It’s umm…it’s been a while. But tonight I’m high on champagne and Janelle Monae and ready to catch up on my updates. So here we goes…
Even though Slam Dance is not as well remembered or regarded as the heavyweights of neo-noir movies (Body Heat, To Live and Die in L.A., maybe even Blade Runner if you want to cast the net that wide), it was one of the most forward thinking (Hulce’s character even foreshadows the rise of the “endless adolescent” that is usually attributed to the dotcom era), and it ends up being one of my favorites. I can get behind noir’s drive to turn despicable characters into anti-heroes, but it’s nice to see one who is actually, well, nice, if a bit screwy.
MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH
If Corman’s earlier Poe films had been responses to and attempts to recreate the look of Hammer horror films, then Masque of the Red Death, while still maintaining the opulently decorated and vibrantly colored style of Hammer and the previous Poe Gothics, finds the director turning toward even loftier sources for influence. Here specifically, it’s obvious that Corman had recently watched Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal (which seams to have previously served as the influence for another Corman film, 1957?s The Undead).
Oh Death Spa, what have you done? All those years I spent bad-mouthing slasher films from the 1980s, then you go and immediately make yourself one of my all-time favorite horror films by being one of the most cracked, absurd examples of horror film making one is likely to stumble across. It’s probably because you actually have less to do with the American slasher films that permeated the horror scene during that prolific decade and instead can count yourself the peer of batshit insane Italian horror films from the same decade. You are less Jason Vorhees and Friday the 13th and more Lamberto Bava and Demons.
The special thing about Turkish pulp films is how, even at their most plagiarized, they can serve as an example of just how unique a complete rip-off can be. After all, no one ever mistook Turkish Star Wars for regular Star Wars, or Bedi, the Turkish E.T., for E.T., the American E.T. And the same goes for Seytan, director Metin Erksan’s almost ludicrously faithful remake of The Exorcist.
TERROR ON TOUR
So is there anything that can redeem this movie? You might think the silliness of the band’s costumes is good for a laugh, but that’s exactly what it’s good for: a laugh A single laugh, and you can get that from a screencap without having endure watching the entire movie. It does offer up a pretty steady parade of attractive groupies willing to doff their tops and writhe around, but you can get just as much and more from movies that aren’t this boring. So no, there’s really not much that can redeem Terror on Tour. It’s best moment is its video box art, so you are better off looking at that and not wasting time with the movie within.
Esper’s films lack the good-natured, gee-whiz goofiness of films from a director like Ed Wood, Jr. With Wood’s films, whatever incompetence is on display is, in my opinion, more than compensated for by the boundless enthusiasm that obviously infuses them, and by the fact that so much of what is wrong with them translates into joyous entertainment. By contrast, Esper’s films are every bit as technically incompetent, but they are infused with such a meanness, such a twisted sense of misanthropy that they become difficult to celebrate even if we acknowledge the importance of Esper in the history of exploitation film.
MYSTERY IN BERMUDA
I have to wonder if that ending is an indication of just how catastrophic the loss of lucha cinema was to Rogelio Agrasanchez personally — if, for him, the only alternative to a world in which Santo, Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras no longer fought criminals and monsters on the big screen was no world at all? Whatever the case, Santo foiled Agrasanchez’s apocalyptic vision by appearing in several more lackluster features after Misterio, finally retiring with an especially woeful twofer of Florida-shot quickies in 1981. Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras, however, kept the faith and disappeared from the screen for the foreseeable future
I suppose that, as Pauline Kael did with Luc Besson, some could see a movie like Apocalypse Code as the death of Russian cinema. All those serious explorations of the human condition and the human soul, the eternal struggle of the state versus the individual, those slow-moving and contemplative works of art — all that gets swept away like a Czarist’s riches during the Revolution. In it’s place is a movie that is glossy, pretty, dumb, shallow, gratuitous, and sexy and that could have been made just as easily in France, the United States, England, or South Korea. But you know me. I like fun, dumb, sexy action films.