The Weekend of Trash is back for its 19th (recorded) celebration of all things gore-soaked, bullet-ridden and sleaze-imbued (previous write-ups can be found in the category archive). After a poor showing last time round with only 6 films watched, we decided to go all out this weekend and hit double figures for the first time in a while. It might be the last weekend for a good 6 months or longer too (due to my wife and I expecting another baby next year) so we thought we'd make the most of it.
So as usual, here are the reviews of everything we watched over a weekend of gratuitous nudity, violence and downright nonsense. The reviews are only brief (I'm not about to start writing notes whilst watching movies featuring dog-headed aliens) and ratings are largely based on entertainment value as much as quality, so take them with a pinch of salt. I've included clips and trailers when possible too.
Directors: Simon Hsu
Screenplay: Simon Hsu, Ou Sha
Starring: Lei Chang, Fu-Sheng Chen, Ling Wei Chen
Country: Hong Kong
Duration: 82 min
This low budget martial arts movie 'borrows' heavily from the work of Jackie Chan and friends in offering up a mix of prop heavy combat and comedy. It's utter nonsense with next to no plot and when some semblance of story arrives half way through it's ridiculous, centering around two guys trying to steal a vest made out of money!
However the fights come thick and fast and are energetically choreographed with plenty of acrobatics on display, so I enjoyed it quite a lot. The total lack of story did mean it threatened to drag as it went on, but it's short enough to never get boring.
It was also quite fun to spot the wildly eclectic popular songs and soundtrack cues that were blatantly used without permission.
A clip from the film
Director: Vittorio Rambaldi
Screenplay: Umberto Lenzi
Starring: Patrick Lowe, Cheryl Arutt, Sarah Buxton
Country: Italy, USA
Duration: 91 min
This horror movie sees two college students, who work for the college newspaper, investigate Bo Svensson, a scientist who is experimenting on a baboon. He's trying to create a protein that regenerrates brain cells (or something like that), but the experiment goes wrong and just makes the animal go bezerk.
One of the reporters breaks into the lab to get some pictures of the baboon, but gets bitten in the process. This of course fills him with 'primal rage' and he gets uncontrollably violent, causing chaos on campus as he infects others with the affliction.
This was kind of fun, with the dated 80's elements (the hero goes everywhere on his crappy red scooter) and high school stereotypes goofily entertaining. However I ultimately found it a bit slow. The horror scenes are pretty naff and infrequent, which was the main problem. It didn't help that the copy we saw was cut and clumsily so. The film was watchable enough, but it wasn't particularly memorable and felt a little dull.
A clip from the film
Director: H.B. Halicki
Screenplay: H.B. Halicki
Starring: H.B. Halicki, Christopher Stone, Susan Shaw
Duration: 96 min
H.B. Halicki's follow up to Gone in Sixty Seconds sees the writer, director, producer, stunt co-ordinator, star etc. deliver another wild showcase of car-nage.
The plot is some fluff about a group of assassin's trying to kill Harlan Hollis who is basically an alias for Halicki himself as the character is a film maker who's just made Gone in Sixty Seconds!
The first half is an absolute mess, flitting about constantly due to an overused intercutting edit style. However things settle down in the more conventional second half and throughout the film there is pretty much non-stop car and plane chasing/crashing action.
The stunts are amazing as you can imagine and the film even made it into the Guinness Book of records for the most cars destroyed on screen!
There's some of the most over the top product placement I've ever seen with the Goodyear blimp and countless tires enjoying regular unnecessary close-ups. The blimp even helps save the day in the ridiculous finale.
It's a bit too scatty to fully recommend but petrol heads and car chase fans will enjoy the mayhem and there's plenty of goofy humour to keep things fun.
Into the Night
Director: John Landis
Screenplay: Ron Koslow
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Pfeiffer, Stacey Pickren, David Bowie, Dan Aykroyd
Duration: 115 min
This forgotten gem from John Landis sees insomniac Jeff Goldblum at a loose end in his dead end life until he becomes embroiled in a wild goose chase around LA with Michelle Pfeiffer, who's on the run from some Iranian gunmen. The two struggle to survive against a cameo strewn cast who are mostly hell bent on killing them.
This was quite lazily paced compared to some of Landis' more popular films, but it's filled with strong comic moments and ably led by a great cast. The two leads in particular share a wonderful chemistry and they're both actors you can generally depend on as it is. The Iranian gang on their tail are the comic highlights though with Landis himself showing he's got a great flare for physical comedy as well as directing.
It could have been tighter and the tonal changes can be a bit brutal sometimes (there is some genuinely shocking violence in amongst the comedy) but overall this is a classy and fun comic thriller that deserves to be better known and I'm surprised it isn't given the pedigree of those involved.
Director: John McNaughton
Screenplay: Mason Nage, Richard Fire
Starring: Rae Dawn Chong, Don Gordon, Tom Towles, Antonio Fargas
Duration: 92 min
The Borrower was John McNaughton's follow up to the notorious Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and it's a shame this didn't get the following that did as we all thought it was great and now it's pretty much disappeared. Luckily for us, Justin picked up a US VHS copy on eBay.
The film sees an alien banished to Earth in the body of a human. This body is 'faulty' though and the head keeps exploding. So the alien roams the city swapping heads with those it kills.
Diana (Rae Dawn Ching) is on the murder case of the creature whilst also tracking down a psychotic rapist. Which means she's not having the best of days.
