Black Book

ZWARTBOEK

Paul Verhoeven has always been one of the top weirdo-pervert directors in my book. (Literally – in my book 5 On the Outside I had a review of THE HOLLOW MAN in chapter 9, “WEIRDOS, CREEPS & PERVERTS.”) Less pedophilic and more of a crowdpleaser than your Larry Clark, Verhoeven is a true original. Even making a studio movie about a cyborg he manages to tell a story with a strong point-of-view about the state of the world. Throughout his years in Hollywood, Verhoeven made many great popcorn movies that outrageously pushed the envelope of violence and sex and sneakily snuck in some subversive politics. And that’s pretty much my favorite type of movie in the world is one that does that. It’s like some poor sucker buys a box of Mike and Ike’s and doesn’t realize somebody tossed a couple MATRIX red pills in there. (read the rest of this shit…)

Point Break

Until recently I was the guy who had never seen POINT BREAK. But the other day I busted my cherry on that matter, pardon my French, so I’m some other guy now.

I’m sure you’ve already seen it but let me refresh your memory: Keanu Reeves plays the perfectly named Johnny Utah, college football hero turned fresh-faced FBI rookie teamed with Gary Busey (in one of the first roles of his Crazy Post-Motorcycle Accident Period) to track down a gang of bank robbers who Busey (correctly) theorizes are surfers. (read the rest of this shit…)

Payback: Straight Up – The Director’s Cut

I don’t know how familiar any of you are with Payback, the 1999 Mel Gibson-starring adaptation of Richard Stark’s The Hunter. That’s the same book that inspired one of the all time canonical works of Badass Cinema, Point Blank.

Well, Mel Gibson is no Lee Marvin and writer/director Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale) is no John Boorman. But I think Payback is an underrated movie. It’s a good balance of vicious and funny. It’s got a bit of a ’70s throwback feel and lots of weird touches to make it an indistinct time period. There are rotary phones, and primitive credit card technology that makes fraud more convenient, and the film is washed out with bleach making everything have a pale blue tint to it. You’re not sure when this is supposed to be taking place, which in a weird way reminds me of the experience of reading the books. Most of it reads pretty modern but obviously you are dealing with armed robbers, there is money, communication and security technology that would make some of the stories impossible today. So I sometimes have to check the copyright dates to be sure when this would’ve happened. (read the rest of this shit…)

Grindhouse

PLANET TERROR and DEATH PROOF

PREAMBLE

Here in the US these two movies were designed and released as a double feature with trailers for fictional movies in between. They were released under one unifying name that starts with a ‘G’ that is a word used to describe the shitty theaters that used to churn out sleazy horror, sexploitation, kung fu and blaxploitation movies back in the day.

I am not going to be using the g-word in this review, because I am sick and fucking tired of hearing it. It’s a perfectly legitimate title for this concept, but here is the problem. Mr. Tarantino is a huge fan and expert on these types of movies, he is the human IMDb judging from some of those interviews. So I don’t mind seeing him talk about it in every article about KILL BILL VOLUME 1 and then KILL BILL VOLUME 2 and then when they announced this g-word movie, and then while he was filming it and now to promote its release. Tarantino can use the g-word all he wants, he has earned it. So I don’t mind him and the trailers for his movie trying to explain to the kids what the g-word means. (read the rest of this shit…)

Exploitation Filmmaker John Flynn Passes Away, And Outlaw Vern Pays Tribute

John FlynnHey, everyone. “Moriarty” here. As much as I hate ever having to write an obit, I love when the right person writes one. In this case, our very own Vern has sent me a really lovely piece to celebrate the memory of John Flynn. And if you asked “Who?” then this article is worth your time to read.

Last night I was reading Harry’s GRINDHOUSE review and was taken off guard by his reference to John Flynn having died this week. I can’t find any news articles or obituaries, but the source of this news seems to be the people at The Grindhouse Film Festival who have reported that Mr. Flynn died in his sleep on Wednesday.

Flynn is not a director that has been intensely studied, you’re not gonna find a whole lot of information on him (although Shock Cinema did an interview with him a couple years ago.) I really know nothing about John Flynn the man, but since I’m very fond of three of his movies in particular Moriarty asked me to write up a little something.

Mr. Flynn’s most famous movie, the one every one of you should see, and my number one “FOR GOD’S SAKE WOULD YOU PEOPLE PLEASE PUT THIS OUT ON DVD?” pick since POINT BLANK came out is ROLLING THUNDER. Written by Paul Schrader, this movie is in the vein of TAXI DRIVER if it was a little more of a straight ahead revenge movie. William Devane plays a Vietnam vet who comes home to a hero’s welcome, but becomes very distant and feels nobody understands him. Things get worse when he gets robbed and loses his hand to a garbage disposal. He definitely has more to complain about than John Rambo in FIRST BLOOD. So later there is revenge. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Lookout

They got a real unique advertising campaign for THE LOOKOUT, they are trying this new thing where you don’t promote the movie at all, and nobody knows it even exists. So there is this mystery around it. I don’t know why it hasn’t blown up yet but so far this playing-hard-to-get approach does not seem to be capturing the public consciousness.

