster (soundtrack)

Booksteve's Library - Live and Let Die
Horror Section - Warning Sign

THURSDAY Nov. 18th
Mondo 70 - Drum
B Movies and Beyond - The Monkey Hu$tle
Illogical Contraption - Eye of the Tiger

FRIDAY Nov. 19th
Ninja Dixon - Across 110th St.
Lines That Make Things - The A Team (TV episode)
Things That Don't Suck - Blue Collar

SATURDAY Nov. 20th
Breakfast In the Ruins - Bone
Lost Video ArchiveThe Park Is Mine


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Women of the World (1963, Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi)

One year after the Italian trio of Cavara, Jacopetti and Prosperi helmed their first "Mondo" (the Italian word for World) film - Mondo Cane, they followed it up with another film delving into controversial themes - this time focusing on "Women of the World".  After enjoying Mondo Cane so much, I thought a documentary (or shockumentary) on women would be great.

Women of the World gives the viewers a rare chance at seeing the many roles women play in different cultures and societies.  From the Las Vegas strip to Japan to Hollywood Boulevard to Hawaii to the jungles of Whereverthefuck, we see women as matriarchs, prostitutes, pearl divers, in-store bed models and even as the Treasurer of the United States!  It is all captured by the unflinching camera of the creators of the Mondo genre.

Women of the World (or La donna nel mondo in its native Italian) is another magnificent study in real life brought by one of the most controversial trio of film makers.  What I loved about this film is its travelogue feel - especially the scenes in 60s America.  Like Mondo Cane, much of the film's subject matter is very dated (sometimes with hilarious results) but the cinematography looks and feels like it was filmed yesterday.  I am a sucker for nostalgia and Women of the World has many scenes where you feel like you are transported back in time and are witnessing what is going on in the film first hand.  Another brilliant musical score by Riz Ortolani and Nino Oliviero helps give the film its "worldly" feel.  Blue Underground should be praised for bringing these Mondo films to DVD in assorted box sets and despite some print damage early on in the film, much of the transfer used is in astonishingly great shape.  Though not nearly as provocative as the Mondo films are known for (not a bad thing here), there are a few shocking scenes that might make you wince or look away (mostly surgery scenes).  For the most part though, Women of the World gives viewers a wonderful view into different cultures and the varying but always important role women play in each one.

RATING:  8/10

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mondo Cane (1962, Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi)

Much has been written about Mondo Cane (pronounced Mondo Cah-Nay for those who want to impress their friends or not look like an idiot in front of them).  This film was the catalyst that started the whole "mondo" genre of shocking documentaries that feature footage of (mostly) real life rituals, oddities and atrocities performed around the world.  I have seen two other films by "shock-doc" film makers Jacopetti and Prosperi (Africa Addio and Goodbye Uncle Tom) and figured I should finally see the one that started it all.

Mondo Cane (Italian for Dog's World or Dog's Life) is a collection of random scenes from all over the world, displaying different cultures and their practices.  The main purpose of the film is to show that what one culture views as normal or second nature, another culture may view as shocking or disgusting.  In the film, you will see some interesting foods, rituals performed by aboriginal tribes, a pissed off bull kicking ass and taking names, Rudolph Valentino get de-clothed by a horde of women, some sea turtles beaching themselves, a woman breast feeding a pig, cows being massaged to make their beef more tender, and much more. 

As shocking as Mondo Cane was (or is rumored to be - it wasn't really), it was actually quite beautiful and breath-taking.  Riz Ortolani's Grammy/Oscar nominated score is one of the greatest I've ever heard in any film and the camerawork is also quite amazing.  I'm sure part of the directors' intentions were to take these revolting scenes and make them as beautiful as possible - perhaps to play with the viewers' senses or just to give them an unconventional experience.  Regardless of what their intentions were, Mondo Cane works.  It moves along at a steady pace with only a couple slow parts and is particularly well executed all around.  Some parts of the film feel as though they were made today (as opposed to 48 years ago) and some are a little more dated.  Despite some minor flaws, Mondo Cane is a film that cult and exploitation fans should love, if only to see where some of the genres got their ideas to shock (particularly the Italian Cannibal genre).

RATING:  8/10

Monday, November 1, 2010

Virginia Creepers (2009, Sean Kotz and Christopher Valluzzo)

Growing up in the 80's and 90's, I remember seeing horror hosts here and there on TV.  Of course there was Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson, Al "Grampa Munster" Lewis and even Rhonda Shear and Gilbert Gottfried on USA's Up All Night.  There were probably more that I used to watch that have long since been forgotten but to be honest, it wasn't until I was a teenager that I really got into horror.  Sure I loved the Universal Monsters but when it came to actually sitting through those movies, my attention span resisted.  I can't say that I know very much about the history of horror hosts buy they have always interested me and Virginia Creepers is a perfect introduction.

Virginia Creepers is a documentary centered on the rise of television horror hosts in the 1950s in the Virginia/Washington DC area up to the present day.  Starting in 1958 with the Nightmare Theater featuring host Jonathan (John Willet), the film features in depth interviews with fans, crew members and the hosts themselves about how these shows came to be and feature vintage clips and footage, much of which has never been seen since it was originally aired.  As the film progresses, we see other hosts such as Jerry "Ronald" Sandford, Bill "The Bowman Body" Bowman, Sir Graves Ghastly, John "Dr. Sarcofiguy" Dimes, Karlos Borloff and one of the longest running horror hosts, Dick "Count Gore DeVol" Dyszel.

Virginia Creepers is an incredible look into the lives of an under-appreciated group of entertainers who touched the lives of many people who grew up watching them.  The interviews cover every minute detail of these shows and the old clips are a hoot.  Hearing about the classic days of television and seeing how history was being made was fascinating and even at 2 hours in length, the film kept my eyes glued to the screen the whole time.  The best part of the film was that you could tell how much each of the hosts truly loved what they were doing, and it was apparent that the film makers of this documentary (Horse Archer Productions) shared this love as well.

RATING:  10/10