May 5th, 2009

THE RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE (1968) * ½

The Rape of the Vampire was cult filmmaker Jean Rollin’s feature film debut and although it contains a lot of his trademark surrealistic imagery and recurring themes (namely lesbian vampires), it’s more or less just 90 minutes of non-stop HUH!?!  Since a lot of the flick just doesn’t make one lick of sense, I’ll do my best to give you the most concise plot re-cap I can.  Okay, the film centers around four vampire women who wear flimsy negligees and hang around in a decrepit castle.  Eventually, the long-toothed broads get killed by a mob of angry villagers.  Almost immediately, the vamps are resurrected by the butch looking “Queen of the Vampires” so they can participate in bad performance art skits accompanied by really shitty jazz.

 

At least I think that’s what happened.  Like I said, not a whole lot of this movie makes much sense.  The reason is because Rollin originally made a short film that ran a half an hour about the vampire girls getting killed.  Then some jackass producer got the great idea to give Rollin more money so he could tack on another hour of pretentious artiness for the sake of pretentious artiness.  What’s even worse is that we never actually get to see the titular rape.  We sure as shit get to hear about it enough though.  

 

Rollin’s original half-hour short isn’t too bad and is filled with a lot of surreal touches (like when the vampire girls worship a goofy looking scarecrow).  The second part of the film is mind-numbingly artsy-fartsy and things go from so-so to oh-no when the Queen of the Vampires shows up.  This chick is ugly as a butt but that’s okay because she wears a dress that has holes cut out so her tits can hang out, so that’s cool.  She also wears a fur-lined g-string with a bat on it that’s really goofy looking too.

 

The Rape of the Vampire is a turgid and unrelentingly boring flick, yet there was some cool stuff in it that made me not completely hate the fucker.  Rollin really knows how to show the naked female form in all of her glory and even though this was just his first film, he still does a stellar job at photographing titties n’ bush.  (The vampires’ boobs have a habit of accidentally flopping out of their nightgowns.)  He also throws in some nice S & M whipping as well, so there’s a little bit of everything for everybody in there.  If you want to watch a really kick ass Jean Rollin movie, avoid this flick and check out either Requiem for a Vampire, Schoolgirl Hitchhikers, or Zombie Lake instead.

 

AKA:  Queen of the Vampires.  AKA:  Vampire Women.

THE CLONES OF BRUCE LEE (1977) ** ½

Folks, you get not one, but THREE ersatz Bruce Lees fighting side by side by side in this ludicrous Bruceploitation action flick from legendary sleaze merchant Dick (Pieces) Randall.  There’s Bruce (Challenge of the Tiger) Le (my personal favorite of the dozens of Bruce Lee imitators), Dragon (Mission for the Dragon) Lee, and Bruce (Three Avengers) Lai.  (Bruce Thai is also in the mix although he doesn’t play one of the titular clones.)

 

The British Special Branch of Intelligence acquires Bruce Lee’s corpse and hires a nutty scientist to make three clones.  The first clone is sent undercover as a Kung Fu actor to stop a movie director who dabbling in gold smuggling.  When the director learns that his new star is a clone working for the government, he plans to kill him on camera so he can “capitalize on his death for years after this picture comes out!”  Meanwhile, the other two clones are sent to bring down the diabolical Doctor Nye who is perfecting an army of men made out of bronze.  After finishing up their respective missions, the clones return home, only do have the deranged scientist force them to fight each other to the death.

 

There’s so much bizarre stuff going on in this flick that it would break the Goofy Meter.  First off, the three clones of Bruce Lee don’t look nothing like each other and only bare the smallest resemblance to Bruce himself.  (Le comes the closest of the bunch.) 

 

Next, let’s talk about the so-called “Bronze Men" for a second.  These guys are supposed to be living bronze statues but they’re really nothing more than a couple of guys that are covered in gold spray tan that wear diapers.   At one point, the bronze paint rubs off onto one of the clone’s white pants!  Unbelievable.  To top it off, they die by eating poisoned plants!!!  The sight of fake Bruce Lees shoving fistfuls of grass into bronzed diaper-wearing dude’s mouths is one that will stick with me for a long time.  And just wait until you hear the “metallic” sound effects that were added in whenever they get punched.  

 

In addition to all that, the scientist’s computer just looks just like a giant Simon game.  Also, there is a completely gratuitous (but wholly worthwhile) scene where half dozen naked women emerge from the ocean and try to rape one of the Bruces.  There are also a couple of laugh-out-loud training montages that feature music that was blatantly stolen from Rocky and The Warriors!

 

While it may seem like this is leading up to a Four Star review, nothing could be further from the truth.  While I liked seeing all this insane mishmash for about an hour or so, eventually The Clones of Bruce Lee runs out of goofy momentum and starts getting a bit monotonous after awhile.  Mostly, it seemed like two different Kung Fu flicks edited together with the hilarious cloning subplot tacked onto the beginning and end to justify the crazy ass title.  In all fairness though, somebody gets the living bejabbers Kung Fued out of them about every eight minutes or so, so the movie has got that going for it.

 

As Bruceploitation movies go, it doesn’t reach the precedence of jaw-dropping insanity set by The Dragon Lives Again (you know, the one where Bruce Lee went to Hell and teamed up with Popeye to fight Dracula, James Bond, and Clint Eastwood), but there are certainly scads of worse Fake Bruce flicks you could waste your time with.  (Cough, cough; Fist of Fear, Touch of Death; cough, cough.)

UNIVERSAL HORROR (1998) ***

If you like Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolf Man and have 90 minutes to kill, you’ll definitely wanna check out this documentary.  It features tons of clips and behind the scenes footage from all of those classic Universal horror films as well as their many spin-offs and sequels.  Several noted scholars (David J. Skal), film buffs (the late Forrest J. Ackerman), and horror stars (James Karen from Return of the Living Dead) are interviewed and give their two cents worth about what makes those old flicks so damn great.

 

I was consistently entertained by this documentary but it isn’t perfect by a long shot.  The thing that ruffled my feathers the most was that it featured lots of clips from far too many non-Universal horror movies like King Kong, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Island of Lost Souls.  Although I certainly didn’t mind seeing all of these familiar clips, it felt a bit strange since this thing is supposed to be about UNIVERSAL horror movies for Pete’s sakes!

 

Having gotten that off my chest, this documentary is still quite worthwhile for fans of old school creature features.  I think the coolest part was when they traced the monsters’ origins to the silent era of cinema and showed how the real life horrors of WWI reflected the special make-up effects of the legendary Lon Chaney.  I didn’t really learn a damn thing from this documentary since I basically knew everything there was to know before I watched it.  (Lon Chaney was supposed to star in Dracula but died, Bela Lugosi was supposed to be Frankenstein but turned it down, Boris Karloff hated that the Monster spoke in Bride of Frankenstein, yada, yada, yada.)  That’s okay though because I’m a sucker for any flick that shows clips from old horror movies so I can’t bear to give it any less than ***.