Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Week in Sleaze 12-07-10

Well, winter is kicking in. It's freezing outside. Won't be fit for man or beast out there for the next five months. Might as well stock up on weird movies!

Videodrome (1983) - Criterion Collection Edition
When Max Renn goes looking for edgy new shows for his sleazy cable TV station, he stumbles across the pirate broadcast of a hyperviolent torture show called Videodrome. As he unearths the origins of the program, he embarks on a hallucinatory journey into a shadow world of right-wing conspiracies, sadomasochistic sex games, and bodily transformation." Starring James Woods and Deborah Harry in one of her first film roles, Videodrome is one of writer/director David Cronenberg's most original and provocative works, fusing social commentary with shocking elements of sex and violence. With groundbreaking special effects makeup by Academy Award-winner Rick Baker, Videodrome has come to be regarded as one of the most influential and mind-bending science fiction films of the 1980s, and The Criterion Collection is proud to present it in its full-length unrated edition.

One of the weirdest films of the 80's - a decade well-known for off-the-wall cinema - Videodrome is confounding, stimulating, repellent, enthralling and hilarious in equal measure. So many bizarre body-horror set-pieces, so many absurd-yet-quotable lines (Long live the new flesh!), and so much James Woods! Criterion's releases always break the bank, but in this case, it's clearly worth it.

Big Bad Mama/Big Bad Mama 2 (Roger Corman Cult Classics Collection)

Big Bad Mama: When Wilma (Angie Dickinson) finds there is no money to be made in the bootlegging business, a chance meeting with bank robber Fred Diller (Tom Skerritt) leads to a new career. Along with her daughters, Wilma joins Fred on his next big heist. After meeting slick gambler William J. Baxter (William Shatner), Wilma recruits him and the rest of her gang to kidnap the daughter of a millionaire in the hopes of collecting a big pay day.

Big Bad Mama II: Angie Dickinson returns to her role as Wilma Big Bad Mama McClatchie. She is out to steal a better life for her two teenage daughters. The sexy trio sets their gun sites on revenge against a crooked politician by taking down his banks and kidnapping his son. Also starring Danielle Brisebois and Playboy Playmate Julie McCullough.

Two of Corman's greatest hunks of cinematic trash together in one boner-popping, thrill-seeking package. Although they were shot 15 or so years apart, Angie Dickinson looks amazing in both films and she - and her lovely daughters - are frequently naked. Plus, both films are super-violent. Plus, Tom Skerrit! Plus, William Shatner! You can't go wrong with these.

Lady in Red/Crazy Mama (Roger Corman Cult Classics Collection)

Academy Award winner Cloris Leachman stars in Crazy Mama as Melba Stokes, a middle-aged woman who runs a California beauty parlor with her mother Sheba (Ann Sothern) and teenage daughter Cheryl (Linda Purl). When the shop is repossessed, the three ladies take a road trip from California to the family home in Arkansas that turns into a crime spree. Also starring Donny Most (Happy Days), Jim Backus and Stuart Whitman. Directed by Academy Award winner Jonathan Demme ( The Silence Of The Lambs).

Pamela Sue Martin stars in The Lady In Red as the infamous Lady in Red Polly Franklin, whose red dress serves as an identifying beacon for the FBIs murder of public enemy #1, John Dillinger (Robert Conrad). From sweatshop to dime-a-dance hall, from prison to house of prostitution, Pollys journey brings her even closer to the gang-run crime world of the 30s: until that fateful day she meets and falls in love with John Dillinger. Also starring Academy Award winner Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest) and Christopher Lloyd ( Back To The Future)

Fantastic casts full of soon-to-be stars or soon-to-be-has-beens and fast n' furious scripts make these two must-haves for fans of 70's b-cinema. Neither film offers up the casual sleaze of the Big Bad Mama flicks, but everything else - bloody mayhem, reckless stunts, zippy dialogue and tongue-in-cheek humor - is present and accounted for.

American Pop
Journey into an explosion of sight, sound, song and superb storytelling as brilliantly conceived by animation innovator Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat, The Lord of the Rings, Wizards). From a turn-of-the-century immigrant vaudevillian to a rock superstar, American Pop is the story of four generations whose lives revolve around the beat of American popular music. Featuring a mind-blowing soundtrack bursting with the hit music of The Doors, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Mamas and The Papas, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pat Benatar, Lou Reed, Bob Seger and more. Packed with energy, excitement, electricity and enthusiasm, Bashki's work is a ground-breaking, kaleidoscopic animated trip.

Corny and overwrought in the best possible way, this is a fun slice of ear-splitting Bakshi madness.

Schoolgirl Hitchhikers (1973)
Two lesbian schoolgirls get mixed up with a gang of jewel thieves in the first in a number of sexploitation films from French director Jean Rollin. Starring the beautiful Joelle Coeur (Demoniacs), this is SM-themed erotica with a Jean Rollin twist, reminiscent of The Shiver of the Vampires (1971) and a prerequisite to the iconic Demoniacs (1974).

You had me at "Schoolgirl Hitchikers". Plus it's a Jean Rollin film. Plus it was made in 1973, one of the greatest years for cinema.  "Lesbian schoolgirls" actually feels like overkill at this point

Jess Franco's Stripped Dead
4 films from legendary filmmaker Jess Franco! INCUBUS - Lady Luck comes in many disguises. For ill-fated artist Johan Harker she took the form of Lorna, a beautiful woman with unearthly desires. VAMPIRE BLUES - A pretty American teenager from New Jersey goes on vacation in the south of Spain where she is unknowingly stalked by the vampire Countess Irina von Murnau. BROKEN DOLLS - A former European actor Don Martin has retired with his disjointed "family" to his own private island, "The Paradise." After a few years, the entire group has disintegrated into shameless, selfish & dishonest personalities. SNAKEWOMAN - A publicist's agent seeks to purchase the rights to the life story and estate of cult movie icon of early 20th Century. When she meets the icon's remaining relatives living a life of hedonism, she uncovers more than skeletons in their closet...she learns that sometimes it the snake who can charm her victim.

There's a slew of Franco sets being released by MVD this week - check their website for other titles - and I suggest you snatch 'em all up. While Franco almost never delivers on whatever sleazy premise his films are based on, he always rewards the viewers patience with something, be it wacked-out dubbing, hot naked Euro-chicks, a groovy soundtrack, splashes of dimestore gore, or just some powerful weirdness that pops up out of nowhere.

Two Big Boobs
We're Big-Shot Hollywood Producers! Or so think two well-intentioned bunglers hired to produce and direct the next big Erotic Blockbuster in this zany comedy full of madcap escapades and - you guessed it - big boobs! Slapstick Comedy meets Vintage 8mm Erotica, and it's never been more hilarious! Bonus content includes 15 8mm "Big Boob" loops, including the never-before-available on DVD 8mm loop classic, "The Apple Knockers and the Coke!

Having been a breast-obsessed, well-intentioned bugler myself on many occasions, I can't help but to give this goofy attempt at recreating the fluttering, grainy sex-loops that drove grandpa to distraction.

Fistful of Brains
The town of Shadowhawk is overrun by zombies when it gets caught in a war between two mysterious brothers. One of the brothers has sold the townsfolk his magical elixir promising them immortality. What he doesn t tell them is that he s recruiting them for his zombie army, and they will develop an unquenchable hunger for human flesh. The Sheriff s daughter Lily and her so-called half brother Jack are helplessly entwined in the battle and have to decide if it s better to fight them or join them and embrace immortality.

While I am understandably leery of any film with a premise that involves "magic elixir" , I like the pulpy, washed-out look of this horror-western mash-up. It's like Cutthroats Nine, only shot on a camcorder. And also with zombies.

- Ken McIntyre (plot descriptions courtesy Amazon and Netflix.) 

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