Monday, July 25, 2016

Led Zepplin Played Here

Led Zepplin Played Here. Directed By Jeff Krulik (2014). 

Every so often we like to branch out and take a break from the usual gore and cat 3 flicks that we celebrate here over at the TOG headquarters. This is a very special case because I received a copy of this film after inquiring about buying a DVD (when does that ever happen)? The director graciously hooked me up so I figured why not mention it here, who cares if it's non horror, it's worth your time. 

I love the films of Jeff Krulik, there's nothing like them. They capture all kinds of snippets of brilliant weirdness lurking in the dark corners of any town U.S.A. The most legendary example that made him world famous is Heavy Metal Parking Lot of course. I ordered that VHS directly from the director long ago, bought a copy for my brother-in-law and tried to convince anyone that would listen to check out his short films because I think they're brilliant!

Some of my favorites besides HMPL are I Created Lancelot Link, Meet Fan Boy with Rock Savage hanging out at a vintage Spencer's Gifts, Neil Diamond Parking Lot and an episode of Joe Franklin where he presented himself as a theatre critic to get interviewed on the show. Most of these films are on his Youtube channel or Vimeo.  

Krulik's style is just a nostalgic hodgepodge of irresistible psychosis that totally resonates with me. His latest film is Led Zepplin Played Here. And if you're like me, a "meh, I don't get em type Zepplin fan", there's still tons of mind candy to gnaw on. I just never appreciated the band and think of them as car commercial fodder but what do I know?

The commitment in interviewing every rocknroll personality connected to an unassuming high school gymnasium where tons of legendary bands played along with the mudshark lunatics (aka Page,Plant, Bonzo and Jones) is astounding. No one really believed it happened because it just seems too ridiculous that a ginormous band would play for gas money in a tiny gym at the Wheaton Youth Center in Maryland and that's the premise. 

Nixon in-hog-ural protestors 

There's tons of interesting rock and roll collectors that showcase their obsessive memorabilia and it's fun to check out all the rarities. Lots of eyewitness's illustrate the time period like Skipp Groff, who helped start off Dischord Records and Mario Medious who was a promo guy for Atlantic Records. I liked how Sharon Ward Ellis, the manager of the Wheaton Youth Center during the early 70's talked about how horrible and idiotic Iggy & The Stooges were. She mentions how he smashed a jar of peanut butter down his pants and seemed really high (of course he was)!

The Zepplin show coincided with the epitome of square-ness, the inauguration of Richard Nixon. Krulik does a good job showing the juxtaposition of establishment verses the counter culture youth and the power that classic rock music had (and hopefully continues to have over the rebellious spirit). He really travels all over to gain different perspectives on the story and finally lands in front of the band themselves to confirm the mystery at The Kennedy Center. Unlike Nick Broomfield or Michael Moore it's not an ambush or an embarrassing display staged for a cheap stunt, he engages with Jimmy Page and the famous guitarist actually seems overjoyed to talk about the past. It's funny but I've never actually heard Jimmy Page's voice, its very high! All I can think of is how silly he must sound talking about how rad Aleister Crowley or Tolken are. I highly recommend the film it's a blast even if you're not "a get the led out" type music fan. There's an issue with the music rights (these songs are super expensive) but hopefully this film will be available soon.    

The director getting closer to solving the mystery

I'd like to thank Mr. Krulik for sending me this screener and if this film comes to your town certainly check it out. If you're a fan of solid, highly entertaining rock history make sure to catch it when it plays at a film fest near your town.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

UH-OH Show

Directed by H.G. Lewis. Starring Joel Wynknoop (2009)

Reviewed By Michael Hauss

If the name Herschell Gordon Lewis wasn’t involved in this film, chances are slim to none that I’d ever given it a try. But since the legendary Godfather of Gore wrote and directed this, I was all over it like Faud Ramses at an Egyptian feast. Add in the fact that Joel Wynkoop, one of the finest low-budget film personalities ever, is in the cast, just added to the lure. The story is about a late night cable television game show called The Uh-Oh SHOW (USA, 2009), where contestants play for ridiculously exotic prizes, if they answer the questions correctly unlimited wealth awaits, get the questions wrong and uh-oh, they have to spin a wheel to determine which part of the their body will be cutoff by Radial Saw Rex. The show’s creator Fred Finagler claims that the contestants are only actors and the violence is not real. When a local reporter Jill Burton’s boyfriend goes on the show and never comes home, she begins to snoop around the show for answers.

