Sunday, October 2, 2011

Listomania!: Thomas' September 2011 Viewings

THE MAN ON THE ROOF (1976): Bo Widerberg's cool, gritty, realistic police thriller based on Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö's Martin Beck novel of the same title. An old cop is brutally murdered in a hospital room in a genuinely creepy opening sequence that feels like it was straight out of an Argento movie of the same era. As detective Martin Beck investigates the case, it becomes clear that this was one bad cop and that a lot of people may have had it in for him, even worse, one of those people could be a police officer. Gritty and stark, Widerberg plays out the scenario with an almost documentary style (aside from the opening scene), with minimal music, allowing the silence to heighten the sense of realism. The last half of the film where a sniper pins down an entire police force is an absolute classic of the genre. Not just a gripping police thriller, the story takes some great unexpected twists that would undoubtedly be completely reworked if it were made today. It's pretty obvious that the source material has been cut down to fit in a 110 minute movie, which will cause some Sjöwall and Wahlöö diehards (like my father) to grumble, but taken for what it is, it's a great movie. One of these days, I should get around to reading those books. One of these days.

SKY PIRATES (1986): When I watched this back in the day I was bored stiff by it. I guess it just didn't push the boundaries of a PG rating like RAIDERS did. I watch it now and I am stunned by how much I enjoy it. Arguably one of the best Indiana Jones rip-offs simply because it creates its own little world that exploits all of the things people loved about RAIDERS, but goes about it's business in an entirely original way. Legendary air force pilot Dakota Harris (John Hargreaves) is commissioned with flying a mysterious crate off to Bora Bora along with a priest (Simon Chilvers), and his former WWII rival and now superior officer (Max Phipps). After crashing into the sea due to a bizarre electrical storm, Harris must escape from the stockade to search for the missing priest and the mysterious crate of ancient power. Yeah, well, if you watch it, you’ll get the INDIANA connection (or just look at the German DVD cover). Great Aussie cast with Hargreaves playing it cool as a cucumber in that huge fleece-lined flightjacket and Phipps setting a fashion-statement for the next decade of Asian films with a tall, peroxided flattop. Meredith Phillips is also thrown in as the priest's hot daughter with whom Hargreaves (again) has zero chemistry. Director Colin Eggleston does an about face from his disturbing-as-hell LONG WEEKEND and who knew John Lamond could produce such a fun, sleaze-free film?

AUSTRALIA AFTER DARK (1975): John Lamond's notoriously shoddy excuse of a mondo film promises FACES OF DEATH meets MONDO TOPLESS by a rather carefree narrator and delivers some of the most embarrassingly amateurish staged "events" of a totally unshocking nature as padding between a staggering amount of full frontal nudity. Some of the brutal mondo footage includes body painting; three not-terribly attractive middle-aged women roll around in paint for what seems like a freakin' eternity. More crotch shots than a fistfull of Franco flicks, but the rest of it is painfully uneventful. I guess there is a reason that Australia never was very competitive in this sub-genre.

THE RATS (1982): Aka DEADLY EYES. Bob Clouse. The best deaf director in Hollywood. I see you snickering. Yes, it's got Terriers dressed up as rats, yes it has a teenage girl trying to seduce an older man (happens every day, right?), no it doesn't have Peter Weller. Suck it up, punk. Sure it’s probably one of Clouse’s lesser works, but it’s still pretty damned entertaining and you have Scatman Corruthers playing a character, who one assumes, has a history of naval service due to his sodium-rich dialogue.

CHOKE CANYON (1986): Ovidio G. Assonitis makes the most out of his meger budget (for once) with this actioner about an oiled-up, iron-pumping, knuckle-brawling, six-gun shooting, dynamite blowing-uping physicist (Stephen Collins) who is working on a project to save the environment via clean energy. Problem is, some big corporation with a load of toxic waste to dump wants to use his canyon. They aren't going to take no for an answer and he ain't going without a fight! You may want to take a moment to let that sink in. Completely ludicrous, even by Ovidio's lofty standards, but loaded with enough crazy-ass vehicular and pyrotechnic stunts to make Hal Needham green with envy. Plus you have Nicholas Pryor as the evil Pilgrim, Lance Henriksen in George Romero's glasses and Bo Svenson as a soft-spoken uber-mercenary badass who gets his butt soundly kicked by a scientist. What more could you want? Serena Grandi running around naked? Well, yes, but that would just be too much of a good thing.

