Friday, June 29, 2012

The Awesome Tunes of Neon Maniacs!

Over a month ago, I reviewed a super cool (albeit flawed) 80's (and I mean really 80's!) horror film, Neon Maniacs, which answers the question, 'what would it be like if the Village People were Cenobites?'. It also has a few super cool tunes, too! Tunes that I...uh...forgot to mention in my review of it! My bad!

The climax of the film takes place at a 'battle of the bands' type event between a shock rock band, and the main hero's band, and three whole songs (albeit a bit cut up thanks to the film cutting away to show what the Maniacs are up to every now and then) are sung before the Neon Maniacs attack!

Ah, the 80's! They were a fun time! If I had a Doc-Brown-Delorean, I'd go back in time to 1980 and live out the rest of my days in the great decade that I missed out on!

"Baby lied/when she told me/that I was the only one. Baby lied/when she told me/she'd never need someone new. If Baby lied to me, she must have lied to you!"

Machine Gun Mama (1944)

"Any similarity between this tale and a sensible thought is purely coincidental-or should we say accidental. It could never happen in a million years to anybody else, but it did to our heroes, who came from a strange and faraway place-BROOKLYN"

Until yesterday, I had no idea who El Brendel was. And now? He was an American comedian and vaudeville entertainer who usually played a "Swedish immigrant" character, and appeared in a bunch of films from the 1920's to the late 40's.

Machine Gun Mama is a 1944 attempt by PRC studios to make something similar to the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby-Dorothy Lamour Road To... series. It was also made for America's 'Good Neighbour Policy', so it was set in South America, talked positive about it, etc...

Opening with the above quote, plus some positive talk about South America, MGM starts off with Ollie Swensen (Brendel), a truck driver, saying goodbye to Bunny, an elephant that he and his comrade Johhny (Wallace Ford) were transporting until they lost the address, and now, they find a circus and intend to sell Bunny to it...All that plot I happen to know because I looked at the film's Wikipedia page! The movie leaves most of that explanation out, as it just starts off with the two Brooklynites stuck in Mexico with an elephant and a broken-down truck, and they almost immediately find a circus. Of course, you couldn't really expect exposition in a film that's only an hour long.

The two enter the circus and come across a person of those balacing thingies that fall down when you hit a target-I have no idea what to call them. Ollie bets Johnny that he can't knock the lady, Nita (Armida) off the thing. Johnny does, and when they leave, they spot a guy about to shoot himself in the head. They stop him (leading more slapstick with the 'circus thingie'), and stray gunshots end up majorly pissing off Nita, who goes to a massive machine gun and totally demolishes an entire stall (Johnny: "If she was my daughter, I'd put a padlock on that cage of hers!")! She doesn't even aim at who shot her, she just shot a million bullets in some random place! I would NOT want to get this lady angry!

When Nita stops rageshooting, circus manager Alberto Cordoba (Julian Rivero)-Nita's father-introduces himself, Nita and Ignacio (Luis Alberni), the man who tried to shoot himself (over a 'Dolores'), who is the head of a flea circus. Since the circus is in need of a new animal since the last one ran away, Ollie and Johnny decide to sell Bunny to the circus, very cheaply.

Later, Johnny is fixing the truck, and Nita comes along and they start chatting, leading to an 'oily' end to the conversation. Soon, two loan sharks, Jose and Carlos (Jack La Rue aand Anthony Ward) arrive at the zoo and hassle everyone there (Ollie: "Those two yentlemen ain't yentlemen!").

Cordoba and Nita work out all the circus' bills, then invite Ollie and John (who Nita has the hots for) over. Meanwhile, Jose and Carlos plot to kill Bunny, which goes pear-shaped when Bunny totally owns them. Then, after Nita sends the failed saboteurs away, she starts talking to Bunny (for way too long to be considered normal).

Nita and her father go to the police, asking for permission to parade Bunny in the streets of town. They get permission and start practicing for the parade. Things start to get complicated though, when two policeman arrive, asking for 'two Americans who stole an elephant'...

