Archive for the 'western' Category

14
Feb
09

Feast 3 – The Happy Finish

Feast III - The Happy Ending

Feast III - The Happy Finish

And now we reach the end of the Feast trilogy (assuming they do end it here that is) with Feast III – The Happy Finish..

The first five minutes of Feast III consists of flashbacks to Feast and Feast II. Feast III continues on right from the end of Feast II showing what happens to Honey Pie (shant spoil it) and the rest of the gang.

As we’ve come to expect from the previous two movies, Feast III has the usual amount of schoolboy humour and over the top gore/comedy.

Having survived Fast II, the group meet up with a Duke Nukem/cowboy who has a plan for survival, which comes to a rather unfortunate end, leaving the group at a loss for leadership. This is soon remedied by a mysterious ‘prophet’ who seems to have some sort of control over the beasts (whom we still know little, to nothing, about).

But before the meeting is surely one of Feast III’s funniest moments. Ass rape. Yes, that’s right, I’ve managed to write a review with a humorous scene of ass rape. Our ex-car dealer has his back to the wall, while trapped in a storage container. Unfortunately, said wall has a hole in it which one of the randy beasts decides to make good use of. The rest you can find out while watching it.

Ass rape - in this case, it's funny.

Ass rape - in this case, it's funny.

As the beasts run from the mysterious ‘prophet’ the gang take his advice and head for the place where the trilogies humour comes from: the sewers. Here they meet a Macguyver/Bruce Lee wannabe.

Beast balls! Gratuitous sack shot

Beast balls! Gratuitous alien sack shot

Another humorous thing in Feast III is the pole-in-head guy from Feast II. With a pole through your head, I’m sure it’d be quite difficult to talk and you’d be even harder to understand. Subtitles to the rescue! Yes, every time pole-in-the-head guy talks, we get subtitles showing, approximately, what he’s mumbling.

Pole-in-the-head guy goes delerious.

Pole-in-the-head guy goes delirious and thinks one of the midgets is his son.

The survivors leave the sewers and head for street level where the trilogies ending begins.

I’m not going to spoil it, but I enjoyed the ending. Some may not like it, but it’s suitable for the Feast movies. In fact, I’ve enjoyed all three Feast films. They’ve been funny, gory, chock full of boobage and schoolboy humour.

Long may it last. More Feast and more schoolboy humour please!*

* and, of course, boobs

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02
Oct
08

Sundown starring David Carradine and Bruce Campbell

A movie that IS as awesome as it SOUNDS.

A movie that IS as awesome as it SOUNDS.

All too often were subjected to movies that sound amazing on paper.  A strong cast, a great plot, a neat idea or two to mix things up, and of course, familiarity.   Sundown has all of this, and more.  The only difference between Sundown and most other films, is it actually delivers on it’s promises.

Combining a modern day western with a vampiric twist, Sundown helps itself out by recruiting two very well-liked actors, David Carradine and Bruce “Ash” Campbell.  The trick with using actors who come with such star power and fanfare is to not abuse them, and not make the movie all about banking on your stars and resting on your laurels.

And boy oh boy did they get this right.  The supporting cast does a great job of filling out the sleepy western town of Purgatory, and the “stars” actually wind up not being in the film that much.  Carradine and Campbell are vital to the storyline, but they aren’t the main focus, and that just serves to make their screen time that much more valuable and entertaining.  In fact, almost a third of the movie ticks away before either of them pop up on screen, and Sundown benefits from that, letting you start to really understand the plight of the new wave of vampires, their town, and their visitors trapped in the middle of what is no less than a war within the vampire world.

As in any properly done western, you need at least two rival factions, and some people caught in the middle.  Sundown provides this with a stunning twist.  There is a new group of vampires, led by Carradine (who turns out to be one of the most famous vampires ever, in yet another clever twist) who seek to create synthetic blood, so they don’t have to kill humans anymore to feed.  Yes, noble vampires.  Also, vampires in Purgatory have super powered sunblock, so they can be in the sun and not die a horrible death.  So there is the new guard, let by an old vampire who wishes to seamlessly blend in with humans, and of course there is old guard, who believe it is their vampiric right to hunt the humans, who are “beneath them.”  Really good stuff here.

