September 20th, 2008

THE CANNIBAL MAN (1973) **

Marcos (Vicente Parra) is an average Joe who lives in a grungy apartment and works at a slaughterhouse.  One day he snaps and starts killing people left and right and keeps their carcasses locked up in his spare bedroom.  Among his victims are an obnoxious cabbie, his underage girlfriend, his brother, his sister in-law, and a skanky waitress.  The bodies really start stacking up and the stench starts becoming unbearable so he coats his apartment in massive quantities of perfume and air freshener.  During his ever escalating descent into madness, he strikes up a friendship with his introverted homosexual neighbor who knows what it’s like to be a little… different. 

 

What’s surprising about this film is that director Eloy de la Iglesia handles things in a more or less dramatic manner and doesn’t rely on shock tactics to tell his story.  He’s more concerned about Marcos’ spiral into insanity than the guts and gore, of which there is precious little.  While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing per se, he lets things go on for far too long and there are too many dull passages in between the butchering that brings the movie to a screeching halt. 

 

Speaking of butchering, we do get a rock to the skull, a wrench to the face, some jugular slicing, and in the film’s best death scene, Marcos puts a meat cleaver between some dipshit’s eyes.  Despite a handful of quality kills, the real life footage of a cow being slaughtered that opens the flick is more disturbing than anything else the movie has to offer.  There is also a fuck scene thrown in to keep the T & A crowd appeased, although it’s far too short to be much good. 

 

Don’t walk into this one expecting Cannibal Holocaust or something.  It owes more to Repulsion than anything else and there is only the faintest hint of actual cannibalism.  Some folks will enjoy The Cannibal Man for its sensitive look at platonic relationships between serial killers and homosexuals, but anyone looking for a good old fashioned gut muncher will be severely disappointed. 

 

AKA:  The Week of the Killer.  AKA:  Apartment on the 13th Floor.

RAGE OF HONOR (1987) ** ½

Kung fu movie extraordinaire Sho Kosugi takes a break from playing ninjas to star as a DEA agent in director Gordon (Scream and Scream Again) Hessler’s Rage of Honor.  In the opening scene, Sho busts up a party on a drug dealer’s yacht which leads a lot of dead dudes in cheap jumpsuits and a lot of cokehead bimbos under arrest.  The head coke-dealing honcho gets peeved so he tortures and kills Sho’s partner, which gets Sho so mad that he quits the DEA and goes out on a one man quest for revenge.  The villains then go after Sho’s girlfriend and even though he saves her bacon from getting tossed out of a window, she still dumps his ass because he’d rather avenge his best friend’s death than take her out to a fancy restaurant. 

 

Women. 

 

Anyway Sho kills a bunch more people until he learns that his girlfriend and his OTHER partner have been kidnapped and taken to the Argentinean jungle.  That means old Sho has got to parachute into the jungle in black pajamas and kick the living tar out of the drug dealing scum of the universe before finally confronting the main villain and impaling him on a katana and sticking him to an outhouse door.     

 

It’s not up to snuff with Revenge of the Ninja but hey, what possibly could be right?

 

Hessler handles the action sequences alright I suppose.  They’re nothing spectacular or anything, although I did quite enjoy the scene where Sho jumps from one balcony onto another to drop kick some dude.  He does keep things moving at a breezy pace to help disguise the fact that the budget on this thing was about $78.  The montage where Sho sneaks into the bad guy’s lair and snaps the necks of various henchmen while an extremely gay flamenco dancer struts his stuff for a bunch of partygoers was particularly hilarious.  Hessler also got a little artsy-fartsy on us during the swordfight-in-the-dark sequence when all you could see was the sparks coming off the swords when the blades hit each other, but I’m willing to give him a mulligan on it because it looked pretty cool to me.   

 

I’m not going to lie to you and say Rage of Honor is a classic or anything, but if you are a Sho Kosugi fan, you kinda owe it to yourself to check it out.  I cannot give him enough props.  This man kills drug dealers, dock workers, Aztec Indians, and ninjas using nunchuks, crossbows, band saws, those little Wolverine claws that are in the shape of garden hoes, and lots and lots of throwing stars.  Seriously, this movie sets some kind of record for scenes where bad guys get throwing stars plunged into their necks.  Sho also throws people through plate glass windows, tosses a guy into a vat of acid, breaks necks galore, socks a LOT of dudes in the nuts, shoots villains in mid-air while he’s in the midst of a somersault, and in the best scene of the movie, shoves a gun up some guy’s ass. 

 

Sho’s been in plenty of action flicks before but somehow his English has actually gotten WORSE over the years.  He murders the English language more in this movie than he does drug dealers.  Have fun trying to decipher what the heck he’s saying, especially in the film’s more emotional scenes.  (“Ray wa-as ow-ah bud-dee!”)  That’s okay though because Sho Kosugi is still the only man I know who can take a cannibal trap to the chest and not have it faze him too much.  I only wish the movie surrounding Sho was worthy of the man’s talent. 

 

Hessler also directed Sho in Pray for Death and The Master television series. 

PERSEPOLIS (2007) **

A young girl grows up in Iran as revolutionaries take over the country and force all the women to wear scarves on their head and forbid them to listen to Iron Maiden cassettes.  Since a lot of her outspoken relatives have been imprisoned, shot, or both by the government, her parents send her away to Vienna to go to school.  She has a lot of trouble adjusting to her new surroundings and soon returns to find her country is just as fucked up as ever.  She then ventures into a loveless marriage and eventually divorces and has to flee the country again just so she can walk around without that damn scarf on her head. 

 

The film was based on the autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, who also co-directed.  You know, I liked the stylish animation on this flick and thought that some of the imagery was rather well done.  While there were brief glimpses of humor here and there (most having to do with the rebellious girl being influenced by the devilish Western culture), for the most part though this flick was one big Depress-O-Thon.  I mean I get it, living in Iran sucks (especially if you are a girl), but shit man I could have told you that 95 minutes ago and I wouldn’t have been subjected to this morose history lesson/coming of age story. 

 

What pissed me off about this flick was that the chick got a chance to get the fuck out of Iran but when she got to Vienna, all she could do is bitch about how much Vienna sucked.  Dude, Vienna may be a shithole place to live but it’s not fucking Iran!  Moral of the story:  If you live in Iran and have a chance to leave, by all means do it and don’t come back! 

 

Jesus, do you just realize I had to sit through a fucking FRENCH movie about Iranians?  My wife will get anything off of Netflix…