Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mysterious masked murderers and fanged femme fatales; new this week at the buffet…

Bunny attempts to unravel the mystery of who killed who, where, and with what buried deep within Jess Franco's Night Of The Skull.

And the Kommandant chimes in with his thoughts on the atmospheric and bloodless coup of Slaughter Of The Vampires.

The good, the bad and the confusing; or, random thoughts on random films I watched this month...

Petey Wheatstraw - The more Rudy Ray Moore movies I see, the more of an appreciation I have for the man. This is the third RRM flick; some of the regulars from the first two are back, my favorite being J.B. Baron, the redneck sheriff in Human Tornado. (Appearing here as the flustered and bumbling ghetto doctor.) Comedy duo Skillet and Leroy have major supporting roles, but Moore (in the title role) takes Wheatstraw over the top. Some of the intentional playing up of old stereotypes like watermelon eating are hilarious as well, and the birth of Petey is so ridiculous it's like the comedic equivalent of the delivery scene from It's Alive. Unfortunately, they just don't make movies like this anymore.

Moog - Moog is the perfect example of great subject matter and disappointing execution. The best thing this rambling, un-focused documentary has to offer are the frequently, possibly unintentionally, funny comments of Rick Wakeman. Mostly it's Bob Moog in various places talking to the camera or talking to various colleagues and musicians about experiences with the synths that bear his name. And the soundtrack is annoyingly loud, particularly during the interview sequences.

Beat Girl - A puzzling UK JD flick from 1960; the plot boils down to the teenage rebellion of a girl who's pissed at daddy and his new wife, who happens to be a "ancient" 24-year old foxy French babe. Turns out stepmom did a bit of strippin' and prostitutin' to make ends meet back in the day, which we learn courtesy of sleazy strip club owner Christopher Lee. (He is the saving grace of this picture.) The rest of it all boils down to the girl hanging out with her friends, trying to be cooler than everyone else; constantly saying and doing things that make her stepmom smack her in the face and her squaresville dad throw his hands in the air yelling, "These words! What do they mean? What are you saying?" After watching the film, I was left thinking the same thing—except I think I understood what they were saying.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A cornucopia of Sarno-ality; new this week at the buffet...

As you may imagine, I occasionally do other things besides watching and reviewing movies. One of my numerous "day jobs" is serving as the defacto art department for the record label the Kommandant & I run, Steel Cage Records.

As far as jobs go, it's a pretty damn good one; and one I rarely, if ever, complain about. Because I love to design shit! One thing I really love to design is posters. I can't speak for other graphic artists - maybe this is just a reflection of my other interests - but I take a lot of inspiration from old movie posters.

I bring all of this up here because I have taken a lot of inspiration from the posters for movies made by the director responsible for all three of this week's featured buffet items - Joe Sarno. Particularly I love his mid-'60s period where the majority of his films feature seamy tales of suburban sin. The poster for The Love Merchant, for example, inspired this Hot Damn poster I did for their most recent SCR release.

I hadn't actually seen the movie prior to making the poster, but now that I have, I definitely recommend it. It's right up there with Sin In The Suburbs or The Swap (And How They Make It).

Also new to the menu this week are two additional slices of Sarno-sploitation, The Layout and The Devil's Plaything.

Monday, March 13, 2006

3-D action & two-wheel traction; new this week at the buffet...

It's March 13th, aka the 13th day of the third month of 2006: The Year Of The 13ths, so prepare yourself for the snake jumpin-est, glass smashin-est, eye gougin-est, pointy object throwin-est entry in the series Friday The 13th Part 3.

Also new to the menu this week, the biggest, baddest, best-est biker blaxploitation movie ever, The Black Six.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Blasphemy and boobs; new this week at the buffet...

I know we're a little past the point of making a relevant statement about this year's Oscars but I'm not gonna let that stop me from saying how disappointed I was in this year's documentary film nominees. Seriously, I love nature too but fuck penguins. What should have been nominated (and if it had been, won) is Rock School, the documentary about The Paul Green School Of Rock.

