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.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Eyes of Fire (Avery Crounse, 1983)

Other people talk about movies that shaped them as children with a nostalgia-laced glee. Unfortunately, I didn't really watch movies as a child. Oh, sure. I saw one or two a year, but they didn't really make that much of a lasting impression on me. Now, you might be thinking to yourself: If you didn't watch movies as a child, what did you do instead? Um, duh. I was out frolicking in the woods. What were you doing? Which brings me to the amazing, the one of a kind, the wonderfully lush and the creepy as all get out, Eyes of Fire. A movie that not only scratched the living fuck out of at least seven of my primary itches, it managed to reinvigorate my love of the forest. (Wait. I thought you despised nature?) Nah, I love nature. Granted, I'm not a big fan of jungles. But that's mostly to do with my dislike of dank, humid weather and khaki-coloured clothing. Anyway, even though I'm drawn to the city, the forest is where I'm most comfortable. Which, in a way,  explains why Avery Crounse's sinister ode to devils, ghosts, magic, fairies and witchcraft is the first film to remind me of my childhood in a long time. In fact, you could view it as an eerily accurate documentation of my early days growing up in the wilds of suburbia. You see, whereas most suburbs are simply a collection of bland subdivisions, mine was surrounded by a glacial ravine that formed after the last Ice Age. Isn't that rad? Well, I think it is.

Enough about my childhood. You know why so many prayers go unanswered in North America? That's because their religion probably doesn't work here. In order to make your particular brand of voodoo function properly, you need to practice it in the place it originated. For example, if your belief system was founded in, oh, let's say, the Middle East, you're going to have a better chance of getting it to work over there.

It's true, I first got wind of this theory from a mentally-ill man who used to scream at shoppers near Yonge and Dundas in Toronto, Ontario. Nevertheless, I think this nut-job was onto something, because the Christian characters in Eyes of Fire come face-to-face with "The Great Spirit" of The Shawnee and things don't exactly go their way.

It should be noted, however, that the pious characters have an Irish faerie in their midst. Meaning, her voodoo originated in Ireland. Which, as most of you know, is closer to North America than the Holy land. You see what I'm getting at? The shock-haired Leah, "Queen of the Forest" (Karlene Crocket), has a better chance of defeating the devil witches that populate the pristine woodlands of 1750's America than Will Smythe (Dennis Lipscomb) and his puffy-shirted brand of Christendom.

Of course, I'm not saying that every forest in 1750's America was crawling with devil witches, and, not to mention, deformed tree people. It just so happens that the forest that Will Smythe and his wives and children decide to call their promise land is home to the spirits of the dead.

Everything that enters this deceptively serene valley is eventually absorbed by the forest. If you look closely, you can see human faces peppered across the trunks of the trees in the early going. Or, at least, I saw faces. Don't forget, I spent the bulk of my childhood inside an ancient glacial ravine. In other words, I some times have trouble distinguishing trees from people and vice-versa.

The Shawnee, despite the intrusive nature of the settlers, try to warn outsiders by draping the entrance to the valley with white feathers. But Will Smythe dismisses it as Native American poppycock, and continues on his merry way. Come to think of it, I think the feathers were put there to warn other Shawnee, not wayward white people. Either way, Will Smythe ignores the warning.

Quirky fun-fact: Most European settlers during this period didn't view themselves as intruders, but as pioneers.

Stumbling upon the ruins of a previous settlement, the pompous preacher/polygamist declares it to be their new home.

Shocked to discover that his wife and daughter have fled into the wilderness with a perverted preacher, Marion Dalton (Guy Boyd), a rugged frontiersman, catches up with them just they're about to put down roots in the valley.

While Leah and Marion (who is quite knowledgeable when it comes to Shawnee folklore) are keenly aware of the evil that surrounds them, Will Smythe and his followers remain blissfully ignorant to the danger. The big question being: Will Marion be able to convince his wife and daughter that this Will Smythe guy is a fraud in time before the forest absorbs their souls? Probably. I mean, I hope so.

Nonetheless, the foreboding atmosphere the film manages to maintain throughout its spry running time is the film's strong suit (we only get brief shots of the ghosts at first). The film's unique (Ken Russell-esque) special effects are also an important factor, as they add an almost surreal element to the proceedings.

As expected, out of all the characters, I related to Leah and her pale knees the most. Call me crazy, but the shots of her acting weird and slightly demented in the woods were like looking directly into a mirror (minus, of course, the 1700s nightshirt and large mane of curly red hair).

I don't know if I still have this ability, but there once was a time when could hear the trees talking to one another (using a series of creaking sounds). I'm almost tempted to revisit the glacial ravine of my not even close to being misspent youth to see if I still have the power. What I think I'm trying to say is, I miss the woods. And Eyes of Fire managed to rekindle my desire to lose myself within its verdant splendour.

