Cyber Monday: Project Shadowchaser Trilogy

Frank Zagarino dies hard!

Cinemasochism: Black Mangue (2008)

Braindead zombies from Brazil!

The Gweilo Dojo: Furious (1984)

Simon Rhee's bizarre kung fu epic!

Adrenaline Shot: Fire, Ice and Dynamite (1990)

Willy Bogner and Roger Moore stuntfest!

Sci-Fried Theater: Dead Mountaineer's Hotel (1979)

Surreal Russian neo-noir detective epic!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Buns and Ammo: SAVAGE BEACH (1989)

Andy Sidaris is back! Donna (Dona Speir) and Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton) are back! Buns! Ammo! Old Japanese warriors!  Wait, what?

After busting some cocaine dealers (who smuggle their stock in pineapples), our busty federal agent duo find themselves delivering a medical serum to an island for Shane Abilene (Michael J. Shane). Yes, another Abilene! Anyway, a storm causes the plane to mess up and they get way off course before landing on a deserted island. They get company quick though when TWO groups show up to locate some lost Japanese gold.  You have one group led by Martinez (Rodrigo Obreg√≥n, back as yet another different villain) with his two helpers, Andreas (John Aprea, who just got blow’d up in PICASSO TRIGGER) and Bruce (Bruce Penhall, who was also a different character in PICASSO TRIGGER).  Confused? Good, now I’m not alone.  The other group is led by Anjelica (Teri Weigel) and you know she means business because Al Leong is among her flunkies. But what no one counted on was some some stranded Japanese World War II vet still living on the island.  Yes, HELL IN THE PACIFIC with boobs!!
Not sure why, but I enjoyed this much more than previous entry PICASSO TRIGGER (1988). Maybe because it was a bit more focused in the plot department, even though it is convoluted as hell? My mind was also reeling as this was my first "wait, who is this guy again" experience with director Andy Sidaris' roving band of players as he threw tons of cast members from the previous entry into this, but as brand new characters among the Playboy Playmates. Sidaris really upped the ante here though as he also cast a Playboy and Penthouse vet in Teri Weigel.   This was before she bared all and humped head first into the porn world.  Sidaris also capitalized on the Asian influence and cast James Lew and the ubiquitous Al Leong is supporting roles (rumor has it casting Leong as an Asian baddie was a union rule). The film’s end is the best as it features one of the funniest explanations and flashbacks from the Japanese warrior (who has terrible age make up) as he recognizes Taryn as the daughter of the American WWII soldier he killed on the island…by her eyes!  Naturally, the film is packed with nudity and Sidaris should get credit for what I believe is the world's most gratuitous mid-flight airplane changing scene (“Let’s get out of these wet clothes.”).  One thing that might shock Sidaris fans is the last 30 minutes is completely devoid of nudity.  Sadly, this marked the end of the road for Carlton in Sidaris-land as she moved on to bigger things like SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE III (1990) and GHOULIES III: GHOULIES GO TO COLLEGE (1991).  I'm genuinely sad to see the team of Donna and Taryn break up, but I'll be brave and keep a stiff upper lip with this uncertain future.

I'm guessing they aren't the Fashion Police:

Okay, meeting time:

Easy with that hi-tech computer stuff, guys!

Teri Weigel shows off her...
OMG, look at that lamp!

As my mom always said:
"Never, ever accept room service from Al Leong."

There must be a fetish site for this stuff, right?

Donna & Tayrn using their survival skills:

Must be some kind of Japanese fetish:

Who the hell is the dumbass who coordinated these outfits?

Okay, never mind, all is forgiven on the outfits: 

Now I know there is a fetish site for this:

My God, it's full of stars!

Donna delivers the buns and ammo!

