French humor is an inherently dicey proposition. [CineSchlockers are encouraged to insert their own snarky Jerry Lewis quip.] But shoot ’em up maestros Jean Reno and Luc Besson sucker-punch the national stereotype whilst successfully mining familiar territory for some wry yucks that stray easily into slapstick.
Hubert (Reno) is of the Parisian "Dirty Harry" school of law enforcement who packs an appropriately oversized hand cannon, though he much prefers dispatching transsexual bank robbers, and their law-flouting kind, with a mighty MEAN right cross. As the genre dictates, cookies this tough gotta have a doughy center from which to properly brood. Hubert was unceremoniously dumped by his Japanese squeeze 20, er, NINETEEN years ago, but when she turns up dead, he’s called to Japan in order to settle her estate, and more importantly, take charge of the daughter he never knew existed.
Ryoko Hirosue stars as the yummy Yumi who whirls and squeaks like an unnaturally cute video game pixie. Add a 200 million dollar inheritance and the yakuza scarface known as the Zebra (Yoshi Oida) who wants it back and Hubert’s got every excuse to clobber and blow folks up, in other words, there’s a PLOT! Along the way,
CineSchlockers won’t be able to take their peepers off chinless goofball Michel Muller as Reno’s wacky man in Japan. Cowboy up and ditch the horrendous English dub. Subtitles never kilt anybody.
No breasts. 20 corpses. Chiclet spitting. Gratuitous plunger-style TNT detonator. Racking. Golf as a martial art. Gratuitous French lesson. Puking. High-tech disco dancing. Gratuitous fashion show. Comely Ms. Carole Bouquet makes Hubert a tempting offer, "When your heart’s free, call me. I can’t cook, but I make love very well."
The Wasp Woman
Janice Starlin is the aging cover girl and president of a cosmetics company who illustrates the extent some gals will go for vanity. Susan Cabot plays Starlin who enlists the aid of a mad scientist who promises to make a miracle age-reversing salve out of insect squeezings. The actress wears glasses and bad makeup to make herself appear shabby, and as she begins taking the quack’s experimental injections, off come the glasses and the supporting cast can’t believe her transformation. Such monkeying with nature must not go unpunished, and doesn’t. Yet not before Starlin transmutates into a bug-eyed beast and starts gnawing on the hired help.
B-legend Roger Corman made Wasp Woman in his typically speedy and miserly fashion — less than two weeks and $50,000.
Notables: No breasts. Six corpses. Gratuitous montage sequences. Cat attack. Bitch slapping. Bee husbandry. Hit-and-run accident. Pipe smoking.
Quotables: Just in case the audience doesn’t know, this helpful fella warns, "Wasps?! Better be careful, they can sting a man to death!" Sexist mover hits on a member of the secretarial pool, "Hi, pretty puss." There’s apparent need for panic, "The enzymes! The enzymes have gone CRAZY!!!"
Time codes: Guinea pig miraculously turned into rat (18:30). First injection of bug juice (35:00). Attack of Wasp Woman (52:08).
Watermelon’s Baked & Baking
Turns out there’s more to marijuana cuisine than brownies. Who knew? Why, High Times covergirl/comic/nudist/gingersnap trafficker Watermelon that’s WHO! And she’s slinked herself into a ravishing red ensemble just to ensure we’re all paying attention. Mighty appreciated! Hardly necessary. Her vaudeville-friendly cooking show is sublimely delish with a wry wit that favors kitsch over time-honored stoner humor that could’ve left it Half Baked or Up In Smoke. Canadian comedians Irwin Barker and Christine "Tiny" Taylor assist with six culinary delights from Marijuana Martinis to Happy Apples and Creme Demented. In between, there’s the oddball antics of the Ta-Da Girl and Tiny’s bizarro pot puppetry with a boozing frog, bare-nekkid Barbies and a toasted teddy. Forget Colin’s porn stars. Watermelon is what’s cookin’!
Weasels Rip My Flesh
Serious gorehounds can, at long last, retire their ragged VHS dupes of Long Island auteur Nathan Schiff‘s grew-strewn sub-sub-sub-cult classicks. Lovingly remastered from original 8mm elements, these seductively titled, yet primitive and gleefully grotesque exercises in backyard filmmaking are an acquired taste.
Weasels Rip My Flesh (1979) begins the trio with a ’50s-style tale of giagundous papier mache rodents crazed for human flesh by radioactive litter from the planet Venus. Blessedly, the running time’s only an hour.
While Mr. Schiff’s first honest and most entertaining feature, Long Island Cannibal Massacre (1980), truly delivers on its murderous moniker with nasal-voiced girlies ground face-first into Lawn Boys and a disgustin’ final-reel CHAINSAW dismemberment that’s either the most DANGEROUS ever filmed or the most expertly choreographed! Although it’s a rough ride til that memorable moment, but it’s worth it, especially when the peanut butter-faced cannibal king lets his brood of angelic little girls lick the plate, so to speak.
