It's beyond "Maniac," it's beyond "New York Ripper," two great, intense slashers in their own right, but they don't match this one for it's sheer, terrifying visuals, and hypnotic story about a completely unhinged Madman, stalking a family down in Florida after being unwisely released from a maximum security psychiatric hospital. His doctors thought the new age treatment they gave him had cured him. It didn't..and what follows will have even the most jaded horror fans, speechless. The violence shown is so diabolically morbid, but it's so well photographed that it can't be dismissed as mere exploitation. Maybe it's because it was filmed in 1980, or maybe it was the film stock they used, but the look of the film is so majestically seedy that you can almost smell the dampness of the rundown movie theaters that dared to show this. Also this is something that could never be made today, with it's scenes involving children and extreme violence, I have to wonder how they got away with it, and if it affected the kids later in life. It even has a twist "shock ending" that will knock your socks off while explaining why everything before it took place. I wouldn't recommend viewing by young people as it's very intense. I felt very strange after watching it and I'm an adult. This is a forgotten horror masterpiece..
Those expecting an exploitative trash film might be surprised to find a competently made, beautifully filmed, serious look at the time of slavery in the South. Shot with a large budget, in "scope," and telling several interconnecting stories that come together in the end, Al Adamson has created quite an epic here. At the film's center is the fascinating love/hate relationship between slave trader Simon Legree and the beautiful slave Cassy, who Legree takes ownership of after buying her brother and having him run away. What I mean by love/hate is that Legree loved Cassy (in his own peculiar way) while Casey hated Legree, to the point of trying to take his life. Uncle Tom of the title is played to startling authenticity by John Kitzmuller, who gives an endearing and strong performance as the man that everyone loved and respected. There is a side story concerning the slave Napoleon, who flees from Legree and is rescued by a lovely white Southern girl, who nurses him back to health before they have a love affair. This film possesses a real feeling of authenticity, in the sets, the clothes and the songs of the time. Not really an exploitation film, with only a few moments of sexuality and nudity on screen, though some might be put off by the violence afflicted on the slaves, some of which is difficult to watch. Of course if it was an easy watch it wouldn't be very realistic, as there are some things that shouldn't be whitewashed. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was impossible to find until recently, when a bluray became available that features a stunning, widescreen, although somewhat washed out print of this rarely seen, utterly fascinating historical document.
Director Joseph B. Vasquez knew his subject when he made movies based around the inner city ghettos of the Bronx and Harlem, NYC. A product of that certain time and place, child of a single, heroin addicted mother, Vasquez was no stranger to the rough streets of the South Bronx during the 70's and 80's. The fact that he managed to avoid the pitfalls of his upbringing and make it through film school, and wound up directing movies, is beyond impressive. This guy has my utmost respect.
After directing two excellent urban crime dramas, Vasquez turned his attentions to directing a comedy, about one day and one night in the life of four best friends.Willie and Tommy,are Black, Tommy is an aspiring actor who takes his dream seriously, while Willie would rather collect welfare and blame all of his problems on his skin color. Their two Puerto Rican buddies, Johnny and Fernando, also want to escape their realities in their own way. Johnny, (an early role for the excellent John Leguizamo) is an under-achiever, working in a supermarket because he doesn't have the self confidence to pursue a college education. He's also a hopeless romantic, in love with a girl he barely knows, who turns out to be anything but the innocent, sweet girl he imagined her to be. Fernando, the most messed up of all the guys in the bunch, is ashamed of his own Puerto Rican heritage, and tells people he is an Italian named Vinnie. Fernando has his pride eviscerated by a racist Italian cop, in one of the movie's best and most powerful dramatic scenes. In fact, all of the best scenes are the serious, dramatic ones, while the comedy doesn't always work, and is sometimes painfully juvenile and just not that funny. And this is the most unfortunate thing about the movie; if the director had played "Hangin' with the Homeboys" as a drama, with comedic overtones, we might have had an absolute classic. This is because drama is what Joe Vasquez did best. Before "Homeboys" Vasquez created two of the absolute BEST low budget, urban crime dramas of the 80's; His first film, called "Street Story" is a genre masterpiece, a description I rarely use when describing movies. Raw and realistic, "Street Story" tells the tale of an inner-city "hero,' famous in the neighborhood for his way with the ladies and his fighting prowess. Shot in grainy, 16 millimeter, this virtually unheard of genre classic is reminiscent of early Roberto Rossellini or Pier Paolo Pasolini, his "Accattone' in particular, the way his camera follows around it's main characters as we witness their sometimes comedic, but always tragic dealings with the pimps and prostitutes, hustlers and losers of the ghetto. He followed that movie up with "Bronx War," another fantastic urban crime film, where the dramatic elements were as exciting and involving as the violent gang war that the movie centers around. Somehow those two wonderful films slipped by, unnoticed and ignored. I'm guessing "Hangin With the Homeboys" was Vasquez' attempt to achieve some mainstream attention, and it worked.."Homeboys" is his most successful and well-known movie. His final movie, "Manhattan Merengue" was his failure. It couldn't even find distribution in North America, which greatly upset Joe Vasquez, who sadly ended his life after succumbing to the drug and crime lifestyle that he had managed to avoid for so long. For fans of "Hangin with the Homeboys" I sincerely recommend searching for the two earlier films of the short but fascinating career of Joseph B. Vasquez. "Street Story" especially, which has an almost 8 star rating here, proving that there are fans who recognize the excellence of this guy's early work..