Machine Gun Mama is a mostly entertaining film. I say mostly, since the film does have a huge negative. But I'll get to that later. El Brendel and Wallace Ford are fun as an Abbott and Costello/Laurel and Hardy type duo (but minus the gags and comedy bits), and Armida as Nita is fun, although as a singer, she's as high-pitched as a wailing cat! There are two musical numbers in the film's last ten minute, and Armida sings both of them, and in my opinion, she sounds like a screeching banshee (sorry Armida!)! The second song is cool though, and she's a bit better in it than the first one. The rest of the acting is pretty decent. And Bunny the elephant is adorable!...And kinda disappears from the film's last twenty minutes!

MGM was meant to be in the style of the Road To... series. How closely it resembles though movies though, I can't say, since I've only seen the last twenty minutes of Road To Utopia, over five years ago. But I have seen several Abbott and Costello movies (as well as Season 1 of their TV show), so I can definitely say that this film feels like an A&C film, but only really for the first twenty minutes/half-hour, as Ollie pretty much disappears as a main character at that point, and the movie focuses moreso on the romance between Johnny and Nita

Machine Gun Mama's biggest problem is by far the ending! It's confusing, abrupt, and makes no sense! Ok, so the police are after Ollie and Johnny because of the elephant, but that's mainly ignored as the duo have several other charges laid against them, spanning several different cities. Huh?! Well this is the first I'm hearing about that! Nothing was ever hinted about criminal pasts. What these crimes are aren't even revealed! (Could Ollie and Johnny even be tried for those 'crimes'? They were committed in America, and they're now in Mexico!) There is a scene earlier in the movie, when Nita tells Johnny about the police questioning her, and Johnny comes up with a fake, criminal background to avoid revealing that he and Ollie were actually meant to deliver the elephant to someone else-that's the impression I got.

Then, the duo are framed by the two loan sharks, who have stolen all of Cordoba's money and pinned the blame on Johnny and Ollie. They're taken away, then, next scene, they're out on bail and are at the parade, and Johnny's with Nita and her father. The police arrive, and they bring a blonde woman who claims to be Johnny's wife, and then someone named Charlie trips over, dropping Cordoba's stolen money, and the police arrest Johnny, then Nita starts singing her song for the parade, and the police, as well as the 'wife' vanish, as Johnny and Ollie watch Nita sing, and then the movie suddenly ends! HUH?! Maybe if the film wasn't only an hour long, then it could have actually had a beginning and an end, but I guess that's too outlandish a thing for me to want!

In closing, despite a terrible ending, Machine Gun Mama (only one scene justifies that title! Although the alternate titles all sound pretty vague, too) is a cool little comedy, and one with a really weird line courtesy of El Brendel!-"Let's make moon by the hayshine".

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Roohani Taaqat (1991)

You probably thought I was joking when I mentioned Urdu Pumpkinhead in my Mahakaal (Hindi Nightmare on Elm Street No. 2), but no, it's actually a real movie! (It's not actually Urdu though, I just call it that for variety, rather than keep saying Hindi This, Hindi That, Hindi Dracula, Hindi Turkish Star Wars, etc.).

If it wasn't for IMDb, I'd probably have no idea what Roohani Taaqat is about, or where it's plot is going. As IMDb tells, it's about a town that's home to a sorcerer, who summoned a demon for the villagers to destroy their enemies. Afterwards, the villagers vow never to summon the demon again. Years later, a bunch of tourists arrive at the town, and a woman, whose husband was killed by Jujubehead, has learned he ways of 'tantrik', and is now a sorcerer herself, hell bent on taking the demon down.

Roohani Taaqat (I think it means Black Magic) opens with a recap of a demon running amok and a bunch of townspeople, narrated by an overdramatic narrator. Since I'm watching this movie the only way I can unless there's a subtitled DVD of it out there somewhere, I'm watching it unsubtitled, so I will of course have no idea what is being said at any point in this movie.

