January 30th, 2009

42ND STREET FOREVER VOL. 4 (2009) ***

Ah yes, another year, another fun compilation of grindhouse trailers from the good people at Synapse Films.  While 42nd Street Forever Vol. 4 is just as good as the others in the series, it shares the same faults as well (it goes on too long and features too many lame trailers near the end).  For die hard movie trailer compilation completists (like me) though, it’ll be a must own.

 

The best trailers are for Lucio Fulci’s atmospheric The Psychic (which features the excellent poster art prominently) and Mortuary (which doesn’t show any footage from the film, but features Michael Berryman WHO ISN’T EVEN IN THE DAMN MOVIE!).  There’s also the gory and fun trailer for Paul Naschy’s The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Women, the moody trailer for The Boogeyman (even though it gives away most of the kills), and the preview for The Jezebels (AKA:  Switchblade Sisters) really rocks.  Bonnie’s Kids (starring Wicked, Wicked’s Tiffany Bolling) looks awesome and features a great tagline:  “Thank God she only had TWO!”, and the Richard Burton action flick, The Klansman will remind you of a time when the name “O.J. Simpson” could bring in an audience. 

 

Other highlights include trailers for (It Came) Without Warning, No Blade of Grass, the immortal Yor:  The Hunter from the Future, Schizoid, Tender Flesh, New Year’s Evil, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, and Humongous.  Fans of Michael Biehn, Bo Svenson, Cameron Mitchell, Lee Marvin, and Ben Johnson will have fun spotting them in multiple trailers and for those who can’t get enough of director Charles B. Pierce, you’ll love seeing the trailers for The Legend of Boggy Creek, The Town that Dreaded Sundown, and Greyeagle back-to-back-to-back.  There are also plenty of bad trailers for bad movies like Simon:  King of the Witches, Die Sister Die!, Rituals (AKA:  The Creeper), and Best Friends in there as well. 

 

As with the other volumes in the series, the trailers are more or less grouped by genre.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  It’s fine when you’re getting a string of stellar horror movie trailers, but it’s kinda irritating when you get stuck with eye-rolling trailers for stupid comedies like Americathon, Can I Do it ‘Til I Need Glasses?, and Die Laughing  (Starring Robby Benson!).  When it looks like things are getting back on track, courtesy of  a nice run of revenge movie trailers (Breaking Point, Fighting Mad, Moving Violation, and Part 2; Walking Tall), Vol. 4 quickly goes back to the shitty comedy trailers again (like The Chicken Chronicles starring a young Steve Guttenberg).  There’s also an odd trailer for an obscure Foreign Legion movie starring Gene Hackman called March or Die that sticks out like a sore thumb too. 

 

If Vol. 4 didn’t have so many cringe worthy trailers near the end, it would’ve been the best of the series.  As it is, I like ‘em all about the same.  One thing is for sure, I can’t wait until next January for Vol. 5!

THE STEWARDESSES (1969) ***

You know, it may sound weird, but 3-D softcore porn is kinda hard to pull off.  Sure, it sounds easy:  just get a couple of girls to show off their jugs in front of a movie screen and let ‘em dangle out into the audience.  You’d actually be surprised however to learn that most directors working in the 3-D softcore milieu manage to screw this up.  I’ve sat through a couple bad 3-D softcore pornos in my day (the worst being The Playmates), so I’m happy to report that The Stewardesses is the best 3-D softcore skin flick ever made. 

 

The Stewardesses was the first and most profitable (over $25 million worldwide in 70’s dollars) 3-D softie in history.  The story behind the flick goes that director Allan Silliphant and producer Chris Condon created a new type of 3-D called Stereovision.  The backers liked their effects so much that they gave them money to make a 3-D movie.  Naturally, what better movie to make in 3-D than a skin flick?

 

These guys were geniuses. 

 

The plot?  What plot?  AIn’t no plot.  Only an excuse to get a bunch of pork chop stewardesses nekkid.  One gal shacks up with a horny bachelor, the other one gets it on with a lonely serviceman, and another chick falls for a TV producer.  Two other stews make love to each other (the flick’s steamiest scene) and one chick has sex with a lamp.

 

That’s right; I said it, she has sex with a lamp.  Folks, I don’t know about you; but chicks having sex with lamps just isn’t something you see everyday.  Seeing it the 3-D makes this bizarre sight that much better.  

 

Things take a melodramatic turn when the TV producer guy crushes the stew’s dreams of being a toothpaste model when he says, “YOU’RE JUST A MOUTH!”  She then snaps and bludgeons him in his sleep before jumping out the window.  What a downer!

 

Despite the sudden abundance of “plot” during the last 20 minutes, The Stewardesses is a damn good time.  If it wasn’t in 3-D, it would probably only get ** since we’re talking about some pretty bland sex scenes here (with the notable exceptions of the lesbian scene and the chick who screws the lamp).  In 3-D though, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that jumps off the screen at you like:

 

  • 3-D Feet dangling in the air during sex.
  • 3-D Walkie-Talkie.
  • 3-D Dog.
  • 3-D Meditating naked chick.
  • 3-D Deer antlers.
  • 3-D Guitar neck.
  • 3-D Shish kabobs.
  • 3-D Wine glasses.
  • 3-D Wine bottle.
  • 3-D Tits.
  • 3-D Showering chick.
  • 3-D Chick toweling off.
  • 3-D Sex with a lamp.
  • 3-D Pool cue.
  • 3-D High heel.
  • 3-D Long Island ice tea (accompanied by 3-D lemon garnish).
  • 3-D Hair in your face (from the guy’s POV of the stewardess riding on top of him).
  • 3-D Merry-go-round.
  • 3-D Roller coaster.
  • 3-D Haunted house (the best effects of the whole movie).
  • 3-D Doggystyle.
  • 3-D Lesbians.
  • 3-D Bedposts.
  • 3-D Coat rack.
  • 3-D Cigarette.
  • 3-D Head bashing with a statue.
  • 3-D Chick committing suicide (she jumps out the window and her body hurtles towards the audience).
  • 3-D Elbows, hands, knees and shoulders sprinkled throughout.