Oh, and to my surprise, the film isn't Canadian. Believe it or not, it's American (shot in Missouri). Nonetheless, it has this strange Canuck vibe about it.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mission: Killfast (Ted V. Mikels, 1991)

If this film is really from 1991, then why does Sharon Hughes' hair look exactly the way it does in Chained Heat... from 1983? Of course, I found out later that Ted V. Mikels' Mission: Killfast was actually shot in the early 1980s but not released until 1991. But still, the amount of 1980s stuff in this film (big hair, Uzis, Jewel Shepard's puffy nipples, etc.) threw me for a loop. I know, I've said in the past that 1991 is more '80s than some years that appeared in the actual 1980s. But this is 1983, or maybe even 1982, we're talking about. Anyway, after clearing up the whole year thing, I decided that I was going to accuse Ted V. Mikels (Corpse Grinders) of ripping off Andy Sidaris. But thanks to the year debacle, it looks like that's not going to happen now (I had this idea that Ted V. Mikels was trying to replicate Andy Sidaris' Girls, Guns and G-Strings formula). Nonetheless, the film, whether it's an Andy Sidaris clone or not, is still a garbage. However, there were certain parts that I did enjoy. Though, I have to say, the film's annoying habit of killing off my favourite female characters did test my patience. I mean, at least four hot babes are murdered in this movie. Either way, the film's fixation with showing Shanti modeling bikinis was wonderfully bizarre. Why is it "wonderfully bizarre"? It's simple, really. You don't often see mature models in movies. Yet, this film features a woman (with, mind you, a shaved head) in, oh, let's say, her early fifties, modeling bikinis... in the middle of the day!

When I saw Shanti (a.k.a. Wendy Altamura) modeling '80s-style swimwear pool side (like I said, in the middle of the day!) at around the eleven minute mark, I thought to myself: Damn, I might have to review this piece of shit.

Then I saw Shanti sending a fax using a fax machine (duh) while wearing a kufi and red thigh-high boots. When I saw this, I was like, Stop it, movie. Don't make me review your stupid ass.

The film ultimately left me no choice when it showed a bikini-clad Shanti posing for photos at the beach. If I didn't have a soft spot for mature women with ultra-short hair, I would have tossed this movie's bloated corpse in the nearest dumpster.

Or would I have? You see, the film introduces us to Sharon Hughes' Catt Valone pretty late in the game. And, I think most people will agree, she's the best non-Shanti thing in this movie. For starters, she's a real actress. And secondly, she has big hair. Think about that. She can recite scripted dialogue in a semi-convincing manner and she has big hair.

I'm afraid the same can't be said for the rest of the chuckleheads who appear in this movie.

The film's supposed "star," Tiger Yang, is adept at kicking people in the face and that's about it.

As for the actors who play the seemingly never-ending cadre of lumpy, middle-aged henchmen, they bring nothing to the table. Hell, one of these lumpy fucks is repeatedly upstaged by a never not pool side leggy blonde floozy. Clearly told by the director to fawn all over this lumpy fuck, the never not pool side leggy blonde floozy gets nowhere with him. Yep, this Crisco-scented tub of reticulated ass-fuckery just sits there as a leggy angel in a black one-piece bathing suit acts circles around him. Or maybe she was overacting? Nah, it was all that tubby asshole's fault. To make matters worse, they have two scenes together.

On the bright side, the never not pool side leggy blonde floozy is the only female character who doesn't die horribly in this film. Yay?

Should I bother doing a synopsis of the film's plot? Um, sure, why not. Let's see if I remember what happens, plot-wise.

A unnamed big-haired brunette steals case containing detonators for an atomic bomb. When the big-haired brunette tries to sell the detonators to a gang of criminals, she winds up dead (she asks for too much money). Not wanting the detonators to fall into the hands of terrorists, the government (lead by Ronald Gregg) enlists the help of Tiger Yang, a retired C.I.A. agent turned martial arts instructor. Detonators. Terrorists. Tiger Yang. Yep, that pretty much covers it.

Did I mention the criminals who steal the detonators run a magazine called "Scam"? No? How strange. At any rate, some of the film's best scenes involve the running of this magazine. Mainly the scenes, where, you guessed it, the milf-tastic Shanti poses for photos.

Fans of older women in headbands will love the fact that Shanti's headbands always match her outfit. (Get the fuck out of here. They can't always match.) Trust me, they always match. Always.

If you're wondering if Jewel Shepard's headband matches her outfit, stop wondering. Her character, in a shocking twist, doesn't wear clothes. (Not even a headband?) Man, you guys and your obsession with ladies in headbands. No, she doesn't wear a headband.

Even though Mission: Killfast is a colossal failure as an action movie (even the explosion effects are laughably bad), the film will definitely satisfy fans of Andy Sidaris/Amir Shervan-style action-adventure films. In other words, if you like gross incompetence and '80s fashion, you might want to check out this out. At the very least, fast-forward to good parts, i.e. the scenes featuring the unknown big-haired brunette, Shanti, Jewel Shepard and Sharon Hughes.