Ooooooh, snaps! Holmes is down!
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND DR. WATSON, PART FOUR: DUEL TO THE DEATH (1980): Not quite up to par with the first set of films from '79, in part due to the fact that this entry based on "The Adventure of the Final Problem" which details Holmes' meeting and subsequent battle with Professor Moriarity. This is a bit premature in the series as Moriarity has barely been introduced and it's supposed to end with the death of Holmes. Still entertaining, but not as good as the previous films, in part due to some wildly melodramatic over-acting by Viktor Yevgrafov, who appears to believe he is a villain in a silent movie. Someone give that man a mustache to twirl!
HARD KNUCKLE (1987): The CITIZEN KANE of dystopian pool movies. Seriously, one of the best movies I've seen this year. Check out the full review here.

HOODWINK (1981): Wrong-headedly marketed as a crime-comedy, this Aussie drama starts off on the right foot as a solid crime flick about a bank robber / con-man (John Hargreaves) who gets busted for his latest robbery and figures that the only way out is to pretend to be blind. This quickly stumbles into a romantic angle with a married bible-thumper (Judy Davis) who is moon-eyed by the dashing con and the film crawls to it's inevitable conclusion. Great casting, including Dennis Miller (no, not that one), Max Cullen, Colin Friels and for a minute or two, a very young Geoffrey Rush as a cop with an attitude. This film is loaded with issues, one of which is that it is clearly made by and for those who enjoy seeing Hargreaves in as little clothes as possible. Hargreaves is sweaty and stripped to the waist. Hargreaves in the shower. Hargreaves in speedos running on the beach (looking like he's about to pimp a product that promotes "freshness"). Hargreaves in the shower again. Hargreaves wearing only a little towel that conveniently falls open. Fer chrissake John, keep your damn clothes on! If that isn't a clear enough example of what the main focus of the movie is, Hargreaves and Davis have the most akward chemistry (for obvious reasons) and provide some of the most awkward and passionless romance in cinema history. Hargreaves has always had issues playing it straight, with none of his female relationships really coming off well (except maybe LONG WEEKEND, in which he is supposed to be madly in hate with his wife), but this one is particularly painful since it takes up the last hour of the movie. Gotta love that Yugoslavian poster though. Clearly P.T. Barnum had some cousins in the film distribution business.

LADY OF THE NIGHT (1986): Now you'll see how I really don't have any integrity when it comes to objective film viewing. This Serena Grandi soft-core drama probably found a home on Cinemax back in the late '80s due to it's clumsier than average dubbing. Plot-wise it's a pretty straightforward drama about a newly married, but sexually restless wife (Grandi) who cheats on her uni-brow husband in dangerous situations (dangerous, like getting caught or with strangers, not dangerous like on a rollercoaster, unfortunately). On the one hand, it's got a pretty mediocre plot, on the other, it has a lot of Serena runnin' around nekkid, stripping out of a rain-drenched white dress, spread open in medical stirrups, showering after an aerobic work out, etc. Oh, yeah, there were characters that talked and stuff too. Not sure what that was all about. Did I mention Serena Grandi gets naked a lot in this movie? There's some interesting fetishistic stuff for those who are looking for it. Upskirt shots, consensual rape, objectification and the always popular jazzercise sequence complete with lingering close-ups of Danskin-clad crotches. The reason I didn't even bother doing a full review of this is there is nobody reading at this point. Hello? Anyone? You're welcome e-bay.

Serena Grandi playing Intellivision in her jammies? Haaaaaaawwwt!

1 Reactions:

  1. LADY OF THE NIGHT is fantastic. Thanks for the recommendation. Seeing a hot Euor-babe like Serena Grandi play Intellivision is surreal. Very erotic and entertaining film.


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