After the weird and sudden prologue of overacting sorceresses, hilariously bad hag make-up, and a demon with his mouth sewn shut, the film starts off properly, with a group of tourists from the city going to this demon town. The see a sign for a guest house, and go to find it. Meanwhile, the overacting sorceress is laughing like crazy.

The film then decides to be schizo. When the tourists arrive at the guest house (I think) and meet Jagdeep, the weird Indian comedian who was in Khooni Murdaa, as well as many other Bollywood horror flicks. When the comic interlude is over, it's followed by another comedy scene! At this rate, Indian Pumpkinhead's going to be dancing alongside Jagdeep while cracking jokes about Lance Henriksen!

The film's first Bollywood musical number starts up, and luckily it's a merciful four (and a bit) minutes, as opposed to six or longer, like numbers like these tend to be in these movies. When it's all over, the sorceress arrives at the guest house and talks to a couple about something that happened to her (I think).

While a couple talk, some guy is at the evil hag's place (and while he's talking, the camera constantly swoops around the hag, quick cuts more than a Jason Bourne film, and zooms in and out on her face repeatedly). The hag summons the demon (in a very cool-albeit brief-scene), and it goes after the couple and kills the man. The woman screams at the townsfolk, and I guess that this is where they vow to never use the demon again.

The lady finishes her story telling about how she encountered the hag who summons the demon (who's actually a guy in this, unlike in Pumpkinhead) and was scarred across the side of her face. Then the movie decides to be a goofy comedy again, with a scene with Jagdeep, a woman, a guy with really weird hair, and a pregnant guy with Dame Edna glasses...Um, yeah...WHAT AM I WATCHING?!

After the comedy scene, the film cuts to Guy and Girl, a couple who've been romantic to each-other since the start of the film. They talk, and then the film decides to focus on music again. When that's over, the film switches back to horror again, when three of the tourists break into Girl's house and rape her, leading her to commit suicide.

Guy (played by Kiran Kumar, the same guy who played Ranjit in Khooni Murdaa) finds Girl's body (in a scene so dramatic that it changes the camera's colour filter) and, distraught, yells at the townspeople. He then drives off to a hill, where the hag resides. Ed takes his son's body with him to the...oh, wrong movie. Guy takes girl's body to the (muppet lookalike) hag, who performs a ritual. Guy (since I don't know his name, I'll be calling him Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen's character from Pumpkinhead) for the rest of this review) then goes out and digs up the skeletal body of Hindi Pumpkinhead and takes it to the hag.

Meanwhile, the three rapists escape jail in a laughably easy way! They were kept unrestrained, in a doorless room, only guarded by two unarmed guards who had their backs turned. The whole town shakes, and everyone, realizing that the demon has risen, run away and hide. As for the rapists...well let's just say that they don't swerve to miss the oncoming Pumpkinhead!

After dispatching the rapists, the demon begins killing indiscriminately all across the town, namely a random couple. The guy runs off up a staircase, tossing a constant stream of carboard boxes and barrels in the demon's way, and he gets to the buildngs top, and luckily for him, Pumpkinhead can't telepor...oh wait... And as for the girlfriend, she is the very definition of 'incompetent'! With Pumpkinhead on her tail, she comes across a locked gate, but she's on the side of the lock, so surely she can just pull it open. Well she tries badly, them she decides to jump the lock, then she tries the lock again...which just pulls straight open easily! The reason Pumpkinhead hasn't caught up with her yet, thanks to his slow 'stalker walk' is probably because he just wants to see if she's too dumb to operate a simple lock! A group of people find the girl's body, but are fooled by some pumpkin-terfuge.

EDIT! Umm, what was I on about with a lock in the above paragraph?! I either meant something elss, or I got confused while writing that! haha!

 So, in the midst of this massacre, what would be 'better' than ANOTHER comedy scene! Look movie, I get that this lady sleeps around and constantly has to hide her boyfriends from each-other while all are in the same room. I got it the last time you interrupted the movie to show me! The lady then hears something, goes over to the window, opens it and everyone sees Pumpkinhead!...Which segues into a musical number! *sigh* Let me say this as calmly as possible. IF THERE'S A MUSICAL DANCE SCENE WITH CHARACTERS WHO JUST SAW PUMPKINHEAD, WHY IS HE NOT INCLUDED?! I want to see Bollywood Pumpkinhead bust a move!

But the movie gods must have smiled on this movie, because it follows with the Weird Hairdo guy and the Dame Pregnant Dude guy in a Three Stooges-style slapstick scene with Pumpkinhead! This is amazing! More music follows (but Pumpkinhead vansishes), and then the movie tries to whiplash its audience to death by switching straight back to brutal horror!

Harley soon realizes his mistake (thanks to ghostly means), and he tries to stop the demon. Also after the demon's blood is the crazy sorceress, who tosses a few magic fireballs at Pumpkinhead, and takes him into space and blows him, yeah...

That's nowhere near the end of the movie though, there's still Half. An. Hour. Left! But at least it's a half-hour where Pumpkinhead gets ahold of a rifle! And a chainsaw! He must have taken some cues from Ash Williams!...

Roohani Taaqat, while fun, is heavily plagued by Rule 24. The film, while two hours long, is a bit less boring than other Bollywood horrors, because the plot is simple-a demon is rampaging in a town at night-and it doesn't really allow for sparse lengths of nothingness...Except for the first 45 minutes of the film, where next to nothing interesting happens! Also, with the urgency that this movie's plot goes along in the last hour, I though that it'd actually drop the comedy scenes and song-and-dance tunes. I was wrong!

Luckily, the film's musical numbers don't go past the six minute mark, like in Mahakaal and Khooni Murdaa. But it apparently decided to make up for that lack of sadism and include weird-as-hell comedy scenes, peppered all through the movie, in the most unwelcome places!

I haven't actually seen the original Pumpkinhead, so besides the plot outline and the climax , I wouldn't know how strong Roohani Taaqat rips it off. As for the demon himself, he's no Pumpkinhead, but he's still pretty cool. Especially when he gets ahold of weapons, and when he gets a cool Kool-Aid Man "Oh Yeah!" wall moment!

So to conclude, unless you want to see a film of this type, are curious about how a Bollywood rip-off of Pumpkinhead would turn out, or are just looking for a better Pumpkinhead movie than P 2: Blood Wings (an unofficial, totally unrelated sequel, and a pretty terrible movie), then I can recommend this, but if otherwise, I wouldn't.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day of the Panther (1988)

Now THIS is an awesome movie! Day of the Panther is an Australian actionsploitation that doesn't take place in Sydney, or Melbourne, etc., but Perth! The city that's only an hour's drive from where I live! That on it's own is awesome!

Day of the Panther is a 1988 action offering from cult director Brian Trenchard-Smith (known for The Man from Hong Kong, Leprechaun 4: In Space, Turkey Shoot, and many, many others!), about an order of...guys who hate drug-smuggling-it's never made clear.

The movie opens with a voiceover from William Anderson (John Stanton) a retired 'special branch'-guy, talking about the Temple of Panthers, and about Jason Blade (Edward Stazak), as he leads his daughter Linda (Linda Megier) and Jason Blade through the temple to complete their initiation into the Panther order.

Yeah, those weren't typos up there, the hero of this movie is really named Jason Blade! So Jason and Linda are initiated and become Panthers!

The two set off on a mission in Hong Kong, where gangster Baxter (Jim Richards) is dealing with some triads.  The two take evidence of criminal dealings, and are spotted. While the two escape, Baxter executes the triads he was dealing with.