Finally, there’s Nick’s furious skewering of ’80s greed, They Don’t Cut the Grass Anymore (1985), about a pair of hayseed gardeners who butcher anyone who sniffs coke or wears designer clothes. With a yuppie getting pointy unpleasantness shoved up you know where, a nether-noshing canine and about two too many protracted cranial crushings, it’s the most, um, AMBITIOUS of the bunch gore wise.
Of all the promises of the ’80s techno revolution, none is more disappointing than the inability, all these years later, to summon a panting, scantily clad Kelly LeBrock within a half dozen keystrokes of any personal computer. Darn you, John Hughes! Until that day manifests, one that’ll end all traditional romance, we’ll just have to keep rolling this classic a half dozen times a year to keep Wyatt and Garry’s dream alive.
Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith play said teenage horndogs who, after staying up way too late watching an old Frankenstein picture, cram Wyatt’s soup’d up Memotech MTX512 full of centerfold clippings and somehow manage to transmutate a Barbi doll into the real thing. First order of business? A shower! That’s thinking, boys. Sure, if it’d been any of us random CineSchlockers, the plot would’ve played out a wee bit different, which is what keeps Jenna Jameson in zillion-dollar Italian thongs. Here, Lisa’s actually more of a Barbara Eden type, who helps her pimply masters win friends by getting really, really liquored up at a blues bar, throwing wild parties and zooming around town in fancy sports cars. That is when Wyatt’s a-hole bubba Chet isn’t raining on their parade (an inspired performance by Bill Paxton for certain). Such forays into personal growth are naturally far more entertaining when your guide is Kelly freakin’ LeBrock — even with that one ’80s folic disaster that’s teased out so much it engulfs the entire screen!
Surely that wasn’t what inspired Steven Segall to hatch FOUR little yard monsters with her. Anyway, this rerelease reintegrates original music into a couple key scenes — the "Pretty Woman" cover as Lisa struts up a mall escalator and the Rocky theme for her salacious gym-class epilogue. Speaking of, if there were ever unrequited sequel bait, that’d be it! Perhaps they’re afraid they’d never eclipse the 88 episodes of Vanessa Angel‘s titular TV series.
Two breasts (No, not hers). Unsanctioned donning of bras. Indoor motocross (Yep, that’s our buddy Michael Berryman). Atomic wedgies. Reverse photography shenanigans. Gratuitous jive talking. Man panties. Giant farting slime monster. Gratuitous urination. Geriatric freeze tag. Garry dares to dream: "We gotta fill this thing with data! We’ve gotta make it as real as possible, Wyatt! I want her to live! I want her to breathe! I want her to AEROBICIZE!"
Where the Buffalo Roam
How could I resist? Bill Murray as Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Come on, that’s absurd, right? Well, Bill wasn’t half bad in Where the Buffalo Roam (1980, 99 minutes). But 20 years later, it’s impossible not to compare his to Johnny Depp‘s astounding performance in Terry Gilliam‘s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. While Murray does an admirable job aping a believable Thompson — Depp literally morphs into Dr. Gonzo. The two do have something beyond the subject matter in common: NO ONE WENT TO THEIR GOLDANG MOVIE. That’s a shame, especially for Mr. Depp. But Bill took solace in Caddyshack, released about three months after Buffalo roamed itself right out of theaters.
The movie: We follow the exploits of Thompson and his attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta (for some reason called "Laslow") as Hunter covers a 1968 pot trial, the 1972 Super Bowl and presidential campaign — including a urinal-side interview with Richard M. Nixon. Along the way, Laslow (Peter Boyle) disappears and reemerges in Hunter’s world, always at a pivotal point, where the journalist is lured even further down life’s weirdest path. It’s a trail littered with booze, weird chemicals and general mischief. The movie’s far more accessible than Fear and Loathing, but no where near as hallucinogenic. Includes music by Neil Young. Look for "Benson" star Rene Auberjonois as Harris from The Post.
Notables: No breasts. Herd of buffalo. One stuffed bat. Dog attack. Dancing nurse. Slime-ball lawyers. Involuntary blood-pressure check. Midget bellhops. M-16 shooting. Gun running. Mace to the eyes. Whiskey-drinking Doberman. Fire extinguisher brandishing. One fake Nixon. Gratuitous urination.
Quotables: Any mumbled stream of verbiage from Murray as the good doctor including, "I hate to advocate drugs, liquor, violence or insanity to anyone — but in my case, it’s worked."
Time codes: Thompson types and drives a car … one more successfully than the other (12:42). A hell of a Super Bowl party (54:50). Stewardess swigs beer (1:16:45).
Final thought: The second-best film tribute to a fine American.