Forget pulling the strings, pull my finger!

The Uh-Oh Shows host Jackie and his girlfriend/co-host Champagne become disillusioned by the blood and gore and when the show is to be spun-off from their late night cable station to a network station, Jackie protests to Fred, who has both Jackie and Champagne fired from the station. Fred decides to host the new show himself along with his co-host Coco, the new show is called Grim Fairy Tales and is gore heavy stories involving the classic fairy tales as their basis, including Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. Jill with the help of the co-host turned prostitute Champagne and Jackie, who has become a condom salesman, works to expose the going-ons behind the game show and the new Grim Fairy Tales show.

Eric Stonestreet from Modern Family is appalled that H.G. Lewis is dressed like Jambi

The film is a comedy-horror film that really lays on the gore and lingers on it way too long. It’s basically two movies in one and shifts gears from the The Uh-Oh Show to the Grim Fairy Tales, and loses all momentum in the transition. The first part of the movie under the game show guise kept me mildly entertained, but the second half of the movie was such a big switch from the first half, I become bored and reached for the remote a few times. It’s almost as if H.G. Lewis had two different ideas for movies and tried unsuccessfully to weld them together. While the acting is fine, as is the direction, the issue ultimately is with the script and the shifting of gears. I found some things to like in the film and the premise of people doing insanely stupid things for monetary gains or notoriety is definitely a subject that reverberates in this current age of social media and reality television.

Is that limburger I smell or a dimestore Divine ripoff behind me?

Herschell Gordon Lewis along with David Friedman released in 1963, what is now known as the first gore film, that film BLOOD FEAST, would open up a few veins in the violence on screen department, exploiting the relaxing morality standards, that the allowance of nudity in the late 50’s  had helped loosen up. Lewis with Friedman and without would make films until 1972, when the Godfather retired from film making to become an author on many highly successful books on advertising, even running his own direct marketing firm. Lewis was strictly an exploitation filmmaker, his most famous films include BLOOD FEAST, TWO THOUSAND MANIACS, SCUM OF THE EARTH, COLOR ME BLOOD RED, THE GRUESOME TWOSOME, THE WIZARD OF GORE, SHE DEVILS ON WHEELS and THE GORE GORE GIRLS. Lewis made a return to directing in 2002 to helm the film BLOOD FEAST 2: ALL YOU CAN EAT, which was an entertaining and effective horror-comedy. The cast for the Uh-Oh show includes Brooke McCarter as Jackie, McCarter is best known for his role of Paul in the film THE LOST BOYS. The stunningly beautiful Krista Grotte, stars as Champagne and currently stands at twenty-three credits on her resume, all being in low-low budget productions, including the film LAZARUS: APOCALYPSE which included Evil Ed himself Steven Geoffreys in the cast. Joel Wynkoop plays the over the top psychopath Fred Finagler in the film and he has a massive amount of credits, he’s probably best known for his roles in many of Tim Ritter’s films, including the insane portrayal of Angus Lynch in the Ritter film CREEP. Other Wynkoop appearances in Ritter films include TWISTED ILLUSIONS, TRUTH OR DARE?: A CRITICAL MADNESS and KILLING SPREE, among others. Lloyd Kaufman makes an appearance in the film as a pimp, Kaufman is best known for his association with the low budget film company Troma. (Don't forget Lloyd was also the production manager on the ultra high brow flick My Dinner With Andre-Ed)!

The film is a sometimes fun gory diversion, a low-brow, low-budget over the top movie that suffers from a non-cohesive plot and it's attempts to push the limits of taste to the edge. Like most of the films Lewis has written or directed, the plot development is always second to the gore. H.G. Lewis is an American original who helped change the look and the face of horror forever. Long live the Godfather of Gore! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Brain of Blood

Brain of Blood (The Oozing Skull, The Creature's Revenge, The Undying Brain) Directed By Al Adamson, Starring Angelo Rossitto (1971).

The first Al Adamson flick I was impressed by was Satans Sadists, it's mix of clownish bikers and inept clumsiness made me think where has this director been all my life? At the time I had a nerve shattering attention span and could put up with almost any kind of garbage and laugh it up. The older I get the less I can tolerate. Besides Nurse Sherri, which at times I was laughing so fucking hard that it's ridiculous-ness won me over. Since this film is in the DR catalog and I recently reactivated my Fandor account it's back on the agenda.

Regina Carrol who looks like a 70's porn version of Nancy Sinatra is the first thing we see. In reality she was Al Adamson's wife and died very young at the age of 49 from cancer. Adamson's death was seriously grim too, he was missing for weeks as his live in contractor Fred Fulford ran up weird charges on his credit card and was charged with murder. Eventually the director's remains were found underneath the cement where his jacuzzi was installed over. A very tragic end to schlocky director who's left us with some trash classics. Anyway back to the review.

Al Adamson (R.I.P. 1929-1995)

I recognized Zandor Vorkov, the Latin dude who played the goatee sportin' Dracula in Dracula vs Frankenstein (this was his only other known role before joining the private sector, maybe he works at Arbys now, who knows)?

Reed Hadley plays Amir, he's got one hell of an underbite, he's also sick and needs an operation. I wonder if it's a brain transplant? The graphics that go along with the credits as usual in a Sam Sherman / Al Adamson production are pretty fucking nifty and colorful. I have the feeling they are the best part of what's about to unfold. Amir the toothy leader is dead, wrapped in what looks like a tinfoil corpse shell (maybe they want to seal in his juices)!

let's carve off some of these human trimmings for Arby's version of The Yumbo

Angelo Rossito veteran of the stage and screen plays a tiny surgeon. The first thing I ever saw him in was Freaks where he gets spit on by the evil blonde bitch played by Olga Baclanova who drank from the lovin cup. He's been in a million other things ever since like Mad Max 3: Beyond The Thunderdome. I recently found a letter in Fangoria by Forrest Ackerman that mentions Rossito's former co-star Johnny Eck the half boy was robbed and pinned down by the assailants. He set up a fund to help him get back on track after that traumatic incident.

Verne Troyer is a total pussy

Surgeons hack into a round white melon as the most crimson looking poster paint splashes out, I feel as if I can hear Bob Ross softly intone "Let's use it for the landscape on this field of happy little trees". The operator's sticky bloody fingers click a camera, in what looks like an abandoned Dentist's office, maybe this will be explained later. A guy with ginormous mutton chops and a sweaty paunchy face prowls inside an apartment as the brain surgery resumes. The mutton paunch fellow is strangled and tossed off a fire escape by a bulbous headed freak, maybe he's related to the guy from The Brain That Wouldn't Die?

Angelo Rossito goes down to the mad surgeon's dungeon and taunts two girls chained to the wall, he wears a golf cap with a frilly ball on top. He draws blood from a female who looks to be about 12--it's a little unsettling.

Mohamed keeps acting irritated and offended by all the proceedings. Maybe he's tired from just acting in the last Al Adamson monster mash. He gets ejected along with Bob, an Adam West looking Dr. played by Grant Williams of The Incredible Shrinking Man fame.

So far, my fav characters are Gor, the retarded monster who sits on the ground playing with toys and the overly loud and giggly Rossito. John Bloom (not the Joe Bob Briggs one) plays Gor, he has quite an impressive resume and was born with acromegaly the same affliction that Andre The Giant, Rondo Hatton and Ted Cassidy all share.

Jeff Garlin as Sloth's brother Troff

Cinematic Titanic or the MST3K leftovers lampooned this one, but since I don't care for Joel or Dr. Forrester, I didn't see it. It's gotta be better than this flick though.
Gor is strapped to the table, I like how you can see his hair beneath the moldy cold cuts glued to his face that try to pass for creature makeup! In a ridiculous flashback they show how two jerks (one looks like he's escaped from the Spahn ranch) and a beer bellied galoot pour car battery acid on Gor's face.

Fake Nancy Sinatra returns, her and the fake Adam West guy almost look like Christian fundamentalists all decked on in shimmering white outfits. Next up is a roof top chase-- there's so many non sequiturs it seems like they didn't even have a script. I value this kind of schlocky trash and it's on that cusp of fun yet frustrating, it was unusually entertaining to me.

You've wound up in a Christian Science operating room, so you're fucked!

Gor revolts against everyone and escapes the Dr.'s lab with Tracy (Carol). The makeup on his face looks pretty hokey as if half his mug was smacked with a clump of steel cut oatmeal and toilet paper.
That reminds me I gotta pick those up at the grocery store.

I hope my Alymer is still in the bathtub when I get home

The title is very misleading, there's a brain shot for maybe 15 min and most of it revolves around a subplot that's nonexistent and oddly political. Gor who is suicidal and Tracy split the scene and drive off. Angelo as the cackling dwarf wears an Andy Capp style hat, when shoves one guy down a short flight of steps he seems very proud like he accomplished a lot that day! Everything about this movie is terrible and inept but it's really fascinating for some reason. It's available on Fandor along with other Adamson junk.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cannibal Man

The Cannibal Man (La semana del asesino)
Directed by Eloy de la Iglesia, starring Vicente Parra, Emma Cohen, Eusebio Poncela, Charly Bravo (1973)

- Reviewed by Richard Glenn Schmidt

Tagline: “When the butcher goes berserk…”

The Cannibal Man opens with slaughterhouse footage which is –oh, how can I put this- agonizing to sit through. Onscreen animal violence is one of my least favorite things from the world of 1970s cult cinema so I’ve been avoiding this film for many years. However, I’m a meat eater and sometimes I’m not a total hypocrite, so I’ll get off my high horse and give this film a pass on the animal killing. At least I finally learned where hamburgers come from!

The film stars Vicente Parra as Marcos, a lowly slaughterhouse worker at a meat processing plant who vaguely masturbates in his free time while his rich gay neighbor Néstor (Eusebio Poncela) living in a high rise apartment spies on him through his skylight. The dizzyingly cute Emma Cohen plays Paula, Marcos’s girlfriend and I suddenly don’t understand why this isn’t a sex comedy. Clearly, Marcos has no problems until one night when he accidentally kills an uptight cab driver.

Bleccch, why didn't you floss after you scarfed that gyro?

Paula tries to appeal to his conscience but Marcos doesn’t want to go to the cops. He has a chip on his shoulder a mile wide about being poor and he just knows the cops won’t believe his story of self-defense. When she decides to break up with him over the whole manslaughter situation, he strangles Paula to death and hides her under the bed. Now he’s a criminal mastermind!

Marcos’s brother Esteban (Charly Bravo) shows up and he confides in him about what he’s done. Esteban wants him to go to the cops too? Thanks for having my back, brosef! Instead of taking his sensible brotherly advice, Marcos bludgeons Esteban to death with a wrench. Now his brother’s fiancée Carmen (Lola Herrera) shows up and yep, you guessed it, he kills her too. At this point, I completely side with Marcos. Buncha damn busybodies be makin’ shit hard on this totally relatable dude!

how many licks does it take to get to the center? The world will never know!

Now Néstor wants to hang out with Marcos in the middle of the night so that he can awkwardly flirt with the clueless duder. They go for a walk and end up at a café together. Néstor, the walking thesaurus, keeps using highfalutin language that’s probably going to get him killed. They get harassed by some cops but once they hear that Néstor lives in the fancy high rise apartment, they change their tune and move along.

And this is different from our wedding night, how?!

Now Carmen’s father shows up wondering where his daughter is. He demands to see her and Esteban but he ends up finding their corpses and the business end of Marcos’s meat cleaver instead. Marcos gets the idea to start disposing of the bodies a piece at a time by shoveling them into the meat processing machine at the slaughterhouse.

Because Marcos is so sexy and so irresistible, Rosa (Vicky Lagos) the waitress at the local cafe wants him pretty bad. She makes him breakfast and then “accidentally” spills milk on his pants just so that she can help him rub one off- oops, I mean rub it off. This chick is so horny that I’m surprised she didn’t burst into flames during this scene. Now Néstor returns for some more homoerotic tension because that should settle things right down. No wait, what’s this? Some “nightswimming” with his gay pal actually makes Marcos smile! Ohhhhh!

   Is that milk on your pants or are you just happy to see me?

Thanks to a promotion at work, Marcos gets harassed by his former coworkers in the street. Wait a minute. He hasn’t killed anyone in like 20 minutes and these guys actually kind of deserve to get slaughtered. What gives? Hilarity ensues at the café when Rosa serves him soup made with meat from his work. Knowing that there’s a chance that his former girlfriend he’s chopped up is likely in the broth, Marcos gets a little green around the gills.

Later, Rosa comes over and they get it on. Her post coital reverie is short lived because she starts to suspect that Marcos has corpses rotting away in the tiny craphole he calls home. So bashes her dang head in. It isn’t long before the stench is too strong even for Marcos to put up with and he just sits pathetically outside his place. Néstor comes to the rescue and invites the poor schlub back to his place.

back off bitch that's for my glaucoma! 

While speaking metaphorically to Marcos, Néstor nearly gets himself killed. He survives by dumb luck, having no idea just how much danger he’s in, and accidentally convinces the guy to turn himself in to the police. The film ends how it began with Néstor watching Marcos longingly through his binoculars while the police are presumably on their way. My dreams of steamy gay lovemaking were never realized but at least Néstor didn’t end up on the pile of bodies!

Whoops, I took the face loaf out before the ding

This odd and subversive little satire was disguised and marketed as a cannibal horror film which is hardly surprising because films like this don’t just pop up out of nowhere. Getting funding for something this strange is much easier when you can push it on the drive-in crowd with some salacious advertising. Atlas International Film, the distributors of The Cannibal Man, were responsible for bringing the public such arthouse classics as Tombs of the Blind Dead and Mark of the Devil. While director and writer Eloy de la Iglesia is about as subtle as a hand grenade with the film’s themes, he definitely packs a lot of violence and macabre thrills in to keep things from getting too pretentious. Co-screenwriter Antonio Fos is no stranger to grimy, tense, paranoid, and very sweaty films. I highly recommend you check out he and de la Iglesia’s other collaboration, The Glass Ceiling (1971).

An overhead shot makes the modern setting of Madrid look eerily desolate like somewhere in Egypt. Marcos’s dingy shack looks like it was made out of leftover parts and it’s one of the few remaining shanties surrounded by nice new apartments that someone earning his wages could never even dream of moving into. This disparity of wealth distribution is just a small clue of the director’s intentions. The horrors of modern life, class struggle, rampant homophobia, the Franco regime, and probably even the meatpacking industry are all put on trial here.

It’s especially telling when Néstor claims that he wants to help poor Marcos. Even though he has literally no clue what’s really going on in his life, this upper class dingbat wants to save the day. It’s also entirely possible that Néstor just wants to get into Marcos’s pants but hey, what can you do? Talk about exploiting the proletariat! But in the end, he’s back up in his tower looking down on the little poor people below, ineffectual as always. Néstor is a positive character despite all this (I mean, when he’s not scoping out young boys playing soccer with his binoculars) in that his presence in Marcos’s life causes a not at all vague homosexual awakening that ends the killing spree.

I’ve got something else you can put in your mouth.

My only complaint about The Cannibal Man is that it takes a little too long to wrap up. There’s a montage of Marcos walking through the city streets that feels completely tacked on. Other than that, I was really glad I finally got around to this film. I love the English dubbing but based on what I’ve seen of the original Spanish track, it takes some of the seriousness off the proceedings. Exploitation maestro Dick Randall handled the dubbed version and kinda botched it though I’ve seen much worse. The minimal and haunting score by Fernando García Morcillo (Night of the Sorcerers, The Witches Mountain) is fucking fantastic. Whenever there’s about to be some creepy badness, this weird backwards glockenspiel sound happens and it’s just chilling. The music when Marcos and Néstor go swimming together is the most effective piece in the film. It’s sweetly tragic melody makes me want to swim with Néstor too!




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