While Jason makes his way to Perth, under the surveillance of Colin (Zale Daniel) and Lambert (Matthew Quatermaine), two bumbling cops who think that Blade is a triad mercenary (thanks to Jason's cover story), Linda goes to an abandoned, graffiti filled warehouse...for some reason, and after a ten-minute fight scene (I'm not kidding!) with some masked thugs, Baxter arrives and kills her. Linda mustn't have been a very good fighter! She only dispatched three thugs over ten minutes, and all through the fight, she was either running, ignoring things that could be used as weapons against the machete/spiked-club armed henchgoons, or using things useful as weapons, then abandoning them for no reason! And despite being a rough, tough, trained-by-the-best fighter, she still gets defeated by Baxter...And by defeated I mean, she gets hit a few times, she falls down, and doesn't move when Baxter hurls a switchblade at her. MOVE,YOU DUMBASS!

Jason finds out about Linda's death and goes to see William. He finds out that Linda was investigating Damien Zukor (Michael Carman), the biggest drug kingpin in Perth. Jason goes to Zukor's marina and asks for a job. Zukor (a dead-ringer for Nicolas Cage) refuses and orders his men to take care of Jason.  Since his name is Jason Blade, he beats down all of the henchman, impressing Zukor.

Meanwhile, Jason romances Gemma (Paris Jefferson), William's niece. He's interrupted by the two cops, who take him to the police station. Blade talks with the police chief (Brian Fitzsimmons), telling him his true 'special branch' identity. The chief believes him, and tells him to stay away from Zukor.

Jason is taken to Zukor's boat party by Baxter, and the drug lord gives Jason an errand-deliver some money to a group of guys in exchange for a suitcase of drugs. Blade leaves and goes to a warehouse, where the gang are. They try to attack Jason, leading to a brawl, all the while, Colin and Lambert are there, providing more bumbling cop action!

The whole delivery turns out to be a test to see if Blade was genuine, and Zukor hires him. After that Jason goes to the gym with Gemma in a scene that just oozes the 80's!

Jason soon finds out about a fighting tournament that Zukor runs, that's basically an illegal cockfight. Zukor decides to set up a rigged final match between Baxter (the tournament's golden goose) and Blade. Next, the film cuts to another 80's gym scene! Except Baxter comes onto the scene. He finds Gemma and forcefully asks about Blade, and before he can hurt her, William arrives. Gemma leaves and William is ready for a fight!...and Baxter is a pussy, who just walks off, saying, "I haven't got time for this!"-Oh, Baxter, I bet you say that to all the ladies-well you know where to buy viagra, dude!

Baxter, still untrusting of Blade, orders a gang of guys to cripple him. When the fail, via way of Jason Blade-dispensed justice, Baxter goes to William's house and sees a photo, realizing Jason's true allegiance...

Day of the Panther is a fun 80's actionsploitation, made all the more awesome by it being Aussie! The acting throughout is decent, and the fight choreography is all good. The plot's entertaining, and there's an especially cool line at the end. William has Zukor at gunpoint and Zukor tries to bribe him-Zukor: "I have money!"-William: "So do I!". Now THAT is a fun line!

Something strange about the movie is why Jason, William and Linda kept getting called special branch. They're not, they're part of a secret order thingimajig or something, not the government (or at least, that's never mentioned or even hinted at). There's also a goof late in the movie. A henchgoon is tossed off a hill/cliff, and a crewmember's hand can be seen going out in front of the camera to help his fall!

...And that he did, the next year! Unlike The Sword and the Sorcerer's Tales of an Ancient Empire (which the world did eventually get last year, but it's totally not at all good!).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dressed to Fire (1988)

It's time for the great Pierre Kirby to make a return to Not This Time, Nayland Smith, with *IFD crime flick Dressed to Fire! And when I mean return, I mean actually return, not just have five minutes of screentime while a whole other movie goes on around him-nope, today I'll be going over just the IFD scenes! Brad Jones (The Cinema Snob) 'reviewed' this over a year ago, and he also edited all of the Pierre Kirby-Godrey Ho scenes together into one movie, and posted it onto Youtube, hence I'll only be reviewing those portions of Dressed to Fire.