I don’t want to discuss more plot though, for fear I might have already given away some of the juicier bits.  There’s a family in the middle that create some really nice drama elements, and have their own believable tie in to the vampire world, but I’ll let you see that one develop for yourself.  It comes to a very satisfactory conclusion however, trust me on that.

Good acting from almost everyone on screen.  A tight, nearly hole less plot.  What about the special effects?  Well, this isn’t an overly bloody flick, but we do get a nice decapitation early and a cool exploding body, along with some bullet wounds and the like.  This flick ain’t about using gore and blood to overpower the audience.  Instead, they use subtle humor that never gets too goofy or campy, charming characters that are vivid and colorful, and again, that dynamite plot to keep pushing things forward.  Pacing here also never steps on the movie’s toes, as were never left knowing exactly what’s going to happen but becoming bored waiting for that predictable climax.

I liken this film to some of my other favorites like The Monster Squad, Goonies, and even to a degree the Evil Dead series.  There’s that intangible good time 80’s vibe that genre movies since then really haven’t been able to recreate.  I mean there is some dark, heavy stuff going on in Sundown, yet you can’t help but go through the whole thing with a smile on your face, enjoying every bit of it.  It’s the kind of flick you would show your kids when they are getting a little older, and you want to introduce them to the glory days of horror pictures.  It has a timeless, classic feeling to it, doesn’t take itself to seriously, and puts fun ahead of everything else, while simultaneously doing all those other little things right.

Sundown really doesn’t have any major glaring flaws.  It’s quick, smart, light-hearted horror fun.  Combine that with enough vampire lore and plot twists to satisfy even the most jaded of horror fans, and you have a gem that should skyrocket to the top of your must watch list.

A forgotten classic that should be required viewing.

30
Sep
08

Sleazoid Express by Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford

Sleazoid Express by Bill Landis & Michelle Clifford

Sleazoid Express by Bill Landis & Michelle Clifford

With a sub-title like: A Mind Twisting Tour Through The Grindhouse Cinema Of Times Square!, how could I resist?

The book begins way back in the 60s where it goes in to great detail about the atmosphere in grindhouse cinemas and the danger that lurked in some of these hell holes. Initially this chapter seemed completely pointless, but reading on – you realise that you needed that chapter to give you the background of which cinema was where, who owned it and it’s reputation within the legendary 42nd Street.

Sleazoid Express moves chronologically through the exploitation movies being peddled. Filled with crackheads, thiefs and prostitutes/pimps 42nd Street certainly sounds sleazy! Beginning with the Olga series of movies (a pre-cursor to the Ilsa movies) it often gives a brief review (sometimes a lengthy review, if the film was decent) of the movie plot and, most times, even giving away the ending, so if you don’t want your plots spoiled, beware! But lets face it, how many exploitation movies have an in depth plot or twist ending?

The chapters are genre points within the exploitation time line, chapter titles such as: The Anco Does A Gendertwist and Blood Horror: Chopping ‘Em Up At The Rialto hint at the subjects (the Anco and Rialto being cinemas with Times Square). Many different types of film are spoken about in the book, everything from the early gore classics (Blood Feast) through to the zombie flicks, cannibal movies and even the influx of gorey westerns and wacky oriental fung-fu movies (Flying Guillotine).

Just shy of 300 pages the book also lists exploitation video companies who still sell many of the gems mentioned in the book. The index is excellent as lists actors, directors and film titles, so it’s easy to dive in to the book to find a fact. This is THE exploitation book to own, Nightmare USA is also excellent, but spends too much time reviewing, Sleazoid Express gives history, and life, to the home of exploitation cinema. If you want to know how it all started, this is the book you want.

Favourite fact gleaned from the book? The fact that Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS) is now an ordained minister!