The Magic Sword that makes your eyes wonky:


Sidaris aiming for that "buff Asian male" demographic:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Heinous for the Holidays: SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (1974)

With it being Christmas Eve and Santa’s arrival imminent, we figured it would be fitting to write up a holiday horror.  Amazingly, Christmas appears to be the holiday that has spawned the most number of horror films. Perhaps my earliest Xmas horror memory (and I’m sure it was for most folks my age) was the “And All Through the House” segment from the original TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972).  The 80s gave us a plethora of slasher Santas with SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT series, CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980) and DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS (1984).  And, of course, there was GREMLINS (1984), which perfectly captured the holiday and horror atmospheres. Overseas we had Alex de la Iglesia give us THE DAY OF THE BEAST (1995), where a priest and a metal head must stop Satan from return on Christmas.  On the complete opposite end of the spectrum are titles like the rancid ELVES (1989), which features Dan Haggerty as a store Santa trying to stop a guy from creating Nazi elves, and PUPPET MASTER VS. DEMONIC TOYS (2004), which has Corey Feldman in the lead (‘nuff said). So if you are looking for some Christmas chillers, the field is far and wide.  

One of my favorite holiday discoveries has been SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (not to be confused with the aforementioned SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT films).  Having owned but never watched the Paragon VHS cassette for years, I surprised myself by watching it on this cold, gray winter day eight years ago. Even more surprising was that hiding behind the generic title is an atmospheric horror thriller with a great twist. And not only is SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT a great horror film, but it is one that appears to have been cheated by the historians of horror cinema.

The film opens with Diane Adams (Mary Woronov) walking on the Butler estate and telling a bit of the home’s history via voiceover. In 1950, Wilfred Butler was found burned to death on Christmas Eve in what was later deemed an accident at his palatial estate in the small town of East Willard, Massachusetts. One of the conditions of his will is that his house be left to his only surviving family member, child grandson Jeffrey, with the stipulation that the premises never be changed to reflect the house’s “inhumanity and cruelty” to the world. Gee, Grandpa sounds like a real upbeat guy. Twenty years later, lawyer John Carter (Patrick O’Neal) arrives in East Willard with instructions from the now adult Jeffrey (James Patterson) to sell the house for him. Several residents of East Willard take an unusual interest in the house and offer to buy it. But before the sale can be finalized, an escaped lunatic arrives in East Willard and begins calling the interested parties, saying they are Marianne Butler, Jeffrey’s long dead mother.  As the mystery unfolds, the prominent folks are dispatching one by one.

The biggest asset to SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT is the film’s set-up. It packs a big punch in the end and actually left me guessing throughout the film. A few of the red herrings are a bit too obvious but they worked well enough. One of director Theodore Gershuny’s biggest strengths is the subtle number of hints regarding the film’s big twist in the finale. If one pays close attention, there are several tip-offs as to what is really going on in the odd town of East Willard. It is refreshing to see a horror film where you are continually assessing the information as the mystery unfolds.  And it is one of those great experiences where, armed with the plot twist information, a second viewing is just as much fun to watch.  If the film does have any problems, it is that it opens with Woronov’s character telling her story, so you know she is going to survive whatever action you see in the flashbacks.

Director Gershuny, probably best known for SUGAR COOKIES (1973), knows how to build an atmospheric horror film. The wintry locations, especially the imposing house, are used to full effect and he gets great performances (particularly from Woronov, his wife at the time) from his leads. There are also some great character touches, like John Carradine’s character always ringing a bell instead of talking (this little bit of business even factors into the plot twist). The picture has some great cinematography and the visual highlight is an extended flashback that chronicles what happened at the estate in the 1930s. The sepia toned look and use of wide-angle lens makes the entire scene very creepy.  One complaint that pops up in reviews I have seen is the dark night shots. Truthfully, I think this has more to do with bad transfers rather than poor craftsmanship. In fact, my Paragon tape looks so awful that you can barely tell what is happening at points.  Sadly, the film has never gotten a proper DVD release (I hear the one in the Chilling Classics set looks decent) and, since the market is flooded with public domain copies, I doubt we will ever see one.

Actual screenshot:

Gershuny also uses an effective point-of-view (POV) for the killer that echoes the style of Bob Clark’s Yuletide themed BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974) from a few years later.  A lot of people credit Clark’s film as the earliest prototype of the slasher genre. But Gershuny’s film predates Clark’s by almost 2 years. According to various reports it was shelved for several years. This fact is further substantiated by the fact that lead Patterson actually passed away in August of 1972. So the film was completed well before the early 1974 filming date for Clark’s film. Given the killer POV shots, scary phone calls the killer makes and high number of murders; one has to wonder if Clark saw this film before making his own. This is not to diminish the power of BLACK CHRISTMAS (it is still an excellent film), but just to question the general belief that BLACK CHRISTMAS begat HALLOWEEN and the subsequent North American slasher genre was born. As it stands, SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT is a great Christmas horror film, a more than pleasant surprise for this holiday season.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Deadly Farce: LIBERTY & BASH (1989)

When it comes to '80s low-rent urban cop/vigilante movies, I'll admit it, I have no shame. I may be hesitant to admit that I actually enjoyed the 1988 excuse to pay Lee Major's mortgage, KEATON'S COP (also with Abe Vigoda, Don Rickles, and Art LaFleur!), but I will say I've done some serious barrel scraping in my day. Even with a lifetime of experience, nothing has prepared me for LIBERTY & BASH.

Somehow I missed this one back in the day. Maybe it was there and I never noticed it due to O’Keefe-Fatigue Syndrome. You know what I mean. Back in the ‘80s Miles O’Keefe was all over the low-rent Euro scene in more ATOR movies than you could count, a couple of action movies and even took a turn as, of all things, Count Dracula in Anthony Hickox’s first, and in retrospect, best film WAXWORK (1988). Maybe it was just the crushing deluge of tedious and formulaic flicks that finally degenerated into insipid self-parody such as COP AND A HALF (1993). Burt, my brotha, how could you? Ok, we better keep moving or I'm going to deeply digress into that quagmire of suffering and torment.

Miles O’Keef is Liberty, a Los Angeles social worker (yes, you read that right), who tries to keep the lamest gangsters you’ve ever seen off the dope and off the streets. One of his pet projects is a Korean gang-banger named Juan Ton (say it out loud) who is such a cracker-ass, he makes Buster Poindexter look like 50 Cent.

His live-in girlfriend Sarah (Mitzi Kapture) also works in his dinky skid-row offices, leading to the main plot. But first we’re going to sucker you into thinking this movie is headed in a different direction! Liberty’s sketchy past as a mercenary for hire catches up with him when one of his soldier buddies, Jerry (Richard Eden) from the Angola mission (we don't even get any flashbacks to this) has gotten himself into a mess with the local mob. It’s not very clear, but it seems Jerry was double crossed when making a drop. Something about a severed undercover narc’s head, some missing cash and a black van that guns down some cops leaving Jerry holding the bag as it were. Jerry is having all sorts of personal and relationship issues and is looking after his kids with his sister, who works as a stripper. Ummm... what court granted custody of two children to an ex-mercenary with a rap-sheet and a drug problem? This is never adequately explained. Matter of fact, so little is explained that it will take you the entirety of the film’s 92 minute running time to figure out who is related to who and what in the Sam Hell is going on around here! Not that there is all that much of a plot anyway and no, you don't get to see the stripper do any stripping.

Jesse finally reaches out to Liberty whose relationship with his needy girlfriend has progressed. When a couple of goons come around and put the hurt on Jesse, Liberty manages to show up just in time to watch him die. Now it’s on sucka! Oh, wait. No, sorry, no it’s not. Liberty must have more relationship discussions with his girlfriend first. The only thing that makes these conversations remotely attention-holding is the fact that O’Keefe sounds like he’s doing a really bad Elvis impersonation and that even though he’s supposed to be this bleeding heart counselor, he really is a total prick to everyone around him.

From here on out (at the 50 minute mark and not a single action sequence), it’s Liberty talking to his friend Bash (Ferrigno), who runs a gymnasium that he uses to toughen up Liberty’s gangbangers (think about that for a moment), or is talking to his girlfriend who finally tells him that she’s pregnant. Oh fuck. It’s the ‘80s. A pregnant girlfriend can only mean one thing… yes, we need to have a frank discussion about the subject of abortion. No, really. Forget about the mob, forget about the cops, forget about the cry-baby gangbangers who need to be taught how to be macho, let’s spend the rest of the movie discussing the Right to Life. Oh, and don’t misunderstand, this is no thoughtful contemplation of the pros and cons of a serious and deeply personal matter. Nope, this weighs in on the issues with all of the contemplative gravity of George Michael’s “Choose Life” t-shirt. Not that George Michael would ever have to worry about that, in any case.

Seriously, what I endured should never be inflicted upon another living soul, or dead one for that matter. First off, if you look closely at the poster it tells you everything you need to know. Painstakingly created in photoshop over a laborious span of several minutes, it is desperately trying to tell you that it’s a classic buddy action flick (it is not), that O’Keefe and Ferrigno are hip-to-hip in a firearm frenzy (they are not), and that it, hopefully, will strike a chord with viewers who desperately wanted a sequel to TANGO & CASH (it did not).

Truth be told, I feel really bad about laughing at Lou Ferrigno’s delivery of tough, wannabe R. Lee Ermy dialogue. I mean, the man is deaf, he can’t help it, but they are the very few entertaining moments in the film. This movie blunders about so badly, they even do a car chase about an hour into the movie, but botch that entirely by cutting to two different cars driving along the street, that for all we know could have been shot at completely different times without any shooting permits! As if that wasn't criminal enough, director Myrl A. Schreibman (who was actually responsible for a few bad movies that were good, including Marilyn Chamber's ANGEL OF H.E.A.T.), seems to be completely confused by the trappings of the genre. Myrl, buddy, why is it that strip clubs are featured in every single cop movie? Because it effectively taps the emotional perspective of the main characters who's profession exposes them to the cold underbelly of the lowest moments in life? Ummm... no. It's an excuse to show hot topless chicks in g-strings without needing to rationalize it in the plot! Yes, that's right, Mr. Schreibman is the only director in the history of cinema (that I'm aware of) who decides that he does not want to have any nudity during the completely gratuitous strip club scenes. Maybe Mr. Schreibman was sleeping during Gratuitous Nudity 101 while pursuing his Masters in Fine Arts at UCLA.

It actually feels like the script was originally a straightforward action flick that was drastically re-written to turn the main plot about Liberty, Jesse and the mob into a sub-plot taking a back seat to the main thrust of the film: relationships, which are good and abortion, which is bad. If you don’t mind a bit of a spoiler, I’ll prove this point by showing you the final showdown. This is literally the biggest action sequence in the movie. I shit you not.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Obscure Oddities: HOWARD GOLDBERG'S APPLE PIE (1976)

I recently got a Blu-ray player with Wi-Fi capability (welcome to 2009!) and decided to join the land of the streaming Netflixers. Like any good Video Junkie, I decided to make a list of the more obscure titles to check out.  After all, why watch something readily available on VHS or DVD, when you could be watching something like MILLION DOLLAR RIP OFF (1976), a made-for-TV crime movie starring Freddie Prinze, Sr.? One title I stumbled upon was something called HOWARD GOLDBERG’S APPLE PIE.  The plot info on the TV was pretty vague, offering even less than the Netflix website. Something about a gangster relaying the story of how he kidnapped himself to get his father to pay up.  Oh, and the father is played by legendary stand up "tragediest" Brother Theodore.  Okay, NYC, 1970s, gangsters, and Brother Theodore?  I am so there. So, at precisely midnight, I pressed “play” and soon found myself hypnotized by a film that practically defines “cult” filmmaking.

APPLE PIE unfolds in basically three sections.  It opens with gangster Jacques “the Ace” Blinbaum (Tony Azito, sporting an incredibly fake beard) arriving at a hotel with his entourage (that includes future David Letterman regular Calvert DeForest).  They retire to his suite, where DeForest challenges a burly looking gangster to a game of Clue.  This was my first clue that something was not right here.  Anyway, Jacques holds the attention of his group by quoting poet William Cowper and telling them the story of his first con when he was 17-years-old.  We then get a flashback of the still bearded Jacques faking his own kidnapping to get his father (Brother Theodore) to pay a ransom of $250,000.  The plan goes off without a hitch except for dad forgetting to pick up his “kidnapped” son, leaving Jacques to walk home in the dark.  He is greeted at the front door of the mansion by his dad, who says, “The proper way to boil water is to warm it first.”  It gets weirder after this, folks.  End part one.

The next section picks up with Jacques ripping off his beard and wig.  He talks to his friend Richard on the phone for 5 minutes in what appears to be a random stream of consciousness.  He then decides the only recourse is to kill his parents, which entails him putting on a tight fitting black jumpsuit and mask.  He calls a limo to his apartment and goes to the family mansion, but not before spray painting “Cool Karl” on the side of the limo (sharp-eyed viewers will also notice this graffiti was also on a gas station phone booth earlier).  Anyway, he gets to the house and sneaks in to murder his sleeping folks. Just before Jacques is about to pounce, his dad gets up and screams, “Look at the mouse! It tries to be a rat.” The lights then flip on to reveal they are all on stage in the middle of a theater in front of a huge audience that begins laughing at Jacques.  He rushes out of the theater in embarrassment and spends the next 10 minutes wandering NYC locations in his black jumpsuit.  This sequence ends with him meeting some futuristic dressed folks on a rooftop.  They claim to be artists and, after Jacques claims to be one too, one woman shows him she can make her face disappear. Jacques then steps away and disappears in a flash.  End part two.

The film’s final section has Jacques cruising along some country back roads in his red Porsche.  At a stoplight a girls pulls up next to him and she has “if you can beat me, you can eat me” written on the side of her car.  They race, but we never know who the winner is.  The next scene has the duo dressed all fancy as they head to an equally fancy restaurant to eat.  As their dinner progresses, they begin splattering food all over each other. Well, except for the beans because, as Jacques tells the waiter, “These beans clash. They are unfit to stain my clothing.”  Following their hands on dinner, Jacques and his new conquest head out onto the street and pass some black kids rhythmically banging on a white station wagon.  This causes Jacques to start busting a move and soon everyone (including a priest and some hookers) walking by is doing a pre-FAME (1980), 15 minute choreographed dance in the streets (to a jam written by Daryl Hall and John Oates, according to the end credits).  Okay, who slipped something in my eggnog?  End part three and so culminates the “home-baked” film debut of Howard Goldberg.

True confession – I don’t do drugs.  But I certainly felt like I was on them last night while watching this movie.  Where the hell did this slice of APPLE PIE come from?  Did I die in my sleep and this is my death dream?  And why is it not on cult films lists?  From the opening minutes, you could tell something is a bit off on the film and it just became more and more bizarre over its short 76 minute running time.  It says something about how strange this film is when I can say Brother Theodore gives one of the more restrained performances.  As it became weirder and weirder, I became more mesmerized by the film.  A lot of the success rests on the shoulders of lead Tony Azito.  Azito – who sounds exactly like Sascha Baron Cohen and was a Broadway dancer and performer – is a lanky and rubbery man who is onscreen in nearly every shot.  I sense a lot of the performance was improvised by him and he certainly has a knack for the outlandish, but funny.  Sadly, he passed away in the mid-90s.

One of the initial reasons I even jumped on this was to see some 70s era New York City location shots and this definitely delivers.  You gets plenty of locations and even a nighttime jaunt to 42nd Street (some films playing include THE CHINSE GODFATHER, THE BIG DOLL HOUSE and DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY).  If you dig that kind of retro stuff, this is definitely worth seeing as director Howard Goldberg effectively captures a lot of the city.  If I had to guess, I’d say Goldberg got the money from his folks to make this flick (one scene has Brother Theodore reading a Goldberg Realtors sign over and over). Anyway, I’m not sure mom and dad were pleased that their son ended up emulating Robert Downey, Sr. more than Martin Scorsese.  But the folks should be proud as the end result is one of the most unique films I’ve seen all year. (Itself probably the end result of lots of drugs or creativity, I’m not sure which.)  Goldberg is an artist after all (according to his IMDb bio, written by…Howard Goldberg!) and he has definitely created a one-of-a-kind movie.  He has only directed one other film (EDEN [1996]) and his only other film credit is co-writing Tobe Hooper’s SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION (1990).  Yes, the man has truly lived.  

Here’s a snippet of the end dance number that some kind soul uploaded to Youtube:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bruceploitation: THE GODFATHER SQUAD (1974)

True story: there used to be this cool cat named Keith who ran a site about Bruceploitation, the subgenre that emerged following the untimely death of Bruce Lee. Keith’s site had it all – it was painstakingly thorough in covering the various actors who gave into the art of imitating, had tons of reviews and, best of all, it was witty. You can see the barebones version of that site here.  He had the world at his fingertips but refused to strike while the iron is hot.  What happened to poor Keef is too horrible for your ears, so we won’t release the details.  Let's just say it was a fate far worse than any mortal man should suffer.  However, we will say that like Bruce Lee himself, when his reign ended, the imitator Bruceploitation websites took over and now hog the spotlight that he once shone so brightly. *sobs*

Okay, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah, Bruce Lee imitators.  One of the more fun aspects of this subgenre were the films that dared to be a little different.  Several such as THE NINJA STRIKES BACK and CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER took their show on the road and filmed at various locations across Europe.  These fanciful co-productions not only got their Lee clones to more exotic locales, but they also offered supporting roles to some the actors populating European projects.  So it was like the best of both worlds for Eurocult geeks like us here at Video Junkie.  THE GODFATHER SQUAD (aka LITTLE GODFATHER) is one of those films that transport the kung fu hero to 1970s Italy.  How could it not rule?

The action kicks off right away as we see two Interpol officers killed in England and France (both essayed by stock static shots probably off a postcard and then generic streets).  A third assassination attempt involving a German Sheppard suicide dog is foiled in Hong Kong by movie star Wang Liu (Bruce Leung).  No, your eyes are not deceiving you and I did say German Sheppard suicide dog and here is the hilarious video proof as evidence (I’m 99% certain the dog growls are being done by a human).

So any movie that starts off with a German Sheppard suicide dog bomb is okay in my book.  Turns out all of these killings are being done by the Karo family, a tight knit group of killers who have been hired by drug dealer Mr. Michael. They are indeed a family as we have Karo and his legit son Kenny alongside adopted sons Duke (Gordon Mitchell) and Sakata (Yasuaki Kurata).  Yes, Gordon Mitchell is playing someone’s son.

Anyway, these guys are miffed that Wang Liu interfered with their contract and tell Mr. Michael they refuse payment until the contract is fulfilled.  This means they must kill Wang Liu. Wait, what?  Shouldn’t they be concerned with killing their original target?  I guess not.  So they come up with the ingenious plan of hiring Wang Liu to come to Rome to shoot a movie and then they will kill him there.  Makes perfect sense, right? Well, I guess it would make sense to a hitman who decides to adopt two grown men to be his sons.  So Wang arrives in Rome with his super annoying little brother (Meng Hoi) in tow.  The killers’ plans are foiled right away when Wang decides to stay with his older brother instead of going to the location.  No problem, we’ll kill him at his bro’s house.  Well, that gets all messed up when Wang Liu and his little bro take big brother up on his offer to let them sleep in his bedroom.  D’oh!  Greetings dear dead older brother.

Obviously this bums Wang out, but not enough to stop him and his little bro from checking out the Roman Coliseum.  There a tourist couple asks them to take their picture and Wang doesn’t catch on when they keep asking him to step back further and further with their camera. Thankfully, hottie Ivy shows up and gets him to launch the killer Kodak into the air before it explodes.  Turns out she is from the film company and works in their insurance division. She takes Wang to the hospital for a check up and – wouldn’t you know it – the doctor tries to kill him too.  So Ivy gets him and his brother on the first plane out of town, but Wang ditches his flight because he senses trouble.  Sure enough, he saves Ivy from some stereotypical Italian gangsters just minutes later.  Man, he really wants to make this film or is really dumb.

After beating up two Russian buffoons on the film set, Wang gets a call from Kenny, who tells him to meet him in St. Peter’s Square and he will reveal who killed his brother.  Now here is where the filmmakers show their balls as they have both men wading through a crowd of folks checking out Pope Paul VI as he gives a speech. Yes, a cameo by the freakin’ Pope (which he probably never knew about).  That is classic. His Holiness should have felt honored to been in the presence of Bruce Leung. Have you seen his kicks?  Godly!  Anyway, they have a chase through town and Wang eventually catches the none-too-sly Kenny and demands to know who killed his brother. When Kenny reveals he did it, Wang kills him with a few blows to the head.  Naturally, this pisses off Karo but also leads to a great scene of him eulogizing his son at the dinner table. “When he was ten years old, he killed two negro kids,” he remembers fondly.  Every dad’s dream…if the dad happens to be a psychotic hitman.  From this point on, the film plays out with Duke, Sakata and Karo all trying to snuff out Wang (and even offering him a job at one point).

While not as zany as CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER (topless tennis!) or THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN (also with Bruce Leung), THE GODFATHER SQUAD has enough oddity for the non-discerning kung fu film fan.  Modern film fans might know lead Bruce Leung (aka Leung Siu-Lung) best as The Beast, the bald, villainous toad hitman from Stephen Chow’s KUNG FU HUSTLE (2004).  But he has been around since the early 1970s and got a nice slice of Bruceploitation on his resume, despite not really looking like the man.  Leung’s martial arts skills are off the hook and he really should have been in better movies.  Also highly skilled is the ubiquitous Japanese star Kurata.  Their showdown (which goes from Rome’s streets to a snowy hillside) is the film’s action highlight.  Also good is the brawl with Gordon Mitchell that takes place all over an abandoned factory (with a great bit where Mitchell finds a machine gun at the top of a water tower; did he leave it up there knowing their pursuit would end there?).  Previously released on DVD by various labels as LITTLE GODFATHER, the new Code Red DVD of THE GODFATHER SQUAD is worth picking up if you want to see the film in its proper widescreen aspect ratio.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Buns and Ammo: PICASSO TRIGGER (1988)

I hope you didn't think we had abandoned our "Buns and Ammo" overview of the world of Andy Sidaris. This is third in his beach, bullets and babes chronicles where he somehow believes the C.I.A. is inhabited by a bevy of beauties.  Naturally, his casting sessions probably involved nothing more than flipping through some Playboy issues as lots of 80s Bunnies get nekkid to on and off screen oglers.

Crimelord and businessman Salazar (John Aprea) aka Picasso Trigger is assassinated after donating a painting of a Picasso Trigger fish to a Paris museum. Somehow this is related to events stateside with Texan L.G. Abilene calling in the services of his nephew Travis (Steve Bond). Yes, we are officially on our third Abilene sibling, who is also a detective with bad aim. Travis assembles a team that includes HARD TICKET TO HAWAII holdovers Donna (Dona Speir), Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton), Jade (Harold Diamond), Edy (Cynthia Brimhall) and Pattycakes (Patty Duffek), who now works a Vegas show with Kym (Kym Malin). Along with new acquisition Pantera (Roberta Vasquez), the team plans to take out the remaining members of an organized crime family because...uh...they are going to do something terrible on Monday. Who am I again?

As you can guess from my synopsis, this is a totally confusing mess that sees the opening 15 minutes jump from Paris to Texas to California to Hawaii. I kept trying to remind myself of what was going on, but then I remembered that I didn't really know. There is even a group meeting an hour in that is supposed to explain what is going down but it left me even more confused. Even worse, this is where Sidaris started using actors from the two earlier films in different roles. Black muscle man John Brown is now a good guy and Richard LePore - looking like a Charles Nelson Reilly clone - is now a weapons expert. Well, I don't know about expert as one of his devices is a boomerang with a bomb on it. Think about that for a second. Thankfully Sidaris isn't confused when it comes to delivering in the exploitation department. Once again, there are massive helpings of nudity and explosions every ten minutes or so. Nothing is as outlandish as HARD TICKET's skater or frisbee deaths, but I was definitely never bored. Perhaps the highlight is leg crutch that doubles as a rocket launcher (see below).  It also doesn't take much brainpower to realize who the main villain is since the film is named after the guy and he is "assassinated" in the first 5 minutes. Hmmm, who will the big surprise villain reveal be?  As always, pictures are better to essay the highs and lows of a Sidaris flick.  Enjoy!

Old C.I.A. agents: 

Their replacements. Yay progress!

Donna & Tayrn, back in business!

Is he superglued to the wall?

Meeting of the minds:

WOAH! Check out that awesome painting!

There's a new sheriff in town, boys.

"This is where I do my best thinking."

"Uh, so where is the whey protein?"

"We were told you had a phone problem." (real line)

Patty Duffek, Playboy Playmate May 1984:

Kym Malin, Playboy Playmate May 1982:

"You made a big mistake, sucka!" (real line)

"Don't even blink!" (real line)

Who wears short shorts?

The horrifying realization you're getting 
blow'd up by a crutch rocket launcher: