Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sorority House Massacre II (Jim Wynorski, 1990)

I'll admit, after the mini-debacle that was the first Sorority House Massacre, I wasn't all that thrilled with the prospect of watching the same exact movie again. What's that? How do I know the sequel is going to be exactly the same as the first one? That's easy. Fresh ideas are hard to come by and I doubt the makers of Sorority House Massacre II are going to be the one's stumbling upon any anytime soon. Hold up, it says here that part two was directed by Jim Wynorski (Demolition High). Which means... Actually, this does not bode well, either. As Mr. Wynorski's track record when it comes to delivering the goods is a tad sketchy at best. For every 976-EVIL II and Chopping Mall, there are dozens of stinkers. While not exactly his best, this film is the forerunner to his Hard to Die (a.k.a. Sorority House Massacre III). Meaning, we should expect to see scantily clad bimbos running up and down stairs in bad lingerie. I know, what is exactly constitutes "bad lingerie"? I mean, how can lingerie ever be bad? Right, that's pure, unadulterated kooky-talk. Well, I have news for ya, fellas. The lingerie in this film pretty god awful. Though, I shouldn't be surprised, as I distinctly recall the lingerie in Hard to Die being pretty god awful as well.

For one thing, none of the women are wearing nylons. Seriously, there's not a single pair of stockings in the entire film. We do, however, get two jean skirts, one pair of jean shorts and a single pair of jeans. (Wow, that's a lot denim.) You got that right. And I'm still shaking my head over it. I can sort of see two of the women wearing denim of some kind, but four out of five? That's ridiculous.

What do we want? Less denim in Sorority House Massacre II! When do we want it? Um, now would be nice.

Since Dana Bentley's "Janey," is the only co-ed not wearing denim during pre-lingerie stage of the film, I immediately gravitated towards her. Of course, she's probably going to be the first to die. But I don't care. I'll take a gothy brunette dressed in all-black over four denim-slathered blondes any day of the motherfuckin' week. To make matters worse, when she does die, it will most likely be done off-screen, as I don't think this film was given much to work with as far gore budgets go.

Anyway, just like in Hard to Die, we're told the story of the Hockstatter murders that took place in Slumber Party Massacre. Yeah, I'm confused, too. After watching an entire scene from Slumber Party Massacre (narrated by one of the girls), the girls come face-to-face with Orville Ketchum (Peter Spellos), the large (creepy) man who lives next-door. Oh, and before you ask if Orville is the killer. Remember this, this is Jim Wynorski we're talking about, not Fred Olen Ray. In other words, expect the unexpected.

Other than Gail Harris' first-rate panties and Dana Bentley's shunning of denim, I would say that Orville Ketchum is the best thing about this movie. Yeah, that's right. The scary-looking fat guy who enjoys lurking and eating raw meat. He gives, believe it or not, a nuanced performance as the neighbour who can't be killed.

It's a shame the same can't be said about the rest of the cast, who all give the same variation of your typical stupid and confused late '80s co-ed.

You might have noticed that before I singled out Dana Bentley's denim snub, that I alluded to Gail Harris' first-rate panties. Which might seem odd, as you might recall, I pretty much dismissed every stitch of lingerie that appears in this film.

Well, I'm making an exception for Gail Harris' panties. Now, some of you might be thinking yourself: You only liked her panties because they wore you out. What I mean is, they were onscreen for such extended period of time, you grew to tolerate them.

While, yes, it's true. Gail Harris' panties, and, I suppose, her crotch and buttocks region, are featured quite heavily throughout this movie. I did fall madly in love with them the moment they appeared onscreen. But make no mistake, this was purely a pantie anomaly. Everything else is an abomination. (Even the black one-piece Dana Bentley puts on during the film's lingerie phase?) If it had been paired with stockings, I might have given it a pass. But black lingerie without stockings is unacceptable in my book.

I'm currently in love with a woman who has a port-wine stain on the left side of her face. She's beautiful and fierce as fuck. (I'm happy for you. But what's this got to do with the movie you're currently reviewing?) Oh, sorry 'bout that. If you look closely, you'll notice that Gail's panties have a port-wine bloodstain on them at one point. And I say, "at one point," as the bloodstain seems to change in-between shots. In one of the shots, her panties appear completely devoid of blood. Did she wash them while going from the living room to the kitchen? I doubt it.

I wonder who was Gail's pantie wrangler on this flick. Now, that's what I call a dream job. Although, I bet a large part of the job involves keeping the cross-dressing crew members from trying them on in-between takes (I hear precum stains are a nightmare to get out, especially on white panties). Oh, and who am I kidding, this film didn't employ "takes." If it did. Wow, that's pretty sad. No, this film looks like it was shot over a couple of days. The only one who seemed to put in any real effort was Chuck Cirino, whose score is top-notch, as usual.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sorority House Massacre (Carol Frank, 1986)

Even though Sorority House Massacre brings absolutely nothing new to the well-worn formula established by John Carpenter's Halloween way back in the late 1970s, it's still, I must say, a pretty effective slasher flick. Wait, did I just say, "slasher flick"? I meant to say, fashion... flick. We're talking baggy jean jackets, winklepicker boots and the mother of all movie dress-up montages. Oh, don't get me wrong, the film is still a minor horror classic along the lines of House on Sorority Row and Happy Birthday to Me, it's just that the only reason for anyone (i.e. me) to watch this film is to study the fashion. Take, for example, Angela O'Neill's baggy jean jacket. I vaguely remember when teenage girls and some grown women started wearing baggy jean jackets, and I remember being vaguely horrified... you know, by the sheer bagginess of it all. I am, of the opinion, that jean jackets should fit snugly against the body and should never hang too far below the waist. Well, not only does Angela O'Neill's jean jacket break all these rules, she roles up the sleeves, exposing the inner denim. I know, the horror. While it might sound like I'm ragging on her jean jacket game, I'm actually reveling in its awfulness to a point unseen in any previous review of Sorority House Massacre. Anyway, do you remember the killer in the eerily similar Slumber Party Massacre? Now that guy knows the proper way to rock a jean jacket.

Now, you would think I would have nothing but praise for Pamela Ross and her pointy winklepicker-style boots, as they are pretty much my favourite shoes/boots in the whole wide world. However, I have to question the clothes she wears with said pointy winklepicker-style boots. Or do I? After giving it some thought, I've decided to get behind Pamela Ross' decision to pair her Goth footwear with bright and breezy new wave mall threads.

I mean, think about it. While her feet are practically screaming, "Undead, undead!" the rest of her ensemble looks like something Cyndi Lauper would wear on a cruise. Sporting a pink blazer paired with a tropical fruit-themed, mid-riff exposing two piece (a white headband and a funky necklace are added to the mix to create even more drama on campus), Pamela Ross' look signaled to me that her character was worth rooting for.

Sadly, the chances that Pamela Ross will be breathing on her own by the time the end credits start to roll are not that high. While the film may be lacking when it comes to originality and character development, it lives up to its title. Meaning, there's going to be a massacre at a sorority house. And if a character shows an interest in fashion or sexual intercourse, odds are they're going to get their stylish/horny asses massacred.

As for mopey asexuals with an affinity for loose-fitting denim, they're probably going to not get stabbed to death. Which is totally unfair, because they're the reason everyone is killed in this movie. Okay, that was a tad on the harsh side. But seriously, if she had just gotten murdered when she was five years old along with the rest of her family, all this sorority house madness could have been avoided.

However, since there would be no movie had Angela O'Neill's Beth not survived her brother Bobby's killing spree (and we wouldn't want there to be no movie), I'll let it go... for now.

