Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2019 After the Fall of New York

-Reviewed by Skunkape-

Directed by Sergio Martino 1983

2019 is Italy’s answer to the the success of John Carpenters’ Escape from New York. It’s directed by Sergio “Mountain of the Cannibal God” Martino. Martino didn’t just take the job for quick buck, he brings his A game thus making a movie that in my opinion may be inferior but just as entertaining as JC’s Escape. This is actor Michael Sopkiw’s first film playing Parsifal aka “Fake” Plisskin.
"oops, forgot my eye patch."
SNL news with Dennis Miller!
The Earth is a total wasteland all because of  E.U.R.A.K (the Euro Afro Asian Unity) monarchy who dropped a nuclear weapon destroying almost all humanity. Which begs the question where were the Eurak’s when the bomb was dropped? The Eurak’s have set up their base in New York City where they rule and look for ways to procreate. You see when they nuked everything the radiation was so bad that not one human is fertile. When we meet our hero he’s competing in some kind of death race 2000 I guess you could say! As winner, the mutants of the Nevada dessert cheer and chant his name. Then a freaky robotic clown announces that he has won his own sex slave. He takes her on his futuristic motorcycle into the dystopian wasteland. Instead of getting down and dirty he sets her free, which is what you do if you love something, right? Parsifal then gets abducted by a spaceship and brought to Alaska. That’s where the Rebel Federation has set up their base. It's very Hoth like, but there are no Taun Tauns or Wampas to be found, just cheap looking models that wouldn’t fool your 3 year old brother.
The Alaska play set, Spaceship not included.
Among the Rebel Federation is the dreamy Edmund Purdom playing the President of the Pan American Confederacy. I say dreamy Edmund Purdom because Theater of Gut’s President and head writer Crankenstein just loves this guy (he’s smitten). It’s more of an inside joke actually but he seriously wouldn’t shut up about Purdom after watching Pieces for a whole week. So now that the rebels have Parsifal, President Purdom gives him an offer he can’t refuse. The mission is to sneak into NYC undetected and find the one fertile female before the Eurak’s do. In return for his services he is offered a seat on a spacecraft that will head to another planet, where life can start over contamination free. This plan will only work of course if he gets the girl. However, they don’t send him alone, two very special helpers are assigned to aid him. Bronx (Paolo Maria Scalondro) is the navigator, he is an ex resident of the city and knows his way around. Ratchet (Romano Puppo) is extra muscle and has lots of special skills to kick butt.
Along the way they encounter the Rat Eater King and his merry rat eaters. From that group they take in Giana, (Valentine Monnier). Also helping them is a little person appropriately named Shorty who is key in helping them locate the girl they seek. Another key player is Big Ape (George Eastman), they meet him hanging out with whole group of half man, half monkey men. Eastman was reluctant to play the role because of the makeup he had to wear but after the movie came out was glad he did, and I am too. Who else could’ve played that role?
Little People, Nuked World the reality show

"You think I should trim my eyebrows?"

After the Fall of NY on Broadway!
2019 is one of those post-nuke science fiction Italian movies that really delivers. Martino never lets the film drag. The sets are cheap but fun and interesting as our heroes navigate through the remains of NYC. It also contains some nice stunt work with lots of explosions and even a little gore here and there. Oliver Onions provides a mostly electronic score. Actually the credits say “with original music by Oliver Onions”, because we also get some music stolen from Margeriti’s Yor Hunter from the Future as a bonus.  There is also a poor mutant bum (James Sampson) that plays the trumpet over the opening credits but Martino didn’t pay him. He only lives off the gratuity of tourists.
"Welcome to the 2019 McDonalds."

My Big Fat Post Nuke Apocalypse Wedding

"I'm Issac Hayes' stunt double."

"Ratz off 2 Ya!"

"Don't cry just because Warwick Davis got the role of Willow 2: Lost in NYC."

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After the Fall of NY special Trailer!

"Tell Crankenstein, I Love him too!"

