Saturday, June 9, 2012

Films 4

According to my 'stats,' people seem to like these film reviews, so here's a few more while I'm bored at work.

'The Groove Tube' - 1974
Maybe you know Richard Belzer from TV's 'Law and Order.' His character Detective John Munch has been on pretty much every cop show ever...even 'The X-Files.' So, perhaps it's surprising, then, that Belzer used to be a foul-mouthed, drug-fueled standup comic. This culminated in 'The Groove Tube,' an hour-and-20-minute sketch comedy film. Yeah, Chevy Chase is in it too. He's pretty good, but Belzer steals the show, especially in the sketch called 'The Dealers.'

If you dig 70's stoner humor like 'Cheech and Chong,' or 'Kentucky Fried Movie,' you'll definitely dig this. I don't remember much of the indivual sketches, but I remember Belzer being particularly hilarious as a black prostitute. Just some good, crude fun.

'Pink Flamingos' - 1972
If you like trashy, weird cinema, you're probably already familiar with John Waters' mega-offensive early films. Yes, 'Hairspray' and 'Pecker' are hilarious, but I've always been partial to the no-budget pictures Waters made in the 70's with the Dreamland crew. First of all, most of these actors are dead. One stepped on some glass while on PCP and bled to death. Another from AIDS. Divine him/herself died from obesity, basically. While working on these films, John Waters was expelled from college for smoking dope.We're talking about a pretty trashy bunch of people.

The first time I watched this film, it was with a roomful of people who had never seen it. By the end of the film, only three of us were left. It's pretty gross. But, if you can find the humor in a pervert tying a sausage to his dick or a white trash hair-farmer yelling 'Do my balls, mama!' then you'll be able to stick it out.

Basically all of Waters' films are worth checking out, if you're looking for something tamer than this, 'Hairspray' or 'Polyester' would work.

'Bubba Ho-Tep' - 2002
Don Coscarelli's 'Phantasm' tops many 'weird film' lists. This one is his lesser-known horror-comedy with Bruce Campbell. By putting this on here, I avoid the two obvious choices of 'Phantasm' and 'Evil Dead II.' You've read 1,000 reviews for those ones, I'm sure, so I don't need to throw in my 2 cents.

What's notable about this film is that, while it's about an Elvis impersonator (possibly the real Elvis) and a black dude who thinks he's JFK meeting in a retirement home and fighting a mummy, it's not really all that funny or cheesy. It's actually pretty serious. Leave it to Coscarelli to turn an unbelievably stupid idea into legitimate art.

While there are some funny one-liners, suspense is the most important mood here. It's low-budget, sure, but no more so than 'Phantasm.' Plus, it doesn't move quite as slowly as that film. And, it's got Bruce Campbell in one of his last respectable roles. 'The Man with the Screaming Brain' was just awful, I thought.

Anyhow, this is like the b-movie equivalent of a supergroup, so if you're into cheap horror, you'll wanna pick this one up.

'Repo Chick' - 2009
Alex Cox's 'Repo Man' is one of my favorite films ever. The only reason I haven't posted it up here yet is because it's one of the better-known 'strange' films, and I felt I could clue y'all into some more obscure stuff (I mean, this IS Obscuro, after all.) If you haven't seen 'Repo Man,' definitely check that out first. It's a punk-rock-action-scifi-comedy that's apparently an allegory for nuclear war. After seeing this in high school, I immediately sought out all of Cox's available films...the punk-rock spaghetti western 'Straight to Hell,' the slow, Jesus-story 'Three Businessmen,' and the historical work 'Walker.' Oh yeah, and 'Sid and Nancy.' All are good, but I was promised a 'Repo Man' sequel, right? I mean, Alex even wrote the script ('Waldo's Hawaiian Holiday') in the 80's.

Then, I heard that Cox was planning a sequel finally...nothing to do with the original script, starring only Miguel Sandoval from the original, and entirely shot on a green screen. Could be really shitty, right?

But sometimes you gotta just have faith that people don't get shittier at things as they get older. This shit is wild. Really wild. Totally maintains the spirit of the original, while doing something completely new. It reminded me vaguely of Mike Judge's 'Idiocracy,' but more colorful and cartoonish. And, Cox's token oddball dialog is still intact.

I think this is finally available on DVD, too, so you don't have to wait around for it to come to some tiny theatre in your town. I played that game for like two years to no avail. Basically, Alex Cox definitely hasn't lost his touch. This one's gonna be a classic.

'The Happiness of the Katakuris' - 2001
I see lots of Takashi Miike films on 'weirdest' lists...'Visitor Q,' 'Gozu,' 'The Audition,' etc. But not much love for this one. I saw this in high school before I knew about this guy and his reputation for completely fucked cinema. I'd still say it's ten times weirder and more enjoyable than any of the aforementioned titles. Like the tagline says, it's pretty much a horror musical. Lots of crazy violence, lots of catchy 80's-style songs, and lots of full-cast dance numbers. There's also a completely deranged claymation intro for some reason.

If you've seen any of Miike's other films, you know they can be uncomfortable to watch. This one is a bit more tame, and I think is a really good introduction to his work. Even better maybe than 'Ichi the Killer.' Whatever the case, it's a mind-blower.

Alright, I think that's enough for now. Enjoy this week's movies, and here's a tip: Veehd and Stagevu have most of these up. If you google the film title and 'Veehd' or 'Stagevu,' you'll probably be able to find them pretty quickly. Good quality, too.


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