Archive for April, 2010

THE VHS JUNKIE’S LATEST FIX: JENNIFER (1978)

April 27, 2010

I recently purchased a brand new Panasonic Bluray/VHS combo player and I’ve been going on scavenger hunts all over the city and internet, looking for rare movies on video tape. Thanks to my good friend,  New Beverly Cinema Queen Julia Marchese, I found a small independent video store that’s selling off its entire VHS inventory. The place turned out to be a virtual treasure trove, where I was able to purchase TONS of old movies for peanuts, that are either not available on DVD, out of print, or so obscure even I have never seen them before. I’m gonna write up some reviews of certain select titles from my new collection.

Tagline: SHE WALKS IN TERROR, STILLED WITH FRIGHT. A TRAIL OF FEAR, TO FILL THE NIGHT!

JENNIFER (1978) is a low budget B-movie rip-off of the supernatural hit CARRIE. It concerns a young, pretty, country girl named Jennifer Baylor (LISA PELIKAN), who attends the snotty Green View School for Girls on an academic scholarship. She lives with her cagey, religious cook papa in the back of a pet store they operate and is a quiet girl, who keeps to herself. Unfortunately for her, she bumps heads with the evil Sandra Tremayne (AMY JOHNSTON) over a cheating scandal. Sandra leads a clique of pill-popping rich bitches, whom along with their equally cruel boyfriends, begin to torment poor Jennifer at their leader’s request. Also, to make matters worse, Sandra is the daughter of Senator Tremayne (JOHN GAVIN), whom presses the all-too-eager Head Mistress, Mrs. Calley (NINA FOCH), into siding against the innocent waif.

At home, her papa is constantly pressuring her to accept the “power” she was gifted with, when she was a child. You see, Jennifer’s father used to take her to these crazy church meetings when she was young, where they speak in tongues and worship serpents and it turns out, Jennifer has a gift for conjuring up and commanding SNAKES with her mind! She doesn’t want to unleash this dangerous ability, but her papa keeps on her about it.

Her only ally comes in the form of BERT CONVY as the sexy school teacher Mr. Reed, whom every girl has a crush on. He sympathizes with Jennifer, but is threatened with termination from Mrs. Calley, if he continues to support her. “The rich are always right.” she tells him.

Without anyone to help her, the girls play a lot of cruel pranks on Jennifer. Sandra tries to drown her in swim class. Then, they steal her clothes from her locker and take nude photos of her, circulating them around the school. If that isn’t fucked up enough, Sandra buys Jennifer’s favorite cat from the pet store, kills it, hangs it in her locker and frames her for the pussy’s death. What a fucking BITCH!

But that’s not all! Sandra tricks Jennifer’s stupid father into leaving the back door of the pet shop open, so that she and her friends can surprise her with a gift. The old man buys it and they kidnap Jennifer out of her bed, tie her up, throw her in the trunk of a red Trans Am and drive her to the rooftop of a parking garage, where they plan to torment her some more.

Well, the jokes on them! Jennifer conjures up a bunch of deadly snakes with her mind and unleashes them on her tormentors. All the bullies are bitten and choked to death by a wide variety of serpents. Sandra flees in her car, but a GIANT snake leaps from the back seat and bites her, sending the car careening upside down, where it explodes on impact in typical 70s fashion. Jennifer gets her revenge!

JENNIFER is in every way, shape and form, a cheap version of CARRIE with snakes, but it wasn’t half bad. The main reasons being that, the mean girl Sandra is a great villain to watch get her comeuppance and LISA PELIKAN is very likable as Jennifer. Even though the movie is totally derivative, I enjoyed it and rooted for Jennifer to fuck everyone up with her crazy snake magic. It’s not available on DVD, just the good old VHS release from VESTRON VIDEO, if you can find it. Nerd out!

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THE VHS JUNKIE’S LATEST FIX: THE ONE ARMED EXECUTIONER (1983)

April 17, 2010

I recently purchased a brand new Panasonic Bluray/VHS combo player and I’ve been going on scavenger hunts all over the city and internet, looking for rare movies on video tape. Thanks to my good friend,  New Beverly Cinema Queen Julia Marchese, I found a small independent video store that’s selling off its entire VHS inventory. The place turned out to be a virtual treasure trove, where I was able to purchase TONS of old movies for peanuts, that are either not available on DVD, out of print, or so obscure even I have never seen them before. I’m gonna write up some reviews of certain select titles from my new collection.