What today's filmmakers don't seem to realize, is that excellence can't be reproduced. Everything that makes the classics of the 70's and 80's so great, is attached to the fact that they were made in those decades; the style, the atmosphere, the retro feel and the nostalgia is a large part of what makes them so loved and admired today. The "Unhinged" remake is one of the worst, and most offensive examples of worthless, throwaway cinema. Ugly, artless, cheap, and snarky, four, one dimensional bimbos get stuck in the woods and wind up in a house plagued with a dark family secret. Predictably, they begin to get killed off one by one. and because the characters are so bland and unappealing, the audience is happy to see them dispatched. One of the biggest problems with "Unhinged" is that the original is so good, in every way, and that makes this one look even worse by comparison. The 1982 production is visually gorgeous. The Autumnal glow of the gold and brown leaves on the trees, the stark beauty of the landscape, and the castle-like mansion in which the story is filmed is stunning and mysterious in it's gothic austerity. That house is the perfect setting for an old school horror movie. Most importantly of all is the girls themselves. Each girl is beautiful, but not in a cheap, sexy way, but rather in an elegant, European model way. They are true eye candy, and so unusually gorgeous that they automatically become more sympathetic to the viewer. The original film thrives on atmosphere and Gothic imagery; this remake is completely devoid of every one of these qualities. it looks like a made for television movie. Who wants this garbage? This is an unwanted remake and it's no surprise that it completely flopped.
"Rooftops" is one of many urban genre films to come out in the 80's, when hip hop music became more mainstream, raising interest in crime infested ghetto life. Movies like this one, and "Beat Street," "Breakin," and "Krush Groove" were popular at the box office. "Rooftops" is an uneven film, in that it doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. At first it seems like a family-friendly movie, a light musical comedy with the goofy dancing and over the top ghetto stereotypes and fashions. But after the deceptively light introduction, things take a darker turn when the cast starts dropping "f-bombs' and little kids start getting thrown off roofs to their deaths by crack dealers. "Rooftops" does feature some fantastic location filming of New York City's infamous Lower East Side before the gentrification of the entire area. Throughout the 1980's the L.E.S. was overrun with abandoned buildings. These empty apartment buildings were often occupied, illegally, by homeless people in need of shelter. But when the gangs moved in and started taking over these buildings and using them for their drug trade, a kind of war erupted between drug cartels and residents of the area. for a time it was like the Wild West, with shootouts between rival gangs from Brazil and Puerto Rico, trying to take over the drug trade. "Rooftops' tells the story of a group of young people who are trying to hold onto their home, as a violent drug cartel, led by the ruthless Lobo, are trying to take over the neighborhood and use the empty buildings for their crack operation. For those interested in this dark time in NYC history, "Rooftops' can be quite interesting. It's unfortunate that the filmmakers didn't have the courage to tell a more straightforward story, but chose to attempt to sugar coat the production with some unnecessary "dance fighting" nonsense in the beginning of the movie, but thankfully they dispel with all that silliness soon enough, when the real fighting and shooting begins. Although Jason Gedrick is the main focus, the character that really makes the film worth watching is the little Spanish kid "Squeak,' with his attitude and grafittied coat, he completely makes the movie excel in every scene he is in. By no means is "Rooftops" a classic, but it has enough grit and historical significance to make it a very worthwhile Urban crime drama. It makes a great companion piece with "Mixed Blood," another movie filmed around the wreckage of the Lower East Side and dealing with the same subject matter. "Rooftops" is not as good as that Paul Morrissey masterpiece, but it's much better than the lousy "Alphabet City," a movie that makes the L.E.S look like a Hollywood soundstage. Finding a copy of "Rooftops' isn't easy. As of this writing the very limited dvd is long out of print, and there doesn't seem to be any plans for a Bluray release. That dvd goes for big money on the internet, which is an indication that there is a cult following for this seemingly forgotten 80's gem.
