A White-Hot Night Of Hate

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Just as L.A.’s Precinct 13 police station is closing down it’s besieged by the Street Thunder gang, who have sworn a literal blood oath to avenge a half dozen members killed by police. Which makes for one helluva first night for Lieutenant Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker, Horror High) and his sparse remaining staff (including Nancy Loomis from Halloween). Three prison inmates in transit and a bereaved father also crash the party. Director John Carpenter takes his sweet time establishing the plot and characters…and they are great characters…especially Stoker, Laurie Zimmer as Leigh and Darwin Joston as “Napoleon”. After that, before you can say “Rio Bravo”, the bullets start flying like insults at a Friar’s Club roast. Carpenter’s movies are so quintessentially American, it boggles my mind that so many critics and moviegoers don’t get him and he’s one of those “They love him in Europe” auteurs. Oh well. Mainstream acceptance usually leads to mediocrity anyway. “Got a smoke?” 

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Malice, Sweet Malice

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Don’t let the title fool you…Alice (Paula Sheppard) isn’t really all that sweet. She’s a holy terror. She lies, steals, breaks things, sasses her elders and walks around wearing one of those creepy clear plastic Halloween masks and a Don’t Look Now raincoat. She’s always been jealous of her cutie pie little sister Karen (Brooke Shields) so when Karen is murdered at her first communion everyone assumes Alice did it. Or did she? Questions mount along with the body count in this wicked little thriller reminiscent of Hitchcock (director Alfred Sole did write for the 80’s revival of Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and giallo films. Niles McMaster (Bloodsucking Freaks) plays Alice’s daddy. Ex-wrestler Alphonso DeNoble (also in Bloodsucking Freaks) is unforgettable as Mr. Alphonso the sleazy landlord. (There’s usually one character in every horror movie who’s so repugnant that audiences cheer when they get theirs. That’s Alphonso alright.) Paula gives a compellingly complex performance as the troubled Alice…sometimes sympathetic, sometimes cruel…vulnerable, charmingly rebellious, annoyingly bratty, creepy, tragic…one of the few fully realized characterizations of a child you’ll find in movies. I loved this movie as a kid, back in those ancient VHS days…and I appreciated it much more this time around…

 

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Emerald Ire

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This one is an 80’s Italian throwback to New World’s 70’s jungle prison pictures like The Big Doll House. Repeat offender Linda Blair (Born Innocent, Chained Heat, Red Heat) is Daly, a vengeance-bent escapee from a South American island prison, out to destroy Luker (Leon Askin of Hogan’s Heroes) and his company that used her and her fellow inmates as slave labor in an emerald mine. It doesn’t have the humor or charming characters of Jack Hill’s prison flicks, but it does have beautiful, exotic transsexual actress Ajita Wilson (Sadomania, Island Of  1,000 Delights) as a fierce inmate and Penn Jillette as a security guard. Linda Blair only appears in the beginning and end and provides narration for the jungle scenes (the producers just bought another women’s prison flick cheap and shot new wraparounds with Blair) but when she’s onscreen she owns the movie. It’s no mystery why Redd Kross wrote a song about her…

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Ain’t That Tough Enough?

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Here’s another women’s prison picture from Paul Nicholas, director of the classic Chained Heat. A  doofus named Willy (John Terlesky) picks up bodacious sociopath Rita (Christina Whitaker) hitchhiking in his stolen car. She instantly seduces Willy into helping her rob a bank. Willy’s innocent ex-wife Michelle (Shari Shattuck) is a teller…and when a robbery goes sour she and Rita end up in the slammer together. (C-c-c-catfight!) Naturally, the jug is run by a corrupt, sadistic warden (Angel Tompkins) and there’s a sleazebag male guard, rival gangs, brutal fights, Sapphic shenanigans…The whole shmear. Oh, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ hit Tuff Enuf. I definitely recommend watching this back to back with its predecessor Chained Heat for a double dose of  criminal mischief.  “This used to be such a nice place.”

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Full-On Super Scooter Trash

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Fresh from a tour of duty in ‘Nam, biker Mike Connery (Tom Stern) rounds up his old gang the Madcaps, shattering the tenuous detente between bikers and cops that has been in effect while he was away. The smartass dialogue full of hepcat slanguage is definitely the highlight of this classic AIP biker flick but there’s action, swingin’ chicks and groovy tunes from the Peanut Butter Conspiracy (written by Stu Phillips, who also wrote for the Carrie Nations) and the Lollipop Shoppe, who perform in a blink-and-miss-it cameo at a hippie commune. “So get on your scooter and fade, man…”

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Loose Lips or A Snatch Of Conversation

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Penny (Candice Rialson, Hollywood Boulevard, Candy Stripe Nurses) is having a spot of female trouble. Seems she’s got a precocious chocha. Her canyon does its own yodeling. In other words, her vagina launches into monologues. This is socially awkward for her at first but when the right people discover that her thingamajig can sing, Penny and “Virginia” create an overnight sensation and a star is born. Sure, the joke gets old pretty quick but I’ve gotta give ’em props for audacity and originality. It’s quite a departure for director Tom DeSimone, who’s mostly known for women’s prison pictures (and gay porn). Candice is a delight as always, a sexy blonde bombshell with chutzpah and natural comedic timing. Other interested parties in this genital spectacle: Rip Taylor, Professor Irwin Corey and…Gladys Kravitz. (“ABNER!”)

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Hit It Pinback

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The intrepid crew of the starship Dark Star are boldly going where no man has gone before…and blowing stuff up real good. They’ve been at it for 20 years…and they’re bored. Lieutenant Doolittle (Brian Narelle) would rather be surfing but he had to take over for Commander Powell, who is technically dead but cryogenically frozen and still available for occasional consultation. Sgt. Pinback (Dan O’Bannon, creator of Alien and director of the immortal Return Of The Living Dead, in a brilliant performance that evokes Harold Lloyd and Daffy Duck) hates everything...especially his pet alien. Boiler is happy as long as he gets to destroy things…and Talby just wants to stargaze. Originally a student film by O’Bannon and future horror/sci fi maestro John Carpenter, Dark Star managed to get released as a feature film, on screens across America. Most folks didn’t get it. If you’re a fan of absurdist sci fi like The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy or Red Dwarf, you’ve probably already heard of it…

 

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