THE ONE ARMED EXECUTIONER (1983) is a cheap kung fu/revenge flick from the old grindhouse circuit. Shot in the Philippines and directed by BOBBY SUAREZ and starring FRANCO GUERRERO, it was distributed on VHS by the legendary PARAGON VIDEO PRODUCTIONS, responsible for many a fine film. This is one of them!

It begins with an urgent call from a payphone by a sweaty midget snitch named Mouse. Before he can spill the beans about an evil drug cartel, a huge bearded hitman named Mr. Jason picks up the phonebooth Mouse is calling from and throws them both into the ocean! The screen freezes on the splash and the opening credits roll under a fantastically funky opening theme.

Ortega (FRANCO GUERRERO) is a daring Interpol agent returning home to Manila from a honeymoon with his hot new blonde bride (JODY KAY). He co-owns a restaurant with a kindly old former colleague who wishes his friend would one day retire from the bureau as well, but a phone call informs Ortega of Mouse’s recent murder and he’s back on the case!

Our still two armed hero leads a raid on a huge drug deal, so he can capture a coded diary that will bring him closer to the nefarious ringleader, Mr. Edwards (a corporate executive and evil syndicate leader with a southern drawl). Unfortunately, the diary is destroyed when Ortega shoots the gas tank on the escaping plane and blows it up! DOH!

Mr. Edwards thinks that Ortega has captured the diary and wants it back! He dispatches a group of goons (led by the cruel Mr. Jason) to Ortega’s home. They beat him, tie him up, kill his lovely wife and chop off his arm with a samurai sword, leaving him for dead.

He survives the ordeal, but his confidence is badly shaken. The loss of his wife and arm have thrown him into a deep depression. He vows vengeance, but begins a horrible drinking binge that sends him on a downward spiral to rock bottom. After getting rolled by a hooker and beat up by a gang of thugs, his friends from Interpol throw him into a car and drive him to an isolated kung fu compound, so he can dry out and “become one with the rest of his soul again”.

During an amazing training montage, we see Ortega become stronger and use his lack of an arm to an advantage in martial arts. He also learns how to shoot and reload a gun with only one hand and it’s really cool! Finally he’s ready to dish out justice!

Ortega leads an attack on Mr. Edward’s hidden drug compound and kicks a lot of ass with his deadly one armed kung fu. He kills everyone else with his effective one armed shooting technique and Mr. Edwards and Mr. Jason pay dearly for their atrocities. Mr. Edwards gets a grenade dropped on him from a helicopter while fleeing in a speedboat (with a swastika symbol painted on the side!) and Mr. Jason is shot several times (once in the balls!) very slowly. The End.

THE ONE ARMED EXECUTIONER is a very predictable, yet entertaining piece of exploitation trash. For as grimy as it is, the movie exudes a certain charm. It’s unintentionally funny in several spots, but that’s all part of the fun. It is currently not available on DVD and I’m sure it never will be. Films like this one are often forgotten about and that’s a shame. You can tell that a lot of love went into making this fun little movie. Nerd out!

BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR @ THE CINEFAMILY

April 14, 2010

“A platoon of eagle & vultures attack the residence of a small town. Many people died. It’s not known what caused the flying menace to attack. Two people managed to fight back, but will they survive Birdemic? Does anybody care?”- IMDB plot description for BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR.

It’s hard to believe that in 2009, the same year which gave us the ground breaking, game changing, visual benchmark that is AVATAR, another film could come along that rivals its achievements with the exact opposite results. That film is BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR, a new “romantic thriller”™ (that’s the filmmaker’s trademark. No lie!) by “visionary” writer and director JAMES NGUYEN, who is another in a growing list of bad movie auteurs making it “big” these days.

There’s the late JOHN RAD and his brilliantly awful, decade spanning, action movie epic, DANGEROUS MEN. Then you’ve got the now-famous TOMMY WISEAU and his enormously successful relationship-piece nightmare, THE ROOM. Last year, in addition to BIRDEMIC, we were also introduced to the mysterious newcomer MARK REGION and his inexplicable science fiction “thriller”, AFTER LAST SEASON (which just has to be seen to be believed. I saw it and I still can’t believe it). And now the soiled, tattered red carpet can be rolled out for one JAMES NGUYEN and his environmentally conscious horror film, BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR.

