The 13th Eagle

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Here’s another Shaw Brothers classic. Chik Ming Sing (Ti Lung) an orphan raised as an assassin, leaves his clan and must fight them to stay alive and free, with a little help from a stranger (Alexander Fu Sheng) whether he wants it or not. His former master, Yoh Xi Hung (Ku Feng) is not about to accept Sing’s resignation…he’s the kinda guy who accepts only loyalty or blood…and who literally rules with an iron fist (a metal glove with claws). That’s just one of the many wicked weapons used, along with trademark Shaw Brothers gravity-defying Kung Fu. Lung and Sheng have the kind of grudging, comic rapport that makes a good action team, and their climactic battle with Hung is epic as hell…

 

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That’s A Promise

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Martial arts students Charlie,Speedy and Sup Kim pit their skills against slumlords who will stop at nothing to drive out their tenants in this American chopsocky flick. It’s cheap and amateurish but endearingly so. The fight choreography is pretty funny. There’s cool, funky wocka-chicka theme music. It would’ve been a blast to have seen this in one of those 42nd street grindhouses that specialized in Kung Fu movies back in the 70’s…

 

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Hot Buttered Sasquatch

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Back in the 70’s America was crazy about Bigfoot…and not just as tabloid fodder, either. There was the much-studied supposed footage of an actual sasquatch (which, if you look closely, is wearing a wristwatch) myriad books, documentaries, movies…even Joseph (Psycho) Stefano wrote one (Snowbeast)…a board game (which I had as a lad) even a Saturday morning kid’s show (Bigfoot And Wildboy). Most bizarro of all, though, has to be Shriek Of The Mutilated by that happy couple of ultimate degenerates, Mike and Roberta Findlay. They had the brilliant idea to combine homicidal hominids with another staple of 70’s exploitation: cannibals. This tale of a college professor (could I call him a “Sasquatchologist”? Is that even a word? Well it is now.) and his cronies in search of the hirsute one has all the Findlay earmarks: snarky dialogue,perverse humor and outrageously creative ways to kill people. The most talked-about scene (amongst people who have actually heard of this picture) is the one where a man slits a woman’s throat…and as he’s in the tub scrubbing off her blood, she manages to crawl into the bathroom and chuck a toaster in with him. Can you think of a more perfect metaphor for love?

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I suppose I should’ve put a Bigfoot pic here but I’d rather look at this Velma-esque lady myself. 

Nasty Tadpoles

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The early 80’s saw the release of a groundbreaking science fiction picture about a family whose lives were forever changed by an extraterrestrial visitation. Of course, I’m talking about Deadly Spawn. A (presumably) female alien (resembling a cross between Giger’s alien, Audrey II…and a giant prick with shark teeth…rows and rows of shark teeth) holes up in the family’s leaky basement and gives birth to a litter of wriggling little tads…and they all chow down on anyone they find. Did I mention that they like to chew people’s faces off? This is one of the earliest 80’s pictures to go for that retro-50’s sci fi vibe…and in that tradition, it’s up to the kids to figure it out and stop the monsters. One of the kids is a monster movie freak (first seen wearing what looks like a Rondo Hatton “Creeper” mask) who puts his hobby to good use battling the spawn. There’s a lot of bloody, meaty gore and this picture is totally relentless. (Old ladies? Kids? It’s all meat to the spawn) but it’s also quite inventive and humorous, predating the horror-comedies that would become prevalent in the mid-to-late-80’s. It’s quite the trendsetting picture…and a true cult classic…

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To Frightening Limits

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Ex-con Charles (Marlo Monte) leaves prison on a mission of revenge against the corrupt justice system that sent him up the river. Sounds like the setup to a thousand action/revenge movies, doesn’t it? Wellthis one is a little different. Dig this: The racist bastard cop who busted Charles tried to emasculate him with a straight razor…but when Charles gets out of prison, he’s not only anatomically correct but has a Dr. Caligari-like power over women…and an anaconda in his pants. Seriously…this thing would make John Holmes feel inadequate. Is director Jamaa-Fanaka insinuating that this is the true root of racism? So how did Charles bounce back so miraculously? Radical experimental surgery? Radiation? Well, you’ve got me…The editing and timeline of this picture are completely discombobulating. Anyway, Charles seduces (and satisfies, I might add) the wives of the cop, prosecutor and judge (who looks kinda like Wolfman Jack and likes hookers) before killing the corrupt honkies…and you won’t believe how he does it…As outrageous as it sounds, it’s all played deadpan straight. This is one of those pictures that raises many questions, such as: “What the hell is this?”…”What just happened?”…and “What kinda sickie dreamed this up?”. One thing is certain: you’ve never seen anything quite like Welcome Home, Brother Charles

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Buggin’ Out

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Evil Spawn is basically an 80’s take on The Wasp Woman, itself a distaff ripoff of The Fly. Bobbie Bresee (Mausoleum, Surf Nazis Must Die) plays Lynn Roman,a middle-aged B-movie queen struggling to find work in youth-worshiping Hollywood. She’s offered an experimental “ant-aging serum” by a mad scientist (John Carradine, looking like death warmed over) and his even madder assistant (Dawn Wildsmith). It works…but they haven’t worked out all the bugs yet…and Lynn occasionally mutates into…well,she doesn’t turn into a wasp or fly…I’m not sure what the hell it’s supposed to be,but it’s a big,burly bug with claws roughly the size of Mastodon tusks, it looks slightly different each time it appears…and turns virtually everyone in her life into an all-you-can-eat bug buffet. Fox Harris (Repo Man, Forbidden World) is in it,but totally wasted in a role that could’ve been played by anyone. Bobbie goes for broke though, chewing scenery like a paper wasp Joan Crawford…

 

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How Sharper or The Kids Aren’t Alright

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Before Leif Garrett became a Tiger Beat coverboy he was a half-pint psychopath in The Devil Times Five…He and four other seriously disturbed little kids escape a mental institution when their bus crashes and they wander over to a nearby ski lodge. The folks there (including Sorrell “Boss Hogg” Booke) take them in and care for them…when they’re not busy bickering amongst themselves like they’re in an Edward Albee play. The kids repay this kindness by viciously killing their hosts one by one with any available dangerous implement…and in one scene…piranhas in the bathtub. Is it possible the kids saw Russ Meyer’s Up!? These li’l bastards are nasty…and some scenes are pretty disturbing when they’re not derailed by bad acting or overused slow motion. There’s one scene shot entirely in super slo-mo that seems to go on for eons…it becomes funny, then irritating, then exasperating…and then funny again…and they even leave the soundtrack running in slo-mo, so everyone sounds like constipated Hulks. It left me wondering if it was an aesthetic choice or if they just had to pad out the running time. Sometimes bad choices, sloppiness and cost-cutting measures create mindboggling effects onscreen and are often what makes low budget films so memorable and endearing. I recommend watching this back-to-back with Bloody Birthday for a double feature brat attack…

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