While it's obvious to anyone with eyes and ears that work to some degree that Beth is repressing the memory of her families slaughter at the hands of her deranged brother, she seems to think that the person stalking her in her dreams is just some random psychopath. Unbeknownst to her, this "random psychopath" is all too real and languishing at a poorly run mental hospital just down the road from sorority row.

As Bobby is planning his escape, co-eds, Sara (Pamela Ross), Tracy (Nicole Rio) and Linda (Wendy Martel) are planning to engage in the ultimate dress-up montage. With their house mother away for the weekend, the girls decide to raid her closet. And oh my god, do they raid the living shit out of it.

You know how when you see a parody of the 1980s nowadays and they always seem to go overboard in terms of its 80s-ness? Well, the dress-up montage in Sorority House Massacre is so 80s that even the 80s was like: Whoa, tone it down, girls. Screw the 80s, I was even shocked by how insanely 80s this sequence was.

The only thing that dampens the mood is the fact that the camera occasionally cuts to gloomy Beth, who is watching the dress-up extravaganza from a nearby bed. Yeah, I get it. She's having nightmares about being killed by a knife-wielding maniac, and is a little too preoccupied to care about clothes. But does she have to ruin it for everyone else? I mean, it's the 1980s. You're supposed to try on brightly coloured clothes to the synthesizer music... it's in the decade's freakin' charter.

After they're done playing dress-up, Pamela Ross' Sara dons a shirt that pretty much solidifies the film's standing as a fashion classic. An ill-defined patchwork of shapes and colours, Sara's shirt dominates the film's final third with a breathtaking ease. Worn with black leggings, the shirt not only dominates, it upstages the other actors. Now, under  normal circumstances, you would have to classify this as a negative. Seriously, what kind of film is overshadowed by a radiant garment? However, in the case of Sorority House Massacre, the vividness of Sara's shirt makes an otherwise insipid movie less so.

Granted, the shirt is nowhere to be seen when the girls and their lame boyfriends (c'mon, Craig... I mean, jeez) eventually come face-to-face with the killer. But I think most people will agree that the shirt, along with the baggy jean jacket, the pointy boots, and, of course, the dress-up montage are more than enough to override the film's more tiresome bits.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rubber's Lover (Shozin Fukui, 1996)

According to my exhaustive research, the cyberpunk genre is known for depicting a world where high tech collides with low tech. And while this particular film does meet some of that criteria (computers are used by degenerates), I would classify the overall aesthetic as steampunk. It's not really that big a deal. It's just that I see the word "cyberpunk" bandied about so much in correlation to Shozin Fukui's Rubber's Lover that I feel the need to point out that it's not really a cyberpunk movie. The film's fetishistic obsession with old technology practically oozes steampunk. Or, I should say, it literally oozes steampunk, as almost everything in this oozes something at one point or another. Gauges ooze, people ooze, it's one big ooze-fest. Get it, "ooze-fest," Ozzfest, the heavy metal festival tour... (I don't want to interrupt your flow, but I must commend you for not using the phrase, "what the fuck," or the equally obnoxious, "what did I just watch"? in your review.) Well, it's still early. But thanks, nonetheless. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, the film literally oozes steampunk. No matter what aesthetic it oozes, Rubber's Lover will, no doubt, test the patience of some viewers. Unfolding in a manner that is, let's just say, unorthodox, the film is pretty much ninety minutes of spastic twitching. My God, there's a lot of spastic twitching in this movie. However, you'd twitch too if you were repeatedly subjected to Digital Direct Drive (a.k.a. D.D.D.) and pumped full of ether whilst sheathed in rubber. And not only would you twitch, you would spew copious amounts of viscous liquids from every orifice possible.

If what I just described sounds in anyway appealing to you. Congratulations, you're this film's target audience. As for the rest of us, we could be in for a long ass ninety minutes.