Monday, December 29, 2014

Crankenstein's Best Of The Year

Since we started this blog way back in 2012, I realized that I've never done a "best of" for the year. It was mainly because I was concentrating on tackling everything related to the world of Deep Red and basically forgot about it. In this day and age of instant gratification and amnesia I buried the blog with more info than the average attention span could keep up with. So let's look back and reflect on some of my most favorite moments on the site, think of this as the Denny's sampler platter of ToG, a deep fried selection of some of the most unhealthy, brain melting, artery clogging flicks in the VHS bootleg catalog. Here are some of my favorites from last year and a a few choice cuts from before since we've never done a "Best Of". This is by no means a definitive list, so sit back and enjoy some of my favorites over the years. Thanks to all my hard working contributors and thanks for reading, more flicks to come next year. Click on each link to read the posts.

10. BrainWash 
This is one of the greatest films about corporate training seminars.

9. The Beast In Heat 
This Video Nasty was extremely unpleasant to watch but there was enough chuckles in this review for me to remember it fondly, I mean what's more hilarious then a mongoloid Ernest Borgnine chowing down on pubes?

8. Emanuelle In America
One of Skunkape's finest moments (of many, I'm probably his number one fan). I just couldn't do this site without his help and encouragement! Don't forget to check out the parody trailer, which is genius in my mind.

7.  The Rape After
This is one of the most harrowing, depressing Cat III films I've sat through with my jaw on the floor. It was also incredible and so fucked up that I had a blast watching it! (is there something wrong with me? Nah!)

6.  Mosquito The Rapist 
This one by Goat Scrote is another I've enjoyed re-reading. The film really got under his skin and caused me to bust out laughing! Neither I or Skunkape could've done it this amount of justice, I'm such an admirer of Goat's style of writing which I consider to be nothing short of amazing and I consider myself lucky to have him as a contributor.

5. Interview With Buddy Giovinazzo
Skunkape and I went totally ballistic when we got the chance to speak to Buddy G. over a three way call on Skype. Buddy lives in Berlin so we both had to get up super early to catch him at the right time and we were both sort of pissed off when this Youtube video didn't get that much attention. So to drum up alittle more publicity for it, I'm putting it on the countdown to remind people about this film makers genius work. We both saw "No Way Home" together when it came to an independent theater in Florida and were ravenous fans of Combat Shock and Circus 200's music (which we were fortunate to have rare mp3 files of, not available anywhere). So give it another look and if you like it  please tell others.

4. Kris Gilpin's interview with Frank Doubleday
 I feel honored that Mr. Gilpin has elected me as his transcriber and graciously sent me his rare articles and reviews. His fictional work under the nom de plume Eliot P. Ness is legendary. Just check out Gilpin's interview with the reclusive early John Carpenter star for yourself to see what I mean.

3. Mad Foxes
The first time I saw this repulsive oddball biker flick at a time when Skunkape and I were giving each other movie challenges thru Netflix (non instant when they actually bought weird Dvds that eventually wiped out mom and pop video stores and made everything worse). I couldn't believe some of the images I witnessed in that film, so fucking insane! A real piece of comedy gold for jaded weirdos only!

2. Fight For Your Life
This film is so gawd awful and has the power to eat through your subconscious like mind draino. Babies are held at gunpoint, little kids are smashed with rocks and the air is thick with racism. It wants you to scream at your TV in agony about how many chances the black family being held hostage has to escape but decides to turn the other cheek, arghhhhh I'm furious just thinking about it! Graham Rae did a stellar job reviewing this, I convinced him to under take it and then he got me to write John Waters in an attempt to see if he'd do commentary (I'm not even sure why we came up with that idea, but I did manage to get a signed postcard by one of my all time favorite directors, so it was worth it! Thanks again Graham and I hope you'll contribute another review soon.