The Cinefamily has been showing this film a lot lately and I’ve been able to see it twice now. It began growing a cult following last year when it screened in several cities, including Austin and New York and comedians PATTON OSWALT and TIM AND ERIC have been ballyhooing it a great deal. SEVERIN plans on releasing it on DVD in the near future, but it’s something that really has to be enjoyed with an audience that are preferably in an inebriated state of consciousness.

BIRDEMIC tells the story of Rod (played with an overwhelming malaise by ALAN BAGH), who is having the greatest day of his life. He meets the girl of his dreams, Nathalie (portrayed with a lazy sexual vapidness by WHITNEY MOORE), whom he makes a dinner date with.

He then drives his hybrid plug-in Mustang to his computer software job, stopping first to fill up his tank (we watch him perform this activity, completely unrelated to the plot, in real time). Once he’s in his cubicle, he closes a big deal for “one million dollars”. High five!

If that wasn’t enough awesomeness for one day, he learns in a big meeting, that the company he works for has just been sold for “one billion dollars” and with his stock options, he’s gonna be rich! After the longest applause break ever recorded on film, Rod decides to show his date the night of her life.

They share a wonderful dinner, where they fully connect on every level, and then retire to a local motel to consummate their evening by making love to each other. Following the most innocuous, awkwardly staged and horribly lit love scene ever filmed, the two fall asleep under the stars in Half Moon Bay, California. And that’s when all feathered HELL breaks loose!

A swarm of angry eagles and vultures, driven crazy by pollution and the depleting ozone layer, attack the small town in a violent rampage. Armed with wire hangers and eventually automatic weapons, Rod and Nathalie fend off the winged antagonists and lead a small band of survivors to safety.

BIRDEMIC is like watching a big rig truck jacknife on the freeway in super-slow motion for 45 minutes and then WHAM!, the cab bursts open and a bunch of midgets dressed like geishas jump out and start break dancing! The pace is freakishly slow for the first half of the film, as it concentrates on the most uninteresting protagonist ever and just when you’re ready to say “UNCLE!”, the screen is filled with the worst computer effects you’ve ever seen. The “birds” look like they were created on an old Commodore 64 and there’s almost no setup for this plot shift at all, except for a few random television reports. The film is like a weird homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS, with the green Earth message thing thrown in for flavor.

BIRDEMIC’S got it all. Across the boards bad acting? Check. The worst sound design ever recorded? Check. Cinematography by a blind fool with no concept of screen composition? Check. A cheesy musical score performed on a Casio? Check. Lethargic action sequences and cheap ass effects? Check. A random musical number that had the whole audience singing along, “Just hanging out with my family, having ourselves a parrrrrr-ty.” ? Check and mate.

JAMES NGUYEN was at the Cinefamily for a Q and A, last weekend. Not surprisingly, he’s been at all the Cinefamily screenings so far. He’s a 42 year old Vietnamese native, who financed the entire production with the salary from his computer software job and it was filmed over a period of five years. Christ on a cracker!

New crap-teur JAMES NGUYEN

It seems like suck-cess has gone to MR. NGUYEN’S head because he appeared slightly intoxicated at the Q and A and I detected a hint of arrogance in some of his answers. Oh well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, I guess. He is the ORSON WELLES of shit, after all. Nerd out!

THE VHS JUNKIE’S LATEST FIX: THE KINDRED (1987)

April 12, 2010

I recently purchased a brand new Panasonic Bluray/VHS combo player and I’ve been going on scavenger hunts all over the city and internet, looking for rare movies on video tape. Thanks to my good friend,  New Beverly Cinema Queen Julia Marchese, I found a small independent video store that’s selling off its entire VHS inventory. The place turned out to be a virtual treasure trove, where I was able to purchase TONS of old movies for peanuts, that are either not available on DVD, out of print, or so obscure even I have never seen them before. I’m gonna write up some reviews of certain select titles from my new collection.

THE KINDRED (1987) is a good old fashioned slimy 80’s monster movie, that is still CRIMINALLY unavailable on DVD. It stars Academy Award-winning actors, ROD STEIGER and KIM HUNTER as two scientists that have been screwing around with something called Hemocyanin and performing genetic experiments on cats and the occasional odd human.

Crazy Dr. Phillip Lloyd (ROD STEIGER) pays off ambulance drivers to bring him the freshest injured patients to work on. But, when his supplier asks him for more money, he is fed to the mutants the doctor keeps caged up in his laboratory. Blame it on the damn recession!