 

It’s no My Bloody Valentine 3-D or anything, but anyone who loves 3-D boobs (and frankly, who doesn’t?) will get a kick out of The Stewardesses.

 

(Special Note:  I watched the 3-D DVD version from Shout Factory and here’s my own two cents.  If you have a widescreen TV, watch it on there as opposed to a normal screen.  The image is a lot sharper and the depth of field effects work a lot better.  (On a regular TV. the 3-D effects only work about half the time.)  I normally don’t review extras on a DVD, but I must say that the History of 3-D featurette is well worth your time (it even features the great 3-D trailer for The Maze) as are the 3-D outtakes and a 3-D test screen.  (Basically a hippie chick blows a party favor in your face then shoves a bunch of balloons through the screen.)

 

AKA:  International Stewardesses.  AKA:  Supersonic Supergirls.

ACT OF LOVE (1980) **

Mickey Rourke crashes his motorcycle and becomes paralyzed from the neck down.  He gets emotionally distraught and pleads with his brother Ron Howard to end his misery.  Ronnie says OK and the next night he comes into the hospital with a sawed off shotgun and blows Mickey’s brains out.  Naturally, Ronnie gets arrested and there’s a big trial and lawyer Robert (Prophecy) Foxworth has to try to get him off so he can go back to painting houses.

 

You know what?  The first half an hour of this made-for-TV movie is pretty damn good.  Howard and Rourke have some genuine chemistry together and Mickey’s hospital scenes are quite moving.  Unfortunately, things slow way the fuck down once the trial begins.  

 

I didn’t mind the more maudlin aspects of the flick because the two leading performances really sold it.  Howard was coasting on his “Aw shucks” persona, but added a little bit more depth than usual.  Rourke is really the reason to watch it though.  Even at a young age, Rourke’s talent was evident and he’d soon go on to bigger and better things.  (Like boxing.)  Once Mickey’s head gets blown off though, things are pretty rough going.  Still, if you ever wanted to see Opie brandishing a sawed off shotgun and blowing away Mickey Rourke, here’s your chance.

 

Look fast for a young David (Married with Children) Faustino making his screen debut as Mickey’s young son.

TAKEN (2009) *** ½

Every now and then the spirit of Charles Bronson will possess your average A List movie star and make them appear in a gritty revenge movie.  Two years ago, the spirit of Saint Chuck got a hold of Kevin Bacon and made him star in Death Sentence, which was more or less Death Wish 6.  Now Ol’ Chuck has been working his voodoo magic again and has taken over the body of Liam Neeson and forced him to star in this top notch revenge thriller.

 

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking:  Oskar Schindler is kicking ass and taking names?  Yes, it’s true.  And for all of those who think that Neeson isn’t a first rate ass-kicker, just take a look at him in this movie.  (You people forget that Neeson was Darkman after all.) 

 

Seriously, with those squinty eyes of his, all you’d have to do is slap a moustache on him and he could pass as Charles Bronson. 

 

Basically Liam is this retired spy dude who quit breaking bones for the government so he could be closer to his daughter (Maggie Grace).  When she goes to Paris on vacation, she gets abducted by a bunch of greasy Albanians who specialize in sex trafficking.  We all know what this means:

 

1.)     Liam’s got to fly to Paris.

2.)     Liam’s got to drive through the Albanians’ makeshift brothel with an SUV.

3.)     Liam’s got to grab those Albanian assholes and go all kinds of Guantanamo on them.

4.)     Liam’s got to rough up his colleague when he doesn’t help him find his daughter in a timely fashion.

5.)     Liam’s got to crash a flesh merchant auction and gun down several slimy Frenchies.

6.)     Liam’s got to jump onto a boat and kill a bunch of oily Arabs that purchased his daughter.

7.)     Liam’s got to shoot that pervert sheik right between the eyes for not only kidnapping his daughter, but for making him go to FRANCE of all places to find her.

 

I was really impressed with Neeson in this movie.  He didn’t take shit from no one and left a nice body count behind him.  The scene that REALLY shows you how much of a badass he is comes when he learns that his French helper guy is on the Albanian payroll.  Liam gets so mad that he shoots the dude’s WIFE just for inconveniencing him!  There’s being a badass and then there's being a badass.  That is some World Heavyweight Champion of Badassery right there.

 

The flick is not without its faults.  The set-up takes a long time (there’s a lot of rigmarole involving Liam being a bodyguard for a pop star) and the film is quite laborious at setting up Neeson as a father “who wasn’t there” for his daughter.  Once she gets kidnapped though, you’ll be on the edge of your seat for so long that you’ll probably end up with hemorrhoids. 

 

The Video Vacuum Takes It’s Hat Off to Taken for:

 

Being the Best Movie Golan-Globus Never Made.

 

Showing that the Spirit of Charles Bronson is Alive and Well and Currently Residing in Liam Neeson.

 

And for Some Truly Priceless Dialogue like, “I can have 38 agents here by the time it takes you to grab your worthless balls!”