 * For those unfamiliar with Godfrey Ho and IFD films, that link on Pierre Kirby's name will lead to an explanation.

The movie opens with the usual IFD credits, which here credit Ho by his usual pseudonym, Charles Lee. Ganglord and drug dealer Lamarr (Edowan Bersma) takes some target practice out in the wild, then goes back to his lair, where Jane, a prostitute, one of Lamarr's employees, wants out of the crime business. He stabs her, killing her.

After Lamarr talks to his main henchman about crime stuff, the movie cuts to one of his drug deals. The deal is between IFD regular Dewey Bosworth and...a really skinny guy who's name I don't know. Everything goes according to plan until Jane's boyfriend Nick (Pierre Kirby) arrives. After a cool one-liner (Pierre gets quite a few of these in this film!), Pierre effortlessly dispatches the two goons and dumps the drugs.

Lamarr is furious that Nick is coming after him and rants villainously (*About Nick*-"He's just feeling the pangs of seperation!"). Lamarr send out three goons (one of whom is Really Skinny Guy) to set up a fake deal, hoping that that will attract Nick...But of course, since this is an IFD film, the goons are just armed and at the planned deal site, with no fake deal going on to draw Nick in or anything. But thanks to plot neccessity,Pierre Kirby doesn't notice, or care, and comes anyway.

EDIT: Wow, that was one mangled and nonsensical sentence above, wasn't it! I wrote this review at around midnight, hence the painful grammar! Well it's changed now, so good!

Pierre kills the two henchgoons and once again bashes the crap out of Skinny Guy, who escapes. Meanwhile, Lamarr is doing a deal with Patrick Frbezar (General effin' Karpov, from American Force 2: The Untouchable Glory, aka, Ninja Untouchables!) and his men. Frbezar (who's hilariously dubbed!) is Doug, an associate of Lamarr's. Since Lamarr and Doug are apparently complete idiots, they're having a meeting right out in the oppen, in broad daylight! Not exactly the best of plans when the man who can triple-flip in mid-air and is comfortable wearing a bright pink ninja suit is out for your blood!

So of course, Pierre crashes the meeting, killing everyone, save for Lamarr and his main henchgoon, who escape. The film then gets dramatic, with Nick having a flashback to a conversation between him and Jane. Then, Nick is ready for the final confrontation with Lamarr...

Dressed to Fire is usual IFD Godfrey Ho actionsploitation fun! It's quick, and goes from point A, to B, and C relatively simply. The acting's full of fun performances, with the great as usual Pierre Kirby, spewing out one-liners and kicking mass ammounts of ass!, and Edowan Bersma is awesomely evil as Lamarr (complete with his actual voice-I'm pretty sure-unlike his hilarious dubbed over voice in Zombie vs Ninja), and the henchman are fun as well, despite limited screentime.

The film follows suite with one of the usual IFD staples-a minimal number of henchman! Lamarr, ganglord of Hong Kong!...only has five henchman at his disposal! And if you count Patrick Frbezar and his men, then it'd probably get to just nine!

Dressed to Fire is also the fourth collaboration of Pierre Kirby and Edowan Bersma. The two appeared as hero and villain to each-other in Zombie vs Ninja, Crackdown Mission, and Thunder of the Gigantic Serpent, and they're at it again in DtF, with Bersma getting 'the unkindest cut of all'-below the belt! It's also the umpteenth time that Pierre has killed Dewey Bosworth! And this time round, Bersma's character is feeling cocky about his victory-saying to Nick at the end, "You know you'll never defeat me!". Poor Lamarr must have gotten so hopeful that he'd finally be able to defeat Pierre Kirby in one-on-one combat. Of course, that doesn't turn out so hot for him (Nick to Lamarr's above line-"Dream on fool.")...

Dressed to Fire is definitely a recommended watch for fans of action! Pierre Kirby does not dissapoint!...