On her death bed, Dr. Amanda Hollins (KIM HUNTER) confides to her son John, that he has a half brother named Anthony and that she’s been working on experiments with him at the old family home. After her death, John brings a group of his pre-med friends to the abandoned isolated house (including a mysterious and hot british scientist played by AMANDA PAYS), so that they can help him figure out his mother’s “Anthony journals”.

Not long after they arrive, it becomes clear that they are not alone. A slimy, tentacled green monster starts killing the guests off one by one (including Duke the dog!) and there is an amazing scene involving the monster and a watermelon that is simply INCREDIBLE!

Soon, they all discover that John’s mother extracted tissue from him when he was young and the monster is his half brother, Anthony. AMANDA PAYS has been hired by STEIGER to capture Anthony and bring him back to the lab. In payment, she will receive stronger medicine to stop her from turning into a gilled fish-monster, because she too is a mutant! Don’t worry, she turns into one on screen and it’s AWESOME!

There is an incredible showdown between Anthony and the heroes, and (in typical 80’s fashion) the monster is electrocuted and explodes in a geyser of squirting goo and puss! Even a screaming ROD STEIGER gets slimed!

I LOVE THE KINDRED!!! The acting and direction are surprisingly good and the cheap special effects are wonderful to behold. I found it really refreshing to watch the practical, non-CGI FX in this movie. THE KINDRED is a great example of how awesome looking that stuff was, (no matter how rubbery the monster puppet looks) because it was real, tangible and right there on camera.

When it comes to 80’s monster horror, THE KINDRED is a really fun, gooey movie and a rare, underrated gem. I would LOVE to see PHIL BLANKENSHIP play this movie at the New Beverly Cinema as a midnight flick. It would totally ROCK the house! Until next time you vidiots, be kind and rewind! Nerd out!

THE VHS JUNKIE’S LATEST FIX: DESTROYER (1988)

April 8, 2010

I recently purchased a brand new Panasonic Bluray/VHS combo player and I’ve been going on scavenger hunts all over the city and internet, looking for rare movies on video tape. Thanks to my good friend,  New Beverly Cinema Queen Julia Marchese, I found a small independent video store that’s selling off its entire VHS inventory. The place turned out to be a virtual treasure trove, where I was able to purchase TONS of old movies for peanuts, that are either not available on DVD, out of print, or so obscure even I have never seen them before. I’m gonna write up some reviews of certain select titles from my new collection.

DESTROYER (1988) stars former NFL star and steroid victim LYLE ALZADO as Ivan Moser, a vicious criminal with forearms like hamhocks and a brain like a chickpea, who is executed for the rape and murder of over 23 men, women and children (one victim was a Vanna White styled game show hostess). But like the tag line reads, “3000 VOLTS COULDN’T KILL HIM…IT JUST GAVE HIM A BUZZ”! A violent prison riot follows his electrocution and the place is closed down amid talks of cruelty and inhuman treatment towards its prisoners.

Years later, ANTHONY (PSYCHO I, II and III) PERKINS is a B-movie director shooting a women-in-prison flick called, “Death House Dolls” inside the abandoned institution. 80’s icon hottie DEBORAH (VALLEY GIRL, WAXWORKS, APRIL FOOL’S DAY) FOREMAN (with an awesome BELINDA CARLYLE hairstyle) plays the stunt double for the diva starlet, while her boyfriend CLAYTON (JUST ONE OF THE GUYS, APRIL FOOL’S DAY) ROHNER serves as the screenwriter of the movie.

It’s not long before ALZADO starts killing people on the set, one by one. In one fantastically violent scene, the former redneck warden is blowtorched to death in a bathroom stall, and in yet another, ALZADO rams a jackhammer through a cop’s torso! Good gore!

In a brilliantly creative use of exploitation cinema, there’s a wonderful bit where the film crew shoots a nude shower scene filled with lots of topless women, while ALZADO watches from a peephole. It plays like a really creepy PORKY’S.

Other highlights of this silly little action/slasher involve ALZADO cutting off DEB FOREMAN’S hair and EATING it(?) and another featuring ALZADO photocopying a served head on a Xerox machine.

All in all, this was a fairly entertaining “lost” 80’s schlockfest that is not (and never has been) available on DVD. A blast from the video store shelf past to be certain. Until next time, be kind and rewind! Nerd out!