February 20th, 2008

THE DEVIL (1981) ***

A woman gets her skull smashed in with a brick (excellent freeze frame of the blood spurting out of her head by the way), then the plot begins. 

 

An ugly old witch cuts open a sickly man’s stomach and removes about a thousand slimy nightcrawlers from his large intestine and says, “You’re lucky this is within my power, or else you would’ve surely died!”  Then she makes the guy drink a milkshake which causes him to puke up a bunch of snakes.  She warns him, “No drinking for the next three days and no women within the next seven weeks”.  Of course, he doesn’t listen and pretty soon he’s puking up green slime while snakes start oozing out of every pore of his body.  While he is busy puking, the ghost of the girl who got her head caved in shows up (imagine if Two Face was played by Yoko Ono, then you’d have some idea of what the chick looks like) to scare him to death. 

 

Meanwhile, the girl’s killer checks into a hotel room and an obnoxious bell boy (named Ding Dong!) tries to set him up with the hotel owner’s cute daughter.  She falls in love with him and they are soon married, but the vengeful ghost shows up to freak out the new bride on her wedding night.  The ghost’s brother later shows up looking for his sister’s murderer and it doesn’t take long for him to start sicking up serpents as well.  The town takes him for a witch and promptly burns him at the stake! 

 

Then there’s a whole bunch of plot about the murderer running the hotel into the ground and beating his wife.  But that’s okay though because the ghost finally shows up and causes the dude to hack his own hand off with a meat cleaver.  You can probably guess what happens next:  Puke-Snake-A-Rama. 

 

The Devil is a solid example of entertaining Hong Kong horror.  Sure there are probably two too many characters that are mixed up with all the supernatural shenanigans (like the vengeful brother of the murdered woman), but there is plenty of slime spewing gross out scenes to keep you watching.  I mean, I’d gladly sit through plenty of sub-par Chinese melodrama as long as I was rewarded with mucho scenes of people puking snakes.  So in that respect, The Devil certainly delivers.  (I especially liked the finale where the bad guy pukes green sludge directly into the camera in super slow motion.) 

 

The dialogue is dreadfully dubbed in, but I’ve seen worse mangling of the English language.  I’d also like to point out that the Devil never shows up, but I guess the title “The Devil” fits better on a marquee than “Chinese Dudes Puking Up Snakes Every 15 Minutes”. 

 

Bottom line:  Any movie that features somebody vomiting venomous asps every fifteen minutes or so is okay in my book. 

THE RAPIST (1994) **

 

There is a maniacal rapist running around China sticking it to any woman in a mini-skirt he sees while the baffled police desperately try to put the sicko behind bars. 

 

This “Category III” true crime docudrama from Hong Kong is split up between two narratives:  The rapist singling out and assaulting his victims and the ensuing police investigation.  We see the rapist attack women in elevators then rape them on dirty stairwells, then the cops show up and try to piece everything together. 

 

It’s not exactly what you would call a feel good movie. 

 

The attack scenes are filmed with a modicum of suspense but too much of the movie is filled with boring police procedural stuff.  I know a lot of people enjoy this kind of thing, and I like it when it’s done well (say like in Seven), but none of the detectives in this movie make much of an impression.  Without a solid “hero”, these scenes end up being rather limp and since the police investigation takes up most of the movie, my interest in the film was minimal at best. 

 

The lone interesting character is a sexy female cop who tries to trap the rapist, but after she fails to capture him, we don’t see anymore of her.  The rapist himself doesn’t make for an appealing lead and his reasons for being so fucked up (he lives with his domineering mother) are trite to say the least.  I did like the part where he painted nipples onto statues of women though.  The attempts at “social commentary” (One cop says that if prostitution was legal there wouldn’t be any rapists!) are awkwardly handled and don’t add diddley squat to the movie. 

 

If you’re the kind of person who wished there was a CSI:  Hong Kong that featured explicit rape scenes, then you may be a target demographic for this movie.  All others will probably wanna give it a pass. 

THE TRIPPER (2007) ***

 

David Arquette steps behind the camera to direct this gory horror comedy about a bunch of hippies headed to a free love concert out in the woods that get hacked up by psycho in a Ronald Reagan mask with a (literal) axe to grind. 

 

There’s a veritable smorgasbord of hippie mutilating carnage including an excellent death by chainsaw (it gets stuck in a hippie’s neck and the motor keeps right on chugging), femurs through the skin, decapitations, spurting bloody stumps, gut ripping, and bodies being split apart. 

 

The cast is a lot of fun and includes Jason Mewes (who is basically okay being typecast as a stoner), Lukas Haas and Jaime King as hippies.  Pee Wee Herman is great as the greedy concert promoter, but it’s The Punisher himself, Thomas Jane (also an executive producer) who steals the most scenes as the gruff sheriff with a Village People moustache.  Arquette also has a small role as a redneck and his wife Courtney Cox has a pretty funny cameo. 

 

Arquette doesn’t reinvent the wheel with this flick, but he sure gets a lot of mileage out of it.  He establishes a moody atmosphere, films the murders with gleeful abandon and puts the “Axe Cam” to good use.  He goes a little overboard with the film’s many drug induced “trip” scenes, but since this is David’s first time out as director, I’m willing to give him a mulligan on it because he sure knows how to film maniacs in Halloween masks butchering people with an axe.  He also tosses in a lot of random naked chicks, a sure sign of a competent director. 

 

Jane gets the movie’s best line:  “Is this what you call compassionate conservatism?”

CINDERELLA 2000 (1977) * ½

 

Al (Nurse Sherri) Adamson was responsible for this softcore sex/comedy/sci-fi/musical (very) loosely based on the timeless fairy tale.  

 

In the future, sex is forbidden.  (If you fuck, an annoying robot barges into your bedroom and shouts “Fornication!”)  Violators get bubble wrapped and turned into Barbie dolls. 

 

A cute girl named Cindy (Catherine Erhardt) is forced to be a slave for her overbearing stepmother and her two irritating stepsisters.  On a rare day off, Cindy heads out into the woods and sings a song wishing she was like Cinderella and wouldn’t ya know it, her “fairy” (get it?) godfather beams down to help her out.  He shows her what “love” is by turning two rabbits into people in bunny costumes who dry hump each other. 

 

Meanwhile Tom “Prince” (get it?) the most virile man in the galaxy wants to step down as the planetary stud, so the dictator decides to throw a masquerade “Ball” (get it?) for him to find a perfect mate.  Predictably, the fairy godfather makes Cindy look beautiful and after her and Tom fuck they bring sexual freedom to the galaxy. 

 

This movie is a fucking mess. 

 

Even though the movie is ostensibly a sci-fi sex version of Cinderella, the main thrust (no pun intended) of the story revolves around robots arresting people for having sex.  All the Cinderella stuff seems like a mere afterthought.  The idea of a sexy futuristic Cinderella isn’t necessarily a bad one, but Adamson handles most of Cindy’s scenes incompetently.  (Even by Adamson’s usually low standards.)  In fact, Cindy herself is largely absent for most of the movie.  The problem is that the scenes of sexual outlaws boning on Star Trek inspired sets getting interrupted by robots are a lot funnier than anything remotely associated with the more “traditional” fairy tale aspects of the movie.  I know this was made on the quick to cash in on the softcore hit Alice in Wonderland, but had Adamson dropped the whole storybook subplot and focused solely on the sex starved denizens of the future, this movie might have worked. 

 

There IS one priceless scene where Snow White gets gangbanged by the seven dwarfs (one of whom is Angelo Rossitto) but it has NOTHING to do with the rest of the movie.    

 

The musical numbers are surprisingly not bad and the swinging title theme is pretty great.  Erhardt is quite fetching in the title role, but unfortunately, she isn’t given a whole lot to do and her character is strangely MIA for most of the movie.  There’s lots of softcore 70’s sex (including the obligatory lesbian scene) and what they lack in titillation, they make up for in sheer volume.  The “intentional” attempts at humor aren’t very funny, but some laughs can be had from the awful costumes and silly looking robots. 

 

The movie is a confounding as all get out and isn’t erotic in the least, but then again, if you ever wanted to see a robot sing a country and western song, this movie is for you. 

 

A wicked stepsister gets the best line when she says, “Christ, I gotta douche!” 

 

AKA:  Future Sex