It may only come around 2 or 3 times a year, but we’ve somehow reached the 23rd Weekend of Trash! Once again I joined regular contributors and good friends Justin Richards and Andrew Skeates for a weekend of action, scares and sleaze. For the uninitiated, previous write-ups can be found in the category archive.
With the Blueprint: Review podcast now resurrected, I thought I’d add a new element to my Weekend of Trash coverage and brought my handy recorder to Andrew’s apartment to record a special episode of the podcast. You can listen below or look us up on iTunes and other podcast services.
I’ve still included my brief reviews of everything we watched over the weekend for you to skim through and I’ve included clips and trailers when possible too.
The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Screenplay: Ernesto Gastaldi, Dardano Sacchetti, Umberto Lenzi
Starring: Maurizio Merli, John Saxon, Tomas Milian
The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist sees Maurizio Merli play an ex-cop who fakes his own death after an attempt on his life fails. Then he goes after the gangster who did it, ‘The Chinaman’ (Tomas Milian), and tries to set him against rival crime overlord Frank Di Maggio (John Saxon) to end both of their operations.
This was a solid slice of Italian Poliziotteschi. It was a little too long and convoluted so lost a bit of steam as it went on, but it’s enjoyably tough and filled with the Italian genre tropes I like to see. John Saxon makes a good mob boss too and Tomas Milian is a nicely sadistic bad guy after his turf. It’s also got a great soundtrack, so wasn’t a bad start to the weekend.
Circleman (a.k.a. Last Man Standing)
Director: Damian Lee
Screenplay: Damian Lee, David Mitchell
Starring: Vernon Wells, William Sanderson, Michael Copeman, Franco Columbu, Réal Andrews
Circleman sees Vernon Wells play an ageing bare-knuckle boxer who tries to get out of the game but finds himself being sucked back into the murky world of cage-fighting.
This was more of a sports drama than the action movie we were expecting. It’s nice to see Vernon Wells as the lead and he does a pretty good job but I found the film a little dull and repetitive. The fights are pretty brutal though and it’s slickly produced. I appreciated seeing William Sanderson in a fairly sizeable role too. I just found it a bit dreary.
Throne of Fire
Director: Franco Prosperi
Screenplay: Nino Marino
Starring: Sabrina Siani, Pietro Torrisi, Harrison Muller
The son of the devil himself (Harrison Muller) plans to take the throne (of blood, of course) and rule the land, but has certain rules he must follow to do so, including marrying Princess Valkari (Sabrina Siani). Siegfried (Pietro Torrisi), the son of a wizard, along with the tough princess, do their best to stop him.
This was pretty naff but mildly enjoyable for that same reason. You could make a good drinking game from the number of times they mention the title. It’s worth watching for the ridiculous Well of Madness sequence alone though it’s a bit of a slog overall. There’s lots of padding for instance, with overly drawn out shots aplenty.
Wild Beasts (a.k.a. Belve feroci)
Director: Franco Prosperi
Screenplay: Franco Prosperi
Starring: Lorraine De Selle, Antonio Di Leo, Ugo Bologna
Wild Beasts sees the water supply in Frankfurt get contaminated, causing the animals in the city, particularly those in the zoo, go crazy and start attacking people.
“She’s not crazy, she’s being chased by a cheetah!” This is bonkers and pretty intense, with a lot of animal carnage. The shaky-cam approach to the action can be a bit confusing and dodgy in places and I’m quite certain the “no animals were harmed” statement doesn’t apply here (no surprise that it hasn’t been released in the UK). However, with plenty of gory attacks and little down-time, it’s a pretty decent animals-on-the-run movie. Pulling off that level of action with that many animals must have been quite a job. And that ending!
The Last Match
Director: Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman)
Screenplay: Gianfranco Clerici, Vincenzo Mannino
Starring: Oliver Tobias, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Napier, Henry Silva
A teenage girl on holiday in an unnamed location is wrongfully arrested for carrying drugs and put in prison. After failing the legal avenues of getting her released, her American football star father enlists the help of his team (in full kit) to break her out.