It came out sometime last year I think, to a flurry of rock and indie film critic praise, and has been available on DVD for a little while but we just saw it last night so the topic is fresh in my mind. The subject matter is pretty self explanatory, but for the benefit of those of you who maybe have never heard of the school or the movie, TPGSOR is a music school for children aged 9 - 17; it was founded here in Philly in 1998 and now has branches all over the country. The school is staffed by local musicians - all of whom have put their musical skills to practical uses - so instead of just being taught how to play an instrument, the kids also learn about all the other stuff that comes with playing music with other people. Then they take it a step further and school them on how to do all of that on a stage in front of a crowd of strangers by letting them experience it firsthand. Very cool.

Meanwhile, despite it's Philly-ness and the fact that I know a couple of the people who have taught at the school at various points, I was totally clueless prior to seeing this film that I sorta kinda in a round about way know Paul Green, through another local musician who I used to hang out with and sorta kinda in a round about way date. Which is so weird because I've read articles about the school and seen the accompanying pictures, and even attended one of their early performances, but it wasn't until Lisa (then Paul's foxy girlfriend, now Paul's foxy wife) popped up on the screen and I was all "oh snap, it's Lisa" that I realized "oh wait, then that's Paul." Weird!

The director definitely captured his quick wit and twisted sense of humor, but the guy my memory conjures up from the days of Sweet Pussy & the fish counter at Chef's Market hardly ever raised his voice at me or demanded to know whether or not I loved Satan. On the other hand, when the Kommandant was teaching me to play bass there was a lot of teacher-to-student and student-to-teacher yelling so maybe that's a situational thing. But I digress. I bring all of this up not to be self-referential (although that is kind of what this thing for isn't it?) but mainly just to say, Rock School, the movie, and The Paul Green School Of Rock, the school, are awesome.

Speaking of Satan, this week's review offerings - Satan's Blood and Witchcraft 666 - are right in line with one of Green's favorite teaching touchstones; although neither are very musical or appropriate for children, aged 9 - 17 or otherwise.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bunny & the Kommandant go to the Oscars; part the Kommandant...

Is it me or were the 2006 Oscars the most boring awards ceremony ever? I remember when the Academy Awards were wacky, entertaining and unpredictable - especially when Carson was the host. Alas, long gone are the days of people turning down their awards as political statements, streakers, crazy outfits and pointless dance numbers. Although, there were those zombified car crash victims...

I looked forward to seeing what John Stewart was going to do as host but, despite a few good one-liners that were about as political as he could get away with, for the most part he was a kinda disappointing. The clear highlight of the evening was when 3-6 Mafia briefly turned the show into the Source Awards. They also garnered the evening's most bleeps. (I don't know who was more surprised - the group themselves, or Queen Latifah when she opened the envelope.) Balanced against that were strange genre-spanning tributes that never went anywhere (I figured they were gonna give someone an special award or something, not just run a string of clips from assorted films Noir) and endless movie stars displaying their complete inability to read from a cue card. Or, perhaps, to read at all.

Despite managing to continue my decade-plus streak of not seeing any nominated film - at least not any nominated for these awards - I was as surprised as anyone (well, anyone being Bunny since she was the only person who knew about it) that I was 4-for-4 on my Oscar ballot; picking Best Actor, Actress, Director and Picture. I also hit on four or five other minor awards but missed on anything else of real significance. Some of the choices seemed like they were out of left field to me, but what do I know?

I do feel bad for Paul Giamatti, who's shaping up to become the Susan Lucci of the silver screen. Taking into consideration the Sideways snub last year and loss to Clooney this year - plus the fact that he really should have won for his role in Private Parts but wasn't even nominated - can only lead me to the conclusion that it's a conspiracy. Clearly Giamatti is doomed to never win an Academy Award because his father banned Pete Rose when he was the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. It is indeed hard out there for a pimp.

In closing, yeah - it sucked. But I'll probably still watch it next year.

Bunny & the Kommandant go to the Oscars; part Bunny...

By now we all know who won and who lost, so let's talk about what really matters - who looked good. I think the evening's attire, as well as the show itself, can be summed up in one word: yawn. I mean, I am as guilty of falling back on black as the next girl or boy. We all do it. But you know what? Wearing a black dress with sparkly accessories to your friend's wedding is one thing. Wearing a very expensive black dress with very expensive sparkly accessories to the Oscars is another thing. A lame boring thing! Am I the only one who longs for a swan dress, a gown made of American Express cards, or Cher?

Anywhoo, I don't have a whole lot to say about this year's Oscar fashions, which I think in itself says quite a bit, but it wasn't too hard for me to decide on a best dressed woman and man.

Best dressed woman: Michelle Williams

Much like the time the Kommandant made me go with him to a Siouxie And The Banshees show he was reviewing for the Philadelphia Inquirer and I wore a pink tank top and all the crazily-dressed Goths stared at me, any color was bound to stand out and draw attention to the wearer in the sea of black and nude red carpet attire. It takes some balls to wear a yellow gown though so you gotta give Ms. Williams props for that. As well as risking an onslaught of Big Bird references in the post-show commentary. (There's bound to be at least one; although I heard someone else refer to it as condiment colored.) I also liked the way she rounded out the ensemble with the vintage-y necklace, the un-done but totally done updo and the severe red lip.

Runner-up: Jennifer Lopez

I'm not really a J-Lo fan but, if nothing else, she can be counted on to show up at an awards show in something unlike what everyone else is wearing. I think I'm attracted to this dress because it's the same color we used on the walls in our guest room but I also like the shape of it. I feel like she over-accessorized though. I think she definitely could have gotten rid of either the earrings or the necklace; and maybe that short guy who was attached to her back.

Best dressed man: Tyson Beckford

I'm not sure he even was at the Oscars, but during the post show wrap up on E! I saw a taped bit from their pre-show where he took off his t-shirt and pulled his jeans down to his ankles, revealing a very well accessorized (meaning everything that could be seen above, below, and inside of) a pair of white boxer briefs. I think I heard them say he was donating the removed shirt to charity; the pants thing I suppose was a spontaneous act of charity directed towards all the hetero women and gay men in the audience. In the end the why and how of seeing Tyson in his underwear does not matter, I'm just glad to have seen it.

Runner-up: n/a

I couldn't really come up with a single worst dressed person, as I found everyone else to be kind of unmemorable. I was gonna go with that crazy ass hunter green Christian Doir jammy-jam with the pillow on the shoulder that Charlize Theron wore but I changed my mind. I still think that dress was wack but, in retrospect, I can't say she was poorly dressed because at least she gave you something interesting to look at and talk about. Actresses and stylists alike should consider this Project Runway conundrum before choosing next years Oscar dresses: what is a worse fashion crime - going too far or not going far enough? I believe the fact that Santino Rice is one the three designers chosen to show at fashion week answers that question.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A mish-mash of trash; new this week at the buffet...

As many of you already know, the Oscars are this Sunday night. The Kommandant & I will probably watch the show, even though we haven't seen a single movie nominated in any category. For me the Academy Awards aren't really about movies anyway. The event is more about fashion and glamour and bullshitting with your girlfriends / sister / mother the next day about whose hair looked good and whose dress was ugly. (Or whose hair was ugly and whose dress looked good.)

I would like to point out one of the little B-movie related blips on this year's Oscar radar screen though and that is triple nominee George Clooney. We can only hope that, should he actually win something, there's a Stuttering John type in the press room readied with a question or two about his pivotal role in Return Of The Killer Tomatoes or what it was like to co-star with Marsha Brady in Return To Horror High. I would also like to point out that no one should ever let Clooney forget these easily forgettable entries in his filmography because that bushy eyebrowed fool acts like his shit don't stink; and if I may paraphrase Outkast, his cinematic roses - past, current and future - totally smell like poo-poo.

Anywhoo, as for this week's BMB offerings - we offer up three films which I have been unable to link in any way, because they have pretty much nothing in common: Last Woman On Earth, Roger Corman's tale of what happens when a pair of apocalyptic boys and one girl are the only people left alive; The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave, a kitschy boobs and blood Euro-shocker form the '70s; and Touch Me In The Morning, a trailer noir epic from the demented mind of one of the dudes that starred in Cabin Fever.