About the only thing I knew about THE LOOKOUT was the reason I wanted to see it: it is the directivational debut of screenwriter Scott Frank, who wrote many movies but most importantly OUT OF SIGHT. He also wrote GET SHORTY so it’s easy to expect Elmore Leonard if you know this is a movie involving a bank heist. But the feel is very different, it’s not really fun or jokey, it’s actually a little sad. But it is a real good and tightly-written thriller. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Gives Up on Entertainment Weekly

I’m gonna come right out and admit it: I used to have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly. Recently. It’s cheap, it comes every week, it keeps you company. Sometimes you read some tidbit in there that you didn’t catch on a web sight yet. They can actually interview directors and actors without having to go to a junket, so they got a leg up. Not too long ago Owen Glieberman said nice things about Under Siege 2: Dark Territory in his column, I liked that. Every once in a while they even hire actual writers to spend time on a feature article, I think they did one on the history of Police Academy one time. (I didn’t read it but that must’ve been interesting.)

But you know when a balloon has a tiny prick in it, and the air slowly, almost imperceptibly leaks out until the thing looks all lumpy and shriveled? That’s what reading EW does to my soul. A man can only abide by so many American Idol cover stories arriving in his personal mail box before he wants to leave the country and never come back. And I know, everybody says Lost is a good TV show, I’m sure I would enjoy it if I watched it. But for God’s sake would you sonofabitches PLEASE stop writing about it? How many god damn secrets could there possibly be for you to exclusively reveal? Even if it was my favorite show of all time I think I would feel like you guys were taking it too far. You talk about Lost more than the kids in Jesus Camp talk about the Lord. (read the rest of this shit…)

District B13

(originally BANLIEUE 13)

I’m way behind on this movie. I remember a couple years ago I went to see some movie at the film festival here, and this one was just getting out on the same screen. I saw some people I knew coming out and I asked them how it was. They said it was ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK except in France, and with some weird martial art where they run up walls and shit. I knew it was a Luc Besson joint so I thought wait a minute, is this related to that YAMAKASI movie I saw? The art of climbing and flipping?

Now it’s years later and the movie has long since played American theaters and DVD players in a dubbed version called DISTRICT B13. The advertising campaign has tried to convince us we know what the word “parkour” means. Another practicioner of the art has battled (and lost) the new, badass James Bond. Now it’s old news, the excitement has worn off, so I saw it now. That’s just how I roll. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Hills Have Eyes II (2007)

THE HILLS HAVE EYES REMAKE II

First, a review of my review of THE HILLS HAVE YES REMAKE I: not so hot. I had so much I wanted to say about that movie that I couldn’t figure out what was actually worth saying. Just skip to the end where I ask, “Are you asking for a movie about mutant cannibals who steal a baby and then raise it in a safe and loving environment? Because I don’t think I would like that movie as much. (I’d watch it, though.)” Somebody oughta do a remake of that review. Sorry, everybody.

Second, a review of the advertising for THE HILLS HAVE EYES REMAKE II: top-notch. The teaser trailer was one single shot of two weird mutants dragging bodies through the desert, then the title of the movie. Because what more needs to be said? A masterpiece of simplicity. I also enjoyed the TV commercial narrator who said, “Last year, critics said THE HILLS HAVE EYES went too far. Now, get ready to go even further…” I am not a fan of advertising in general, so I gotta give credit when credit is due. You did it, fellas. (read the rest of this shit…)

Long Live Dolemite! Vern on Rudy Ray Moore

Friday night I saw Rudy Ray Moore perform at The Funhouse in Seattle. If you’re not familiar with Rudy, he’s a legendary comedian, maker of x-rated comedy records, who paved the way for his contemporaries like Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx to do their thing by carving words like pussy and motherfucker about ten thousand times into vinyl. But it was his string of self-financed, low budget blaxploitation comedies like Dolemite, The Human Tornado and (my favorite) Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil’s Son-in-Law that put him on the map for most of us. Those movies are built around his persona, the arrogant, unbelievably shit-talking chauvinistic badass with a knack for hilarious insults and rhymes. Like his movies, his act is mostly built around the traditions of the dozens and toasting. He tells stories in rhyme and picks out people in the crowd to talk shit about (which most people take as a great honor).

I never saw Rudy Ray in his hey day, but I did see him here a few years back. That was a polished, old fashioned show with a band of local musicians who he probaly hadn’t met, but he handed them sheet music and they knew what to do. He did all his classics (Dolemite For President, Signifyin’ Monkey, Shine, Petey Wheatstraw, etc.) to the music and even sang a few songs. At first the pure filthiness and sexism of the whole thing was almost overwhelming, it kind of felt like he had gone around slapping people at random, everyone was in shock. I remember there was a young woman playing in the band who didn’t look too happy at all this talk about pussies and dicks. And there’s a joke he does about “a deaf and dumb bitch” that is about the worst thing anybody ever said. But then slowly it seemed like that woman in the band started to get to a point where it was so ridiculous she started to laugh and by then most of the audience couldn’t stop laughing. (read the rest of this shit…)