Movies like "Crystal Force: Dark Angel" are for a specific audience, namely fans of the obscure and the weird, those who don't think a film needs expensive production values to be entertaining. Typical fans of mainstream, Hollywood productions should avoid this ultra-low budget noir piece that deals with the age old subject of the perils of making a pact with the Devil. This is a 'shot-on-video' effort that still manages to tell an intriguing story without the flash and polish of a studio film. The "Dark Angel" of the fable is Virgil, a sexy, smooth talking, goatee-wearing demon, who appears to bartender Jake, when the romantic and sweet-natured good guy vows that he would give his soul to attract the attention of his co-worker, Allison. This is how Virgil collects souls, and when he appears in Jake's life, he initially seems to be a good friend, trying to instill in Jake a sense of self confidence and self worth. Things take a darker turn when the minion of Satan, who grows fangs at will and drinks both human and animal blood, gives the unsuspecting Jake a cocktail laced with his own demonic blood. and because this is essentially a vampire-themed film, drinking the blood of Virgil begins to transform Jake into the self confidant winner that will finally attract the attentions of his female obsession. Of course this power comes with a steep price.. Some sexy erotic love scenes help the production, as the cast is quite attractive, both male and female, and the climax is quite surreal. The dismal shooting locations inside this dark, dive bar actually add a somewhat dreamlike feeling of despair, to an already depressing study of the lives of the broken people who frequent those kind of run down venues. Once again, not recommended for casual movie fans. However those that enjoy discovering these kinds of independent, obscure oddities,just might enjoy this murky, yet sexy horror/noir piece..
There are countless films that deal with the subject of juvenile delinquency, enough to be it's own genre; "JD movies." None of them reached the raw, brutal and dramatic heights that "Perros Callejeros" achieved, by choosing to use genuine young criminals as opposed to actors, giving the film a disturbing sense of realism. Young Angel Fernandez was famous within Spain, for his criminal exploits, which included purse snatchings. bank robbery and shootings. He is basically playing himself here, using his nickname El Torete, which is the name that he was mostly known. Those who preached against the movie "Natural Born Killers" for glorifying criminals, would likely be repelled at the idea of making "movie stars" out of actual criminals, which is precisely what this movie does. But this is exactly what makes it such a powerful piece of film making. The tale centers around El torrete and his buddies, a crew of ragged kids as crazy and as fearless as himself. And even though the kids are so cold blooded and ruthless, there is something admirable about their strength and fearlessness. El Torrete serves time in a youth prison that can't manage to hold him for long. and after he escapes, he even manages to return to the same facility to bust out his crew! Car theft is their specialty, and El Torrete's best friend, Fitipaldi, is a master driver who manages to escape police continually in a series of exciting car chases. The crazy Fitipaldi has more charisma than Warren Beatty had in "Bonnie and Clyde," and his friendship with El Torrete is at the center of the movie. As the kids get more desperate, their crimes become increasingly more violent, and more risky. And unlike similar films of this genre, there is no happy ending here, for any of the kids. In fact the ending of this one is gut wrenching and shocking; you have never seen anything quite like it. "Perros Callejeros" has a sleek, cold and almost documentary style. Taking place in Barcelona Spain, but it's filmed in the winter, which gives everything a look of washed out despair..this truly is a bleak film. Sadly no English subtitles exist for this exceptional film, and the rare English dubbed version features voice-overs that lend the production a strange, disembodied feel. as the voices are clearly nothing like those of the actors. It's amazing how unknown this movie is. It deserves to be rediscovered by a new generation. "Perros Callejeros" is vintage gold and a true JD classic.
I recommend that fans of the late, Great Harry Reems track down this obscure relic from the beginning of the 70's Adult film craze. Here is Reems at the beginning of his career, sans mustache but still possessing that on screen charisma that would carry him through his illustrious showbiz career. "Time To Love' is one of those "real movie' porn flicks; it has a solid story, good camera work, and a respectable budget. Basically a morality tale, it's purpose is to glorify the institution of marriage and monogamy. And although the idea of a porn film praising marriage and monogamy is utterly bizarre, it works. This is a thoroughly enjoyable "buddy movie," that begins at a college reunion, where two college friends, Ned and John, get together after 10 years and compare notes on their lives. As they wander around NYC they visit restaurants and bars while they reminisce about their past and current lives. Ned has become an amazingly successful tv news anchorman, whose celebrity status has allowed him a life of international travel, and an endless supply of bed mates. Flashbacks of Swinging London and Japan of the 1960's are used to great effect, and they blend seamlessly with the erotic scenes, of which there are enough, but not as many as you would expect. Harry Reems plays John, the "nice guy," down to Earth, and happily married with two cute kids, and an ideal home life. Reems played a similar character in Andy Milligan's "Fleshpot On 42nd Street" a few years later. The first half of this charming flick covers the past lives of both guys, and the second half is rooted firmly in the present, when John invites Ned to his home out on Staten Island. At this point the movie switches gears, and becomes even better. After bragging about the "wonderful life of a bachelor." Ned begins to doubt his life choices as he sees his buddy, at home with his beautiful wife, surrounded by their kids, and all things domestic. The final erotic scene between Reems and his wife is the centerpiece of the film. it's quite a beautiful scene, filmed artfully, and scored with music that is haunting and romantic. It's a very long sex scene, but never feels exploitative or "dirty" at all..something that is unheard of within the Adult film genre. "Time To Love" is such an odd obscurity, and a true relic of the genre. In 1970 NYC, there were hippies gathered in Washington Square Park, Vietnam was in full swing, and the transition from the happy and peace loving 60's, to the darker, more pessimistic 1970's, was taking place in every major city..and this film captures that time in a fascinating way. I think this is an utterly fascinating movie, for many different reasons. Recommended to anyone interested in the "Golden Age" of Adult film, as this is definitely one of the truly obscure titles. Also for Reems fanatics, this is his first starring role, and he is fantastic in it. This must surely be a collectors item.