1. Dangerous Encounters Of The 1st Kind
I have no idea how this wound up number 1 but I always go back to it from time to time. It really affected me, even though I've seen better films by Tsui Hark the subtext of using animal cruelty to send a message it just wrong and is a reoccurring thorn in my side about exploitation films in general, so I think it's important for gore fans to know that ToG doesn't celebrate this type of cheap shot, I tend to condemn film makers who take this shock route. The film is ahead of its time with its message that the youth continues to be a scapegoat for the previous generations flaws and no one is held accountable.
My intent was to not bombard you with more information but to encourage readers to go back and revisit what we've put out before and we hope you appreciate the effort and revisit. In a few days we'll return to our regularly scheduled posts.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lone Wolf and Cub Series Roundup

By Crankenstein and Goat Scrote.

     Lone Wolf and Cub, "the greatest team in the history of mass slaughter", slice and dice through bamboo and bone with a razor-sharp Dotanuki sword. They have chosen to wander the earth as demons, sworn to kill for a price. Ogami Itto carries his 3-year-old son Daigoro in a weaponized baby carriage forging a legendary trail of butchery and existentialism.
     There are six incredibly bloody movies in the “Lone Wolf and Cub” series, aka the “Baby Cart” series, aka Kozure Ōkami (“Wolf With Child in Tow”). In the Deep Red catalog they were available separately under various confusing titles like “Lightning Swords of Death” (which is a dubbed edited version of Part 3).
    The films are based on the manga of the same name(s) written by Kazuo Koike with outstanding art by Goseki Kojima. The manga author wrote most of the movies as well and gets story credit on all of them, with Tsutomu Nakamura co-writing on the final two films. There are other movies based on the manga and even a couple of TV shows.

     Director Kenji Misumi helmed four of the films and also directed both the “Zatoichi” and more demented “Hanzo the Razor” series. Buichi Saito steps in to direct the fourth film, and Yoshiyuki Kuroda the sixth. Eiichi Kusumoto is responsible for the fight choreography for the series. The stoic Ogami Itto is played by Tomisaburo Wakayama and his son Daigoro by Akihiro Tomikawa. Daigoro's gestures and confused look never come off like an annoying "child actor", he's very natural and does an incredible job. Yagyū Retsudo, the Lone Wolf’s mortal enemy, is portrayed by various actors throughout the series.
Wait, I thought you said no real weapons
around kids, where's my agent!

     The six “Lone Wolf and Cub” (LWC) films were compressed into the five-movie “Shogun Assassin” series, all awfully dubbed with ridiculous swishing blade noises added in! In the 80s and 90s in the US you could only find the dubbed truncated abomination “Shogun Assassin”, which is 12 minutes of the first movie and about half of the second movie squished together into a new story. The movie still managed to attain cult status and go on to be showcased in “Kill Bill 2” (2004). These movies are that good. You can butcher them like one of the Lone Wolf’s victims, and they will still keep kicking your mind right in the face like armless ninjas.

It's only some minor edits, we'll be up kicking ass again in no time.

    In the overviews of each of the movies, we've tried to leave major plot points unspoiled as much as possible. Body count numbers are courtesy of allouttabubblegum. Every one of these movies is exceptionally bloody and there are severed limbs by the bushelful. All six movies are highly recommended, and the 2nd and 4th movies are our favorites of the series.

     Crank Comments: I reviewed parts 1, 2, and 3. I avoided “Shogun Assassin” like the plague. LWC 1 and 2 were not only beheaded for grindhouse audiences to easily digest but neutered and appallingly dubbed by some cringeworthy talent (like Sandra Bernhard and Lamont Johnson). I do have fond memories of seeing the poster in various early 80's video stores, moving toward the horror section to rent "Zombie" for the 20th time. I’m not opposed to bad dubbing, but it feels wrong to me that this particular piece of chopsocky re-edited bullshit is so widely acclaimed even though it’s actually robbing us of so much of the original movies! I admit I have the rottencotton “Shogun Assassin” t-shirt, because it’s the only availably merch connected to one of my favorite Japanese series. I can watch the Baby Cart movies repeatedly, they never get old to me!

