I Love Livin’ In The City

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Here’s one of the best of the infamous “video nasties” banned in England during the vhs era. It originally played on a double bill with Drive-In Massacre. Writer/Director Abel Ferrara (Ms. 45, Bad Lieutenant) is Reno, a floundering surrealist painter slowly losing his mind, marble by marble. It’s hard to say what’s the most maddening to him: his artistic block…his struggle to get noticed and appreciated in the art world…trying to pay the rent with no help from his two spaced out groupie roomies who do nothing but watch t.v., make long distance phone calls, hang out with the obnoxiously loud punk band (Tony Coca Cola And The Roosters) constantly practicing in the apartment above him…and occasionally make it with each other in the shower. It’s all of the above really. So what does he do to unwind? Kill homeless guys with a big power drill. There’s plenty of splatter for you gorehounds out there (if you manage to score the uncut version. There are myriad versions that have been floating around since the vhs days, since the movie is public domain) but at heart it’s a New York underground film, with characters that wouldn’t look out of place in a Paul Morrissey picture…which further illustrates my belief that the only thing separating the arthouse from the grindhouse is a wafer-thin wall of “respectability”…

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Hang Up And Run To Me

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Don’t Answer The Phone is one of the sickest, most off-kilter thrillers I’ve ever seen. Nicholas Worth plays a serial killer who torments a talk radio shrink with tales of his crimes. The filmmakers obviously saw Taxi Driver…the killer is a ‘Nam vet who talks to himself in the mirror, constantly drives through the sleazy part of town…and is a virulent racist. But he’s much more twisted than Travis Bickle and has no moral code whatsoever. He has major Catholic damage, daddy issues…and he’s an amateur porn photographer. You may recognize the guy who played Porky in Porky’s as the smut mag publisher he freelances for. In another bit of inspired casting, the cop on his case is James Whitworth (Papa Jupe in The Hills Have Eyes). Worth is so creepy and weird, with his Muttley laugh and his ability to cry and laugh at the same time…his intensity and sliminess…if you can relate to him at all, you’re too sick even for this blog…

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Spacegirl Blues

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After the late 70’s/early 80’s flood of Star Wars knockoffs there were also some comic space operas…This one is by William Sachs, the same guy who made The Incredible Melting Man…It stars Avery Schreiber and Jesse Vint as space cops and the tragically beautiful, ill-fated Dorothy Stratten as Galaxina, the robot who yearns for love. It’s hard not to be a little bummed out watching this, knowing that Dorothy was murdered the day the movie came out…She’s so achingly radiant in this film…and there always seemed to be sadness in her eyes, as if she knew all along that she wasn’t long for this world. But don’t start thinking this is a Bergman film…The movie itself is lighthearted and full of jokes cornier than crow crap but delivered with an amusing eccentricity…If you dig The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Red Dwarf or The Ice Pirates, you’ll probably dig this one too…

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The Torpor! The Torpor!

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This is an entry in the Blind Dead series of Spanish horror films about a cult of Knights Templar who were blinded and executed for practicing Satanic rites and human sacrifice who return from the grave to pick up where they left off…This time they’re on a boat (an alternate title was Ghost Galleon) that runs into some fashion models and their crew. The ghost boat is pretty atmospheric and the knights are pretty gnarly-looking in that Tales From The Crypt kinda way…but they are the slowest zombies ever to stagger across the silver screen…and nobody runs away from them. And they’re basically skeletons with a little bit of jerky left to keep their bones together…all it would take is one good whack to knock their blocks off like a tee ball. And as I mentioned before, they’re blind…You’ll be screaming at the doofus crew to run or do something fercrissake…if you can stay awake long enough…

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Cheap Thrills

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Imagine you’re strolling by your local grindhouse or drive-in in 1938, and you see the title Sex Madness slathered on the marquee. Sounds like a hot ticket, no? So you plunk down your chump change, snag a soda and popcorn and settle in for some smutty fun…only to discover that the movie is about syphilis. Guaranteed to turn your outie into an innie, right? Well, before you grab your coat and make a beeline for the door, let me tell you that it was directed by Dwaine Esper, the man who brought you Maniac and Marihuana, so rest assured that all the scary hygiene-film stuff is just a smokescreen of legitimacy that allows Esper to explore the taboos of the day: premarital sex, burlesque, the casting couch, lesbianism…Now that’s more like it, wouldn’t you say?

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What’s All The Rumpus?

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Although it’s got the standard roadshow plot: a youngster and her mother led astray by a sleazy interloper into white slavery (it was also known as Girls Of The Underworld) the real appeal of this film lies in its dance numbers…Yup, you heard right, dance numbers. It was made in 1940, just coming off the era when every movie had songs and dance numbers in them…This one has a great wild party complete with jitterbugging, and that scene alone is worth the price of admission…

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This Town Ain’t Big Enough

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Words like “sweet” and “cute” and “family-friendly” are not usually bandied about when speaking of exploitation films, but The Terror Of Tiny Town is all those things. It’s a 1930’s Western with a twist: a cast entirely of little people. I know there are those out there who will find cheap, crass laughs at the very idea…but the characters are really charming and the movie is pure fun…

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