Posts Tagged ‘western


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.


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.