Thankfully, there's a scene where Kiku's corporate pantyhose are torn asunder by a psychotic, muscle-bound scientist named Motomiya (Sosuke Saito). Wait, that didn't come out right. The scene is deplorable. It's just that I wasn't sure if Kiku's legs were adorned with nylons, and Motomiya's assault enabled me to properly assess what was going on with Kiku's shapely gams. And it's clear, judging by Motomiya's frenzied tearing motions, that he was clawing at her corporate pantyhose.

In a similar vein, Akari's white knee-high, garter-assisted stockings also served as a sort of tonic. Even though Akari (Mika Kunihiro) spends the bulk of the movie injecting Shimika (Norimizu Ameya) with industrial-strength ether, I was comforted by the fact that the lower portion of her legs were encased in white stockings.

What I'm doing right now is exactly what I recommend all you non-masochists out there do while watching this film. I know, you could simply not watch it. But you could use that logic when approaching every film in existence. I mean, why watch anything for that matter? What's the point? Unless it's Liquid Sky or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, there's no real reason to bother with other movies.

As I was saying. What non-masochists need to do is focus on something that interests you. As you can tell, I've chosen to focus on the nylons worn by the film's two female characters, Kiku (Nao), an employee who works for some shadowy organization, and Akari, the assistant to a trio of demented scientists.

If, for some bizarre reason, nylons aren't your thing, you could try focusing on all the antiquated technology that appears throughout the film. Honestly, I have no idea what half the machines (all covered with knobs and switches) are supposed to do in this movie. But I'll admit, watching them overheat and spew smoke was kind of interesting.

The film's bondage aspect will definitely appeal to some viewers. Every scene seems to feature one character dominating another. And one of these characters (typically Shimika) is usually dressed in rubber... and wearing the latest in steampunk headgear (the shots of Shimika wearing these elaborate props are some the film's most indelible).

Speaking of headgear, I gotta add Akari's welding goggles to the list of things I liked about this movie. The way the Test Dept. vibe of her googles clashed with the Gothic Lolita temperament of her overall ensemble was quite alluring.

Despite all things I liked about this movie (the harsh industrial/techno score by Tanizaki Tetora is amazing), Rubber's Lover is still a bit of a chore to sit through. Basically ninety straight minutes of torture, the film is best suited to be played on a loop at a long closed industrial-goth nightclub. In other words, I cannot recommend it as the kind of movie you sit down and watch from start to finish... while sober.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Snakewoman (Jess Franco, 2005)

First off, I think it's a tad weird to watch a Jess Franco film where things like, mobile phones and computers not only exist, but are actually used. And in the case of Snakewoman, rather frequently (seeing people pump gas was weird, too). It's weird because people in Jess Franco movies don't usually communicate via technology, they do so, for the most part, by writhing. That's right, I said, writhing. What you do is, you take off all your clothes (if, of course, you're wearing stockings, you keep those on... if you don't I will hunt you down and murder you... just kidding... but seriously, don't take them off). At any rate, once you've removed your clothes, lie down on a bed (or a couch/sectional) and start writhing. And depending on the gusto of your writhing, you should be communicating with sex-starved vampire lesbians with boyish hips in no time. What's that? What if you don't want to communicate with sex-starved vampire lesbians with boyish hips? Don't be silly. I know you're simply playing devil's advocate, but I don't think there's a man, woman or child on this earth who doesn't want their clit eaten out by a sex-starved vampire lesbian with boyish hips. Oh, and when I say "eaten out," I'm not kidding around, she will eat your motherfucking clit... for lunch, breakfast and dinner. I know, you're thinking to yourself: But Yum-Yum, I don't have a clit. You don't, eh? Do you see that skin-covered protuberance dangling from the middle portion of your blotch-covered crotch? Well, that's your clit, you gutless worm.

Enough with the anatomy lessons. Let's talk about the reason we're all here. If you remember my review of Jess Franco's Broken Dolls, you will recall that I was justifiably fixated with late career Franco starlet Christie Levin. Calling her, "one of the sexiest women ever to appear in the Jess Franco universe," I was obsessed with the saucy minx with the giant eyes and pillowy, bee-stung lips.