This vintage adult feature makes no pretensions of having a linear story, because there is none at all. And yet "Brothers Should Do It" is considered one of the Greats,for one main reason : director Will Higgins has captured on film, some of the most intense couplings in Adult Film history. The "actors" aren't acting, but rather giving themselves entirely over to their basest animal desires. Covered with sweat, the couples go at each other with a truly savage intensity . I have seen my share of smut but I have never witnessed such genuine passion on film. From the first scene featuring porn icon Kip Noll and his "brother" in an outdoor hot tub, this is simply a collection of vignettes that suggest an incest theme. Of course it is only fantasy as the actors aren't really related, but the final segment features a very believable pair who truly look like twins. Quite honestly this is one of the hottest sex movies of all time with a level of true intensity and hedonistic abandon that you will never find in modern internet sex clips. The only film this can be compared to is Jean Cadinot's "Harem," another adult classic.
While the listing describes a 120 minute version, I believe that is a mistake, as all of Toby Ross' early, shot on 8mm/16mm films clocked in at around the one hour mark, the 60 minute movie "School Mates" is a true time capsule that provides a look into a world that no longer exists. Basically consisting of a few different young guys reminiscing about recent sexual experiences from summer vacation. It's quite impressive the way the guys really look younger in their flashback sequences, as though Toby Ross filmed it in real time, letting a year go by before filming the present day scenes. The nostalgia factor is what makes this movie so damn sexy, as the stories told are ones we can all relate to: first time experimenting with friends, wild masturbation sessions and daydreams about classmates that they never had the nerve to approach in reality. Ross was an expert with the camera, and the way he shot his models with natural light lends the film a dreamy, otherworldly quality. Nothing is more aesthetically beautiful than the way natural sunlight streaming through a window, illuminates the nude body. Skin looks so different on film than it does on video. This level of quality is completely non-existant in modern porn, as cheap, digital video can't begin to compare with the look of actual film stock, which elevates this movie to actual "art." And once pornography becomes art it can no longer be pornographic. One standout scene involves a sexually curious boy attempting to convince a "straight" redheaded boy to have sex with him, even as he protests and insults the kid for being a "cock sucker." The dialogue in this scene is hilarious, mostly because of how believeable it is. All the actors seem to genuinely enjoy their sexual experiences, and this transfers nicely on film and makes it that much sexier. A special mention for the music is deserved as well. Ross had some fantastic taste in music, and he brilliantly enhances his scenes with everything from classical music to hard rock and disco beats more common to porn films of the Era. And somehow he used songs from bands like Roxy Music and Led Zeppelin without bothering to attain permission from the artists : something that would be impossible today. Thankfully the distributor Bijou Films is restoring these vintage films to their former glory, to be rediscovered by future generations. "Schoolmates" brings back memories of those teenage years better than even some mainstream Hollywood movies like "Sumner of 42." This is more sincere than any of that stuff.. This is the real thing..
Toby Ross knew how to photograph the human body like nobody else in the adult film industry, at least within North America. Filming his models with streams of natural light filtering in through dirty windows, he had this way of making the skin look like it was glowing. Combined with a brilliant and downright strange music selection, the erotic scenes are given a hypnotic, otherworldly quality. "Boys of the Slums" is a perfect example of the kind of slow, moody and atmospheric style that was exclusively that of Toby Ross. Filmed mostly in a dark, dingy, dirty basement and alley, the guys stand around with their greasy hair in their faces, and talk about various sexual experiences while getting off with each other on torn mattresses or stairwells, all the while thinking of ways to get out of the slum neighborhood in which they live. With the use of dark, murky lighting, the slum looks more like the Ninth Circle of Hell. But Ross has a way of filming so that white light illuminates bodies while the background remains in darkness. There is something very real, and documentary-like about the way he films the action, very reminiscent of the Warhol/Paul Morrissey films of the era. Watching "Boys of the Slums" can be a hypnotic and surreal experience when watched in it's entirety. Any hardcore feature that features a blowjob with Roxy Music blasting in the background is definitely worth a look for connoisseurs of vintage porn. Adult films really lost something when they made the transition to video, as the naked form just looks so much better on real film stock. Check out this relic if you can find it, as it's one of the sexiest movies ever..
The Lower East Side scene in the 90's, that consisted of fake beat poets, musicians that usually couldn't play their instruments, and the junkies and barfly hangers on that thought they were among the most cutting edge scene since Andy Warhol's Factory, are the ones who created this pretentious film. Unlike the Warhol people, who earned attention from all over the world, the East Village scene existed, unnoticed by anyone outside of their group. But they didn't care, and "Night Owl" is a perfect example, It was a film that was made exclusively for those people, to impress them, and to include them in their project. it's a wasted opportunity, because "Night Owl" had potential. But to make it more commercial would have been a sellout. So instead of an erotic and atmospheric film, we get disgusting scenes of vomiting and of a vampire eating raw meat and licking the blood off the bottom of a refrigerator. And instead of atmosphere, we get poor lighting, rendering most of the images just too dark to see. The scenes of New York City are wasted, because so little of it can be seen in the 4x3 cropped picture frame. But at least the director made sure he included all his friends in his film, especially one "Screamin' Rachel," who gets WAY too much screen time, singing her lousy songs in the wretchedly lit bar, that could just as easily have been someones basement. Someone should have told her that she was appearing in a movie, and stopped her from staring into the camera (which isn't supposed to be there) for the entire time she is performing. The only good thing about this film, other than a few good camera angles, is John Leguizamo, who is sadly underused in this student film. If only someone with real knowledge of film making could have been involved to stop the director from making bad choices, "Night Owl" could have been a true cult gem in the tradition of "Martin," or "Fade To Black." Instead it is merely a curiosity piece to those interested in the NYC underground scene that was going on before the city was reduced to the generic, outdoor shopping center it is today. Sadly, NONE of this artistic edginess exists there today, and most of the people in this film are long gone...with the exception of Leguizamo, who went on to a successful career. The incredible Bluray label "Vinegar Syndrome" has given this thing the restoration treatment, but because the movie is so poorly made...it still looks lousy. There are so many great films that are lost. and deserve to be restored; "Night Owl" was an odd choice for them.
Those familiar with the films of Andy Milligan will hardly be able to recognize "Nightbirds" as his, because it contains few of the Milligan trademarks fans have come to love and expect. It looks like Andy was going for something very different here, something more serious and artistic..and he manages nicely, this tale of two very maladjusted young people, who meet "by chance" on the streets of London's East End. The coolly beautiful "Dee" comes off as warm and friendly to the homeless "Dink..." almost TOO friendly, as she invites him to live with her only hours after meeting him. The two blonde lovers settle into a domestic arrangement inside Dee's rooftop artists loft, but soon things begin to change, as a subtle, psychological power struggle ensues between the two young, but insecure kids. As the story progresses, it becomes quite clear that Dee has some very strange notions about love and relationships. It also becomes clear that she is a very disturbed woman. This is a slow film, but with a surprising conclusion that is definitely worth the wait. At times Milligan creates the illusion that the film is going nowhere, but the big reveal at the end is truly blood chilling. The casting choice was brilliant; the actress who plays Dee has the frigid look of an ice princess, with her white blonde hair and her icy, pale blue eyes. She is beautiful but there is something threatening and diabolical about her. Milligan fans will recognize Dink as "Spool," the forlorn hunchback from "The Body Beneath." In "Nightbirds" Berwick Kaler looks similarly pathetic and insecure. His character is a virgin with no self esteem, on top of being homeless. He is exactly the kind of desperate soul that Dee is drawn to, for reasons that i won't divulge. Shot in haunting black and white, and enhanced by a moody flute jazz soundtrack, "Nightbirds" is a recommended watch for anyone interested in the work of Andy Milligan. It's interesting to see a side to this film maker that is so different from the style that made him the King of no-budget grindhouse cinema. Danish director Nicholas Refn saw enough value in this film to basically bring it back to life, after being considered a lost film for decades. This fan hopes that more of Milligan's lost movies will be rediscovered.
The auteur of "strange," Andy Milligan, has created one of his most appealing and accessible films with "The Body Beneath." A real visual stunner, it was filmed on location in a gorgeous mansion, alongside the most gorhic, decaying cemetery captured on film since the one featured in Jean Rollin's "Iron Rose," with a cast that is as beautiful as their surroundings. I feel sad for those who can't appreciate a film like this quaint, old school horror movie. Fans of the old tv soap "Dark Shadows" should get a special thrill out of this similar vampire tale . Among the characters brought to the mansion to be fed upon by the immortal Ford clan, a family of vampires facing extinction due to their dwindling supply of family blood, Paul and Susan are the most sympathetic.. Susan with her delicate pale beauty and Paul, equally pretty and bearing a striking resembalance to Sid Vicious, the two are caught in a vampires web of deception. And equally lovable is the unfortunate, much abused hunchback, Spool, with his sad and frightened eyes. It is important for a film to have likable characters. Of course the three "green vampires" were unconvincing, but they have precious little screen time. And thankfully Andy Milligan left out the nasty gore scenes that would have cheapened this very polished work, and the little nudity present is actually very nice, and not vulgar at all. The erotic scene between Paul and Susan reminded me of the one between Harry Reems and Laura Cannon in Milligan's "Fleshpot on 42nd Street," minus the hardcore inserts. He was surprisingly good at filming appealing sex scenes. Sadly most of Andy's non horror films are lost forever, but fans of cult horror cinema should truly enjoy this vintage gothic vampire feast.
It's a monumental loss for film fans that the most interesting works of Andy Milligan are forever lost, seemingly thrown in the trash by his own brother, who saw no value in these works. "Gutter Trash" sounds similar to Milligans non horror productions like "Fleshpot On 42nd street" and of course those are the films considered to be his best. With the loss of so many titles, it is hard to fairly judge the true talents of this maligned film maker. This fan would definitely pay a lot of money for the opportunity of seeing "Gutter Trash" and "The Filthy Five." Maybe some day an old film reel will be unearthed. Until then we can only imagine the greatness of these elusive films..
It was 50/50, half good, half rotten. If the creator of this sequel just focused on the three main characters, Ross, Penny and Crash, and their road adventure, while relegating the adult characters to background players, this could have been a very good movie. The three kids were great in their roles, especially the actress who was Penny.. very genuine performance. When the focus was on those guys the movie took off. But when the scene shifted to Trish and the Goth girl in the shop, the whole thing crashed with a dull thud. Trish was AWFIL, and Devon Sawa's character was poorly written too. Of course it was awesome seeing James Duvall as John, the Norwegian Black Metal guy.. I liked him since "Doom Generation," and he's always good. I can't believe how ripped he looks here! Unfortunately his character is only seen interacting with the ones who bring the movie down. Anyway there was a good movie in there, but it's been diluted with too many scenes that just don't work. They really screwed it up!
How is THIS movie so completely unknown? "The Real Thing" is an EPIC heist film with more artistry, intelligence, style and energy than the similarly themed "Expendables," another movie featuring an ensemble cast of legendary names. Gary Busey, James Russo, Rod Steiger, Esai Morales, Max Perlich, Emily Lloyd, and Ashley Lawrence among others, each shine in their very defined roles of current and past criminals, trying to make a comeback by pulling off a million dollar nightclub heist. Russo is incredible as ex con Rupert, desperate to save the life of his little brother, who got shot while engaging in some criminal activity of his own. A liver transplant is the only way to save the kid, and Rupert will go to the ends of the earth to do that. Him and a group of fellow ex cons get together and devise the plan to put their hands on some much needed cash. Unfortunately another group of pros has their eyes on the same nightclub heist, and these men are much more ruthless, planning to kill everyone to get their hands on the cash. Rod Steiger is the intended target here; his New Years Eve bashes are known to take in big money, and those suitcases of undocumented cash are up for grabs. But forget about the story and just admire the style and incredible adrenaline rush that is this sadly overlooked gem of a film. Everyone involved is SO GOOD, and the movie serves as a reminder that the current crop of actors is just not as good as these veterans. Russo and Morales are particularly good here; Russo can still make you jump out of your skin with those sudden bursts of rage, and Esai hasn't been this much of a "bad guy" since he played Sean Penn's nemesis in "Bad Boys." Busey, in a smaller role, is hysterically slimy as Russo's employer, barking insults and firing people for being 10 minutes late to work. Fans of cult movies will get that same jolt of energy from seeing these guys, as action fans got from seeing "The Expendables," with it's epic cast of action legends..the only difference is, "The Real Thing" is so much better than that Hollywood trash. Again, I have no idea how this movie slipped under the radar, but it's one for fans of heist films, and for movie lovers in general.
"Baby It's You" isn't exactly a "great film," but it sure is an accurate and believable story about young love. Arquette is the Jewish high school girl who is going places in life. She plays it safe, but she's bored with it all. Until she meets Sheik, the Italian guy from the wrong side of the tracks. He's a dreamer and his future is uncertain, but... man is he a sharp dresser and cooler than any of the lame boys in high school. This guy even makes the male teachers feel inadequate with his expensive suits and suave good looks. Sheik is played by Vincent Spano, an extremely underrated and unappreciated actor who usually appeared in movies that were unworthy of his qualities. Whenever Spano is on screen the movie really shines. The story follows Rosanna's character beyond high school and into college, and as is usually the case, she begins to outgrow her man... or so she thinks. Because the mature guys she meets are a bunch of complete bores, and they all pale in comparison to Sheik, who gives up everything to return to Jersey from Florida, in a last ditch attempt to win back the love of his life. That's basically it, but the performances and the realistic story are enough to maintain interest. Taking place in the early 60s, director John Sayles captures the period in beautiful detail, and the soundtrack is excellent, featuring some early Bruce Springsteen songs, which fit the mood perfectly. Even though the songs are patently 70s and not from the Era in which the movie takes place, they still sound right. I think "Baby It's You" is somewhat of a cult film today, and deservedly so. Fans of either Rosanna Arquette or Vincent Spano will thoroughly enjoy it, as will those who can appreciate an honest look at young love...
It's a mystery why a movie with such "Cult" value is so unknown. "Born To Win" documents a week or so in the life of a hardcore dope fiend, played by George Segal. This one has so much going for it; incredible location shooting around the city, mostly the Times Square area, showcasing the porn theaters, the discos, the shady bars, the mafia hangouts, tenement buildings, and even the inside of a nasty basement "shooting gallery." We get the Great Hector Elizondo as the fur coat wearing pimp/pusher, as well as Burt Young as a mafia heavy..A very young Robert DeNiro even shows up, as a cop, so bent on making a drug bust that he's willing to plant evidence to make it happen. The jazz score and the 70's fashions, combined with the familiar faces make this a genre classic. For some reason, the distributors tried to sell this crime drama as a "comedy," and although it might have a few comic moments, this is far from being a comedy. "Born To Win" is in fact a depressing and desperate tale of surviving a reality of crooked dealers and gangsters, and corrupt cops, all while constantly fighting off the sickness of withdrawal. Every bit as worthwhile as "The Panic In Needle Park," I was lucky to see a rare, uncut and widescreen print of this obscure title, and I consider it an absolute classic of the genre. Currently there is no legitimate video release of this title, and all the dvd's within North America feature a censored print, cropped and edited for tv broadcast. This fantastic NYC film is ripe for rediscovery.
"Naked Vengeance" while an entertaining flick, is really just an artless and brainless ripoff of the MUCH superior "I Spit On Your Grave," a groundbreaking film that managed to be aesthetically beautiful in all it's ugliness. This retread, with it's tacky 80s soundtrack and filming style is basically throwaway entertainment. It's filled with impossibly dumb characters and an even dumber police force, making the events that unfold seem ridiculous. Now if this movie was the first of it's kind then it might be something special, but by 1985, audiences had seen this exact scenario played out many times before, in more competent films. I did give it an extra star for the ending that culminates on New York City's famed 42nd Street. That was a nice touch. Unfortunately "Naked Vengeance" is average at best..
Having seen "Wet Gold" in a movie theater in the Netherlands as a child, I can attest to the fact that this wasn't originally a "made for tv" production. For Brooke Shields to star in a tv movie at the height of her career wouldn't make much sense. This lushly filmed, old school adventure movie, looked absolutely stunning on the big screen, with it's deep blue color compositions and the capable widescreen photography, couldn't look less like a tv movie. Also stunning is Shields, who at age 20, looked more beautiful in this film than in anything she did previously, probably due to the natural makeup and settings. She plays "Laura," a put upon waitress, who is distressed with a life of all work and no money. She plays the part in her usual breathy, air-headed style, which is actually quite endearing here. Playing opposite to Shields is the always wonderful Burgess Meredith, as local drunk "Samson," who dazzles Brooke's character with stories of a shipwreck that he survived, decades before...a shipwreck that left millions of dollars worth of gold bars on the ocean's floor. Rounding up her boyfriend, ( a sexy, hairy chested Thomas Byrd, who appears in a full-frontal nude scene which seems to have been cut for video release) and hiring a pro diver, (the seemingly unsavory Brian Kerwin, who has more on his mind than making a few bucks on this expedition,) the crew head out to sea to find their fortune. And is as usual in this case, the promise of unimaginable wealth begins to change each member of the crew, sometimes in dark and sinister ways.
"Wet Gold" is a technically very well-made movie, featuring glorious cinematography, including some stunning underwater photography. The pacing is brisk, with new plot developments happening at every turn, and the character development is good enough to make the audience think they know each member of the boating party, only to be surprised at who turns out to be the good guys and who becomes the most corrupted by the gold. Of course this is apparently an updating of an earlier film, "Treasure of the Sierra Madre," but the target audience in 1985 would not typically know, or care about a film from 1948. Much like another Brooke Shields vehicle, "Sahara," "Wet Gold" is a movie created in the old fashioned style of films from a more innocent time, when movies provided a sense of escapist fantasy out of fantastic, larger than life adventure stories, while dazzling the audience with beautiful people and exotic settings. This is exactly what "Wet Gold" is. It even makes the classic, time worn statement about the evils of greed and what it can do to otherwise decent people. The cult status this flick has is understandable and well deserved. A Bluray restoration would be welcomed, and compared to the current low quality prints available, seeing this gorgeous film in high definition widescreen format, would be a revelation.
Judging from the other reviews, mine is the first for the new Bluray restoration. And what a restoration it is.. the film looks absolutely stunning in its sinister, dimly lit glory. The cinematographer wisely chose to film with a dark lighting, which makes the image appear as a moving Baroque painting, the primary color being blood red, which looks stunning against the blackness. I'm sure that a movie like this must have looked awful on VHS and unrestored DVD versions. Fans of the cult TV horror/soap opera "Dark Shadows" might be the correct audience for " Dr. Jekyll's Dungeon" , as this is unapologetically Gothic and overwrought drama. The idea of combining the then-popular martial arts genre with a Gothic period horror film has never been done before, and the result is truly bizarre. The kidnapped victims that are injected with the rage inducing serum, are forced to fight to the death in a bleak, nightmarish looking dungeon that resembles the torture room in David Cronenberg's "Videodrome, " and these scenes provide the grim action and violence of this sadistic tale of tortured madness and family dysfunction. Filming the entire production inside the huge mansion doesn't hurt the film, as the house is beautiful and poetically spooky. Themes of incest and the pain of unrequited love are examined in ferocious detail, and the highly stylized overly dramatic acting brings to mind the 1930s horror classics. The low rating of this unknown gem is wildly inaccurate and I can only assume it's largely due to the poor quality of earlier video transfers. There is a very specific audience for this bizarre film and it looks like that audience has yet to discover it. If nothing else, see this on Bluray for the aesthetic beauty alone, which is a quality that can't be denied. I absolutely loved this movie. Also recommended is the 70s film "Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne" with Udo Kier, and directed by Poland's premier Surrealist Walarian Boroswyck. That film is very similar in style to this one and most likely was an inspiration for this unique horror film, even borrowing music cues from that European version. In fact I'm guessing fans of Euro cinema might particularly appreciate this one of a kind film..