This didn’t live up to the expectations of its hilariously bonkers concept, but it has its moments, particularly at the end. An awfully uncharismatic lead is possibly the film’s biggest flaw and it takes itself far too seriously, leading to a dull mid-section, but then you get a scene where a helicopter is dispatched by grenade-filled American football! Disappointing then, but just about worth watching.
Director: V.V. Dachin Hsu, Michael W. Leighton
Screenplay: V.V. Dachin Hsu, Takashi Matsuoka
Starring: George Chakiris, Wings Hauser, Pamela Ludwig
In Pale Blood, a spate of murders in a city appear to be being carried out by a vampire. An actual vampire (George Chakiris) comes to investigate, aided by a vampire fan-girl (Pamela Ludwig). Meanwhile, oddball Van (Wings Hauser) is lurking around, making an ‘art film’ surrounding the murders.
This was quite an interesting spin on the vampire story. I liked the way it was unclear who we should be rooting for and who might be the vampire killer. It’s slickly made and atmospheric too, if very much of its time. It’s maybe a little slow (or felt it at the end of a long day of movie watching which was causing me to doze off) and has its cheesy moments. There are a few too many music video scenes with Agent Orange too, whose music is cool but the big close-ups of the singer’s face were distracting. Overall, not bad though.
The whole movie:
Blood Hunt For Coke
Blood Hunt For Coke is a Dirty Dozen style story of a tough bunch of special ops soldiers being sent undercover to infiltrate the drug operation of a supposed revolutionary in Thailand.
This jungle warfare movie took a long time to deliver the expected hut-exploding carnage, but it remained pretty engrossing. Better than expected production values helped, as well as lots of enjoyable macho posturing. Plus, when the action kicks off it’s suitably epic, with plentiful explosions and flying/falling/dramatically-dying stuntmen. Not bad, but not great.
Magnificent Warriors (a.k.a. Dynamite Fighters)
Director: David Chung
Screenplay: Kan-Cheung Tsang
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Richard Ng, Tung-Shing Yee
Country: Hong Kong
The great Michelle Yeoh stars in Magnificent Warriors as a pilot who gets mixed up in the Chinese resistance after the Japanese invasion in the 30s.
This Michelle Yeoh vehicle was amazing. Starting off as an Indiana Jones-ish fight and stunt spectacular, it grows into an epic war movie. Yes, it gets rather nationalistic towards the end, but as an action movie it’s phenomenal, mixing stunningly well-choreographed fights with wild stunts and explosive pyrotechnics. Hong Kong cinema’s go-to comic relief Richard Ng is given a decent role here too and he provides some hilarious sequences as well as some action scenes for a change. Michelle Yeoh delivers the most mind-blowing fights though with Chindy Lau impressing in a few brawls too. Magnificent stuff!
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Screenplay: Nils Lyew
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Lynn Collins, Jim Belushi
Hollow Point sees Patrick Wilson play a man who returns to the down-and-out border town he grew up in to become sheriff, only to get quickly mixed up in a deadly plot surrounding a botched ammunition deal.
This was a decent neo-noir with shades of western. With a great cast, some brutal violence and an unpredictable plot, it’s a gripping watch. It’s a tad overstuffed with characters and plot threads perhaps, but they’re effectively interlinked and most add weight to proceedings and help keep you from second-guessing what’s coming next. Slickly made to boot, it’s top-drawer entertainment.
Director: Albert Pyun
Screenplay: Albert Pyun
Starring: Dru-Anne Perry, Gina Calabrese, Linda Kerridge
Vicious Lips is set in the future and sees an all-female punk/new-wave band given an opportunity to play a high-profile gig. However, it’s on that night and they’re at the other side of the galaxy, so they rush off in a spaceship to try to make it.
Hyper-stylised and ridiculously whacky in a way only a movie from the 80s could be, it’s bizarre and zany fun. That said, there’s quite a long lull in the film’s mid-section, after they crash their spaceship on a desert planet, where the film loses a lot of steam. With a pretty cool 80s new-wave soundtrack and awesome music-video visuals, it’s a riot for the senses throughout though.
A clip from the film: