February 12th, 2012

BRUCE LI IN NEW GUINEA (1978) ***

Very rarely in my life do I ever express Consumer Regret, but there was a time about two years ago (about a year before I started my It Came from the Thrift Store column) when I saw Bruce Li in New Guinea on VHS (in a big clamshell box no less) for a buck and I didn’t pick it up. Don’t ask me what I was thinking. Had I been doing the Thrift Store reviews at the time it would’ve been a no brainer. Trust me folks, I’m still kicking myself over that one.

Last month during Kung Fu-A-Palooza I reviewed a few Bruceploitation flicks, but I never even thought to check to see if this was on Netflix. Well lo and behold, earlier in the week Netflix suggested this to me and I immediately put it to the top of my Queue. So I know it’s a bit late, but better late than never they always say.

Bruce Li fights a dude over the opening credits then the plot begins. Bruce goes out for a little jogging and some thugs try to steal his pimp chain. And we all know what that means. That means Bruce has to perform some Mucinex Fu. That is to say he kicks the snot out of them.

Then the REAL plot begins. Bruce’s buddy convinces him to go to New Guinea (or as he calls it “Snake Worship Island”) to find the mythical Snake Pearl. The snake worshippers on the island (who also happen to be Kung Fu practitioners) don’t like that and try to stop Bruce from getting his hands on it. Along the way Bruce knocks up the Snake Princess, which leads to a big brouhaha.

I’m not sure if the word “good” applies here, but one word you can’t associate with Bruce Li in New Guinea is boring. This movie is filled with more Kung Fu than you can shake a nunchuck at. Honestly, Bruce can’t even take ten steps through the jungle without some luau reject popping up and trying to pull some martial arts madness on him. There’s also just about every kind of Kung Fu weapon imaginable in this thing as Bruce fights guys with a sickle on a chain, bo staffs, and iron claws on a stick. None of these fights are anything great you understand. It’s merely a case where the quantity outshines the quality. Seriously folks, Bruce Li in New Guinea is a Kung Fu smorgasbord that’s so big that it would fill two Panda Buffets.

The flick probably contains too many flashbacks and the plot takes a few weird detours (like the subplot where Bruce is cursed to have women think he’s a giant snake), but really you can’t go wrong with Bruce Li in New Guinea. I mean when’s the last time you saw a movie that featured a dude in a skull mask who kills people with a poison ring, a terrible man in a gorilla suit, and Bolo Yeung as a bad guy? And how can you not love any movie that features the following dialogue exchange:

Snake Wizard: “Princess… you’re a slut!”

Snake Princess: “Okay… so now what?”

(Special Note: No alcohol was consumed during my viewing, but I think if there was, the film might’ve gotten *** ½ or possibly even ****.)

AKA: Bruce Lee in New Guinea. AKA: The Big Boss of Borneo. AKA: Bruce Lee in Snake Island. AKA: Bruce in New Guinea. AKA: Last Fist of Fury.

THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED (1971) * ½

A hot chick gets sent to an all-girl boarding school by her lame custodians. She quickly learns that her headmistress is a royal bitch and runs the school with an iron fist. Slowly but surely girls start dropping like flies by a knife wielding maniac. Will our heroine discover the killer’s true identity before she becomes the next victim? Will you still be awake by that time?

Man, The House That Screamed is one heck of a boring-ass flick. If the dark print and muffled sound won’t put you to sleep, the nonexistent pacing will. Seriously folks, if your prescription of Ambien ever runs out, just watch this movie and you’ll be asleep in no time.

This is one of those movies that hates its audience and doesn’t mind flaunting it every chance it gets. Consider the shower scene. In this scene there are a dozen hot girls in a communal shower getting all sudsy while their lecherous headmistress is leering over them. Sounds good right? WRONG! Why you ask? Because all the girls wear nightgowns while they’re showering! WHAT THE FUCK? What a way to ruin a potentially good shower scene there. Sure, we do get a brief wet T-shirt shot near the end of the scene, but it’s too little too late. There’s also an S & M whipping scene too, but again, nothing is shown, so what’s the point?

There is however one pretty cool part near the end of The House That Screamed that deserves special mention. It comes when the killer is about to slash a chick’s throat. He sneaks up behind her and just before he slices into her, there’s a freeze frame. It’s here where we’re thinking to ourselves “Great, they cheated us out of the boobs, they’re going to cheat us out of this.” But uh-uh no way Jose Canseco. After the brief freeze frame, the flick resumes and we get a fairly graphic throat slashing. The finale, which has a bit of a Pieces vibe, is sorta decent too; although it in no way makes up for the slow ass 96 minutes that preceded it.

AKA: House of Evil. AKA: The Boarding School. AKA: The Finishing School.