With the budget this had, and the star power involved, this could have been a worthwhile adaptation of one of the Marquis de Sade's most well known tales. Unfortunately the creators of "Justine & Juliette" go for comedy that is dumb and unfunny. Nothing against the comic approach in adult film, when it is done right, such as in "Every Inch A Lady," which is a masterpiece of adult film. Also the hardcore sequences rarely involve the primary cast, and those scenes are poorly filmed. The worst choice of all was to give Harry Reems so little screen time, because the only time this dud comes alive is when Reems is on screen. His screentime clocks in at around 15 minutes in total. One interesting piece of trivia about this production is that it was filmed in the same beautiful apartment as Joe Sarno"s vastly superior "Butterflies," also with Reems and Marie Forsa. My advice is to skip this tired movie and seek out "Butterflies," as you won't be disappointed.
... like no other movie of it's time, this low budget exploitation GEM literally embodies the 1980s like no other. "Joysticks," capturing the time of video arcades and gaming, when it was still something new and mind blowing. Those who are able to leave their pretentions at the door can be transported back to a world without the tiresome worries of adult responsibility, that short lived time when getting laid and hanging with our friends while looking like rock stars at all times was our only concern . The plot is simple : a middle-aged jackass thinks his Valley girl daughter is wasting her life hanging at the local video arcade, so he embarks on a campaign to close the place down. Here ensues a classic "Generation War" as the local kids, the "Vidiots" shut the old guy down at every turn. "Joysticks" is loaded with color, music, quck cuts, T&A, and best of all... comedy that is so completely wacky that it's actually funny. If you were born in the 70s and were lucky enough to have that coveted cable TV box in your home, chances are that THIS movie is locked into your psyche for all time. Yeah, they used to show "Joysticks" on the Showtime channel, which was racier than the more family friendly HBO, and they would only air it after 10pm because of all that T&A.. I guess they had the idea that the kids would be in their beds that late at night, but that was a misjudgement. The parents were asleep, oblivious to all the fun the kids were having with movies like this. Watching this today is certainly an experience, a real nostalgia overload. There were countless teen oriented movies like this, but "Joysticks" with its otherworldly set design and shameless juvenile humor and objectification of women, stands out as the King of them all. Show this one to your teenaged kids, and make them jealous that they were born too late.
Considering the time in which this was made, "In the Pink" is truly impressive. By the early 1980's the adult film industry had largely abandoned the practice of shooting their features on real film, choosing instead to shoot on digital video, a medium that cost a fraction of the price, but looked really ugly and cheap. Apparently director Bill Milling still had respect for the art of film making and it's apparent from watching this movie. "In the Pink" is filmed around the world, and I mean AROUND THE WORLD, in so many exotic locations that I lost count, the most exotic being Egypt. Shot on actual 16mm film, these locales look stunning and fascinating. And in certain scenes where Milling apparently couldn't get a permit to film, such as inside the Louvre, he created false backdrops that look convincing enough to retain the giant scope of the production. The story is quite involved too, concerning a complex double cross. An older gentleman takes a very young bride (Gina Carnale), believing that she's a virgin. When he discovers the deception, she confesses that an associate of his, forced himself on her, taking her virginity. He shoots the younger guy and, believing he killed him, considers the situation resolved, until he discovers the rogue is still alive, and jet setting around the globe under an assumed name. Meanwhile some priceless art is up for grabs, and each member of the cast is involved in their own scheme to get their hands on the collection of beautiful oil paintings. Although it's hard to believe from the description that this in fact, a porn film. But a production like this can't really be labelled as "porn," because it has undeniable artistic merits, so the term "hardcore/adult film" is more appropriate. Speaking of the sex scenes, of which there are many, they are both artfully shot and quite tasteful, keeping those nasty gynocological closeups to a minimum, although there are a few. Some of the erotic scenes are mindblowing from a creative point of view, including scenes inside a museum, that intercuts between two different couples engaged in the act, and it's superbly shot and edited. A scene featuring Jacqueline Lorians and a Palace Guard(!) inside the guard booth directly in front of Buckingham Palace, is truly a showstopper. And thankfully the male actors are very good looking, which isn't always the case in adult films from this era, which makes this a pleasure to watch for the ladies too. In fact, "In the Pink" might be the ultimate "couples film." It's quite amazing how adult productions like this and other similar films like "Story of Joanna" and "Through the Looking Glass" are completely unknown, while titles like "Deep Throat" and "Devil In Miss Jones" are household names. Both of those movies are nowhere as good as this one. For fans of vintage adult film, "In the Pink" is worth tracking down.