SEE ALSO: Nightmare USA – The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents.

26
Sep
08

Undead or Alive starring Chris Kattan

Close, but no cigar.  Still worth a look for the zombie completist however.

Close, but no cigar. Still worth a look for the zombie completist however.

The combination of the undead, cowboys and indains should be a no-brainer.  I mean, the wild west was one of the most violent and turbulent places the world had ever seen.  So much so, that the legends that were created by stories of shootouts behind corrals and horseback train robbery’s have spawned countless movie interpretations and made stars out of people like Clint Eastwood and “The Duke.”  Zombies have succeeded in having good movies in almost every setting.  The jungle, the suburbs, the country-side, metropolis’s, shopping malls, and even outer space.  But as of yet,  I have not seen a good western zombie mash up.  And while Undead or Alive tries it’s hardest to be that definitive crossover, it falls short of reaching that goal in some key areas.

Let’s start with the plot.

Army deserter Elmer Winslow and local cowboy Luke Budd are on the run after robbing the evil Sheriff Claypool, stealing his money and fleeing the town, they find themselves with an angry posse on their trail. Joining Elmer and Luke is an Apache warrior, who’s out to wreak vengeance on behalf of her decimated people; her plan is to attack the U.S. Army wherever she can find it, and she takes Elmer up on his offer to go with her to the nearest Army outpost he knows. Their plans become complicated when they discover that, as a result of the great Apache Geronimo’s curse on the white man, all the people of the surrounding areas have turned into zombies. Anonymous on imdb.

I have no complaints with this.  Not over-complicated, but it has enough events to warrant the 90 minute run time.  The problems come up when we start getting subplots, like the one of the priest in the town.  So much time was taken up by his plight, and in the end, nothing really came of it.  The zombies in the town don’t factor in at all to our main trio of characters and their finale.

Speaking the of climax, it’s awful.  The movie, as least from my viewing, ends like 5 times.  So many fade to blacks and dramatic last shots make it seem like the directors and writers didn’t know if they wanted to end the film with things not working out to well for our heroes, or with an open-ended sequel ready finish, or with a happy ending.  Instead we see all those endings, and then end up with a weird combination of all of them being our true, final end.

The ever-changing ending wasn’t helped by the film’s tone.  Undead or Alive goes from serious, to satirical, to goofball “national lampoon” comedy, to…I don’t even know.  Just when your settling in, thinking the flick is going to calm down and stick to one mood, your thrown completely off by Chris Kattan (of SNL fame) doing some 3 Stooges level physical comedy.  That makes it sound like I’m bashing Kattan’s performance here, and I’m not.  Kattan and Denton actually make this movie watchable, prying every morsel of fun and charm out of their onscreen persona’s as possible.  Sheriff Claypool is a great villain, and it was a shame that we didn’t see more of him, and less of Sue, the Indian woman and token female member of the outlaw set of Elmer and Luke.

The music in Undead or Alive really is the final blow however.  It just sucks.  There’s no way I can be eloquent about this.  A combination of a soundtrack and a score, it makes my head swirl with anger that they couldn’t just decide to have a score or a soundtrack, and then when they created a hybrid, the music was so annoying it nearly makes the scenes they are played in unwatchable.  If you want a lesson in how to let the audio completely ruin pieces of your film, watch Undead or Alive.

Ironically enough, the producers money that didn’t go into having a descent set of music to accompany their film, apparently went to having amazing special f/x, gore, and make up.  Zombie design is simple yet brilliant, and some of the kills are completely new to me.  Robert Kurtzman of famed KNB effects was the special effects adviser though, which explains why the f/x were so well done.

For the zombie completist, this is worth a rental if only see something new and different.  For all other interested parties, there are much better “zombedies” out there, such as Dead and Breakfast and Shaun of the Dead that deserve your time more than Undead or Alive.  For those waiting for the successful marriage of cowboys, Indians, and the walking dead, we will just have to wait some more.