This was bizarre but in the best possible way. Fusing gory sci-fi horror with police thriller and fish out of water comedy, it sounds like an unholy mess on paper, but somehow McNaughton pulls it off. He takes everything seriously too. Although it has comic elements it isn't an out and out farce (other than maybe a scene where the alien takes the head of a dog).
The performances are great and it's nice to see an 80's film with a strong female cop lead who isn't just there as the butt of a joke or for sex appeal.
It's a bonkers gem (although it won't be for everyone) and here's hoping a decent label picks it up before it disappears for good.
Surviving the Game
Director: Ernest R. Dickerson
Screenplay: Eric Bernt
Starring: Rutger Hauer, Ice-T, Charles S. Dutton, Gary Busey, F. Murray Abraham, John C. McGinley
Duration: 96 min
This action thriller is yet another spin on the Most Dangerous Game story. This time the prey is Mason (Ice-T), a homemless guy who's struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife and child. He has to set those troubles to one side though when he's chased through the wilderness by a group of wealthy psychopath hunters looking for a human head to mount in their lodge.
This was really solid, boasting an amazing cast filled with actors who excel in playing nutcases. There's plenty of action and tension too, keeping the thrills coming throughout. The film makes good use of its stunning mountain forest location too which helps make it look more expensive than it probably was.
I also liked the fact that Ice-T's character wasn't a survival expert, just street smart and tough. So he does make mistakes and gets hurt, even if inevitably he comes out on top.
All in all it was a decent, well produced and exciting action thriller.
Director: Russ Meyer
Screenplay: Russ Meyer, Billy Sprague, Ross Massbaum
Starring: Haji, Alex Rocco, Steve Oliver
Duration: 74 min
Motor Psycho sees skin flick maestro Russ Meyer tone down the nudity yet still deliver a decidedly sleezy action revenge thriller. The film follows the carnage caused by a gang of crazy bikers who rape and murder their way across the state. When they rape the wife of a veterinarian though, the furious husband decides to strike back with help from another buxom victim of the gang, leading to a violent stand off in the desert.
This is further proof of Meyer's keen eye for strikingly well composed shots and strong sense of pace and rhythm in his editing. Of course his obsession with voluptuous women is evident too, so this is as stylish and easy on the eye as ever, although it gets quite uncomfortably 'rapey'.
Overall it's a short sharp slice of exploitation that does the trick with a cool 60's vibe and a tight, punchy energy.
A clip from the film
Director: Alberto De Martino
Screenplay: Mario Guerra, Luciano Martino, Ernesto Castaldi, Alberto De Martino, Vittorio Vighi
Starring: Richard Harrison, Anna Ranalli, Arturo Dominici
Country: Italy, Spain
Duration: 95 min
Richard Harrison stars in this sword and sandals flick which sees him play Perseus, the rightful heir to the throne of Argos. The land is currently ruled by an evil usurper and his son so Perseus must drum up the support of his countrymen to battle them. He'll have to get past the swamp monster and Medusa first though as they're being used to keep the good guys at bay.
This was pretty decent. The production values are high, with plenty of extras on hand to deliver some spectacular battle scenes. The creatures aren't well animated enough to be all that threatening though, with the swamp monster coming across as quite laughable. Saying that, Medusa actually looks pretty cool. She's well designed and her scenes are moodily presented with plenty of smoke so work pretty well.
All in all it's a fun and rousing action epic and the perfect film for Sunday morning.
A clip from the film
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Screenplay: Richard Sale
Starring: Charles Bronson, Jack Warden, Will Sampson, Kim Novak
Duration: 97 min
Charles Bronson stars as Wild Bill Hickok in this gothic western which sees the famous gunslinger return to the west to join the gold rush. He's been haunted by nightmares of a monstrous white buffalo though and decides to hunt the beast down to put his mind at rest.
Meanwhile, Chief Crazy Horse's baby daughter has been killed by the buffalo and he sets out on his own quest for revenge and the right to redeem his honour. The two men of course cross paths and form a surprising bond in their hunt for the white buffalo.
A couple of early scenes suggested this might be a bit too cheesy for its own good but it quickly gets in the right track. Atmospheric and exciting, it's a solid snow-bound western with a monster movie twist. The rough western dialogue is sharp too, making for some fun banter between the cowpokes.
The buffalo effects aren't too bad either. You can see the tracks and truck pushing it at certain points but it remains effective enough, helped by some OTT sound effects and John Barry's moody score.
On the Block
Director: Steve Yeager
Screenplay: Linda Chambers
Starring: Marilyn Jones, Jerry Whiddon, Michael Gabel
Duration: 100 min
This was more of a bleak drama than a piece of exploitation but turned out better than we expected.
It follows a woman who's left her heroin addicted life on the game behind her. She gets a job in a strip club to make ends meet and gets embroiled in the messed up lives of those around her, including a disturbed police detective who has his eye on her.
Although it's got some preachy and melodramatic moments and it's a bit grim, On the Block offers a fairly well rounded and engaging look at the seedy underbelly of Baltimore. Some of the strands, particularly one with a businessman trying to buy out the block, aren't fused particularly well either so could have maybe been lost to tighten it up.
Overall it's a solid drama though which offers up some flesh of course but never feels like it's exploitative in that aspect. Maybe not our usual Weekend of Trash fare, but I'm glad we watched it.