     Goat Notes: A series of six samurai movies churned out in the space of 2 years, featuring a pre-kindergarten child actor? I used to walk past the LWC series back in the VHS age, browsing for martial arts movies, and turn up my nose. I envisioned a cheap, sanitized Kurosawa knockoff aimed at little kids. I never suspected what I was overlooking. I watched all six and reviewed #4 - #6. These movies are not at all what I expected, they are some of the most blood-soaked films I've ever seen. Every one of them is beautiful, ultra-violent, and viciously entertaining!

Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972)
     Kozure Ōkami: Kowokashi udekashi tsukamatsuru
     “Wolf with Child in Tow: Child and Expertise for Rent”
Gore Score: 10/10
Body Count: 62

Retsudo Yagyu, professional meanie.
It sure doesn't look like gold.
     “LWC: Sword of Vengeance” is the first in the series. I decided to review each sequel individually since I'm obviously not a fan of the mixtape version of the “Baby Cart” films. In the Deep Red catalog, the first film easily gets a 10 out of 10 on the gore score and according to Chas "will make you howl with unabashed glee". This film doles out geysers of crimson splatter. Arteries spray like garden hoses. That samurai sword is sharp, and limbs get separated and bounced off the walls. The erratic but tranquil score by Hideaki Sakurai really sets the tone effectively. “Sword of Vengeance” is just a superior film on all levels.

Somebody get me a band-aid,
I got a thousand ouchies!
     Ogami Itto is the Shogun’s Decapitator. His job is to assist a person who's committing seppuku (ritual suicide by self-disembowelment), one of the most honorable deaths in Japanese culture. He is framed by Yagyu Retsudo of the Shadow clan as part of a bid to seize more power. Itto’s wife and the rest of the Ogami household are slain, except for his son, and Itto is accused of plotting to kill the Shogun. They show how corrupt the authority he works for is, so that we can admire his conviction to quit and walk the barren lands in the form of a demon ronin, slaying any target for the price of 500 gold pieces. 

Tough love.
Choose death!
     Enemy clans make things difficult for father and son, who travel wheeling a stroller armed with an array of secret deadly weapons. The narrative swings back and forth like a pendulum as we find that the killer who decapitates a child in the opening scene has a conscience after all. There is a lot of honor and symbolism in the cultural mythology of this film and kind gestures are not overlooked. There's a brilliant scene at a sauna riddled with the most hideous scumbag rapists and criminals where Ogami Itto takes a situation of shame and turns it into glorious beauty.

     There's another brilliant scene with a bouncy ball and a sword stuck in the floor, where Daigoro is required to choose his destiny: An immediate merciful death at the hands of his father; Or to “live at the crossroads of Hell” and leave piles of mutilated corpses in his wake. We know Daigoro chooses the sword, otherwise he would be in the afterlife with his slain mother.

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972)
     Kozure Ōkami: Sanzu no kawa no ubaguruma
     “Wolf with Child in Tow: Baby Cart of the River of Sanzu”
Body Count: 37
Gore Score 10/10

     During the second film we're waist-deep in the blood trail left by Ogami and son. A new foe, Sayaka, and her band of face-shredding Shadow clanswomen find out Itto beheaded one of their allies (in the first film) and they want vengeance. They show their prowess to a foolish ninja by whittling him down into doggy bag sized chunks.

Oh crap, I'm pissing blood!
     This sequel gets intense fast as father and son battle female assassins at every turn. Little Daigoro almost gets his tiny head ripped off by a frisbee straw hat containing razorblades. Sayaka does an amazing trick and nearly stabs Itto in the throat. He almost has her until she pops out of outfit like a Holly Hobby doll and disappears backwards into the brush.

The Citizen Kane of wall paper decoratives
     To impress a group of samurai, Itto sails that famed sword of his across the room to instantly kill a silent hidden intruder. This is one of my favorite moments in cinema history!

     Smiling women pull knives out of big Daikon radishes to stab at the baby cart, narrowly missing the kid's neck! Even though the bodycount is the lowest in the series, there is tons of grisly violence. There's an incredible showdown at the finale. The stern killer poses in the sand dunes and awaits the arrival of his enemies, three brothers known as The Gods of Death armed with iron claws, flying clubs, and chainmail fists.

     Does Ogami even slightly flinch or sweat a drop? FUCK NO!

     The last "death god" gets very poetic about his neck wound before his jugular bursts and red poster paint soaks the dirt. This film sets the pattern for father and son to travel down the road at the end, to journey to the next adventure.

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (1972)
     Kozure Ōkami: Shinikazeni mukau ubaguruma
     “Wolf with Child in Tow: Baby Cart Against the Winds of Death”
     aka “Shogun Assassin 2: Lightning Swords of Death”
Body Count: 72
Gore Score 10/10
     Unlike most sequels, these were shot during a short time period, so the characters haven't aged much even though we're three movies in. This film has a great crooning theme song at the end with lyrics, one of my favorites of the series.
Trepanation gone disastrously wrong.
Itto loves disco.

     “Hades” starts off on the river with the Yagyu clan lurking, waiting to strike again. A new group of lazy perverted samurai (known as Watari Kashi) show up and attack a woman with blacked-out teeth, but are soon set straight by Kanbei, a samurai who earns Ogami's respect. He faces Ogami in the forest and demands a fight. Before they go to war, Ogami mentions that he and his son live as demons prepared to venture to the netherworld and this inspires Kanbei, the insecure warlord.
     In one scene a prostitute bites off the tongue of her pimp, and he dies from the wound almost instantly! 
Some goons known as the Boohatchimono show up to collect the murderous prostitute, but Ogami and son find a kinship with her. The Boohatchimono are outcasts with no shame or justice, so they may be worse then the Yagyus. Speaking of the Yagyus, they show up later in droves during an epic horse battle between one man and child armed with a machine-gun baby stroller!
     Ogami faces an endurance test, spun around upside down in a basket while being drowned and beaten by the group of outcasts. He does this to make that prostitute he protected, feel something of value, this is clearly his style, to let himself be tortured to save a woman's integrity.
     This time, unlike in Sword of Vengeance, it doesn't work to his benefit, in fact the water torture scene was more of a temporary setback, than what comes later. This bit of unnecessary humiliation leads to a job and a new target for him to slay. The moments with Diagoro communicating with nature are some of the best scenes. 
     The actor that plays the long haired gunman with rat-like features plays an entirely different character in the first film. The pacing is a little slow toward the middle, but stick it out because the ending goes completely insane and that's when the body count really starts to rack up! The gun battle at the end has severed heads and a rain of shredded toes and feet, so make sure you stay awake for the final scenes!

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (1972)
     Kozure Ōkami: Oya no kokoro ko no kokoro
     “Wolf with Child in Tow: The Heart of a Parent, the Heart of a Child”
     aka “Shogun Assassin 3: Slashing Blades of Carnage”
Body Count: 84
Gore Score 8/10

     This is a fantastic movie. It’s fast paced, gory, and fun as heck. This was my first exposure to the LWC series and it whetted my appetite for more. Like a lot of the LWC movies I suspect there are lots of cultural references I don’t get, yet the story is still accessible and the emotional underpinnings are universal. The fight scenes are creative and frenetic and every aspect of the movie comes together in near-perfection.
A winning strategy.

I am soooooooo scared.
    This fourth entry opens with battle, blood, and boobs, and pretty much continues that way. The half-naked killer wears tattoos on her breasts and back designed to startle her foes. She makes mincemeat of a group of attackers to show us right away what a badass she is.
It's all fun and games...

     The Lone Wolf, Itto, accepts the commission to kill Oyuki, the breasty lady with the tattoos and swords. Oyuki is a swordswoman who served Lord Owari and then deserted for reasons unknown. Itto slices apart crowds of enemies on the hunt for her, uncovers an old foe who is supposed to be dead, and strikes a blow against the clan which betrayed him, all while keeping the Cub alive.
Come at me, bro.
     Things only get more complicated when he finds his quarry and discovers Oyuki to be far more honorable than the people who hired him to hunt her. At the climax Itto purees his way through an entire army using his famed Sui-O sword technique until he's facing Retsudo Yagyu himself. Many, many limbs are lost along the way. Moral of the story: Don’t piss off the deadliest man in the world.

Titty clutching tat

Gonorrhea flare-up

...she's really obsessed with my cawk.

Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973)
     Kozure Ōkami: Meifumado
     “Wolf with Child in Tow: Land of Demons”
     aka “Shogun Assassin 4: Five Fistfuls of Gold”
Body Count: 80
Gore Score 7/10
     This is not as furiously-paced as part 4 but the movie is still brutal and bloody. Five deadly messengers test Itto’s strength. Each one carries 100 gold pieces, 1/5 of the payment for a very special job. One of the men calmly delivers a message while he slowly burns alive!

     The abbot of Sofuku (ha!) temple has double-cross the Kuroda clan. This revered man is actually the head of a secret order of ninja spies, allies of Itto’s mortal enemies the Yagyu. Itto is contracted to kill the abbot and return the documents to Lord Kuroda. It turns out the abbot has wizardy holy-man powers and Itto can’t or won’t draw his sword to cut him down.

I accidentally swam into your sword, bro.
      A servant of the Kuroda clan arrives with a new job, piggybacking on the first job. The completion of the first assassination will put Itto in place to execute his second set of targets: An entire family, including a 5 year old child. It’s merciless but the reasons make sense in the context of the difficult situation.

     Retsudo Yagyu is still around making trouble as an ally of the abbot. He wear an eye patch after his last fight with Itto. Itto manages to pull some serious special-ops shit to complete his mission, and then fights an army wearing nothing but his underwear. The crimson really starts to spray when fights a second army at the end, and he really lives up to that whole Decapitator thing.
This helmet is way too tight.

All demons are issued Sam Elliot mustaches in Hell, you didn't know?

Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell
     Kozure Ōkami: Jigoku e ikuzo! Daigoro
     “Wolf with Child in Tow: Now We Go to Hell, Daigoro!”
     aka “Shogun Assassin 5: Cold Road to Hell”
Body Count: 155+ kills!!!
Gore Score- Infinity

     The series racks up its highest body count yet with a satisfyingly slaughter-happy final entry. Young Daigoro manages an impressive number of kills with babycart gadgets, but it’s only a fraction of the host of enemies swept aside by Itto’s ruthless blade.

The size of Itto's scrotum demoralizes his foes.

Santa is furious with you.
My special weapon is Brillo Pad hair.
     Itto is declared a wanted criminal by the Shogunate. A manhunt begins and old enemies converge on LWC looking for revenge. There are assassins everywhere, using every trick and technique in their personal arsenals. An evil wizard of the Spider Demon clan stalks and taunts the duo, brutally slaying every person who shows LWC kindness on the road. Later the wizard rapes his own sister in front of their father, series arch-nemesis Retsudo Yagyu! Dysfunctional doesn't even begin to cover it.

I call this move Snoopy Snowcone style
     Three half-living killers, strengthened by martial-arts sorcery, are sent by the one-armed ronin Gunbei (a survivor from the fourth film). They fight in perfect unison, and do not fall even after being riddle with gunfire.

Itto explores bondage
     An army of Yagyu clan warriors surrounds LWC, led by Retsudo, who has a lot of anger issues at the moment. Itto battles an army of skiing ninjas, cuts one of them in half and uses the baby cart as a sled to kick butt. Retsudo has made his own combat sled armed with heavy artillery, and they battle their way down the mountainside.
Gandalf was a pussy.

I'll never be a sex symbol
     This wild movie ends this cycle of the epic revenge tale but doesn’t wrap up the overall story. The original manga series comes to a startling yet almost inevitable conclusion. My ultimate fantasy version of this movie series would have ended the same way, but in any case these are really entertaining movies and I wish they had made more.

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