Informed by a loyal reader that Christie Levin's turn in Snakewoman (2005) was just as sexy, I made the watching of this film a top priority. Or did I? Sitting on my shelf for what seemed like an eternity, I made severally attempts to watch Snakewoman over the past year. Tired of waiting for Christie Levin to appear on-screen, I found myself fast-forwarding to her scenes out of frustration. And when Christie Levin stopped appearing all-together, I usually turned off the film.

After doing this three or four times, I gave up. That is, until, I found myself with nothing to watch one week (even my emergency stash of Taija Rae porn had dried up). I wondered to myself: What would Snakewoman be like if I watched it at regular speed?

Is it dull, tedious, amateurish and asinine? Sure. I mean, twenty minutes is a pretty long time to watch two lesbians unenthusiastically grope one another. I don't care if one of the lesbians is played by "one of the sexiest women ever to appear in the Jess Franco universe," I've got less important things to do. Nevertheless, the film still manages to project that uniquely oft-kilter Jess Franco vibe that I've come to love.

Utilizing the minimal resources at hand, Jess Franco updates his vampire lesbian trope for a whole new generation. Creating a world where low-key dread and cunnilingial distress collide with one another on a semi-regular basis, the film retains its otherworldliness, or, I should say, its Franconess, despite its obvious deficiencies when it came to just about everything.

The film's plot, like, Vampyros Lesbos, Female Vampire and, to a lesser extent, Lorna The Exorcist, involves a straight-laced woman, Carla (Fata Morgana), becoming enchanted by a female vampire. Even though she's got big vaginas to fill, Carman Montes does a capable job in the role of the film's primary enchantress, an ageless Hungarian flapper with a large snake tattoo that snakes across her torso like a... snake. A staunch lesbian and an even stauncher vampire, Oriana Balasz haunts the grounds of her palatial home, which, from the looks of it, is now some kind of monastery/mental asylum.

Run by a grizzled monk, Franco regular Antonio Mayans, the monastery/mental asylum is where Christie Levin's "Alpha" spends the bulk of her time writhing. Usually seen wandering the around in a long white nightshirt, like, Catherine Lafferière's character in Lorna The Exorcist, is under the spell of a female demon.

The reason Carla is at the home of Oriana Balasz is because the production company she works for would like the purchase the rights to her films and music. Produced mainly during the 20s and 30s, Carla's employers think they can make a fortune off Oriana's erotically-charged work. Of course, things get complicated for Carla, who is, for some reason, wearing a judogi, when she starts seeing the always naked Oriana in her room. Which, as you might expect, distracts her from completing the task at hand. Or maybe it actually helps her, as asking Oriana to sell her the rights to her work directly would probably make things a whole lot easier.

Though, I have to say, she might not be able to hear you given that she's currently gnawing on your clit. Ouch. Anyway, I think that pretty much covers the plot.

While the decision to have Carla wear that judogi-inspired outfit for the bulk of the movie was beyond aggravating (get this woman a frilly white blouse, a tight red leather skirt, a pair of jet black fully-fashioned stockings and some chunky cherry-red stripper heels, stat!), the inclusion of synth flourishes made things a little more tolerable. That's right, Snakewoman is chock-full of synth flourishes. I was taken aback, as I don't usually associate Jess Franco movies with synthesizers.

Even though she only gets two measly close-ups, Christie Levin still manages to ooze resplendence as a mildly deranged lesbian mental patient. Whether ambling through a field of sunflowers or massaging a lesbian vampire's hairy labia, Christie knows what fans of Jess Franco want to see. (And that is?) And that is, attractive women with humongous eyes and bulbous lips teetering on the brink of a total and absolute psycho-sexual breakdown. Only problem being, you're going to have to wade through an awful lot of uneventful nonsense to see Christie Levin do her thing. And trust me, this film is filled with shitloads of uneventful nonsense.