Wild Things 2
Here’s a sequel for those yayhoos who invested themselves in the PLOT the first go around. Let’s see, that’s … one … two … THREE people. Five TOPS if ya throw in the writer and director. But mainly we’re talkin’ Denise Richards, Neve Campbell and Matt Dillon.
The thespianic trio who somehow rationalized themselves into, for art’s sake, mainstream Hollywood’s most champagne-slathered group grope. See they HAD to give a rat’s hiney about who quadruple-crossed who just to look their sainted mamas square in the eye afterward. The rest of us? That’s why our Japanese brothers invented fast-forward and slow-mo buttons. So, Denise darlin … Neve, Matt, you kiddos go right ahead and watch some MORE pretzel’d plotlines.
We freeze-frame perverts will rejoin ya about 40 minutes in when the requisite menage ensues betwixt nuevo-riche girl Susan Ward, bad girl Leila Arcieri and crooked coroner Tony Denison (plus a body double recouping her career investment.) Although, it’s hardly worth popping a cork over. CineSchlockers smitten by Ms. Ward’s enormous, yet untapped talents should consider perusing the international cut of The In Crowd.
Six breasts. Four corpses. Gratuitous fan-boat footage. Heckling. Slow-mo volleyball jiggle fest. Gratuitous shower sequence. Poolside mourning. Lesbian tongue rasslin. Bitch slapping. Stout nominee for Line of the Year: "He’d seen more p@#&$ than an animal hospital."
While miles shy of John Carpenter‘s transcendent remake of The Thing From Another World, this enthusiastic update of the 1971 goober-meets-critter buddy flick didn’t grossly disappoint anywhere except the box office.
After a dismal first test screening, cuts were made to earn a more marketable PG-13 rating and the film’s forboding, languid pace was quickened. Round two tested even worse, so a new (and probably improved) ending was added that departed from the original film. Then a third test audience, of mostly teens, rated the flick still lower than the previous two groups.
That’s a third-strike death sentence in Hollywood, whereas had writer/director Glen Morgan and partner James Wong gone with their initial creative vision, they’d likely have done no worse and possibly quite better at multiplexes. It’s a regret Morgan doesn’t mask in Julie Ng‘s quirky "Year of the Rat" — a feature-length "making of" documentary from pre-production to box office dud.
CineSchlockers will wish many of the deleted scenes featured on the disc were reintegrated into the film, especially Mr. Martin’s far more satisfying demise, complete with a torso-boring rat suggested by, get this, Steven Spielberg! In all, New Line’s essentially tattled on itself by presenting another prime case where the extras nearly outshine and certainly clarify how criminally hen-pecked the theatrical presentation was. Still, it’s a heckuva time.
Mr. Glover so nearly out twitches Anthony Perkins in this heavily Hitchcock-minded effort, that it’s inconceivable the former McFly was at the TAIL of the Willard wish list! His equally mesmerizing and HILARIOUS performance coupled with sets ALIVE with willy-inducing vermin make this a must-see, if not a great movie. (Careful not to let the skittering soundtrack convince you to phone an exterminator.)
No breasts. Two corpses. Geriatric toe jam. Gratuitous "rats on parade" montage. Pomeranian pummeling. Clever Bruce Davidson cameo. Random porn starlet. Incontinent kitty. Commode kamikazes. Voluntary amputation. Zany accordion soundtrack. R. Lee Ermey knows no subtlety as the pitchfork rattling Mr. Martin: "There’s one thing that you will never understand, Willard. Business is a rat race! Promise or no promise, I will NOT allow myself to be DEVOURED by all those other rats because of YOU!!!"
William S. Burroughs: Commissioner of Sewers
CineSchlockers intrigued by Wild Bill’s readings on Criterion’s exquisite ode to Naked Lunch might consider picking up this odd compendium of spoken-word performances, experimental films and interview footage for another tantalizing glimpse at the Godfather of the Beats. Sequences of particular note are "Words of Advice to Young People," "The 10 Commandments Updated" and Gus van Sant‘s visualization of "A Thanksgiving Prayer." The latter remains chillingly sobering. Oh, and just to tap the schlock base, it don’t get more cringe worthy than hearing Mr. Burroughs warble "Falling In Love Again" in German.
William Shatner’s Spplat Attack
Wanna see an 80-minute "documentary" about a Star Trek-themed paintball match?
No!? Are you sure? Captain Kirk’s in it! And there’s paintball. That’s cool, right? No, of course not.
There’s little doubt the 1,500 sum odd Trekkies who converged on Challenge Park Xtreme near Chicago to bean Bill Shatner had themselves a grand time, but it’s goldang unbearable on home video. Besides, it hardly seems FAIR given the oversized target Bill’s presenting these days. Paintball guru Tom Kaye and radio weenie Mancow lead the Borg and Klingon armies against the Shatnerites in what seems an endless battle.
Check out timecodes (9:02) and (33:48) to hear Cap’n Kirk utter colorful metaphors such as "HOLY S@#&!!!"